Friday, 31 July 2009

Cauliflower with Ginger & Cilantro

It's been a couple of days since I've posted. Partly it's because I've been busy making jams, and partly it's because I had wanted to do something special and spectacular for this post. This is very nice, but perhaps not what I had in mind originally for my 500th recipe post. Yes, I really am there! Mr. Ferdzy was quite amazed when I told him. I thought it ought to be something particularly celebratory, but what I actually had in the fridge was cauliflower and a big bunch of cilantro, so this is what happened, even though I just posted about cauliflower. Well, they were on sale so I bought two.

2 to 4 servings
20 minutes prep time

Cauliflower with Ginger and Cilantro
1/2 of a large cauliflower
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and grated
1 small jalapeño chile, de-seeded and finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 or 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely minced cilantro
the juice of 1/2 lime

Cut up the cauliflower into bite-sized florets, and put it in a steamer to cook. Don't turn it on until you have the remaining ingredients prepared.

Prepare the remaining ingredients: peel and grate the garlic and ginger, and mince the chile finely. Mix these with the salt and pepper.

Cook the cauliflower for 3 or 4 minutes, then heat the butter in a small skillet or saucepan. Add the garlic-ginger-jalapeño mix and cook until fragrant and just showing signs of changing colour. Meanwhile, mince the cilantro finely, and juice the lime.

When the cauliflower is tender, drain it very well. Mix the cilantro into the garlic-ginger mix, then scrape it all over the cauliflower. Mix well, then drizzle the lime juice over it, and mix again. Serve at once.

Last year at this time I did Jerk Burgers and Summer Pudding.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Unbaked Whipped Cream Cheese Cake

Simple, rich and delicious but not too sweet; this is a great way to present beautiful raspberries and blackberries, although other berries or fruits are perfectly possible too. We were lucky enough to pick these in our garden; nearly the last of the red raspberries and the first of the black raspberries.

Depending on what fruit you use, you can vary the flavouring used as well. A little grated lemon, orange or lime zest and a spoonful of the juice instead of the vanilla would complement many different fruits.

12 servings
30 minutes prep time plus 3 to 12 hours chill time

Unbaked Whipped Cream Cheese Cake Topped with Berries
1 tablespoon butter
2 digestive biscuits, crushed, or about 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
500 grams (1 lb 2 oz) cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or other flavouring
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar

1 pint (2 cups) berries, pitted cherries or other sliced fruit

Line an 8" spring-form pan with parchment on the bottom. Butter the parchment and sides of the pan, and coat it in the biscuit or cracker crumbs. Set aside.

Beat the cream cheese with the vanilla or other flavouring for about 5 minutes. You will need a good sturdy electric mixer for this, don't even try it if yours if feeble.

In another bowl, beat the whipped cream with the sugar until stiff. You don't need to wash the beaters between times. Fold half the cream gently into the cream cheese, then beat with the electric mixer again for just one minute, to get it smooth, but be very careful not to over-beat. Gently fold in the remaining cream.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Chill for at least 3 hours to overnight (better). Top with fresh berries, pitted cherries, or other prepared fruit just before serving. This is a rather soft cheesecake, and should be kept well-chilled right up to serving time.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Saffron Cauliflower with Peas

Mr. Ferdzy and I are both extremely fond of cauliflower, and this rich but simple treatment does it full justice. I wonder if you could make it more of a purée, by cutting a potato in small dice, and cooking it with the cauliflower, and cooking the cauliflower quite soft. Then puréeing it, yes? Athough I must say we thought it was just fine as it was.

4 servings
30 minutes prep time

Saffron Cauliflower with Peas
1/2 of a large cauliflower
1 quart fresh peas, 2 cups when shelled

1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons cream
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

Prepare the vegetables; trim and cut the cauliflower into florets, and shell the peas. Steam the cauliflower until quite tender.

Meanwhile, put the butter, cream, saffron, salt and pepper into a small saucepan, and heat gently until the butter melts and amalgamates with the cream, and the whole thing turns a rich yellow.

When the cauliflower is done, lift it from the pot to a colander with a slotted spoon. Keep the pot with its cooking water on the stove, and add the peas; cook them just until they boil up again, i.e. for a minute or two.

Meanwhile, mash the cauliflower with the butter and cream mixture. Drain the peas, and mix them in.

Last year at this time I made Three Sisters Salad.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Pattypan Squash Stuffed with Corn & Cheese

I wasn't thinking of making stuffed squash at all, but we went to the market and there they were. Mr. Ferdzy was making eyes at them - he loves summer squash in all its forms - so we bought some. Then what? Well, we'd also bought just 2 cobs (expensive!) of the very first corn of the season, and a few tomatoes. There's always feta and eggs in the fridge, and I had some herbs left in good shape from last week. So, here we go... stuffed pattypan squash, or stuffed scalloped squash if you prefer, as it goes by that name as well. It was really quite good. Jalapeño chiles aren't out yet, but once they are I think one, or another small mild chile, would be a good addition to this.

2 to 4 servings
1 hour - 30 minutes prep time

Pattypan Squash Stuffed with Corn and Cheese
4 large pattypan squash (about 4" across)

1 cob of corn
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 Jalapeño chile (optional)
1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil

3 or 4 small tomatoes (about 1 cup chopped)
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
2 tablespoons finely minced dill
black pepper to taste
2 extra-large eggs
1 slice dry whole wheat bread, grated or crumbled
100 grams (3 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled

Cut a round lid out of each pattypan squash, about 1/2" in from the outer edge. Trim the lids to about 1/2" thick, and set them aside. Using a melon-baller or a rather sharp-edged teaspoon (or a grapefruit spoon, if you happen to have such a thing) hollow out each of the squash, again leaving about a 1/2" wall. Sprinkle the cut edges with salt, and set them aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put about a litre of water on to boil in a pot.

Chop 1/2 of the carved-out squash flesh, and discard (i.e. use it in something else) the rest. Husk the cob of corn, and cut the kernals from it. Peel and mince the garlic (and chile, if using). Heat the oil in a small skillet, and sauté the chopped squash, corn and garlic (and chile, if using) until soft and lightly browned. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, mix the chopped tomatoes, the minced herbs, the pepper, the eggs, the breadcrumbs, and the crumbled cheese. Mix in the sautéed vegetables.

When the water comes to a boil, rinse the squash and boil each one for 2 minutes. Drain well. (I rinse them first in cold water so I can handle them.) Put them in a lightly oiled baking dish. Fill each one with about one-quarter of the filling, and top with a lid.

Bake at 400°F for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Last year at this time I made Fried Cauliflower, Mexican Style and Almond-Orange Tart with Sweet Cherries.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Domestic Expenditure

Domestic Expenditure.

The mistress of a family should always remember, that the welfare and good management of the house depend on the eye of the superior; and consequently that nothing is too trifling for her notice, whereby waste may be avoided. If a lady has never been accustomed while single to think of family management, let her not on that account fear that she cannot attain it. She may consult others who are experienced, and acquaint herself with the necessary quantities of the several articles of family expenditure, in proportion to the number it consists of, together with the value of the articles it may be necessary to procure. A minute account of the annual income, and the times of payment, should be taken in writing; likewise an estimate of the supposed amount of each item of expense. Those who are early accustomed to calculations of this kind, will acquire so accurate a knowledge of what their establishment demands, as will suggest the happy medium between prodigality and parsimony, without in the least subjecting themselves to the charge of meanness.

Few branches of female education are so useful as great readiness at figures, though nothing is more commonly neglected. Accounts should be regularly kept, and not the smallest item be omitted to be entered. If balanced every week, or month at longest, the income and outgoings will easily be ascertained, and their proportions to each other be duly observed. Some people fix on stated sums to be appropriated to each different article, and keep the money separate for that purpose; as house, clothes, pocket, education of children, &c. Whichever way accounts be entered, a certain mode should be adopted, and strictly adhered to. Many women are unfortunately ignorant of the state of their husband's income; and others are only made acquainted with it when some speculative project, or profitable transaction, leads them to make a false estimate of what can be afforded. It too often happens also that both parties, far from consulting each other, squander money in ways that they would even wish to forget: whereas marriage should be a state of mutual and perfect confidence, with a similarity of pursuits, which would secure that happiness it was intended to bestow.

There are so many valuable women who excel as wives, that it is fair to infer there would be few extravagant ones, if they were consulted by their husbands on subjects that concern the mutual interest of both parties. Many families have been reduced to poverty by the want of openness in the man, on the subject of his affairs; and though on these occasions the women are generally blamed, it has afterwards appeared that they never were allowed to make particular enquiries, nor suffered to reason upon what sometimes appeared to them imprudent. Many families have fully as much been indebted to the propriety of female management, for the degree of prosperity they have enjoyed, as to the knowledge and activity of the husband and the father.

Ready money should be paid for all such things as come not into weekly bills, and even for them some sort of check is necessary. The best places for purchasing goods should also be attended to. On some articles a discount of five per cent is allowed in London and other large cities, and those who thus pay are usually best served. Under an idea of buying cheap, many go to new shops; but it is safest to deal with people of established credit, who do not dispose of goods by underselling. To make tradesmen wait for their money is very injurious, besides that a higher price must be paid: and in long bills, articles never bought are often charged. If goods are purchased at ready-money price, and regularly entered, the exact state of the expenditure will be known with ease; for it is delay of payment that occasions so much confusion. A common-place book should always be at hand, in which to enter such hints of useful knowledge, and other observations, as are given by sensible experienced people. Want of attention to what is advised, or supposing things to be too minute to be worth regarding, are the causes why so much ignorance prevails on necessary subjects, among those who are not backward in frivolous ones.

It is very necessary for the mistress of a family to be informed of the price and quality of all articles in common use, and of the best times and places for purchasing them. She should also be acquainted with the comparative prices of provisions, in order that she may be able to substitute those that are most reasonable, when they will answer as well, for others of the same kind, but which are more costly. A false notion of economy leads many to purchase as bargains, what is not wanted, and sometimes never is used. Were this error avoided, more money would remain of course for other purposes. It is not unusual among lower dealers to put off a larger quantity of goods, by assurances that they are advancing in price; and many who supply fancy articles are so successful in persuasion, that purchasers not unfrequently go beyond their original intention, and suffer inconvenience by it. Some things are certainly better for keeping, and should be laid in accordingly; but this applies only to articles in constant consumption. Unvarying rules cannot be given, for people ought to form their conduct on their circumstances. Some ladies charge their account with giving out to a superintending servant such quantities of household articles, as by observation and calculation they know to be sufficient, reserving for their own key the large stock of things usually laid in for extensive families in the country. Should there be more visitors than usual, they can easily account for an increased consumption, and vice versa. Such a degree of judgment will be respectable even in the eye of domestics, if not interested in the ignorance of their employers; and if they are, their services will not compensate the want of honesty.

A bill of parcels and receipt should be required, even if the money be paid at the time of purchase; and to avoid mistakes, let the goods be compared with these when brought home. Though it is very disagreeable to suspect any one's honesty, and perhaps mistakes are often unintentional; yet it is proper to weigh meat and grocery articles when brought in, and compare them with the charge. The butcher should be ordered to send the weight with the meat, and the checks regularly filed and examined. A ticket should be exchanged for every loaf of bread, which when returned will shew the number to be paid for, as tallies may be altered, unless one is kept by each party. Those who are served with brewer's beer, or any other articles not paid for weekly or on delivery, should keep a book for entering the dates: which will not only serve to prevent overcharges, but will show the whole year's consumption at one view. `Poole's complete Housekeeper's Account book,' is very well adapted to this purpose.

From The Cook and Housekeepers Complete and Universal Dictionary; Including a System of Modern Cookery, In All Its Various Branches, Adapted to the Use of Private Families, Also a Variety of Original and Valuable Information. By Mary Eaton, and published in 1823. Actually, the title was longer than that, but I got tired of writing it out. I do love a good old-fashioned book title. No messing around in those days. I also love Project Gutenberg, which gives access to so many wonderful old books.

Personal finances are a topic that have been much in the news and in people's minds these last few years, and it's extremely interesting to see what changes have occurred and what things remain constant.

Our ideas about sex and money - what belongs to who between men and women, and how it is apportioned and managed - have changed drastically since the time this book was written. (And yet, Mary Eaton's expectations about it would not have been completely out-of-date as few as 30 years ago.) What has changed even more drastically is the way in which we relate to servants. What servants? Precisely.

On the other hand, I read her ideas about keeping track of household expenditures with recognition and approval. Of course I use Quickbooks, and not Poole's Complete Housekeepers Account Book, but presumably the intent and results are very similar. As for keeping track of all receipts properly - well, duh. One of the reasons I actually like to use debit and credit cards is that at the end of the month I can compare the receipts and the printed bills, and make sure they match. I'm always astonished to see the number of people at ATMs or check-out counters who leave their receipts behind. How on earth do they keep track of their expenditures? I have to assume they don't, really.

Seeing the "whole year's consumption at one view" is also highly instructive. People are often surprised when we (can!) tell them that we spent $5,573.26 last year on our car, not including depreciation (i.e, the car itself,) even though our car is old and long since paid for. That's because an awful lot of people think of their car expenses as the monthly payment, and fail to add up their gas, oil changes, maintenance and repairs, car washes, parking and insurance. If more people kept track of their real car expenses, we might be much less of a car-owning culture. I don't think it's unusual for people to spend one third or more of their working lives supporting their cars. How many of them even know it?

To pull this back to the subject of food, it really is instructive to see how much money we spend on food, and what proportion of that is spent on groceries, and what proportion is spent on restaurants. I feel like we eat out at restaurants a great deal less than many people, and yet when we compare the figures we are inevitably shocked and vow to eat out even less. And we are not at all prone to buying much in the way of drinks and snacks at coffee shops - how much money can evaporate there without people even realizing it?

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Jam Tea Loaf

Here's the recipe for making cake with unset jam, used instead of sugar, which I mentioned in my post about what to do with failed jam. I first invented this recipe many years ago when I was a very poor student, and had a yearning for cake one day. Unfortunately I was out of sugar, and didn't have any money to buy some. However, there was half of a large economy-sized jar of marmalade in the fridge, which my room-mates and I had pretty much given up on eating some months earlier. Hmm, I thought... that's basically sugar. In it went, and the results were sufficiently good that I took notes, and have done it again regularly since, even though I can now go out and buy sugar whenever I want.

You obviously don't have to use failed jam for this. Perfectly good jam will work perfectly well, as will fairly mediocre jam such as the budget marmalade. Lovely with butter or a little smear of cream cheese. If you don't get it all eaten while it's fresh, it toasts nicely. One thing to note though, since jams vary in sweetness, it's a good idea to taste the batter before you put it in the baking tin. You may wish to stir in a little more sugar, anywhere from a tablespoon to a 1/4 cup, if you are using a jam which is low in sugar.

12 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Jam Tea Loaf
1 cup (250 ml) jam or marmalade
3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1 extra-large egg

2 1/2 cups soft whole wheat flour
(OR 1/2 soft unbleached flour and 1/2 whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup buttermilk or milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a standard loaf pan.

Mix together the jam, oil and egg in a mixing bowl. Stir the salt and baking powder into the flour. Mix the flour alternately into the jam mixture with the buttermilk. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes until it passes the old straw test. It may be done a bit sooner - again, your jam will make a difference - so check it at the 1 hour point. In my experience though, it will take at least 10 minutes longer.

Last year at this time I made Maple Pudding.

Friday, 24 July 2009

A Visit to Big Bay General Store for Ice-Cream

A Trip to Big Bay for Homemade Ice Cream
Big Bay is an attractive little hamlet on Grey Road 26, east of Wiarton. There is a small wharf, a number of cottages... and the Big Bay General Store, which is worth a detour if you are driving between Owen Sound and Wiarton, for their homemade ice-cream. We discovered it a few years back when we were taking the scenic route home from a camping trip. Did that sign really say homemade ice-cream? Yes, it DID! Screeeech! Back-up!

A Trip to Big Bay for Homemade Ice Cream
The General Store has a nice porch with lovely flowers and there is a pic-nic table on the lawn... just the spot to eat ice-cream.* Are you getting the picture? It's called a general store, but what Bob and Pat Carriere mostly sell, besides a handful of basics, some cold drinks and some souvenir items is ice-cream. They've been selling their home-made ice-cream for 13 years now, and their roster consists of at least 85 different flavours.

A Trip to Big Bay for Homemade Ice Cream
They don't have all 85 flavours at once, mind you. This selection of 11 is typical. It's a good thing, because even out of 11 there were about 6 that I would have been really, really, really happy to eat and making a decision was tough. We've yet to take some home by the litre, but we could.

A Trip to Big Bay for Homemade Ice Cream
They keep track of their sales on this whiteboard. It's been a bit slow this summer, not surprisingly, given the cool rainy weather we've been having. They open up in the spring, after Easter, for weekends until Victoria Day. After that they're open pretty much all the time until Labour Day, when they go back to weekends for a while. Their hours do tend to vary with the weather, to which ice-cream sales are inevitably tied.

A Trip to Big Bay for Homemade Ice Cream
Bob Carriere dishes up a cone. I don't know if you can read the prices behind him on the wall; it's $3 for a single scoop, $4.50 for 2, with small extra charges for sugar or waffle cones - prices include tax. You can get shakes and sundaes as well. These are remarkably standard ice-cream prices for some remarkably non-standard ice-cream.

A Trip to Big Bay for Homemade Ice Cream
C'mon, c'mon. Make up your mind!

Like I said, it's tough to do. Bob and Pat make a great range of flavours; some made with local seasonal fruits, others in more exotic flavours. There's always something gingery and spicey, which makes me very happy. Apparently it's the influence of an Asian daughter-in-law.

A Trip to Big Bay for Homemade Ice Cream
In the end, I opted for a scoop of "Gingerbread" and "Coconut Ice" in a waffle cone. I couldn't say which I liked better - they were both great, although I'm not sure they really went together as a combo, but no big problem, I ate one then switched to the other. Mr. Ferdzy had "Chocolate-Peanut" and "Maple Walnut". He says they were both very good but the "Maple Walnut" had a slight edge. Not surprising; it's made with actual maple syrup and is full of walnuts. Not something you see too often nowadays.

Apparently they are just waiting for the lavender to bloom at which point they will make lavender ice cream.

A Trip to Big Bay for Homemade Ice Cream
How many out-of-the-way little ice-cream shops have a guest book packed full of accolades? Just the ones who deserve it, I guess!

* If you wish to wander a little further afield, Keppel Croft Farm and Gardens is just a hop, skip and a jump down the street.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Green Beans in Tomato-Yogurt Dressing

Okay, it's another case of do what I say, and not what I did. It seems that nothing can stop me from topping and tailing beans, then looking at them and saying, "Ooo! Aren't they lovely just like this! I think I won't cut them up any more." Even though the last time I made a bean based dish, I did the exact same thing, and realized that the long skinny shapes, however lovely, just don't work when it comes to eating them.

My sauce was also a tad thin; the yogurt could have been thicker. I think it might be a good idea an hour or so before you plan to make this, to set aside the yogurt in a coffee filter to remove excess liquid. In that case, measure out more than a half cup of yogurt to allow for the loss of volume. Same goes for the tomatoes. Finely mince them, then drain them in a coffee filter for a while. Your sauce will stick a bit better.

3 or 4 servings
30 minutes prep time

Green Beans in Tomato Yogurt Dressing
Make the Dressing:
1/2 cup thick yogurt
2 medium tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
2 tablespoons finely minced dill
1/2 of a small clove of garlic

Mince the tomatoes finely, or chop them in a food processor, then mix them with the yogurt, ketchup, paprika, salt and pepper. Finely mince the parsley, dill and garlic and stir them in. Don't use much more than about 1/8 of a teaspoon of garlic, or it may be too strong. Let the dressing sit for 20 minutes or so to let the flavours blend.

Dress the Beans:
2 cups green or yellow beans, or a mix of the two

Top and tail the beans, cut them into bite sized pieces, and steam or boil them until barely tender, just 2 or 3 minutes. Rinse them in cold water to keep them from cooking any further. Drain them throughly - it's best to actually dry them in a tea-towel - then toss them with the dressing.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

What to Do with Failed Jam?

I've been making jam for quite a few years now. One of the main reasons I started making my own jam was because I wanted to put in MUCH less sugar than was found in most jams at the time. I've developed a number of recipes that use much less sugar than usual, a number of which have already been posted, and more of which will be posted in the future.

However, for jam to set it requires a certain balance between the acids, sugars and pectins in the mixture, not to mention experience in determining when the mixture is sufficiently cooked to set. Since I insist on skating so close to the line with the amount of sugar and experimenting in general, I do have a failure or two almost every year. And since there are a lot of amateur jam-makers out there at the moment, I suppose that at some point this summer other people are going to find themselves forlornly contemplating a lovely little row of laboriously home-canned - fruit syrup! So what do you do with 6 or 8 jars of the stuff? Here are some ideas.

Last year I tried making pear jelly. It almost worked. Pears are notoriously hard to get to set, and consequently you won't find many recipes for pear jelly. Un-gelled jelly is particularly vexing, since the ingredients are more concentrated and the work is greater than for jam. On the other hand, my pear non-jelly was delicious used as a syrup to flavour club soda or other fizzy water; in some ways I enjoyed it more than I would have on toast. I also used it as the sweetener in a number of apple crisps. In that case, the syrup was mixed with the fruit instead of sugar, and the crumble topping had the usual sugar added.

There's always pouring a tablespoon or so over vanilla or other complementary ice cream, or mixing a spoonful in with your otherwise plain breakfast yogurt; unset jams will work as well as jellies for those. Fruit syrups, whether not-jelly or not-jam go on pancakes, waffles or oatmeal. Use them to sweeten fruit smoothies. Use them as a glaze for roasting meat, or mix with vinegar, a bit of tomato paste and spices to use as a barbeque sauce.

Jam or jelly often goes into trifle, and if it's runny enough to soak right into the cake I would think that would actually be a bonus. I also have a cake recipe made with unset jam (or set jam if you have it to spare) instead of sugar which I will post later this week. (Done.) Yes, I do find myself with some unset strawberry jam as a matter of fact. Strawberries are another fruit that often don't want to set even when full sugar is used, and mine just wouldn't and didn't. (Actually, I'm pretty sure I just didn't cook it long enough, drat.)

So... what would you do with failed jam or jelly?

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Snow Pea, Carrot & Radish Salad

It would be hard to make a simpler salad, but this is very pretty and tasty; a good accompaniment to grilled chicken or fish.

2 to 4 servings
30 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Snow Pea Carrot and Radish Salad
Make the Salad:
2 cups snow peas
1 medium carrot
6 to 8 small red radishes

Remove the stem end and strings from the snow peas, and blanch them by putting them in a colander and pouring boiling water over them, or steam them for just a minute or two until they turn bright green, but retain their crunch. Rinse them in cold water to prevent them from cooking any further.

Peel and slice the carrot to the same thickness as the snow peas, or even a little thinner, and slice the radishes to the same thickness as well. Mix all the vegetables in a shallow bowl and marinate in the dressing for about 10 minutes.

Make the Dressing:
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Stir or shake the ingredients together vigorously until the sugar and salt are dissolved.

Last year at this time it was Russian Tarragon Pickles.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Summer Vegetable & Lentil Soup

It's a funny summer when you need a nice bowl of hot soup to keep warm. However, it's lovely to have such a large selection of vegetables to go into soup.

If the weather was warmer, I would probably have cooked the lentils in the rice cooker, which can be put out on a deck or balcony to keep the kitchen from getting too hot (but for heavens sake, don't let it rain on it,) then the cooking of the vegetables and the soup would not take that long inside.

I had some good de Puy lentils from Grassroots Organics, which make a rather murky but delicious lentil soup.

12 servings
1 hour prep time

Summer Vegetable and Lentil Soup
1 1/2 cups dry lentils
1 medium potato, cut in dice
2 or 3 bay leaves
12 cups water
2 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)

2 or 3 stalks of celery
1 large onion
1 large carrot
2 tablespoons sunflower or other vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Korean red chile
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon savory
salt & pepper to taste

2 cups diced green or yellow wax beans
1 medium zucchini
2 or 3 cups prepared spinach leaves or chopped chard

Cook the lentils in the water with the bay leaf and the potato, cut in small dice. Add the tomatoes once they are mostly tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and chop the celery, peel and chop the onion, and peel and dice the carrot. Sauté them all in the oil until soft, and add the seasonings. Stir to mix well, cook for a minute or two longer, then add the vegetables to the soup.

Top and tail the beans, and dice them, ditto the zucchini. Add them to the soup to simmer until tender.

Clean the spinach or chard, and chop it coarsely if large. Add it just before serving the soup, and cook until just limp. If the soup is too thick, add some more water.

Last year at this time I made Kohlrabi & Turnips Sautéed in Butter, Stinky Meat, and Canned (Bottled) Cherries.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Quick Pickled Radishes

Pickled turnips are a traditional accompaniment to falafels, but they take two weeks to make, and I started mine too late to go with the falafels I made. Instead, I made some quick pickled radishes, which have a similar although more pungent flavour.

They should keep for about a week in the fridge. Serve them with falafels, along with other pickles and olives, or with grilled meats.

12 to 18 servings
20 minutes prep time, plus time to marinate - 4 hours to overnight

Quick Pickled Radishes
300 grams (2/3 pound) red radishes
1 small clove garlic
1 slice raw red beet, if you have it

2 tablespoons Sucanat or dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons pickling salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water

Wash the radishes, trim the ends and cut them in halves, or quarters if they are large. Peel the garlic and cut it in half. Pack these into a clean 1 quart or litre canning jar, with a slice of red beet if you can. This will give a brighter pink colour to the radishes, but isn't absolutely required.

Put the remaining 4 ingredients into a small pot and bring to a boil. Pour the hot brine over the radishes and close up the jar. Let cool, then store in the fridge for 4 hours or longer before serving.

Friday, 17 July 2009


Falafel are surprisingly easy to make; they just take some advance planning as you will need to soak the chick peas. Do not make the mistake of using canned chick peas. The result will be soft and mushy. Proper falafel should have a bit of sandy, gritty texture and crunch.

Normally they are deep-fried, but pan frying works perfectly well and uses a lot less oil.

I put good big handfuls of herbs in these, and they came out a bit on the green side, but there's nothing wrong with that. I also used Korean red chile for my chile. You may notice I call for it quite often. That's because a year or so back I bought the smallest packet my local Korean grocery had - one pound! I'm still working my way through it, but it's a very nice middle-of-the-road chile, not too hot, but nicely flavoured and with a good bite. Although mine is probably milder than it was... adjust whatever you use to its strength and your preferences.

24 patties (8 servings)
4 1/2 hours - 30 minutes prep time

Falafel Patties with Tahini Sauce
Make the Falafels:
2 cups dried chick peas

1 large onion
4 to 6 cloves of garlic or garlic scapes
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cumin seed
2 teaspoons ground red chile (not cayenne!)
OR 2 small dried red chiles

1/2 cup chick pea flour

oil to fry

Put the chick peas in a pot with water to cover generously, and bring them to a boil. Turn them off as soon as they do so, and leave them, covered, to soak for 4 hours to overnight. Drain them.

Put half of the drained chick peas in a food processor, along with half of the peeled onion, coarsely chopped, half of the peeled garlic or coarsely chopped garlic scapes, half of the parsley and cilantro and half of the seasonings. Process until everything is finely chopped. You will need to stop and scrape down the sides several times.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the chick pea flour over the mixture, and blend it in. Turn the mixture into a mixing bowl, and repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Form the mixture into small balls, or small flat patties - easier if you are not deep-frying.

Deep fry the falafel balls until a dark golden brown, or do what I do: pour about 1/4" of oil into a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Cook the patties on both sides until well browned. This takes just a few minutes; as you can see by my photo I had a hard time keeping on top of them.

Drain on paper towel and serve with pita bread or over rice, with salad and tahini sauce.

Tahini Sauce:
1/2 cup tahini
the juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup water (about)

Work the lemon juice into the tahini until evenly blended, then thin with water, a few tablespoons at a time, until the consistency is like rich cream.

Last year at this time I made Summer Pasta and Salad with Goat Cheese and Blueberries.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Peas & Cabbage

Fresh Cabbage and Snow Peas
No recipe, it's finely-shredded cabbage and snow peas steamed together and served with a dab of butter. I was just amused that I made this, because in the winter one of our most common vegetable dishes consists of pale winter cabbage livened up with some frozen peas. It's a whole different animal at this time of year, with everything so richly flavoured and intensely green. Yum!

Strawberry Shortcake

I've noticed a Very Bad Habit developing out there in the world lately (not the first sign on decay I've seen there, nor the worst, to be sure) of people serving strawberries, cream - and angel food cake, or sponge cake, or whatever - and calling the result shortcake. Nope, sorry. No dice. Shortcake is made with biscuits. You can do one giant one, if you like, and cut it, but it's got to be a biscuit.

One of the great things about shortcake is that it isn't terribly sweet, so that the berries and cream stand out all the better. The people who use some sort of fluffy cakey stuff instead of biscuits are usually also trying to short-change you on the strawberries and cream part, you will note. As usual with simple but successful dishes, you've got to have quality and freshness. You can make a concession to the fact that this is dessert by putting a fairly token amount of sugar into the biscuits, but even that is not really traditional.

6 to 8 biscuits; do with them what you will
45 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Strawberry Shortcake
Make the Biscuits:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sunflower seed oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups soft whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.

Cut the butter into small dice, and put it in a mixing bowl with the oil and buttermilk.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt, and stir this mixture into the butter etc. Stir well, until it forms a good, definite ball. You may need to give up with the spoon and mix gently by hand. Do not over-mix, but the flour should all be worked in.

I then find it simplest to pat the dough out on the baking sheet into a rectangle about an inch thick, and cut it into smaller rectangular biscuits. Spread them out and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Let cool completely, or even just partly.

In the mean time...

Prepare the Strawberries & Cream and Assemble:
Rinse, drain and hull however many strawberries you think you need. If you are making 6 shortcakes, I would not think 2 quarts would be too many. Slice them if they are large. Mix them with a tablespoon or two of sugar and set them aside.

Beat stiff however much heavy cream you are prepared to indulge in, with a few tablespoons of sugar again, and a bit of vanilla if you like.

Cut the biscuits in half and cover the bottom piece with strawberries and cream. Put the top half back on, and add more berries and cream.

Last year at this time it was Paprika Sautéed Cauliflower.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Celebratory Pig-Roast at Monforte Dairy's New Home

Monforte Dairy Pig Roast
On Sunday afternoon we went to Stratford to see Monforte Dairy's new site. It wasn't the new site I thought it was; it was a new new site. The previous site fell through at the last moment, but fortunately this one was available. We arrived a little late; the parking lot was already very full and a game of croquet was being played on the front lawn.

Monforte Dairy Pig Roast
The building was previously used as a bakery, and presently consists of a front shop and offices,

Monforte Dairy Pig Roast
and a large back warehouse/workspace. Banners had been hung and a happy crowd was digging into fresh crusty bread, remarkable thin and crunchy crackers, and cheese. Lots of lovely cheese.

Monforte Dairy Pig Roast
There was an opportunity to buy several different kinds of cheese.

Monforte Dairy Pig Roast
A pair of musicians provided background music.

Monforte Dairy Pig Roast
Ruth Klahsen, the cheesemaking force behind Monforte Dairy gave a brief report on progress in re-starting Monforte Dairy. Things are looking good... over $200,000 in the bank and close to 500 subscribers!

Monforte Dairy Pig Roast
After that, it was time to eat.

Monforte Dairy Pig Roast
This sort of pig-roasting set-up is often available to rent in small-town Ontario. I don't know, maybe you can rent them in Toronto too, but I never saw one until I hit the country where they are quite popular. This pig came from a farmer (David Martin) who has been using the whey from Monforte cheese to feed his pigs.

Monforte Dairy Pig Roast
Once it was cooked, pig-surgery was performed (I kept expecting someone to stick out a hand and ask for a clamp) and then the guests fell to.

Monforte Dairy Pig Roast
There was also a wide selection of salads and desserts brought by the attendees; plainly dedicated foodies all, judging by the quality. Overall, it was a very pleasant evening and it was exciting to see how Monforte Dairy is shaping up. To find out more about what's happening, see the Monforte Dairy website. It's by no means too late to subscribe for a great deal on what promises to be some great cheese.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Pan-Fried Trout

Pretty basic stuff, panfrying trout. Very satisfying, though. Simple things often are.

I like arepa meal better than cornmeal for this - plus you can make arepas, which is not to be sneezed at - but it may be hard to find. Most of it is P.A.N. brand from Venezuela. Once in a while you can find some that is milled here though. However regular cornmeal is perfectly acceptable if you can't get arepa meal.

2 servings
15 minutes prep time

Pan Fried Trout
2 250 gram (1/2 pound) trout fillets (500 g/1 lb total)

1 large egg
1/4 cup arepa meal or corn meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon medium chile powder or paprika
OR other seasoning as desired

1/4 cup sunflower or other mild oil for frying

Rinse the trout fillets, and let them drain. I prefer to skin them, if possible, but there is no reason not to leave the skin on.

Break the egg into a shallow bowl or plate, and beat lightly. Mix the meal, salt and seasonings in a second bowl.

Put the oil into a skillet large enough to hold the fish and heat it over medium-high heat, until hot.

Meanwhile, dredge the fish, first in the beaten egg then in the meal mixture. Lay the fillets in the hot frying pan and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, until the meal crust is lightly browned. Turn just once; and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more.

Last year at this time I made Strawberry Cream Cheese Parfaits.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Berry Fluff

Confession: I'm saying 4 servings, but you are looking at the entire recipe in 2 bowls and yes, we ate the lot in one sitting. As desserts go we could have done much worse I suppose. This is pretty light.

I think it would also be very good made with raspberries, which should be coming up soon. Strawberries are pretty much over for this year, which is a bit disconcerting, considering they really just started. However, the local strawberry farmers are saying that they got about 1/4 of the expected crop this year - the worst in a long, long time. Hopefully the raspberries will be better. Also, if you do use raspberries, you may want to add a tad more sugar to the purée - they can be noticably more strongly acidic than strawberries.

Corelation is not causation, of course, but I notice that I started this blog at the beginning of strawberry season three seasons ago, and every single one of them since has been terrible. I can't help feeling faintly guilty.

4 servings
2 hours including chill time - 20 minutes prep time

Strawberry Fluff
Make the Strawberry Purée:
2 cups (1/2 quart) strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
tiny pinch of salt

Clean and hull the berries. Mash them in a smallish pot with the sugar, starch and salt. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and the starch clears. This will be right about the time it reaches the boil. Remove it from the heat and allow to cool thoroughly, in the fridge for preference. Allow about an hour for this.

Make the Swiss Meringue:
1 extra-large egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1/16th teaspoon cream of tartar

When the strawberry purée is pretty much chilled, start this mixture.

Put the egg white, sugar and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler. Heat over medium heat, beating constantly with an electric mixer. When the egg white is stiff and glossy, about 4 minutes, remove it from the heat and continue beating for another 4 or 5 minutes.

Create the Strawberry Fluff:
2 cups (1/2 quart) strawberries
- in addition to the above 2 items

Wash, dry and hull the strawberries. Cut them in halves or slice them if they are large.

Fold the strawberry purée, half at a time, into the Swiss meringue, and spoon the mixture into serving dishes alternately with the sliced strawberries. Return them to the fridge until serving time.

Last year at this time Strawberry Cream Cheese Parfaits in the same engraved glass dishes, which I bought at a church jumble sale for the shocking price of $1 each. Since they are from the 1940's or 1950's I guess somebody thought they were worth charging "top price" for - and I bit.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Broccoli, Feta & Pasta Salad

Things have been a bit hectic around here this week as we have had company. Sometimes that increases the amount of cooking going on, and sometimes it decreases it. This was a decrease-cooking visit over all, which is why there hasn't been much posted.

However, I also saw the first Ontario broccoli of the season this week and snapped it up. When it came time to put it into a meal though, there didn't seem to be a lot of other ingredients hanging around the house. As usual, that calls for pasta. I do wish I had had a tomato or a bit of red pepper to add some colour to the salad, but I didn't. I'm putting it in the recipe though, because it really should have been there.

4 servings
30 minutes - 20 minutes prep time

Broccoli, Feta and Pasta Salad
Make the Salad:
1 small head of broccoli
1 medium-small zucchini
1 medium ripe tomato OR 1/4 red bell pepper
150 grams (1/3 pound) feta cheese
200 grams (1/2 pound) pasta

Wash the broccoli and cut it into bite-sized florets. Wash the zucchini and cut it into 1/4" slices. Cut them in half across if they are large. Dice the tomato or red bell pepper, and finely dice the feta cheese.

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Add the pasta and cook it for the recommended time. When there are 4 minutes left for it to cook, add the broccoli to the pot. When there are 2 minutes left, add the zucchini. It may be necessary to cook the pasta for a minute or two beyond the recommended time, as adding the vegetables lowers the temperature of the water. However, when it is cooked, drain it and rinse it in cold water until cool. Drain well. Toss the cooled pasta and vegetables with the tomato or red pepper, the feta cheese and the salad dressing.
Make the Dressing:
1/3 cup minced chives OR 2 green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
1/2 teaspoon rubbed basil
1/4 cup sunflower seed oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Grind the pepper and chile flakes. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a jar or small bowl.

Last year around this time I made Pea & Cauliflower Soup, Moroccan Spiced Lamb Patties and Unbaked Strawberry Pie, which I'm pretty sure I've already mentioned, with all due modesty, is a truly great pie.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

A Worm in the Apple

Garlic scapes again! These ones are growing in my garden, with shallots behind them that are about to bloom. This is some of the good news from our garden. Unfortunately, we have discovered that our soil is very poor. It's acidic; somewhere between pH 5.25 and 5.5, and very low in all the nutrients. Rude people might call it sand.

The solution - or at least the only way to ameliorate it - is to amend the soil with lots and lots of compost and manure. Mr Ferdzy has built a little compost complex using found materials.

Another crop which is producing right now are the snow-peas, although they are not growing very high.

The other thing Mr Ferdzy has been scrounging are plastic bottles to try to water some plants at the roots. For a while we were taking walks at dusk on recycling night and returning with our arms full.

We are growing two sets of tomatoes. The further set are ones we bought, and are likely to produce some fruit if it ever warms up. The closer ones are ones we grew from seed, and they are struggling, between the poor soil and the fact that we started them off with water from our well, which turned out to be full of salt, which they hated. (Our peppers hated it so much they didn't even bother to come up.)

These are our root-vegetable beds. They are doing the worst of any of our beds, with not even the weeds doing well. We've given them up for this year - no carrots for us.

The potatoes, on the other hand, are doing really well. Not only are the plants very high and bushy, they presently have beautiful flowers. These blue ones are the nicest, I think, although some are pink or white.

And to close, here's a picture of Mr Ferdzy weeding the asparagus. It's in bondage because without all the 5' high weeds to hold it up it is inclined to flop. Because we can't remove the roots and clear the bed, it's the one that has more weeds than any other bed. We also need to patrol daily, as asparagus beetles have started to show up.

After some thought, we have decided on the Worst Weed in our garden. We considered giving that honour to various plants: bladder campion, which has 4' deep roots; twitchgrass, wild lettuce, purple vetch which all spread by underground runners; and the one to which I have given the prize; horsetails. They spread by underground runners as well, and if you miss a small bit, it reproduces at a phenomenal rate. The roots are tough and wirey, yet somewhat slimey, and after you pull out as much as you can they are back in less than a week; maybe a day or two if the weather is amenable.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Chimichurri (With Garlic Scapes, Natch)

No sign of the garlic scapes running out yet! I bought a bag at the St. Jacobs market a week or so ago for $5 which I thought was expensive, but it turns out there must have been close to 50 scapes packed in there. A bargain, actually. And now mine are ready to be harvested.

Chimichurri is generally regarded as an Argentinian sauce, although versions are found throughout South America and into Central America. At its most basic, it consists of parsley, garlic, vinegar and oil, although it seems no two cooks make it the same way and practically none of them would make such a stripped-down chimichurri except under direst necessity. Thus you should certainly feel free to adjust quantities up and down, and to add or omit ingredients. Cilantro, fresh oregano or basil are often used in addition to the parsley. Tomatoes and fresh chiles have been known to show up in it. When garlic scapes are out of season, use garlic cloves instead.

1 cup sauce or marinade, about
15 minutes prep time

Chimichurri made with garlic scapes on lamb chops and zucchini
1 cup parsley
3 to 5 garlic scapes
a small handful shallot greens, chives, or a green onion
1 tablespoon rubbed oregano
1 teaspoon dried hot chile flakes, more or less
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
black pepper to taste

3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons sherry, wine or cider vinegar
1/3 cup sunflower seed oil

Wash and drain the herbs. Put them into the food processor with the seasonings, and process them until they are very finely chopped, verging on puréed. You will need to stop and scrape down the sides several times, no doubt.

Add the liquid ingredients, and blend again, until emulsified.

Use to marinate meat, poultry, fish, tofu or vegetables which are to be grilled, reserving a good quantity of it to be passed as a sauce. Or pass it as a sauce without marinating anything first. Boiled potatoes or steamed rice will soak it up nicely, or use it as a dip or topping for bread. I'm thinking that the left-overs from the lamb chops and zucchini will end up on a bean salad as a dressing.

Last year at this time I made Buttered Minted Peas with Rice.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

More from Three Men in a Boat

Now that it's summer, it's time to go camping (or boating). Things have not changed all that much from the 1880's, when Jerome K. Jerome wrote "Three Men in a Boat".

"To return to our present trip: nothing exciting happened, and we tugged steadily on to a little below Monkey Island, where we drew up and lunched. We tackled the cold beef for lunch, and then we found that we had forgotten to bring any mustard. I don't think I ever in my life, before or since, felt I wanted mustard as badly as I felt I wanted it then. I don't care for mustard as a rule, and it is very seldom that I take it at all, but I would have given worlds for it then.

I don't know how many worlds there may be in the universe, but anyone who had brought me a spoonful of mustard at that precise moment could have had them all. I grow reckless like that when I want a thing and can't get it.

Harris said he would have given worlds for mustard too. It would have been a good thing for anybody who had come up to that spot with a can of mustard, then: he would have been set up in worlds for the rest of his life.

But there! I daresay both Harris and I would have tried to back out of the bargain after we had got the mustard. One makes these extravagant offers in moments of excitement, but, of course, when one comes to think of it, one sees how absurdly out of proportion they are with the value of the required article. I heard a man, going up a mountain in Switzerland, once say he would give worlds for a glass of beer, and, when he came to a little shanty where they kept it, he kicked up a most fearful row because they charged him five francs for a bottle of Bass. He said it was a scandalous imposition, and he wrote to the TIMES about it.

It cast a gloom over the boat, there being no mustard. We ate our beef in silence. Existence seemed hollow and uninteresting. We thought of the happy days of childhood, and sighed. We brightened up a bit, however, over the apple-tart, and, when George drew out a tin of pine-apple from the bottom of the hamper, and rolled it into the middle of the boat, we felt that life was worth living after all.

We are very fond of pine-apple, all three of us. We looked at the picture on the tin; we thought of the juice. We smiled at one another, and Harris got a spoon ready.

Then we looked for the knife to open the tin with. We turned out everything in the hamper. We turned out the bags. We pulled up the boards at the bottom of the boat. We took everything out on to the bank and shook it. There was no tin-opener to be found.

Then Harris tried to open the tin with a pocket-knife, and broke the knife and cut himself badly; and George tried a pair of scissors, and the scissors flew up, and nearly put his eye out. While they were dressing their wounds, I tried to make a hole in the thing with the spiky end of the hitcher, and the hitcher slipped and jerked me out between the boat and the bank into two feet of muddy water, and the tin rolled over, uninjured, and broke a teacup.

Then we all got mad. We took that tin out on the bank, and Harris went up into a field and got a big sharp stone, and I went back into the boat and brought out the mast, and George held the tin and Harris held the sharp end of his stone against the top of it, and I took the mast and poised it high up in the air, and gathered up all my strength and brought it down.

It was George's straw hat that saved his life that day. He keeps that hat now (what is left of it), and, of a winter's evening, when the pipes are lit and the boys are telling stretchers about the dangers they have passed through, George brings it down and shows it round, and the stirring tale is told anew, with fresh exaggerations every time.

Harris got off with merely a flesh wound.

After that, I took the tin off myself, and hammered at it with the mast till I was worn out and sick at heart, whereupon Harris took it in hand.

We beat it out flat; we beat it back square; we battered it into every form known to geometry - but we could not make a hole in it. Then George went at it, and knocked it into a shape, so strange, so weird, so unearthly in its wild hideousness, that he got frightened and threw away the mast. Then we all three sat round it on the grass and looked at it.

There was one great dent across the top that had the appearance of a mocking grin, and it drove us furious, so that Harris rushed at the thing, and caught it up, and flung it far into the middle of the river, and as it sank we hurled our curses at it, and we got into the boat and rowed away from the spot, and never paused till we reached Maidenhead."

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Stir-Fried Fish with Snow-Peas, Mushrooms & Garlic Scapes

I was particularly excited to make this dish, as it contains our very first crop of snow-peas, as well as garlic scapes. They are still pretty small, and could have used a few more days on the vine but I couldn't wait. I'll try to be more patient with the next batch.

If you can't get fish, chicken breast or thighs would work fine as well. They might need a minute or two more in the pan.

2 servings
20 minutes prep time

Stir-Fried Fish with Snow Peas, Mushrooms and Garlic Scapes
2 cups snow-peas
8 to 10 garlic scapes
8 to 10 button mushrooms
2 tablespoons peeled, minced fresh ginger
1 450 gram (1 pound) fillet of whitefish

1 tablespoon corn starch or arrowroot
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil

Wash the snow peas and remove the stem ends. Rinse the garlic scapes and cut them into pieces about the same length as the snow-peas. Clean the mushrooms and cut them into quarters. Peel and mince the ginger.

Skin the fish fillet and cut it into strips about 2 cm (3/4") wide.

Mix the starch, water and soy sauce in a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the garlic scapes, and several tablespoons of water. Cook for one or two minutes, tossing the scapes occasionally, until the water is evaporated. Add the ginger, the fish pieces, and the mushrooms. Continue cooking, turning the contents of the pan about (be a bit careful - the fish is fragile) until the fish is opaque, and the mushrooms lightly browned and softened; about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the snow peas, and mix them in well. After another minute or so, stir up the contents of the small bowl and pour it around in the pan. Continue cooking and turning until the sauce thickens; about one minute.

Serve over steamed rice.

Last year at this time I made Chinese Green Onion Pan Bread and Chicken Broth & Miso Soup with Veggies.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Strawberries in Lime-Ginger Syrup

A simple, flavourful syrup adds a kick to fresh strawberries. Do be careful with the lime zest and ginger; it's easy to overdo it. You want just a whisper of them.

4 servings
20 minutes prep time

Strawberries in Lime-Ginger Syrup
4 cups (1 quart) strawberries

6 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon lime zest
1 scant teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
the juice of 2 limes

Wash and hull the strawberries, and cut them in halves or quarters if large.

Put the honey, lime zest, ginger and lime juice in a small pot, and heat slowly until the honey is melted. Toss with the strawberries while the syrup is still warm. It's best to let the berries sit for 20 minutes to half an hour before eating them.

Last year at this time I made Peas with Garlic Scapes & Cream and Beets with Their Greens in a Dill Sauce.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Asparagus & Mushroom Kugel

Hello again to Presto Pasta Nights, this week at Daily Unadventures in Cooking. Here's a dish that's just a wee bit time-consuming, but actually very easy to put together. A bit like lasagne really, but with no tomato sauce and also no fiddling with layers. Like lasagne, pair it with a crisp green salad and dinner is ready.

4 to 6 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 45 minutes prep time

Asparagus and Mushroom Kugel
300 grams (2/3 pound) egg noodles
450 grams (1 pound) asparagus

1 large onion
5-6 garlic scapes or other onion greens
300 grams (2/3 pound) button mushrooms
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme
500 grams ricotta cheese
5 extra-large eggs
1 cup finely grated Parmesan, old Cheddar, or a mix

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. When it boils, add the noodles and cook them until 3/4 cooked. Three minutes before they are to be drained, add the asparagus, cleaned and cut in bite-sized pieces. Drain the pasta and aspargus; if you are not ready to proceed with mixing them with the other ingredients, rinse them in cold water until cool.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the onion, and mince the garlic scapes or other onion greens. Clean and slice the mushrooms.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Sauté the onions in the oil until just softened, then add the garlic scapes and continue cooking for a minute or two more. Add the mushroom slices, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and lightly browned. Add the salt, pepper and thyme.

Beat the ricotta cheese and eggs in a very large bowl. Add the sautéd vegetables, and mix in well. Add the drained noodles and asparagus, and mix in well. Spread the mixture in a large lasagne pan, and sprinkle over the grated cheese. You may wish to oil it first if it is not glass or otherwise non-stick. Bake the kugel for 40 to 45 minutes until lightly browned. Let it rest 5 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I made Roasted Beet & Asparagus Salad and Spinach Sautéed with Mushrooms & Green Onions.