Monthly Archives: April 2008

simple sandwich

I am totally inspired by food on the internet. I am always visiting tastespotting, and moving from there. Generally, I figure it’s a pretty safe way to get recipes, because people wouldn’t bother to put up an awful recipe, and they would usually be pretty honest if it was somehow difficult. Anyway, awhile ago A Southern Grace put up these delicious looking tomatoes, and I have been dreaming of them ever since. Having now made them, I’m not sure why I thought about it for so long. They are ridiculously easy, and they really made me feel like my avocado and tomato sandwich was somehow special.

Basically, all you do is halve a bunch of grape tomatoes, add salt and pepper and bake them at 225 for an hour and a half or so. They’re tangy and chewy and generally excellent.

Another reason why this low-key sandwich is of note is the olive oil. In the picture, you can see a water bottle, and it is a pretty amazing olive oil from St. Lawrence Market. If you are interested in fancy oils, I totally recommend this one. It is pretty inexpensive and very delicious. Plus, you take it from a giant keg in the basement of the market which is kind of an adventure.

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matzo pizza party.

Last week was passover, and I celebrated many times though I am definitely not Jewish.  Zack had a Seder, which was wonderful but I was too busy eating many courses and drinking four glasses of wine to take pictures, and Jason and Angus had a very exciting matzo pizza party.  This party was exciting for many reasons.  First, Jason and Angus are awesome.  Second, they have a beautiful kitchen.  Third, everyone brought exciting pizza toppings, which is a wonderful way to live.  I love food options!

So we all got together to make lovely matzo pizzas.  Some of the options included sundried and regular tomatoes, smoked and unsmoked cheeses, many varieties of mushrooms, garlic, peppers, onions, and, the most intriguing was a “5 counties cheddar” which was five different cheddar cheese layered into one cheese.  This fancy cheese was so intriguing that it was totally eaten before the pizza making began.  Given the insane amount of options, we all made very delicious and different pizzas.  And, since matzo isn’t exactly the most filling, we all got to have many many pizzas.

Basically, this was tonnes of fun, and I really dream of more pizza parties, especially featuring matzo.  Another amazing time happened when I went back to pick up my forgotten camera, and Jason and Angus loaded me up with caramel-covered matzo.  BEST!  Sadly, we ate it all before taking a picture, but Ashley and I have big plans to make more.

first ever pot roast.

My father got me a slow cooker for Christmas. As I’ve said, it was a huge surprise because slow cooking is just not something I have ever seen anyone in my family do. Plus, I rarely cook meat, and the cooker’s signature roast was definitely not on my radar. So, I’ve stuck to veggie stews and beans. But, Zack has really been pushing a pot roast for the past four months, and so I decided to bring one to his Passover dinner. Conclusion: pot roasts are AMAZING.

Pros:

  • easy (I cup of beef broth, 2 diced onions, 1 chopped carrot, 5 diced celery stalks – brown the beef in a pan with salt and pepper and then cook on low for 8-10 hours)
  • very very melt-in-your-mouthy and delicious
  • hearty
  • impressive (people were strangely impressed given that i literally did nothing)
  • inexpensive (even if you use serious organic meat, you can use the worst cut and turn it into delicious)

Cons:

  • ugly (hence, no picture)

Yes, clearly there are times when it is better for dinner to taste amazing with little time and money than to have a beautiful picture. Which I do not have, because pot roasts are ugly. Plus, slow cookers are apparently so hot right now. Who knew?

jambalayaish

Apparently all I want to do to celebrate spring is eat seafood. This isn’t because it’s particularly fresh, or cooked in a summery way, but it’s all I seem to want lately. Anyway, I recently made this variation on everything I’ve been eating lately – but instead of on noodles or in soup, it was a rice dish.  It was easy and delicious, and I added avocado, which is my go-to method for making everything so much better.

  • 2 bags frozen shrimp
  • 3 pounds mussels
  • 2 cups red rice
  • 1 28 ounce can of tomatoes
  • 2 cups soup stock
  • garlic
  • onion
  • olive oil
  • white vinegar
  • avocado

Separate the tomatoes from the tomato juice, and steam the mussels in the canned tomato juice, adding water if you need it.  When the mussels are cooked, set them aside, and cook the rice in two cups of the the tomato/mussel liquid and two cups of soup stock.  I used red rice, and it had to cook for about 45 minutes.  While the rice is cooking, diced the onion and chop the garlic, and then fry the shrimp with oil, and the garlic and onion.  Separate the mussels from the mussel shells, and add them in with the shrimp at the last minute, along with the tomatoes.  Last, add the rice, along with some vinegar, and mix well.  Toss in the avocado after serving.  I found that hot sauce really helped this dish, but it was pretty good.

quinoa crusted chicken

For Christmas this past year, my father got me many beautiful cookbooks. The most interesting, I think is Diane Forley’s Anatomy of a Dish, which focuses on complete dishes and understanding the foundations of dishes. It’s actually really complicated, and I have to admit I haven’t read it all yet (and, yes, it’s one of those cookbooks you really should read, with charts for different plant families and whatnot). Even without many pictures, the book is gorgeous, and I do love food pictures.

Anyway, last night I made the quinoa-crusted chicken, which is basically a protein explosion, but also surprisingly good given the simple recipe. The cookbook comes with accompaniments, so I also tried the Spinach and Herb Sauce that was recommended.

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 2 large scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • olive oil

Combine the quinoa, scallions, ginger, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread the flour on a separate plate. Beat the eggs and put them on another plate. Dip the chicken breasts in the flour first, then the egg, then the quinoa breading, making sure everything sticks. Heat the oil and add the chicken, cooking on the first side until they’re browned, which takes maybe 7 minutes, then flip, and cook the other side, I guess another 7 minutes.

After dinner, my stomach was a bit sorry, but it might have been the Dairy Queen blizzard I had for dessert, but it also could have been that the quinoa (maybe?) expands in your stomach? I don’t know.

The Spinach and Herb Sauce was easy and Neil and Zack kept saying it was delicious but I think they were maybe just being nice. It was good, but not the most amazing. I am always hesitant to not add garlic… but I followed the recipe this time.  I realize that I’m not really talking up this sauce.  It’s good!

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 pound spinach
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons 1-inch chive lengths
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add the spinach and add salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally (I recommend tongs here), until the spinach is wilted, which takes maybe 5 minutes.  Add the chives, parsley, and the recipe at this point also calls for 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon which I did not have.  Add half a cup of water and bring to a simmer.  I just left this at low heat until I had prepped everything for the chicken, which was a good system.  Then I got Zack to actually handle the raw chicken, because I hate it, and I took over the sauce, puréeing it in a food processor.  Then I added more salt, and served it warm.  It was really nice directly on the chicken.

IMPORTANT QUESTION!  Why is the garlic on the asparagus a beautiful turquoise colour?  This is not the colour of garlic!  I fried the asparagus in a bit of olive oil with garlic and lemon juice.  What’s going on?  This is not a rhetorical question!

espressados

This weekend we had a delicious potluck brunch but I was overwhelmed with food choices and so I forgot to take many pictures. I tried to recreate Saving Grace’s amazing espressado, but now that I know what’s in it, it is definitely only coming out on the specialist of occasions. Seriously, it is amazing.

  • 2 avocados
  • 300 ml sweetened condensed milk (yes, this is a lot)
  • 5 shots of espresso
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla
  • ice

This recipe makes seven drinks, so I guess it isn’t so bad. Just combine everything in a blender (I went bit by bit in the bullet, which, contrary to popular (my) belief, doesn’t actually serve you a burrito or milkshake or whatever you ask for) and blend, adding things until it tastes delicious.

Also featured at brunch was another clafouti, these blue cheese brie and fig puffs, mac and cheese, so much beautiful fruit, bacon (obvs!) and a watermelon salad.

The watermelon salad is so refreshing, just cubed watermelon, cucumber, feta, and basil. I predict many watermelon salads this summer. It was a slightly more savoury version of Lindsay’s watermelon salad.

And!  Thea did the most amazing bacon cooking trick which is cooking it in the microwave.  I am a total convert: all you do is put the bacon in the microwave for two and a half minutes, covered by paper towel, drain the fat, do it again, and so on until it’s the consistency you like.  This is wonderful because the bacon cooks flat, which is perfect for sandwiches etc.  Impressed!

hibiscus

I am so so so into Hibiscus right now. I have probably walked past it a billion times, since it’s right on Augusta, just above Nassau in Kensington Market, but I only just started going. It is just the most amazing lunch of my life, for real. Everything is vegan and gluten-free, which is good for some but unnecessary for me. The main selling point is really that it is delicious. Seriously amazing.

I am almost always against ordering salads in restaurants. Because really, you look at them, and then you’re like “okay… lettuce, avocado, walnuts, cheese, citrus dressing. I can make this at home, easily.” And I am opposed to ordering food I can make at home if someone else is making it, mostly because there are tonnes of foods that I can’t or won’t make, and I’ll never have them unless I get them from a delicious restaurant. But! Hibiscus salads are worth it.

First of all, you get many, many salads. And none of them feature lettuce! Basically, everyday at Hibiscus they make a series of delicious salads, and then you order a salad bowl and get to try all of them! The picture above is green beans, sweet potato, quinoa with cranberry and sunflower seeds, sesame broccoli, a lentil salad, a tofu salad, and in the middle are beet salads, carrot salads and i think a soy paste. All are amazingly delicious, and it’s the perfect size for lunch and I feel totally virtuous eating that many colours. I’m convinced that eating many colours must be healthy, I hope to find proof one day soon.

Update! This post has served its purpose!  Ashley, Tony and my mother have all said they want to go to Hibiscus this week.  It sort of doesn’t count because Ashely and Tony introduced me to the place, but I still consider this a moral victory for the internet!