Showing posts with label Dinner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dinner. Show all posts

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hunting and Gatherering

As a food blogger, I keep one finger pressed to the pulse. What's new, what's in, what's hot, what's not? These are absorbing questions.

For example, coloured pants -- in.

Such observations require careful attention, not to mention foresight. You will note as you observe the Reems Eats blog that Haley and I are attune to these nuances. We maintain a cutting edge profile. For example, we considered embedding video, only to realize that was on the cusp of old, so we didn't. We thought about Twitter but then realized the conceptualization of Twitter was really a lot hipper than Twitter itself in its digital form, so we left it at that. Online is still in, so we've stayed onboard. We also figured we'd keep the blog format for now but we have noticed that older, back-to-the-orgin type trends are making a comeback, such as canning or growing potatoes or using a typewrite; so heck we might just jump that trend and swap the blog for a log and do the whole thing in calligraphy. We're not sure. We're just going to see where the whole thing goes.

In the meantime, another notable flashback trend is that of the hunter gatherer. Once a figure relegated to the Socials Studies textbook, the hunter gatherer has re-emerged as a present-day lifestyle option. Consider the word, 'forage.' It appears on menus: “wild foraged mushrooms.” Or is referred to as a past time, “foraging.”

But the hunter was never one to be outdone by the gatherer. Note who's name comes first (gather always follows hunter). Hunter has also returned to a place of prominence. Think bow and arrows. Think Hunger Games. Or tall green boots sold with accessorized socks. Friends tell me they'd like to hunt—fell a deer or two and stock their freezers. These are urban people, shades away from hipster. Maybe the hipsters aren't too far off. They're already in camo—dark muted tones. They blend into buildings or slouch against the rain-gray West-Coast sky. They tread with the practiced obscurity of the hunter.

Even he-who-shall-not-be-named-on-the-blog (my hubbie) is doing it. Bow, check. Arrows, check. Deer, check. He's kicking off slippers, dashing out the door, sprinting across the property in hot pursuit. Fear not, his arrows are capped.

In fact, I'm considering joining him and he's encouraging this line of thinking. He said I'd be useful in flushing out the prey. I imagine I could go springer spaniel style and dash into the under brush, yapping at deer hooves to angle the herd into the clearing. It's likely a good workout. If you've followed Reems Eats for any length of time, you've concluded that I'm always up for a good workout. Anyways, I think hunting could be a perfect opportunity. Although trapping—also a form of hunting—appears less cardiovascular. Perhaps if the trapline stretched over a number of miles I might receive something of a physical benefit. But perhaps I'll leave that for people in the Ozarks or those with snow and dogsleds. I read a pretty excellent Janet Oke novel in which the main character runs the trapline. She also always wears a braid in her hair. This is before she meets HIM and lets that braid loose and gives up the trapeline for more womanly pursuits. If you've read this novel and can recall the title, feel free to comment as I'd love to get my hands on it again.

On a what's-hot-what's-not note, Haley tells me that braids are in. She says a good place to stay abreast of hairstyles is Pintrest.

In the meantime, I've been gathering. To be honest, I prefer the status of the hunter position, as well as the thrill of the chase and the triumph of the kill but more and more in life I have come to realize that we don't choose our callings as much as we are chosen by them. It has fallen to me to gather. I gather for a few reasons. One is that once I've arrived home, I don't like to leave. This often puts me in the unfortunate position of having to scrape a meal from what's left in the fridge and the pantry. Also, I've recently learned I'm an under-buyer (read the Happiness Project to find out where you lie in the under-buyer over-buyer spectrum). As an under-buyer, I refuse to stock up. I refuse to buy all the essentials. I make do. I scrape, I salvage, I improvise. Which is exactly what I was preparing to do the other day when my eyes chanced across Julia Child's quiche formula in Food and Wine (thanks again, Haley, for the birthday subscription). Julia's great for supplying the bones of a recipe. She instructs you as to the technique and the essentials and allows you to fill in the gaps. I followed Julia to a bacon quiche. You might choose squash. Or better yet, bacon squash. Whatever. See what's in the fridge. Or if you have a herb pot, poke in there.

This quiche is part of the weeknight dinner series. Haley and I are sharing stuff we make in the week that's easy and tasty and fun. The quiche is easy if you keep pie dough in the freezer. You can make your own pastry or buy it from the grocery store. Either will be delicious. I always forget how good quiche is and whenever I've made it I think I should do it more often. It also makes for excellent lunch leftovers.

Julia's Quiche

Adapted from the March Edition of Food and Wine

For the pastry:
Roll out a 1 layer pie dough. Once you've settled it into a pie pan, cover it with a piece of buttered foil or a piece of parchment paper. Fill the pie with dried beans. Yes, beans. You're not going to eat them; they are simply to weigh down the pastry and make sure it doesn't puff up with baking. Bake at 450 for ten minutes. Remove the foil and the weights and bake for another 7 to 8 minutes until it is very lightly browned.

For the custard:
Crack 3 large eggs into a large glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to reach the 1 and ½ cup mark. Add some salt and pepper and whisk.

Place half a cup cheese and your filling (in my case two strips fried and then chopped bacon. Chard is also nice or squash. Whatever you chose be sure to cook it first) in the bottom of the cooked pie pastry. Pour the custard in. The custard should reach ¼ inch below the top of the pie shell. If it doesn't crack another egg into the measuring cup and add enough milk as to equal ½ a cup. Beat that together and add it to the quiche. Top with quiche with a little more cheese if you'd like (I don't usually but I'm trying to make your quiche extra good).

Bake the quiche at 375 for about 30 minutes or until set and browned.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Getting Over Christmas

Technically, I don't go in big for Christmas presents. Example: staff Christmas party early December, at the optional (I thought mandatory) gift exchange, mine was the rumpled ten-times-used paper bag with a yellow star crayoned to its front. My bag threatened to disappear beneath the red bows and season-appropriate wrapping papers. No one was choosing my bag. It blended right into the beige carpet. I worried the others might mistake it for an old piece of tissue paper or an abused shopping bag or a child's crayon-drawing of a yellow star now discarded and forgotten. Not to worry. I pointed it out. I hollered, 'The white bag is a gift,' whenever a name was drawn from the Santa hat and the receiver crept toward the pile of presents in stockinged feet. It was almost as if they hoped I wouldn't notice their approach. No such luck. I'm on to stuff like that.

Turns out I must have missed the memo. The one instructing us to bring nice, thoughtful gifts priced at about fifteen dollars, which most of my generous coworkers translated into twenty or twenty-five. When I hear 'Gift Exchange' I get tunnel vision. Really, I'll forget about the whole deal until the day before, or in this case the day of, but when it's go time, my tunnel leads me right to the thrift store where you will find me elbow deep in just about everything, rooting for the perfect gift. And I feel I should mention, I passed on some good stuff this year, like a ceramic duck (slight discoloration), a tight-fitting army hat (duck tape inside), or the nearly-antique batman doll (fifteen bucks! rip off). Anyways, it wasn't until the final hour, at the final shop, in the most unlikely place, that I found my philosophers stone (so to speak). In the creepy-little Christmas room in the second-hand furniture store, tucked in amongst rubble, I found my gemstone: a two-hour video of the burning log! You know, the fake fireplace featured on Shaw cable year after year, where the only action occurs every half hour or so when a hand reaches in with a poker to adjust the logs.

If you are anything like me, you're rubbing your hands together with glee as you read this. You might even be cackling. You're certainly thinking,'This is it! Pure hilarity!' But then you've forgotten the memo and the fifteen dollar suggestion and the unspoken assumption that everybody would get everybody else something nice.

Anyhow, I bullied some poor sap of a co-worker into choosing the yule log at the exchange, lived down the shame, and took home a perfectly lovely, hand-pained glass Christmas ornament.

Next year I might just keep the yule log.

At my third gift exchange (number two, which I've left out, went well, incidentally) it became clearly that while technically I don't go in big for Christmas presents, I was going all in for a certain item under that tree. Well, it wasn't under the tree anymore, I had unwrapped it before Haley stole it from me. We were in the throws of one of those unwrap and steal gift-giving phenomena. The item that had both Haley and I more than slightly salivating as we went head to head was the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Naturally, I won.

If you didn't get the gift you wanted this year -- wait, that sounds awful. What I'm trying to say is that I recommend the book. It's full of fun little quips and stories from Deb Perelman, author of the Smitten Kitchen blog, and includes a nice selection of her recipes.

She's really a great cook, Deb Perelman

She really has a great blog, that Deb Perelman.

I'd say I'm jealous, but that also sounds awful. I'd say I'm jealous of how she hangs out at her apartment all day testing recipes with her incredibly cute toddler and then gets to write cute anecdotes about the recipes and the toddler that are widely read before collected into a book and published. I'd say that but it wouldn't be totally true because I actually love my job and I'm not all that eager to write out perfectly tested recipes for  you all -- the truth, you heard it here first. But I do like to ramble. And I like to cook. Although, I don't always like to work, as in at my job, and then cook. Sometimes working and cooking is just about the wost combination in my life. Which is why Haley and I are trying to brainstorm some strategies to make the whole thing -- working and cooking -- a little easier and a lot more fun.

Now I should probably be starting with a practical post about casseroles and freezing and how-to, but instead, I'm skipping right to the good stuff. In case you missed the picture at the top of the post, here's a closer view.
 Yup, you got it, steak!

Steak is my favourite fast food and I'd say, reigns supreme in the working woman's freezer. There are those who tut tut the frozen steak and worry that quality is compromised in the freezing/thawing process. But if you buy quality meat, and I would encourage you to choose free-range and locally sourced, you really won't notice a difference.

The perfectly nice thing about stocking some steak in your freezer is you're all set for Friday night when you want to have a scrumptious dinner but don't want to pay the exhibitionist price of eating out, or you're like me and once you've arrived home from work at the end of your week all you want is a pair of comfy pants, a glass of something-or-other and your feet up. There's no tipping you off the couch into heels and a sweater and a car to town. Forgetaboutit.

If you've taken your steak out to thaw in the morning or the night before, all it needs is a flash in the pan and you've got an amazing dinner on your plate. You can pair it with some roasted potatoes and other veggies if you've got it in you. Or set it beside a quick salad.

Now, for the 'recipe.'

Easy Grilled Steak

First you need to get the steak. I suggest you choose one of the following cuts of meat for flavour and tenderness, T-bone, sirloin, rib-eye or porter house. If you'd like to know more about different cuts of beef, this is a good site Now I should also mention that I use free-range beef that is raised locally. Last spring, we purchased a large portion of beef for a set rate from a local farm. If you have farms offering that service in your area check it out because you get great value and excellent product. Having passed a number of feed-lots in California while barrelling down super-highways I defiantly stay away from high-production beef...

Secondly, you need your equipment. Many people like to do steak on the BBQ or under the broiler in the oven. I've found that both these options don't give the level of control that I am looking for when I do a steak. I want fast, hot, steady heat. I find I get the best delivery of these three qualities from a cast iron pan. You might have a comparable frying pan that gives good heat and doesn't have an easily damaged finish.

Now, the work (just a little). Be sure to fully defrost the meat or it will not cook evenly. Salt and pepper your steaks on both sides.

Meanwhile, heat your pan on high with a little olive oil or butter. Wait until the pan is hot and smoking before you add the steaks. If you like your steaks medium rare, cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side. If you like your steak rare, cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side. I can't advise you as to well done because I don't do it. These times are based on 1 inch thick steaks.

Pop that bad boy on your plate beside you salad/potatoes/carrots/or what-have-you, light the candles and enjoy your Friday night.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chipotle Caesar

We're still learning about deer, it seems. Upon moving to the cabin (yes, in the woods) last July, one primary impression of deer formed in the minds of my dearest husband and I. Deer are cute. Trite, but fundamentally true. Deer wandered through our property in a small herd, two big (parents) and three little (offspring). As we began our new life in the country it seemed fitting that we should spy in on the goings-ons of this deer family. The image was so simple, beautiful, and natural -- all characteristics we'd anticipated of our new home. When Caleb or I, or I or Caleb, would spot a hooved and antlered soul wandering out from the woods, the alarm: "Deer!" would be sounded and we'd rush out to the deck for a closer glimpse.

While our working definition of deer was taking shape, another classification was hinted at; warnings were given. My Aunt was the first. "They're dangerous," she told us. We laughed.

"It's true," my brother echoed, later. He cited a story of a man attacked by a rampaging buck.

Weeks went by before Caleb was confronted by the stag (okay, some sort of male deer). It hobbled out from the bush, weaving like a drunk-test failure. One antler torn and bleeding, the buck stopped short to lock eyes with Caleb before it pawing the earth and beginning its charge. Fortunately, the railing of our deck provided protection and afforded Caleb enough time to duck in through the front door. Safely inside, he peered past the curtain to watch the buck stagger back into the bush.

The possibility of violence had reared it's deerish head. I remained unconvinced until one dark morning in November, from the seat of my bike I watched two bucks crash horns across Lochside Drive (picture that terrible scene in Bambi). A shadow was cast. Deer...who were they?

As the year wore on our misgivings faded with our remembrances of long summer days and minted mohitos. Deer joined the backdrop of our lives. They grazed through our field and out again. No longer exclaimed upon, and no longer watched for evidence of Hyde-like behaviour, the deer had simply been forgotten.

We turned our efforts to improving the house -- a new shower was installed -- and playing with the yard. With the master's path nearly completing it's route about the house, we turned our eyes to a garden. It took a number of days before an area was cleared and the grass broken to soil. We were nearly ready to begin. We had the seeds. I'd bought garden gloves. We'd enlisted help. It was time to fence.

Here is were I pause to reflect upon what we knew of deer: deceptively cute, potentially dangerous. Deception, potential: these words remain central to my now expanded understanding of deer. These are the traits we failed to account for when we cut the beams for our fence and dug them into the earth. While the beams was a good start (the logs were solid and well supported and stood about ten feet tall), we went wrong with the string. At the time, it seemed best to avoid buying costly fencing equipment such as chicken wire or bamboo or any type of filler, really. Instead, we elected to run crisscrossing lines of coloured thread between the posts. Our garden now looked like it belonged in a compounded from a dystopian society. Uncertain about the strength of the string, we added intersecting branches to the fence. The holes were small and impenetrable, we thought.

Happy with our work we planted and watered and waited. It wasn't long before the kale and lettuce pushed through the grown. The wheat (a madcap expriment) was doing particularly well. We waited and waited, but the greens didn't seem to be getting much bigger. Examining the soil in the kale box one afternoon, Caleb refelcted that it almost seemed as if something had gotten in for a nibble. A rabbit we thought, or a cat. Did cat's like kale?

Deceptively cute, potentialy dangerous.

Deep into a Sunday afternoon, lazy from a nap, Caleb steps out onto the deck. There is a moment of calm before he looks to the garden. In that glance he takes in the absurd lines of colour, the mangle of sticks, and a brown body curled in the lettuce box, finishing its own afternoon nap. With a leap Caleb is on the gravel, running, shouting, ready to strangle the deer with his bare hands. But he's no match. No match for the deception of stillness, in a flash the deer is moving, or the potential for maneuvers, the deep steps through a small space between one pink and one yellow string in a hoof beat. With the flag of his tail flying, the deer vanishes into the thickness of the forest.

Since, we've added a layer of chicken wire to our dystopian fence and when the deer come visiting, it isn't 'deer, comes see,' that we shout.

I bought the lettuce for this salad at Michell's farm.

Chipotle Caesar


Cut up some bread into pieces, toss it in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped herbs. Spread it on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 300, or until the bread is cruchy.

Dressing (Adapted from the Rebar Cookbook):

1 head of garlic roasted
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dijon
2 Tbsp pureed chipoltes
1/3 cup grated asiago cheese
1 cup olive oil

Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and process unitl smooth. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil. It should emulsify as you pour.

Choose your favorite lettuce, tare it into bite sized pieces, toss with dressing and garnish with croutons and more grated cheese. Yum.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Turnip and Parsnip Latkes with Pomegranate Seeds

It's been brought! If you read our last post, you know that Haley threw down the gauntlet and Rachel was to respond by crafting a dish combining the two seemingly contradictory ingredients, of turnips and pomegranate. Read on to discover the surprisingly delicious results.

Dearest Haley,
A massive squirrel is shimying down the tree outside my window. He's huge. Hmmm. Perhaps this nature sighting could prove insightful for the challenge I put forth to you. In France they eat pigeon...

Ever since Dad declared war on the grey squirrel dominating our neighbourhood and theiving from our cherry tree, I've found the rodents rather repulsive. They're so sneaky. And greedy. For instance, this squirrel in the tree outside my window, he's a big boy, like mondo, overweight, bottom heavy. Oh gross. He just pooed. Sorry.

Anyhow, turnips are a bit like gray squirrels with me. A tad repulsive. Sure, I'll toss one back in a stew and later mistake it for a potato, but I've never consciously thought, 'Mmmm. Turnips.' Have you? Well, after you challenged me to pair the frumpy turnip with the delicious pomegranate, I think I developed a new appreciation for that rather plain veggie. I discovered it has a little spice, a little more something-to-it than your potato. Nonetheless, it is happy to take the role of backdrop, providing a canvass, so to speak, for other showier veggies, fruits (in this case), or meats.

With this in mind, I created a dish composed of turnip latkes, topped with coconut curry sauce and a pomegranate salsa. I was so bold as to offer up this startling combination to dinner guests and, my goodness gracious, they loved it!
Turnip and Parsnip Latkes
4 medium potatoes, grated
2 turnips, grated
1 parsnip, peeled and grated
(2 pounds of vegetables in total)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten

Combine all the ingredient in a large bowl. Shape into small paddies and place on two greased cookie sheets. Bake at 370 for thirty minutes, flipping the latkes half way through baking time, or until golden brown.

Good toppings include: pomegranate seeds with balsamic vinegar, sour cream, butter, cheese, anything you'd like!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Basil Tomato Sauce with Meatballs and Pasta

When Mooch and I was kids, we loved foil-wrapped Easter eggs, the ones that are three parts wax, one part chocolate. The parents threw them about the house before we woke with the sun on Easter morning. Neon straw baskets in hand, we combatively hunted eggs. Racing our three siblings, jostling for position, we attacked the eggs, all the while stalking the big one: The bunny. Dang, those hollow, food-colouring scalloped bunnies were good.

This story is meant as a sidetrack. I dangle the chocolate bunny as a distraction. I didn't cook with whole grains this week. Not one lousy thing. (Haley and I are on mission to cook with whole grains and post our recipes during the months of May and June). I made chocolate hot cross buns. I poached a chicken. Bulgar, barley, couscous and kumet played hooky from my plate.

I did make meatballs and tomato sauce. (Mooch will remember that I abhorred this dish as a child but have seen the error of my ways, reformed, and embrace it adoringly.)

Basil Tomato Sauce with Meatballs and Pasta

For the sauce

one and a half cups finely chopped onions

5 garlic cloves, minced (more if you'd like)

1 tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional)

2 large cans of whole tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

a handful of chopped basil

a spoon of sugar

a shot of red wine (not necessary but dang good)

salt and pepper to taste

Put a glug of olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. When the oil warms, add the onions, garlic, and hot red pepper flakes and lower the heat. Cook over low, stirring occasionally for ten minutes. Add the tomatoes, paste, and basil. Use a wooden spoon or a potato masher to break up the tomatoes so they are no longer whole but sauce-like. Add the wine and a little sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and the meatballs. Simmer for one to two hours. You can get away with forty five minutes. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

For the Meatballs

1 piece of bread

1/2 a cup milk

1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup minced onions
2 cloves of garlic, minced

a handful of parsley, minced (you can sub green onions or a herb of your choice)

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400.

Soak the bread in the milk. Wring it out a place it in a wide bowl. Add the beef, onions, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper. Mix until just combined (over-mixing will create dry meatballs). Place the meatballs in roaster or on a cookie sheet and bake for ten minutes.

Cook your noodles according to the package directions. I often use shells or linguine.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vancouver 2010 and Butternut Squash Soup

Hi Haley,

Top Memories from the Vancouver 2010 ReemsEats Conference (Readers: Haley and I met in Vancouver to attend a Stollen and Panettone Baking Class on Granville Island)
  1. Cold weather, snow fall, and the sunlight hitting the mountains, which provided a backdrop to Granville Island
  2. Receiving a complementary facial at the noodle bar due to massive amounts of steam generated by boiling pots of noodles, pork, and broth.
  3. Using an electric scale
  4. Buying an electric scale
  5. Laughing a bit too enthusiastically at the German Baking Instructor's 'stolen' jokes
  6. "More butter is better"
  7. Min panettone over two-for-one Starbucks
  8. St. Sinclare
  9. Scott removing her pants at Numbu (or whatever it's called)
  10. Haley always laughing
Things I learned at the 2010 ReemsEats Conference
  1. Never let Haley out of your sight or she might shame the entire ReemsEats corporation by lining her baking sheet with nearly ten pieces of parchment paper.
  2. More butter is better (Don't worry, Joan, I haven't taken this adage to heart)
  3. Using a kitchen scale is more accurate and faster than volume measurement.
  4. Add baking powder to sweet yeasted dough for a shorter dough.
  5. Take the time to go to Vancouver to hangout with Haley. The rewards are infinite.

Now, I know I was to post a Stollen recipe as a companion to this post BUT I have a better idea. Remember, on the way to the ferry, when we stopped on Granville, slipped into Williams and Sonoma and sampled apple cider and that amazing butternut squash soup?


I made the soup. The recipe is online and you don't need to buy W.and S.'s bottled pureed squash, at the exorbitant price of thirty dollars a pop. Here is the recipe (the link is not showing up--but click on 'recipe'). It is hands down the best B.S. soup I have made. Be sure to use stock, not water.

(I'm very excited about our siblings Christmas dinner--look up Zambri's and tell me what you think. Too pricey?)

love, R.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan


Your nephew had his first dentist appointment today. I had an attack of the giggles, the likes that haven' t hit since high-school. Finn was the model patient: he beamed a big grin at the appropriate times during the up and down chair demonstration; he opened his mouth wide, not even waiting to be asked (evidently over-coached by mommy and the Bernstein Bears); he made fishy lips around Mr. Vacuum during the cleaning. His only difficulty- and the reason for my giggle attack- tongue placement. That little tongue had a life of its own. However, since Finn won't be dating until he's 22, his tongue control will have some time to develop.

Oh yes, this is a food blog. Well, teeth do play an important roll in masticating one's food. Tonight's meal, Eggplant Parmesan was delicious, though the chewing was minimal, as it was a melt-in-my-mouth kind of meal. I had purchased a bag of eggplants at Costco with the plan of making one of my favourites - moussaka; however, making moussaka in one go has just felt to daunting the past few weeks.

Now, if you're looking at this recipe thinking that it looks way too fiddly, you're right, it is a bit fiddly, but it really didn't take too long to make, and the results were delicious. I mostly followed this recipe, but also crossed it with a few other recipes. I sliced the eggplant a bit thicker, I'd say 1.5 cm thick if you're looking for a number, and baked the dredged slices for 15 min per side instead of 5.

Oh, and yes, I am that mother that takes photos of everything. But this is definitely going in the baby book-
OK, I hope you find an internet connection soon. I'm needing some new recipe ideas.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Squash and Mac Attack


Watching my kiddies frantically tearing at still-warm smoked salmon, fresh from our neighbour's smoker, was a tender moment for a food-loving mama. Maybe not as significant as a first step, or the first day of kindergarten might be, but still, a moment.

I stepped into the fray (selfishly) to save some for later; I was rewarded by smoked salmon gussying up a boring mac and cheese meal. I correct myself, a macaroni, squash and cheese meal. I have once again resorted to sneaky tactics. The addition of pureed squash was undetectable to the most discerning, Kraft-dinner tarnished, palate. The verdict from my noodle loving clan: wonderful.

(I don't need to tell you whose macaroni was not graced by smoked salmon).

I was deliberating whether or not to give you a recipe. Once again, I'll give you a method that you can play with.

Make a white sauce. Add a good shake of garlic powder (optional), grated cheese and a cup to two cups pureed squash. Toss with cooked noodles and top with more cheese. Bake for 20 minutes (optional). This is a quick and easy meal that can be made earlier in the day and baked before eating.

I usually make mac and cheese to appease the masses at my house; however despite the creamy texture, butter and cheesy-ness, I find it bland. The garlic powder has always helped somewhat, but the addition of smoked salmon was culinary genius; it put this meal into the gastronomic archives (as moderated by my taste buds).

Serve with a salad and you're done. Oh, and your children will love you; particularly your 16-year-old Korean daughter.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rice-stuffed Acorn Squash


Well, we made it though back-to-work week. There were some low points: mostly involving stumbling out of bed and WAKING BABIES at 7am (sleeping babies were not made to be woken), but there were some high points: mostly involving adult conversation and a lunch hour ALONE. Meals at our house this week were also surprisingly well-organized. Planning has never been a strength of mine, so here's hoping that I can continue to keep on top of things. I know from experience, that it's when I have no plan that we start eating omelets and grilled cheese for dinner.

I have to 'fess up - acorn stuffed squash was not a work-day meal. While not difficult, the roasting does take a bit of time. The beauty of this dish is that the squash was so tender that I could spoon large chunks from my 'squash bowl' directly into Coby's greedy little paws.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Slice 2 squash lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and place flesh-side down on an oiled cookie sheet. Roast for 45 min to an hour (until soft).

Prepare the filling: You can be creative here.

I sauteed:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped mushrooms

To this I added:

  • 1 cup cooked rice, (cooked in chicken broth - I just put in a T of Epicure chicken broth, it has no msg or sodium, veggie broth would be a good vegetarian option)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (chopped pecans would be a good alternative)
  • 1/4 cup water (or more if the mixture looks dry)

Season the filling:
  • salt and pepper (My chicken stock is sodium-free so I have to use an extra bit of salt, be careful if yours isn't)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (I know, I already added garlic cloves, Joan has passed on to me this irrational love of garlic powder)
  • 1/3 tsp sage (or poultry seasoning)

I removed the filling from the heat and added some crumbled goat cheese.

I then filled the squash halves and baked the lot for about 20 min, again at 350.

And if you have a picky eater you could just fill his with rice and goats cheese. So boring, but who can understand the ways of the picky? Not I, I just enable.

This is linked to: Vegetarian Fridays

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Million and one Zucchini

Hi Haley,
Your salmon post inspired/made me really hungry, and I'm picking up some wild salmon this afternoon. I think it's going to be wild.

We might need to put our childhood-nostalgia-recipes project on hold for a few weeks as there are so many seasonal recipes to take advantage of right now. I'm having trouble squeezing in the time for those buttery kidhood favourites.

So this post is for you, as I imagine you've got a small army of zucchini (tricky to spelling, somehow) in the garden, but it's also for our cousin Sonya, who always grows a million and one zucchini, and always asks for new and original recipes, which we fail to supply. Whatever we suggest, Sonya's already tried it. So really, Sonya, if you've already made zucchini pancakes--not breakfast pancakes, but a sort of dinner fritter--then maybe you can just humour me, sooth my ego a little with a, 'looks good, rach, never thought of that!'

I've made these a couple times now, and they've been enjoyed by all who forked full. The recipe is pretty much a cinch, grated zuch, a couple scoops of flour and a couple eggs. The trick to success, is patience in the cooking process. These babies take time, so let them fry for a good eight minutes (ish) on each side, otherwise they will break up in your pan and you will needlessly curse my name aloud.

You can count on one pound of zucchini per 2 adults, and if you're math is as iffy as mine, I'll save you the brainpower: the following recipe feeds 4.

Zucchini Pancakes
2 pounds zucchini, weighed then grated--if you're two lazy to weigh, about 6 medium zuchs
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
salt (at least 1 tsp)

Mix the ingredients in a bowl. Heat up 1-2 Tbsps olive oil on medium heat in a large pan--I use a big skillet. Spoon the mixture into pancakes in the pan, cooking about 4 at a time, and cook for about 8 minutes on each side, depending on your heat, the thickness of your pan, etc. But you want the pancakes to be cooked through or they will be slimy and will fall apart on you. So be very patient.

Top the pancake with one or more of the following (or invent your own topping):
  • corn and tomatoes
  • diced tomatoes with fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, a little olive oil, and coarse salt
  • sour cream
  • yogurt cheese
  • pesto mixed with yogurt
You get the idea.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Summer's End Tomato Sauce

Hi Haley,

I was sorting through my pantry cupboard and thinking of you, and of last year when you and I tackled the job of reorganizing your kitchen…I’m getting sentimental, particularly when I think of those raisins strewn throughout your pantry. Pantry cleaning is very boring without you. My pantry doesn’t have nearly as many hilarious surprises (ten bags of half-finshed oats). Although, I did find a small bag of peanut butter chips. I don’t even like peanut butter chips, but I made the mistake of undoing the twist tie and suddenly they disappeared. You know what it’s like embarking upon a distasteful task; food is such a comfort.

Anyhow, the point of this post is to pass on to you my end-of-summer tomato sauce. I know we are supposed to be posting nostalgic recipes from childhood but this recipe just couldn't wait.

Your garden is likely overrun with tomatoes, whereas Caleb and I celebrated the growing of three single tomato plants this summer. We actually were really happy because in our absence these last two months, they didn’t receive a lick of water, except for what was sent from above, yet they managed to survive and bear fruit, but not enough for a pot of sauce. So I went down to SunWing farm and picked up a giant flat.

I like to can the sauce but you can also just toss it in your freezer. I jar it because I don’t have a large freezer, and I also like to have it right on hand, no defrosting necessary, so when I’m home from work and out of ideas for dinner, I can just toss it in a pot with some veggies.

The recipe calls for 5 pounds of tomatoes. I wouldn’t attempt doubling that unless you have a very large pot. Also, don’t use an aluminum pot or a cast-iron pot or your sauce will taste funny as tomatoes don’t do well in these materials.

And I think that’s all.

Except for the Sauce.

Basil Tomato Sauce

5 pounds tomatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
one handful fresh basil

Wash and quarter the tomatoes

Heat the oil in a large pot and add the tomatoes and basil.

Let simmer until the tomatoes are soft, about 30 min.

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill. (You can buy a food mill at any kitchen store or at a thrift shop. They have a handle that turns and pushes the food through a seive. This way, you end up with a suace and the tomato skin and seeds are left behind. You cannot use a blender in place of the food mill.)

Return the sauce to the pot, turn the heat up and reduce the sauce to the consistency of a thick juice. Voila, you are done.

If you would like to can the sauce, place clean jars in a canning pot as you make the sauce. You must boil them for 15 minutes to steralize the glass. Keep the jars hot before filling them with the sauce. Return the jars to the canner and process in boiling water for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sunnyside-Up Over Rice-

Rach -

Thanks for logging me onto your school computer - I'm living in a luddite world at the present, I'm computer-free at Mom and Guy's this week. I'm going to see if I can actually get to posting a recipe - it all depends on how long Guy can entertain Finn in the classroom next door. I'm looking forward to being on the island for a few more days, and yes, eating with you (all in the name of blog-material of course).

What is this food wonder? A fried egg on a brown rice risotto (my take on a Spanish Rice kind of risotto). Even if you don't follow my risotto method, all you really need to take away from this post is that: you need to put a fried egg on your next meatless rice dish. You'll love me even more, if possible, than you do right now.

Here's what I did (please realize that this the amounts listed here are very approximate- don't try this if you are someone who needs precise measurements - yes I often give this warning but this time I mean it):

First I sauteed over a long slow heat: 1 finely minced onion and 2 cloves garlic garlic.

I added: 2 diced tomatoes and after cooking for a few minutes I pureed the lot with my immersion blender (this is unnecessary for most, necessary if you live with a texture-phobe).

Then I added: 1 cup medium grain brown rice and 1/2 tsp or so salt, pepper, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and an MSG-free beef bouillon cube.

Still with me? Then I slowly added over med-high heat about 1 cup of water (if you have beef or chicken stock you can skip the bouillon and use that in place of the water), mixing frequently with the lid off. Everytime the water seemed absorbed I gave the mixture a stir, put the heat up a notch, added another 1/2 cup or so, stirred again and then put the heat low again to simmer. I don't know how much liquid I added, maybe 3 cups?, but time-wise I did this over about 45 minutes.

At this point the rice still had a slightly chewy texture -I ensured that the rice was 'loose' with a bit more liquid, and then put the lid on and turned the heat off.

I left the pot for about half an hour and then, when Mike phoned me to let me know he was en route home from school (giving me about 15 minutes), I turned the heat back on under my rice, adding another 1/3 or so cup liquid and 1 cup of peas.

About 10 minutes to eating time, I started frying the eggs - you could also do a poach if have the gift of poaching (I don't). I like a soft yolk for this dish, I'll leave this up to your preference.

Right before serving I did a final seasoning taste, then plated the risotto, and sprinkled with grated old cheddar (parmesan would be great but I didn't have any) and chives from my garden. The final step? Place your fried egg atop.

Next time I make this I am going to try simplifying it by just adding all the liquid at once pilaf-style.

The verdict? Even Mike and Grace, of the white-rice camp, declared this to be delicious.

OK, I better go see what Finn and Grandpa are up to. Oh, and I think that the chocolate cake you made for Grandma's 88th festivities this past Sunday was on par with, or possibly even surpassed, your coconut creation . Sorry, this is a shamless recipe request.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spinach Filo Quiche

Rach -

Happy Easter. Finn just had the sweetest phone call from his cousin Atley- Please visualize, no, I need you to 'hear-ize' in a super cute 2-year old voice- 'HAPPY EASTER FINN!' Finn thinks it's so awesome that someone not a grandma wants to talk to him on the phone, that he starts laughing uncontrollably, and then moves onto yelling random nonsense words into the mouthpiece. Hopefully his social skills pick up before kindergarten.

The annual bun-fest was delicious as always. The overnight rising had us savouring hot-cross buns for a Good Friday breakfast, as opposed to the usual later coffee brunch-fest. I added one cup of finely chopped apple, but it almost absorbed into the dough, anyway we didn't even notice this addition.

I loved the look of your new hot cross bun recipe and I like the idea of the whole wheat - I need to point out though, that I found no evidence of any type of dried fruit in your recipe (must have been the sun in your eyes). What did you put in, how much, and when should I add said fruit? Waiting a whole other year for hot cross buns seems a little long so I might be a little wild this year and pull out, just for kicks, a Canada bun on July 1st (maybe with a maple syrup glaze?), or maybe a special Harvest Bun with cranberries for Thanksgiving? The possibilities are endless. I could rhapsodize about buns at length but had better move on to more exciting topics.

Such as spinach quiche. With filo. This is a post dedicated to those who want to be able to make a meal with 20 min or less prep time. It's also a dish that I like to have the ingredients in my freezer for, so that when I realize that my fresh veggie supply has dwindled, I can whip it up without having to make an impromptu grocery run. Finally, this is a great meal for you Rach - as less than a month since you posted pictures of a splayed brick chick, you and Caleb are now off meat.

What you need for this seriously easy dish is a box of filo and some frozen spinach in your freezer. Here's what I used:
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 package defrosted spinach drained, or the equivalent fresh pre-cooked spinach
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup or so chopped green onions
  • 1/3 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheese - I used aged cheddar
  • 8 (or so) sheets of filo. Defrost this in your fridge overnight or on the counter for a few hours. You won't use all the sheets but I have successfully re-frozen the remainder of the filo for another day.
This is a flexible recipe. The filling is forgiving and you could easily saute some minced garlic and onion, or any carnivores out there could add some diced bacon or pancetta.

First, while the filo is still covered, make your filling. Combine the eggs, milk, spinach, green onions and cheese. I have to be honest, I don't actually measure the ingredients so you are making this with a leap of faith. I didn't have any feta left, but for a play on spanakopita this would be a great addition.

Next you need to layer your filo into your pie plate. I really took the fast route and used (close your eyes for a second Rach - or please don't judge me) a quick spray of Pam between the sheets. I know, the contents in a can of aerosol Pam can't be good for you. Brushing some olive oil or melted butter between the layers would be the more real food alternative. If the filo breaks a bit no worries. Leave the edges hanging over the pie plate until you've done the layers.

Then you need to pour your filling into the shell. Put the edges of the filo over the filling and bake in the oven for about 40 min at 350 degrees - or until the filling looks set and the crust is brown.

Let it set for 10 minutes or so, toss a salad and there you have it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another Thwack at the Rebar Curry

Mooch, you are getting ahead of me. Congrats, I know that will make you happy. I wrote this in response to your Texas entry but then got in a fight with my computer and couldn't upload. Your cinny buns look awesome, by the way. Always a crowd pleaser...Are you planning hotcross buns? Anyways, here's what I wrote on Sunday:

Hi Haley,

Yes, I understand the pre-trip panic. I can only imagine it must be heightened by the added responsibility of a baby and a toddler. I have enough trouble getting my own underwear and wallet (the two essentials) into a bag. In fact, on departure for Mexico, half way to the school, where we met before leaving for the 7:00 ferry, I felt the panic, reached into my purse to feel for my wallet, and sure enough, realized I was driving without it. Needless to say, I was twenty minutes late. The kids were watching from the bus, sleeping bags and pillows already loaded, as my gold beetle came roaring into the parking lot. Well I made it. And all the way home, too. And I've been cooking.

Much of late has been Mexican inspired, but yesterday, due to the presence of a jalapeno pepper and a handful of cilantro in the fridge (yes, I know, Mexican ingredients), I instead went South Asian and tackled that delicious Rebar coconut curry. Yum. I have always been daunted by making my own curry paste. The Rebar list of ingredients looks long and involved. Plus the added weight of making the curry after I've preped the paste... I discovered the secret, which is to make the paste before hand. I've also simplified the recipe to its essential parts and switched the vegetables. Please try this, Moochie, you won't be disappointed.

My Simple Rebar Coconut Curry

Curry Paste

2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground pepper
4 garlic cloves
A thumb of ginger
½ cup chopped shallots or onions
2 jalapeno peppers
½ tsp red pepper flakes (sub ground red pepper if necessary)
1 bunch cilantro
Juice of a lime or half a large lemon
1 Tbsp salt
1/3 to ½ cup oil

Whiz it all in a food processor

The Curry- Enough for 2-3 servings (make brown rice to accompany)

1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 to 1 and ½ cups coconut milk
2 Tbsp curry paste
¼ cup water
½ a fist sized potato
½ Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp fish sauce (optional)
½ a red pepper
½ cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup grate cabbage
A squeeze of lime or lemon juice

Heat a pan over medium heat and add about ¼ to 1/3 cup of coconut milk. Add the curry and mix it in. Add the water and potatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until the potatoes are just tender.

Add the sugar, soy and fish sauce, remaining veggies, chickpeas, and remaining coconut milk. The coconut should cover the veggies. If it cooks down too much you can always add more coconut milk and/or more water. Cover and cook until the veggies are tender.

Just before taking off the heat, stir in the lime juice. Taste, and adjust the seasoning to taste (more soy sauce or salt or lime or curry paste).

Friday, February 19, 2010

I don't like meatloaf-

I loved your last post. Seriously, I went back frequently just to look at your finished brick chick. There is something about plucked whole chickens that make me alternate between feeling sorry and wanting to chuckle. Mom roasted a speciman a few weeks ago and judging by its position in the roaster, I was sure it was going to sprint the 100 meters, or I should say skate the thousand.

I have a good Olympic-viewing-cooking set up right now. I am working on my middle island counter-top, on the far end where I can view Mike's 42 inch flat screen baby. With the crowds cheering me on, I attempted to conquer an old nemesis - meatloaf (cue thunder and scary music)-

I'm just not that into meatloaf - I'll eat it, sure, but it's on that short list of things I'm not wild for. In the normal world this would be a non-issue- don't love it, then don't cook it. However, since Mike is the pickiest person I know (seriously, everytime somebody tells me that they are picky I just laugh - no one has even come close to Mikey). If Mike ever questions my love - which he may mentally do on a 'why didn't my children sleep last night' kind of grumpy day, then he just needs to look at the plethora of Mike-friendly meals coming out of my kitchen. A key player in his food loves is ground beef. No, nothing resembling a steak, nope, just chuck it into a blender for my manly man.

On my quest for ground beef creativity, meatloaf factors in - well behind the lovely meatball and the mighty hamburger, but eventually we get to meatloaf. In an attempt to tart up the conventional meatloaf I went on the offensive. I stuffed it. Boy, did I stuff it. And I have to say, even I, with a meatloaf aversion, thought that it was OK. The rest of the dinner table was more enthusiastic, Finn polished off two adult-sized servings with ease.

1) Make your basic meatloaf recipe. Now, I don't have a recipe per se, I am sure the wonderful world of google will give you lots of options. I will give you my meatloaf 'method.' Aside: a method not a recipe, therefore I am in no way responsible if your interpretation of my method is not awesome.

Haley's Mealoaf Method: Take some beef - I generally use 2 pounds which makes a good sized loaf. Then add some flavour, this varies as to my mood - I always add: salt and pepper, and garlic powder. I usually add: 1 small grated or finely chopped onion. I often add: dash of dijon mustard, barbecue sauce, and/or worcestershire and I occasionally add: grated carrot (if I'm feeling that we need to up the veggie in-take). Next I add about 1/3 cup of fine oatmeal or bread crumbs. Finally, most people add an egg to bind - I've done with and without and don't notice a difference- this time I added about 1/3 cup of tomato sauce instead.

2) Now for the Filling and Rolling-
If you're still with me - next, on a large cookie sheet lined with my silicon mat ( if you don't have one I would use foil or parchment), I patted the meatloaf mixture into a large rectangle - a bit bigger than a 9 by 13 pan. Then I spread one package of defrosted and drained spinach (you could use fresh, just cook it first), topped with about 2/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese. Then I rolled the whole baby up length-wise. Does that make sense? Rolling on the vertical to get a long skinny roll. Picture one giant sushi roll. If the meat crumbles just patch it back and keep going. I then put the whole roll on the middle of the cookie sheet (still on the mat) and baked it at 350 for an hour. Maybe 5 minutes before it was done I spread some tomato sauce on top. You could also top it with barbecue sauce or grated cheese.

In the meantime roast your potatoes and make a salad - You might just see me on the podium yet!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Brick Chick

Hi Haley,

First off, you should know that this post is as much for Heather as it is for you, as I've come to realize how much she loves appetizing photos. I have a feeling the splayed naked chicken is really going to do it for her. Heather: enjoy!

Chicken Under a Brick: The Photo Journey

This is one of those recipes that looks difficult and results in an impressive finished product BUT is in fact a cinch (great word) to prepare.

The gist is, you strip your chicken of her backbone, smoosh her flat, then cook her in a hot pan under a brick.

I use a heavy cast iron pot rather than a brick. To use a brick, find a vacant lot, and then a brick. Wrap your brick in tin foil and you're ready to go.

Step One: Remove your chicken's backbone.

Do this by putting your chicken on a cutting board breast up, and slicing on either side of the backbone. This will take some force. After the bone is removed use your hands to flatten the chicken. You want it to be as flat as possible so that it cooks evenly in the pan.

Step Two: Season your Chicken's Bod

Rub your chicken with a little olive oil, some coarse or table salt, and some freshly ground pepper. You may also dice some garlic and add that to your rub, or any other herbs such as rosemary or thyme.

Step Three: Fry that Bird
Heat a pan with a teeny bit of oil over medium heat. When it's good and hot, add the chicken and push the brick down on top of it. The breast should be down on the pan. Cook this way for 10-15 minutes before removing the brick and flipping the chicken. Cook breast up without the weight of the brick for another ten minutes. Flip the breast down and cook for another five. If you have a particularly large bird, you will need to finish cooking the bird in a 400 degree oven. You will know the bird is done when the legs move easily in their joints and the juices run clear from the leg joint area.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Hello! You must be on the home stretch of your teaching contract. I still have to make it to the store in search of buckwheat flour to make your new bread. I have left you some questions that also need to be addressed. Otherwise, I predict an emergency call in the middle of the bread-making process.

Which reminds me, I meant to tell you that my grape jelly actually does have some 'jell' to it. Do you remember last September when I called you frantically for jelly-making advice? Who knew that instruction reading and timing was so critical in the making of jelly? And who knew that 'interpretation' of a jelly recipe isn't a great idea? A few months in the freezer passed before I was able to bring myself to actually open a jar. Angels were singing the hallelujah chorus on my shoulder after I dipped a spoon in and actually met with something slightly jiggly.

Where was I? Oh yes, buckwheat- Going to the store these days is something that happens more infrequently then it used to. My little assistant chef is much better at food production and consumption than resisting the beautiful, shiny packaging at the supermarket. Despite a 'grocery shopping-with-Mommy-ban,' in the kitchen we are a team. Finn's culinary skills are becoming honed. He now asks me about finding recipes, pores over the pages of my cookbooks in search of the prettiest cookies, and has become a top-notch egg cracker. Any breakdown in this team concept he comes by honestly - like his mother he has a penchant for a sweet, buttery dough. Despite promises of bowl licking, delayed gratification is an elusive comment for a two and a half year old, and I frequently catch the little monkey with his finger in the batter.

Notice that while I have devoted a good paragraph to Finn and his foodie ways, I managed to restrain myself from actually posting pics of my children. This was difficult. It's just that they are so sweet. In 2-D photography anyway. In real life the sweetness-level is on a vastly sliding scale- Finn no longer has a light bulb in his room, and has a child-lock on the inside of his door. Coby, however, isn't old enough to be naughty yet - and now that she is starting to realize that sleep is good, it's all I can do not to nibble those cute little ears- she's so delish.

Last week I made your Six Minute Cake. It was fabulous - and while I didn't clock it I felt that the preparation time took pretty close to the promised 6. I also made the No Knead Bread. It was great, but I wasn't sure whether to take insult or pleasure when Mike's review came in- "This bread is awesome - it must be from the store."

My latest offering comes as a result of this store-avoidance and plays upon an effort to make do with my fridge and pantry offerings. A half tub of ricotta sat waiting for some loving. Combined with some neglected stalks of broccoli we had a great meal.

Broccoli-Cheese Crepes

First I took advantage of my sleeping beauties and made the crepes during nap time. You can use your favourite crepe recipe - I did half wheat flour and half white. It's odd, but in crepes I really don't notice the whole wheat- likely because I tend to eat them slathered with something sweet. I used a cup and a half of flour which made 10 crepes. I could only use 9 because for some inexplicable reason Finn put a not-so-fresh wash cloth on one of them.

Next came the filling. I sauteed over a low, long heat a finely chopped red onion and 1 clove of garlic. I chopped up, again fairly fine, the equivalent of about 2 cups of broccoli. I steamed this in the microwave, drained and let this cool before combining the broccoli with the onion/garlic combo and the half tub of ricotta (250 g).

Cheese sauce. I made a bechamel sauce (1 T butter, 1 T flour, 2 cups milk, salt & pepper) and added maybe half a cup of old cheddar. I spread just enough to cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 dish and then got to the business of filling my pretties.

I put a little blob of the ricotta-broccoli mixture on each crepe so that I knew that I would have even filling distribution, and then rolled them up, placing them all nice and snug in the dish. I ladled the remainder of the sauce on top, sprinkled with some more cheese and put them into a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Oh, they tasted fabulous. Combined with a salad this was a great meal. It sounds pretty fiddly, and I guess it was, but because I did it in a few steps it didn't feel like it took that long. Another nice thing is you can make this earlier in the day. I think spinach would be a great replacement for the broccoli.

I will call you soon - I feel like we haven't talked for an age - Mom and Dad gave rave reviews about Caleb's latest show. I'm hoping that it's still up in the first week of February? Can't wait to see his Cathedral Grove Pics!


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Salad Awesomeness


I'm still in that post-holiday, nibbling away at my chocolate letter mode. Even me, of the sweetest tooth, can get sugar-overload. So to start the New Year off right I needed to open the crisper and pull out the veggies!

Ever since we shared the Rebar salad with basil vinaigrette, I have been itching to make the dressing. I'm often reluctant to go beyond a side-salad at a restaurant, but oh, with your learned guidance I was in salad nirvana. I thought that I was going to have to do some experimenting to get my take on the vinaigrette perfected, but happily, the Rebar folk have provided the recipe in their cookbook.

I know that you have the book, but here is the recipe-

Rebar's Basil Vinaigrette

Combine in a food processor-

2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 T dijon mustard
2T honey
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 bunch basil (45 grams - I used a 30 gram bunch)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Add slowly to processor- 1 cup olive oil.

Voila. Store in fridge for up to a week.

Happy new year, say hi to C for me!

P.S. You have the sweetest niece.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dearest H.,

I come with humblest apologies for my seemingly MIA in blog land. While I have strayed, my heart has remained true to Reems Eats. Let it be known that in my absence, not once did I peruse another Food Blog; not once did I fail to sigh after creating a delicious bit of food and think, what a wonderful post this would be; and not once did I forget the times we've had here, together, in this strange cyber meeting place.

I don't ask you to understand why I left, why I had to go. I only ask for you to take me back, along with this amazing ground-breaking recipe for a skillet eggplant lasagna. All this could be yours...

Skillet Eggplant Lasagna

I made this in a truly Reems-fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants moment. A dinner date at friends, for Caleb's birthday, was cancelled at the last minute and my fridge was a desolate landscape, inhabited by a mere couple cheeses, some lettuce, an eggplant and half a bag of mushrooms (plus the other usual odds and sods). But we had a birthday to celebrate, so with a slap and a dash this new, veggie-heavy noodle-light lasagna was born. You can customize the following recipe to suit whatever is in your fridge.

The Ingredients:

2 pieces of bread (preferably whole wheat)
2Tbsp to 1/4 cup (aprox) walnuts (sub almonds or pecans)
1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese (optional)

A medium-sized eggplant, cut into rectangular pieces, about one inch long
a couple handfuls of mushrooms (I think the more mushrooms the better), sliced
two garlic cloves, minced
tomato sauce (a sauce ready for pasta- I use my own canned sauce. Use a pre-made pasta sauce, or make one using canned tomatoes-- saute garlic and onions, add tomatoes, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar and simmer for 30-60 mins)

Dried or fresh lasagna noodles
1/4-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup cheddar or mozzarella cheese
basil (optional)

The Work:
Roast or saute the vegetables. If sauteing, start with the garlic and add the eggplant, then as it softens, throw in the mushrooms and cook until they've released their juices and softened.

Mulch bread, nuts, and Parmesan cheese in the food processor. Taste and add salt and pepper or additional nuts if necessary.

Assemble your creation in a 10-12 inch skillet or a corning ware (any oven-proof dish will do). Cover the bottom of the dish with tomato sauce.
Spread a layer of vegetables on top (use half the veggies). Shake half of the bread/nut mixture on top of the veggie layer. Dot with ricotta cheese. It doesn't need to be covered with the ricotta, just as long as you've got blobs spread out evenly on top of the veggies.
Top with one layer of pasta noodles. This will be your only pasta layer. Top with a generous layer of sauce. If you are using dried noodles, or fresh, for that matter, you don't need to precook them if you use a generous portion of sauce. The noodles will cook in the sauce in the oven.

Top with remaining vegetables. Top with remaining bread/nut mixture. Cover with a sparing layer of mozzarella cheese. If you like, artfully dot any remaining ricotta on the top of the lasagna and sprinkle it with chopped basil.

Bake at 375 for 45 min or until the lasagna is hot and bubbling.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Roasted Veggies and Feta

Hey Rach-

It's been a busy week- first a trip to Calgary, and then off to the Okanogan with the Cobster for a girls weekend. I have to say, traveling with a 2 year-old and a 7-week babe isn't for the faint of heart. Your darling nephew staged quite a wailing protest as we dragged him from the play area at the Calgary airport. However, we had great visits with friends, and I had a confirmation that Chilliwack now feels like home. My next trip is to Victoria in only 10 days - Donna's birthday weekend coincides with her favourite Grandmother activity - the Sidney Santa Clause parade. So we're hopping the ferry and coming to see you. I'm hoping for some sister hang-outs; I was actually thinking that another girls' night to the Rebar would be fun. Which reminds me, I finally tried the Rebar cookbook's peanut butter-chocolate chunk squares that we have been speculating about. They were good, but I wouldn't quite elevate them to the super category.

Heather, our faithful reader, has requested some seasonal recipes. My old Crazy Plates standby came to mind. Have I made you the Garden of Eaten' before? It's a medley of roasted veggies tossed with balsamic vinegar and feta cheese. I use the recipe pretty loosely, using up the veg in my crisper and adding herbs as I am inspired. I play up the seasonal veggies; in the fall I add squash, or even halved brussel sprouts. I'm going to list the vegetables that I used last week when I made this, I also like to use zucchini, mushrooms, yams, other coloured peppers.. anything that would taste good roasted.

Roasted Veggies with Feta (adapted from Crazy Plates)

Dice veggies (these are suggestions only)-
4 yukon gold potatoes
1/2 acorn (or other) squash
2 carrots
1 red onion
1 red pepper (yellow or orange)
2 cloves minced garlic

Toss with 1 T olive (or canola) oil, salt, pepper & 1 tsp oregano

Roast at 400 degrees for aprox 40 min or until potatoes are tender.

Toss with 2 T balsamic vinegar& 1/2 c crumbled feta.


OK, I have a book to finish. We'll talk soon!