Summer Garden Pesto Stirfry

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By Corinne

This is a bit of a garden miscellany recipe that will work with whatever fresh veggies you have, in basically any amounts that you have them! Don’t have snow peas? Use snap peas instead. No chard? Try kale or spinach. No garlic scapes? Use some fresh garlic at the end- or if your pesto is quite garlicky, pass on the garlic altogether! You can serve it on it’s own finished with a drizzle of balsamic as a side dish, served on top of rice, or mixed into pasta.

 

Time: about 15 minutes

You will need: some mix of the following, though substitute according to availability!

  • about 10 oz, 300g cherry tomatoes *
  • 3-5 leaves of chard
  • small/medium zucchini
  • 1 cup of snow peas
  • a few garlic scapes if you have them!
  • 2-4 tbsp of your favourite jarred pesto
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated asiago or parm
  • drizzle of good quality balsamic to finish
  • 1 tbsp of canola, olive oil or butter
  • rice or pasta for serving if desired

If making rice- prepare first.

Add oil to large pan on medium/high heat. Chop zucchini into thin rounds or half moons. If the peas you are using are large, you can halve them, otherwise leave them whole. Trim flower end from garlic scapes if it seems tough or dry, then give a quick chop into small pieces. Thinly slice chard. Add vegetables to pan in the following approximate order, giving them a minute or two in the hot pan before adding the next ingredient. First tomatoes, then peas, followed by zucchini. When these veg are getting hot and a bit softened and maybe browned, add the scapes. When veggies are done to your taste- I like things more crisp, but to each his own so cook accordingly, add a few tbsp of your favourite pesto and stir until all veg are covered. Add the chard and cook 1-2 more minutes until still bright but softened.

Finish by adding the fresh grated cheese and a drizzle of balsamic.

*note- if your cherry tomatoes haven’t ‘burst’ while cooking (which is fine) be careful when you eat them as they will be hot juicy tomato bombs if you pop them into your mouth whole!

Cherry Clafoutis

 

20170704_121119By Corinne

What is clafoutis? It’s traditionally a French dessert (but I love it for breakfast!). I don’t even know how to properly describe it- it’s somewhat like a custardy dense cake that’s full of delicious fruit. In any case, it whips together so quickly that you can have it ready to go by the time your oven is preheated.

Clafoutis is one of those magical dishes that can work for either breakfast or dessert. If you want to finish it with some powdered sugar, or even some whipped cream, or ice cream to make it dessert then go for it! I tend to make it for breakfast, and because I am impatient and hungry I’ve almost always eaten it hot right out of the oven, though traditionally it’s served room temperature or chilled.

Speaking of tradish, if you want to not pit your cherries, that’s actually the traditional way to make a cherry clafoutis. I’ve done it both ways, apparently leaving the pits in is supposed to impart a subtle almond flavour, but I’ve never noticed a difference and prefer to pit my cherries even though it’s a little more prep. Totally up to you!

Serves: 4 for breakfast, 8 for dessert

Time: prep/preheat 10 min(400F), bake 25-35 min depending on baking dish used.

You will need:

  • generous 2 cups of cherries, pitted or not as you wish 🙂
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp melted butter, cooled slightly, plus more to butter dish
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp spiced rum or amaretto

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9-10 inch glass pie plate, or stoneware pie plate (what I used in the pictures) or a cast iron skillet. Baking time will depend on what dish you use- and whether it’s nine or ten inches. I find using a glass pie plate only takes 25 min, while using my stoneware pie plate takes 35 min.

Pit your cherries if you wish, and put them in the buttered dish.

Melt butter in microwave and set aside. For the rest of the instructions you can either whisk by hand or use a mixer, I do either depending on how I’m feeling that day :). Whisk 3 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until thoroughly combined. Then gradually add the butter, whisking until it’s incorporated. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. Finally, add the tbsp of spiced rum. The batter should be very smooth.

Pour the batter over the cherries and pop into the oven. Check at 25 min. Give the pan a little jiggle, if your clafoutis wobbles give it some more time. When it’s finished it should be slightly browned and almost set in the middle. By almost set, I mean when you give the pan a shake there should only be a little wobble in the very middle. If you find it’s browning too much on top, throw a piece of tinfoil lightly over the top until it’s finished.

Serve room temperature or chilled, or hot out of the oven if you just can’t wait 🙂

Hominy with Kale and Chicken

By Corinne

Living here in the great white north I’ve only recently been introduced to hominy.  After a bit of looking around on the internet, it seems like canned hominy is easy to find and can usually be found near beans in the grocery store. Most sources recommended using canned rather than dried, and if you can find them, it will certainly save them a step. If you’re living in Thunder Bay, I haven’t found canned hominy anywhere (though word on the street is that Bulk Zone has brought in some canned hominy now!) and the only place I’ve found whole dried hominy is Renco’s Foods on Court St.

Once you’ve figured out the hominy part, this is an easy supper.

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Time: about 35-45 minutes (depends on the thickness of the chicken you are cooking)

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cups of hominy* (rehydrated and cooked) or probably one can drained will do
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 6 cups of washed and finely chopped kale leaves – no stems
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes (I used mini san marzano because they are my fav)
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes, or one crumbled red chili
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Juice of one fresh lemon
  • 1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth. I used white wine.
  • Salt and pepper

*If you can find canned hominy, by all means, use that. If using dried hominy, start this recipe the day before by cooking the hominy. I skipped the soaking overnight step and cooked it in the slow cooker on low overnight. It still took until early afternoon before kernels were tender and had popped. I cooked the whole bag of dried hominy and froze what I didn’t use in two cup portions so that I won’t have to do this step again for a while.

In a large pan heat 1 tbsp canola over medium heat. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and add to pan. If your chicken breasts are quite thick, you may wish to cut them in half to reduce cooking time. Cook for about 15-20 minutes (depending on the thickness of your chicken) until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken from pan.

Add 1 tbsp canola to the pan and turn up the heat a bit to medium high. Add the hominy and stir and cook for about 10 minutes until some of it is getting a bit browned on the edges. Add the onion and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Slice the chicken breasts and add back to pan with the other ingredients. Add the chili flakes, thyme, garlic and kale. Add the white wine and the lemon juice. Stir until chicken is reheated,  kale has wilted and the liquid has been mostly absorbed, about 5-7 minutes. Some of the tomatoes may have just started to break down, that’s ok, but if they’re all still whole that’s ok too. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper.

Growing Sprouts

By Corinne

I don’t remember what originally inspired me to grow my own sprouts, but it’s so easy and economical that I’m continually surprised it’s not more popular. Why should  you bother? Well, other than being simple and cheap, it’s also fun, and it seems like it would be a fun thing to do with kids. In terms of effort, its only a few seconds a day, and no matter how many times I’ve done it, I’m still amazed at the changes you see everyday. Once they are ready to eat, sprouts are a yummy addition to salads and wraps, or really anywhere where you might use lettuce.

In terms of nutritional benefits, it seems sprouts may have beneficial enzymes that are part of this early growth. If you do a little googling, there are a lot of claims about just how amazing sprouts are, however, I’m a little skeptical of some of them since few of the sites making these claims back them up with any sort of evidence, references, or studies. That being said,  a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables is well established as being beneficial, and sprouts are a fun way to get a little more variation.

There are a few cautions though – it is important to source seeds that are meant for sprouting and raw consumption. Often seeds meant for planting in the garden are treated with fungicides and other things that you don’t want to be eating, or can even potentially be contaminated with salmonella. I order my seeds from Mumm’s, though there are certainly other reputable sites.  My favourite mixes of seeds I’ve tried so far are Spicy Lentil Crunch mix and Crunchy Bean mix.

Equipment

You can buy a special sprouting jar, tray or sprouting bag. But you really don’t need to. If you buy a sprouting jar it will come with a mesh top, but an elastic and piece of cheesecloth work just as well. I use a 1L jar (2 pint), you can use a smaller one, but ensure you reduce the amount of seeds you put in. A wide mouth jar would probably be a good idea, though I generally don’t have too much trouble getting them out of the one I use.

Process

The amount of time it takes to get your sprouts to edible form depends a bit on the type of seeds. Most packages will give you both instructions for sprouting and the number of days it will take to sprout. In general, many are about 5 days, though some seeds take less time, others take more. General directions and helpful hints below.

Step 1. Place 2 tbsp of sprouting seeds into a 1L jar. Cover top of jar with cheesecloth and secure with an elastic. Cover with water and allow to soak overnight or for 6-8 hours.

Step 2. Drain water and refill with cold water, swirling seeds around to rinse and drain again. If there are a lot of seeds stuck to the cheesecloth, just give them a little flick with your finger to knock them down. Sort of roll the seeds around in the jar so they aren’t all clumped up together- as seen in the middle photo below. Lay the jar on an angle and place it out of direct sunlight.

Step 3. Rinse and drain sprouts twice a day for the next 4-6 days, leaving jar at an angle between rinsing.  For the last day of sprouting you may wish to place the jar somewhere it will get sun for a few hours for the sprouts to green up.

Step 4. When your sprouts are ready for eating, take the cheese cloth off and rinse and discard the seed hulls. Depending on your jar, you may find it easier to put sprouts into a large bowl and skim the hulls off the top. You don’t need to worry about getting them all.

Step 5. Allow sprouts to dry for a few minutes on a clean cloth or piece of paper towel. They can be stored in a covered container with a piece of paper towel in the bottom. They are best if eaten sooner rather than later – I often plan to use them the day I know they will be ready, but they can be stored in the fridge for about 3 days.

As you can see in the above photo, 2 tbsp of seeds made a lot of sprouts, about 4 cups as they are really packed into that jar!  I probably could have let them grow for another day, but I wanted to use them in Harissa Chicken Wraps with Hummus.

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The photos above are all of the Spicy Lentil Crunch mix. Below are photos featuring the Crunchy Bean mix.

Harissa Chicken Wraps with Hummus

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By Corinne

I am generally not one for buying spice blends, though I do enjoy when my friends visit exotic places and bring them back for me! Harissa is a Tunisian (though variants are found throughout north Africa and the Mediterranean) blend of of chilies, garlic and other spices such as mint. It’s often found as a paste rather than as the dry spice blend and either will work in this recipe. I picked up this Harissa blend on a bit of a whim, though I did receive a cookbook for Christmas that calls for harissa in a few recipes. I made my own wraps for this, but you can certainly use store bought tortillas or pita breads.

Makes: about 6-8 wraps

Time: about 30 minutes, more if you make your own flatbreads

You will need:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • about 1 tbsp of harissa spice blend
  • about 3/4 cup of hummus (mine was very garlicky!)
  • veggies you like- I used sprouts, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber and red onion- other options might include red peppers, lettuce, baby spinach, mushrooms or any other veg you like in a wrap
  • wraps or pitas (I found this was enough chicken to make about 7-8 wraps, but I used a lot of veg in my wraps) I used Homemade Flour Tortillas, but certainly store bought is fine

Sprinkle both sides of chicken with harissa spice. I cut my chicken breasts in half lengthwise as they were fairly thick and I wanted to reduce the cooking time. Set chicken aside and allow to marinate for a bit while you prep any of your veggies you will be using with your wraps.

Add a little oil to pan if necessary. Add chicken to pan and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side.  When chicken is fully cooked, remove from pan and slice into pieces about 1/2 inch thick. Since these wraps are delightful with the chicken warm or cold, you could certainly prep the chicken the day before, and they are awesome for lunch the next day.

To assemble, spread about 2 tbsp of hummus on centre of wrap (or more or less as you like it!) and place chicken and veggies of your choice down the middle. Fold up from the bottom, then wrap both sides around. You can pin it all together with a toothpick.

 

 

 

 

Pesto Tortellini bites

By Corinne

This appetizer has a short ingredient list, but is big on flavours. They come together quickly and can be prepared the day before your party if desired.

Makes: about 25-27 skewers with 3 tortellini each if you use the whole package

Time: about 10 minutes to cook pasta, assembly depends on how many you decide to make. It took me about 10 minutes to put together about 20.

You will need:

  • 350g rainbow tortellini (or plain will also work)
  • 3 tbsp of pesto
  • seasoned sundried tomatoes in oil
  • bamboo skewers or toothpicks

Cook tortellini according to package directions- if using fresh tortellini, usually the boiling time is only 2-3 minutes. Do not over cook. Drain and stir in a generous 3 tbsp of pesto. Let cool completely. This part can be done the day before if desired.

Slide a tortellini, piece of sundried tomato, tortellini, piece of sundried tomato and tortellini onto wooden or bamboo skewers. Repeat. That’s it. You’re done.

These can be prepped the day before and stored in an airtight container overnight if needed. I usually serve these cold, though they are certainly good heated.

Rum and Eggnog Bread

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By Corinne

Rum and eggnog is perhaps the quintessential Christmas holiday drink. I felt like they would make a good match in a quick loaf, but unfortunately all the recipes I looked through either called for vanilla pudding mix or edible oil product flavoured coffee creamer, or only used artificial rum extract. Was it not possible to make a loaf with just… egg nog and… actual rum? It turns out that it is 🙂

And since you have the rum and eggnog and nutmeg out already, you know, you may as well make yourself a drink while you’re waiting for this to come out of the oven.

Makes: 1 loaf

Oven: 350F

Time: prep 10 minutes, bake 40-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean – baking time will depend a bit on the type of pan you use, and your individual oven. Check at 40 minutes – mine took 50 minutes.

You will need:

For the bread:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup spiced rum
  • 3/4 cup egg nog
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 2 tbsp spiced rum
  • 2 tsp egg nog
  • pinch of ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Using either a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add 2 eggs, 1/4 cup spiced rum, 3/4 cup egg nog and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the butter and sugar and mix until thoroughly combined.

Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir together with a spoon until just combined. Batter should be lumpy. Pour into a lightly greased loaf pan.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 40-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Turn out and allow to cool completely before glazing.

For glaze, sift powdered sugar, and whisk in 2 tsp eggnog, 2 tbsp spiced rum, and a pinch of nutmeg. Drizzle over cooled loaf.