Monday, November 23, 2015

Bake the snow away!

It's funny how your state of mind can change with the started snowing Saturday night and we woke up to a winter wonderland Sunday.  I immediately thought about baking. I don't know if it's the Christmas feeling, or just the need to warm the kitchen, but it's one of the only things I like about winter!

I decided to make some vegan pecan tarts that I'd seen on Facebook.  However, first I had to make apples into applesauce (needed for the crust). Then I had to soak some dates. Finally, I used the food processor to combine the wet ingredients for the crust, and added them to the dry.  I oiled my hands, rolled the dough into 12 balls and lined my cupcake tins.

I combined the filling ingredients in a small pot until boiling, thickened with some arrowroot flour & water, then added vanilla, chopped pecans, and stirred it all together. I could only fill ten tarts.  Next time I'll make extra filling!

These turned out quite well and are quite a substantial snack, tasty and filling!  I like that they use no refined sugars but still pack quite a sweet punch with the dates and maple syrup.

Lunches this week will be leftover samosas (until they run out)!  I also would love to make another one of those Jam Jar Salads...maybe a riff on the British one without the meat, because I love the raw beetroot element.

Tonight, my son has requested that I make risotto.  As a rule, he refuses to eat anything I make these days, existing on things he feels comfortable making himself, like grilled cheese, bacon & eggs, canned soup, frozen chicken strips, or burgers.  It's kind of a sad situation.  He used to be more open to trying new things.  But I guess I'm going in the other direction, moving away from the typical western diet.  There's rarely a happy medium anymore.  Tonight I'm hoping to find one!

Monday -  Risotto Bianco for the kid (Fennel Risotto for me) with Hit 'n Run Chicken
Tuesday -  left overs
Thursday -  naan pizza with Daiya cheese & whatever's in the fridge
Friday - pan fried trout with Swiss chard

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Super Food Samosas

I came across this Daily Mail article today, detailing one woman's experience cooking from Everyday Super Food for a week.  While overall she loved the recipes, she gave the phyllo beef samosas a bad review, and said they were dry and tasteless.  I have been planning to make them all week. so I wasn't letting that stop me, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit worried.

501.  Tasty Samosas - Beef, Onion & Sweet Potato (Jamie's Everyday Super Food, page 188)

Due to my food sensitivities, I had to make a couple of substitutions - chicken for beef, and millet for brown rice.  Otherwise I followed the recipe to a "T".  I even went so far as sourcing black onion seeds, which turned out to be another name for nigella seeds!  I've always wondered what those were.

I fried my ground chicken in a bit of olive oil, and added a tablespoon of curry powder.  I added my chopped veggies:  an onion, two cloves of garlic, a sweet potato, a fresh red chile and cilantro stalks.  I let this fry for a few minutes, then added water and let it simmer with the lid partially on, until soft.  I liberally seasoned it with salt, took it off the heat, and added my precooked millet.  

Once it was cool, I got my phyllo dough out of the fridge, and cut 4 pieces in half, lengthwise.  I brushed each piece with water, sprinkled it with black onion seeds, then scooped out some filling onto one end. I diagonally folded it until a samosa was formed, and placed it on a baking sheet.  I found this a bit messy, as the dough is so thin, and the filling was wet.  I think if I did it again, I'd double up on the phyllo sheeets.

I put the samosas into a 400F oven for 10 minutes, then attempted to turn them over.  Obviously, I didn't read the part about the pan being non-stick.  Next time, I'll make sure to oil it a bit, because most of the samosas stuck (some were leaking).  Another 10 minutes and they were golden and crispy.

I ate these with a side of coconut yogurt & cucumber, dressed in lemon juice.  I also used my leftover spicy Asian sauce as a dip.  Tasteless???  Not unless you don't have any taste buds!  These were spicy and quite authentic tasting.  I loved them.  Good thing, since I have 6 more to get through this week LOL.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

My 500th Jamie Recipe - Asian Steamed Fish with Rice & Greens

I feel like I should break out the balloons & streamers LOL.  How the hell did I get up to 500?

I had a second round of food sensitivity testing done recently.  Most things improved...many "limit to once or twice a week" foods went down to normal range, and a few "avoid" foods went down to "limit to once or twice a week".  The usual culprits (dairy, beef and corn) remain verboten.  However, one food moved up the scale, much to my dismay: rice.  WTF?  I am a sushi addict.  I love rice.  It's a staple of my diet.  But apparently, rice doesn't love me. So now, I need to completely avoid rice bran (i.e. brown rice) and limit my intake of white rice.  

500.  Asian Steamed Fish, Black White Rice & Greens (Jamie's Everyday Super Food, page 180)

This seems like a very bland and boring meal.  I mean, there is no fat involved!  That hardly seems very Jamie-like.  But I needed to pull my Swiss chard from the garden anyways, before the snow hits this weekend, and  I had some bok choy from the market.  I really do love greens.

I don't have a double steamer, so I had to do this recipe in two parts.  First, I boiled some white basmati rice, with the steamer basket filled with greens on top.  Once that was finished, I emptied the pots, added more water to the bottom and placed two fresh rock sole fillets in the steamer basket, with some grated lime zest.

While that was cooking, I combined the ingredients for my Asian sauce in the food processor.  Ah, here comes the Jamie I know and love:  lime juice, garlic, ginger, chile, white wine vinegar, soy sauce, and fresh tomato.  This was supposed to go into the steamer with the fish, but I just microwaved it for a minute instead.

The real winner in this dinner was the sauce.  Tangy, spicy, and delicious, I can think of many ways to use it up.  If I get around to making those samosas on the weekend, it will pair perfectly!

The fish was very delicate & beautifully cooked.  I should steam fish more often!  My son was less than impressed with the smell, so I lit a scented candle to appease him.  He ate plain boiled rice for dinner.  One of these days, that boy will decide to branch out!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The many faces of butternut squash...

Yesterday morning I made another pot of Super Green Soup.  I love that stuff!  But eating savoury all day made me go home from work craving sugar. I wanted nothing more for dinner than toast and honey, or pancakes and maple syrup. But I had roasted a whole squash the previous night, and I knew I should do something with it. I remembered that there was a section on leftover squash in Save With Jamie....previously, I had made the Rigatoni and Hummus.  None of the recipes were sweet, howeer, so even though I wasn't really feeling it, I chose one to try.

498. Squash Fritters (Save With Jamie, page 46)

These fritters called for 1/2 a roasted squash, 3/4 cup self-rising flour, an egg, and 5 ounces of cottage cheese. I don't have a dairy-free substitute for that type of first I thought of Tofutti cream cheese, but I was all out. I ended up using about 2.5 ounces of "blue" spirulina cashew cheese, and a couple of spoonfuls of plain coconut yogurt.

I seasoned the batter with pepper, then heated a large pan and added some olive oil.  I measured heaped tablespoons of batter into the pan, and flipped them when golden. I threw in a few sage leaves with a pat of vegan butter, to give the fritters flavour. I made 3 batches of 5...15 fritters in all.

The final touch was a fine grating of Daiya cheese.  I really wasn't all that excited to eat them...I was still thinking about sugar. But one bite was all it took...they were soft and creamy on the inside, but the crispy sage makes them extra special!  I absolutely loved them. I went back for more (and ate all the sage).  I'll need to pick more before re-heating the left overs.

499. Super Squash Smoothie (Jamie's Food Tube)

Another novel idea from Mr. Oliver.  How does he dream these things up?  I'd never think of putting squash in a smoothie, but why not?  I whipped some up this morning, enough for two glasses.  Squash and banana, what an odd combination, but it really works!   I also added vanilla soy yogurt, coconut milk, oats, maple syrup, Brazil nuts & pecans.  I totally gapped adding cinnamon, but I'll remember to sprinkle some on top tomorrow.

Next up, recipe #500.  Hard to believe!  I do have plans to cook something tonight, so we'll see if I live up to that promise.  Lately, my meal plans have been going by the wayside.....

Monday, November 16, 2015

Healthy Jam Jar Salads & a meal plan

Jamie has a nice little section called "Healthy Jam Jar Salads" in his new book.  I was very productive this morning, and prepared myself a couple of quick work lunches for the week before 7 a.m.!

497.  Italian Salad (Jamie's Everyday Super Food, page 104)

This would be quicker to put together with left over pasta, but I had to boil some fresh.  I decided on elbow macaroni.  Jamie suggests 2.5 oz dry or 5 oz cooked, so I went with that.  Then, I created a raw tomato sauce in the blender using 2 vine ripe tomatoes, some fresh basil, lemon juice, half a red chile and a tbsp of olive oil.  I whizzed that up, and seasoned it with salt and pepper to taste.

Of course, I couldn't find a large enough jar, so instead of one 1 litre jar I went with two 3/4 litre jars. I quite often find I can't finish one of Jamie's "portions" anyways.  I layered my salad starting with the pasta, covered with the sauce, then more sprigs of fresh basil and some fresh salad leaves, followed by another chopped tomato, a can of tuna, some shredded Daiya cheese, and a sprig of basil on top for a flourish!


These looked pretty and didn't take very long to assemble. As expected, one was plenty of salad for my lunch!  Next up, I want to try the British one that Jamie creates in the video.  I have lots of beetroot to use up, and I finally sourced some plain coconut yogurt at Loblaws.  They have a great "natural foods" section!

So you know what's for lunches the next couple of days.  For breakfasts, I made more of those mini tarts with the last of my beet greens but using frozen, grated zucchini.  For dinners, I've really been trying hard to eat out of my freezer.  I made a puff-pastry-topped turkey pot pie on the weekend with the last of the frozen Thanksgiving turkey and turkey stock.  Lo and behold, everyone loved it (even my mom)!  That felt good, because it doesn't usually happen.

The next two evenings I have vet appointments right after work, so I'll definitely need to go to the freezer for something quick.

Monday - frozen vegetarian "momos" with cilantro tomato sauce (from the Nepalese booth at the market)
Tuesday - Jamie Oliver Discovers Canada rice pilaf (it's been hiding in the freezer for a while, time to eat it up)
Wednesday - roasted squash laksa bake with chicken thighs (from Jamie's new book)
Thursday - left overs
Friday - Asian steamed fish (from Jamie's new book)
Saturday - baked ground beef samosas (from Jamie's new book, but I'll substitute ground chicken) - I've read these might take a while so probably more of a weekend thing LOL

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Roasted Concertina Squid with Grilled Leeks

My favourite of all of Jamie's books is still the one where he cooks, seasonally, from his own garden.  I read somewhere he was filming another series similar to Jamie At Home.  I hope it's true!  I dug the book out yesterday to "big up" some leeks from my garden.

496. Roasted Concertina Squid with Grilled Leeks and a Warm Chorizo Dressing (Jamie at Home, page 330)

I always see huge, thick leeks in the grocery store, but I rarely see baby leeks.  My leeks never get that big....I usually have to use two or three in recipes where one is called for.  However, I always have baby ones.  Jamies compares baby leeks, prepared properly, to spears of asparagus.  Visually, I can see why.

The first step was to parboil the baby leeks for three minutes in salted water, then grill them until charred on both sides.  After that, dry grill some thinly sliced fennel.  Jamie also suggested radiccio, but I had beet greens to use up so I went with those instead.  I used my vegetarian chipotle sausage in place of chorizo to create the dressing, along with EVOO, minced garlic, rosemary, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice.  I also managed to smoke the house out doing it.  LOL.

I had one squid tube left in the freezer, so I defrosted it overnight and  used the method Jamie describes to slice it on one side only.  I drizzled it with olive oil, seasoned it with salt and pepper, then put it in a screaming hot pan to start.  I finished it for a few minutes in a 500 F oven, which didn't help at all with the smoke problem.  I had to turn off the furnace and open the windows and doors.  Note to self:  do this on the BBQ next time.

The squid was sweet and delicious.  It was also very filling!  The veggies were tasty but I have to disagree with Jamie on one thing:  baby leeks will never be comparable to asparagus spears.  They get stuck in your teeth like no other veggies I've ever eaten!   I think I still prefer them sliced and braised.  ;)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday Harvest Meals

I can hardly believe it's mid-November, but the weather is finally turning frosty.  I spent Sunday harvesting what remained from my gardens.  Carrots & beets took a bit of work to get clean, then I salvaged what I could from the beet greens.  Finally, I pulled all my leeks.  I filled a yard bag with all the trimmings, plus the dead tomato plants and of course, leaves and apples from my tree.  I have eleven bins and bags waiting at the curb for pick up!

I divided my carrots and beets into a big pot and a mini pot.  I parboiled and roasted the small ones for dinner, along with a spatchcocked chicken.  The rest have gone into the fridge for storage.  All that's left outside now are the hardy herbs, kale and Swiss chard.  

I need to make a meal plan this week because I have a lot of odds and ends in my fridge to use up! I made a quick run through Farm Boy yesterday and got some 50% off items.  I have tons of veggies (broccoli, leeks, carrots & beets, red pepper, cucumbers, lettuce, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, squash, beet greens, kale) so I need to make sure to use them at every meal.  I want to make another batch of those mini tarts with the beet greens, as they are great for a quick breakfast.  I also have three black rice pudding jars that I can grab.  :)

Monday - leftover super green soup with veggie potstickers from Farm Boy (lunch)
               - sweet potato & bean quesadilla with leftover roasted carrots  (dinner)
               - broccoli & cheese casserole for the kid to go with his leftover chicken & rice

Tuesday - leftover super green soup with spinach & tofu samosas from Farm Boy (lunch)
               - cheat's papardelle with leeks and pangratatta (dinner)

Wednesday - triscuits, spirulina blue cashew cheese, red pepper & cucumber (lunch)
                     - leftover pappardelle with leeks (dinner)

Thursday - triscuits, spirulina blue cashew cheese, red pepper & cucumber (lunch)
                  - pan-fried sole & sweet potato chips with steamed kalettes (dinner)

Fridaypumpkin squash laksa (dinner)