Jerusalem Artichoke Chips


It’s April and finally graced with a nice day which was missing the typical showers.
I got excited and took to my garden to harvest the first of my fruits of labour.
(Well, some baby carrots were first, but they weren\’t exactly, you know, edible.)

The first things to come from gardens are often the last to go in. Things in the fall like garlic and these, Jerusalem Artichokes.

Also known as Sunchokes, they are tubers from the Sunflower family. They are quite hardy and easy to grow. Perfect raw or cooked they are an overlooked superfood. With lots of vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium, Jerusalem artichokes contain are also a very good source of iron. The taste is similar to that of a water chestnut or a potato, which makes it perfect for sautéing, soups and what I\’ve just discovered — chips!

Easy to make, all they need is a good scrubbing and a thin slice.
Heat a few inches of a versatile oil (I used Safflower) to 350ºF in a large saucepan. Working in batches, begin adding the sliced Jerusalem Artichokes. With a slotted spoon, occasionally flip them, cooking until they are lightly browned and crisp. Drain and cool on a paper towel.

I served mine with a quick mix up of \”Veganaise\” with a pinch of dried thyme and fresh lemon zest.

Know what? Even the kids ate them! How about that?

Countdown To Christmas: Dinner


Dinner, oh dinner.
Yeah, this is the big one. It’s also the one that by experience has proven that planning ahead, pop it in the oven kind of dinners are waaaay more enjoyable than missing out on events while slaving away in the kitchen. Plus, there really are so many relatively quick and impressive recipe options to choose from, so I can watch the yule log burn on the Apple tv and sip wine while I build some new lego…  (or play with cooking show Barbie – Shhhhhh.)

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without mashed potatoes. And although I’m sure you know how to make those, I’ve added a little roasted garlic to these. Not only does it make them extra good, it’s going to match up the rest of the dishes served.

Next are steamed green beans, because you can’t go wrong with those. I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t like them… even the picky seats at the kiddie table!

To balance things out, I just wouldn’t be a mother if I didn’t serve brussels sprouts. Actually, these are the one vegetables I was made to sit and stare at as a child but thankfully, I’ve learned to cook them properly. The trick is to under cook them, there the secret’s out – now stand back and watch and the hoards make way in the produce aisle! Briefly roasted with oil, then tossed with rosemary and a little of the dinner’s themed garlic seemed utterly delicious!

One of my most favourite sides I’ve made almost too many times to count. Popular around Thanksgiving, yet I haven’t made it for Christmas. Combine two of my favourites, it’s a creamy spinach and squash gratin.

The main attraction? Another relatively easy but impressive dish. Adapted from Gourmet’s November issue. This mushroom spinach pie has a little something for everyone with earthy mushrooms, spinach, walnuts and, of course, roasted garlic.

My favourite part? The pie seriously took me about six minutes to make it but it can be made hours in advance.

This dinner will serve 4- 6.

SIMPLE ROASTED GARLIC

3 Bulbs Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cut the tops from each bulb and peel the outermost layers of papery skin from the garlic.
Coat each bulb well with the olive oil and roast for 30 – 35 minutes, until each bulb is soft, sticky and golden brown. Adding more oil or cover with foil, if necessary to avoid drying and over-browning.

ROASTED GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

4 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Bulb Roasted Garlic
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Using a pressure cooker or traditional stove top method, boil the potatoes until soft.
Drain then mash by hand, those little lumps and bits are good.
Squeeze the cooled garlic from the skin into a bowl and mash with a fork.
Add the garlic, oil, continuing to mash until fluffy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + SPINACH GRATIN

This recipe can be made days ahead, up to the point of adding the crumb topping, which can be done while reheating.

1 Small Butternut Squash
1/2  Bulb Roasted Garlic, about 2 Tablespoons mashed
6 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves, packed
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk, or unsweetened soy milk will do
1/2 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder
1/8 teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Salt, scant
1/4 teaspoon Pepper, to your liking
2 Slices Whole Wheat bread
1/4 Cup Earth Balance Butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crumbled – optional

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Lightly spray a casserole dish with oil.
Sauté the spinach in the olive oil. Once wilted, remove with a squeeze and discard any extra liquid.
Slice the neck of the squash in to 1/4″ rounds. Remove the skin from the edge and evenly layer the bottom the casserole dish.
Sprinkle over a pinch of salt and pepper.
Top with sautéed spinach, nutmeg, another sprinkling of salt and pepper, then evenly dot with the roasted garlic.
Add another layer of squash to cover in an even layer, sprinkling over another pinch of the salt and pepper.
Combine the almond milk with the arrowroot powder and pour over the squash.
Tightly cover with foil and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile toast the bread slices to dry out completely. Either add to a food processor or chop finely by hand.
Add the butter and rosemary to the crumbs, mixing evenly.
Top the baked squash with the crumb mixture. Return it to the oven and continue to bake uncovered for about 10 minutes or until brown and crusty.

MUSHROOM SPINACH + WALNUT PIE

2 (397g) Packages Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Cups Sliced Mushrooms, I used crimini, but I’m doing shiitake for the next one.
8 Cups Baby Spinach, packed
1/4 Cup Walnuts, chopped
1 Bulb Roasted Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crumbled
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft and browned.
Remove the mushrooms to cool.
Add the remaining oil and sauté the spinach leaves. Squeeze over the bulb of roasted garlic and stir.
While the spinach wilts and the mushrooms cool, roll out the first package of dough into about a 12″x8″ rectangle.
Place the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Top the dough with the mushrooms, then the wilted spinach.
Sprinkle over salt, pepper, rosemary and chopped walnuts.
Roll out the remaining dough to top the pie, crimping and tucking the edges under.
Lightly score the top with a sharp blade, occasionally piercing for steam vents.
Bake in the center of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden and crisp.

New Potato Salad With Scape Salsa Verde



Of course with a long weekend ahead I would be lost without a handy potato salad recipe, so here it is.
I’m sure not too many of you miss the heavy mayo laden with egg and celery version but not to fret, I’m sure it will still be offered – somewhere, you can just bring this along to the BBQ instead.

Easy, light and FRESH I’ve finally found another way to use up those tasty garlic scapes as the main ingredient in this salsa verde style dressing.

NEW POTATO SALAD WITH SCAPE SALSA VERDE

3 Lbs New Red Potatoes
8-10 Garlic Scapes, trimmed
1/4 Cup Basil Leaves, packed
1/3 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, packed
1 Tablespoon Capers, about 30
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Wash and boil the potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover.
Cook potatoes until just tender, or al dente, so you are able to cut through them easily.
Meanwhile, trim the seed buds from the top of the scapes and discard.
Combine the scapes along with the basil and parsley, pulsing to finely chop.
Add the capers, mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar, continuing to blend while drizzling in the oil through the feed tube.
Scrape down from the sides, taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
Drain the potatoes. Once they are cool enough to handle quarter them into even sized wedges, unless they are very small.
Add the potatoes to a large bowl and add about half of the dressing at first. Toss well to coat adding more to your liking.
Serve at room temperature.

Want more potato salad? Try my other, Warm New Potato Dandelion Greens Salad, if you still have a few weeds that need eating from your yard.

Adventures In Eating


Omnivorous or not, a trip to Chicago without a dining destination might leave you a little stumped.
While I’m sure the city is drenched in fabulous restaurant choices, left on your own without a little guidance one might only find an pierogi, an all dressed hot dog or a deep dish pizza on the menu.

Naturally, it was long before Oprah tried her hand at veganism, I’m sure there were options, although hidden, throughout her Windy City. Stumble upon Fox & Obel, or carefully read through some menus and you might find some contributions to the herbivore fare like grilled vegetable paninis and some very interesting, but tasty salads, like this one inspired by the Corner Bakery Café.

Sweet, with the only zip pretty much coming from the flavour of the ginger and finishing with a hint of cilantro, it was a great salad all on it’s own, but it did go well with that crisp panini and I’m sure anything grilled for summer as well.

Perfect flash of colour for your July celebration table.
Happy Canada Day everyone.

EDAMAME SALAD

Edamame (Soy Beans), about 1 cup podded
1 Large Carrot, Coarsely grated, equivalent to 1 cup
1 Sweet Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 English Cucumber, diced, about 1 cup
3 Scallions, finely diced
2″ Piece Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely grated
Fistful of Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped, about 1 Tablespoon
Fistful of Fresh Basil, finely chopped, about 1 Tablespoon
2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
1 Tablespoons Agave Nectar
1 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch Salt

Finely grate the ginger using the fine grater of a box grater or a zester and squeeze excess juice from any stringy remains.
Add the ginger and juice to a food processor or a wide enough cup to handle an immersion blender, along with the agave and olive oil. Mix well to emulsify.
Steam the beans or boil in their pods for about 3 – 4 minutes.
Drain the beans and blanch under cold water briefly to cool.
Finely dice the cucumber.
Peel and finely dice the scallions and coarsely shred the carrot on the large hole of a box grater, or cut into matchsticks.
Shell the beans, discarding the pods, and add, along with the other vegetables into a large bowl.
Wash, dry and finely chop the basil and cilantro.
Pour over the dressing and sprinkle over the herbs, tossing to coat everything well.

Pomegranate Blueberry Bran Muffin


With all the driving I’ve done over the past week or so, I can’t even begin to express my fondness for finding an occasional Starbucks instead of a McDonald’s along the way.

I mean, what could be better that 9 hours of driving with a Venti Soy Macchiato and a bran muffin? Yup, I live dangerously.

Now I’m home and can get my crazy fix by the dozen.

POMEGRANATE BLUEBERRY BRAN MUFFINS

1/2 Cup Pomegranate Juice
2/3 Cup Soy Milk
1/2 Cup Blueberry Soy Yogurt, or plain would do in a pinch
1/3 Cup Safflower Oil
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, slightly packed
2 Cups Bran
1 Cup Self Rising Pastry Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Cup Fresh Blueberries, washed & picked over for stems

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
In a saucepan, bring the pomegranate juice to a boil and reduce by about half. (About 5 minutes total.)
Remove the juice from the heat and cool while you combine the milk, yogurt, oil and brown sugar in a large bowl.
Add the bran, flour, salt, soda and blueberries to the wet ingredients, then pour over the pomegranate juice, mixing just to moisten.
Lightly spray a large muffin tin and generously spoon in the batter.
Bake until firm and browned, about 20 – 25 minutes.
Let them cool slightly in the pan before turning out to a rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Forbidden.


I never would have thought that summer BBQ’s would match up so well with Asian inspired salads.
I’ve tested this recipe a few times now at a few outdoor gatherings and I have to tell you, it held up pretty well beside the best of potato salads.

I’ve had this rice in my pantry collection for a while, you see I have a nasty habit of food shopping. Yes, admitted, I have more varieties of grains than summer sandles, which is so goes against all that is womanly. I just can’t help it though. Who knew there were so many types of quinoa, couscous or rice to be had and to hoard?

Black, or Forbidden Rice is an Asian heirloom variety of rice that is not glutenous and is very high in fiber as well as iron. It’s Forbidden name comes from it traditionally being served to the Emperors of Ancient China, thus being restricted from common consumption. Now, of course it can be found and even trademarked by a few different rice producers, sold in popular grocers and heath food stores.

Word to the wise though, check over your rice as you would lentils for forbidden objects, like pebbles. It’s heirloom and wholesome, right down to the ground it’s grown and what can get into it.

FORBIDDEN ASIAN BLACK RICE SALAD

2 Cups Black Rice, picked over
3 Cups Water
1 Yellow Pepper, finely diced
1 Red Pepper, finely diced
1 Large Carrot or a Handful of Baby Carrots, cut into matchsticks
3 scallions (green onions), finely chopped
Handful Thai Basil, about 10 leaves chopped

DRESSING

1/4 Cup Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Freshly Grated Ginger, about a 1 inch knub
1 Clove of Garlic, finely minced
Zest of One Orange
Juice of One Lime
3 – 4 Tablespoons Agave Nectar, or to taste depending on how sweet you like things

Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, zest, lime juice and agave with a whisk or a hand immersion blender until smooth. Reserve.
Check the rice over for pebbles or other impurities.
Rinse the rice, then leave it to soak for about 5 minutes. Drain well and add to a large sauce pan with a tight fitting lid.
Cover the rice with the 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat for a low simmer and cover for about 25 minutes.
Remove from the heat and leave it covered for another 5 – 10 minutes.
Fluff with a fork and transfer the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl.
Drizzle over the prepared dressing then add the diced pepper, carrot, scallions and basil.
Toss well to combine the vegetables with the rice.
Garnish with additional citrus zest or basil leaves if desired.
No need to cool. Best served at room temperature, making it a perfect summer outdoor salad.