Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chili, Potatoes and Tea

Usually when I buy potatoes, I buy red ones. I just really, really love red potatoes. Oh, and I also love the purple fingerlings. I forgot about that until just now, because they're so costly I rarely buy them anymore. This time, though, I bought a russet. A big one. I'm not really sure why I bought it, but it was just there, in the pile of russets, "staring at me." It was like it was saying, "Allie... Come buy me, and bake me, and eat me." And so I did. Buy it, that is. But then it sat on the Cameroonian mortar (they're kind of wide and flat, so they're perfect for holding things), hanging out with the garlic, onions and lemons. Because I didn't know how I wanted to deal with it. But then, when I was peeking at my jars of foods I've preserved this year, I noticed there was a jar of chili I hadn't already promised to someone else remaining.

And then I knew what to do with the potato. I was going to make a nice, cheap, yummy dinner for us. So if you don't normally eat chili on potatoes, I recommend it highly. This was my first, but will not be my last. This worked out really well, since I was also in the middle of carving foam for the cell I'm building.

1 pint chili
1 large russet potato
1 teaspoon oil
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup extra sharp cheddar, grated

Heat oven to 350F. Rub the oil all over you (cleaned) potato, then sprinkle the salt all over it. Put the potato on the middle rack of the oven and let roast for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the potato in there while you heat the chili in a small saucepan. Cut the potato in half, and pour half the chili on each half-potato. Top with cheese. Serves 2.

As the weather gets colder, I crave more teas. Unfortunately I only seem to get these cravings (outside my morning cup of tea) after 5, when it's too late to have the caffeine. So recently I've been venturing into my spice cabinet. I just thought I'd recommend it. Right now, I'm really into this one.

2 teaspoons mint leaves
1 teaspoon each: lemon balm, stevia (my mother grew some and shipped it to me)

Steep in 3-4 cups of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Put 1/2 teaspoon honey (right now I'm favouring orange blossom) in each mug and serve. Serves 3-4.

Also nice is cilantro, rose hip and orange peel, which I sometimes like with a bit of lemon.

And also plain sage tea, and plain mint. Anyway, I thought I'd just recommend getting into your spice cabinet to see what kinds of warm, caffeine-free combinations you can come up with that you enjoy. Does anyone have any favourites to share?

Happy Thanksgiving! We'll be out of pocket for the rest of the weekend, but I hope you and yours enjoy a safe, happy and fulfilling turkey day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Spicy Green Beans and Spaghetti

We got a huge bag of green beans at the farmer's market, and rather than sitting down in front of the tv and scarfing them down, like I normally might be inclined to do (I have this problem with peas, too), I actually cooked some. Mainly because P asked me to.

I've been really into the farmer's market lately, you might've noticed. I find the food is better, and ultimately cheaper in most cases (8 billion eggplants for 4 monies, as an example).

Anyway, I just wanted to kind of lightly cook these with a minimum of added flavours. A little heat sounded good to P and I, but I was asked not to make it searingly hot like that one time with the shrimp. I agree, since I thought my lips were going to fall off when we had those shrimp. This was nice - just a hint of spice, not quite so little you forget it's there but also not enough that you feel like you have to keep eating to be safe. I hope you enjoy!

1 tablespoon each: sesame oil, vegetable oil
2 pinches chile flakes (red pepper flakes)
2 large cloves of garlic, roughly minced
1/2 pound dry beans
1 tablespoon cane vinegar (or rice vinegar; I'm just trying to use up all the cane vinegar so I can open the ume plum vinegar which I love enough to drink alone)
1 teaspoon dried mint, rubbed between the palms (optional)
pinch powdered galangal (sub: powdered ginger)
4 ounces spaghetti, cooked to package directions and drained

Put the chile flakes and oils in a pan. Infuse over low heat for 15 minutes. Turn up the heat to medium and add in the garlic. Fry the garlic lightly, then add the beans, vinegar, mint and galangal. Continue to fry until the beans are cooked through but still have a good crunch to them. Toss in pasta and fry together for one more minute. Serves 2.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bread Pudding

Not being a real Southerner (or even a fake one), I really have never used my stale bread for anything but croutons. But recently I've been baking a lot more bread than normal and my eating hasn't kept up (thankfully). So I've been storing all the stale bread in chunks in the freezer. I decided I was going to make bread pudding. I had no real understanding of how to make bread pudding, so I looked at about a billion different recipes to figure out a general concept of how this works exactly. I totally spaced taking a picture of this, and since I actually made it last week but forgot to tell you, it's now too late (until the next time, of course). It appears that most recipes use raisins, but I decided to use more fruit than just that. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!

4 cups bread cubes (I cut mine about 1"x1")
4 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 large handful each: dried cherries, raisins, pecan halves

Heat oven to 350F. Grease 8x8 pan. Beat the eggs, then add all the other (except fruit, nuts and bread) and beat thoroughly. Fold in the bread, fruit and nuts. Bake for 1 hour. Halfway through the cooking, open the oven and press down the top of the bread (it will be poking out, and will still poke out of the mixture after you press it down, but not as much) with a spatula. Serve with sauce. Serves 9.

Whiskey Sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons whiskey
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Stirring, bring to a boil. Stop stirring once it comes to a boil and let it boil for 2 minutes.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What's in Your Spice Cabinet?

Over at Chile Chews, they're doing a meme of what people have in their spice cabinets. I thought this seemed like a lot of fun, so I'm participating too. I have some spices that are not on this list, and the instructions say to just add them to the end. So if you want to continue the meme, you can either use the list I have, or refer back to the original post, linked above.

I've cut and pasted her list, and put in bold the spices I have. The ingredients I've added to the end have been done in italics. She uses an asterisk for herbs she's grown herself, but I'm not doing that part because I have no herbs I grew myself that I don't also have that I didn't. I've got some duplicates, I guess.

1. Allspice, ground
2. Allspice, whole
3. Anardana, ground (dried pomegranate seeds)
4. Anardana, whole
5. Basil leaves
6. Bay leaf
7. Caraway seeds
8. Cardamom
9. Cayenne pepper
10. Celery seed
11. Chile pepper, New Mexico, ground (note: this is not a blend; just pure ground red chiles)
12. Chile pepper, green Anaheim, whole*
13. Chile pepper, pasilla negro, ground
14. Chile pepper, red Anaheim, whole*
15. Chile pepper, red Thai, whole
16. Chipotle
17. Chorizo spice mix (mixed by me)
18. Cilantro
19. Cinnamon, ground
20. Cinnamon, stick
21. Cinnamon sugar
22. Cloves, ground
23. Cloves, whole
24. Coriander, ground
25. Cumin, ground
26. Cumin seed
27. Curry powder
28. Dill seed
29. Dill weed
30. Fennel seed
31. Fennel seed, sweetened (Indian)
32. Fenugreek seeds,ground
33. Garam masala (mixed by me)
34. Garlic powder
35. Ginger, ground
36. Ginger, whole Jamaican (dry)
37. Indian "Sweet Seasoning" (mix from local spice store)
38. Italian seasoning
39. Juniper berries
40. Lemon Omani, whole (crushed)
41. Lemongrass
42. Lemon peel
43. Mace, whole (ground)
44. Marjoram
45. Mint leaves
46. Miso powder
47. Mrs. Dash Table Blend (great all-around salt free mix)
48. Mustard, ground
49. Mustard seeds, black
50. Mustard seeds, yellow
51. Nutmeg, ground
52. Nutmeg, whole
53. Onion, granulated
54. Onion powder
55. Orange peel
56. Oregano leaves
57. Paprika
58. Paprika, Spanish smoked
59. Parsley flakes
60. Pepper, black
61. Pepper, red rose, whole
62. Pepper, white
63. Peppercorns, black
64. Peppercorns, mixed
65. Pickling spice
66. Pomegranate chutney* (dry mix with anardana)
67. Poppy seed
68. Poppy seed, white
69. Poultry seasoning
70. Red pepper, crushed
71. Rosemary
72. Saffron
73. Sage
74. Salt, Hawaiian red
75. Salt, kosher
76. Salt, Mexican rock
77. Salt, pickling
78. Salt, pink
79. Salt, sea
80. Salt, smoked
81. Savory
82. Smoky sweet pepper seasoning
83. Tarragon leaves
84. Thai seasoning
85. Thyme (in a bottle)
86. Turmeric
87. Vanilla beans
88. Wasabi
89. Salt, iodised
90. Ginger, crystallised
91. Galangal, whole dry
92. Galangal, powdered
93. Vanilla sugar
94. Chia seeds
95. Grains of Paradise
96. Herbs de Provence
97. Rose hips
98. Dry leeks
99. Epazote
100. Mullein
101. Roasted garlic powder
102. Garlic Salt
103. Dried elderberries
104. Dried shallot slices
105. Shallot powder
106. Horseradish powder
107. Minced dry carrot
108. Minced dry bell pepper blend
109. Star anise
110. Ground bay leaf
111. Thai curry paste
112. Aleppo pepper
113. Worcestershire powder
114. Bergamot orange peel
115. Bragg sprinkle
116. Tomato bouillon
117. Shrimp bouillon
118. Beef bouillon
119. Chicken bouillon
120. Onion bouillon
121. Garlic bouillon
122. Sumac
123. Truffle powder
124. Onion juice
125. Garlic juice
126. Chopped dry onions
127. Sesame seeds
128. Lemon balm
129. Celery salt
130. Lavender
131. Minced dry garlic
132. Konriko/Season-All/Tony Charchares (I have all seasoned salts)
133. Anise
134. Peppermint (the mint above is spearmint in my house)
135. Dried chives
136. Stevia leaves
137. Persian fenugreek leaves
138. Chile, dried ground jalepeno
139. Chili pepper
140. Cream of tartar

Stewed Vegetable with Shrimp

While I was muscling a second turkey into my freezer (turkey is on sale for 39 cents a pound right now, so... you know how it is), I noticed a half pound of locally... uh...harvested? Caught? Whatever. A half pound of locally obtained shrimps I'd purchased at the farmer's market a month or so ago and stuffed in the freezer for later. Sometimes I don't know what's in my freezer (I also discovered 3 pounds of ground meat I didn't know I had, which is perfect since I need to make more meat sauce soon). Additionally, I had some zucchini left from our last trip to the farmer's market. So I figured I'd stew it. And then eat it, of course. This was really simple to make. I hope you enjoy!

shells and tails from 1/2-1 pound of shrimp
2 cups water
6 peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt

1 can stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 zucchinis, cut into 3/8" half-moons
1 teaspoon each: dry basil, sumac
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons shrimp broth
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound fettucini

Combine first group of ingredients in a small pan and simmer for a half hour to an hour. Strain. I never actually use the whole amount because like with clam juice, a little goes a long way. So the amount above what I needed for this recipe went into an ice cube tray. I freeze it in 1 tablespoon cubes (then store it in a zipper bag) so I have it to use later when I just need a little extra something in a recipe.

Combine can of tomatoes, zucchini, basil, sumac, shrimp broth, salt, and chicken broth. Let it simmer over medium-low to medium for 1/2 hour to an hour (or you can just make the shrimp broth at the same time this is cooking, and add the broth in at the end. That's okay too, if you aren't home starting to get ready for finals while you do this). When the zucchini is tender, cook the fettucini according to package directions. Add the shrimp to the tomato mixture (while the pasta is cooking) and cook through. My shrimp were pretty big so they took about 6 minutes to cook, I believe. Drain pasta and plate, then top with tomato-shrimp mixture. Serves 2.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Seasonal Fruit Salad

Our ginormous box of grapefruits came yesterday (thanks, M!), so I decided to use some of them to make a fruit salad with the fruits we (mostly) got at the farmer's market this weekend. I wanted to lightly dress it, so I decided to use up some of the quince "paste" I made (ok... it's not quite paste; it's more like a thick preserves because I didn't cook it long enough - still tastes great though) and a little bit of parsley from my garden to brighten it up. I hope you enjoy!

3 navel oranges
1 valencia orange
3 grapefruit
2 satsuma mandarin oranges
1 dancy tangerine
1/4 pomegranate
1 apple

2 tablespoons quince paste or preserves
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 tablespoons juices from all the citrus
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Supreme* the citrus and squeeze the juice from the membranes into a bowl. Peel, core and chop the apple. Get all the seeds out of the 1/4 pomegranate. Combine the citrus, apple and pomegranate. In a small bowl, whisk together the quince, parsley, citrus juice and oil. Toss fruits in this. Chill.

*To supreme citrus, cut the ends off the fruit, then stand it up on one end and cut off the peel and pith from all around the fruit. Hold the citrus in your palm, facing up at you, over a bowl. Using a knife, make incisions next to the two membrane adjacent to each segment. Drop the segment into the bowl. After all the segments are cut out from the membranes, squeeze the membrane to get out all the juice. Also, pick up each piece of peel and squeeze it to get the juice out of any flesh that is on them. Remove the segments from the juice to add them to the salad bowl. You will get a lot more juice than is needed for this recipe, but it is nice to drink as a citrus juice "mix." Additionally, I use a potato peeler to get the peel (and as little pith as possible) off the fruits prior to the above so I can candy them later.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette

I have some beets, as per usual, and also some brussels sprouts. P was wanting some of the Anson Mills grits we got, but I didn't really think that was going to be enough for dinner (despite us now both being sick). That being said, I wanted to keep it light (because we're both now sick). So I decided to roast some veggies and make them part of a salad. This is kind of sweet-tart, seasonal, inexpensive and healthful. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup stale bread, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon sumac

1 large beet, cut into thin half moons
3 brussels sprouts, cut into quarters
1/2 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, cut into 1" pieces
1-2 tablespoons oil of your choice (I went olive, but standard vegetable would also be good; I briefly contemplated sesame)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon each: sumac, fennel seeds

3 cups torn green leaf lettuce
3/4 cup assorted cherry and/or grape tomatoes
3 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

drippings from vegetable roast
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional; just add it if you don't feel enough oil survived the roast)

Heat oven to 350F. Toss the bread cubes in the oil, salt, pepper and sumac. Spread them out on a foil lined baking sheet (or not foiled lined; it just makes my clean-up easier). Roast for about 15 minutes. Yay croutons! Combine the second group of ingredients on in a roasting pan (or on the baking sheet) and throw (not really) in the oven. Raise the heat to 400F, and let the veggies stay in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until done. Turn off the oven, but leave them in there to finish off. Prepare your third group of ingredients (the seeds take me a while, personally. I view the deseeding of a pomegranate to be a nearly sacred event, so I take my time, enjoying the pop of each seed as it leaves the pith and plops into my bowl). Line plates with lettuce. Pile half the roasted veggies on each plate in the middle of the lettuce, then surround with all but the pomegranate seeds. Whisk together the last group of ingredients and pour over the salad, then top with seeds. Serves 2.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Potato and Egg Scramble

I like this as a breakfast food. Well, okay. I also love it as a dinner food. Very, very filling and not too expensive. We've also been really into eggs lately, so... yeah.

Hope you enjoy!

1 carrot, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 sliced red potato
1 tablespoon each: sesame oil, vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
pinch each: salt, sumac (optional), nutmeg

1 diced zucchini
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable)
1/3 cup beet stems (optional)
1/2 cup celery with leaves, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

6 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
pinch nutmeg
2 tablespoons milk or cream

1/2 cup grated cheddar (optional)

Heat a pan to low, then add oil and heat. Add onion, carrot and potato and sprinkle with sage, salt, sumac and nutmeg. Slowly cook until the potatoes begin to reach translucency. Add in zucchini, broth, beet stems (yes, stems. I'm on the stems again), celery and S&P. Cook this until the broth is absorbed fully and the beet stems have softened enough to eat (15 minutes, maybe?). Push this off to the sides of the pan so there is a huge opening for the eggs. Whisk together the eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and milk, then pour into the middle of the pan and increase the heat to medium or medium high. Scramble the eggs and as they begin to set, begin to integrate the potato mixture into the egg mixture. When the eggs are nearly set, add in the cheddar and finish cooking (the cheddar will be fully melted at about the same time as the eggs are done setting). Serves 2.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spiced Hot Chocolate

The downside of being sick is that you really can't taste anything, and you don't really want to eat anything. I'm still eating though, because I'm trying to get over this illness as quickly as possible so I can go back to school and work (I went to class Monday and to my morning class Tuesday, but have done nothing else since). Today I have been eating odd foods. One of the things I ate was a version of "chicken soup" that I think only a sick person would want to eat. I dumped some leftover rice in a bowl, poured on some lemon juice and crystal's hot sauce, then threw in a teaspoon of shmaltz, a bunch of leftover roasted veggies and some homemade chicken broth. Then I threw it in the microwave until it was hot. I don't know how it tasted but I think it was okay. It didn't make me sicker, so that's all I care about (P said it looked gross). I also have eaten a lot of dried fruit, and pickled onions. A lot of onions. Nearly a jar. Add that to simmered honey, lemon and honey tea and lots of broth, and I decided I wanted something strong enough that its flavour could bust through my currently ineffective taste buds. Enter hot chocolate. Despite my nostalgic love of packaged hot cocoa, it tends to be weak in flavour, even when made with milk so I decided to sit in a chair and whisk up some of the real stuff. It was awesome. I could taste it. I should hope I could taste it, considering what a diet buster it is! I hope you enjoy!

2 cups (500mL, approx) whole milk (you can use lighter milk if you like - this was super rich)
2-3 ounces grated dark chocolate (I used 2/3 of a bar of chocolate which was 86% cocoa)
1/2-3/4 cup vanilla sugar (or use just sugar, and throw in some vanilla extract at the end)
5 cardamom pods, ground (I sifted these as well, since I mortar and pestle it)
pinch nutmeg

Heat in a pan until it's at a strong simmer, whisking continuously. Top with an overabundance of marshmallows. Serves 2.

Variations: Melt in some crushed candy canes or peppermint extract. Or some orange extract. Or cherry even. Yum!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pumpkin and Chicken Lasagna

As SJ likes to tell me, when you have a lot of leftovers, make some lasagna. Ok. I think she's less prone to mishaps than I am. Or maybe I should just not be in the kitchen while I'm taking lots of medicine (I'm sick - I think I have a cold but I do not know). I had some misadventures with this one, so I wound up having to make the pasta from scratch. I'll put the recipe for that in here too (it turns out you can make the pasta more simply than I did, with just all-purpose, eggs and salt. But you know me... I like to do things the hard way!), but feel free to buy pre-made or to make them the normal way unless you're just really bored or really in need of a work-out (I lost the clamp to my pasta roller, so I had to roll it by hand, too. My sheets turned out thinner than the store bought though, strangely enough).


235 grams fine semolina
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mix the flour and salt and make a pile on your bread board. Make a well, then knead in the eggs and oil. Knead the dough for about ten minutes, then let rest for 10-20 minutes, covered in plastic. Roll it into a 6x9 square and cut into 6 sections. Keep the un-worked sections covered as you roll out each section of dough. Roll until you can see through it (I roll it until the grain of the wood is clearly discernible) and cut to the size of the pan (or if you're cooler than me, cut it smaller and use more than one sheet per layer). Lay each sheet of pasta on a bedsheet which has been lain across a table or counter, and let them dry for an hour or so before using. If you're of the boil preference, you may boil these noodles before using them. I will not be doing so. I will be using extra sauce so I don't have to.

Greens mixture:

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 diced onion
1 diced hatch (anaheim) chile
5 cups chopped beet greens or chard
1 cup arugula
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden. Then add chile dice, salt, pepper and lemon. Cook down, then add greens and wine and cook down.


2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
6 ounces white wine (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
pinch nutmeg

Melt butter, then add flour and stir until it is a light roux. Slowly pour the milk in (theoretically this should be heated first, but I forgot) while whisking and combine thoroughly. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. If you are trying to up the liquid content of your sauce, as I was (I just don't want to boil my pasta), whisk in some wine.


1 1/4 cup pumpkin mash
1 1/2-2 cups ricotta
2-3 cups shredded or diced chicken
4 ounces mozzarella for top

Preheat oven to 375F. Oil the casserole dish, then layer in the following manner:
Noodle, pumpkin, ricotta, chicken, greens, bechamel, noodle, pumpkin, ricotta, chicken, greens, bechamel, noodle, bechamel. Bake for about an hour, then either take it out, or add the cheese on the top and bake until the top is golden, 15-30 minutes. Let it rest 15-30 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Pear and Cranberry Tart

Originally, this was going to be just pear. And a crostata. Then it was going to be a pear and cranberry crostata. But then I had an incident with my lasagna noodles that meant I was going to have to make them from scratch since I can't go to the store today, and this very suddenly became a tart. I also actually did one layer too few, so I'm recommending you do 3 pear layers instead of the two I have, so your shell is full. :)

I hope you enjoy!

1 pie crust for a 9" pie
2 tablespoons corn starch
3 large pears, cored and cut into thin slices
1 cup cranberries, whole
3/4 cup vanilla sugar, divided

2 tablespoons apricot jam
1 teaspoon water

Preheat oven to 400F. Line tart pan with prepared crust. Dust it with the cornstarch. Arrange half the pears in a spiral (or however you want to). Dust with a scant 1/4 cup of the sugar. Top with cranberries, concentrating the cranberries around the edges (but not exempting the middle from them). Use any malformed or small slices of pear to fill in the gaps around the cranberries at the edges (so the top layer will stand up straight, so to speak). Arrange remainder of pears on top of the cranberries (if the pear slices are falling down, feel free to stuff some more cranberries under them to keep them raised up) in another spiral. Dust with another scant 1/4 cup of the vanilla sugar. Repeat as before, with the cranberries, another pear spiral and the remainder of the vanilla sugar. Bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until done. Heat jam and water until it's relatively thin. Let it cool thoroughly then glaze with jam mixture. Serves 8.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lo Mein

This is not really a traditional lo mein. This was more of an attempt to use some corn noodles I had in a pseudo-"appropriate" way. Also, I was trying to use up some more of the left-over chicken. It worked out well in the end, though I think I actually prefer a more standard pasta for this preparation. Once again, I forgot to take a picture. I was famished and more-than-a-little cranky (because I was hungry, and also because I've had a headache for a week and a half now, and because I'm in the middle of writing a semester paper that is already looking like it's going to be utter crap), so I just ate it up. I realised I'd spaced the photo when I went back to do the dishes.

Either way, I hope you like it.

1 onion, sliced into rounds
6 small ichiban eggplants (2-3 large), diced
1 sliced carrot
2 stalks diced celery
1 small daikon, cut into 1" strips
1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
1 yellow squash, sliced into half moons
8 cloves roughly chopped garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 large green bulb onion, thickly sliced
1 cup reconstituted shitake slices (dried)
2 cups cut up cooked chicken
3 cups chicken broth, or a pot of boiling water
1/2 package corn noodles, or 8 ounces long pasta

1-2 tablespoons chicken collagen
2 tablespoons cane vinegar or rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sriracha
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon rice cooking wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sesame oil (plus more if you're not using collagen)

Heat oil and collagen in a pan. Add in onions, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until golden. Then add eggplant, sriracha and carrot. When cooked a bit, add ginger, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon. After a little while, throw in the squashes, mushrooms and vinegar. Bring broth or water to a boil. Cook pasta, then drain and rinse with cool water (don't rinse in the case of normal pasta). Add pasta, green onion, chicken, wine, salt, pepper and celery to the pan and heat through, until the celery is cooked but still crunchy. Serves 2.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Crab Salad

Ok, it's really krab salad. Normally I would turn my nose at fake crab and refuse to eat it. But we're doing this diet thing, and fake crab has no calories (nearly). Plus, it was only $1.50 for a pound. I can live with some flavoured cod for that price. When you make this, I know you will use real crab instead, to amplify the deliciousness of this salad. This is a dry salad, because I wanted the ingredients to be able to do the talking rather than the dressing as the focus (y'know... for when I make this with crab and not cod). I hope you enjoy!

1 pound crab
1 green onion, thickly cut (except the bulb - cut that thin)
2 cups roughly diced cucumber
1 stalk celery, roughly diced
1/2 large tomato, deseeded and chopped
1/2 cup each: coarsely chopped basil, mint
1/4 cup chopped tarragon

Mix, then stir in dressing until everything is lightly coated.


freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (I used Crystal's, because that's P's favourite)
1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
1-2 tablespoons chopped capers
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (or sur creme - up to you)

Whisk together.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Chicken with Spelt "Risotto"

After the storm, my mother sent me a bunch of spelt. I thought this was great, since I'd been intending to get some. Of greatest interest to me regarding the spelt was cooking it as though it were risotto. I've noted over the last year a lot of people have been making risotto with grains other than rice, and the thought of the crisp, chewy grains of spelt were particularly appealing to me.

To top it off, I also baked a chicken earlier this week. So this was a great opportunity for me to use up some of the leftovers. For one, I saved all the shmaltz (chicken fat) from the chicken, as well as the collagen jelly. I got a lot of jelly out of this chicken (which, happily, was on sale for $2.50 for the entire chicken). So I've been using the jelly as a fat replacement in my cooking. I still add in a little fat here and there, but the jelly is working beautifully to add a bit of meat flavouring to non-meat dishes.

And, of course, I got more beets, so I'm using the stems again. I really enjoy the little bit of beet flavour that comes from them, without all the long-term cooking beets are normally associated with.

I actually just cooked the spelt until it was fairly chewy, rather than letting it break down more. As a result, I had some broth left over in the pan and I just poured it straight into the bowls so it could soak in as we ate. This dish is also very economical, and can be made to stretch significantly further by simply cooking in more spelt than the one cup I used. I hope you enjoy it!

3 tablespoons collagen (alternately, 1 tablespoon oil of your choice) (4 cents)
1/2 cup diced onion (15 cents)
1/3 cup diced beet stems (20 cents)
5 coarsely chopped garlic cloves (5 cents)
1 stalk diced celery (10 cents)
salt and pepper to taste (2 cents)

1-2 tablespoons shmaltz (5 cents)
1 tablespoon olive oil (15 cents)
1 cup spelt (25 cents worth if it hadn't been free)
3-6 cups broth (I needed 4; your mileage may vary), heated to a simmer (free, since I made it using the skins, peels and ends of veggies I've already eaten)
salt and pepper to taste (2 cents)

1 1/2 cups cut up chicken (white and/or dark) (75 cents, but in most instances a dollar)
1/2 cup cooked corn kernels (25 cents)
2/3 cup torn basil (17 cents)
1/2 cup chopped parsley (free; I grew it)
1/2 preserved lemon, minced (13 cents, as I make these myself)

Heat the collagen, then add in the beets and onions, plus salt and pepper. When nearly cooked, add garlic and celery. Cook through, then remove from pan to a bowl. Heat shmaltz and olive oil, then add spelt. Fry lightly, then start adding broth one ladle-ful at a time. As the spelt absorbs most of the liquid, add in another ladle of broth. Periodically taste a grain of spelt to test for doneness. When nearly done, add in the cooked vegetables as well as all other ingredients and stir well. Cook another 3-5 minutes, then serve. Serves 2-3.

Total cost: $2.33
Per serving: $0.78 or $1.17

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Homemade Soda

Sometimes we like to drink soda, but we don't like the associated price tag, or all the crap that's stuffed in it, removing it from the "food" category. So I have just been making my own. I make an assortment of syrups from the "trash" of my cooking, and then mix it with club soda (which we pay $0.79 for a 3-litre bottle; after I save up, I will be buying this for us instead). You can make your soda as strongly or weakly flavoured as you like, and the varieties achieved are outstanding.

You start by making a simple syrup base (1:1 sugar:water, brought to a boil and allowed to boil for another minute). Then you can do it two ways, once the simple syrup is made. One is to simmer the additive in the syrup for a while, such as with orange peels or lemon peels (to make candied peel at the same time, thereby further reducing waste). The other is just to remove the syrup from heat, stir in the additive and let it infuse for a while (I go 30 minutes to 4 hours). Then I strain it into a jar and keep it in the fridge. In most cases, it only costs you the sugar, really, since you're generally just using the bits of fruits and herbs you'd normally throw away anyway.

Some examples:

Apple syrup: I use just the cores and peels and infuse for an hour.

Ginger syrup: Peel the ginger with a spoon (reduces lost flesh), then slice thinly. Simmer the ginger in the syrup for 30 minutes, then remove from heat and let infuse for 4 hours. I mainly use this syrup for when we're sick. Don't throw the ginger away! Roll it in sugar and put it on a baking sheet. Bake on the very lowest heat your oven can do until it's completely dried (like dehydrating anything in your oven, really). Voila, crystallised ginger, AND syrup!

Lemon-Lime (similar to 7-up, though not exactly the same) syrup: equal parts lime and lemon peel, simmer in syrup for 15 minutes then allow to infuse for an hour. If you removed the pith first, roll the peel in sugar and dry for candied peel!

Orange soda: Same as the lemon-lime, but just orange. Again, a great opportunity for candied peel!

Kumquat soda: Cut the kumquats in half, simmer as above w/ the other citrus, but you can do this for even longer if you'd like. Then let it infuse as above. This results in glacee kumquats which I've discovered a disturbing fondness for. This is P's favourite of the sodas.

Honeydew: After I cut the melon, I always find there's a decent amount of flesh remaining on the peel. So I cut the peel into pieces and make the syrup. Except I do actually throw the peel away (I suppose you could eat it?).

Mint: Just do infusion; this is one of my favourites. It's such a refreshing treat!

Strawberry: I just use the tops when I cut them off, and I don't actually bother to take the leaves off. Just infuse on this one.

Pineapple: Use the core; simmer then infuse.

Kiwi: Using the peels that have bits of flesh remaining on them.

Etc. I also keep basic simple syrup around for mixing iced teas and the like. Enjoy! These syrups will all keep for a really long time in the fridge, should they last long enough to worry about it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Overfilled Omelet

We got some delicious things at the farmer's market this weekend. I bought another 2 weeks worth of eggplant (sorry, to those of you who're tired of it) for 4 dollars, and this time I got zucchini instead of yellow squash. But, since we didn't show up uber-late this time, we actually were able to get some fresh eggs and some beef sausage. I really just wanted to eat the sausage and eggs, but I wanted a good excuse to put some eggplant in, as well as other veggies. Omelet it is, then. I made a huge amount of filling, so this are definitely over-stuffed.

This recipe is another one of those that seems like it's got a lot going on, but truly it's quite easy to cook.

1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste

4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 large ichiban eggplant, sliced thin (or 2 small)
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice

4 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/4-pound link beef sausage, casing removed (or just sliced if you want to keep the casing)

1 cup arugula or baby mustard greens (I got both at the market, I just don't remember which one I used here)
salt to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice

6 large eggs (12 ounces)
1/16 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons milk
salt and pepper to taste
splash white wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons butter

1/2 tomato, largely diced
1/4 cup sliced scallions
1-2 tablespoons chevre

Ok, so here you can choose if you want to do the meat first or later. I did it later, because I got so excited about the fresh eggs and stuff I totally forgot I was excited about the sausage too. Anyway, I'll tell you how I did it, and if you want, put the meat first, then proceed. Oh, and in case you were curious, I've mostly been slicing my garlic recently because I love the flavour of garlic but want to cut out some of the potency. Slicing, instead of mincing, allows me to have the best of both worlds, so to speak.

Heat pan at medium, then add butter and oils and let heat. Toss onions, salt and pepper into the pan and stir to coat. Cook until they are slightly browned and about to become translucent. Add garlic, eggplant, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Cook until the eggplant is softened and mostly cooked. Throw in the mushrooms, season them and add more lemon. Cook this until the mushrooms are done, then pour it all into a bowl, cover with foil and set aside.

Then add to your pan the olive oil and sausage. I took the casing off my sausage, but I only broke it into large pieces, about 1/2" around instead of breaking it up completely. Fry this until it's nearly cooked, then add the greens, salt and (yep, I know; I'm a lemon freak) lemon juice. Cook until the greens are done, about a minute and a half, then remove this stuff and mix in with the other cooked foods.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, nutmeg, salt, pepper, milk and vinegar. Whisk well. Melt butter in pan, then pour egg mixture into the pan. Watch the eggs carefully. When the edges are cooked enough that you can comfortably lift the sides of the omelet with a spatula (for me, this is usually around 1/4"), lift the sides and spill some of the uncooked egg underneath the cooked. A friend of mine pokes holes in the bottom of the omelet, and if you like that method better, go with that. I'm a lifter, personally. When the omelet is nearly set throughout, put little teaspoon sized dollops of chevre on one side of the omelet. Then pile on the meat mixture, and add in the tomato and scallions. Fold over the omelet as well as you can, then put a plate or lid over your pan and let it cook another minute or so. Serves 2.