Monday, December 16, 2013

cauliflower (not) pizza

I really like putting vegetables, fruit and other healthy stuff into foods that might otherwise be a little less nutritious. Zucchini bread, carrot muffins, black bean brownies, chickpea muffins, any sort of fruit or vegetable purée into unexpected places. I love how sneaky and tricky it makes me feel. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

apple cinnamon baked oatmeal

My life is significantly better if I have prepared enough breakfast for a few days. I'm not so great at the morning portion of life and I tend to be running perpetually late. It is a great comfort during these moments to know that there is a tasty, healthy, portable breakfast waiting for me. It doesn't stop me from my usual morning flailing search for my keys and the other shoe to go with the one on my foot.

But it does slightly balm my nerves to have something to eat once I find everything.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

a cake for fall: brown butter and toasted pecan

Always watch the sugar. 

That voice that tells you, when you put sugar in a dry pan on high heat, "Just go into the other room for just a moment, just turn away for a minute, you won't forget about the sugar, just leave it for a second, it'll be fine." That voice is a liar. Maybe you don't hear that voice, maybe you are better at recognizing that the voice is wrong, maybe you stay with your sugar. I listened. And of course I didn't come right back, of course I forgot there was sugar in a pan over an open flame cranked up to eleven. I started grabbing recipes, assembling supplies, puttering. By the time I remembered the sugar, my apartment was full of smoke. Can't-see-across-the-room kind of smoke. And the sugar wasn't just burnt, it was on fire. Flame actually leaping out of the pan: a blackened, charred, disgusting sugar inferno.  

And then all the fire alarms went off. In the whole building. On a Saturday morning. No one in the building could turn the fire alarms off, so the firepeople had to come, in a great big firetruck just to turn off the alarm. I'm pretty sure everyone who lives in my building hates me now.

So watch the sugar. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

toffee with pecans and smoked salt

I'm working on few recipes for food gifts that I can make and package for Christmas presents. This pecan toffee is definitely on the list. They are pretty quick and easy to make and very tasty. They store well, so you can make them a little in advance if you wish. Store them in the fridge or somewhere cool. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

keep on hand: preserved lemons

Preserved lemons are great to have around. They are very easy and inexpensive to make, but quite expensive to buy. Whenever I see them for sale a teeny jar costs $10-15.  You will feel very smug when you have homemade preserved lemons and you see those fancy expensive ones in shops. They also make an excellent last minute host gift if you keep an extra jar or two in the fridge. 

Preserved lemons add this wonderful salty, bright boost to all sorts of dishes. I like to puree them  into salad dressing and hummus, mince them and rub onto fish or stick a whole preserved lemon inside a chicken I'm roasting. They are traditionally used in North African cooking, but they are very versatile and I find they work well with all sorts of different flavours, especially feta, halloumi, mint, garlic and chilies. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

healthier bran muffins

Despite the reputation muffins have for being healthy-ish, many bakery and supermarket muffins are nutritionally on par with a slice of birthday cake sprinkled with bran. White flour, shortening, lots of sugar...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

roasted yam and goat cheese wraps

I didn't get absolutely everything I wanted in my new house, but I did get my gas range.
 I love it. 
First of all, I'm sorry for not posting anything in ages; I am in a bit of life chaos right now that is eating up all of my time and energy. I moved into a much smaller apartment and I am currently unpacking/panicking about having way way too much stuff and not knowing quite what to do with it.

In my moving and stress haze, I have been trying to eat things that are easy to make and at least sort of healthy, since my tendency during times like this is to eat as much pasta and bread as humanly possible and then I feel gross. I have been eating different versions of these wraps with yams and greens and cheese mostly everyday, sometimes more than once. They have lots of vegetables, so I feel a bit healthy, but creamy cheese and enough carbs to feel a little indulgent.

Also, I needed something I could eat with my hands because I couldn't find my forks.

Monday, April 8, 2013

keep on hand: garlic confit

I try to always have garlic confit in my fridge. Garlic confit is similar in flavour to roasted garlic, but it prevents the overcooked or burnt bits you sometimes get on the outside of roasted garlic. It is so useful to have garlic prepped and ready to go. I use my garlic confit everyday, in almost every savory recipe. I make the oil into vinaigrette, use the garlic in pasta, mash it into a spread, put whole cloves on pizza, pop them into sandwiches, mash them into will use it up faster than you think so make extra. This is a good way to preserve a lot of garlic; garlic confit lasts a long time in the fridge. If you have a bumper crop of garlic, confit it!

Saftey note: Garlic in oil should always be stored in the fridge. Garlic can carry botulism from the soil and if it's stored in oil, at room temperature, it creates the perfect conditions for botulism to thrive. Even though the garlic gets boiled in this recipe, it's best to keep it in the fridge to be safe.

Garlic Confit
a lot of garlic, twenty bulbs or more, peeled
enough olive oil to cover the garlic

Put the garlic in a medium saucepan, cover with oil and place on medium high heat. As son as the oil boils,  reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking on low heat until the garlic is very soft, stirring frequently to avoid browning the garlic. Once the garlic is soft, pour into a mason jar and store in the fridge once cool.

Prepare to repel vampires and maybe some other creatures.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

make some butter

I really love making butter. It seems magical to me. The process of transformation from cream to butter is always exciting; alchemical. If you find yourself with a glut of cream that you don't know what to with, this is the project for you. I advise you to recruit a friend or two to help you shake the cream; your arms will be very tired if you do this on your own.

Put heavy cream (whipping cream) in a mason jar or any container that you can easily shake that has a good seal. Anything that might pop open and spray cream everywhere is a bad idea. 

After a couple minutes of shaking, the cream will take on the texture of a heavy, dense whipped cream. Keep shaking.

In a couple more minutes the cream will clump together into one big lump. Keep shaking.

In a couple more minutes, milk will begin to pour out of that solid lump. Your jar now will contain some solid lumps that look a little like scrambled eggs sitting in milk. You made butter! Keep shaking a bit more, you need to smash as much milk out of your butter as possible. Then strain off the milk. You can use that for whatever you like, it's just milk. Even though it is buttermilk (milk leftover in the butter making process) it is not buttermilk like you would buy in the store, which contains special cultures, so you can't substitute it for that kind of buttermilk.

Run very cold water and massage your butter in the running water. You want to get all the remaining out as milk will spoil the butter faster. Once the water runs clear, remove the butter from the stream of water and squeeze it a bit more to get as much water out as possible. I wrap my butter in parchment or waxed paper and freeze it at this point, but you can store it in a glass container in the fridge as well. Salting it will make it last longer; you can work a pinch of salt into the butter with a spatula in a small bowl or massage it in with your fingers.

Ta da! It's butter. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

salmon, arugula and kamut bowl

I have been eating different versions of this meal a lot lately. I swap out a different grain, green or protein to keep it interesting. There is a similar idea over here, to give you more ideas. I like to keep all the components on hand for a couple days' lunches: some cooked grain, some washed and chopped greens and some cooked salmon, to throw it together fast. I sometimes eat it hot and wilt the greens a little, sometimes cold like a salad. Infinitely variable.

Monday, February 4, 2013

I want this green house room

I am apartment hunting right now and I have an increasing list of unreasonable demands. A gas stove, a yard I can garden in, pet friendly, a dishwasher, washing machine...oh yes and very cheap, reasonable rent. I realise that I can't necessarily get all, or even any, of my wishlist but I do really want to get a greenroom/solarium.

Pictures from apartment therapy

I love the idea for this one I saw on apartment therapy. If I possibly can, I want to find a lovely sunroom like this one, paint it light green (a slightly less yellow, more minty shade maybe) fill it with loads of plants and eat my breakfast in it every day. If possible a little daybed for a reading, catnaps and tea drinking area. I love how the green walls and the green plants combine to filter the light in a way that feels like being under a leafy canopy.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Amaretti and raspberry ombre cake

Amaretti and raspberry cake
When I was deciding what cake to make for my friend's birthday last week I wanted something a little lighter, a little less intense. I'm still feeling aftershocks from Christmas overindulgence. I wouldn't describe this cake as light exactly, but the fruit does help offset the richness a little. 

I was try to replicate the flavour of amaretti cookies, which have a strong, slightly bitter almond flavour. Use a really good quality almond extract, some of the cheaper (artificial) almond extracts are too wimpy and bland.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sunblock in the Winter: protection from no sun at all

Ok, it's not super timely, but I want to tell you guys about the sunblock I'm using right now. I try to wear sunscreen every day, despite the constant clouds and rain around here. Right now I am using the simplest, easiest sunscreen. It is just zinc oxide powder in water. I put in in a little spray bottle. I put a couple teaspoons of zinc oxide powder per bottle and then fill it with water. You can mess around with this formula, add essential oils for scent or use rosewater as the base instead of water. Too much oil makes it clumpy though, so be careful. I rub a little drop of almond oil or rosehip oil into my skin after the sunscreen.


This sunscreen is white and it sort of beads up on your face. If you let it dry without blending it a little, you will have strange white sunblock spots. Rub it in well, put your moisturiser over top to help it blend. It isn't the same as commercial sunscreen that goes on totally invisible. I think this is a worthwhile tradeoff for a totally safe sunblock without any toxic or irritating ingredients. It's also incredibly cheap, especially compared to the really well made, nontoxic, natural sunblocks. They are expensive. If the whiteness of the sunscreen really bothers you, you can add a little bit of a crumbled up mineral bronzer powder to take the edge off the white tone so you aren't so washed out by the sunblock.

Note: compounding pharmacies will usually sell you zinc oxide powder cheaply. If they give you a hard time, tell them you have an allergy to commercial sunblocks. It always works.