Chive Blossom Vinegar

By Corinne

This officially qualifies as my most planned blog post. I wrote this last spring/summer. Of course, by the time the vinegar is ready, the chives are long done blossoming so wouldn’t be useful to anyone. So here it is- hopefully still early enough for the folks in Southern Ontario, and in lots of time for my peeps in Thunder Bay 🙂

I actually think chive blossoms are beautiful and underrated in bouquets 🙂 There are some snuggled into this one.

 

The bees love them and I do too. Chive blossoms broken up a bit make a pretty addition to a salad, but you can also make a lovely flavoured vinegar with them.

This is a recipe that barely even qualifies as a recipe.

You will need:

  • jars
  • vinegar (I just use plain white vinegar)
  • chive blossoms (you need enough to half fill whatever jar you are using)

Snip chive blossoms and give them a good rinse and then a spin dry in a salad spinner. Fill jars about half full of blossoms, and then fill with vinegar. Affix lids to jars, then place in a cool, darkish place out of direct sunlight for a few days. At this point check them, you may need to top them up with vinegar at this point. If not, leave them for another 2-3 weeks. By this point the vinegar will be a pretty pink and the flowers will have lost most of their colour.

 

Strain the vinegar into clean jars. Discard used blossoms. Use this lightly oniony vinegar in your favourite vinaigrettes. Keeps for at least a year!

 

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Pomegranate and Blood Orange Salad with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

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By Corinne

I didn’t realize that eating pomegranates was something people struggled with until I started seeing various videos being posted about the ‘right’ way to peel them, or how to eat them without making a mess. Even still, a shocking number of these videos called for you doing this in a bowl of water? I feel like that seems like more trouble then it needs to be.  I use this method, and always have- though I’ve never really thought of it as being a ‘method’ exactly.

Pomegranates are often a bit pricy, but they are SO pretty and tasty and make such a pretty addition to dinner salads, fruit salads and drinks that I feel they are totally worth it. I also love that they are a bit of work to eat. They also keep amazingly well in the fridge. And even when the outside starts to look a little dried and sad, they are usually still perfect and bright on the inside! They are a good sort of picking at snack… for when you’re not *really* hungry, but looking for a little something.

At least around here, you can generally only find pomegranates in the winter, so they are something I associate with winter salads rather than summer ones.

Time: about 10 minutes

Serves: 2 as a very generous side

Dressing– makes about 1/3 cup of dressing (more than you need for 2 servings)

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup of pomegranate arils
  • 1 blood orange(or regular orange)
  • about 4 cups salad greens
  • a few shavings of a hard sharp aged cheese (parmesan, pecorino, romano, asiago – anything aged and sharp)

Dressing 

  • juice of one or two fresh lemons – you want about 1/4 cup of juice, so it will depend on the juiciness of your lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • several generous grinds of fresh pepper
  • *1 tsp apple cider vinegar if you feel it needs a bit more acid

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Taste your dressing. If you feel like it needs a bit more of an acidic punch, add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar.  Mix greens and dressing (you probably don’t need all of it, but it depends on how dressed you like your salad)

Add dressed greens to bowls and top with pomegranate arils, blood orange slices, a few curls of a sharp salty cheese of your choice and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

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Vegan (or not) Garden Pesto

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By Corinne

Basil is amazing. I am so in love with basil in the summer I can hardly help myself from adding it to everything. Basil in every salad, basil on sandwiches, basil gently rubbed between my fingers just to smell every time I go outside on my deck… Ah! Well, enough with this summer reverie. It’s February and the days (while getting longer) are still short and dark and cold and we’ve just had two weeks of -20C without a break. I’m craving summer in a bad way!

This pesto is infinitely versatile- in the summer I use much more basil than other greens, but in the winter good basil is hard to find and pricy! Tonight when I made it, I used about 15g of basil and 15g of parsley(a small handful of each)- the rest was spicy arugula, so I omitted the pepper.

While I’ve historically always used cheese, I decided to give nutritional yeast a try for this recipe. I probably could have thinned it out a BIT more, but it actually emulsified easier than the cheese version, was smoother, and as a bit of a shock to both myself and my taste tester, was the preferred version!

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Time: under 10 minutes

Makes: about 1/2- 3/4 of a cup 

You will need:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil or other oil of your choice (I used sunflower oil)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, outer skin removed
  • 1 ½ cup(lightly packed down) fresh herbs such as basil, parsley or greens such as spinach, kale or arugula
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt – to taste
  • pepper – to taste

In a food processor or using an immersion blender(I usually use my immersion blender as this is a relatively small batch and I have a large food processor), combine the herbs/greens and garlic and process for 15 seconds.

With the food processor still running, add the oil SLOWLY until the mixture is smooth – you want it to emulsify. The mixture should look almost matte, and not oily. If your pesto looks oily you rushed the emulsification process and added too much oil at once.  You are looking for the mixture to be loose, not chunky but not watery or runny at all.

Add the nutritional yeast or cheese and process for ten seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can see in the picture that I did a better job of emulsifying the one version on the left than the one on the right today. I’m going to blame using a different container than I usually use!

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Toss with warm pasta, put on pizza, spread on a pork tenderloin or chicken… pesto is delightfully easy to use! This will stay good in the fridge for about a week. 

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Quinoa Taco Salad

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By Corinne

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with quinoa as I shared in my post on Lemony Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas. I find it tends to suck the flavour out of things, and isn’t really that exciting on it’s own. Ha, ha, am I selling you on this yet? This really is a wonderful supper full of savoury flavours and delightful textures. I have found that red quinoa seems to have a bit more flavour, and I prefer it for this dish and most others. It is vegan as long as you either use dairy free cheese shreds and either omit or use a dairy free version of sour cream.

This recipe was inspired by one from Thug Kitchen 101- but edited for both additional flavour and simplicity. It could also easily be used as a filling for tacos, or as a topping for nachos 🙂

 

Time: about 35 minutes

Serves: 4 generously

You will need:

  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed (to rinse or not to rinse? I buy mine in bulk so rinse)
  • 1 3/4 cups water or veggie broth (I used veggie broth)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup canned (cooked) black beans
  • 1 large onion, small dice
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1-2 fresh jalapeño, minced (don’t be afraid to use at least one here! The quinoa really does make things less spicy somehow)
  • 2 heads romaine, washed and chopped
  • juice of one lime, + additional lime wedges for each salad
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • tortilla chips
  • garnishes- avocado or guacamole, additional jalapeño, green onions, diced cherry or regular tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheddar or queso fresca

Combine 1 cup quinoa with water or veggie broth. Add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp oregano. Bring to boil, and then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir every few minutes until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy- about 20 min. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a bit more of everything to your taste, or leaving it as is. While quinoa is cooking, prepare vegetables.

Add 2 tbsp oil to pan on medium high heat, and add onion, black beans, bell pepper,  and jalapeño to pan. Fry until veggies are starting to get tender and getting some colour- about 5-7 min. Add cooked quinoa, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro. Stir for an additional minute or two.

Serve hot over lettuce with toppings of your choice. Also delicious cold for lunch the next day!

 

 

Chicken with Chardonnay Cream and Pancetta

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By Corinne

I love cooking with wine! You don’t have to buy a super expensive bottle, but you should buy one that isn’t horrific or that makes you gag. I often use Grey Fox Chardonnay from California for cooking, as it’s inexpensive but also not the worst if you’re going to have a glass to finish the bottle.

This recipe was inspired by one in Niagra Cooks by Lynn Orgryzlo, but has been adapted. I wanted it to be gluten free, with more sauce, and a few less steps. A grainy mustard also works well here, though will give the finished sauce a slightly different texture. I have made it before with 1/2 and 1/2 cream, if you do this, you will need more time for reducing and definitely need to finish by thickening with corn starch.

Time: about 35 minutes

Serves: 4 

You will need:

  • 4 chicken cutlets (about 1.5lbs or 0 .66kg)
  • 4 slices of pancetta, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup (about 1/2 a large onion) finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  •  1.5 cups chardonnay
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp corn starch + 2 tbsp broth, water or wine
  • a few tbsp safflower, or canola oil
  • salt and pepper

Cook pancetta until crisp in the pan you will be cooking the chicken in. Only cook pancetta over medium/medium low. It will get quite smokey if you do it on a higher heat.  Remove pancetta, add butter to pan. Add minced onion, cook until softened and starting to get golden, about 7 min. Add minced garlic and cook for about 1 more minute. Remove onion and garlic from pan, but leave any residual oil.

Add enough oil to the pan so that the bottom is covered in a thin layer. Turn up heat to medium high. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Add chicken to pan, it should sizzle loudly. You want some nice browning action so the pan has to be hot (though it should not be smoking). Cook 3-4 min on each side, turning once, until cooked through. If you are not using cutlets and are using rather thick breasts, brown both sides and then finish in a 400F oven until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F. You may have to cook in batches. Remove when cooked and keep warm in oven.

Add the chardonnay to the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Add the onions you cooked earlier. Let reduce for a few minutes until reduced by about a 1/4. Add chicken or vegetable broth and cream. Allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes. If sauce requires additional thickening, mix together 1/2tbsp corn starch with 2 tbsp broth, wine or water. Mix into sauce.

Serve cutlets with a generous scoop of sauce, and a piece of pancetta crumbled over top. Delicious sides that go well with this sauce include rice and almost any vegetable, though tonight I made twice baked broccoli potatoes- which also worked well 🙂

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Maple Balsamic Slaw and Sausage

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By Corinne

If ‘coleslaw’ makes you think of mayo- banish it from your mind!  This is not your mayo based coleslaw for sure. Red cabbage is beautiful, inexpensive and an excellent source of vitamins C, K, and A. You could do all red cabbage for this slaw, or all green if that’s all you can find, but I like a combination of the two for the colours. In the middle of winter it can be difficult to find good produce that is reasonably priced. This colourful meal checks a number of boxes- easy, fast, healthy and economical!

RANDOM SCIENCE FACTS AND FUN HOME LAB FOR KIDS– skip this and scroll down if you want to straight to the foods!

You can also make an AWESOME natural indicator with red cabbage. An indicator is a substance that changes colour depending on pH. Red cabbage contains a pigment molecule that is an anthocyanin- this is what is responsible for the colour changes. Want a fun little science lab you can do at home?  I have done the following MANY times with my science students. I usually have them test a variety of ‘mystery liquids’ with both pH strips and a few drops of the red cabbage indicator. They are always surprised with the variety and brightness of the colours produced.

To make the indicator, boil some chopped red cabbage(about a cup or cup and a half) with a half a cup of water for about 5 minutes- it doesn’t matter too much proportions, but you want to end up with a dark purple liquid – that being said, the colour of the liquid will very much depend on the pH of your tap water and how close to neutral your  water is. Strain and cool (keep tightly sealed in the fridge) Once cooled, you can test a variety of household substances.

Start with something you know is acidic- lemon juice or vinegar and something you know is basic- bleach for example, so you have a baseline and know what colours to expect from acids and bases. In science class we use spot plates and pipettes, but you can just place a few drops of your testing liquid onto a plate. You want just a few drops of the substance you are testing, and then place a few drops of your indicator into it and record your observations.

If you drip this liquid into a substance that is basic, it will turn green, and if you drip it into an acid it turns bright pink. (Neutral solutions will stay purple). Have fun checking a variety of household liquids!

Time: 40 minutes for the sausages, about 15 minutes for the slaw or less if you are using a food processor.

Oven: 400F

Serves: 2-3

You will need:

  • 350 g (about 4 cups) red cabbage thinly sliced
  • 200 g (about 3 cups) green cabbage thinly sliced
  • 140 g (1 large) carrot grated
  • 3 salt and pepper sausages (can be found at Maltese if you are in Thunder Bay) or 3 mildly flavoured sausages of your choice
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) safflower or olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp (37 ml) pure maple syrup (don’t use maple flavoured whatever!)
  • 1/2 tbsp (7 ml) toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) smooth dijon mustard
  • 1/2 shallot, finely minced (about 1.5 tbsp)
  • 1 clove of garlic finely minced
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper

Heat oven to 400F while you make the dressing.

Whisk together all dressing ingredients. This makes about 1 cup of dressing.

Thinly slice cabbages and grate carrot. I used a food processor today, but have often just sliced by hand. Dress slaw in half of the dressing and refrigerate and reserve the other half of the dressing. (This is fine made ahead, but ensure you don’t add the toasted sesame seeds until serving)

Add 1 additional clove of garlic to the reserved dressing. Place sausages in a small casserole dish with the half cup of reserved dressing. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping them over periodically and basting in the dressing.

In a small frying pan, add the sesame seeds and toast over medium heat, shaking them up until golden- about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Add a generous amount slaw to each plate. When sausage is thoroughly cooked, slice on the bias and place on top of slaw. Sprinkle with a teaspoon or two of toasted sesame seeds.

 

Chorizo and Chickpea Stew

By Corinne

I actually bought the chorizo with the intent of making something totally different with it. But then the weather turned from crisp and sunny and fall to drizzle and wet snow and I needed soup immediately.

This soup gets a lot of the flavour from the chorizo, so make sure you find a good one that you like.

Time: about 10 minutes prep 45-55 minutes simmer total

Makes: 4 servings

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You will need:

  • 1 onion, small dice
  • 1-2 stalks of celery, small dice
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (28fl oz/796ml)
  • 1 tsp smoked or hot paprika
  • 1 cup rinsed and drained chickpeas
  • 1 chorizo sausage, sliced into thin half moons
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add onion, celery, and sliced chorizo to a heavy bottomed pot. Add 1-2 tsp of oil or butter if necessary. Cook on medium heat until vegetables and sausage are slightly browed- about 7 minutes.  Add 2 cloves minced garlic and cook for one more minute.

Add the can of tomatoes. Add a can and a half of water to the pot. Add the 1 tsp paprika. and the 1 cup of chickpeas.

Let simmer for 35 minutes (or longer if you have time!  You may need to add more water if you let it simmer longer)

Add three cups of shredded cabbage. Allow to simmer for another 15-20 minutes until cabbage is translucent and softened. Serve with fresh crusty bread.