Rustic apple tart with apricot glaze
…based on this recipe by Ina Garten. I used crisp, local gala apples cut extra-chunky. For the glaze, I used an apricot almond preserve that my friend and I made this summer.
Ina’s recipe makes a slab of a tart, but I made it into a circular pie instead. I also folded up the edges of the pastry to make a more rustic looking tart.
It was a perfect end to our traditional celebratory white wine cheese fondue on Christmas eve!
Mediterranean quinoa salad with roasted vegetables and fresh mint
I have been sooo neglectful of my blog lately; I apologize! I’m afraid that summer has distracted me. I have been making lots of exciting things in the kitchen but haven’t had time to document them.
I did want to share this delicious quinoa salad with you. One of my very first posts on this blog was another quinoa salad. At the time I said the dish was one of my favourite things, and it still is. However, I have to say that there comes a time when I am no longer as inspired by old recipes and a change is in order. This new recipe can be used as a template, and can be varied according to the season or your whims. I have made it with fresh cherry tomatoes and diced cucumber instead of the roasted vegetables; it’s very refreshing and summery that way. Also, you can make it with chickpeas for an added protein boost. Your call!
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 small eggplant, sliced thickly
- 1 zucchini, sliced thickly
- 1 red pepper, cored and quartered
- oil, salt and pepper for the vegetables
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 green onions, slivered
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
- feta, crumbled (optional)
Bring a small pot of water to boil; add the quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and boil for 11 minutes. Strain the quinoa and set aside to cool.
Next, preheat oven to 400°F. In a bowl, toss the eggplant, zucchini and pepper with the oil, salt and pepper to coat. Place the veggies on a baking sheet and roast for approximately 20 minutes, turning once, until softened and browned. Remove veggies from oven and allow to cool. Then, put the almonds onto a baking sheet and roast until they begin to brown, 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
To make the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, honey, garlic and spices in a small bowl.
Put the cooled quinoa into a large bowl. Cut the cooled veggies into 1-inch chunks and add to the bowl. Next, coarsely chop the almonds and add them. Then, add the green onions, mint, parsley and feta (if using). Toss everything with the dressing and serve.
Green Thai Curry Veggie Bowl
A couple of years ago, I made this dish for my friend Heather who loves Thai food. She gasped and asked for the recipe. Later she told me that she was making it all the time; she said it was like someone had given her the keys to the castle. Finally, the secrets of Thai cooking revealed!
Maybe that’s going too far, but it is pretty awesome when you can make a tasty sauce like this at home and have it taste like you’ve gone out to eat.
There’s nothing particularly tricky about this recipe, except perhaps hunting down all the ingredients. Your best bet is to find a nice Asian grocery store and get everything in one stop.
Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients for the green chili paste
- 2 lemongrass stalks, bottom 4 inches only, thinly sliced
- 2 cups coarsely chopped cilantro (leaves and stems are okay)
- 1/3 cup fresh basil
- s green onions, white and pale green portions only, chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (approximately 2 limes)
- 2 small green chilies, chopped
- 1 inch chunk of galangal (or ginger if you can’t find galangal), peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 fresh Kaffir lime leaves
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (I used Maldon sea salt)
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor to ensure that everything has been broken down and a smooth paste is formed. (The lime leaves and lemon grass are a bit tough, so I tend to process this a little longer than softer items. Usually I stop several times to push down the mixture.)
Ingredients for the green Thai veggie bowl
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 tablespoons green curry taste (more or less, to taste)
- 2 cups asparagus spears, cut into 2 to 3 inch pieces (or green beans, if asparagus is not in season)
- 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup veggie stock
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 Kaffir lime leaves
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce (fish sauce is clearly not a vegetarian product so avoid this if you do not want to use animal products!)
- 1 teaspoon cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 block medium or firm tofu, cut into cubes
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 2 cups cooked rice (I used organic brown basmati)
Heat the coconut oil in a wide-bottomed pot over medium high. Throw in the onion, and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Then, toss in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the curry paste and stir for about a minute until fragrant. Add the vegetables and continue to stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, starting with the carrots, then the asparagus, and lastly the red pepper. Don’t overcook!
When the carrots and asparagus start to soften, stir in the vegetable stock, coconut milk and lime leaves. Simmer until slightly thicked, another 4-5 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Simmer 1 minute and then add the tofu. Turn the temperature to low and continue cooking for several more minutes, if necessary, until the veggies are done.
To serve, put a scoop of brown rice in the bottom of each bowl and top with the green curry. Garnish with more fresh bean sprouts, slivered green onions and lime wedges.
This dish was adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe.
Let me say straight-off that there are certain things I have purposely avoided blogging about. It may sound silly, but they are things that do not photograph easily for me. I don’t have a super camera for doing sophisticated food shots, and certain things, at certain angles, just do not take to my lens. Burgers and sandwiches are two of these things. A sandwich photographed up close and at (or just above) a table-level angle takes on a weird distorted look that I fear I won’t be able to remedy unless I get a better camera and an array of expensive lenses.
That said, I’ve decided to put aside my trepidation and simply do the best I can with what I have. It’s burger season, and this year I want to share some of my favourites on this blog. So here goes….
Lately I’ve been reconnecting with an old friend of mine - the original Moosewood Cookbook. I first stumbled on this book at about age 15 in a little bookstore in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. I was interested in it, so I bought it for my Mom and presented it to her as a birthday or mother’s day gift. At the time, I secretly, instinctively wanted to stop eating meat, but I had to wait another couple of years until I left home to actually become vegetarian. 20 years later, I still have the Moosewood Cookbook to thank for a stellar introduction to the world of vegetarian cuisine. While dietary trends have come and gone, the book has aged remarkably well; it might be a little heavy on eggs and dairy products, but the recipes are fantastic and it’s still worth turning to for vegetarian standards.
Here’s a delicious burger that is super easy to make and way tastier than any frozen, processed veggie burger that may have you reconsidering your decision to go meat-free. You can eat this on a bun like a traditional burger but it’s good enough to stand on its own (metaphorically). I’ve put a little twist on the Moosewood original, by making it curry-flavoured, and I like to top it with some fresh veggies and a mango chutney.
Here’s the recipe:
- 3/4 cup dry green lentils
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup minced onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 10 large mushrooms, minced
- 1/2 cup very finely minced walnuts
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon tamari and 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (both optional; they boost the flavour, but you may want to cut back on the sea salt if you make these additions)
- 1/2 cup fine whole-grain bread crumbs
Cover the lentils with water in a small pot, and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are soft. Strain, and return to the pot. Mash the lentils well and stir in the cider vinegar.
While the lentils are cooking, you can prepare the other ingredients. I chopped the onion, garlic, mushrooms and walnuts by hand, but you may take a shortcut and use a food processor for some of this. Just be sure not to over-process! Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté over medium for about five minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients (except bread crumbs), and sauté for an additional 5-10 minutes. Add the lentils and bread crumbs and mix well.
Next, divide the mixture into 4-6 good sized patties. Fry in a small amount of hot oil over medium heat until browned on each side. Serve on a bun or over a bed of greens. Top as desired; I enjoy these burgers with a mango chutney. Yesterday, I used a ginger-lime jelly that I had on hand. Or you may want to go a more traditional route, and stick with mayo and/or ketchup. It’s your call! Enjoy!
Note: Celiacs can eat these burgers; just be sure to use a wheat-free tamari and gluten free bread crumbs.
A rhubarb custard tart
What can I say, the so-called Hamilton Farmers’ Market caused me a major disappointment this week. I went out of my way to visit this market, sure that I would be able to purchase some fresh Ontario rhubarb. While there was a wide selection of tropical fruits and last season’s apples, there was no rhubarb to be found! What the heck? It’s local and in season! With so many great local farmers’ markets springing up these days, I think an established market like this could do much better.
That little rant aside, I am thankful to the lovely little grocery shop here in Dundas, Picone’s, for it’s dedication to bringing fresh seasonal produce to town every year. What would I do without them?! (They have had Ontario hot house rhubarb for months already!)
When I am able to get my hands on it, I love to cook with rhubarb. Last year, I posted a rhubarb compote with rose water and cardamom, rhubarb hibiscus tarts, and a strawberry rhubarb pie. I love all these recipes, but I always continue to seek out new ones.
Here are some rhubarb delights I have tried this year:
- An excellent rhubarb jam infused with earl grey tea and vanilla bean. I brewed the tea extra strong to bring out the flavour of the bergamot, and cut back on the sugar a bit. It’s excellent; I hardly needed to can it because we ended up eating it so fast!
- A delicious rhubarb syrup. Again, I cut back on the amount of sugar in this recipe. It makes a refreshing drink with carbonated water and a squeeze of lemon. Mmmm!
- A rhubarb custard tart. I saw a picture of this tart online and I had to try making it because it was so pretty. And it was pretty tasty too! (A bit sweet for my taste; I would revamp the recipe if I were to do it again…)
Well, my mom is flying in from Nova Scotia for a visit this week, and she is packing a suitcase full of rhubarb. So I guess it does matter if the farmers’ market doesn’t have local, seasonal produce… I can always count on Mom.
The rhubarb jam and syrup recipes can be found on Marisa McClelland’s blog Food in Jars, as well as her book by the same name. It’s well worth checking out her blog and book; they are both excellent resources for canning tips and recipes.