holiday recipes: stuffed portobello mushrooms with pear, red onion and walnuts


Sarah B. has pretty much the greatest food blog around. Not only do I recommend it, I live by it. Seriously, most of her recipes have made their way onto my kitchen table more than once. Because I have been without a kitchen for the past three months (with one more month to go), I now have a few months worth of recipes to cook my way through upon my return to Munich.

Now I have even more recipes to cook my way through. At the beginning of December Sarah announced her Holiday Reader Recipe Challenge. She invited readers to submit festive (and healthy) recipes that taste like the holidays to them. If you think that being a continent away from my kitchen would stop me from coming up with a holiday recipe then you have underestimated my obsession with cooking (especially holiday cooking). Sarah very generously compiled all of the entries into a PDF. Merry Christmas indeed!

As I said, I could not resist sending in a recipe. For this reason I do not have any pictures to send along. I came up with this recipe years ago when I was beginning to realize that this thing between cooking and I was much more than a fling. This was before I added photography to my relationship with food. However, the ingredients are all quite photogenic so I am sure that you won't have any difficulty imagining how they look (and taste) all together.

My recipe is for stuffed Portobello mushrooms with pear, red onion, and walnuts. When I first started making these stuffed mushrooms, I rather indulgently ate this for dinner at least once a week during my second year of university. I was hooked. Now that I have matured (at least in the kitchen, sometimes, I think) I realize that this recipe is quite rich and is best suited for indulgent occasions. New Years maybe?

Mushrooms are often stuffed with liver or with breadcrumbs. Keeping with the healthy spirit of My New Roots, this is a recipe for stuffed mushrooms that is gluten-free and (mostly) vegan. A little blue cheese or goat cheese on top is certainly grand, but the flavours are rich enough that the cheese is not at all necessary.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Pear, Red Onion and Walnuts

Makes 2 Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients

2 Portobello mushrooms
1 Pear
1/2 a small red onion, chopped into chunks
A handful of walnuts, coarsely chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil and/or a neutral cooking oil that likes mushrooms
Fresh rosemary and thyme

Optional:

A few crumbles of blue cheese or soft goat cheese


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Begin by warming some neutral cooking oil or ghee in a pan on medium heat. Add the red onion and a pinch of salt. Occasionally stir when the onions begin to stick to the pan, but don't stir too much as you want the onions to begin to caramelize.

While the onion cooks, wash the Portobello mushrooms and pat them dry. Remove the stems and put to the side. Rub the mushrooms with a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with sea salt. Place in a baking dish and then in the oven for about 5-7 minutes so that the skin begins to soften.

Roughly chop the mushroom stems and the pear. Add both to the pan with the red onion and cook until they begin to soften. You don't want either to cook thoroughly, just enough so that they are soft. Remove from the heat and add the walnuts, a pinch of sea salt and finely chopped rosemary and thyme.

Remove the Portobello mushrooms from the oven, spoon the mixture onto them so that the stuffing slightly overflows and then return the pan to the oven. Bake for another 5-10 minutes until they are incredibly fragrant, the stuffing is soft and the Portobellos are slightly shriveled. If you wish, add some blue cheese or soft goat cheese the last few minutes that the mushrooms are in the oven and bake until the cheese melts.

Guten!

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christmas cards from goa


Happy Holidays!


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souvenirs



Before leaving Mumbai I finally made the trip over to Elephanta. On the ferry ride I was chatting with a few fellow North Americans who were curious about my two months in the city. They asked me if I had been shopping. Had I bought any souvenirs? Any scarves? Pashmina scarves? "No," I said, "but I have bought plenty of tea, flour, ginger drops and spices."

If eating is one of the best parts about traveling, then surely edible souvenirs are the best trinkets to fill one's suitcase with?

A few (edible) souvenirs from India

Cardamom, Spirulina, Stevia, Green pepper, Vanilla, Ragi flour, Roasted Amaranth, Masala tea, Cardamom tea, Ginger and lemongrass tea, black tea, Tulsi (holy basil) tea, nutmeg, ginger drops, and a few small, goodie bags of spices

I have a month and a half in this country - a country where I find it difficult to not clear my plate no matter how much food may be on it - so certainly this list will continue to grow.

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postcards from kerala I

There is something mysterious about seeing the most colourful places in black and white.

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south indian eating




Dear Kerala,

Thanks for the hot December. You taught me that I have no limits when it comes to fresh fruit juices and that lunch is sexiest when served on a banana leaf. Also, I promise to keep eating red rice long after I have left.

Love Sasha

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raspberries and almonds


On the theme of breakfast, I have been missing making my own. India is certainly spoiling me with fresh juices (tonight I had a cucumber, mint and lime juice along with some Keralan prawns). However, I cannot help but miss my breakfast smoothies. You know, the type of smoothies that you can pack with flax seeds, or hemp powder, or bee pollen, or spinach, or anything else that is healthy and less likely to appear in your meals later in the day?

Raspberries and almonds belong together and combined they certainly make an addictive smoothie. Most days I like to keep things simple and let the two just do their thing; however, feel free to add (just don't subtract). Once again, this is more of a formula than a recipe, but the more that I cook the more that I believe that formulas, rather than recipes, make the best meals.


Raspberry and Almond Smoothie

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 frozen banana
1 very generous tbsp of almond butter
1 cup water

Optional additions:

1 tsp bee pollen or honey
a pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp ground flax seeds
1 Medjool date (make sure to finely blend)

In a blender combine all of the ingredients. Garnish with some finely chopped almonds if you wish (I am normally much too lazy/hungry in the mornings). Serve and enjoy.

Guten!

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spoiled with breakfast


Boy am I ever lucky. After two months of the hustle and bustle of working in Mumbai I am on a two month vacation in India. Yes, I am very lucky. This vacation began in a courtyard in the middle of the city's hustle and bustle: the Taj Mahal Hotel. I thought that I knew all of the tricks when it comes to making a good breakfast; however, the Taj has taught me a few more.


Breakfast Moments from the Taj Mahal, Mumbai to Repeat


  • Bircher muesli with amaranth and coconut milk
  • Fresh juice - cucumber and mint; watermelon; sweet lime; apple and spinach
  • Fresh fruit - papaya; pineapple; melon; plums; bananas; white grapefruit; pomegranate
  • Tofu scramble in miso broth with fresh chili
  • Pears stewed in rose water; stewed apples; stewed prunes; stewed figs

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riding in taxis III




With merely a week left in Mumbai I am already making a toll of the things that I will miss. Taxi textiles are obviously high up on that list.

Luckily I have two more months in India and thus plenty of time for new cities and more taxi rides.


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fruit that likes bread and cheese


Remember when I admitted that I find a lot of sandwiches boring and sad and so I made a roasted zucchini and sun-dried tomato sandwich to prove that sandwiches can also be inspiring and lively? Well I wasn't telling the whole truth. I find a lot of vegetable sandwiches boring and sad, but not fruit sandwiches.

(Sorry tomatoes. I know that you are a fruit, but you just don't count. I like you in salads and with pasta, but in a sandwich you should only be fresher than fresh and, let's be honest, you don't taste as good when you are being imported. That said, I look forward to next tomato/BLT season.)

Now back to the real fruit. I have never gotten over the brilliance of cheddar cheese and apples. I continue to frequently eat it as a snack even though I am 25 and not 5 and it really inspired me to start respecting sandwiches. After all, it is much more acceptable to bring an apple and cheddar sandwich to work than it is to bring slices of apple and pieces of cheese cut into bite-size squares. Trust me, I have tried both and the former often comes with stares that accuse you of being a 5 year old.

When I moved to France and learned that Paul sells a sandwich that is composed of only two pieces of perfect, French bread, brie and green apple, I knew that I was doing something right. These are some of my favourite fruit and cheese pairings for sandwich. Ideally use good bread. A little green does not interrupt the love affair between the fruit, cheese and bread so add some as you like. Same goes with spices, herbs and condiments.


Good Cheese and Fruit Pairings for Sandwiches

goat cheese, fresh figs and balsamic reduction

blue cheese, green apple and black pepper

cheddar cheese, apple and caramelized onions (this will forever change what you think and expect of a grilled cheese sandwich)

pecorino romano, pear and slivered almonds

Malin's apricot and beer bread with roquefort (yes this is is just bread with cheese; however, the apricots and the roquefort are made for each other. Also, living in Copenhagen taught me that bread with something on it counts as a sandwich.)


Also, my friend Sarah taught me that grapes are surprisingly nice on pizza. She inspired me to discover that they are nice in sandwiches too. I guess that this is not too surprising considering that grapes often play a supporting role on cheese plates. If they are good with cheese then it makes sense that they are the type of fruit that likes cheese and bread all in one bite. I recommend making a grape sandwich with a soft cheese, like brie, and eating it on dark bread.

Luckily Mumbai knows how to make a sandwich. Chutney, beets, sauces, three layers of bread and potato? Oh yes, Mumbai knows how to make a sandwich that is not boring. More on that soon.

Guten!

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postcards from bombay


From Bombay? Or Mumbai?

Sometimes it is hard to know which one to use when a city not only has two names but embraces both of them. This is further complicated by that fact that it feels like each name refers to a different history, a different character and a different city. I have generally found that one says Bombay and writes Mumbai. However, no matter what a city calls itself as long as it has handmade postcards I am easily charmed.

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i've met a warm november


Even though my evenings are hot and my days are even hotter, I have autumn on my mind. I cannot help but think of my favourite season even when living in a tropical city. I have always been hopelessly romantic about scarves, freshly picked apples, autumn bike rides and sharpened pencils for back to school. I guess you can take a Canadian to a warm climate, but you can't take away her sense of the seasons. It is incredible to be somewhere where the November heat is what I am used to in only the month of August.

I am taking full advantage of being somewhere hot for a change (read: drinking lots and lots of sweet lime juice and coconut water). That said, I do look forward to my next chilly morning where I will wake up with a craving for pancakes. Growing up my mom often made sauteed apples to go along with our weekend pancake feasts. This is less of a recipe and more of a formula. I like it with both apples or pears or apples and pears. The dried cranberries add more depth to the texture and the little drizzle of whiskey or rum gives it a more luxurious taste.


A Friend to Pancakes - Sauteed Apples or Pears

Serves 1-2 people

Ingredients


a generous knob of butter
1 apple or pear, cut into matchsticks
a small handful of dried cranberries
a pinch of cinnamon
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp whiskey or rum, optional

Melt the butter over medium heat in a small pan. Once melted added the apple or pear and the cinnamon. Cook until the fruit is tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the dried cranberries, the maple syrup and the whiskey or rum and cook for another 2 minutes until the cranberries plump up. Serve with pancakes.

Guten!

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four cups of chai



New cities breed new habits.

I am usually a serious coffee drinker and only a casual consumer of tea. In colder months I often brew a small pot of green tea with lemon and ginger to curl up with while studying; however, a package of tea will often last months in my kitchen cupboard during the warmer parts of the year. I also admit that I am extremely influenced by packaging. It is obvious that I don't take tea as serious as I take coffee if I am easily swayed by the font or design of a box. Coffee should come in a brown paper bag and clever design is not going to influence which beans I like best, but with tea I am satisfied enough if the package looks nice. India is changing all of that. Here tea is a serious matter and I am happy to do as the locals do. For the past month I have become a serious tea drinker and only a casual consumer of coffee.

I drink a cup four times a day. The cups are small and the tea is sweet. There is something magical about a culture that takes tea so seriously. It means that my colleagues and I are served tea twice a day like clock work and that no matter the time of day or night one can always find another cup or two when needed. Chai wallahs make this possible. Often on bicycles and sometimes on foot, chai wallahs make and serve fresh tea on the streets of the city.

Since I have been here I have drank my chai out of a small cup; however, I just discovered the traditional vessel for chai: the Indian clay cup. Plastic cups have largely replaced the clay version on the streets of the city, but the clay cup has far more class. After use the clay cups are typically discarded or smashed only to then dissolve back into the earth. I decided to keep mine instead.


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riding in taxis II



I totally judge a taxi by its fabric.

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lately



It has already been a month since I landed in Mumbai. A month! As usual, it is tricky to summarize an experience with a measurement of time alone; the everyday details are much more useful.

Instead of drinking coffee I drink tea and instead of photographing food I photograph the interiors of taxis and restaurants. I use limes instead of lemon to splash juice onto sliced apples, or into a hot cup of water. The sun sets shortly after 6pm and my use of the word 'evening' is confused and inconsistent. The month of November is nearly around the corner, and I have missed out on autumn's apples and scarves. However, I do appreciate not having to hand-wash tights, or trade in my bike for a metro-pass. And I definitely appreciate Mumbai's sweet limes, breezy tunics, and Parsi restaurants.


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riding in taxis I




The majority of taxis in Mumbai are black and yellow. The classic model is based on a 1950s Fiat and is the one that one sees the most. In addition, there is a more modern black and yellow version, as well as the blue "cool cab" with air conditioning. I prefer the classic 1950s style. Although these ones often are a bit bumpier, have outdated meters which requires paying close attention to the price and worn out door handles, they have the best fabric. The material may be cheap, but the patterns are rich and they often distract me from watching what is outside of the window.

The best part of traveling - other than eating, of course - is coming to notice new details. Through guide books one can easily become familiar with a city's most famous monuments and sites; however, it is only through physical experience that one meets a city's most memorable quirks.


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pie before leaving


I know that it is pie season in North America right now. The season starts with summer's freshest fruit and then peaks as the apples ripen and the leaves part from the trees. Autumn's pies are usually baked; whereas, the pie I ate the night before leaving for India was not. It was the end of September and the pie was frozen. It had key limes and whipped cream. It was just the type of pie one wants to eat at a good-bye dinner - its sweetness distracted me from feeling sad about saying farewell. It is impossible to feel sad when eating a slice of this frozen key lime pie. I promise.

It is also just the type of pie one wants to eat in India. There are key limes everywhere. However, I think that it would be a tad difficult for my cutting board, Swiss Army knife and I to pull this one off in my room at the guesthouse. Instead I hope that you'll make it and eat a slice (or three) for me.

This pie is also the reason why I made graham crackers. Store-bought will do just fine. However, if you find yourself with a day off and a few episodes of This American Life to catch up on I assure that making graham crackers is nearly fun as eating them.

Frozen Key Lime Pie

adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/2 cups graham crackers crumbs
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

Filling

6 egg yolks, room temperature
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 tbsp grated key lime zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice (about 20 key limes)


Decoration

1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
a pinch of ground vanilla
lime wedges, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl. Press the mixture into a pie plate making sure that is the same thickness on the sides and on the bottom. Bake until firm and golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

While the crust is cooling, beat the egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixture on high speed. Beat for about 5 minutes or until very thick. This step is very important. Once the mixture is thick, add the condensed milk, lime zest and lime juice. Mix on medium speed. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Wrap well with plastic wrap (at least two layers) and then place in the freezer while you make the decoration.

On high speed, whip the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and keep whipping until firm. Spoon the whipped cream onto the pie and then decorate with thin slices of key limes. Wrap well and then freeze overnight.

Remove from the freezer about half an hour before serving.

Guten!


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sweeter than most


I would like to introduce you to my new favourite juice. It is freshly squeezed at a juice stall just down the street and I crave it a lot. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have known it already; I wasn't, until last week. Meet sweet lime juice. I think that if you try it you'll start craving it a lot, too.

When I was first introduced to citrus limetta I thought that it was perhaps a Meyer lemon but with a different name. And I love Meyer lemons. However, a Meyer lemon is not a true lemon but a cross between a lemon and a sweet orange. Sweet lime is the real deal. So, thank you India for introducing me to sweet limes.

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a cookie that's called a cracker



It is hard for me to believe that just over a week ago I was in Munich baking graham crackers. It feels like light years away. It is even harder to believe that in addition to baking graham crackers, I was dressed in a dirndl and biking to Oktoberfest. A week later and now I wake up to the sound of honking and a loud air conditioner. Fortunately, I have always loved cities, including the sounds that they make. Instead of wearing a dirndl, I get dressed in traditional, Indian clothes each morning and instead of baking graham crackers I make salads on my desk with a Swiss Army knife and a small cutting board (more on that later, I promise).

I hadn't planned on making graham crackers. A few days before leaving Munich I walked by my local Indian grocer and noticed that between their usual piles of fruit they were selling key limes. Key limes! For a long time lemon meringue pie was my absolute favourite pie. It was the one dessert I would ask my Babchai to make after coming home from abroad. But then last year I made a frozen key lime pie. I made it for a big backyard barbecue I had in Toronto just before moving to Sweden. I will always love lemon meringue pie (a classic is a classic is a classic), but after the first bite into this frozen I couldn't get key limes off of my mind (or off of my fork).

I bought the key limes and decided to make this pie. I want to call it leaving pie because I have only made it right before a trip, or a move. I also promise to tell you more about this so called leaving pie another time. This post is about a cookie that's called a cracker. I'll just say that said pie has a graham cracker crust. Good luck finding graham crackers in Germany. Maybe you'll be lucky; I was not.

I had considered making the graham crackers myself, but it seemed silly to carefully roll out the dough and to bake it, only to then smash it into crumbs. After all, we can't do it all and Nigel Slater thinks that we are sad if we try to (nothing wrong with a store bought dessert, like ice cream with frozen smarties, he says, as long as you don't skimp out on the main). I wrote graham crackers on my grocery list and then began the search for them across Munich. I came home with some butter and brown sugar instead.

My partner had never tried graham crackers before and as we rolled out the dough together and made little holes with chop sticks, I was grateful that I did not find the pre-crumbled boxed version. Baking requires you to be present. You can't leave cookies in the oven. You have to commit to watching them go from a few ingredients to a dough to a baked good. Baking rarely requires a lot of time; however, I think that I like it so much because because it requires sometime to just be present. I'll miss Canadian Thanksgiving this year, but I am happy that I got to snack on something that tastes like home as I packed my bags to move once again.

So why are these called crackers when they clearly taste like (and are) cookies? Oh North America, you and your mysterious ways. I am thankful for you.


Graham Crackers

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose-flour
1/2 cup whole wheat or spelt flour
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
7 tbsp unsalted butter, cold
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp maple syrup
5 tbsp milk
a good pinch of ground vanilla bean

Topping

1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp coarse sugar

In a food processor pulse together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and add. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Alternatively, mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the butter. Use a pastry knife or two butter knives to cut the ingredients together.

In a small bowl whisk together the milk, honey, maple syrup and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and pulse/mix just until the dough comes together. Dust a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap with some flour, then lay the dough on top and pat it into a rectangle. Wrap well and chill for about two hours (or overnight).

When you are ready to roll out the crackers, mix together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping. Take half of the dough out of the fridge and leave the other half in to continue to chill. On a well floured surface, roll out the dough so that it is about 1/8 inch thick. Use a ravioli cutter, a knife, or any other cookie cutting device to cut out the crackers. Then use chop sticks or something similar to pierce several holes into each cracker. Place the crackers on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a plate) and transfer to the freezer for 15-20 minutes. While the first batch is chilling, roll out the second. At this point also preheat the oven to 350F, 180C.

When the crackers are slightly firm, remove them from the freezer and transfer them to a cookie sheet if you used a plate, or directly into the oven if they are already on a cookie sheet. Bake until they are slightly firm to touch and evenly browned, about 15-20 minutes depending on the heat of your oven.

Guten!

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a jam made from peppers


The Bread Exchange was back in Munich two weeks ago and once again I knew that I wanted to make something that tastes exciting and that keeps well in a glass jar. Last time it was fig mustard. This time I decided on red pepper jelly.

I had actually forgotten about red pepper jelly. No matter how hard I try, I cannot remember the last time I ate it. It was probably years ago at some holiday party and it was probably served with cream cheese and crackers. It is strange how you can go years without eating something and then the thought of it lands in your head. The thought is so strong that it sets off a bomb that can only be stopped by giving into this craving. The truth is that I could not even remember if I particularly liked red pepper jelly the last time I had it years ago, but as soon as that thought set up camp in my mind I knew I had to make it and it turns out that I love the stuff. It is an addictive combination of spicy and sweet.

I also did not realize that red pepper jelly is a North American thing. I am not even certain that it is, but I do know that I have never seen it in a European grocery store and that the Europeans I mentioned it to had never heard of it.

Most jelly recipes call for pectin; however, I did not have luck finding it in my closest German grocery store. The country seems more into jams than into jellies. I used a jam sugar instead. This recipe is based on using this sugar, but if you can find some apple pectin use it. The technique for making it will be quite different, so you should probably consult a more traditional jelly recipe (one that adds the pectin after boiling and straining the peppers). That said, the flavour of this jelly is dreamy so I recommend using the same ingredients, but just adapting the cooking technique. In fact, my partner said it was the best thing that I made all summer. Considering how much I cook, that is quite the statement.


Red Pepper Jelly

Ingredients

4 red peppers
1 1/4 cups jam sugar
1 chili pepper, seeded if you don't want a spicy jelly
2 tbsp pineapple
a pinch of salt
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Wash the peppers (including the chili pepper) well and thinly dice them into small cubes. Seed the chili pepper if you wish (I seeded half of the pepper). Throw the peppers into a large mixing bowl with the sugar. Cut the pineapple into small chunks too and then add it. Toss with in a generous pinch of salt and let the pepper mixture sit for at least three hours, or overnight.

Once the mixture has had the opportunity to sit pour, it into a large pot and add the apple cider vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until it reaches a desired consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and place into clean jars.* The jelly will thicken as it cools.


Serve with soft cheeses and fresh bread, or Swedish flatbread.


*If you wish, sterilize the jars while you cook the jelly by boiling them in a large pot of hot water for 10 minutes. When the jelly is ready, spoon the jelly into the hot jars with a ladle and then tightly secure them with a lid. Return the jars to the boiling water and leave them in for 10 minutes. That said, this jelly is so good that you will probably eat it quite quickly so you can most likely skip this step.


Guten!

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welcome to


Hello! From India! From Bombay!

The weather is hot and the food is spicy. The city has welcomed me warmly and already I am quickly learning how to read the taxi meters and how to walk through several lanes of traffic. I am also learning to drink more tea instead of coffee (although the top photo does prove that an afternoon coffee is harder for me to pass up than a morning one) and where all of the richest Bollywood stars live.

Although I will be without a kitchen for the next few months, I have a few recipes that I have saved from my last couple of weeks in Germany that I would like to share. I also have a Swiss Army knife and a fruit and vegetable market addiction so there could be some visual evidence of what kind of food adventures come out of my kitchen-less room. So while I am in this Indian metropolis do expect more photos alongside documentation of new tastes and adventures, plus a few old favourite recipes that I have packed along.


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guest post: grilled peaches


I met Ali a year ago and when our conversation turned to food it became clear that we were going to be friends. She has a great sense of humour, a strong appreciation of Jeff Bridges and admirable taste in food.

In only a few days I will be leaving for India where I will spend the next four months. I am not sure how often I will be cooking; however, I am certain that I will be doing a lot of eating. As I, a Canadian, document eating my way through India I thought that it would be fun to invite Ali, a Brit, to share her experience eating her way through Canada. Ali has generously agreed and has come up with this fantastic recipe for grilled peaches. While the peaches are still ripe I highly recommend throwing them on the grill according to Ali's recipe. The peaches won't last long, so get to it! You will be glad that you rushed to buy and eat the last of them.

Although I have not spent much time living in Canada the past few years, Canada deeply influences my cooking. From maple syrup to aged cheddar cheese and from P.E.I. oysters to peaches and cream corn, Canada really taught me what tastes good. It taught me to respect the seasons and to eat what grows locally whenever I have the chance. It taught me that maple syrup tastes good with almost everything (even on pizza or with fried eggs) and that it is perfectly fine to always eat poutine following a night out. That said, knowing Ali's appreciation of food, I was very excited when she told me that she would be spending this autumn living and interning in Winnipeg. So here is Ali and her grilled peaches.

Guten!

Canada has been kind to me. She welcomed me in with a great internship, more art opportunities than I can cram into my schedule, and a readymade home with a dog. She turned my arms golden brown and allowed me to cycle without breaking a sweat on her flat prairie lands.

Eating is undoubtedly the best thing about traveling abroad. From the incredible to the inedible, I'm fascinated by it all. Winnipeg has proved typically distracting in its efforts to tempt me to eat. From marble slab creameries (thank you, Tim Horton's), to perogie kiosks, poutineries and dessert-only restaurants; new food experiences are everywhere. Eating is even the theme of an upcoming exhibition at the gallery where I work.

I've also been happy to discover that the many Winnipeggers I meet share my enthusiasm for discussing and eating food. This includes my landlady, Lori, with whom I also share a love of trashy competitive cookery and restaurant makeover shows. She rustled up this simple dessert one balmy evening not too long ago, with peaches from a roadtrip via Kelowna, BC. It was so delicious I made it myself a few days later, cramming in the last of the summer's peaches as the air cooled and Winnipeg became Autumnpeg.

Ali and Lori's Grilled Peaches

serves one

Ingredients

one peach (or as many as you desire)
a good dollop of mascarpone
maple syrup
a small handful of roasted pistachios

Cut the peaches into halves and place face-down on a BBQ (or face-up under an oven grill) for approximately 5 minutes, or until warmed through (keep an eye on them if very ripe; the sugar can burn). Meanwhile, mix the mascarpone and some maple syrup to taste, and roughly chop the pistachios.

When the peaches are warmed through, assemble in serving dish, topped with the mascarpone and maple syrup mixture. Sprinkle the pistachios on top.
Later, you can lick the mascarpone mixture out of the bowl when no-one is looking.

Photos by Ali King.

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shrimp and cilantro


Another salad?

I was not joking around in my last post when I said that I have been craving and eating salad a lot and now that Oktoberfest has begun in Munich all of the roasted chickens makes me crave green foods even more. I am not even in India yet! Well, I am trying to prove Joni Mitchell wrong when she sings so perfectly that "you don't know what you've got till it's gone."

And this is a really good salad. Shrimp makes any salad taste luxurious. My favourite salad to eat with shrimp includes avocado and mango. However, to find all ingredients ripe and reasonably priced at the same time in Germany is sometimes a challenge (hello $3 plus avocados), but I do promise that I will share the recipe the next time all three ingredients align in my kitchen. For now, however, I am going to share a very simple shrimp salad. It is a good reminder that when you buy good shrimp you don't have to do much to them for them to be delicious.

This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman's spicy shrimp salad with mint. As much as I love mint, I am too loyal to the combination of shrimp and cilantro to include it in this salad. I blame it on years of eating the two together in homemade Vietnamese summer rolls. Being stuck in your ways isn't always a bad thing - especially when it includes shrimp and cilantro. In this salad the cilantro is as much of an ingredient as it is a garnish so be generous with it.

Shrimp and Cilantro Salad

adapted from Mark Bittman's Spicy Shrimp Salad with Mint

serves two


Ingredients


6-8 large shrimp (my shrimp were already cooked)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
sea salt
pepper
a good pinch of red chili flakes or freshly chopped chili
1/4 tsp paprika
1 bunch of arugula
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
the juice of half a lime

In a bowl toss together the shrimp, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, chili and paprika. Heat a frying pan over high heat and add the shrimp and the marinade once the pan is hot. Cook until the shrimp is firm, about 2 minutes.

On two plates arrange the arugula and half of the cilantro. Add the shrimp, the pan juices, and freshly squeezed lime juice. Garnish with the rest of the cilantro and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve right away.


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one more tomato salad



Recently I have been craving salad a lot and it is not because of the season and the lingering warm weather. I have also been craving fresh fruit and vegetables in general a lot. As good as they look at the market right now and despite the fact that it is the season for eating fresh and local produce, I am craving fruit and salad for an entirely different reason. In two weeks I fly to India. Today I got the last of my shots (the third for rabies and one for polio). Last week I purchased travel insurance and the week before I picked up my visa from the Indian consulate. I am ready. For months I have been saying that I leave at the end of September and now the end of September is only two weeks away.

There are a million things that I am looking forward to - everything from taking tours of spice farms in the south to trying to sneak into Bollywood studios in Mumbai. My notebook has become a maze of lists. It is easy to get lost reading about the richness of Indian culture and how much time one needs to navigate the country. However, buried beneath all of my excitement I know that there is something that I am going to miss a lot: salads and the fresh fruit and vegetables that compose them. As all of the information I have read so far has taught me: "boil it, peel it, or leave it." India is going to be a whirlwind of a tasting adventure and to make sure that I don't miss uncooked greens and produce I am trying to eat as much as I can before leaving Munich. To my luck, it is the season.

This tomato salad is nearly identical in concept to the nectarine and tomato salad I made earlier this summer. However, the flavours are quite different. Instead of basil I used rosemary and instead of nectarines I used plums. This salad is perfect for a light lunch or as a side to grilled meats or vegetables. Eat it while the tomatoes and plums are still local!

Plum and Tomato Salad

adapted from L.A. In Bloom

serves one

Ingredients

one large tomato
a handful of small plums or 1large ones
a small sprig of fresh rosemary
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

In a bowl combine the lemon juice and olive oil. Chop the tomato and plums into large chunks and add to the bowl. Toss well while you chop and add so that the tomatoes and plums are well coated in dressing. Add finely chopped rosemary, sea salt and pepper to taste.

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postcards from munich III


Munich is the city that Germans love to hate most. Bavarians consider it their pride and joy; whereas, the rest of Germany considers it conservative, snooty, and rather boring. After having spent the summer here, however, I can assure you that tucked behind the Biergartens and the grandiose architecture this city has a lot of charm. From the evening candle-light diners who eat and drink on the steps of the Glyptothek to the sunbathers who jump into the cold water of the Isar, Munich is a lot more than its reputation.

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teenage bedrooms


This is my sister's teenage bedroom. She just moved across Canada to Newfoundland which means that she will have new walls to decorate, although I am not sure if she would still want to paint them from floor to ceiling with a one inch brush.

If you were artistic or angsty as a teenager (and who wasn't?) chances are you used your bedroom as your canvas. One of my best friends from adolescence turned magazines into wallpaper that plastered her entire room with mostly images of celebrities from the 90s. My teenage bedroom had dark purple walls. Blocking out patches of purple were posters of Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison as well as pictures of the Eiffel Tower and anything else visually French enough to satisfy my teenage francophile. There were also some drawings and collages thrown into the mix, including a collage that had a lock of my friend's blond curls (she cut her hair short before moving to Burkina Faso and some of her friends each took a piece).

Teenage Bedroom does not make me want to be a teenager again, but it does certainly make me appreciate the bedroom decor that results from such an awkward period of life.

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rushing to eat summer



The sunlight is already a bit more golden and apples are beginning to dominate the fruit section at the market. However, I am not ready to let go of summer just yet. I simply have not indulged enough in its produce. I may have taken full advantage of strawberry season, but I only just bought watermelon for the first time last week. I haven't even had a chance yet to make my favourite watermelon salad. Plus, I have only had peaches sauteed with fresh mint and served with vanilla ice cream once this year. I also have half a bottle of Pimm's patiently waiting on top of my fridge for me to bring home the next round of fresh mint, cucumbers and strawberries. It also prefers if I drink it outside. Clearly I have a lot more eating to do before it becomes fall.

As August turns into September, I always become greedy. I am tempted to buy more fresh fruit and vegetables than I can eat. Summer produce spoils us. It arrives by car instead of by plane. Tomatoes taste like tomatoes and the fruit in your fruit bowl actually smells like fruit. I mean, can you really imagine going back to an imported tomato after having indulged in your local tomato season? This time of year my dad eats tomatoes like apples. Everything just tastes that good.

So before apples totally dominate my local market I am rushing to enjoy the rest of summer's bounty. This watermelon granita resulted from this rush, but I assure you that this is something to eat slowly. "What is so good about flavoured ice?" you might ask. Well, exactly that. If you eat it too fast your head feels it is cracking down the middle and is about to part, but if you eat it slowly the ice melts on your tongue leaving you with the intense flavour of watermelon dotted with hints of lime zest. Yes, I am eating some right now while I write this. And, no, this is not my first serving this evening.

Watermelon Granita

Ingredients

1 kg watermelon
4 tbsp water
4 tbsp agave syrup
zest of half a lime

In a blender or a food processor whirl the watermelon until completely smooth. Pour the watermelon juice into a baking dish through a strainer, catching any seeds or pulp. It is best to use a shallow baking dish as this will decrease the amount of time required for freezing. Add the water, agave syrup and lime zest to the watermelon juice and stir well. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze.

Check after about an hour to see if ice crystals have formed and then use a fork to scrape and stir around the ice crystals. Do this every forty minutes to an hour until frozen, about three to four hours.

Once completely frozen, use a fork to scrape the granita so that icy flakes form. Spoon into a bowl or a glass and serve immediately.


Guten!

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the halloumi salad


Cooking always happens in a context. It is intimately linked to the lives that we live which is one of the reasons that I like it so much. Ingredients are symbolic and the combinations in which we grill them, mix them and eat them are all parts of larger stories. Cabbage, for example, will always remind me of my Babchai and her cabbage rolls. It has been a goal of my aunt (and now mine as well) for years to learn how to make them, but every time her and my Babchai make a date to do so my aunt arrives to find a tray of perfect cabbage rolls ready to eat. Watermelon triggers memories of high school and that time friends and I stole one and realized we had nothing to eat it with, no forks and no knives. One of us remembered having a very tiny Swiss Army knife that we then used to make a small indent across the watermelon's circumference. We then dropped the watermelon with all of our might in the hope that it would break open. It did and with no spoons or forks we put our faces into its flesh and ate it as if it were an apple. Yes, food always comes with a story.

Halloumi reminds me of my friend Laura. Last fall we went to Gothenburg's organic farmer's market and she bought a small container of halloumi. It was the most perfect halloumi and I remember eating it at her apartment. We both had smiles so big and we were both amazed that cheese could taste that good. We often went together to a cafe, Two Birds, where we would sit in the back. We chatted about art and life, drank coffee and ate salad with halloumi.

This salad is quite different from the one at that cafe; however, the halloumi still plays a central role. In this salad, though, it is not the main character. Instead it is one of three. The key to this salad is the combination of strawberries, balsamic vinegar and halloumi. The strawberries make the salad sweet, the halloumi makes it salty and the balsamic ties the two flavours together. Fresh herbs, like mint and basil, play fine supporting characters, but if you don't have any around don't worry.


Halloumi and Strawberry Salad

serves one

Ingredients

a large handful or two of baby spinach or mixed greens
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt
pepper
6 or so fresh strawberries
a few slices of halloumi
fresh mint or fresh basil, optional

In a bowl mix together the lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Wash the strawberries, remove their stems, cut them into smaller pieces if need be and then add them to the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and then set aside.

Slice the halloumi. For one small salad you will want around three pieces. Heat a splash of cooking oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add the halloumi. Cook both sides until they are golden brown.

On a plate assemble the salad. Start with the greens and the fresh basil and mint, add the slices of halloumi and then add the strawberries and their dressing. Add a splash more of balsamic vinegar if you wish.

Guten!

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the addictive breakfast



I made this breakfast - a fried egg with sage, chili and garlicky yogurt - for the first time last week. The next day I made it again. Then I made it two days later, and I'll probably make it again tomorrow. You should go make it now too, no matter the time of day.

This combination came together effortlessly. Last Sunday I made Molly Wizenberg's meatballs with pine nuts, cilantro and golden raisins. After one day of hot meatballs and another day of cold leftovers, I had some of the accompanying yogurt sauce left in my fridge. With no meatballs left, I remembered a recipe I had read in Skye Gyngell's My Favourite Ingredients - a fried egg with sage, chili and garlicky yogurt.
I already had the yogurt sauce in the fridge and a sage plant in the living room. She describes this combination as compulsive. My loyalty last week to these four flavours proves her right.

Skye's yogurt sauce has only yogurt, garlic, sea salt and olive oil. The leftover yogurt sauce for the meatballs had yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and salt and - with a splash of good olive oil - it has become the sauce that I eat compulsively. The yogurt sauce keeps for a few days in the fridge so you'll probably want to make more than you need just to make sure that you have an excuse to eat this a few days in a row.


Fried Egg with Sage, Chili and Garlicky Yogurt

adapted from Skye Gyngell's 'My Favourite Ingredients'

serves 2

Ingredients

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
sea salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
a dash of cumin
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

a small handful of fresh sage leaves
a very generous knob or two of butter
2 eggs
1/2 red chili, thinly sliced

In a bowl mix together the yogurt, garlic, sea salt, lemon juice, cumin and olive oil. Combine well and set aside so that the flavours mingle and develop.

Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the fresh sage leaves and cook until the leaves are crispy and the butter begins to brown. Remove the sage leaves from the pan and set aside. Crack the two eggs and add to the pan. Also add the sliced chili and cook until the egg whites are firm and the yolks and chili are soft. If there is enough butter in the pan, spoon the hot butter over the whites to flavour them and to help them cook faster.

To serve generously spoon the yogurt dip onto two plates. On each plate lay an egg on top of the yogurt, then scatter with the chili and crispy sage. Spoon any leftover butter from the pan on top and serve at once.


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mustard for bread


When I moved to Germany the first time some years ago I came across Feigensenf in the aisles of my local grocery story. Fig and mustard together? The sweetness of figs married to the spiciness of grainy mustard seeds? Brilliant, I thought. I immediately purchased a jar. This all happened at a time when my Berlin apartment was still without a fridge. It was early October. The air had cooled and instead of a fridge we had a plastic bag hanging off of our window sill. Clearly the plastic bag was a rather sad attempt to chill our groceries and space was quite limited. However, the fig mustard was our condiment prized enough to get a spot.

When I moved to Germany the second time this summer I immediately included fig mustard on my grocery list. I found it, but the brand was different. The figs were more subtle; it was not quite the same. A change of sheets of paper and fig mustard landed itself on my long list of things I would like to make (a different grocery list of sorts).

Last week the Bread Exchange came to Munich. It is such a simple and brilliant concept; Malin bakes bread - far too much for her to eat alone - and then trades it. Surely if I was better at baking bread I would want to steal the idea; I like it that much. I decided to trade fig mustard for bread and what a bread it was: sourdough with dried apricots made with beer! Even better, it was a tasty companion for fig mustard and some mixed greens.

I really like a grainy French style mustard and I like fig mustard even more. You'll want to make this while the weather is still good for grilling. Eat it with spicy beef or lamb sausages. Stir it into salad dressings. Dip roasted potatoes into it. Spread it on sandwiches and, perhaps my favourite, eat it to a grilled cheese sandwich. Mustard keeps for a while in the fridge; however, with the figs it will only keep for a few weeks. Don't worry though, you'll want to eat it often.

Fig Mustard

Ingredients

4 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
4 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp agave nectar or honey
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup red wine vinegar, port wine, or water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup fresh figs, mashed with a fork

Mix all of the ingredients except for the figs in a jar or a large container with a tight fitting lid (anything other than metal as metal will corrode). Shake well and then let soak for at least twelve hours and up to two days.

Blend the mixture with the figs in a blender until you reach your desired coarseness. Place in a jar or container and store in the fridge.


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