Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rhubarb Oat Bars

The most successful of my rhubarb extravaganza this year! Just don't try to freeze them. They don't thaw well! So, share 'em out the next day with people at work!

Rhubarb Oat Bars


2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup spelt flour
1 cup oats
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
½ cup melted coconut oil

1 cup sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
4 cups rhubarb, cut into ½" slices
1 tbsp minced candied ginger
1 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a 9"x13" baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Mix together flours, oats and brown sugar in bowl. Drizzle with coconut oil, and mix until crumbly. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the base of the pan.

3. In another bowl, mix together sugar, cornstarch, rhubarb and ginger. Place rhubarb on top of base. Sprinkle with vanilla. Top with remaining oat mixture.

5. Bake for 45 minutes. Cut into 24 small slices and serve with tea.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Farmer's Market Ingredient of the Week: Pattypan Squash

Phil picked up a few of these beauties at our weekly farmer's market, and I knew it was time to crack open a cookbook that I hadn't had the opportunity to cook from in a while.

As you've probably noticed, Nigel Slater is pretty much my go-to guy for simple recipes for seasonal cooking. I got this one from Tender 1, and it served the two of us along with some small sausages and some sautéed heirloom tomatoes for an easy supper.

Is there anything Nigel can't do?

Pattypan Squash with Mint and Lemon

(adapted slightly from Tender 1)


1 lb pattypan squash, sliced into ¼" slices
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large handful whole mint leaves
1 small handful parsley leaves
juice of ½ a lemon
½ tsp kosher salt


1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Gently add pattypan slices, and let colour and soften. Once browned, stir in mint, parsley, lemon juice and salt. Raise heat and let bubble for about a minute. Remove from heat, plate and serve.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Finding Victory in Disaster

I'm beginning to think rhubarb hates me. Every single recipe I've tried with it this year has not turned out the way I'd anticipated.

First there was the rhubarb & custard ice cream which just tasted weird (I never did get around to fixing that recipe).

Then I had the rhubarb-strawberry mochi.

And today? Oh man. I learned a valuable lesson in baking: custard fillings do not belong in galette shapes.

Why? Because the egg custard will puff up, knocking down the sides of your beautiful pastry and run all over the baking sheets. And you'll end up with galettes that look like flat pancakes with the tiniest little bit of custard still stuck to them and rhubarb that hasn't broken down into anything.

Like this:


It's such an obvious mistake. I just want to hit my head on the wall for even thinking that I could pull this off. This was a recipe that clearly needed to be baked in a tart mold... the egg custard just expands so much!

When I pulled these out of the oven, I almost cried. Nothing. Just... nothing has been going right for me there lately! But, because I hate wasting things, I decided to finish baking them and to NOT toss them immediately into the garbage.

And, therein lies the victory. When I stood in the kitchen, surveying the results of the recipe, my husband and I decided to split a tart. As I bit into it, it felt as though a shining halo of light from God himself was glowing 'round the tart.

The pastry is the finest I have ever made. It was delicious - crisp and flaky. And the filling (that didn't leak onto the pan) was actually really, really good. My husband and I stared at each other for a moment.

"These," he pronounced slowly, making sure no crumb escaped him, "are really, really delicious."

So, there you have it. Perhaps I should call them Ugly Duckling Rhubarb Custard Tarts.

Now, I know that a good blogger wouldn't post a less than perfect picture, but I'm out of rhubarb and I'm not a believer in wasting food (and time) just so I can post a picture of tarts in the correct shape.

This attitude is precisely why I'll never be a professional chef. I'm okay with that.

So, if you try this, just make sure you use tart pans.

The pastry makes double what you need, so wrap up half the chilled dough and put it in the freezer for another day.

Rhubarb Custard Tarts

(adapted from the Harrow Fair Cookbook)

Makes 6 tarts


For Pastry

2¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup chilled butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg
2 tsp white vinegar
ice cold water

For filling

½ cup granulated sugar
1½ tbsp all purpose flour
scant ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
pinch sea salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1½ cups sliced rhubarb (½" pieces)


1. For pastry: Place flour and salt together in food processor. Add in butter and pulse just until crumbs are about the size of peas. Beat the egg and the vinegar together in a measuring up. Add enough of the ice water to equal ½ cup of liquid. Pour liquid over dough and pulse just until the dough comes together. Turn dough onto counter. Divide in half and place each on a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape into a flat disk and wrap up with plastic. Chill for at least an hour in the fridge before rolling out. (Place the other half of the dough in the freezer.)

2. Preheat the oven to 375º.

3. Combine together the sugar, flour, nutmeg and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add in the egg and mix well. Stir in the rhubarb and set aside.

4. Roll out the pastry to fit 6 fluted 3-4" tart moulds. Spoon filling on top of pastry.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325º and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes, or until custard is set and the crust is golden brown.

6. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Any leftover tarts should be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Quick Tabbouleh

Tomatoes - specifically raw ones - are one of those things I'm trying to incorporate into my diet more. They've never been something I've really liked to eat, though they're one of my favourite things to try and grow in the garden.

So, when Phil came home with some heirloom cherry tomatoes earlier this week, I knew I wanted to use them in a recipe that would showcase lots of bright, fresh flavours.

Earthy cracked wheat, fresh green onions, parsley, mint and tomatoes form the base of this recipe. Any leftovers the next day can be turned into a lunch time salad when mixed with tuna, chopped kalamata olives and capers.

Quick Tabbouleh

(slightly modified from Cooking Light)


2½ cups boiling water, or vegetable stock brought to a boil
1½ cups uncooked bulgur wheat
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup quartered heirloom cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup diagonally sliced green onions
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest 
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin


1. Place bulgur in a large bowl. Pour boiling water or stock over top. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for an hour.

2. Once the hour has passed and liquid has been absorbed, fluff bulgur with a fork. To it add parsley through lemon zest.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over bulgur mixture. Toss gently and let sit for at least 30 minutes to allow flavours to combine. Mixture will keep for 3 days in the fridge.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Spicy Tuna Salad Rolls

I love sushi. LOVE it. Seriously, words cannot express the joy I feel when I sit down, pick up a pair of chopsticks and chow down on some maki.

Months ago, I mentioned that Phil and I had gone to the best sushi place in the world (as voted by National Geographic) while we were visiting Tokyo one weekend, and although I'll probably be forever chasing that high, we've had some decent enough sushi since then to satisfy our cravings.

Many of us at home sushi chefs shy away from using raw fish in the house. And, instead of giving you the "know your fishmonger, they'll never steer you astray" speech, I'm going to drop this pearl of wisdom instead:

You only need to get food poisoning from bad sushi once to NEVER EVER push your luck ever again.

See, I knew a guy who ate old sushi - it was a day old - the after effects were so monumentally violent that he was convinced he was going to die. Like, lying on the cold floor of a public washroom sobbing kind of convinced.

Except, he wasn't being permitted to die because he was the guest judge of honour at a speech competition.

Worst. Day. EVER.

And so, I don't use raw fish in our rolls. I'm just as happy to leave the raw fish to the professionals, you know?

But, that doesn't mean you can't replicate the flavours of some of your favourite maki at home!

So, here's a recipe for that ubiquitous North American flavour - spicy tuna, except mixed with my favourite onigiri filling: tuna salad. It makes a great filler for maki rolls.

Spicy Tuna Salad Rolls


2 cups hot cooked sushi rice
1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar (you can make your own by heating 1/3 cup rice vinegar with 1 tbsp white sugar and 1 tsp salt)
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 can tuna, packed in water
2 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise (use whatever you have on hand if you can't get the Japanese stuff)
½ green onion, minced
 ¼ tsp shichimi (Japanese 7 spice powder)
¼ - ½ tsp sriracha
¼ tsp sesame oil
2 sheets toasted nori


1. Place sushi rice in a wide bowl. Using a wooden spoon or paddle to cut the rice, slowly add in the seasoned vinegar, tossing as you go. If you have a kitchen monkey to help you out, get them to fan the rice with a tea towel (or fan!). This will help the rice cool down and develop a glossy exterior. Mix in the sesame seeds and set aside.

2. To make filling, drain tuna and place in a bowl.  Stir in mayonnaise, green onion, shichimi, sriracha and sesame oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside

2. Place one sheet of nori, shiny side down, on top of a plastic wrap lined bamboo sushi mat. Place about 1 cup sushi rice on top. Run your hands under some cold water and then spread the rice gently across the nori. Leave about a ½" border on the the edge closest to you and the two side edges. Leave a larger border on the far edge (about 1½").

For your pleasure, I've included a terrible photoshop image.

3. Spread filling 1/3 of the way across rice. Using the bamboo mat, tightly roll up the roll. For those of you who are bakers, think of it like rolling up a jelly roll. Remember to pause, and make sure you're not rolling up the plastic wrap!

4. Cut into 8 pieces using a sharp knife dunked in water.

Serve with pickled ginger, soy sauce and wasabi!

Friday, June 24, 2011

My happy news for the week.

I got the promotion! I've been offered the role of grade 9 department head and arts head at my school.

Thanks to all of you who wished me well, and put up with my endless worrying over the past 3 months!

I think it's time to bring on some of this:

I won't lie, I'm a little nervous about the job. I'll be teaching new subjects next year (including grade 7 math), have my own homeroom and have the added responsibilities of managing a grade and department. But, it's a huge career move and I'm really excited about it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Strawberry-Rhubarb Mochi

Two weeks ago, I made a pretty awful rhubarb and custard ice cream.

Last night, Phil and I made a recipe that I've been waiting 4 months to make.

4 months.

Strawberry Rhubarb Mochi.

I couldn't wait.

They ended up looking like this:

So not pretty. Clearly, this is a recipe that needs some work, so I'm going to wait on posting it.

Tasted mostly okay though.

I feel definitely that something about the mochi itself (rather than the filling) was lacking. It had a quite bitter after taste - which I don't remember about the mochi I ate in Japan. Phil tells me it tastes exactly like he remembers it though, so I don't know if it's just my palate or what.

Like I said: a work in progress.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One of those dead easy side dishes

I love it when a plan comes together.

It happens so rarely for me.

Sometimes you just need the simplest of ingredients to pull off an all star dish. Heck, this is so easy, I don't even know if I can call it a recipe.

Either way, we ate it with Oprah's Lentil and Rice Burgers, and it was delicious.

Sautéd Green Beans with Crispy Garlic

(adapted from Cooking Light)


1 lb green beans, topped and tailed
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ tbsp unsalted butter
½ tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and pepper to taste


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in green beans and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat when tender crisp, drain and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

2. Melt butter and oil in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add in garlic cloves and sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until just the right side of golden brown. Garlic burns very quickly, so if you feel at all concerned, sauté just until starting to colour. Remove garlic from pan and set aside.

3. Drain beans again and add to the garlic butter in the saucepan. Season to taste with salt and pepper then mix in the garlic again. Plate and serve hot.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cucumber and Radish Salad with Lemon Dressing

I'm so glad the most recent issue of Cooking Light arrived before the postal strike began! It has some great recipes in it.

After all the heavy food (read: fast and deep fried) I ate on the Ottawa-Montreal trip, I've been in serious need of lightening things up. I'm paying off the sins I indulged in at Frites Alors!

It's T-6 weeks until Hawaii, and I'd love love LOVE to drop those 10 pounds that I've struggling with the past 2 months. Plus, one of my students (who we're pretty sure has Aspergers) announced very loudly that I have a "fat ass".

And when even the Aspergers kid notices, you know you've got to take action.

So here I am. Taking some action. Even though I'm not a huge fan of either cucumbers OR radishes, something about this salad spoke to me.

I'm pretty sure it was saying: I'm what your body needs right now. Crunchy. Cold. Vibrant.

I really enjoyed this salad - some fresh dill in place of the parsley would be totally delicious and highly recommended. Plus, although I'm unabashedly trying to lose weight, this salad doesn't feel like deprivation. It feels like the antidote to a scorching summer day.

If you have a mandolin, be sure to whip it out for the radishes and cucumbers. That will make your life SO much easier.

Cucumber and Radish Salad with Lemon Dressing

(from Cooking Light)


½ cup thinly sliced radishes
2 cups thinly sliced cucumber
¼ orange pepper, finely chopped
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
½ tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper


1. Gently toss radishes, cucumber, pepper and parsley together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over cucumber mixture and gently toss again. Let flavours meld in fridge for an hour.

Also, it's a tasty accompaniment for grilled steak, or as a side on some kind of Middle Eastern plate (baba ghanoush, hummus, pita, tabbouleh).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Coconut Cream Tart with Chocolate Macadamia Nut Crust

Oh my lord. When I was poking over Sweet and Crumbly earlier last week, we got to talking about restaurants on Kauai. Geni had just come back, and I'll be heading out in 5 weeks time.

She posted a picture of some seriously delicious looking Haupia Pie, and I got to wondering about doing some kind of riff off the chocolate-coconut-macadamia nut pie, except making it vegan.

It was a challenge I was SUPER excited about tackling.

I whipped up a simple coconut custard and poured it into a macadamia-coconut version of the hazelnut crust I did a few weeks ago. My intention was to make this a frozen tart, but after tt set up in the freezer for a couple of hours, the night was coming to an end. So, it was whipped out early and was quickly inhaled by three of us during the end of  Bachelorette.


Coconut Cream Tart with Chocolate Macadamia Nut Crust


for filling

1 cup almond or soy milk
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp coconut extract
1 ripe banana
1 oz grated chocolate
¼ cup flaked coconut

for crust

½ cup macadamia nuts 
¼ cup flaked unsweetened coconut
¼ cup oats
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract


1. For filling: In a measuring cup, whisk together almond and coconut milks. Set aside. In a saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add in coconut milk mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the back of a spoon. Stir in vanilla and coconut extracts. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Press the plastic directly onto the custard, so it does not form a skin. Set in fridge to chill. Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.

2. For crust: Heat oven to 350º. Spread macadamia nuts, coconut and oats on a baking sheet. Toast for 5 or so minutes, or until just beginning to colour. Place nuts, coconut and oats in a food processor and pulse 2-3 times, just to break up the mixture. Add in the remaining crust ingredients and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Pat into a greased, parchment lined 6" springform pan. Be sure to form a rim up the wall of the pan to keep the custard in. Set aside in freezer to chill for 30 minutes.

3. To assemble: Remove crust from freezer. Slice banana thinly and place directly on top of crust. Pour custard over bananas. Sprinkle with grated chocolate and flaked coconut. Place back in freezer for 1-2 hours, until just beginning to freeze. Serve with additional grated chocolate if desired.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sorry for the Hiatus!

The past long, sleepless 4 days, I've been out chaperoning a group of 51 students from my school on their trip to Ottawa and Montreal.

Was the trip long? Yes. Occasionally annoying? Absolutely.

Ultimately fun? Definitely. It was a great way to spend 4 work days!

Plus, I got to eat my way through this:

Poutine from Frites Alors! And yes, we've gone beyond cheese curd territory here. Sautéd onions, mushrooms and red pepper were thrown on top with some bacon. The above bowl is a small, and I could only finish half.

Sooooo good.

Two of the highlights for me of the trip (and that I can so you pictures of) were St. Joseph's Oratory and Notre Dame Basilica.

We had this great moment watching the sun set from the terrace of St. Joseph's and it was just magical. Children who had been bouncing off the walls suddenly stopped, sat and watched in awe.

View from the base of the oratory

Excuse the blurry pictures of inside the dome! I debated not posting it, but wanted to show you the height of the area. It's overwhelmingly huge.

Also, I got to see my first relic ever (the heart [!] of Brother André Bessette who was canonized last October), which was totally thrilling (and a little gross) for the medieval mystery novel reader in me.

Notre Dame is a totally different architectural experience.

Add caption

I just love touring churches. They're so beautiful.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kofta Meshweya

I'm so excited to finally be able to say that I've cooked my first recipe out of the Penguin Great Food series!

More importantly, it was easy and tasty to boot. And it's meat on a stick! You can't go wrong with food on sticks.

Unfortunately I was so focused on eating that I didn't bother to get a very good picture of the dish.

My apologies.

The pea green stuff is a batch of fava bean hummus I attempted. I don't think that particular recipe is ready for publishing yet, so let's return to meat on a stick.

This recipe comes from A Middle Eastern Feast. Author Claudia Roden says of this recipe:

"Each country and each area in the Middle East has its favourite flavourings for kofta. Here is a basic recipe, giving a few simple alternative seasonings. Use fat meat to keep it moist and juicy. If you find it difficult to put the meat on skewers, make it into burgers."

Kofta Meshweya

(from A Middle Eastern Feast)


1 lb beef, lamb or a mixture of the two
1 small onion, grated
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper


1. Place meat in a large bowl. Squeeze onion to remove excess liquid and add to bowl along with seasonings. Knead meat until it becomes paste like. Divide into 4 even balls. Shape balls into oblong shapes and run a skewer through the center.

2. Oil a grill or grill pan well. Place skewers on pan and cook, about 5 minutes each side until cooked and browned on all sides. Serve with pita to catch the juices.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jasmine Green Tea Lemonade

The always fabulous Lindsay, over at 100 Mile Locavores came up with this great little recipe as an inexpensive riff off of Starbucks Tazo Iced Tea Lemonade.

As soon as I read it, I had to try it. See, my cousin is getting married this summer, and I'm in charge of developing non-alcoholic drink recipes for the reception. Lindsay's recipe totally inspired me!

I love this recipe! It's so easy, and a great little number to keep in the fridge.

Jasmine Green Tea Lemonade


½ cup sugar (use demerara for an added depth of flavour if you have it lying around the house)
1 ½ cups water, divided
1 cup ice cubes
½ cup lemon juice (or lemon juice concentrate)
1 large pot jasmine green tea, brewed full strength


1. Make a simple syrup by mixing sugar and ½ cup water in a saucepan and heating just until sugar is melted. While sugar is dissolving, put remaining water, ice cubes and lemon juice into a pitcher. Pour in simple syrup.

2. Add in brewed tea until pitcher is full. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Now, you can also mix the green tea lemonade with some sparkling water for some fizz... or... you can do what I'm doing tonight and enjoying a mixture of 2/3 lemonade to 1/3 chilled fruity white wine. I'm using a muscat, and it's surprisingly delicious for an experiment that I threw together at the last minute!

Speaking of wine... have I introduced you to one of our favourite kitchen tools? No?

Lemme introduce you to Lola!

Yes, a wine stopper. She was a present from my mother-in-law, and is clearly so fabulous as to deserve a name.

I think the chips in the paint on her boob add a certain je ne sais quoi.

Anyone else have treasured kitsch in the kitchen?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wheat Berry and Chickpea Salad

The other night, we had one of my good friends for Ottawa over for dinner. Poor guy is stuck in Cambridge during the week living in a hotel.

I may have forced an experimental ice cream on him.

He only made a few faces.

That's one of the risks of eating chez nous. I tend to want to try things out.

One of the experiments that did work, however, was this wheat berry and chickpea salad.

Like most of my recipes, proportions are guidelines at best. You could add in zucchini, tons of additional herbs, some tomatoes, garlic... the list just goes on and on. And isn't that the best part about recipes anyway? The adaptability?

Wheat Berry and Chickpea Salad


1 cup wheat berries
1 19 oz can chickpeas
1 cup chopped parsley
½ cup finely minced onion (red would be pretty if you have it)
½ cup chopped parsley
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1½ tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
2 oz crumbled feta (remove for a vegan option)
salt and pepper to taste


1. Bring 4 cups water and wheatberries to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 70 minutes, or until wheatberries are tender. Drain and rinse to stop cooking and place in a large bowl. Toss in remaining ingredients and let sit for at least 30 minutes to allow flavours to come together.

If you're not a fan of raw onion, soak the minced onion in some cold water for 10-15 minutes. This will draw out some of the sharpness and mellow them nicely.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cooking with Leftover Ingredients

First off, let me say thank you to all who commented here, on my facebook account or on my message boards wishing me good luck with the interview. My name was put forward as the candidate they want, but we're still waiting on approval from the school board. So right now, we're in a holding pattern.

I can deal with a holding pattern for a little while.

A little while.

Now, this recipe relates to impatience.

You know those days when you buy an ingredient but the recipe only calls for some of it, so you end up with some left over that has to be used RIGHT NOW or else it'll go bad.

I had that experience earlier this week with half an avocado. I don't even remember what I used my first half for. But the second half? Oh, yum.

Now, I won't blame you if you run screaming in the other direction right now, but before you do, let me assure you that this is delicious dessert. It has four ounces of the finest dark chocolate, and crushed hazelnuts and hazelnut butter.

With me so far?

It also has... uhm... half an avocado.

What? You couldn't read that? That's okay, just drool over this picture and never you mind what it said.

Frosty, nutty, and deeply, deeply chocolatey. It's an all round winner.

And frankly, if the avocado (yes, avocado) weirds you out too much, replace it with two small bananas.

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

(inspired by Oh She Glows)



1 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract


½ large avocado, pitted and flesh scooped out or 2 small bananas, peeled
3 tbsp soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp hazelnut butter
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cocoa powder
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped and melted


1. Line the base of  a small 5-6" springform pan with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts together with cocoa powder, until crumbly. Add in oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Pour into springform pan and pat in place to create a crust.

2. To make mousse, add all ingredients except melted chocolate to a cleaned food processor bowl. Process until totally smooth and creamy. Add in melted chocolate and process again. Pour mousse onto crust, smoothing the top.

3. Freeze for at least 2 hours to set up. Allow to sit on the counter for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Makes 6 small but totally decadent pieces.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Wish me luck!

I have a big job interview today at 12:30 pm (EST). If I get it, it'll mean that I get to stay in my current school AND get a big step up career wise. I'm trying not to hyperventilate tons, but we'll see what happens. I was hoping no one else would apply for the position, and that it would be a gimme, but that hasn't happened.

I don't think I've been this nervous for something for a really long time!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Basil Avocado Pesto

As a newbie in the world of vegan cooking and eating, I find myself relying pretty heavily on the blogosphere for recipes that look appetizing and straight forward. One of the websites I find myself cooking a lot from is Oh She Glows.

Tonight, I threw together Angela's recipe for kamut rotini in creamy basil sauce. It's delicious. Sauté an assortment of veggies, cook up your favourite pasta, make the sauce and you're good to go!

I made some substitutions to the her sauce... I like my pesto filled pumped with basil and not spicy.

Basil Avocado Pesto

(adapted from Oh She Glows)


2 cups packed basil
½ large avocado
2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp olive oil
½ lemon, juiced
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper


1. Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until desired consistency.

How easy was that?

Monday, June 06, 2011

Turkey Burgers with Ricotta and Sage

Too often, I think, we relegate flavours to a certain season. Turkey and sage, for example are classic combination for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. But, to keep those flavours together just during the cooler months seems like such a shame.

Fresh sage and parsley add depth to turkey burgers, while ricotta both lightens and moistens it. I've been making this recipe since last summer when I spotted it in a Martha Stewart magazine.

I won't lie. I haven't changed a darned thing except scaled the recipe down to make 4 burgers instead of 8.

Martha Stewart's Vermont Burgers

(from Martha Stewart )


1 lb ground turkey
¼ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp minced fresh sage
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Divide into four patties and place, on individual parchment squares, in the fridge for at least an hour. This will help the burgers firm up.

2. Heat a grill (or grill pan) on medium heat. Brush turkey burgers on one side with oil. Pick up parchment and place burgers gently on grill. Peel off parchment paper. Brush next side with oil. Grill on each side for about 5 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 165º.

Serve with all your regular toppings or whip up a batch of Martha's Extra Special Sauce.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

A Smoky Chopped Salad for a Hot Day

Last week, the temperature in Toronto hit a brutal 40º C with the humidex.

Let me be clear on one thing: I am not one of those Canadians who sits around dreaming of the scorching summer sun. I like the heat; I hate the humidity.

Perhaps it's the fact that we have no outdoor space in our apartment (which means all cooking gets done inside), perhaps it's the lack of central air to cool ourselves off at night, perhaps it's the memory of the smell of the summer when the garbage collectors went on strike. Whatever the reason, I really, really dislike Toronto when the heat and humidity hits.

This is one of those recipes designed to embrace the flavour of the heat and humidity, but to avoid heating too much up in the kitchen.

The whole thing comes together really quickly, and you can keep any extra salad dressing in the fridge for 3 days.

Chicken & Chickpea Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing



2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 smashed clove garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ancho chili powder


2 romaine hearts, washed, dried and chopped
2 cup mixed sprouts (pea, sunflower, radish, etc)
½ lb grilled boneless, skinless chicken thighs
½ 19 oz can chickpeas, rinsed
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
½ avocado, chopped
5-6 cremini mushrooms, sliced

optional: pickled jalapenos or green beans (I love Toorshi Hot and Savoury Green Beans)


1. Whisk together all dressing ingredients. Set aside and let sit for an hour so the garlic can infuse the dressing.

2. Toss together salad ingredients. Discard garlic clove and dress the salad. Serve on chilled plates.

That was dead easy, wasn't it?

Friday, June 03, 2011

Happy Friday with Inari Zushi

Phew, this week couldn't end any sooner! What a crazy time.

I took some students to Peace Tree Day (I was approached by the Harmony Movement to take this on) on Wednesday - they were Peace Tree Spirit presenters, which means they were responsible for teaching 700 kids (ranging from grade 3-8) a multi-cultural fusion dance that they choreographed. They were awesome; we had great weather and only one child put their face into Mel Lastman Square's reflecting pool.

I consider that a success.

Some media coverage of the event can be found here.

Today, I went to the hospital  for my allergy tests. My doctor didn't bother to show up, and on top of that, I'd been told I'd be getting tested that day. Instead it was just a consult. Fantastic.

On the plus side, I sat in the waiting room reading one of my new books from the Penguin Great Foods Collection: A Little Dinner Before the Play, and I think I've found the first recipe I'm going to try for my Penguin Great Foods Challenge: Brioches. Now these appear to be little, sweet breads that ought to be served with marmalade.

I'm excited to try that out this evening!

See why I'm glad the week is over? I did have one big success with a new recipe this week. With all these beautiful days, I've started to really crave Japanese food. There's just something about the arrival of summer that makes me dream of kara age, zaru soba and gigantic purple grapes.

For the past two nights, I've been dying for some inari zushi. We ordered out for some sushi one night, but they didn't have any! So, last night I made it my mission to attempt to make them for the first time in my kitchen.

They certainly didn't look as pretty as I would have liked, but that's in part because I cut them the wrong way. But, they tasted pretty damn good! If I'd had more time, I would have let the tofu sit in the dashi marinade in the fridge overnight before stuffing them. But I was hungry, so perfection was going to have to wait.

Inari zushi is essentially deep fried tofu pockets that you simmer in a soy-sake broth to infuse them with flavour.

Then, you stuff them full of sushi rice (rice seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar and salt). I like to mix my sushi rice with little pieces of chopped pickled ginger and sesame seeds.

Alas, I was out of sesame seeds.

Inari Zushi

(adapted from Washoku)


Sushi Rice

2 cups freshly cooked white Japanese rice
1/3 cup rice vinear
1 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp salt

8 slices pink pickled ginger, minced

½ tbsp toasted sesame seeds

For Tofu

4 fried tofu slices (I usually buy abura age)
2/3 cup dashi
3 tbsp soy sauce
1½ tbsp sake
2 tbsp sugar


1. For rice: Place the freshly cooked rice in a large, wide bowl (you, like me, probably don't have the wooden dish traditionally required for sushi rice). In a measuring cup, stir salt and sugar into vinegar to dissolve. Pour about a tablespoon of the vinegar onto the rice and, using a wooden spoon or paddle, gently cut and fold the vinegar into the rice. Continue adding vinegar in a slowly, until it tastes appropriate and liquid is all absorbed. You may only use 2/3 of the vinegar called for, or you may use it all.

Stir in ginger and sesame seeds.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until ready to use.

2. For tofu: Boil some water in a kettle. Place tofu slices in a strainer and pour boiling water over them. This will help remove some of the oil still clinging to the tofu. Squeeze out excess liquid. Cut tofu in half horizontally, and gently form a pull open the pocket. Mix together dashi, soy sauce, sugar and sake. Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat, an sear each side of the tofu (about 1 minute on each side). Pour dashi mixture over tofu and simmer for 3 minutes, turning once halfway through. Remove pan from heat. Place a slightly smaller lid (or a drop lid if you have one) directly on the tofu and let cool to room temperature.

3. Remove tofu from dashi. Gently squeeze out extra liquid. Stuff rice into tofu pockets and serve.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Why I Hate the Concept of Meat Substitutes

Tofu and I are old friends. We met over one Lent more than a decade ago over La Soyarie Herb Burgers and the long held mutual dislike for each other magically evaporated. Before I moved to Japan on the JET Programme, we had a cooking class that involved pan frying cornstarch dredged tofu in a little sesame oil and deglazing the pan with some soy sauce and mirin.

I swear to you, in that first hot month in Sakashita, when the grocery store was a total mystery to my illiterate eyes, pan fried tofu was a staple of my diet. Tofu was easily recognizable and I could pretty much guarantee that I wasn't going to ingest a surprise fish product or mayonnaise based treat when I opened up the package.

In my second year in Japan, my yearly teachers' trip took us to a tofu restaurant in Kyoto where I swear to you I had the best kaiseki of my life.

We get along just fine, tofu and I. We have an understanding.

Tempeh and I... well... that's another story. If you don't know what tempeh is, allow me to give you the gist. Like tofu, it's made from soybeans, though tempeh is an Indonesian product formed in blocks made of fermented soy beans often times mixed with other ingredients (like rice or barley). It's got a nutty and slightly sour flavour, which sounds way less appetizing, doesn't it?

I actually have pictures of what my first meal with tempeh looked like. I never blogged about it because... well... I really didn't like it. As part of one of our first Vegan Mondays, Kat made a recipe she called Vegan Crab Cakes that were made, not with crab (obviously) but with tempeh.

They looked delicious. My husband and Kat scarfed them down.

But for me, there was just something SO awful about them. They didn't taste like crab. Clearly, they were just pretenders.

And that's where a lot of people (read: omnivores), I think, get hung up in their dislike with soy products. Too often are soy products billed as meat replacements.

In my less than humble opinion, tofu is never going to taste like chicken. Or beef. If you think it does, you haven't been eating very good chicken or steak. Where are your taste buds, I ask you, where?

Don't even get me started on soy luncheon meats. Sweet Jesus people, the processed meats are terrible in the first place, what in God's name are you thinking trying to replace a processed product with another processed product?

Before you start accusing me of hating on soy, let me assure you that I'm not. I just think it's a shame to try and force to be something it's not. It's not meat. Let's not pretend it is.

That realization was a huge turning point for me. I needed to stop thinking about tempeh as a meat replacement and to start thinking of it as just another food. Once I'd done that, I discovered I didn't hate the stuff anymore. On the contrary, I learned to appreciate its flavour for being unique to it and it alone.

I'll be posting a recipe with tempeh in it later this week. It's marinated in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic and honey and it's totally delicious.

But please don't, for a second, think of it as a meat replacement.
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