Enhance enjoyment

The definition of a condiment has something to do with enhancing flavor and enjoyment. I would have to agree with that. In the condiment category there are so many options to choose from.

You start out as a youngster with ketchup. A mystery combination of ingredients suspended in a tomato base. My children choked down so many meals with the plate swimming in a sea of ketchup. It was so disappointing to see the real flavour of their food being drowned out by the ketchup. But they matured and got over that habit. Thankfully.

Then there is the world of mustard. That is not overstating the different choices in the mustard category. There is something to suit any taste. I usually have 2 or 3 different kinds on the go. Right now we have a basic hot dog mustard, a spicy hot and dijon. We just finished a jar of turmeric mustard.

It would take a very long post to go through all the other condiments in my kitchen. And the rotation at any given time is temporary. We are often trying out new ones. And I’ve taken to making condiments fresh. The difference of a fresh version to a store-bought is really night and day. With my strong preference being toward the fresh options. I like the taste better and I can feel in my bones, how much better it is for my health.

I’ve been experimenting lately with salsa verde. It seems like the taste can be quite similar to chimichurri. It also depends on where the salsa verde recipe derives from. Mine is from an Italian version, rather than Mexico, Spain or Germany. Back to the Italians, again.

I think salsa verde can be used with anything and everything. Top corn on the cob, instead of using butter. Use as a dip for vegetables or chips. Add to anything coming off the grill. Or even use as a marinade before going on the grill. When I taste salsa verde I am taken back to warm summer days. Even in the dead of winter. It is so easy to make up large batches and freeze in flat “sheets” in plastic bags. Then re-constitute with olive oil.

Classic Italian Salsa Verde

  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, (or onion)
  • 3 anchovy fillets, (or anchovy paste)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3/4 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, (or basil, mint, or combinations)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard, (whatever is on hand)
  • juice and zest from 1/2 lemon, (could use vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, (could use another type of oil)

I put everything in the Magic Bullet and shake it as it blends. You get a sauce this way. It is super quick and easy. Alternatively, the vegetables and herbs can be finely chopped. The result is thicker and not as creamy.

I would say that this sauce enhances enjoyment of whatever is on the menu. I like it with eggs too!

Salsa Verde with bean

Roasted Roots Salad

This is a recipe that I use all the time, but it constantly changes depending on what I have in the house. I seem to always have some root vegetables on hand. Lettuce, kale, spinach or arugula are always in the fridge. Quinoa is in the pantry. While this takes some time to prepare, it is worth it to have 4 days of salad ready to pack and go in the morning. As well, when vegetables are cooking, I can do other things. So in that sense, I only need a timer to make sure nothing gets forgotten. I should also mention that I am usually not so precise on measurements, but for the sake of accuracy and my attempt to watch calories a bit more, I have tested all these values and they produce good results.

Roasted Roots Salad_web

Roasted Roots Salad

425 grams 2 small sweet potatoes
375 grams 3 small turnips
200 grams 2 small beets yellow
200 grams carrots
150 grams 1 medium red onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
300 grams 2 small zucchini
2 teaspoons jalapeno chiles finely chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice +lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup quinoa
200 grams Romaine lettuce

Directions:

ROAST ROOTS
Chop and or slice the root vegetables according to taste. For example slice the sweet potatoes and dice everything else. In a large bowl add olive and paprika as well as salt and pepper to taste. Toss root in the large bowl and shake to cover evenly with olive oil mixture. Lay sweet potatoes on a parchment lines cookie sheet. Spread everything else on another. Roast the potatoes for about 20 minutes at 400F, turn and cook for another 10 minutes. Repeat with second tray.

ZUCCHINI
Spiral the zucchini and then cut into smaller lengths. Finely chop jalapeno. Zest the lemon and then add to zucchini along with juice and 1T olive oil.

PERFECTLY COOKED QUINOA
Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. Place in a pot set over high heat with 1 3/4 cups water and a big pinch of salt. Bring to boil, lower the heat, cover the pot and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa’s germs look like little spirals, 12 to 15 minutes. Turn the heat off, place a dry paper towel between the pot and the lid and let the quinoa sit for at least 5 minutes before giving it a fluff with a fork.

ASSEMBLE
Cover the bottom half of the container with lettuce. Layer on quinoa, roots and finish with zucchini and some of the dressing that runs away from it.

Nutritional Information
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 471
Calories from Fat: 144
% Daily Value
*Total Fat 17g 26%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 134mg 6%
Total Carbohydrates 68g 23%
Dietary Fiber 12g 47%
Protein 12g 21%
Sugars13g
Vitamin A 440%
Vitamin C 59%
Calcium 12%
Iron 16%

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes

Passionate Affair

“In this restaurant,” says Madame, “cuisine is not an old, tired marriage, it is a passionate affair of the heart.”

Madame Mallory is played by Helen Mirren, in the 2014 movie, “The Hundred Foot Journey”. Set and filmed in the South of France, this movie ignites my passion for food and love; and the interconnected mysteries of both.

Reminiscent of “Chocolat”, filmed in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain in Eastern France and released in 2000, the filming of the food was incredible in both films, (same director). You could almost taste it. And that says something, because the author of “Chocolat”, Joanne Harrish, pays particular attention to food descriptions in many of her books, “Blackberry Wine”, being one of my all time favorites.

“A Good Year”, filmed in Provence and “Julie and Julia”, filmed in Paris, (for the French locations), both make me want to jump on a plane and head to France. Of course, I can’t practically do that. But I own a copy of “The Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, way too many strange recipes. Or are they?

Some time ago I bought a book called, “200 Skills Every Cook Must Have”, mostly for my son. I hope he will be inspired at some point to really dig into cooking. As I looked through the book just now I realized, there is a lot for me to learn as well. And maybe mastering the basic sauces, is not a bad idea. I’m competent, and can follow most recipes, but to really be good, you do need to master these basics. They need to be second nature. Then it is so much easier to create something new in the kitchen. Which is ultimately what I want to be able to do.

While it is not super easy to learn a complicated recipe from a book, I think if you have the right passion it can be done. In “The 100 Foot Journey”, the young sous chef explains how to master the 5 basic sauces, “You must find them in your heart. Then bring them to your pots”.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
-Virginia Woolf

That is where it ends up for me. Food is at the centre of everything worth having or being in life. I’ve been somewhat shy to say that before. Even though everyone agrees that food is the very foundational building block of life, we tend to be careless with food. Relegating it to a mere energy source and something that is only required, but not necessarily enjoyed.

Maybe some people did not experience the passion in food at a young age. Their families did not appreciate and cultivate the preparation of food. But even in that case, (my Mother had an average 1980’s love of food), you can find your way back home through food. You can find the love that is there with all the cooks who have come before you.

It is worth the journey.

Food Preservation

The house is hot and humid this morning. Which is drag, because it is easily the hottest day outside, in about a 10 day stretch. And I have many other, more “important” things on the never-ending “list”. But, the produce is coming off the fields now. It is time.

I got the idea to can some green beans earlier this week when I noticed that I have too many 500ml Mason jars to fit into storage. In other words, I am way behind. More jars being emptied than being filled, it seems.

Those were the reasons I found myself in the kitchen this morning, going through the ritual of preserving. I like to think of all the women who have done this before me. Slaving away in kitchens that were not as nice as mine. They would be extending their harvest to provide real nourishment during the long winter. I am merely making a nice compliment to my winter fare.

My Mother in law taught me how to can. One of the many great things I have learned from her. We have spent whole weekends putting up pounds of produce. She did for me, as she has no need for dozens of salsa jars. I don’t know why, but I continue to find the process extremely satisfying. Especially the “popping” of the lids. That final sign to let you know, all is well.

Can’t wait to open the first jar on a cool day this fall and think of the heat from this summer day.

Pickled beans dry packed_web

Canning jars_web

 

Pickled beans done_webSee also, from The Good Life List:

This week in my kitchen

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Welcome to my week in the kitchen – bloghop with Beauty That Moves

This tour starts with a seafood boil I did for my visiting Grandfather and Father. Spot prawns were in season and my husband caught the Dungeness crabs.

Boil_web

For dessert that night we had peanut butter balls made by my daughter.

PB Balls HB_web Peanut butter balls_web

An amazing salad for dinner.

Dinner salad_web

Rhubarb and Strawberry iced tea.

Rhubarb tea_web

Strawberries for freezing.

Strawberries freezing_web

This week in my kitchen

Hmmm – it’s been a good week. Tried some new ideas. Had a few nice quiet meals with my daughter. A time to catch my breath.

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Check out the action on the blog hop hosted by Beauty That Moves.

Coconut creamer_web

Don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner, replace dairy creamer with coconut milk creamer! So yummy.

Carrot cake oatmeal_web

My daughter really doesn’t know how lucky she is – this is carrot cake oatmeal for breakfast! No dairy, sugar and gluten free. She’s no dummy, however. It does not taste just like carrot cake. But for me it is a wonderful thing to have for breakfast.

Market finds_web

Treasures from the White Rock farmer’s market.

Chocolate cake_web

A baked treat – chocolate cake, same properties as the carrot cake. My daughter thinks it isn’t sweet enough. I think it is heavenly.

Soba salad_web Cod_web

Asian inspired dinner.

Asparagus&Fiddleheads_web

Local, wonderful.

ketchup_web

My daughter can get anything down with ketchup!

 

Clean Eats

I have a few prerequisites for buying a new cookbook.

  • First I must be inspired. Usually that is taken care of in the photography. I quickly flip through and “see” there are many recipes I want to run home and create.
  • The book needs to contain a number of recipes I don’t already have or can easily gain access to.
  • Cannot be too complicated or fussy. Those days are long gone for me. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen creating masterpieces for the taste buds. With the exception of my son, this effort goes largely under appreciated. In fact, my husband has begged me stop trying to impress him. He has a very basic palette and would rather spend our precious time together doing other things.

My biggest priorities now are:

  • Nutrient dense food.
  • New ideas for treatment of food stuffs – a light touch is best. Let the ingredients shine. Try new techniques that allow for amazing taste sensations, not replicating an old recipe without the classic ingredients, (sugar, animal fat and processed ingredients).
  • Biggest bang for the effort required.

With all these ideas – most of my old standby cookbooks do not fit the bill. Quite frankly most new cookbooks don’t either. I’ve been waiting patiently for “Clean Eats“. Dr. Junger has compiled the recipes along with many contributors and the results are great. I’ve tried many recipes so far, (and would strongly recommend more photos in the next printing, I’ll take them!) with really great results. Even my husband and daughter, who are my toughest customers have been pleasantly pleased. Which says so much!

The recipes have a prep and cook time listed at the top. Don’t have to guess how long it will take. They also define which of Dr. Junger’s programs they adhere to. I am interested in “Clean”, for lower inflammation, better digestion and increased energy and vigour.

So I’m a bit of a raving fan. And I may start pasting my photo’s into my copy. Might be better that way!

Here is a list of what I have tried so far:

  • Page 44 Blueberry Quinoa Cereal – really good, I used frozen berries
  • Page 60 Root Vegetable Hash – I added paprika
  • Page 65 Roasted Beet Salad with Miso Dressing – I changed this a little, added asparagus and pickled garlic and beans on top
  • Page 77 Chunky Avocado Salad – my husband made this for me last week! No spirulina, (mine is peppermint flavoured anyway).
  • Page 125 Best Dip / Sauce / Salad Dressing Ever – this really is
  • Page 156 Lemon Herb Chicken Burgers – clean version, baked instead of fried
  • Page 159 Mustard-Baked Chicken – my husband made this and it was easy and excellent
  • Page 174 Slow-Cooked Chicken – in a slow cooker, Saturday night – I added gravy for my husband
  • Page 188 Shepherd’s Pie – this is really different than the classic, so shouldn’t really have that name, but very yummy
  • Page 217 Baked Turnip Casserole with Walnut Sage Cream – this didn’t turn out so well, too dry somehow
  • Page 244 Broccoli Cheddar Soup – really good, I gave it a little whiz with a hand blender at the end