Monthly Archives: April 2009

seasonal eating?

Okay, so seasonal eating is obviously a good idea for a million reasons that range from general deliciousness to ethical choices. And, it should be way easier, since it is spring and things that aren’t sweet potatoes are finally growing and I have been making weekly treks to farmers’ markets and so on. But, I have also been thinking about the recipe for what Casa Moro calls winter tabouleh for just about ever (or, for three months). And, since Casa Moro is in Spain, maybe it’s safe to say that their winter is our right now?

Either way, I made this awesome tabouleh.

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  • 1 1/3 cups bulgar
  • 3/4 head of cauliflower, cut into little little florets
  • 1 endive, finely chopped
  • 3/4 bulb of fennel, finely chopped
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate (key!)
  • 1 handful flat parsley, chopped
  • 1 smaller handful of mint, chopped

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • salt and pepper

Let the bulgar sit in water for 15 minutes or so, until it’s light and fluffy, ish, and then drain it. Meanwhile, chop up all the ingredients, make the dressing and toss everything together. Delicious! Pretty fresh, too, particularly for wintertime.  This recipe yields a lot, so maybe half it if you aren’t interested in eating it for four days in a row…  Or, sharing!

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ramps!

Ramps are hard to find, which makes me want them pretty hard. I love a food challenge (note that I do not love other challenges). Anyway, recently Natalie found a bunch of ramps and so we set out to make a meal out of them. Unfortunately, ramps are just wild leeks, and are a bit hard to focus an entire meal around. And, the fact that they’re only available for a few weeks a year means that there aren’t too many recipes out there. Luckily, we pulled together and made a pretty delicious dinner.

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We made ramp pesto by blending together two bunches of ramps, a smallish hunk of pecorino, 4 cloves of garlic (note to self and roommates: we are out of garlic!), olive oil, and salt and pepper. Then we spread this on puff pastry (whoa!) and added thin slices of goat’s gouda. The pesto was very very intense. Generally I’m of the mindset that 4 cloves of garlic for a lot of pesto is not nearly enough, but this is not the case with ramp pesto. Serious kick!

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We also grilled some ramps and put them on bread, with something called “prosciutto butter.” Now, Eric calls paté “meat butter” and I thought this was pretty accurate, until we made prosciutto butter which is literally butter and prosciutto, blended together. It was a bit too much for me, to be honest.

We deviated a bit from the ramps-only part of the meal for the salad, and fried some fennel and garlic in a bit of oil and apricot chutney. Said chutney is now gone, in under a week, and I’ve only made salad dressing and grilled cheese. I’m going to have to pick up some more and do more experiments.

wychwood barns

The Wychwood Barns are totally awesome! I am in love with the farmers’ market, and the greenhouse, and the cute kids, and the art space, and the converted subway graveyard. So wonderful. I really can’t emphasize the adorableness of this place, but it’s totally worth waking up early on a Saturday and biking up the Bathurst hill. Ashley and I went and got breakfast and treats.

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I had the banana bread french toast, she had poached eggs, both delicious, but will be more so as soon as summer weather takes over.

Last week I finally deviated from my regular Hibiscus order (salad) and got crepes. I was skeptical of the cheddar and chutney but it was seriously the most amazing lunch ever. So when I saw an apricot and hot pepper jelly at the market I thought I’d try to create an amazing grilled cheese.

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And, it worked! I totally recommend chutney and cheddar. Also, if you want to make friends at the bar, bring a loaf of bread, a jar of chutney, and a block of 5 year old cheddar.

Saturday brunch

I work on Sundays, so my brunching has really been curtailed (wah wahh! My life is haaard!). Luckily, I have wonderful friends who can pull together the best brunches ever. I’m not a huge fan of going to restaurants with large parties (though of course there are some notable exceptions – hello, family-style!), and staying in means you can really linger over food. Which is exactly what we did last Saturday.

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We had an amazing fruit spread with strained yogurt, two very amazing sweet treats, and a lot of meat. A lot of meat. Really, this brunch was inspired by the deservedly-popular newish meat and drinks restaurant in the city. I would like to keep up my not-waiting-for-a-table streak, but I’m pretty sure this place is only going to get more popular this summer. Anyway, I tried to recreate the Hot Date, a lavender, date, and gin drink. This is hard because I didn’t have any date syrup. But, an amazing, brunch-appropriate concoction worked itself out anyway!

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  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lavender
  • berry juice (I used Black Currant Cassis)
  • soda water
  • gin (use a shot glass to measure it, it’s brunch!)

Boil the water, sugar and lavender until the sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup cool, then mix a shot of gin with a splash of juice, a tablespoon or so of the syrup, and a bit of soda water. Refreshing!

We had tonnes of delicious food, baked french toast and upside-down plum cake, and it really goes without saying that we had two types of bacon. I definitely regret not taking a picture of Paige’s meat treat, which I can really only call “foot cheese” though I’m sure it has a real name.

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The food is all pretty, but I am kind of wishing I took some pictures of my even-prettier friends. Oops!

sweet potato and chorizo soup

Lately I’ve been pretty into the Smitten Kitchen. The blog is beautiful, the food is great, and there is a “surprise me” randomizer button that has led to hours of browsing. Recently I was really craving some meat, and this soup seemed like a lovely combination, since sweet potato is one of the very few foods that is in season here right now…

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The recipe ended up yielding way way more soup than I needed, or wanted, but it was pretty good. I’m halving the recipe I made, with the hopes that I won’t ever be stuck with twice-a-day soup for a week!

  • 1 chorizo sausage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced into pretty small pieces
  • 1 regular-size white potato, diced into equally small pieces
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • olive oil

In a large pot (seriously! I had to switch pots halfway through cooking!) heat some oil and fry the sausage. Once it’s fully cooked, set the sausage aside and fry the garlic and onions in the remaining oil. Add all the potatoes, and fry them for about ten minutes, then add the broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down a bit and simmer the soup for about 20 minutes. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, mash them up using a hand blender. Slice the chorizo and add it to the soup, then add the spinach. Simmer for a few minutes.

This recipe was a lot of chopping, because the potatoes have to be cut into pretty small pieces. Conveniently, I was able to listen to a whole episode of This American Life while making this soup, but to be perfectly honest I prefer soups to take less active-cooking time, more simmering-while-I-do-other-things time. But given that I’ve halved the recipe, it probably won’t take a full hour of chopping to make anymore.

amazing salad

I am completely obsessed with this salad. It has all my favourite things: avocado, Jamie Oliver, bread, garlic and cumin. So delicious! It’s also definitely a meal on its own, instead of a “salad” meal that leaves you hungry. I actually can’t say enough awesome things about this salad. I think I’ve made it four times in the last two weeks… but that might actually say more about my willingness to eat the same thing forever than it does about this salad.

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For the salad:

  • 2 medium carrots (not the huge, gmo-style ones, aim for skinny, local carrots)
  • greens
  • hunk of ciabatta, ripped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 avocado

For the dressing:

  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 2 dried chilies, crumbled
  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 1 lemon, halved

First, set the oven to 350.  Parboil the carrots for about ten minutes while you mix the cumin, garlic and chilies together.  Add enough olive oil so that the mixture is a paste, and then add a bit (2 tablespoons?  I didn’t measure!) of red wine vinegar, and stir up the dressing.  Once the carrots are parboiled, transfer them into a baking dish and pour the dressing over top, coating them.  Add the orange and lemon halves face down on the baking tray.  Bake the carrots and citrus for 25 minutes.  Dice the avocado, rip up the bread and toss them with the greens.  When the carrots come out of the oven, juice the oranges and lemons over top of the carrots.  There should be a lot of dressing.  Move the carrots aside and toss the salad in the dressing, waiting a minute or two so that the bread is nice and dressed.  Add the carrots on top.

Serious salad!