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.


Guten!


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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.

Guten!

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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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