Smashed Summer Potatoes


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Can you tell it was a market day? These days are some of my favourite and I’m still trying to figure out what is the best summer food.
One might guess asparagus, berries, tomatoes or corn… but then there is the humble potato. Nothing screams summer dinner to me more than every including a cob of fresh corn, green beans and early treasures like baby potatoes.

There are about five thousand varieties of potatoes and ALL of them have to start out as babies.
These small, young, thin-skinned delights have just started to be robbed from the ground and sent to market on the same day. They are waiting to be boiled up and melt in your mouth.

Super easy, crazy delicious!

 

SMASHED SUMMER POTATOES

12 – 15 Baby New Potatoes
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil (about)
1 Tablespoon Chives, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Dill, finely chopped
Zest of 1/2 Lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste.

In a large saucepan, boil the potatoes until fork tender.
Drain and score the bottom of each potato crosswise. Place knicked side down and smash each potato with your thumb or the back of a spoon to flatten.
Heat olive oil on medium high and sauté each side for about 3 – 5 minutes or until equally golden and crisp.
Remove potatoes to serving plate, reserving the remaining oil in the pan.
Sprinkle with salt, cracked pepper, herbs and lemon zest.

Serves 4

Potato Leek Soup


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It’s unseasonably warm but damp today. Crazily enough, once winter takes it’s hold, at least for me, I just wish it would put us into it’s full throws. Cold, crisp, freeze your the inside of your nose, crunchy snow kind of winter. I find it a little easier warming up from the cold rather than the damp which is why today, I needed a little extra help.

Quick, satisfying, revive you to your toes help, like potato leek soup.

Potato leek is virtually the premise for most vegan “cream” soups, which is what makes it so perfect.
The simplicity leaves for the attention to details like the perfect potato, consistency, herb combination and finishing drizzles of infused oils and the like. It’s a free pallet that’s open for individual taste, but no matter what your preference, the satisfaction is all there.

I choose to keep my soup fairly au natural as possible – garnish with what you will: herbs, infused oils, chillies, maybe croutons, then jazzing it up with some little bite sized Walnut Rosemary and Kalamata Madeleines.
Mmmm savoury and delicious.

 

CREAMLESS POTATO LEEK SOUP

2 Large Leeks, light green and white parts only
4 Cups Yukon Gold Potatoes, about 2 large, peeled & diced
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Dry White Wine
4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1/2 Sprig Fresh Rosemary, finely minced, about 1/2 teaspoon
2 Bay Leaves
6 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper or to taste

 

Top and trim the leeks. Halve lengthwise and rinse to remove any dirt between the layers. Thinly slice.
Peel and dice the potatoes.
In a large stockpot, heat the oil to medium-high.
Add the leeks to the oil and sweat until they are softened, about 3-5 minutes.
Pour over the wine and sauté for an additional minute.
Add the potatoes and stir well to prevent sticking.
Strip the leaves from the thyme stems by holding firmly and running your fingers backwards to the tip of the sprig. Remove the rosemary leaves from the stem and roughly chop. Add the leaves along with the stock, salt, and bay leaves. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
Add the pepper and remove the bay leaves.
Blend with a hand immersion blender or a food processor until smooth.
Adjust salt and pepper, if necessary.

Garnish with truffle oil, chives, thyme, chilis or roasted garlic.

Barley Risotto


Returning with something super simple but so delicious.
When first sampling plant-based, I found it easier sticking to familiar things that were already in the pantry. While on the search for various grains to keep things interesting,
I remembered barley.

My mom used to use it in many of her soups when I was a kid. This, of course, makes it an easy favourite for me. It’s hearty and slightly chewy. It’s soft, warm and filling, making it a perfect, but overlooked addition to so many dishes in the winter.

Treating it like a risotto, is a great way to flavour the barley. And in this case keeping it open to so many different flavour variations. It’s no secret that I love spinach, so pair that with some sautéed mushrooms and even a pan fried tofu and this becomes a perfectly satisfying, affordable and easy winter weekday dinner.

BARLEY RISOTTO

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Shallots, minced
1 Cup Pearl Barley
3 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth
Sprig Thyme, stem removed
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, adding the minced shallots to sweat.
Add the barley stirring well to coat with oil and lightly toast.
Cover with all of this liquid at once. Once the mixture begins to lightly simmer, stir and reduce the heat to maintain.
Add thyme leaves.
Stir occasionally until broth is mostly absorbed and barley is tender. (If more liquid is needed add 1/2 cup water.)
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Spinach & Mushroom Topping

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
1 Cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
4 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves, packed
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oil and add the garlic and mushrooms.
Sauté over a medium high heat until mushrooms begin to brown.
Add the spinach, turning regularly to wilt.
Serve hot over top of prepared barley.

Serves 2

Greatest Grampa’s Cookies


My Grampa is almost 85, so I guess you could say he’s the man who has just about everything.
…But there is one thing he never forgets to ask for; these cookies:

I’m so glad that I could find something that he really loves. I’m sure he’s tasted a few great things, so I’m pretty flattered. We have always made the trip up to see him and Greatest Nana after the holidays. Recently in addition to celebrating, the kids and I often pack along a few things to stock their freezer with into the New Year.
Even though I’m sure he knows what he’s getting. Along with the soups and staples, the care package wouldn’t be complete without these little surprises. Just to be festive, I’ve fancied them up a bit with hazelnut butter. I really hope he likes them.
Continue reading Greatest Grampa’s Cookies

Quinoa & Mixed Grain Breakfast


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There’s a way to make oatmeal “healthier”?
It took me a couple of days, but I realized that the rice cooker makes more than, well, rice.

With the cold weather just about everyone’s been having lately, there’s been a lot of oatmeal filling the bowls around here. Since it’s the weekend, to keep things a little different, I tried a combination of quinoa and mixed grains like; cracked rye, flax and Irish oats. Fancied up with maple caramelized banana and it almost made for a showy brunch option instead of a detox meal.

MIXED GRAIN PORRIDGE WITH CARAMELIZED BANANAS

1/2 Cup Red Quinoa, very well rinsed
1/4 Cup Irish Oats, Steel Cut
1/4 Cup Cracked Rye
3 Tablespoons Flax Seed
2 1/3 Cups Water
Pinch Salt

2 Bananas
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

Rinse the quinoa well and add it along with the other grains to your rice cooker or a large saucepan.
Add the water and the pinch of salt. For the rice cooker, follow the manufacturers directions (which is turn it on) and for the stovetop version, heat to a boil then reduce to a simmer over a low heat.
Stir, then cover until the water has been absorbed and the grains are tender; about 15 minutes. Stir to fluff when done.
Meanwhile, slice the bananas about 1/4″ thick on the diagonal and heat along with the maple syrup in a frying pan, over a medium-high heat.
Maple syrup will reduce and thicken. Flip bananas to cook and coat with the syrup on both sides.

Serve bananas over the prepared porridge with a splash of soy milk.

The New Vegan Frontier


I had this realization at the grocery store the other day. It’s something I’ve obviously not given enough thought. I mean, I know why people have food restrictions and I know that there are many reasons. There are people in my family are allergic to wheat and dairy and a large reason because of that is why this site exists. I’m fairly conscientious but never though, have I gone out and so rigorously read every ingredient that went into my shopping basket. What was once simple shopping took an hour and a half.

I’m aware of the easiest ways to healthier eating and that’s making everything yourself. But after this experience, I couldn’t believe it more true. The sneaky binders and unfortunate ingredients that “deprive” those of a delicious waffle. After a few let downs there was excitement. I’d find new produce or the wheat-free, gluten-free, yeast-free bread that will remain nameless to excite me into a tizzy. I was about ready to start this detoxing cleanse.

My biggest splurge was to finally buy a rice cooker. I honestly don’t know why I hadn’t done this earlier and now it sits happily along sit my Kitchen Aid as one of my favourite appliances. Shameful to admit, I’ve never been a stellar rice steamer myself. Iffy at best, I’d cross my fingers and hope not to burn it on the bottom or lift the lid early exposing a soggy mess. Amazing that this basic food is one of my favourites and when cooked right, tastes like a delicacy to me. Naturally, I was inspired and created one of my first meals for the detox as a rice bowl.

Totally versatile, starting with a mix of brown and wild rice, I added many of my grocery shop finds; broccolini, roasted squash, pea shoots and bean sprouts. To it was a great maple baked tofu with a great tahini sauce to liven it up.

Maybe this won’t be so bad?

MAPLE TOFU AND TAHINI RICE BOWL

4 cups Cooked Brown & Wild Rice, or whatever you have that you think is nice
1 Acorn Squash, seeded & sliced
1 Block Extra Firm (organic) Tofu, halved and sliced about 1/4″ thick
Handful Each of Pea Shoots, Sprouts, Broccolini & Frozen Green peas
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil,
Safflower Oil for frying

SESAME TAHINI SAUCE

1/4 cup tahini
3 Tablespoons Water
3 tablespoons Sesame Seed Oil
1/4 cup  Lemon Juice
Pinch of Salt to taste

Make the dressing by whisking together the tahini and hot water to thin. Add the lemon  juice, sesame oil and sprinkling of salt.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly drizzle 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a baking dish. Lay your sliced squash evenly and flip to coat in the oil.
Bake for about 15-20mins, then flip and return to the oven to continue roasting on the other side for another 15 minutes or until soft and golden. Remove from pan and lightly sprinkle over salt and pepper.
While the squash is roasting, heat a thin layer of the safflower oil in a large pan for frying.
Once the oil is hot, add the tofu slices and brown on both sides.
Remove and drain on towels.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF.
Using the roasting pan for the squash, add the tofu and evenly pour over the maple syrup, tossing to coat on both sides.
Bake the tofu for about a 1/2 hour, flipping half way through, until it is browned and slightly crisped.
Cook your rice, as per your usually methods. 2C dry rice with about double the water, usually does it for me.
Scoop the cooked rice into a nice, big bowl and to it, stir in the broccolini and frozen green peas

Serve rice family style or into individual bowls, topping with tofu, slices of squash and a handful of shoots and sprouts.
Drizzle over the tahini dressing. Taste and add more salt and freshly ground pepper, if needed.

Serves 4-6.