Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Winter Vegetables...In a Soup!

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I have become quite the little soup maker in the last few years! I used to stick to the basics and look for soup recipes and buy ingredients I would never use again...that sort of thing. Now I simply boil up the remains of a roast chicken, add a couple of Bay leaves, and some peppercorns, and VOILA...chicken broth just dying to be turned into delicious soup!

Vegetable soup...How Many Ways...Let Me Count Them...

My latest pot of vegetable soup turned out extra yummy...and I think it's because I did a couple of things differently, this time...
  • I coarsely grated a carrot,a zucchini,and a sweet potato(Or yam...the orange one)
  • I added canned corn
  • I sliced the carrots on an angle,about 1/2 an inch thick
  • I used a HUGE bunch of fresh Rainbow Chard
Here's the rough recipe. Please feel free to go crazy,and add or subtract something and leave me a comment!

Chicken Stock:
Throw in a large pot...
I chicken carcass, cooked, 2 large garlic cloves peeled,whole,2 Bay leaves,6 Telicherry Peppercorns(I swear they taste better than regular peppercorns)
Cover everything with cold water,and bring to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes,and strain.

12 oz can of niblets corn with 1/3 less salt
1/4 jar of mild salsa
1 small russet potato
1 zucchini
1 big bunch Rainbow chard leaves coarsely chopped, stems finely chopped
3 large carrots peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick on the diagonal
salt and pepper and an herb of your choice. I used dried Oregano...about a tablespoon

Into the hot strained stock add: salsa,grated vegetables, chard stems, and carrots. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the corn, the Chard leaves, and herb. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat, and after about 10 minutes taste and adjust seasonings. That's IT! DONE!!

This soup had an almost 'chowdery' texture from the grated vegetables. The corn and the sweet potato gave it a pleasing sweetness, but the salsa and the chard gave it a bit of a bite. If when you taste the soup, and have decided that it is seasoned well, but could use a bit of extra ZIP...Add a dash, maybe a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and taste again. This will allow you to get away with adding less salt, while adding MORE FLAVOUR!
The P-Man and I ate this soup all week for lunch, and it just kept getting better and better. I am going to definitely remember this combination of vegetables, as it seemed to make a satisfying and interesting soup. I am going to keep experimenting with grating other vegetables as well...because I personally like a thicker soup, rather than a 'brothy' one!

This soup is a winner! I hope you will try it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Strong Lemon+Fearless Zucchini= Tasty Feminist Muffins

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I receive something in my e-mail box each week:" Latest Headlines from Foodblogs.com." I am constantly amazed at the variety of food blogs that are floating around in the www. I came across this muffin recipe from a blog written in the UK. The title of the blog is: "Food & Feminism" and the 2 authors are Agatha and Agnes. Well say no more. I am charmed and intrigued.

These muffins were 'fatless' and light and fluffy. There were just a few ingredients. I thought they were a cross between a cake and a muffin. The lemon was punchy, and the zucchini was enough to make me feel good about eating a vegetable and a muffin at the same time! I did not ice mine. I merely mixed a tablespoon or so of icing sugar with a few drops of lemon juice and drizzled that over the warm muffins! Mmmm...lovely with a cup of English Breakfast tea.
Thanks ladies!

Lemon and Courgette Muffins

200g self raising flour
1 tspn baking powder
pinch of salt
3 eggs
175 g sugar
200g uncooked courgette finely grated (zucchini)
finely grated zest of an unwaxed lemon

Grate the zucchini and lemon zest, line the muffin tins and preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Sieve the flour,baking powder and salt into a large bowl ( I didn't have a sieve-I stirred the dry ingredients)
Whisk the sugar and eggs together using an electric mixer. You need to keep going until the mixture is thick, creamy, and pale yellow. About 6 minutes.
Carefully fold the egg mixture into the flour using a metal spoon, then carefully fold in the grated zucchini and lemon.
Spoon mixture into the muffin tins ( I got exactly 12 muffins) and bake for 20 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes before removing from muffin tins.

Enjoy a taste of spring! Even when it is dark and cold! These muffins will make you want to make a chain of daisies for your hair and dance around a field in a white dress...Wait, that's not a very feminist image is it?
Never mind...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cold Apartment,Hot Oven,Good Cookies!

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I have been in a baking mood lately. It seems like all the interesting recipes on foodblogs.com are baked. I will not resist...the cookie gods are calling my name..."Cathy....Cathy....Cathy...for Gods sake try to bake something HEALTHY!"

Nothing says 'healthy' like PRUNES!

I found this recipe in the Fall edition of Edible Vancouver. Thanks to Debbra Mikaelsen for making a chocolate chunk/prune/oatmeal hybrid cookie that tastes delicious.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Prunes and Hazelnuts

1 cup(250ml) soft butter
3/4 cup(175ml) brown sugar
1/4 cup(60ml) granulated sugar or natural cane sugar- I used cane sugar in the RAW!
1 tsp(5 ml) vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups(375 ml) all purpose flour-I was a bit short,so I used about 1/4 cup of whole grain flour to make up the 1 1/2 cups
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1 tsp(5 ml) baking soda
1/3 cup(75 ml) boiling water
2 cups(500 ml) rolled oats
1/2 cup(125 ml) pitted prunes,chopped
1/2 cup(125mL) hazelnuts, chopped
1 cup(250mL) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small chunks- I used semi-sweet chocolate chips

preheat oven to 350F

Cream butter,and add sugars,vanilla,and egg. Mix flour with salt,and add to butter and sugar mixture, stirring well. Dissolve baking soda in the boiling water,and pour liquid into the batter. Stir in rolled oats and mix thoroughly. Then add prunes,nuts and chocolate, mixing to combine. Using a tablespoon, form balls of cookie dough and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with a fork dipped in water. Bake about 10 to 12 minutes or until done.

I baked my cookies for 12 minutes and they came out lightly golden. I think the recipe made about 48 or 50 cookies. I froze most of them, and they taste great even right from the freezer...I took some across the hall to my neighbour, and sent some to work with my husband for his team...and they declared them SPECTACULAR!

I would agree...Perhaps I would even say "Prunealicious!"But that's just me...and it has been a long day!
 I hope you will try these! Leave me a comment...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Delicious Braised Red Cabbage

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I received the most adorable little red cabbages in my SPUD box last week. As the weather has definitely switched from warmish late fall to cold early winter, I knew the cabbage recipe I was looking for had to be hot. I found this recipe at Canadian Living, and it was unusual enough from my normal braised cabbage that I thought I would share it with you. The recipe can be found at: http://www.canadianliving.com/food/braised_red_cabbage.php

As always, I made a few substitutions. Some based on the ingredients I had on hand and some based on personal taste. They are as follows:

I had no juniper berries or gin. I substituted a 1/2 cup of organic vegetable stock. As a result,when I uncovered the braise, it was quite 'liquidy', and I had to boil it for about 15 minutes longer to get the cabbage to a more dry consistency.

I used a small yellow onion, instead of a red onion.

I had no dried thyme so I substituted a bunch of fresh and picked out the thyme stems before I served the cabbage. 

I have made braised cabbage before, but if I could pick one thing that made this recipe so good, it was the red wine. The wine added a depth of flavour that I really enjoyed. I am a white wine drinker, so when I first tasted the cabbage, it had a whiff of old socks. I must admit, the smell of food is something I rely on almost as much as the taste...so for a minute I thought I had ruined this huge pan full of cabbage. The taste however was decidedly' un-sock-like', and I deduced  that the red wine, veg broth and fresh thyme in combination had contributed to the aroma. The first bite was so subtle I wasn't sure I had added enough salt. The second bite let me know that the seasoning was in my opinion, perfect. It tasted earthy, and 'herby', and slightly sweet, but not like the little piles of almost 'candied' cabbage you see on plates at German schnitzel houses.

Last point: The recipe says that this recipe will keep in the fridge for 3 days. I ate this cabbage for almost a week, and it just got tastier and tastier. I will definitely make this again.

Thanks Canadian Living!