Chana Masala Chapter 1

1.25.2011

Lory & Barry's no wheat/no dairy had a road bump.  Saturday night they partook in a few butter chicken appetizers at an event.

It's alright, butter chicken has a kryptonite effect for a lot of people.

I'm daydreaming about Indian food now.

Two years ago I hosted an Indian food night and made everything from scratch, it was the first time I'd cooked Indian food. The lady that owns the local Indian market scoffed and told me I was crazy, even Indian people don't make all their food from scratch.


I went on to make half Madhur Jaffrey's chana masala + half a blog I can't find (that makes me sad he's awesome, I'll find it promise).  Thanks to Smitten Kitchen which has everyone reposting her reposting of a Jaffrey adaptation by food.com, a decent recipe came up first google today as opposed to 3 pages of google dead-ends like it was sifting through 2 years ago.   I don't know Smitten's site but I do know her blog is extremely popular and highly rated, see it here, I'll come too.  It's pretty.

The Indian store lady scoffed when I showed her the adaptations going around the internet. She scoffs a lot but she also makes killer bulfi.   I love coconut bulfi. I love the Indian lady, a conversation with her is like a critique from these guys-


Chana is a dish of simple steps but a lot of layered spice.  I'm mildly altering Smitten's and food.coms recipes:

get the amchoor/mango powder it really gives a tangy yet deep subtle undertone that transforms the finish on the palate. It creates the chana magic.

skip the cayenne, your palate will pick it out in a second, use more chili instead

finish the dish with fresh chopped coriander on top-a must that adds to depth of flavour.


Chana Masala 
Adaptation of a Smitten Kitten adaptation of a Food.com adaptation of Madhur Jaffrey's recipe


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1-2 fresh, hot green chili pepper, minced (add chili and the seeds to desired hotness)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon amchoor powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 cup tomato small diced, skin and seeds removed
2/3 cup warm water
4 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon 
1/8 cup fresh chopped cilantro

In a large skillet on medium-low add coriander, cumin, turmeric, cumin seeds, amchoor, paprika and garam masala, toast gently, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Do not let brown.  Set aside in bowl.
Add oil to skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger and chilis, cook over medium-low heat about 3-4 minutes til softened. Add spices and cook together for 1-2 min.  Add tomatoes stirring in and cook additional 2 minutes.  Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt, lemon juice, top with cilantro and serve.


I'm not done with Chana, I'm embarking on a quest now for 'the recipe of recipes' I miss the layers of flavour missing in this version but this recipe was good for lack of the best.  The answer definitely points to fennel, coriander and less tomatoes but I'm not taking on that project today.  I'm gonna go visit my favourite chana's chef and get back to you.

With that said, I've finally given in and let the Indian store lady sell me the packaged Sushana chana masala spice mix,  she uses.  In her words the nuances of her cultural food are very difficult to achieve with these terrible ingredients outside of India, let the masters perfect the fresh, local spices at the source and ship them to me.  Interesting.  Every ingredient in the box is clearly listed and there is no shady words like 'flavour' or 'spices'.  She was right, it is better.  It has much more of that depth and complexity inherent to authentic chana. I'll attribute it to the fruit ingredients, kachari (melon native to the north west rajasthan region of India),  combined with the amchoor (mango) and pomegranate in the mix plus mint and fenugreek. 

I'm giving thumbs up to a manufactured product-rare but true story.

When I go in now she doesn't scoff too much.  She smiles like I know their secrets, better yet she gives me a free piece of her burfi sometimes. 

High Protein Tabbouleh

1.20.2011

Tonight I delivered dinner for Lory & Barry. It's their day 3 no flour/no dairy.  I made them vegan, stuffed eggplant and a big bowl of tabbouleh with quinoa as a high protein replacement for wheat based bulgur normally used in it.  A dressing made with an even portion of lemon to olive oil provides a little tartness to hold up nice against the heat of the garlic & onions.

It's simple and packed with bright flavour, like summertime to the tastebuds.



I just spoke to my parents in the south states, they told me all about enjoying fresh lemons grown in a neighbours backyard *envious.

High Protein Tabbouleh

1 cup cooked quinoa (use the ivory beige colour for presentation)
3 shallots
1 large clove garlic
2 vine ripened tomatoes (diced into 1/3" cubes should be 1 cup)
2 large bunches fresh flat leaf parsley (3 1/2 cups chopped) washed and dry
10 fresh mint leaves washed and dry

1/8 tsp sea salt (optional)

Follow pkg direction to cook the quinoa.
Or, if no directions: Let 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa stand in enough fresh water to cover in a 1Qt stock pot. After 10 minutes carefully drain. Quinoa is tiny so strain carefully, I found the only perfect way to do this is through a fine mesh sieve. Once drained, rinse quinoa in sieve.  Place quinoa back in pot and add 1/2 cup water to the drained quinoa, cover.  Bring to simmer then reduce to low for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat let stand still covered, 10 minutes.  Place in bowl to cool.


In medium bowl mix til very well incorporated:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
add salt

Prepare produce:

Finely dice shallots
Very finely chop garlic
Dice tomatoes into 1/4" cubes discarding half the seeds
Finely chop mint
Trim away dried end of parsley stems, semi-finely chop parsley to make 3 cups

Add all to bowl of dressing toss to mix thoroughly. Add quinoa, toss to coat and serve

Halve this recipe for a main course or serve 4 as a side dish.






24 Days of Advent Calender

12.24.2010


Today I had a little list to go out and do asap.   Then I just slowed down and realized it will all get done.

I took a breath and stayed in the moment instead of being on to the next 10 things in my head.   Three interesting things occurred that I would have missed otherwise:

1) Instead of losing it in holiday traffic I realized I was hearing "Feliz Navidad" for the 1st time this year.   Once is merry and I was grateful I hadn't heard it play 100 times as I have every other year.

2) My Capability Green facebook page had 7760 hits so far in December-thank you everyone!!

3) An elderly shopper beside me at the store told me his uncle in WW2 became a military cobbler to avoid killing.  Down on his hands and knees mending boots for a long line of soldiers, he didn't realize til a foreign boot stood in front of him that the German soldiers had moved in.  As a Cdn POW he was too valuable-the Germans had him fix their poorly kept boots which saved him his life.  They renamed him John Shoemaker.  He opened a shoe business after the war.

Slow down there is lots of living in today.

Our 25 days of Christmas is about taking our time to enjoy the season, one another and traditions.

Here's our advent calender for the year, we had so much fun:

DAY:

1   Local made Chocolate Covered Crunchy Butterscotch - one of their absolute favourites
2   $2
3   Super 7 tickets - we didn't become millionaires btw
4   Knocked some golfballs around at the indoor driving range
5   New basketball for the driveway net
6   Organic peppermint Candy Cane
7   Christmas tree decoration
8   same DAY 1
9   we all swapped chores to give one another a hand
10  $10 @ favourite cafe
11   Home Depot trek & we built a snowboard ramp in the backyard together
12  Homemade chocolate covered strawberries
13  Grass Fed steak fillet with roasted onion & garlic stuffed potatoes (a rarity for the omnivores they are *estatic*)
14  Movie tickets for that evening-Inception finally!
15  same DAY 1
16  $15 @ itunes
17 Snowboarding pass it's opening day for the slopes!
18  Canadian Maple Sugar Candy
19  Zinc Gluconate Glycine (boring right? but they are excited as it cures the incurable winter cold)
20  Jumbo size local artisanal candy canes (butterscotch, peppermint)
21  Tech Decks (cause you're never to old to play)
22  $50 certificate to their favourite restaurant (trust me they need $50 each, teenage boys eat a lot)
23  Flat screen TV  - have you seen how cheap the great quality ones are this year? 
24 All done our work,  we are taking the day to go snowboarding together.  The best gift is spending     time laughing & having fun with one another!!

Host Gift #3 Candied Grapefruit, Oranges & Lemons

12.21.2010



Strolling post MOMA on Madison Avenue 4-5 years ago, we stumbled upon French chocolatier Debauve & Galais just off the corner on 69th.  Pretty store front, well-suited gentlemen purveyor, glass cases of culinary art... 

Chocolate greatness, I could tell
Caramel, honey, croquant, cannelle
Candied citrus, I fell in love
Oranges, lemon, grapefruit, can't get enough

Delicate, slight tang, touch of sweetness.  I look forward to making these every holiday.  Beautiful on desserts and visually stunning presentation as a hostess gift.

No need to reinvent the wheel, Martha Stewart has the best laid out instructions.

Candied Citrus Peels
Enough for 5 gift boxes
1 grapefruit, 2 oranges & 2 lemons
(Please use organic citrus not only tastier, more importantly non organic peels are loaded with pesticides, waxes, colourants & anti-fungal agents).
3 cups cane sugar
4 cups of water

Directions

From Martha Stewart Living December 2008


1 Using a paring knife, make 6 slits along curve from top to bottom of each citrus fruit, cutting through peel but not into fruit. Using your fingers, gently remove peel. Reserve fruit for another use. Slice each piece of peel lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Using a paring knife, remove excess pith from each strip and discard. 

2 Place strips in a large saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat twice.

3 Bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Stop stirring. Wash sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Add strips to boiling syrup, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until strips are translucent, about 1 hour. Remove from heat, and let strips cool in syrup. (Strips in syrup will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks.)

4 Using a slotted spoon, transfer strips to a wire rack placed on a rimmed baking sheet. Wipe off excess syrup with paper towels, then roll strips in sugar. Arrange in a single layer on a wire rack, and let dry for at least 30 minutes. Sugared peels will keep, covered at room temperature, for up to 2 weeks.

    Sweet & Spicy Canuck Pecans

    12.20.2010

    Sweet Spicy Pecans. Not able to eat the nuts,  I chomped on the spicy sugar from the pan. Delectably addictive.

    Here's another great host/hostess gift idea.

    Did I ever tell you I'm allergic to nuts?  Sad, it wasn't always this way.

    For Christmas 2 years ago I attempted spiced pecans for my Dad.  Not ever having eaten any before I scoured the net for recipes.  In the end as always when I cook, I judge the outcome based on my perspicacious olfactory ability and ended up combining inspiration pulled from various recipes. A lil Texas, a lil Kansas, a lil Louisana n a lil Canadian.

    My Dad has been after the recipe ever since. This is for you Pa, merry Christmas from 3 to Arizona.

    Canuck Spiced Pecans

    2 pounds of pecans
    Preheat oven to 300'

    Mix in small bowl:
    1/4 c cane sugar
    2 tsp fresh ground cinnamon
    3 tsp chili powder
    1/4 tsp cayenne
    1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
    1/8 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
    1/8 tsp sea salt

    Melt over low heat in large skillet or dutch oven, stirring to blend together:
    2 Tbsp olive oil
    2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 
    1 Tbsp molasses
    2 Tbsp maple syrup
    (1 Tbsp butter optional)

    When melted together turn heat off
    Add 2 pounds of halved pecans to pan

    Coat by folding nuts gently into liquid ingredients to minimize breakage
    Add in spice mixture, folding again to coat evenly

    Spread on to parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking and avoid browning.

    BERRY & CHOCOLATE WINTER BISCOTTI


    Hostess gifts, no need for extravagance a little effort goes a long way.  O tags I recycled from Anthropologie
    What's in the boxes?  3 delicious host/hostess gifts to hand out over the holidays at all those parties & feasts you'll be attending.

    First, a yummy biscotti your hosts will enjoy with their feet up after that awesome event they threw.

    A nice holiday cookie that really surprises upon first bite.  Liked by biscotti haters including me.  My decision to add kamut brings a crisp texture & delicate nutty flavour inherent to this ancient grain.
     
    Excellent snacking post Boxing Day sales, hangin in jammies enjoying a hot beverage.
    Hope you like it as much as we do!

    BETTER THAN BISCOTTI, BISCOTTI

    Preheat oven to 350'F

    In a small bowl mix together and set aside:
    1/8 c cane sugar
    1/2 tsp fresh ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

    In a separate bowl whisk together :
    3 eggs
    1c coconut or safflower oil
    3/4c raw cane sugar
    1/4 tsp vanilla bean seeds

    In a large bowl stir together:
    3c whole wheat flour* I love La Milanese  (use brown rice flour for gluten free)
    2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
    1c dried cranberries (chopped)
    3/4 c dried currants
    1c mini chocolate chips (or awesome with chopped raw cocoa beans) 
    3/4 c medium-fine ground kamut

    Add both mixtures together just enough to incorporate. Form the dough into four 1 1/2 " high logs (7"long x 3"wide)
    place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet
    Bake at 350' for 20 min.

    Remove from oven and turn oven down to 300'

    Cool on cooling rack for 15 min.
    Cut logs on a cutting board with a serrated bread knife, into 1/2 inch wide biscuits (giving you 3" wide x 1 1/2" high slices)

    Here's the logs post oven and one that has been sliced for the second baking

    Lay the slices flat in single layer on same cookie sheet and bake again for 10min each side

    This stage is to dry & crisp the cookie, not brown.

    Once out of the oven sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar mixture, turn cookies and sprinkle other side. Allow to cool on rack 10 minutes.

    Steak & Goat Cheese Bundles (vegetarian option offered)

    12.18.2010

    This is by landslides the favourite favourite of all appetizers I've served clients.  I created every dish custom for each event I catered but this appetizer just keeps getting requested.  Spiced flank steak enveloping tangy chive goat cheese.


    Grass fed, pasture roaming, organic, locally raised beef is the way to go if you're carnivore. 
      **Vegetarian version at bottom**

    Steak & Goat Cheese Bundles
    1.5 pounds Flank Steak
    32 long fresh chives + 2 Tbsp minced fresh chives
    150 grams goat cheese

    Kb's Roam or Grown Grill Rub (grilling spice for meat or veg):
    2 Tbsp salish salt
    2 Tbsp paprika
    2 Tbsp cracked black pepper
    1 Tbsp crushed coriander
    1 Tbsp mixed black & white sesame seeds
    1/2 tsp cayenne
    2 cloves garlic minced to a paste

    Rub the grilling spice mixture into both sides of 1.5 pound flank steak
    Cover.  Leave to marinate 30 minutes
    Roll goat cheese with minced chives into 5/8" (1.6cm) balls. Set aside
    Grill steak til medium rare about 10min each side.  Leave to cool 15 minutes
    Slice across the width of steak cutting 1/8" thick strips. About 30 pieces.
    Lay out meat strip on clean work surface. Place goat cheese ball at one end of strip and roll. Secure bundle by tying with a long chive.  Can be refrigerator for up to 1 day in advance of serving.


    **Vegetarian Portobello & Goat Cheese Bundles**
    6-7 portobello mushrooms and 2 tbsp olive oil)
    30 long fresh chives + 2 Tbsp minced fresh chives
    150 grams goat cheese
    Kb's Roam or Grown Grill Rub


    Roll goat cheese with minced chives into 5/8" (1.6cm) balls. Set aside

    Coat mushrooms in olive oil then apply Kb's Grill Rub (see above)
    Grill til tender with slight browning 2-3 minutes per side
    Cool 5 minutes
    Slice each mushroom horizontally in 2 then vertically into 3/4" wide strips so you have 4-6 long flat strips per each mushroom. 
    Lay out mushroom strip on clean work surface. Place goat cheese ball at one end of strip and roll. Secure bundle by tying with a long chive.  Can be refrigerator for up to 1 day in advance of serving.

    Eat to the Beat 2010

    10.05.2010

    My Apron Entitled Maiden's Delight.  Yes I did learn to sew for this (with generous guidance from my very patient friend Lory!)
     It's been 3 months since I posted!  In that time I've been developing different aspects of my business, loads to share, more on that later this week.  Right now I have exciting news to spill, an amazing event that brings the hottest female chefs together to raise money for Willow the national breast cancer support organization.    This year I was honoured to volunteer as both an auction artist and corset girl.    I'll be attending as alter ego and self decorated corset 'Wild Game' find me at the Apron Auction where plain white apron's are artist decorated and auctioned off.
    Sassy little Lass!  That's painted on underwear. 

    My favourite celebrity chef Lynn Crawfood of Restaurant Makeover and new hotspot Ruby Watch Co,   will be there, along side the gals of Spice Route, Mark McEwan and Mildred's Temple Kitchen this tuesday night.   An extraordinary night of culinary magnificence that has raised $3 million dollars for Willow to date.


    Plenty of event pics posted Wednesday.

    Technically I'm a failure

    6.25.2010

    My iphone is on the fritz-the white screen of death, it had already stopped syncing with my computer.  I couldn't figure out the problem. I'm about to lose every contact, appt, note.

    My Mac is losing files that reappear at free will.

    My blog is posessed and has rewritten old posts with characters between every word.

    Firefox: shutting down all week at very inconvenient moments, I've rewritten alot of things.

    Since Tuesday my car has been idling higher then lower with tremors *repeat.

    All things technical have betrayed me. I feel dependent, spurned. My 21st century life is disintegrating within these mechanical cannibals.  I'm thinking of breaking with this technical dependency and becoming Amish. But before that,

    Today's vegan recipe: VODKA  I just might have to take up drinking.
    1 bottle good quality vodka
    1 glass
    Omit glass and drink from bottle. Correct quantity is reached when you begin to no longer care about malfunctioning computer/phone/car.  It is imperative you do not exceed this amount, negative results are known to occur.

    North vs South Father's Day: Nordic chocolate blueberries & Spicy chocolate cherries

    6.17.2010


    My dad is relaxed and chill. Stability and serenity are his gifts with a quiet, sharp wit you didn't see coming.  For Father's Day a box filled with the subtlety of chocolate covered blueberries and gentle yet surprising spicy chocolate cherries are a perfect fit.

    It's berry season so I'm taking advantage of Ontario's local and organic.  Chocolate + blueberries?  Unexpectedly delightful.   The blueberries are my favourite and the cherries my Dad's.  Experimenting with my Dad's love of tropical destinations, I've added a little spice to remind him of the riches south of the equator.

    Iceland note
    I came home inspired by the explosively flavourful, wild, organic berries (blueberries, crowberries, bramberries and bilberries) that grow in Iceland and what the store cashier in Varmahli├░ assured me was "Iceland's pride in chocolate, the absolute best baking chocolate".  Skeptical then proven wrong when upon my return home I could no longer resist the call of the chocolate that lay in my backpack all week around various stunning after stunning places in one extraordinary country.   Earthy and rich, velvety and pure I'm longing to have brought home a case! I'm using what I managed to resist eating to make these treats.
      
    CHOCOLATE COVERED BLUEBERRIES & SPICED CHERRIES 
    1/2 hour for berries to air dry then 10 minutes to chocolate coat.  (If making night before: refrigerate) 

    •  1 dozen  fresh, organic cherries with stems attached gently rinsed & thoroughly air dried
    •  One pint fresh, organic blueberries gently rinsed & thoroughly air dried 
    • 200g dark, organic chocolate chopped into small pieces
    • double boiler or a medium saucepan & medium heatproof bowl that can snugly nestle atop the saucepan (the right sized bowl should sit approx. 2-3 inches above boiling water-adjust your water amount or bowl size to achieve this)
    • 1/8 tsp of chipotle pepper with a little cinnamon mixed in (cayenne is also great *and hotter)
    • a parchment lined cookie sheet to lay the drying chocolate fruit  
    • heatproof spatula
    • small spoon

    Fill with a couple inches of water either a double boiler or medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil while laying your blueberries closely together on parchment lined cookie sheet nearby.  Add chopped chocolate to top of double boiler or medium heatproof bowl set over saucepan, turn heat down to med/low and stir to melt.  At 95% melted, remove from heat and stir to melt to a smooth texture. Use a small spoon to spoon chocolate over blueberries, nudging them to cover all sides.  Add spice mix to leftover chocolate, stir gently and while holding on to the stems gently dip the cherries one at a time and place on parchment to dry in a cool, shady place.  

    Lick bowl clean. Eat excess fruit that doesn't fit in gift box.
    Posting about my Dad beats my siblings for best Father's Day gift 

    Wild Mushroom Oneder

    6.10.2010

    Today is Vegan ish Wednesday. 1 hour 3 minutes left and Im indulging in butter laden homemade chocolate chip cookies. I'd like to say I don't feel bad but the richness of the dairy that I'm not used to is forcing me to be.  Today I decided to make a one dish wonder 'oneder.'  All too eager to release their abundance of earthy flavour with the slightest coaxing of gentle heat, mushrooms are the base of this dish for loads of taste and little effort.

    The Ontario Government would like to inform you foraging for wild mushrooms can be dangerous to your health.  I bought a pre-packed mixed mushroom variety for $3.99 that includes cremini, oyster, shiitake and porcini mushrooms.  The subtlety of oyster mushrooms with the hearty meatiness common to the other varieties synergistically elevates this medley to a sophisticated indulgence of earthly delight.

    Really I mean it.

                         *******This is where HTML gremlins stole my picture*******

    Kamut & Wild Mushrooms

    In a 4 qt dutch oven placed over medium stove top heat saute:
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 large finely chopped shallot (not minced)
    After 4 min stir in:
    3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
    4 cups of thickly sliced mixed wild mushrooms such as cremini, shiitake, oyster, enoki, porcini.
    Turn down to med-low cover and cook for 5 min til mushrooms are bathing in large pool of their juices.  If they are not emitting juice add a splash of red wine and turn down heat to low to get them jump started.

    Stir in:
    2 cups red wine *add wine you like the taste of
    1 cup warm water
    1 whole carrot
    1 whole piece of celery
    1tsp fresh thyme
    pinch of fresh chopped rosemary
    tsp black pepper
    1/2 tsp salt (optional but really great with mushrooms)
    1 cup organic kamut soaked overnight and drained
    1 cup rinsed wild rice (or *substitute grains with 1 cup organic quinoa cup & wild rice)

    Cover dish and cook on low for 35 min *20 min if using substitute grains.  Stir periodically.
    Remove and discard carrot and celery. Stir with fork and fluff the dish. Add 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Serve warm, cold or reheated as this dish makes great leftovers

    Spell Check hates this post

    Morning Granola-not too soon for the weekend

    6.03.2010

    I'm back from Iceland with a heart full of the love that I fell in for an all natural, eat off the land, use the resources available right out side your door country and a mind full of 5 senses sated beyond limit.  Tomorrow and the next few weekdays there will be 7 consecutive Iceland posts, with pictures, recipes and concepts maybe you'll end up as intrigued as I am.

    Today I'm sharing some homey North American granola filling our kitchen with honey and cinnamon to welcome me back.  I posted my basic formula in hopes of teaching you the how so you can make a plain granola base or substitute/add with your own yummy ideas.  Instead of showing you only a recipe I'm teaching you to cook by showing you a grain:sweetener:fat ratio that works. It's simple, quick and granola sky's the limit.

    Easy Like Sunday Morning Granola

    Preheat oven to 300' (5min prep, 15-20 min baking)
    Ingredients in brackets show possibile options and the bold denotes my standby ingredients

    In a large mixing bowl stir together:
    3 cups organic oats
    3/4 cup organic meal (imagination part: I used a mix of fresh ground flaxseed & oats but have used ground: kamut, wheat germ, fresh nuts, steel cut scottish oats, buckwheat, black and white sesame seeds...use a coffee grinder, food processor or blender to chop nuts or grain into a meal consistency)
    1/8 tsp sea salt
    1/2 tsp fresh ground cinnamon
    1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

    In small bowl combine into a smooth liquid:
    2 tbsp organic fat (coconut oil, flax/walnut/nut oil,  sunflower oil, nut butters, *organic butter*, any combination of)
    2 tbsp natural sweetener (raw honey, raw dehydrated cane sugar mixed with 1tbsp warm water, agave, maple syrup-if you want maple flavour, any combination of)
    1/8 cup of liquid (orange, lemon or fruit juice or your favourite grain or nut milk)

    Mix liquid mixture into the large bowl with oat mixture.  It will look wet and small clumps may form don't worry about those they are the little clusters of goodness you find periodically in your tasty bowl of granola.
    Spread over a parchment lined jelly roll pan (which is a cookie sheet that has edges around all four sides). Place in preheated oven and flip 3-4 times while roasting slowly to dry the oatmeal and create a subtle toasted colour.  Watch carefully to ensure you don't over cook.

    Here I used regular cut organic oats, steel cut oats and ground flaxseed meal, coconut oil, honey, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and 1 tsp of lemon zest.  After cooking we added whole flaxseeds, sliced almonds and organic blueberries which with the lemon was bright and sunshiny in today's overcast morning.

    Granola 201
    The part that's fun to play around with is the wet ingredients use a single liquid fresh squeezed orange juice is not overpowering and any nuts or fruits you add will still shine through. For the not shy nut milk of any kind is a sure winner too. The sweetener and the fruits or nuts you add (or choose not to, it's great plain) after cooking are where the bulk of the flavour is derived from.

    1 All dried fruits can be mixed in once removed from oven-due not bake them it will only lead to disappointment.
    2 Nuts/fresh coconut or raw cocoa beans can be added as well, use raw then add them after cooking or add them half way into the granola cooking time, stir them in to blend them with the granola flavours and finish the cooking time being sure to still flip to avoid uneven toasting.

    *non vegan option-- beware butter brings the flavour to a whole new level you'll be tempted to overeat*
    .

    Black Bean Burger Love

    4.21.2010

    Last week my first food post Manomin & Quinoa Squash Salad received overwhelming praise (thx) and... jest from friends teasing I should have made a tribute to last week's KFC new release sandwich the Double Down. That'd be 2 fried chicken patties encasing bacon and cheese. Um no, but coincidentally,  I've been enjoying burgers and sandwiches bunless for 25 years.  Too heavy and filling with all the bread, I instead have wrapped them with large pieces of spinach or lettuce.  Joke's on them, KFC totally inspired me to split my burger and stuff it with goodness. What a good idea!



    I've never eaten a veggie burger, ever, paralyzed by fear of going face to face with the dreaded nut allergy I have. Today being Vegan Wednesday, I try my first, inspired by a really sweet blog I stumbled on while researching something else entirely, with a great name Vegan Fox in the Snow (so named for blogger Ms Fox + Belle & Sebastian song).   Once loose in my kitchen, so darn tasty, I got excited and it snowballed. Use any type of hot pepper you like or none at all it still forms a great basic burger.  I've used chipotle because I've been waiting for a good moment to try the organic dried ones I found while shopping last week. Earthy and smokey they're a good mix with black beans I'm guessing. Watch those seeds they pack a punch leave them out or add as much as you like. I added a bit of water to oats as a binder. Trick with veggie burgers is to have neither a dry crumbly or wet gooey mess. Good to know, thx for the tip experienced vegans.


    Black Bean Burger

    2 c cooked black beans rinsed and drained
    1 c cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans rinsed and drained
    1 medium sweet onion chopped fine
    2 cloves garlic minced
    1 chipotle pepper dried or jarred (use seeds as per heat level you like)
    1/2 tsp cumin
    1/4 tsp tumeric
    zest of 2 limes
    2 tbsp chopped cilantro
    1/8 tsp sea salt (start with 1/8 and adjust as needed)
    1/8 tsp ground pepper
    1/3 c oats ground
    2 tsp hot water
    1 tbsp olive oil

    Preheat oven to 375'
    For dried chipotles, you can grind in a spice mill/coffee grinder, or finely chop-my preferred method as I like the surprise of random bites of pepper. If using jarred in oil blot dry with towel and finely chop /jarred in adobe sauce leave as is and roughly chop, the flavour is more delicate and perfect as is. 
    Grind the oats in a coffee grinder/spice mill/food processor briefly or chop til a coarse meal, add 2 tsp of hot water mix well and set aside.

    Mash the beans to a paste then mix all the ingredients including oats together by hand or food process the beans then add the other ingredients til incorporated. Shape into 4  1" thick patties. Heat olive oil in skillet on medium low, brown lightly on each side for 2 minutes, then place in oven on a parchment lined baking sheet for 15 minutes, after making a couple batches I decided they cook best covered in foil then they don't dry out too much on the outside.  Cool slightly and gently slice open like you would a pita and stuff.

    Some stuffing brainstorm: avocado, mango or pineapple with chimichurri to offset the smokiness 
                                            grilled yellow tomatoes & red onions with sprouted greens...

    No question next time I'm olive oiling up the grill to cook these
    Feel free to serve outside on the patio with a margarita
                                         
     

    Vegan Wednesday: Manomin

    4.14.2010

    Every Wednesday, I bring me, you and my home, vegan day. We all know the benefits of organic whole grains and fresh organic produce so I won't bore you with any same same.

    Vegan Wednesday is a commitment for me to explore new ideas and hopefully inspire both of us to fill our day with vegetation yumminess. April is a lull stage for vegetation, there is some variety in citrus imports and we have lingering winter starchy vegetables. So let's start there. Pantry wise, we grow a pretty mean wild organic grass in the waters of northern Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan--Wild Rice aka Manomin in Ojibwe, aka crunchy, chewy, nutty goodness. Bet ya didn't know it was Canadian. Don't be scared, the dish I have in mind is crunchy, chewy, sweet, sharp. It has everything and goes down easy.

    Useful to know about me, I almagamate any step possible and don't feel the need to validate myself through the ability to have 8 pans on the go at once (though it happens sometimes). I thank myself everyday for this. I pack in much flavour, and aim for simplicity.

    Tonight My pal M is coming over to plan our upcoming trip to Iceland so tonight I'm posting the meal I served.

    Wild Rice & Quinoa Squash Salad

    Ingredients:
    1/4 squash (today it's butternut)
    3 peeled fat cloves of garlic left whole
    3 pieces of 1/4"inch thick sliced ginger root
    1 shallot (not needed for this but needed later)
    1/2 cup wild rice
    1/2 cup Quinoa
    2 tbsp finely chopped (not minced) red onion
    1/2 cup dried, unsweetened, unsulphured cranberries
    pinch of sea salt
    fresh ground pepper
    pinch of fresh thyme
    1/4 cup flat leaf parsley

    Preheat oven to 400'

    Cut squash in half. Stuff 2 cloves of garlic and two pieces of ginger in the seed cavity of one half of the squash. Place a peeled whole shallot in the seed cavity of the other half. Place both halves of squash face down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in oven. Squash is done when tender to the touch about 40 minutes with light browning on fleshy side. Remove and ditch the seeds by scooping out with a spoon-reserve the roasted ginger, garlic and shallot you squirreled away in the seed cavity! Set the shallot and one clove of garlic aside as you won't need them for this dish, I sneaked it in to save time later in the meal prep.

    In the meantime while your squash is in the oven:
    Rinse 1/2 cup Wild Rice, set aside
    Rinse 1/2 cup Quinoa, set aside

    Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add Wild Rice cover and simmer on low,
    10 minutes later add Quinoa stirring in, cover and continue to simmer together 10-15 minutes, remove from heat.

    In a medium sized bowl:
    Mash the 2 garlic cloves and 3 pieces of roasted ginger
    Mix in:
    wild rice/quinoa
    1/2 cup of squash
    salt, pepper and thyme to taste (a little organic, fresh thyme is strong and goes a long way I put in 10 tiny leaves). Mix thoroughly to evenly distribute spice.
    add onion, cranberries, parsley mix just to incorporate
    Cover and set aside. Serve room temperature

    Hot tip: use 1 cup squash instead and serve hot instead (pretty presentation using the squash halves semi hollowed out as bowls-also yum



    Squash Soup

    1 roasted squash, seeds and peel discarded (we used 1/2 cup in the salad-no worries)
    1 roasted shallot
    2 c vegetable broth*
    1 clove of roasted garlic
    1 apple peeled, cored and chopped choose a crisp flavoured variety like mac or granny smith
    pepper to taste (salt if you must)

    In a pot bring veggie broth just to a boil, remove from heat and immediately add roasted squash, roasted shallot and the chopped apple. Puree with hand blender, or puree in food processor or blender.

    Transfer back to pot if you didn't have the hand blender. Leave covered in pan and heat up on medium-low for 2-3 minutes, just before serving.

    I served it all with roasted fennel and a light crisp watercress & grapefruit salad.
    That's the meal.

    Hi

    4.04.2010

    This is the awkward part where the blogger talks about themselves, think me walking into a giant party in full swing and I'm the only one who doesn't know anybody. I'm not shy (formerly shy but one day I realized all I would miss out on in life and the excessive energy shyness requires, so I decided best be done with it), and I'm a Caterer, accordingly I've been to many parties knowing no one. 'kay, I'm not feeling awkward here anymore. I'm also writing about food, emphasis on mouthwatering and conscious of body & environmental health.  I adore great food absolutely.  How beautiful, delicious, enlivening and sexy food is. Sometimes people look at me oddly when I get into a passionate blabbering about whatever the topic at hand is like wild berries & demi glace, fresh picked produce or organic/free trade (two words that peak my interest like your next door neighbour's glass & ear to the wall), chocolate served warm, melty and spiced. When I speak so enraptured, they don't understand, if this is you at this moment,  I hope my blog will make you believe.

    I'm self taught, though I envy the kitchen ninja knife skills you acquire day in, day out at cooking school, I like the freedom of having learned no rules and yes my Mom would say I've always been this way.  In the the last year I've gone the final step to always create from purely whole foods, cause I care and it actually tastes much better.  The most important piece of information I wish to convey: if it wasn't spectacular, I wouldn't bother making or eating it. Whole, pure, organic, local with global awareness and flavours, I explore everything from meat to vegan (we all need our veggies), savoury and sweet.  I'm still learning and hope to always be, it's a big world and I want a hand in the endless possibilities.  Come on this exploration, we will cook, bake, eat,  I'll post pictures of some of the events I have the pleasure to be part of and periodically I'll share unofficial restaurant and wine reviews.

    Comments and questions are welcome, I read all emails. As a Canadian, find here random apologies, u's after o's in words spellcheck tells me there shouldn't be and these days early spring feasting in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Thanks for reading.