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.
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: Basil Polenta with Roasted Spinach and Tomatoes.
Its a scorching hot and humid summer heatwave, the 7th day in a row, and you just spent your day traveling to and from work in an hot steamy airless packed subway and bus. There is a respite for a few hours at work, thankfully there is AC there. When you do get home you strip and plop yourself on the couch with your fan on High aimed right at you because you only have AC in the bedroom. After 30 minutes of ‘chillin’ a horrible thought comes to mind: there is NO WAY I am cooking dinner but what am I going to eat? Panic stricken, you remember to reach for the new practical book you just got: The No Cook No Bake Cookbook!
Quite another milestone! June 14th was my 6th Blogiversary. Every year I am so grateful and surprised to see how my passion for food and desire to share my discoveries only gets stronger and stronger. I am so proud to be part of this great community of friends and food lovers. And I enjoy discovering what others are concocting in their kitchen just as much…it is an endless source of inspiration. You are all amazing. And thank you for every visit to my blog and all the amazing comments you leave.
This year the celebration will be low key. No elaborate dish, no giveaway, no major fanfare. I have been fighting a bronchitis (again) for the past 2 weeks so I have not spent a lot of time in the kitchen. But what I would like to share with you is something possibly new to you. After all I think that is what I do best: try to get people to step outside of their safe food box.
Wow we are already in the month of March. And in less then a week we are going into daylight savings time. Does that mean winter is almost over? Another reason to make me smile is that 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.
I really enjoyed my pick this month and I have to say I have a lot of respect for her too, she is a very courageous woman. My assigned blog was Biting Life which is written by Miranda. She loves to read, has a great supportive boyfriend and, lucky girl, has her dream job as an editorial assistant at a publishing company (do you take cookbook submissions lol?).
Miranda’s blog focuses a lot on eating healthy and she used this blog to help her eat well and sucessfully loose weight. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with a disability some time back which pretty much limits her capacity to exercise as it can bring on a lot of pain. She writes extensively on her disability Heel Pad Syndrome and I urge you to go check it out.
The great thing is this does not stop her from living life to the max and enjoying things she loves…like food. I was very tempted by several of her recipes. My first choices were a Beer Caramel Sauce, an Orange Beef and a yummy Vegetable Moo Goo Gai Pan.
But I went with the Quinoa Vegetable Soup finally because I always say I have to eat more quinoa. It’s one of those things I like but then I forget they exist. Quinoa originated in the Andean Mountain range and the words comes from the native tongue Quechua, kinwa. The Incas considered this crop to be sacred and called it the “mother of all grains”.
And they had good reason to hold it so dear. Quinoa is packed with good stuff such as a high protein content, dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, it is gluten free and it is also a source of calcium. In fact 2013 has been declared International Year of Quinoa by the United Nations.
This was a wonderful soup indeed. It is packed with vegetables and quinoa that is a protein source. Vegan meal anyone? Well I actually used chicken broth because that is what I had on hand but the original recipe calls for vegetable broth. I also omitted the celery stalk and replaced it with fenugreek. It was a perfect addition to a meal I made where my guest must eat lacto and gluten free.
OK so one more thing before the recipe. I only saw one mention but Miranda, claims she is more than a little bit obsessed with goats. Funny enough I was introduced to one of the current viral YouTube videos where popular songs are mixed in with goats. Check them out, there are tons. But this one is for you Miranda!
Quinoa Vegetable Soup
Recipe Type: Salads & Soups
Author: adapeted from Miranda Mowbray
1 yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 can stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup dry quinoa
2 cups spinach, frozen
2 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp fennugreek
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp of smoked paprika
salt and pepper
In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil and add your garlic, onion, and celery, stirring frequently over medium high heat until the onion is translucent (5 minutes).
Add your vegetable broth, water, and tomatoes. Add your spices and stir. After a few minutes, add your spinach and allow it to wilt. Lastly, add your quinoa, lower your heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Can you guess what this picture is? I had so much fun playing around with Photoshop in my last post, I went all artsy again. This was made from the first picture on top. Cool right? Wanna know how I did it? I’ll tell you in the next post if you do, just let me know in your comments.
This recipe is so overdue, I made this recipe back in early November. I have so many recipes piled up lol.
In November we had our annual corporate weekend where the bosses pay for a little one night weekend getaway in the country…as long as we endure the 2 hour long annual meeting. It’s actually not that bad. This year we were in Saint-Sauveur, a tourist ski Mecca. The fancy hotel was located right across the street from a shopping center. In this outlet mall there is a food store I absolutely adore. It is not fancy and set up like a warehouse but there is one beautiful jewel spot in there: a walking 3-aisle cheese refrigerated room. O-M-G! That will be another post one day.
They usually have a few exotic veggies and fruits. I already posted about the Salsify and the Topinambour. I had one remaining discovery that I am finally posting today. It is a mushroom called in French (on the package where I bought it): Champignon Pied de Mouton. The word for word translation would be Sheep’s Foot Mushroom.
But after some research online that is not the English name, the right name is Hedgehog Mushroom. Now here is the really funny bit. A few days prior to the discovery of this mushroom I did a favor for a friend who need to have someone drive her 45 minutes out of town to pick up her new pet…a hedgehog. Can you believe the coincidence?
A little wiki: from the Hydnaceae family, it is notable for its spore-bearing structures which are shaped like teeth rather than gills. It is broadly distributed in North America and Europe and found singly or in groups in coniferous or deciduous woodland.
I wanted a recipe that would showcase the flavor of the mushroom and settled on this recipe. The light bitterness of the kale was a perfect match for the sweet and nutty taste of this crunchy mushroom. And everything remained a bit crisp and not over cooked.
Kale & Hedgehog Mushroom
Recipe Type: Salads & Soups
Author: Matthew at marxfood.com
2 bunches of kale
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 lb fresh hedgehog mushrooms (or any other variety of wild mushroom)
salt and fresh cracked pepper
Rough chop the hedgehogs and saute them in butter with a little olive oil.
Wash and rough chop the kale.
When the hedgehogs take on color and become tender, add the kale and lemon juice. Continue to saute just until the kale has wilted.
Add a tablespoon or two of butter and toss before serving. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and fresh cracked pepper.
As I mentioned before, I have so many recipes piled up on my computer it is ridiculous. But I am in a February/end of winter blah period. I am so lazy I barely even cook dinner. Take out is so much more tempting. The food options for restaurant delivery in Montreal is astonishing, especially in my neighborhood. You find your classic Chinese, Italian and Greek restaurants. But I can also get Jamaican, Korean, Indonesian, sushi, Mexican, Tibetan and Lebanese…too name a few. Montreal is awesome for ethnic food variety. You cannot get bored ordering out and it is as easy as a simple call or an online order nowadays from one central company that works with several restaurants. Love it as an occasional treat.
What do you do when you are really not in the mood to cook?
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.
I am already craving this dish again!
Roasted Vegetable Couscous
Recipe Type: Main Course
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.
Roasted veggies out of the oven
Thin slices of pork roast for the carnivores
Ξ Baked Tofu slices Ξ
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.