Monday, October 12, 2009
Dearest Rach (or should I say Smokin' buns?),
A lot has happened since my last blog - I traded cooking in for nursing for a few weeks, but now I'm back and ready to multi-task. Actually, while eating the great meals made by thoughtful friends and our lovely mother, I was inspired and more than a little ready to get back into the kitchen.
To follow on your bread theme (can't wait to try that foccacia!), I kicked homemade burgers up a notch and made my own buns. Hamburgers have been a favourite of mine since our childhood. Friday nights were burger nights in the Reems household, we were a crew that thrived on routine in our food- burgers on Friday; pancakes on saturday morning; muffins made by Guy before church; eggs for Sunday dinner; and the most important tradition of all? Ice cream during The Magical World of Disney/Road to Avonlea Sunday night specials. We were nothing if not structured. So there is still something familiar and expectant about sinking my chomps into a big 'ol burg.. the week is over, let's get on with the weekend!
I used this Canadian Living recipe with great results. This is definitely slated for many frequent repeats. I stuck to the recipe this time and used white flour - I am going to try a third whole wheat next time. These buns flew off the table. I caught Mike eating a few extra without the patty; they were also delicious the next day.
It was good seeing you this weekend - how was that second Thanksgiving dinner with the Speller clan? Aside from ferry craziness we had a great time in Victoria. The company was lovely as always, the food was great... though Joan if you're reading this I would rethink the homemade plum juice addition to the punch bowl.
(Couldn't resist sneaking this pic in - isn't she a beauty?).
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I pictured you and Finn this morning, big and small, at the breakfast table. Likely, Finn took a peek under your shirt at your pregnant belly and said good morning to baby Cobie. Have you and Mike agreed upon the spelling of Coby's name? Notice that I have used both possible spellings. Perhaps looking at your options in print will clarify your decision.
You are probably wondering how the baptism lunch went, so I will tell you. The day started perfectly at Pease Lake. The sky was clear. The lake was still, the mountain reflected on the water. We sang, Caleb dunked with the help of Pastor Harv, we prayed and sang again. It's impossible form me to convey the beauty and simplicity of the experience.
After the church service we took to the Speller residence for a family lunch. In typical form, the Reemes arrived early, talked loudly, and waited impatiently for the food. Actually, lunch was ready, but in typical form, the Spellers trickled in slowly, calling for rides, toting laundry, and disappearing into places like the bathroom just as a blessing for the meal was about to be said.
Interestingly, between us, Caleb and I have created a balancing point between the propensity for punctuality and the inclination to arrive at least a half hour late for every appointment. I no longer fret and fuss over time and Caleb is occasionally early.
The lunch was nice. I called upon mother and mother-in-law for help, playing to their strengths. Sheilah baked two fruit pies and Joan provided a Greek salad, of which the primary ingredients were gleaned from her garden. Rachel (sister-in-law) brought an enormous bread-bowl dip. Hence forth I vow to always call on others to fill in the odds and sods for a group meal. This way, I was able to focus on the chili and bread. This was a white chili, with pale beans and chicken, forgoing the typical tomato based sauce. It is really quite good. Sadly, I have no photos so you'll have to make it to see it. The bread was also a success. Actually, it led to a lot of binging amongst the guests. Rachel scoffed when I hinted that I hoped for leftovers to take home. The loaves were based on the no-work recipe. I tinkered with the flours and threw some raisins and spices into one. The recipe for the no-work bread is located in our archives.
The recipe for White Chili was created by Jacqueline McMahan. I paired down on the chilies, tinkered with the beans, and made a few other alterations to suite my ingredients and ease. Otherwise, I followed her directions
1 pound combination of dried pale coloured beans of your choice
5-8 cups water
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
Combine these ingredients in a big pot. Simmer them until the beans are soft. This will probably take one to two hours. If you want to speed up the simmer time, pre soak your beans over night or for about 8 hours.
Drain the beans and reserve a cup of liquid
One bottle light beer
1 cup diced onion
2-3 minced garlic cloves
2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and diced (use one, or half, if you want a mild chili)
4 Anaheim chilies roasted, peeled and seeded (you can skip theses and just use jalapeno chilies but the roasted chilies don't add heat to your chile, they merely add to the complexity of the flavour, which is a good thing)
1 to 2 tsp cumin
Combine these ingredients in a large pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add these ingredients to the pot:
1 and 1/4 pound chicken breasts, diced
1 tsp chile powder
1 cup reserved bean liquid
Simmer for at least 15 minutes or until you have the tomatillo sauce ready.
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed (or subsitute roma tomatoes for the tomatillos)
1 bunch cilantro
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp salt
Place the ingredients in a food processor and process until the consistency of salsa. Stir into the chili. Add the beans. Simmer for 20 min.
Serve topped with grated cheese if you would like. I prefer the chili without cheese.
Variation: Quick Method: Use canned beans and skip the bean preparation step. Add the beans and their liquid along with the chicken.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I open the door to find something it takes mere seconds- beautiful rows of baking supplies and cooking goods wait for me expectantly- no longer jumbled together in one big pile (how many half empty bags of oats did you find.. 5?). I record in writing, my solemn vow to fight my "Hale-tropy" slide toward disaster and to do all in my power to maintain this organized state. I am picturing your skeptical face right now; fine, new plan, how about you come out every few months to do a visual?? Or I could post a pic every two months or so?
I needed to document our fabulous gnocchi meal. Judging by the amount he pounded back Finn's weight is now secured at the top percentile of the two-year-old growth chart. This was a great meal that did well on our eating local aspirations - basil pesto made with my bumper crop, beans also from my garden, and potato gnocchi made with yukon gold potatoes from our Dutch egg lady down the road.
Gnocchi with Pesto
(from The Williams Sonoma Cookbook)
-makes 4 servings
3 russet potatoes, about 1 1/2 lb russet potatoes, scrubbed (we used 6 yukon golds)
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (we used dried)
1 large egg, beaten (props to us for one more local item -eggs from Fairfield Island)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more as needed for rolling
6oz haricots verts or other slender green beans, trimmed
1/2 cup pesto (see recipe below)
6 tbs unsalted butter (I used 1 1/2 tbs)
To make gnocchi, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the unpeeled whole potatoes until tender, about 30 minutes. OR follow our lead and bake the potatoes (after all, your oven is on for the muffins and date squares). Drain and let cool. Peel and place in a large bowl. Add the 2 tbs grated cheese, 1 1/4 tsp salt and nutmeg and mash well with a potato masher. Let cool to lukewarm, mix in the egg and 1 cup of the flour.
Knead the dough, adding more flour 1 tbs at a time as needed, until a soft and sticky dough forms, about 3 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then divide into 6 equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, use your palms to roll each piece into a rope 3/4 inch thick. Cut the ropes into 1 inch pieces. To form the grooves that will hold the sauce, roll each piece over the tines of a large fork.
In a large pot of generously salted boiling water, cook the beans until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a skimmer, transfer beans to a colander and drain.
In 2 batches, cook the gnocchi in the same pot of boiling water until just tender, stirring often to prevent sticking, about 5 minutes per batch. Use the skimmer to transfer to a baking sheet.
Put the pesto and 1/2 cup grated cheese into a large bowl. In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add the gnocchi and saute until heated through, 5 minutes. Add beans and toss for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to the bowl of pesto and cheese and toss to coat. Divide among 4 plates, serve at once.
Pesto - Note we used a combo of pine nuts and walnuts. Other note - yay, the "deflowering" of my new food processor!!
In a food processor, combine 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 large clove of garlic, halved, 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Process until garlic is minced. Add 2 cups firmly packed basil leaves and 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts and process until the basil is finely ground. With, the motor running, gradually add 1/2 cup (I used 1/4 cup) olive oil and blend until almost smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate. To store for up to a week, spoon additional oil over the pesto to cover. Makes about 1/2 cup.
Before I sign off, another huge thanks for the baking in my freezer- I've got enough muffins, bread, granola, and squares to last me for a bit. Could you please post me a recipe for the apple-cinnamon-raisin bread? We finished the last of the first loaf on french toast this morning.
Here's to hoping that babe makes an appearance soon (well, after I've reorganized my closet!).
Sunday, April 12, 2009
A few weeks ago I traveled down to the top of the Baja in a convey of over-sized vans with thirty grade twelve students. Along with five adult leaders, the team’s goal was to build three houses for three Mexican families in need. Our goal (Joan and I), was to prepare food throughout the week to feed the unstoppable teenage metabolisms.
Homey, yet wanting in many obvious conventions, the kitchen at the Saint Vincent Guerro base became the center of our universe. Our base was located in a ‘residential’ neighbourhood, characterized by rutted dirt roads and stray dogs. A thick gate—never locked—shielded a square courtyard bordered by our sleeping quarters and kitchen. I enjoyed waking at five (really!) to smell the pink droop of flowers climbing the overhang outside the female chaperone quarters. The sky was also pink, less vibrantly so, and the roosters which began cawing at three a.m. continued to call across rows of Mexican houses. The lights in the kitchen were on. Joan, up since four, had trays of muffins ready to bake. Breakfast preparation began.
Days were busy as we skipped from breakfast to lunch, with a quick breather before dinner, when cooking began in earnest. I took to kneading dough or mixing cookies on the warm stone counter in the courtyard. Preparing pizza dough, sauce and toppings for forty people was an exciting challenge, particularly as the kitchen lacked an adequate supply of cookie sheets. We rummaged through the hodge podge shelves of equipment to unearth each and every bent and brittle pan. A lining of tin foil rendered the most useless pan pizza worthy (cookies, potatoes, and whatever else needed to be baked also found a home on this depressing army of aluminum). Another challenge proved to be the single oven. Sadly, the door refused to seal. If we found ourselves idle for a scrap of a second we leaned a hip against it. Eventually, one of the girls dreamed up a solution, a stack of deck chairs pressed against the handle. Checking the chicken became a bit of a battle. In addition, only one of the two fridges generated passably cold air. There was a sink that dripped, sudden loss temporary losses of propane…yet we rather enjoyed these little trials. They became a mark of the Mexico experience: make it work—tie it with twine, wet it with your spit, close it with chairs.
We also enjoyed shopping with our Spanish dictionaries in hand. It was an adventure to find sugar, produce, chorizo sausage, and all the rest. In the shops we communicated with locals, met two mice in the hands of ten-year-old shelf stockers, found giant pails of ice cream, and, of course, bought gallons of vanilla to bring back to Canada. Joan (my mother) and I drove one of the school vans along the highway running through these teensy Mexican towns. It was on one of these afternoon shopping trips that we spotted the store lined with massive piñatas. We bought one, stuffed it with candy, and let the kids bash it open on the final night.
Chicken dinner, chocolate cake with cane sugar (it’s what they use!), breakfast tacos, tomato sauces, focaccia bread…our list of success grew with the week. We loved the hectic dinner times, with the hoard of kids, the frantic output of food onto the serving table, the last minute fear—did we make enough? Those boys are huge! It was such a pleasure to share, feed, and enjoy,
We also had a chance to try the local cuisine, and ate a few Mexican meals, including a barbacola, which is cooked in the earth. These inspired me and encouraged me to experiment. In Mexico, avocados and mangoes were inexpensive and readily available. One of my most favourite and simplest lunches combined the two. What follows are two recipes using the avocados and mangoes together. The first, the quesadillas, I made in Saint Vincent, the second, the halibut, I prepared in Victoria, using freshly caught fish. Both are simple, not even recipes really. I had the pleasure of cooking a mountain of these quesadillas on our propane griddle under a leafy tree in the courtyard in St Vincent.
Mango and Avocado Quesadillas
I cup grated cheddar cheese
6 whole wheat flour tortillas
(Vary amounts to suite your tastes)
Peel the mango and cut it into slim one inch long slices. Cut the avocado in half. Remove the pit using the tip of a knife. Use a spoon to gently scoop out each half, keeping the fruit intact. Slice length-wise into narrow pieces.
Spay a grill or pan with cooking oil. If you have a grill, you can cook more than one quesadilla at once. Put a tortilla (or as many as will fit) on to the hot surface. Leave for five seconds, then flip. Then, place three pieces of avocado and three pieces of mango on half the tortilla. Don’t fill it too full. If your pieces are big, use only two of each.
Sprinkle with cheese. Fold in half like a card and cook for a couple minutes then flip and leave a couple minutes before removing from heat.
You can eat your tortillas as you make them, or store them in a just-warm over, or on a tray under the cover of tin foil.
Halibut with Mango and Avocado Salsa
For the Fish:
2 thick halibut fillets (you can substitute any white fish)
1 tsp olive or avocado oil (hard to come by but I bought it in Mexico)
Rub the fish with oil and place in a shallow dish. Squeeze lemon onto the fish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Preheat your oven to 350. Leave the fish to marinate while you prepare the salsa. (Let it rest for at least ten minutes.)
When you are ready, bake the fish for ten minutes-twenty minutes depending on the thickness of your fish. It should flake open when you press it with the side of a fork but still moist. Don’t let it dry out.
For the Salsa:
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp oil
1 tsp curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine ingredients in a bowl. Use a spoon or your hands to gently toss.
When the fish is ready, transfer it to a plate or platter and top with the salsa. If you have too much salsa, save some to use later in a wrap. Although the fish should be covered in the topping.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
The warm weather this week has me dreaming of spring.. and summer.. and local veggies..
I'm tired of tomatoes from Mexico and grapes from Chili. I want a tomato that hasn't travelled across the continent to get to my kitchen. However, when I saw these beauties I was swayed. Local they're not, but I rationalized that California is closer than Mexico. I know, whatever helps me sleep at night. Anyway, what's bought must be eaten and Finn and I are putting a good dent into our "'matoes." I put together one of my favourite summer staples this weekend-
Feta cheese - as much as you've got. Well, maybe a cup of crumbled cheese. See what that looks like and, with my blessing, add more if you feel thus led.
Dressing, combine the following:
That's it. stir it all together. And voila, you've got a great side-dish to your chicken souvlaki and enough left for lunch tomorrow.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Chicken noodle soup can be quite good, especially when you make your own stock. Although this is not essential, it is satisfying. You can buy a decent stock and in a carton and use that. This saves time. And chicken noodle soup is made to be lazy, simply luxurious. Like a good chair. Or a hot bath. I made mine from Nigel Slater’s recipe, found in his “The Kitchen Diaries” cookbook in his January 19th entry. The book reads like a diary, a recipe for each day written nestled between practical advice and simple musings. He seems dreamy, this Nigel Slater. Apparently he’s a top British food writer, but I’ve only just discovered him. I might have a crush. My variation on Nigel’s (can I call him Nigel?) soup was delicious, simple yet made fresh by mint leaves and lemon juice.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Dried egg noodles- about 50g or a little less
I leek, chopped
Half a carrot, chopped in half-moon slices
1 tsp salt
Chicken broth- 1 litre
Cooked chicken- 200g (I roasted a large bone-in breast in the oven), chopped (not too small)
Chopped mint leaves, about a small handful
Chopped thyme leaves, a slightly smaller handful
The juice of a lemon
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the noodles and boil for a couple minutes until tender. Drain. Rinse them in cold water and leave them to soak in bowl of cold water.
Put a shot of oil in the pot. Add the leek and carrot. Let tenderize for a few moments. Add salt. Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add the chicken, the mint, the thyme, and the lemon juice. Simmer for 3 to 10 minutes, depending on your schedule. Make sure the carrots are tender. Add the noodles. Add salt and/or pepper if need be. Simmer for one minute.
Serve in big bowls. Nigel seems to think it serves two. I’d say at least three but I think I added about 400 grams of chicken.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Cookies pitted with walnuts, knots of cranberries and oats; bran muffins and a fat chicken are the focus of my afternoon. We must have cookies, the bran muffin mix is waiting impatiently in the fridge, and the chicken is still fresh. Only days ago he ran, free of range, on a Cowichan farm. I can almost see him with a plume of green and gold, head snapping to attention at every quick step. He stops – a worm – pecks, and carries on. Now he’s breast up, naked in my skillet. At least I know where he’s been.
The second half of Sunday is a prickly day. Poke, work tomorrow, ouch. Monday begins week four. “How’s it going?” my co-teachers inquire. The look so knowingly, “week three,” smile.
Baking brings its calm. Flour and snow, white and blank, they lull me. But Sunday’s promised snow never showed. Not that I mind.
As for the chicken, poor plucked thing, I’m not letting him slide in nude. After a massage of olive oil, loosening the skin over the breast to slide my fingers under, I sprinkle him with dill, a pinch of salt, and stuff him with four quarters of an orange and a handful of garlic cloves. Look where the free range got him, into the oven at 350 for a good hour and a half. Dinner consists of the bird and a cutting board of fresh spinach, mushrooms, grated carrot, sliced cheese, and a lump of new hummus. Dessert is cookies. Breakfast will be muffins.
Cooking is the simplest way of saying “I love you.” That may sound as pretentious as hell, but if you accept it as essential, your cooking will improve – and so will your love life.
Moist Bran Muffins (King Arthur’s Flour Whole Grains Cookbook)
¾ cup boiling water
1 ¼ cup bran cereal, divided
¾ cup raisins
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup veggie oil
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup orange juice
Pour boiling water over ¾ cup of the bran in a small mixing bowl. Add the raisins, brown sugar and oil.
In another bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Beat the eggs with the buttermilk and orange juice in a large measuring cup. Add to the dry ingredients. Stir in the rest of the bran plus the raisin mixture. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight. Batter will last up to one week in the fridge before baking.
The morning, wipe the sleep from your eyes before preheating the overn to 375 and filling your muffin tins two-thirds before (after spraying each cup with a non-stick spray, of course). Bake 23 to 26 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick emerges crumbless. Let the muffins cool for five minutes in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack. Tad Da!
The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t have to bake the muffins all at once but can keep the batter in the fridge and bake up fresh muffins as you crave them. (Come on, who doesn’t get serious cravings for bran muffins?)
Friday, January 23, 2009
Early on in our relationship, Mike and I would shove aside the Big Gulp cups, hop into his Fiero, and head out for romantic drives up-island. After an intense mini golf match we would head to the island's premiere dining destination - Nanaimo's Cactus Club. We never needed to open the menu, their rice bowls were that good. We found out later that it was the spicy yogurt sauce that made their rice bowls so tasty. My mom tracked down the recipe for me a few years back and I finally gave it a go. I have to hit up the Cactus Club again to see what veggies are in the original, but this attempt garnered two thumbs up by my taste-testing panel.
Haley's Rice Bowl with Spicy Yogurt
Step 1 - Chop 3 cloves of garlic and some veggies. I did my usual fridge rummage and came up with red onion, broccoli, carrot, orange pepper, mushrooms, and zuchinni
Step-2- Chop up as much chicken breast as you want. I used one large breast for two people and a toddler. I love using my trusty kitchen shears for this job. Next I sauteed the chicken in some sesame oil with about a third of thegarlic. I added a shot of soy sauce and chili sauce to the chicken.
Step 3- Set the chicken aside and in the same pan saute the rest of the garlic and the veggies until soft. Add the chicken, and about 1/2 a cup of cashews (I give them a bit of a crush with my vice-like grip as I sprinkle them into the pan).
Step 4- Next add your favourite terryaki sauce or do what I did-
3 T soy sauce,
3 T hoisin sauce,
3 T sweet chili sauce,
1 T corn starch mixed in 1/4 cup water,
1/2 cup water.
Let simmer for 5 minutes or so.
(Note: An asian-style stir fry sauce is forgiving - You need a nice balance of salty with a bit of sweet. If you don't have hoisin sauce substitute oyster sauce, or soy sauce combined with some orange juice, ginger, garlic and a spoon of honey).
Step 5- Make your spicy yogurt sauce. Combine-
1 cup yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman's low fat)
1 T lemon juice
2 T ranch dressing (it is supposed to be 2 T of powdered ranch mix)
1/4 tsp cayenne (more to taste)
1/8 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 shot of Franks Red Hot or other hot sauce (optional)
Step 6- Put it together- in each bowl, on top of a mound of rice, generously ladle on the stir fry, and then dollop some spicy yogurt on top. Garnish with green onions and some more cashews.
Mix the spicy yogurt into your bowl and enjoy!
Friday, December 5, 2008
Before I answer the bake-off call…
Haley, my co-blogger, wants cookie recipes. She berated me for slacking on the blog and hording food secrets. While I have not been writing I have been baking, and cooking, and, most importantly, eating. I have loads, mounds, bowlfuls, of cookie recipes. Cookies and all doughs sweet are my weakness, but before I web publish my Christmas treats, I will start the holidays on a veggie note. It is possible. Here is a gem I revised from the Rebar Cookbook: Mushroom Cashew Burgers. The Rebar recipe, Mushroom Pecan Burgers, provides the template for my recipe. I’ve adjusted the ingredients and the spices.
Mushroom Cashew Burgers
1 red diced onion
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp chili pepper
4 cloves garlic, mined
1 1inch thumb ginger, minced
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Saute until the mushrooms begin to release their juices and the pan begins to dry out.
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Continue to cook until the liquid evaporates. Take the mushrooms off the stove top and let them cool in a bowl.
1 ½ cups cooked brown rice
1 ½ cups grated carrot
Mulch the mixture in the food processor.
Return mixture to bowl and add:
1 cup cashews, roasted and mulched in the food processor (or however you wish to grind them)
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
½ tsp cracked pepper
½ tsp ginger (powdered)
1 tsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
Friday, September 26, 2008
This is a go-to meal at our place. I started making pad thai from a Moosewood recipe awhile back. I have adapted it through the years so that I'm not sure how close this recipe is to the original. There are lots of instructions here and even more brackets but that's just to make the recipe look like way more work than it is. Pad thai is very forgiving, I am always playing with the ingredients depending on what I have on-hand.
I like to serve this garnished with strips of omelette, green onions, peanuts, and prawns.
First your protein bits:
Saute cubed tofu, or chicken, or prawns, and set aside (you could skip this step if you want vegetarian pad thai). I add a shot of asian chili sauce or soy sauce for flavour. When it's just our little Campbell trio I just use tofu, but for company I typically use prawns as well.
Mix Sauce ingredients:
lime juice from 1 lime (I substitute lemon juice sometimes or skip this if using a vinegary asian chili sauce), 3 T asian chili sauce (that sweet, vinegary red stuff you see on the table at Vietnemese restaurants. If you don't have it use ketchup), 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 T natural peanut butter, 1 tsp red pepper flakes (I just usually put a few shakes of hot sauce in instead), a shot of water (maybe 3 T) and 2T fish sauce (you could skip the fish sauce but it definitely is better with it). I also add about half a teaspoon of dried ginger if I don't have fresh, ditto for garlic.
Get those noodles ready:
Pour boiling water over one package of rice noodles (flat noodles, not the really skinny ones - these are in the Asian food section at most grocery stores). If you are just making this for 2 people you only need about half a package but break the noodles in the package!!! I learned this the hard way and was finding little noodle bits months later). Let soak for about 5 minutes while you get going on the next step and then drain.
Heat a wok or deep frying pan with a half T or so of veg or peanut oil, add 3-4 cloves minced garlic and a few teaspoons of finely minced or grated ginger.
(Optional: If you want to add shredded carrot, sliced cabbage, or julienned peppers add now and stir fry. I typically add a cup or two of grated carrot). Then make a space and scramble 2 eggs (I often cook the eggs like an omelet beforehand and cut them into strips and then add at the end with the peanuts).
bean sprouts (as much as you want, I probably use about 4 cups), the noodles, and the sauce. Stir for a few minutes - if it doesn't seem like enough sauce I add a bit of water, and another squirt of chili and soy sauce.
Stir in the meat or tofu, about a cup of chopped green onions, and about a half cup chopped peanuts. Sprinkle on some reserved green onions, peanuts, sprouts, and egg for garnish. Serve with lime wedges.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Now my new town, Chilliwack, is the land of corn. Cows and corn. There is a "corn drive-through" on every corner. There are entrepreneurial five-year olds sitting behind mounds of corn. To live here, you have to love your corn. We've eaten enough cobs for awhile and so I decided to try a chowder.
Chop up some celery, garlic, and onion - red pepper would be great too.
Saute this in a few tablespoons of butter over low heat.
When nice and limp, and smelling oh, so lovely, stir in a few tablespoons of flour.
Next, add a few cups of water. Then add a diced potato or two (I used left-over roasted potatoes chopped fine). Cook until potatoes are tender.
Then add cooked corn-off-the-cob- as much as you have. Today I had two cobs. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, chili powder, or whatever else you want to jazz it up with. If you want you can put everything into the blender at this point, or you could leave it a bit chunky. I like the best of both worlds and use my hand blender for a rougher texture.
Finally, add a few cups of milk, and heat through. Garnish with green onions.
Voila. Lift up a ladle to Chilliwack.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
It's Sunday morning and I'm a little groggy. The guy downstairs decided to play, no, blast, base-loaded hip hop last night at three in the morning. Yup, thanks. So I hope this blog makes sense. Regardless, my stove-top espresso and these pictures are softening my jagged nerve endings.
Here's a bit of what I' ve been doing with my spare time. The great thing about substitute teaching is no marking, no preparation, and more time for cooking.
Shrimp and Coconut Curry
This one (above) is a new recipe I improvised from the Vij's cookbook. Vij's is an award winning Indian restaurant in Vancouver, which I am dying to try. Anyhow, the basic gist is puree two tomatoes and heat them in a saucepan with some spices. I used graham marsala, cayenne pepper, salt, and tumeric. Let the mixture simmer for about three to five minutes. Add half a cup of water. Simmer for another ten minutes. Add a cup of coconut milk and simmer for yet another ten minutes. Throw in 15 to 30 deshelled prawns and cook for four minutes. The prawns will turn pink. They really don't take long to cook.
Serve the prawns and curry bowls over brown rice along with steamed veggies.
Dinner on the deck
We bought and old ironing board at a thriftstore last week. It makes a perfect table.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Recently, people have been telling me that they love September. I can see their point. The air is warm, the sun is shining, the apples are ripening, and the blackberries are falling off the bush into my pail. Also, the crowds of tourists and teenagers have nearly disappeared. For these reasons September makes me happy. But September is also a month of change, back to school, back to work—new jobs, new people, new responsibilities. Suddenly I have a tummy ache. I haven’t truly started September. My first day of work is Friday (tee hee) so Caleb and I have still been playing at summer. And when it’s hot, because it is, and I’m spending my days on my bike or at the beach, I don’t like to eat large hot meals. Last night, Caleb and I whipped up what we’ve taken to calling the Quick and Dirty Salad, a mound of fresh rice and veggies topped with cheese and protein. The recipe is very simple and, naturally, very flexible depending on what you’ve got in the crisper but I provide the recipe as a guide, a starting point, and a source of ideas.
Also, I wanted to post this stunning photo.
Usually, I have most of the ingredients that require cooking left over from a previous meal. For example, I wouldn’t make rice specifically for the salad as it needs time to cool. Instead, make a little extra for your stir fry and save it in the fridge for your salad.
4-5 large leafs of Romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
Half a carrot, grated
Quarter of a beet, grated
1 tomato, diced
1 cob of corn, cooked
Half a red pepper (not green! Yew)
Half an avocado, sliced into slender pieces
2/3 cup cold cooked brown rice (optional. It depends on how hungry you are.)
3/4 cup chickpeas, cooked (or/and two boiled eggs.)
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
2 to 4 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
Assemble the above ingredients on two plates or pasta dishes. I suggest putting the cheese and seeds on top.
This recipe comes courtesy of Joan Reems (my mother). I believe it’s the best one she’s ever given me. I always have a batch in the fridge as it’s so simple to prepare and so much healthier than commercial dressings. Oh, and it tastes good.
1 cup yogurt
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp dried dill
Combine, adding more water depending on desired consistency.
Monday, September 8, 2008
In Toronto there is a restaurant called Fresh, which, go figure, focuses on fresh food, such as salads, rice bowls, veggie burgers, and wraps—all my favourites. Their smoothies are delicious and I didn’t get a chance but would love to try their selection of caffeinated blended bevies. (Is a drink still a smoothie if it does not contain fruit?) I was excited to find that the owner/chef has released not one, but two cookbooks. I, too frugal to purchase a copy, checked out cookbook two, Refresh, from the Victoria library. The veggie burgers look juicy and I’m intrigued by the vegan cookies but so far I’ve only experimented with one recipe. Caleb and I collaborated on a batch of Indian Dosas. We followed the basic recipe but made some changes to the filling based on the ingredients that we had on hand. The Dosas are curry-spiced crepes stuffed with a chickpea-veggie filling. Yeah, beans!
Indian Dosa Pancakes
1 cup flour (you can use spelt, whole wheat, or white)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup milk or soy milk
½ cup to ¾ cup water
1 Tbsp oil
Combine ingredients and fry on a skillet.
Dosa Filling (Based less than loosely on the Refresh recipe)
4 cloves garlics minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger mince
1 onion diced
1 carrot diced
1 red pepper diced
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp masa harina
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
(I chose the spices based on what I had in the cupboard. Also, I wanted to create and Indian flavour. Adjust the flavouring to suite your palate and ingredients).
4 cups cooked chickpeas
Heat a shot of olive oil in a pan or wok, add garlic, veggies, and spices. Cook until veggies just begin to soften. Add chickpeas and cook until mixture is mushy, then mulch in the food processor along with the juice of one lemon. Return to the pan and reheat.
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp feta cheese
Half a carrot, grated
½ cup mango, peach, or apple chutney (You can use store bought chutney; I’ve been making mine with the not-so-good-for-eating fall apples.)
Fill your dosas with chickpea filling, chutney, and a little carrot, roll up likes pancakes, top with carrot, pumpkin seeds, and feta. Enjoy!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Due to poor blogging habits Reems Eats is in serious jeopardy. I' m therefore feeling a lot of pressure to publish a recipe that is going to propel us back into the blogosphere. I'm going to stay tried, tested and true. Here is my standard "company," or potluck, salad. It has a loose formula thus ensuring that no two salads are ever the same.
- Salad base - lettuce or spinach
- Veggies- I typically use julienned red or yellow peppers and some sort of oniony veggie - red onion is one of my faves or green onions are great too. You can get creative with this category
- Avacado. I know, a veggie. However, my love of the avacado demands it gets its own category. You can skip the avacado, but why would you want to?
- Cheese -I usually go with crumbled feta or chevre. You could mix it up a little and maybe try some cubed havarti or wouldn't some smoked gouda be fab?
- Some fruityness. Depending on what the season is. In strawberry season there really is no other option. In the winter I often just chuck in a handful of dried cranberries. Mango slices or halved grapes also work well.
- Nuts. Toasted and slivered almonds, pecans, or walnuts are all good. If you have the time and really want to go to the next level - Heat up a small pan with a touch of butter. Add a few handfuls of the aforementioned nuts. Now add about a teaspoon of sugar, some salt, some pepper, a dash of cumin, a dash of chili powder, a dash of cinnamon, a dash of garlic... you get the idea. Toast until all nice and crusty with deliciousness. These nuts are awesome and can be a stand alone snack as well.
- Dressing. In a pinch I use some sort of bottled vinaigrette - Kraft's light sundried tomato or light poppyseed are my go-to's. If you have even thirty extra seconds - Combine a few glugs of balsamic vinegar with one glug of olive oil. Add maybe half a teaspoon of sugar, a smidge of garlic, salt & pepper, and any herbs you have around. mmmmmm!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Now my other dilemma. Pizza stone or cookie sheet? Now, in the past I have been a stone kind of girl- despite my inital stone near disaster.. the first meal that I ever prepared for future brother-in-law Rhys... note PREHEATING of the stone is required. So when you have a little grublet like Finn lurking in the shadows I find it easier to premake the pizza during nap time or Daddy and Finn hangout time.. This makes the cookie sheet the better option.
- Nice round shape. who doesn't like a good wedge of the 'za?
- Years of getting my stones nicely seasoned (don't used soap on them, soak and scrub clean)
- The bottom gets nice and crispy (although I must say that I am in the soft and doughy team so this is a con for me)
- Preheating - requires everything to be preassembled and then thrown together in a mad pizza making frenzy right before they need to go in the oven. This is particularly problematic when making 2 pies.
- Can premake your pizzas
- The doughy crust (A con for some)
- Not as cool.
The chives are a great addition to soups and salads but we weren't sure how to make the best use of our mint plant. Last week I found the answer at Irish Times, floating in my glass. My drink was clotted with green leaves, as mint is an integral part the Mojito. I slurped back the remains of my favourite beverage and thought, surely we can do better. (I was a little disappointed in IT's mojito. The mojito at Spinnakers is far tastier.)
We wanted to share our wealth of mint and alcohol, so we rounded up the Canada trip crew (Caleb, Kathleen, Brian, and I) for a Friday night of eats and drinks. Food options will be limited on our cross-Canada trip this summer. All cooking will be done on a propane stove. We have to revel while we can. Although last night we concluded that if Brian had the proper supplies, he could mix mohitos right across the country.
As usual, I was responsible for the food component of our 'Mojito Night.' I've been feeling a bit under the weather. I blame my cold on my new job at P.C.S. as high schools are riddled with germs. Nothing beats a sore throat like a thick soup and so, with the guidance of my Rebar Cookbook, I redrafted a recipe for Yam Peanut Soup, swapping the yams for carrots and potatoes. Naturally I kept the integral ingredient, peanut butter. The results were delicious.
Cooking for Kathleen and Brian is always a challenge. Not because they're particularly fussy. When Brian samples my cooking, his response is so enthusiastic that I become quite certain that I'm the West Coast's answer to Julia Child. Kathleen is the problem. She has a condition called celiac. Her body is unable to digest gluten. In fact, the negative response is so strong that if she eats gluten she is unable to take in the nutritional properties of other foods. Yikes. The worst part is, it (gluten) will cause her to fall asleep almost anywhere (work, school, the shower, etc). It's usually easy to prepare a dinner without gluten but I usually pair soup with bread. I had made a spinach salad but I needed something relatively easy and filling to round out the meal. I turned to Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads which I recently borrowed from the library. In the cornbread section I found a rich but lovely recipe for something called Spoon Bread, a cross between corn bread and souffle. While the bread took longer to bake than it should have due to my tempermental oven, our anticipation heightened the experience. The timer went off for the fourth time and we were finally treated to a cloud of cornmeal, eggs, and cheese hot from the oven.
As I scrambled to complete my miniature masterpiece, Brian downloaded a recipe for Mojitos. When I sat down at the table, I tired and hungry, he slid a cup of goodness, complete with a tiny umbrella, under my nose. After dinner Kathleen produced chocolate tarts from the bakery in Broadmead. They were so good I felt guilty. Dinner with Brian and Kathleen may pose some challenges but these are easily outweighed by the benefits.
This was Brian's department but here is the recipe he followed:
1 tsp sugar
2 ounces lime juice
4 mint leaves
2 ounces rum
2 ounces club soda
Mix and enjoy
A mix of spinach, red onion, mushrooms and boiled egg topped with an orange poppy seed dressing. The was the first time I tired this dressing. I probably won't make it again.
5 cups vegetable stock (Use water if you haven't prepared stock)
Red or yellow onion
ginger, minced or powdered
garlic (about 4 cloves)
red pepper (one or half)
two medium potatoes chopped
five cups (aprox) chopped carrots
half a cup orange juice or pineapple juice (I used orange)
a couple tomatoes
1/2-1/3 c. peanut butter, depending on your taste
chopped fresh cilantro
a splash of lime or lemon juice
a splash of Tabasco
Remember, you can change the amounts and the veggies used.
Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil. Add some salt and the rest of the spices. Cook until the onions are soft. Add the veggies. Saute until the veggies start to stick to the pan. Add stock to cover. Simmer until the veggies are tender.
Add the juice, tomatoes, peanut butter, and more stock (if necessary) and simmer for 1/2 an hour. Puree the soup. Return to the pot and return to a simmer for about 10 min. Season with Tabasco. Add any extra flavouring if needed, such as more salt or juice. Just before serving, add a splash of lemon juice and chopped cilantro.
1 and 1/2 cups water
1 and 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 c. butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
4 eggs, separated
In a saucepan, stir cornmeal into water. Heat over medium heat. Remove from heat once it begins to thicken. This will happen quite quickly once it begins. Stir in cheese, butter, garlic, and salt. When cheese is melted, pour in milk. Stir in the egg yolks.
Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold into the batter.
Pour mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish. Make sure the batter is even
Bake for about one hour at 325. Test for doneness by slipping a knife into the center. The knife should come out clean. If not, bake for anther ten minutes.
Serve right away! You will need a spoon to scoop servings out of the pan.
Monday, May 5, 2008
For weeks now, I've been promising to share my recipe of flour tortillas with Haley. Now, after feasting on these homemade wraps and stuffings, I'm inspired to post the recipe.
2 cups flour
½ tsp b. powder
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp canola oil
2/3-3/4 cups warm water
Combine dry plus oil and half the water.
Stir and continue adding water (while stirring) until dough comes together but is not too sticky.
Knead for about 5 min. Dough should be elastic and smooth.
Cover and let stand for at least a half an hour so dough will relax. This step can be skipped if you’re in a rush.
Divide into 8 balls. Press each into a disc and roll out as thin as possible. (7-8” in diameter)
Cook one at a time on a dry skillet at medium heat until tortilla blisters and brown spots appear. Wrap cooked tortillas in a clean dish towel to keep warm.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
I had half a block of tofu left over in the fridge and so I decided to whip up a coconut curry stiryfry.
You can use any combination of the following veggies:
Broccoli, carrots, yams, asparagus, peppers, eggplant, mushrooms (these are actually a must), etc.
Plus: garlic and onions and, if you have it, cilantro
Tofu: Chop half a block into squares, toss it with half a TBsp olive or seseme oil and one Tbsp soya sauce. Bake it in the oven or toaster oven for 10-15 min.
Here's what you do!:
Heat some oil in a wok or pan. Toss in the garlic and onion. Stirfry until onions soften. Add any extra hard veggies (if you are using any) such as carrots, or potatoes, or yams. Stiry fry for about 5 mins (or a little less).
Add 1/3 of a can of coconut milk. Add 2-3 Tbsp green curry paste. Mix the curry paste into the coconut milk. Add a shot of lemon or lime juice and 3 Tbsp water. Add more coconut milk if necessary. You need enough liquid to simmer the veggies in.
When the hard veggies are just tender, mix in a couple spoons of brown sugar, a couple Tbsp soy sauce and a some fish sauce (if you have it). Add the remaining veggies plus the rest of the coconut milk and simmer.
Turn up the heat, add the tofu. If you are using bokchoy, add it now. Simmer until sauce reduces and thickens.
When you think its ready, throw in a little extra lemon or lime juice plus cilantro or basil. Check the seasoning and add some more soy sauce if necessary.
Scoop over bowls of rice and enjoy!
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Here's what you need to do to make your own-
1)Make a giant batch of stiff hummus (puree chick peas, dash of peanut butter, chick pea "juice", garlic, lemon juice, cumin, salt, & pepper).
2) When you are short on dinner ideas take some of your hummus, conveniently sitting in your fridge, and throw in some rice (brown or white, whatever you have leftover), and make some nice little patties.
3)Bake on a lightly greased or "pammed " cookie sheet for maybe 25 minutes - I flipped after 15 minutes.
4) Serve with pita and whatever tickles your fancy: tomato, bean sprouts, grated carrot, peppers.. Sauteed onions, mushrooms, and peppers are lovely if you have the time.
I also like to throw together a little tzatziki - I take a bit of yogurt, a bit of light sour cream (I skip this if I have a thicker, fattier yogurt OR you could take the extra time and drain your yogourt over a coffee filter to make a thicker yogurt cheese), grate a bit of a cuke and squeeze the juice out (if I have one, otherwise I bag this- is better with it though), some garlic, salt, pepper, and dill (also optional).
Making your own pita also kicks this up a notch if you have the time.
- First you need to make the dough. I am writing this off the top of my head, play with the amount of flour and water until you have a nice pliable dough: 2 teaspoons yeast dissolved in 1 and 1/2 cups water, 3 cups flour (half white, half whole wheat), and 1 teaspoon salt. Give a good stir and a couple kneads.
- Let sit for a few minutes (or an hour if you have it) and then on a well- floured surface using a well-floured rolling pin, take a nice little ball and roll it as thin as you can. Make a stack of these little pancakes with flour in between.
- Now -here you have some options. I have made them in a really hot oven before but this last time I made them like a flatbread on a frying pan and I preferred this method (less chance of Finn getting blasted as I keep opening and closing an-ultra hot oven). If you do it on the frying pan I would recommend using two smaller pans. Get them nice and hot, spray on a bit of pan and put a disk in each pan. Keep an eye on these, they cook quickly. When they start to puff up flip 'er over. I am usually rolling the other disks while I do this. When they are done keep in a stack wrapped in a tea towel to stray warm and tasty.
- If you have leftover dough you can cover the it and and put it in your fridge for a few days until the next time the urge to have some lovely flatbread strikes.