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!

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Black Bean Dip

By Corinne

Cilantro seems to be one of those things that people like or REALLY dislike. The people who like it always seem to like it a lot. To me, cilantro tastes fresh and almost a bit citrusy. The people who hate it usually describe it as tasting like soap. That all being said, this black bean dip is for sure for the cilantro lovers! The ingredient list is short, and it’s a nice complement to salsa.

Time: 5 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • a generous handful of cilantro including stems-see photo below for an idea of how much- you could of course use less if that is your preference
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • juice of two limes

Drain and rinse the black beans. Give the cilantro a rinse, but don’t worry about drying it. Add beans, cilantro, 1-2 cloves of garlic, and the juice of two limes to a food processor and pulse until combined. Serve with bread or tortilla chips, or as a yummy spread on a wrap (think the way you might use hummus). This is fine made the day before, but doesn’t keep well for more than a few days because of the mass of cilantro. I used canned beans, which I usually find salty enough, but if you are using dried beans that you’ve rehydrated, you may wish to add salt.

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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 🙂

Roasted Fiddleheads with Garlic and Parmesan

By Corinne

Fiddleheads are a special spring treat. They require some work and a bit of prep, but it’s extra satisfying eating something that you’ve collected yourself. This recipe is a delicious side for anything you’ve made on the bbq.

As with anything collected from the wild, it’s important to be able to properly identify what it is you are picking. There are photos and some tips here, as well as preparation instructions.

Fiddleheads need to be thoroughly washed and require boiling before cooking by another method- again, see this post for details.

Makes: about 3 servings

Time: about 20 minutes- though it depends on if you have already prepped your fiddleheads. If using fiddleheads that are frozen and pre boiled, or fresh prepped and boiled the time is about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450F

You will need:

  • 4 cups of washed and boiled fiddleheads
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste (I find with the salty cheese I generally don’t add any additional salt- though I do enjoy a generous grind of fresh pepper

Preheat oven to 450F. Melt butter and mix together minced garlic, parsley and butter. Place prepared fiddleheads on a sheet and toss with butter/garlic mixture.

Place in 450F oven for ten minutes. After ten minutes, remove from oven and flip fiddleheads. Sprinkle cheese overtop and return to oven for an additional 5-7 minutes.

Serve with anything you like! If you have leftovers, they are delicious in an omelet the next day 🙂

 

 

Pasta with Shrimp (or without!) in Tomato White Wine Sauce

By Corinne

If you live in Thunder Bay and haven’t tried Big Lake Pasta you should track some down at your earliest convenience. This pasta dish could probably be made with any pasta, but the Saffron Campanelle really did give it an extra something special.

Speaking of special, you may have noticed a real lack of fish and seafood posts from me on this blog. That’s because when I make them, it’s only as something special for my husband or company that I really love as I have a fairly severe allergy to them. Full disclosure, I was told that the shrimp were really good, but I didn’t (and can’t) actually taste them myself. I have the feeling that three of these large prawns would have been a fine serving, but since it’s a special treat, hubby got all six. Obviously this isn’t vegetarian if you use shrimp, but I ate it without and didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

Serves: 4 (though you would need more shrimp for 4 people, there is enough pasta and sauce for 4)

Time: about 1 hour including simmering time for sauce

You will need:

  • 1 medium/large onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 dried chili pepper or about 1/2-1tsp of chili flakes
  • 2 cups of white wine (preferably dry, preferably Chardonnay)
  • 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped for garnish
  • wedges of fresh lemon
  • 350g fresh pasta, preferably Big Lake Saffron Campanelle

For the shrimps – I used tiger prawns and serving size will depend on the size of your shrimp!

I used this amount of butter/spice mixture for 6 large tiger prawns (probably 2 servings)

  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 large clove of garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp minced flat leaf parsley

In a large pot over medium heat, add about 2 tbsp olive or canola oil. Add the onion to this and stir around for about 10 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and chili pepper and stir for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add 2 cups of white wine, slowly at first to scrape up any browned bits from the pan. Then add the can of tomatoes and paprika. Allow to simmer for about 45min to 1hr. Taste after simmering for a while, and add salt and pepper to taste.

While sauce is simmering, prep the butter mixture for the shrimp. Rinse and clean shrimp if necessary and slide onto bamboo skewers. Baste with butter sauce before putting on BBQ, and if you have enough, one more time when you flip them over.

The shrimp will take less than 10 minutes on the bbq, so when you are ready to put your pasta in the boiling water that would be the time to put them on.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped herbs (parsley or basil) and squeeze a wedge of lemon over just before serving.

 

 

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.

Three Cheese Spinach Dip

By Corinne

With the holiday season quickly approaching, it seems everyone is having a party. What do the best parties include? Amazing apps of course – oh, and of course wonderful company, music, etc. But back to the food. Appetizers of all sorts abound in the Christmas season, and at the suggestion of a friend, I’ve decided to round up some of my favourites over the coming week.

This spinach dip is easily my favourite hot dip. One of the things I love about it is that even once it cools down, it’s still amazing, though it rarely lasts long enough to cool on the table! Speaking of cool though, if you’re looking for a non-heated dip, smokey caramelized bacon dip is amazing, can be prepared a few days in advance, and won’t take up any precious pre-party oven space.

If you’re feeling as though there is already quite enough cheese in the dip itself, you can skip topping with additional cheddar but unless you have a really good reason you shouldn’t skip it! Just stir twice in the same amount of baking time.

I always make a double batch of this dip and freeze half of it as it reheats well. It can be prepared a few days ahead (without the heating step!) and then popped in the oven when needed.

Time: Prep 10 min* bake 25 min

*depends on if you are using a food processor or hand mincing and mixing all ingredients. 10 minutes with food processor, at least 2o without.

Oven: 400F

You will need:

  • 1 package of frozen chopped spinach (300g package)
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup minced red pepper
  • 2 250g pkg of cream cheese (2 cups)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup grated fresh asiago or parmesan
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar + more for topping
  • 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp cayenne

Thaw and drain frozen spinach, squeezing out all excess moisture.

Using a food processor, mince 1/2 cup of red onion and remove from processor. Mince 1/2 cup red pepper (about half of a pepper) and remove from processor. Add 2 bricks of cream cheese and 1 cup of sour cream and the cayenne pepper to the food processor. Process until smooth. Add 3/4 cup grated cheddar and 3/4 cup asiago and the drained spinach. Pulse in food processor until mixed.

Remove spinach and cheese mixture from processor and stir in the red onion and red pepper by hand to avoid over processing them.

Portion into  two oven safe dishes and bake uncovered for 15 minutes at 400F. If you portion the whole amount into one dish, the baking time with be longer. Baking time is accounting for the dip being portioned into two dishes.

At 15 min, stir the dip and top with a generous portion of grated cheddar.

Return to oven for another 10 minutes or until cheese on top is melted and bubbly.

Serve hot from the oven with pita bread or tortilla chips.

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