Monday, September 26, 2011

Garlic Breath

This past weekend I attended the Ontario Garlic Festival. Garlic is one of my favourite ingredients to use in cooking. It can be a mild undertone in a dish or a pungent burst of flavour.

Most of the garlic sold in grocery stores in Ontario comes from China. CHINA! As in the other side of the world!!! We have delicious, fresh garlic growing in our own province, country, heck - hemisphere and our garlic comes from China? That's silly. While I had the chance I stocked up on a few months supply. This got me wondering about the best way to store my garlic...

A lesson in storing garlic:
Store in a cool, dark, dry place. Don't store in the refrigerator (I'm guilty of this) or in a plastic, sealed container - this can lead to garlic turning soft and moldy. Storing garlic heads in oil can lead to botulism (this sounds like something I would do...I'm really glad I learned this...spread the word people!). You can buy garlic storage containers that have small holes that allow for proper air circulation...I think it's time I invest in one of these to avoid soft, moldy, boutilism-filled garlic! For now, storing in a brown paper bag should do the trick.

Back to the Garlic Festival - it was fun! There were at least a dozen varieties of garlic, garlic spreads, garlic pestos, garlic chocolate and even garlic ice cream!!!

With all this talk I'm feeling the urge to roast some garlic. Before I go, I must encourage you to embrace your garlic breath. Share your garlic filled snack with friends and coworkers so that they too have garlic breath and we can all live harmoniously in our smelly garlicy world.

Spread the word, share the garlic, embrace the breath.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A warm bowl of breakfast

I love starting my day with a warm bowl of oatmeal. Last week I decided to mix things up a bit and try baked oatmeal.

The recipe is easy - start with the basic 2 cups of oats and 2 cups of milk (any kind). Add ingredients to suit your taste. Throw in some seasonal or frozen fruit, cinnamon, nuts and seeds, ground flax seed, and a sprinkle of sugar or maple syrup. Bake at 375° for 35-45 minutes.

Wishing you good mornings and tasty breakfasts.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Presentation is everything.

Isn't this a cute way to serve veggies? Taste is important but presentation sure does mean a lot.

I found this lovely photo on Pinterest. I discovered Pinterest a few days ago and am officially obsessed. For those of you who aren't in the know, Pinterest is a website similar to Twitter but instead of sending a message in 140 characters it uses pictures. Give it a try and while you're at it:

Follow Me on Pinterest

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Potato Crust Pizza

While flipping through a food magazine the other day I stumbled across a beautiful photo of pizza. Now, I've already blogged about my love of this versatile dish but I must continue to spread this love. "What's so special?" you ask? Well, for starters the crust is made out of grated potato! The result: delicious, gluten-free, sodium-free, additive-free crust that tastes similar to a hash brown (without that heavy, oily taste).

My food processor made grating the potato a seamless task. I popped on the grater blade and the rest was history. I didn't even peel the potatoes - too much work, plus there are great nutrients in the peel. Fear not, if you don't have a food processor you can still make this recipe although it may be slightly tedious (but certainly worth it in the end).

White Potato1 1/2 lbs (about 2 med)  
Pizza sauce1/2 cup 
Eggplant 1 medium 
Roasted Red Pepper 1
Corn  1 cob
Chickpeas, rinsed1/2 can 
Cheese1/2 cup
Oregano1 tsp

Preheat oven to 375˚C.
Slice eggplant into 1" thick slices and place on lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. 

While the eggplant is baking, half fill a large bowl with cold water. Grate potatoes and immediately place them into the water (this will prevent browning).

Take one handful of grated potatoes and place on a clean kitchen towel. Fold the towel over the potatoes and wring out to remove excess water. Spread potatoes on a greased baking sheet. Continue this process until all potato is dried and spread on the sheet, layered about 1/8 inch thick. Bake for 20 minutes.

Slice roasted red peppers, remove corn from the cob (or use frozen or canned corn), and rinse chickpeas.

Spread pizza sauce over the crust, layer eggplant, peppers, chickpeas, and corn. Sprinkle with cheese and herbs. 

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven, admire your work, serve and enjoy

Monday, September 12, 2011

Farm lover extraordinaire

This past Sunday I spent the day at a farm. My love for food extends into my love for farms. The thought alone of visiting a farm makes me giddy, smiley, and excited beyond belief! Just because I live in downtown Toronto doesn’t mean I can’t occasionally enjoy the farm life - thank goodness! Whittamore’s Farm is only 40 minutes from the city and offers Pick-It-Yourself fun as well as a small market with local fruit, vegetables, cheese, freshly baked goods and other wonderful local products.

It was a beautiful day; perfect picking conditions. We picked strawberries, raspberries, eggplant, tomatoes, green and red peppers, chili peppers, and zucchini. 

Stay tuned this week to see the fruits of my labour - literally! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

There's no place like home

After a long nine months I finally escaped the city and made my way back to the Newfoundland for a quick visit. It was lovely to see family and friends, smell the ocean air, eat some home cookin', have a few laughs, and to just be home. Here are a few snaps I took along the way:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Let's go to Mexico...

Hola amigos!
As you can see from the above photo, I've been connecting with my Mexican heritage lately (ok, so I don't officially have a Mexican heritage...but I'm sure if I go back far enough  I'd be able to find one!)

I grew up in a household where 'Mexican' was a common adjective for food - Mexican potatoes, Mexican rice, Mexican pizza, Mexican dip, Mexican stew - you name it and my family has attempted to make it with a Mexican twist! Burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, tortillas, chilli powder, cumin, coriander, jalapenos, and Corona are all staples in my kitchen. I make my own salsa and guacamole and I lovingly stare at recipes of tomatillo salsa verde  - I just need to get my hands on some tomatillos!

My version of Mexican food is fast, healthy, easy to make and jam packed with flavour!

I'm travelling this weekend so I wanted to use up the food I had in my fridge. With that in mind I started chopping. One thing lead to another and before I knew it I was making a quesadilla!

Here's what I did: 


I diced and sautéed tomato, red pepper, green onion, and leek.
Added chilli powder, cumin, coriander, and garlic.
When the veggies were almost cooked I added a can of black beans (rinsed & drained) and continued to cook until heated throughout.
When everything was finished cooking I turned off the heat and added the juice of 1/2 a lime.

Normally I would spread salsa and yogurt or sour cream over a whole wheat tortilla - alas I had no such ingredients in my fridge so I used some tikka masala sauce (Mexican Indian fusion - why not?!).
I then baked the tortilla in the oven (@ 375°F) to harden/toast it a little. I do this for 2 reasons:
1) I like a little extra crunch when I'm eating tortillas
2) It reduces the likelihood of soggy leftovers!
Note: The tortilla will need to be folded in half so make sure not to toast it too much (it may crack).

Once toasted, I spooned the sautéed veggies & beans on half of the quesadilla and sprinkled some old cheddar cheese on top. I folded it in half and then popped it back in the oven to let the cheese melt.


While the quesadilla was cooking I dug into an avocado, scooped out the flesh and mashed it in a bowl with diced tomato and a squirt of lime juice. Normally my guacamole has a little more oomph than this but I was looking for something basic and fast! It certainly did the trick but I wasn't surprised - it's hard to mess up an avocado!

I added a dollop of guacamole on top of the quesadilla, cracked open a Corona and had myself a fiesta!

Adios, hasta la vista!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Exploring quinoa flour

A few months ago I was grocery shopping when quinoa flour jumped off the shelf right into my cart! (ok,  it caught my eye, my curiosity got the best of me and I purchased it).  Since I don't bake very often this poor quinoa flour has been sitting in my cupboard, patiently waiting to be played with.  Last night a chocolate craving hit and I got baking! Lucky for me, when sweet cravings strike I can distract myself by getting creative in the kitchen - somehow the craving magically disappears  (ok, so this is probably due to the spoonful of cookie batter I eat but hey, someone has to test the recipe before it goes in the oven!).

Back to quinoa flour. Actually, let's start with quinoa. Quinoa is a grain, very similar to rice or couscous. It's referred to as a superfood because it it is a good source of protein and fibre (ideal for vegetarians and vegans). It's also gluten free, so it's great for those who need to restrict gluten in their diet. Quinoa has become incredibly popular in North America in recent years and is available in most grocery, natural, and bulk food stores.

Quinoa flour is made from finely ground quinoa. It is slightly nutty in taste which is great for these chocolate nut cookies! Since it's a whole grain flour and gluten free, I was worried that the cookies would be dense and flat - much  to my surprise they were pretty fluffy and light! However, I do have one beef with quinoa flour - it smells bad!!! I worried when I was baking the cookies that they would taste as bad as they smelled - lucky for me, and my cookie-eating guests, the smell disappeared after baking and they tasted wonderfully delicious! Good thing too, 'cause there's nothing worse than a bad cookie!

Quinoa flour experiment = success!