Saturday, January 22, 2011

Minestrone Soup

Print Friendly and PDF I made some chicken stock the other day. I put it in the refrigerator to cool, and had a look in the pantry and the refrigerator to see what kind of soup I could make WITHOUT walking to the grocery store in the pouring rain! I had a can of kidney beans, I had some cabbage, I had some pasta. Minestrone it would be! I usually search for recipes on-line, or through my favorite new food website: FOODBUZZ. This time, for some reason, I opened up my cookbook cupboard, and reached for one of my ancient cookbooks:
The Harrowsmith Cookbook: Volume#1. I scanned the soup section, and found a recipe to match my ingredients...sort of. I very rarely have EVERYTHING that a recipe calls for, but I am very good at knowing what can substitute for what, and what can be left out, or added, without ruining a perfectly good recipe.

Here's the original recipe, with my substitutions in brackets:

1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery (1/2 a lg fennel bulb, chopped)
1 Tbsp oil
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup shredded cabbage
19 oz can of tomatoes (21 oz tomato juice)
5 cups beef stock(6 cups chicken stock)
1/2 cup chopped parsley (had none)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup broken spaghetti noodles(4 sheets of dried lasagna noodles cooked a bit then cut into 1 inch squares)
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini(had none)
2-3 cups cooked kidney beans, undrained( 19 oz can kidney beans 1/2 drained)
2 cups cooked beef, finely chopped(2 cups roast turkey breast chopped into 1 inch cubes)
Grated Parmesan cheese to garnish( I threw in a Parmesan rind end I found in the fridge, and took it out before I stored the soup in the refrigerator)

In a heavy pot, saute garlic, onion and celery in oil. Add carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, stock,parsley, pepper, and salt. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add noodles, zucchini,beans,and meat. Simmer 10 minutes longer or until spaghetti and vegetables are cooked. Add more salt if necessary.
Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and accompanied by hot crusty bread.
Serves 6.
Jan Gilbert
Ashton, Ontario

I really enjoyed this soup. So much so, that I burned my mouth eating it, and still had to have another bowl. I think it was extra good for 3 reasons:
1) The tomato juice: It made the texture of the soup so silky. I forgot how much I like tomato juice...and how long it has been since I have had any!
2) The fennel: I think the sweet anise flavour really balanced the acidity of the tomato juice
3) The Parmesan Rind: I believe the rind slightly thickened and enriched the broth, without giving it a cheesy flavour.
I had another bowl yesterday...and I do believe that it is improving with age!

Jenny Pooh's Lemon Pasta Sauce...A Variation

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I have been craving lemons lately. I don't know if the dreary January weather has anything to do with it but the other night I just had to make Jenny's lemon pasta sauce. I had no fresh Rosemary, so I added a couple of cups of broccoli florets, a can of salmon, and some capers.

The flavour was good, but I must say that the broccoli was overcooked, and slightly bitter. I decided to add the broccoli to the boiling pasta for the last minute of cooking. I realize now that this was a mistake. If I made this again...and I think I will, I will blanch the broccoli in advance, shock it in ice water, and stir it in, while I am softening the garlic, before everything else goes back into the pot.

The P-Man enjoyed surprise there...but I am curious to taste the dish again, with the broccoli bright green, and slightly al dente.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Breakfast a la James Barber

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I like to eat pancakes. My dad and I used to go to Phil's Pancake House in Calgary and Banff almost every week when I was I must have gotten hooked then. I am a big fan of anita's organic multi-grain pancake and waffle mix...but sometimes, I want the light, fluffy, not so good for you, pancakes I used to make...after Phil's, and before Weight Watchers: James Barber's ' P-Seudo P-Sourdough P-sancakes

This recipe is from his book: ' Immodest but Honest Good Eating Cookbook ' It's a great recipe...but I always change it a bit. Here it is, with my little tweaks:

Beat 3 eggs and add 1 cup of flour ( I substitute 1/2 cup whole wheat flour/1/2 cup regular unbleached white flour) 6 ounces of yogurt ( I use non fat Greek yogurt) and 1 cup milk ( I use 1%) Beat smooth. Now still beating add: 2 TBSP sugar ( I use 1 TBSP) 1 teaspoon salt ( I use 1/2 tsp) 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 4 TBSP oil or melted butter ( I use 2 TBSP melted butter) Let stand 10 minutes before cooking.

The P-Man and I put homemade applesauce and real maple syrup on our pancakes, and in the spirit of James Barber...We had a REALLY good Sunday!

Food Trends for 2011-Delicious Magazine UK

Print Friendly and PDF This photo is a hint. It relates to one of the food trends identified by Delicious Magazine for this year. I really enjoyed this article. I was surprised by some of the choices, but found the explanations quite illuminating.
I informed the P-Man that this summer is my year to start my 'patio' vegetable patch!
How about you?

Family...and PIE!!

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If you are familiar with this blog at all, you know of my love of pie. I was in beautiful Salmon Arm last week, visiting a sick brother in the hospital, another brother and his wife in Canoe, and my niece and her family in Kelowna. The trip was exhausting, and stressful, and if it hadn't been for this pie...I probably would have thrown myself into the nearest lake in a final dramatic gesture!

Let me say again...THIS PIE WAS OUTSTANDING!!

Downtown Salmon Arm has not changed very much since I'd been there 10 years ago. My niece and I took a walk around and discovered a new business and a welcome addition to the downtown: Shuswap Pie Company. This place had it all. It was a real bakery, a decent sized sit down restaurant, and I wished it was in MY TOWN!! We hadn't had lunch, but were in the market for a nice soothing snack. As soon as we saw the sign it was an easy decision. We decided to have pie. My niece and I both had bakers for fathers, so we have eaten our share of pies. I decided on the rhubarb/raspberry, and she had the apple. My pie had the nicest, flakiest, thin tasty crust that wasn't the least bit soggy. My filling was the perfect consistency. It was neither jammy...nor so runny, you walked out of the place WEARING half of your pie. I could taste the rhubarb, but the raspberries added such a nice summer sweetness, I couldn't believe I was eating this pie in January. I love raspberries, and it's always this time of year I start to miss them, knowing that July is a REALLY long time away. Her pie was one of those thick rustic crust pies, with the ability to stand up to the juiciest apples. It also had NO RAISINS. We BOTH HATE RAISINS!!! She said that her pie had a very flavourful crust, and perfectly cooked apples, without other flavours like cinnamon overshadowing the tart-sweet apple.

The restaurant was busy, for a Thursday afternoon, and by the look of the specials board, they had already sold out of one of the daily soups, and a savoury pie feature. We finished our pie, and headed out. She was dropping me in Canoe, before heading back home to Kelowna. It was just like when I was a kid, riding in a car with a stomach full of pie. The circumstances around this trip were not especially happy. When we look back, I hope we just remember the pie.

Shuswap Pie Company
UnitA331 Alexander Street
Salmon Arm, BC V1E-4P1

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Not Nearly Nigel

Print Friendly and PDF I was born in a Winnipeg Manitoba, almost 48 years ago. Therefore, for my entire life...I have looked forward, with great anticipation, to the coming of January. It's cold, I realize that. It can be gloomy, especially if you live on the West Coast...but I could care less. I feel GREAT in January! Full of anticipation for the coming year. I love to make plans to travel, and plans for my Birthday week!! Just ask any of my friends about my Birthday week. They try to forget about it...but I always remind them! This year I am deciding on a few courses to take at UBC, and making a budget for my business: Cavern Retail Consulting. I have also been thinking about this blog. I really do enjoy writing it. Far more than I ever could have imagined. But I feel I need a change. Perhaps a re-focus. After all...It is January!I could start a NEW blog...but I have a better idea. One of the courses I am considering taking is on building a website on Wordpress. I think I am going to learn how to do that. You will have to wait a few weeks, but I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised at my new project.

I have been reading a GREAT food book by Nigel Slater, called the kitchen diaries. I started reading it last January, and just finished it last week. It chronicles, month by month, what Nigel ate...and what he cooked...and what he shopped for. I believe that my great idea is to embark on a year long cooking journey, 'a la' Nigel. He lives in a village in the UK. I live in a small town in Canada. He is always shopping for food at local food stores, and farmers markets. I am always shopping for food at local food stores and farmers markets. He bakes. Me, not so much. He grills. I have to get one. He sometimes eats leftovers out of a bowl, in front of the TV. Me too.

This year...Nigel and I are food soul mates.

I just can't wait...

Jenny-Pooh's Lemon Pasta Sauce...2.0

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When I worked at Delitalia, I worked with a lovely girl named Jenny. I liked to call her Jenny-Pooh. She was experimenting with an alternative to our house made tomato sauce, and came up with a sauce that was composed of lemon juice, olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. We tasted it one afternoon, and pronounced it a WINNER!!

As you all know...The P-Man has a thing for spaghetti. His favorite sauce is a ragu, or tomato based sauce. During the holidays, he was starting to go through 'spaghetti-withdrawal' and I had to act fast! I only had a couple of lemons, and some Parmesan, and some fresh I thought I would try Jenny-Pooh's creation. Here's how it went:

I zested 2 lemons, and chopped the zest up quite roughly. I squeezed the juice into a small bowl and added some olive oil, and a BIG handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I chopped at least 4 or 5 tablespoons of fresh Rosemary quite finely, as well as a good handful of flat leaf Italian parsley, and four fat cloves of garlic.
I heavily salted the pasta water, and added a box of spaghetti. It has been my experience that oil based sauces need to have the actual pasta you can't seem to add enough salt to the oil to make it taste right. When the pasta was al dente, I drained it, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. I put the pot back on the heat, and added some olive oil,the garlic,a shake of hot pepper flakes, and the chopped Rosemary. When I could smell the garlic, I took the pot off the heat and added all the rest of the ingredients and gave the pasta a nice toss. I added some freshly ground black pepper, and some more cheese, and we ate it while it was super hot!! It was DELICIOUS!! The taste was so fresh from the lemon, and the zest. The Rosemary was incredibly fragrant, while at the same time adding a real earthy, herbal note. The cheese and the garlic played right along, with each ingredient nicely balancing the other. Even though we were eating this pasta on a cold December day...I could just imagine eating it out on the patio on a hot summer night, with a cold glass of Pinot Grigio.

The P-Man was pleased... Many Thanks to Jenny-Pooh!

New Years Day Snacks!

Print Friendly and PDF I must confess that the P-Man and I had a very dull New Year's Eve. In fact we didn't even stay awake long enough to watch the pretty crystal ball drop in Times Square! We had gone out for a late lunch, and drank a bottle of wine, and truly enjoyed the beautiful sunny day. The long walk must have made us sleepy!

On New Year's Day we decided to celebrate! We cracked open the bottle of champagne we had chilling from the night before. I sliced up some delicious salami flavoured with black truffles, and filled in the gaps with some spicy beet bites, assorted marinated olives, and some chips and salsa.

It was a feast!! A New Year had begun, so we raised a glass to 2011...and ate our snacks.