Whole Garden Gnocchi


Who knew I could feed myself from a front yard garden alone? Other than the flour, I grew everything for this dish in my small, urban yard; potatoes, garlic, chard, tomatoes and squash.

I may have mentioned my front yard transformation last spring. With the help of a great neighbour, a dumping of dirt, a seed catalogue and some eager kids, we transferred lawn into an edible space.

Less the brussels sprouts and the chard, most of the garden now harvested. There were the three varieties of potatoes; Peruvian Reds, Blue and Russian Fingerlings, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash, sweet Yellow Pear Tomatoes just for this dish alone. (It doesn’t even hint at the edamame, peas, beans, beets, asparagus, blueberries, herbs, okra, cabbages, zucchini, pumpkins… corn… wow!)

After digging up a surplus of potatoes, I needed a few ideas on what to do with them. With BBQ season pretty much a thing of the past, potato salad wasn’t topping my list as much as the gnocchi. Besides, I just had to when I saw the light pinkiness of the potatoes and the great texture that was perfect for such a thing.

Feeding yourself all on your own, that’s local.
Now, that’s something to be thankful for!

PERUVIAN PINK POTATO GNOCCHI

1Lb Potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (you can use other starchy potatoes, like Russetts as well)
1 Cup All Purpose Flour, plus more for rolling.
1/4 teaspoon Salt

In a large bowl, finely mash the cooked potatoes so they are lump free.
Add the salt and half of the flour then add 1/4 cup at a time stirring to combine and bring everything together in a smooth dough. You may not need it all.
Depending on your work surface, third or quarter the dough. Take one piece and cover remaining pieces.
Roll the dough into long “snakes” and cut into 1″ pieces.
Roll each piece off the back of a floured fork and repeat finishing all of the dough.
Drop into salted boiling water and cook gnocchi until they float; about 3 – 4 minutes.

While the gnocchi were boiling I made the “sauce” of tomatoes, chard, squash and garlic.
I cubed the peeled, cleaned squash and sautéed it, covered in a large, lightly oiled pan. Once the pieces began to soften, I removed the lid to let the stem escape and pieces brown.
I added two cloves of finely chopped garlic and the chard to cook for another two minutes.
Once the chard had wilted, I added 1 cup of sliced yellow pear tomatoes, salt, pepper and a palmful of chopped basil.
Simple and delicious.

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.

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.

Blogging Martha …and Pumpkins


So did everyone get a chance to watch Martha yesterday??
Not only was is it the start of her new season, yesterday she featured blogging; a few of them that we know and love I might add.
First up there was an intro to Deb at Smitten Kitchen, then a great segment with fellow food photographer and blogger Matt Armendiaz from Matt Bites. Matt was lucky enough to get a book writing suggestion from Martha herself all while mixing it up with her and the Kitchen Aid.

How wonderful to see a full hour devoted to the beauty of the blog. I’m guessing Martha is into hers, as it’s not only updated regularly, but she was dying to know everyone’s monthly stats and income draw. It was darling. Really.

Anyhow, what was really great was getting to see Martha and her old pal, Margaret, who’s site A Way To Garden, I’m already addicted to. Margaret used to be the garden the then the editorial director at MSL, so she knows a thing or two about gardening. Not only is Margaret’s site a naturally good read, she’s offered personal tips and suggestions on how to plant corn and why it is that mine is the only garden that doesn’t produce copious amounts of zucchini. (I finally did get ONE, by the way!!) A Way to Garden, along with Deb and the gals at Dinner Tonight have been hosting some weekly round ups of seasonal veggie dishes and today is one of my absolute favourites; pumpkin.

If you’ve ever read my other blog, Food+Photography, you’d see the fascination, lust I have over pumpkins. Every fall I buy too many and try to squeeze the space in my yard to grow some of my own every year.
That being said, I have three plants from the seeds of last year; Marina Di Choggia, a Rouge Vif D’Etamps and my favourite Galeux d’Eysine. So far, I’ve been enjoying their flowers along with the bees, but I think I’ll be heading back to the pumpkin patch in a couple of weekends – at least something grew…

To join into the fun, here are a few of my pumpkin favourites from this site:

MARINA DI CHIOGGIA GNOCCHI

PUMPKIN PIE POPPERS

PUMPKIN & MUSHROOM RISOTTO

PUMPKIN MANICOTTI

PUMPKIN CRANBERRY TEACAKES


SAVORY PUMPKIN TART

Roasted Vegetable Soup


Who knew that if given the choice, most grown-ups will avoid roasted parsnips and squash if they are served on their own? Made me happy, as I eyed the level of the dish near the end of dinner. I knew where these left over vegetables were going after the Thanksgiving dishes were done.

Funny thing, us people. Sure, presentation is important but so is how we connect with food. Being forced to eat sloppy, bitter, mashed squash as a kid might just hinder the most grown up of grown ups away from rediscovering it through a lifetime of hate. However, have a chilly autumn day and place a warm, satisfying soup in front of that same taster and you just might get an entirely different story.
Continue reading Roasted Vegetable Soup