Who needs a recipe! Sort-of braised garlic pasta

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By Corinne

This is one of my go-to pasta recipes. I’ve never posted it because I’ve never measured anything and I really do use whatever I happen to have handy in terms of herbs. In the summer I use a generous amount of fresh herbs and sometimes omit the dried ones entirely.

This recipe is a great chance to experiment with flavoured oils or vinegars as well as with herbs. If substituting a flavoured oil, I recommend only substituting 1-2 tbsp rather than the whole 1/4 cup. I also like using a full 1/4 cup of balsamic, but it really does depend on the balsamic you are using- start with the smaller amount and increase according to taste.

What is Braising? 

Braising is a combination cooking method where both dry and moist cooking techniques are used. Usually it involves browning meat in a pan with a bit of oil (dry cooking) and then cooking in a broth, or wine for a long time over a low temperature (moist cooking). You CAN actually braise garlic- you saute it first and then usually finish it by cooking in cream until garlic is tender. Garlic prepared this way is usually used for soups, creamy sauces or mashed potatoes. Technically, the garlic in this recipe isn’t braised, because there’s no ‘moist cooking’ component, but it borrows from the ‘low and slow’ technique used in braising. 

Time: about 20 minutes start to finish – everything should be done by the time your pasta water has boiled and your pasta has cooked (unless you have a crazy induction cooktop and your water boils in 2 minutes)

Serves: 2 people who like pasta 🙂

You will need:

  • 2 cups (uncooked) of your favourite smallish pasta that will hold onto the minimal ingredients for this recipe. I love conchiglie (small shells) or cappelletti (little hats)
  • ¼ cup of olive oil, or a mix of olive and canola, or a mix of a flavoured olive oil and regular
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp each dried oregano, basil, thyme – or any mix of herbs you like
  • About 1 ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  •  2 -4 tbsp, depending on the flavour of the balsamic being used
  • Additional generous handful of fresh herbs to finish-flat leaf parsley, basil, whatever you have from the garden!

Over low heat, braise the garlic in the oil. DO NOT brown the garlic. You want this cooked over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Garlic should be soft, mild flavoured and fragrant.

Grate cheese and set aside.

While garlic is cooking, prepare pasta according to directions(remember to season your water!)

About 1 minute before the pasta is cooked, add the dried herbs to the garlic and oil.

**This part you need to work fast! The heat from the pasta is what melts the cheese.

Drain the pasta, add the garlic, oil and herbs, fresh herbs to the pasta and give a quick stir. Sprinkle the grated cheese in, stirring as you do so you don’t end up with a big ‘clump’.

When cheese has melted, add the vinegar.

Sprinkle with additional fresh herbs.

 

 

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Egg Salad with Pickled Celery and Dill

By: Julie

Serves:  About 3 cups.

Time:  15min plus egg boiling time.

I dreamed this up on the way home from the grocery store while starving, eating Triskets (olive oil and black pepper of course) right out of the box, and praying that the baby wouldn’t wake up before I had access to a bottle warmer and the remote control.  I thought: you know what this trisket needs?  Some egg.  And some dill.  And maybe a little mustard.  Oh, and that super crunch pickled celery that I put in my potato salad, yep, that’s what it needs.  So I went home and immediately boiled the eggs… and then everything descended into pandemonium and the eggs got put in the fridge and forgotten.  Fast forward to the next day – 20180906_115127_HDR eating triskets directly from the box, again, and I thought, you know what this trisket needs?  Some egg!  These are a great replacement for making deviled egg appetizers for your next get-together.  It will really hide the fact that you’ve completely messed up the eggs during the peeling process and that it’s impossible to fit all of the filling back into the eggs.  You can make this in record time and they look beautiful.  If you’re making sandwiches instead, I like them toasted on plain old sandwich bread.

If you don’t like dill (yes mom, I am talking to you), there is still a ton of flavor here with out it.

You Will Need:

  • 5 hard boiled eggs (the original plan was for six, but the snack fairy stole one in the night).  roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (can substitute mayo)
  • OPTIONAL – 1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped plus 1 TBSP for garnish.
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 heaping Tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 Tbsp onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

First, chop the celery, place in a small bowl and add the vinegar, water, kosher salt and sugar.  Give it a good stir and set aside.  This needs to soak for at least 10 min.  Stir occasionally.

I like chunky egg salad, so I just roughly chop the eggs and place in a medium bowl.  Add the yogurt, dill, black pepper, mustard, onion and stir gently until combined.  Remove celery from brine but RESERVE BRINE!  Add celery, stir, and taste.  Add 1 – 2 tsp of the celery brine, tasting between each addition.  It’s salty so be careful!

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This makes 4 healthy sized sandwiches or about 30 crackers.  For the crackers I used about a Tbsp for each and put a sprig of dill on the top.  I’d like to say I made these for company, but really I had them for lunch and then hid the rest in the back of the fridge to share with NO ONE so I could eat it all the next day.

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Vegan chickpea and white bean “Chicken” Parmesan

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By Corinne

These aren’t chicken. They don’t taste like chicken and they don’t feel sad about it and neither should you. They really aren’t even trying to be chicken, they are just their own delightful thing that happened to be inspired by a dish usually made with chicken.  They are crispy on the outside, tender and spiced on the inside and you will be making this again.

While tofu is the standard vegan/vegetarian meat substitute, I just don’t love it. I feel like it doesn’t really have anything going for it in the flavour or the texture department. So in searching for a reasonable substitute that wasn’t a highly processed, already premade thing, I managed to come up with these. They are delicious. I mean. I of course had to taste to adjust seasoning… but may have done more tasting than strictly necessary before even breading and frying them.

Time: about 40 minutes

Serves: makes 4-5 servings

Oven: 450F

You will need:

For “chicken”

  • 1 cup white navy beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley + more for garnish
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or olive oil + 1tbsp additional for brushing
  • 1/2 cup high gluten flour (80%)
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • canola oil or vegetable oil for frying
  • vegan mozzarella cheese, or regular mozza if you’re just feeling vegetarian rather than vegan
  • about 1/2 cup of your favourite marinara sauce

For breading

  • 1 cup panko
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • several grinds of fresh pepper

Add chickpeas, navy beans, garlic, shallot, fresh parsley, nutritional yeast, basil, oregano, thyme, panko, vegetable broth, and 2 tbsp oil to a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until ingredients are combined.

 

Remove mixture to a large bowl and add 1/2 cup of high gluten flour. Mix together and knead it a bit. At this point, if you wish, you can wrap in plastic and leave overnight in the fridge. Letting the mixture rest does seem to give it an easier to work with texture(tends to stick together a bit more and is easier to flip when frying) but is not strictly necessary.

Mix breading ingredients together. A pie plate works great for this, but a shallow bowl will work as well.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. You want the oil to be hot enough that there is vigorous bubbling when you drop some crumbs in. If your oil is too cold, your patties won’t get that nice crisp crust and will be somewhat soggy and oily.

Divide bean dough depending on how large you would like your patties to be. I find if you do larger patties, they look more like chicken breasts, but smaller patties cook and flip a little better. So- say 8 if you want smaller patties, and 5 if you want larger ones.  Press them into an ovalish patty shape. Brush each side with the reserved oil and then place into the crumb dish. Firmly press breading onto both sides and around the edges of the patty.

 

Pan fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping once. Remove to a baking pan. When all patties are golden, top each with 1-2 tbsp of your favourite marinara (don’t spread it around,  you want those edges to stay crisp) and then top that with the cheese or cheese product of your choice. Bake in a 450F oven for 10 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is warm.

 

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!

 

Fast and Easy Vegan Mini Batch Cinnamon Rolls

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By Corinne

These are an adaptation of a recipe I’ve used for my hospitality class. They make a perfectly acceptable cinnamon roll, even if you aren’t vegan. While they don’t have the richness of a yeast based recipe, the fact you can make them on a whim makes them totally worth it.

I personally prefer mine without icing, as I find them sweet enough. But the icing is good, especially if you make it with a liquor instead of non-dairy milk.

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Makes: 6 rolls

Time: prep 10 minutes or less, bake 15 min, total 25 minutes

You will need

  • ¾ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (divided)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt (pinch of salt)
  • 5 tablespoons non-dairy milk (75 mL)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8th tsp salt (pinch of salt)
  • 2 tbsp chopped, toasted pecans (if desired)

ICING

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of non dairy milk (OR a liquor of your choice you think will go well with cinnamon- I like grand marnier!)

Preheat oven to 375 . Spray muffin tins (6) if you are worried about sticking. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of white sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Stir until combined. Keep separate until later!

In a separate bowl, combine flour, 1 tablespoon white sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir. 

In a separate bowl, combine milk, vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the melted coconut oil.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until a sticky dough forms.

Lightly flour the counter. Knead the dough until no longer sticky.

Roll out into a rectangle about 6 inches (15 cm) long and about 4 inches wide. Brush 2 tablespoons of coconut oil onto the dough and spread it out. Now you get to use the sugars! Sprinkle sugars and cinnamon on top of dough. Sprinkle toasted nuts on if using. 

Roll up dough lengthwise, pinch the seam together and cut into 6 equal pieces. Place each piece in a muffin pan, brush with the last of the melted coconut oil.

Bake for 14 – 15 minutes in muffin pan.

Mix powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon of milk(or liquor!) and stir until combined. Frost the rolls.

Tabbouleh

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By Corinne

Tabbouleh is a delightfully simple and filling salad. It is traditionally made with just bulgur, but can be made with cous cous or can be made gluten free by using just quinoa.

I am a bit in love with this little box of quinoa and bulgur mix from Presidents Choice- though I recommend using vegetable (or chicken) broth to cook the bulgur/quinoa, and only using 2 cups of liquid rather than the 2 1/4 cups recommended on the box.

Serves: makes about 4 1/2 cups of salad

Time: about 20 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 box President’s Choice Blue Menu Bulgur and Quinoa Blend (225g) or 1 cup red quinoa or bulgur or cous cous- cook as needed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 1/2  cup fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley, minced (about half of a large bunch)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, minced
  • 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red onion, small dice or minced
  • 2 large clove minced garlic
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or sunflower oil)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Bring 2 cups of vegetable broth(or water) to boil and add quinoa and bulgur. Return to boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until tender. Allow to cool.

Mince parsley, mint, garlic, and onion. Add to large bowl. Quarter cherry tomatoes and add to bowl. Add the juice of three lemons and the 1/4 cup of olive oil to bowl. Season generously with pepper. If you used just water to cook the bulgur/quinoa rather than vegetable broth, also season with salt.

When bulgur/quinoa mix has cooled, add to the bowl with the other ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Good served immediately, or can be made the day before serving.

 

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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