One thing I do miss about living in an apartment is not having a garden. In my late teen I took over a section of my parent’s backyard to grow vegetables.Only one problem: I do not have a green thumb. But still it is a fun and relaxing activity. now I have a herb garden and still no green thumb. I did try to grow a tomato plant in a big pot for 2 summers. It was not a big success.
It’s a shame because one of the great pleasures of summer gardens is fresh juicy tomatoes. And it just so happens to be the them of this month’s Creative Cooking Crew challenge. And of course to do something different! So get your fish, chicken or even breakfast toast out for my Roasted Tomato Jam.
Today is my group’s reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club. What is the SRC? Basically you are assigned a fellow participant’s blog by the organizer and then you pick a recipe of your choice from that blog and make your version of it. But it is a secret, you cannot reveal whom you picked and what you made until the established posting date and time. This month’s secret: Black Asian Rice with Stir Fried Vegetables.
I really need to get on a smoothie wagon! I know they are healthy and the rave right now but for some silly reason I forget. No more procrastination, now that I have two amazing books devoted entirely to smoothies which were written by two fabulous fellow food bloggers. They are just delicious whether they are fruit based, surprisingly great veggie based, tea or coffee based, and some that are just a decadent yet healthy dessert.
I will tell you all about these two books shortly and I will share with you the recipe I first sampled. If falls under the coffee category but I would have this for dessert to: the Maple Walnut Coffee. And read all the way to the instructions on how to win the 2 giveaways!
I am starting to get more and more in the mood to host little dinner parties. Well occasionally so don’t expect an invite too soon (talking to my friends that read this lol). Recently we were a nice group of 6 at my place. Only problem is I had 2 vegetarians, 1 sustainable-only meat eater and 3 carnivores. What to make for dinner?
Couscous came to mind as a very versatile dish. And I have no problem with serving a vegetarian only meal but I wanted to have the option to serve meat to those who wanted some. I happen to have a pork roast already cooked in the fridge. For fake meat for the vegetarians I found a baked tofu recipe. It was a hit with all.
I have made many different kinds of couscous in life and they are all unique. This ones is up there on my list now with this roasted vegetable twist. Roasted veggies seem to pack extra flavor and the vegetable selection for a couscous is different. The usual carrots and rutabaga were replaced with belle peppers, eggplant, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.
About 6 cups of veggies chopped into bite sized pieces (such as onions, mushrooms, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes)
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup golden raisins, re-hydrated for 30 in hot water and drained
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (15 1/2-ounce can) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1.5 T fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 C couscous
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place your veggies in a medium bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil. Salt and pepper.
Place on baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes. (If using cherry tomatoes wait and add them to the baking sheet after about 20 minutes)
Put veggies in a large pan. Add to veggies cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom and cayenne; saute 1-2 minutes. Add stock, and next 5 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice.
Slice a block of tofu into 9 slices. Place them on a double layer of paper towels and place another double layer over them. Press firmly with your hands to remove as much moisture as possible. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place a silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet or oil a long, rectangular baking dish. Brush one side of each slice of tofu with a thin layer of sauce and place it on the pan sauce-side down. Spread remaining sauce on the tops and sides of the tofu. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until tofu is firm and just beginning to brown at the corners.
Thanks for all your good wishes. I am still fighting this cold. Some days I win, some days the cold winds. But it shall pass. Thus I remain a bit quieter still on the blog front.
OK so raise your hands if you have ever tried salsify before? I knew it, only 2 of you know what this root vegetable is, right? The first I ever heard about salsify was the day my mom mentioned them from her childhood and she said they sorta vanished. Of course I made it my mission to buy some if I ever came across a bunch of salsify. And guess what? That day has come. I purchased them on the same occasion that I bought the topinambour (or Jerusalem Artichoke) . And I am keeping the mystery for a third exotic vegetable discovery that day, to be posted soon.
I bet I know what you are thinking: you want me to eat that UGLY thing? Yes I do and trust me you will love it. There are two types of salsify actually: the white salfify and the black salsify. I think you guessed I got the black one. It can also be called black oyster plant, serpent root, viper’s herb, viper’s grass. The black salsify is native to Southern Europe and the Near East. Although the skin is black the inside flesh is a creamy white.
There are a few precautions to know before preparing black salsify. The thick black skin exudes a sticky latex substance when peeled before cooking. Some prefer to boil the salsify first and peel once cooled. And once the salsify is peeled you want to immerse it immediately in water with lemon juice added or the flesh will turn brown very rapidly.
It’s mystical witchy look of course made people think it was miracle cure against the bubonic plague and snake bites. I am sad to say those claims are both false but it is a wonderfully nutritious root vegetable. It contains potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, and vitamins A, B1, E and C.
The salsify taste is reminiscent of artichoke hearts or a delicate asparagus. Some even say it has a faint taste of oysters but I did not think this to be true. I found a wonderful and simple recipe using the pan roasting method on the Eggs on Sunday blog. Basically you boil the salsify first to cook the vegetable and then you roast in a pan with caramelizes a little bit the exterior and intensifies the flavor.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A sprinkling of chopped parsley or thyme
Peel the salsify roots and place them in a shallow pan with water to cover, lemon juice, black pepper, bay leaf, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender (about 20-30 minutes, simmering, based on the thickness of the roots.)
Remove the salsify roots from the liquid and let cool slightly, then cut into small pieces (I cut mine into 2-inch batons.)
Heat some olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until hot, then add the salsify pieces along with a sprinkle of coarse salt and a grinding or two of fresh black pepper. Cook until golden brown, then toss in the chopped fresh thyme at the end.
I always find it funny when the theme of the 5 Star Makeover is a holiday that I do not celebrate…at least not at the same time. Nor the same way. Of course I am happy to make a special post to my American readers and wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving this coming Thursday November 22nd.
In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving on the 2nd Monday of October. The holiday is a celebration of the end of the harvest and giving thanks to the past year, just like the US. But since we are a bit more north of the equator our harvest ends sooner…hence the varying dates. On top of that in my province of Quebec it is just not a big holiday. In my family we traditionally close the family cottage for the winter on Canadian Thanksgiving so we have slightly better meal on the BBQ. No turkey, no sweet potatoes and no green beans.
So when the November theme came out, the classic green bean casserole, I was a bit at a loss. I know what is in this dish but I have never eaten it in my life. And my god can it be any more old fashion? Did you know that this dish was first created in 1955 by the Campbell Soup Company? The word retro got stuck in my head as I was trying to come up with a concept for my gourmet rendition. Why not combine it with the next retro popular food fancy dish of the 1950s: the aspic!
Let’s travel back in time as I set on my Thanksgiving table for you a Retro Aspic Green Bean Casserole. The basic ingredients are all here – green beans, mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup, and homemade healthier french fried onions – just under a very unique presentation.
A lovely plump and ripe tomato. Now times that 4 and stuff it with amazing Oka cheese, bacon, onions, bread, eggs and more. Oh so simple and good. A perfect choice for this month Love Bloghop.
Oka cheese is a local cheese in Montreal, originally manufactured by the Trappist monks, who are located in Oka, Quebec, Canada. It is a pressed, semi-soft cheese that is surface ripened for some 30 days. It has a distinctive flavor, very flavorful but not overwhelming. If you do not have any Oka where you love try to match it up with a similar cheese, like Raclette or Emmenthal.
Ξ Barbecue Tomatoes Stuffed with Oka Ξ
original recipe from Marilyn.ca
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
4 medium tomatoes
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 eggs, beaten
1 slice whole wheat bread, diced
1/3 cup 10 % cream
1 cup shredded or diced Canadian Oka, rind removed
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat barbecue (or oven) to 450 °F (230 °C). In a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon with onion until onion is soft. Remove from heat and cool. Cut a ‘hat’ off top and scoop out inside of each tomato. Add remaining ingredients to bacon mixture, combining well, and use to stuff tomatoes. Place ‘hat’ on top of each tomato and barbecue (or bake) for about 10 minutes.
July is #tomatolove month!
Please join in on the #tomatolove fun by linking up any tomato recipe from the month of July 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #tomatolove event! The twitter hashtag is #tomatolove :).