Monthly Archives: June 2010

Vegetarian BBQ!

Summer finally arrived in Edmonton this past weekend.

Temperatures were below seasonal for the first two weeks of June, but now that summer is just around the corner the temperature seems to have righted itself.

In celebration of the warm weather we decided to have our first BBQ of the year.  I know, I know, June 13th is a little late, but I am always slow on seasonal transitions.  This year I found myself saying it is still cool enough to use the oven or make risotto, so I better take advantage of it while I can.  Stupid really, since it looks like summer will only last 3 months at best. I should have been taking advantage of the fact that there wasn’t any snow and started BBQing a few weeks ago.

This may or may not come as a surprise, but I have actually been asked what the point is of having a BBQ when I won’t be cooking up a thick juicy steak.  Well, for starters nothing beats BBQed vegetables.

I recommend getting a stainless steel vegetable basket.  It is the perfect way to  cook up your favourite vegetables and much easier than trying to prevent them from falling through the grate.   I chopped up a red onion, yellow pepper, some baby zucchini, threw in a few whole cloves of garlic and drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top.  Although they were wonderful, I must admit they were a little undercooked.  The onions could have stood to be grilled for a few more minutes.  Next time I will leave them on for about 20 minutes.

I also parboiled some baby potatoes, drizzled them olive oil and some salt and pepper and wrapped them up in foil before I threw them on the grill.  EPC loved them.  They were tender and slightly charred. Delicious!

To top it all off I marinated a block of firm tofu with a really fantastic marinade from the Rebar cookbook and grilled that too.

I will share the recipe with you, because you can never have enough marinade recipes.  To make the inevitable transition to winter a little easier this marinade works great with a stir fry too!

Basil-Soy Marinade

1 or 2 blocks of firm tofu (1 block serves two to three)
1/4 cup soy sauce, sodium reduced
2/3 cup of water
2 tablespoons of lime juice
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
2 teaspoon sugar
a few turns of the pepper mill
8 leaves of basil, roughly chopped

  • Slice the tofu into 3 thin rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half so you have six thin squares.
  • Combine at the ingredients, except the basil, into a small pot.
  • Simmer over medium low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Throw in the basil and pour over the tofu.
  • Marinade for 2-8 hours
  • Reserve the sauce and use to baste the tofu or as a stir-fry sauce.

Click to print

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Tostados with Black Beans, Jicama Slaw, Carrot Salsa and Feta.

After having jicama at a friend’s house last weekend, I thought I should make something with this seldom used (at least in my house) root vegetable. I found a recipe for Jicama Slaw in my latest library acquisition: The Real Food Daily Cookbook by Ann Gentry. She also has a recipe for Carrot Salsa that I adapted for tonight’s dinner. I figured it would be a pleasant departure from tomato salsa.

I’ll get straight to the point, the tostados  were fantastic. In fact, when EPC saw me putting them together he remarked that he could already tell that dinner was going to be amazing.

It was amazing: a crisp oven baked corn tortilla, topped with black beans, crumbled feta cheese, jicama slaw, carrot salsa, and a dollop of guacamole. All the flavours and textures worked really well together, plus it was a fun casual dinner – perfect for a Friday night.

The only thing that went wrong (other than forgetting to make the guacamole until the last minute) was that all 6 limes I bought produced a few meager tablespoons of juice between them.  Certainly, not enough to add the amount of tang needed.  In the recipes below I have suggest 3 tablespoons, but feel free to add more if you like.  Anyway, lesson learned. I picked up a bottle of Real Lime this weekend in case I need saving in the future.

Kelley’s Black Beans

1 19 oz can of black beans, undrained
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 roma tomato, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
Cayenne pepper, crushed red chilies, or a jalapeno to taste(I did not add any heat this time)

  • Saute the onion and garlic for about 5-7 minutes until soft (add jalapeno now, if using).
  • Add the seasoning and stir to coat.
  • Add black beans and their liquid and the tomatoes.  Increase heat until beans are bubbling.
  • Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
  • For tostados, remove from heat and let cool before assembling.

Carrot Salsa

2 cups approximately 4-5 medium carrots, coarsely grated
1/4 cup of cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup of red onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of lime juice, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon of salt

  • Put the carrots in a bowl and mix with cilantro, onion,  lime juice and salt.
  • Let sit 20 minutes

Jicama Slaw

2 cups of jicama, peeled and coarsely grated.
3/4 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons of lime juice, or more to taste

  • Squeeze the grated jicama to reduce its water content so it can absorb the lime juice (you will be surprised by how much water is in this vegetable!)
  • In a bowl combine the lime zest, lemon zest, lime juice and salt, and mix well.
  • Add the jicama and stir together
  • Let sit 20 minutes before serving

Oven Baked Tortillas

8 6-inch corn tortillas

  • Preheat oven to 350°C
  • You will need to do this in batches or use two cookie sheets.
  • Spray both sides of 4 corn tortillas lightly with oil, lay on a cookie sheet.  It is ok if they overlap.
  • Bake for 5 minutes and turn.  Bake another 3 minutes, or until crispy.
  • Let cool before topping

Tostado Assembly

  • Top cooled oven baked tortilla with a couple of spoonfuls of warm black beans.
  • Follow with crumbled feta cheese, a couple of spoonfuls of the jicama slaw and carrot salsa.
  • Finish with a dollop of guacamole.
  • Serve 3-4 tostados per person

Click to print

Apple Walnut Upside Down Cake and an evening with friends.

We were invited for dinner and board games at friend’s house this weekend and I was asked to bring dessert.

I figured I would bring a cake.  After all, everyone loves cake!  I like making cakes too.  I find them easy to put together and transport – since we would be walking.  Especially if they are a simple one layer cake without any fancy icing to get mussed up on the way.

I thought a perfect place to look for a cake recipe would be at this wonderful local food blog – The Cake Princess.

Take a look.

See what I mean.

It is the perfect place to look for cupcake recipes too – she has tonnes of those!

I made a few changes to the recipe.  I substituted Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free baking flour with 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum and used 1 1/2 cups of apples instead of 2 cups of peaches.  Our friend is celiac and loathes cooked peaches, so the changes were absolutely necessary.  And, although I have never tried the original, I don’t think the changes detracted from the dessert one bit.  The cake was light and fluffy and the fruit baked with nuts and the wonderful carmel syrup was fantastic.  I guess by now you figured out that this is not one those healthy dessert recipes that I often feature.

Before we got to the cake and the games, we were treated to the Black Bean Skillet Casserole with Cornbread Topping that I posted on Cookbook Cooks a few months ago.  Our hostess loves this dish and has made it 4 or 5 times since posting.  EPC and I hadn’t had it since, so it was nice to be reminded how delicious it is!  She rarely cooks with a recipe and treated us to her own invention of delicious pan-fried yams sweetened with a hint of maple syrup.  EPC was delighted.  Yams are his favourite vegetable.

She also had a mix of raw orange pepper and jicama for munching before dinner.  I hadn’t had jicama in ages, so I decided that I would make a slaw with jicama later this week.

Thanks for the jicama inspiration and the lovely evening.

If you want to be delighted by this cake you can find the recipe here.

Fennel and White Wine Risotto with a knob of butter

One good thing about having a cool spring is that I was able to make risotto one last time before the summer heat overtakes our condo. Since our condo faces west, the early evening sun heats up the place and makes the task of stirring hot broth into rice an unpleasant one to say the least.

That reminds me, risotto apparently works quite well in a pressure cooker. Perhaps the warm weather will make me break with tradition and opt for the quick no-stir method. Time will tell.

This risotto recipe was passed along to me by a co-worker.  One day, I was politely eyeing her lunch (this happens quite often), so she sent me the link.  The recipe is courtesy of Waitrose, a UK grocery store.

She and her husband hail from the UK, so we always have fun pointing out the different words used for things there and here. For example, jumper and sweater, garden and backyard, and football and soccer, to name a few.  I think my favourite one is flapjacks.  In Canada flapjacks, without a doubt, refers to pancakes.  In the UK it refers to a crunchy oatmeal-based cookie akin to a sweet granola bar. Wow! I couldn’t believe it. We both speak English, but sometimes it is like another language.  She made a batch of UK flapjacks for us to try, which we all agreed was a nice way to learn about a “different language” and a little easier to share at lunchtime than a plate of Canadian flapjacks.

The risotto recipe had a couple of firsts in it for me too: the first time I had cooked with fennel (hard to believe, I know) and the first time I had made risotto with white wine. The fennel was great (except that I did not chop it fine enough – easily remedied), but the white wine, not so much. I really dislike white wine and figured I would get past it in a risotto, but I couldn’t. Next time I make this dish, or another risotto that calls for white wine, I will leave it out and use extra stock.

The other thing that worked against me was that the power went out for 30 minutes right in the middle of cooking the risotto. Sigh. The texture was certainly a bit off and I had to add a few extra ladles of stock to get the dish back on track, but it survived.  At least the risotto was saved and we didn’t have to garbage it and go out to eat.

I used the recipe as is, so click here to take a look.

Oh, if you are wondering, a knob of butter translates to 2 tablespoon here in Canada.