Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Case of Christmas and Black Bean Vegetable Soup

Just before the snow flew this year, I sat on a park bench overlooking Black Current Bay. Karl was getting off from work early, and was coming to join me. I soaked in the autumn sun. I watched Chickadees flitting from branch to branch. One landed on a Queens Anne’s Lace flower that had dried and closed. He hung upside down and pecked bugs, his weight bending the fragile stem. I watched as he flitted to his next perch. What? Oh no! He flapped frantically!

Caught in a burr bush.

I didn’t want to intervene right away, and scare him, thinking he would escape on his own. But he didn’t.

He didn't!

He was getting more and more entangled.

I approached. Sure enough he was so stuck. He squawked softly, beseechingly, and to my ears cried, “Help me!”

I wish I were brave enough right then and there to tear his delicate legs, wings, and fluffy down-covered flesh away from the burrs, but I worried I’d cause too much damage. I tried to figure out what was best. Should I cut off the stalk and take stalk and all to a vet? Should I run to the nearest downtown building and ask for help? I searched my purse for manicure scissors, and cut off surrounding burrs so he wouldn’t get trapped yet again if he managed to free himself. But by now he was Velcro'd, all the way up the length of his body to his throat.

Luckily, I saw Karl approaching. I shouted to him to hurry. I steadied the stalk, and Karl pulled. I asked Karl to keep hold of the bird. I didn’t want him to flutter away with burrs still attached to him. Karl said, “He’s bleeding.”

He held the tiny Chickadee chest-up and asked me to pull away the last knot of burrs. I couldn’t do it.

So Karl did, then released him, and he flew away. I asked if Karl thought the Chickadee would be alright. He said, yes, the bleeding would stop and his wounds would heal, and it was an excellent sign our Chickadee was fit to fly.

You know, I so identified with that scared, trapped bird.

Don’t you think we humans feel similarly trapped sometimes? And we could use a hand more powerful than ours to help us to freedom? Anyway…that whole scenario spoke to me of...connection.

Merry Christmas!

Black Bean Vegetable Soup

3/4 cup black beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsps curry powder
1 cinnamon stick
28-oz-can diced tomatoes
9 cups water
7 rounded tsps (for 7 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
1 cup tomato juice
pepper
salt
fresh parsley, chopped

Simmer together the first 12 ingredients (black beans to pepper to taste) for 2 hours in an uncovered pot.

Remove the cinnamon stick.

Blend one cup of the soup. Return the blended portion to the pot. Salt to taste.

Garnish with parsley.

Serves 6.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

#67 The Case of Mushroom Risotto

I've admitted to a fondness for rice. I must also fess up to a passion for Italian food. I have no Italian heritage (friend Gina does), I just consider Italian the finest of world cuisines.

Mushroom Risotto

2 cups boiling water
2 rounded teaspoons (for 2 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
1 shallot, minced (or an equivalent amount of minced onion)
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 teaspoons olive oil (plus 1 tablespoon for sautéing the mushrooms)
2/3 cup Arborio rice
1/6 cup white wine
1/2 cup dried, assorted mushrooms
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 cup chopped, fresh thyme
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/6 cup grated Parmesan (or Pine Nut Parmesan for Vegan option)
salt
pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme to garnish

Prepare a bouillon with the water and vegetable bouillon powder.

In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the shallots and celery in the olive oil for 2 min.

Add the rice and sauté for 5 min.

Add the wine and stir until it's nearly absorbed.

Add the dried mushrooms, turmeric, fresh thyme and 1/3 cup of the bouillon and stir, and continue to simmer, until liquid is nearly absorbed. Continue adding 1/3 cupfuls of the bouillon, and stirring, for 25 min. or until the rice is creamy and firm but not hard (you will need to add 1/3 cupfuls of water toward the end).

While the risotto is simmering, sauté the sliced mushrooms in the extra olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. When nicely browned, remove from heat and set aside.

When the risotto is ready, stir in the Parmesan and the sautéed mushrooms.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with the fresh thyme sprigs.

Serves 2.

Becki 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Case of Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Vinaigrette

December is here! Don't these tomatoes in their containers look like Christmas balls? I was thinking of sending out Christmas cards with this photo on the front, but thought, well, maybe my friends and family won't appreciate the comparison. But I think tomatoes are as magical as Christmas decorations. Dress them up with–

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Vinaigrette

3 tbsps balsamic vinegar
2 tbsps olive oil
salt
pepper

Whisk or shake together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Case of 25 Days of Christmas Giveaways!

Hi all! This is a bonus post. Imajin Books, which is publishing A Purse to Die For (never gonna stop talking about it because I'm so excited to be in it!), is throwing this big contest, and I thought you might want to participate. Click on the banner above to go to the Imajin website page and find all the details. Good luck!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Case of Panzanella

The great thing about being a foodie is the potential for growth. Not in waistline...uh...I mean the subject of food is so large, I'll never stop learning. For example – I was aware of the Italian salad Panzanella, and thought, Yuck, bread salad. The word soggy came to mind. Then I saw an Italian making it with love, and decided to give it a try.

Revelation! Comforting, healthy, simple, delicious. The pieces of bread taste like wonderful, chewy Italian loaf you've chosen from the bread basket at table, and moistened in a tiny bowl of olive oil swirled with balsamic vinegar. Panzanella reminds me of bruschetta even, because the bread morsels soak in some of the tomato juices as well.

Panzanella

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Vinaigrette (Recipe in my next post.)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
8 diagonally sliced pieces Italian bread
4 cups multi-coloured grape tomatoes, halved
2 sprigs fresh basil

Whisk the Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Vinaigrette in the bottom of a large bowl. Drop in the red onion. Break the bread into bite-size pieces over the onion. One by one, squeeze the grape tomato halves over the bread, then add to the bowl. Tear the fresh basil leaves into the salad as well. Toss. Serves 4.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Case of Congratulations!

FRIENDS MELODIE CAMPBELL AND CYNTHIA ST-PIERRE HAVE SIGNED A BOOK DEAL! Congratulations you two!

Did I mention that I...yours truly...Becki Green...am a featured character in their book – like Dr. Watson to my friend Gina's Holmes? So...not the star of the show, but as Karl would tactfully put it, "You don't always have to be the centre of attention."

PS The fireworks display is courtesy of Microsoft.    

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Case of Pizza Dough

This dough bakes up thin, mi-crispy/mi-chewy, and redolent of yeast. I sprinkled it with 1/4 cup shredded light mozzarella and 1/8 cup grated Parmesan (per pizza), instead of the sliced bocconcini of Vegetarian Pepperoni Pizza.

Pizza Dough

1 cup very warm water (120ºF - 130ºF)
1 rounded tsp salt
1 envelope instant yeast
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
olive oil

In a large bowl, whisk together the water, salt and yeast. Whisk in 1 cup of the flour until a loose batter forms. Stir in the remaining 2 cups flour and mix until a dough forms. You may need to add more water, up to 1/3 cup. Start kneading the dough in the bowl and then transfer to a flat surface and continue kneading for a total of 6 min. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a deep, oiled bowl. Turn the dough a few times until it's coated in oil. Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap. You can refrigerate the dough overnight at this point, or allow it to rise in a warm place (which can be your oven – heated for 5 min. at the lowest temperature – when it's cold outside and a sunny window just won't cut it) for 2 hours until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 500ºF. Punch down the dough and divide into 4 smaller balls. Shape each ball into a disk with your fingers. On a flour-dusted surface, roll each disk into a 12" circle about 1/8" thick. Lay on an oiled pizza pan (pans with ventilation holes in the bottom crisp the crust). Bake for 5 min., bottom rack. Remove from oven and poke any air bubbles with a knife. Spread with sauce, cheese, toppings...oh, the possibilities...and bake again for another 7 min. Makes 4 personal 12" pizzas.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Case of Chilli (Update)

The last update I got from Samsung inexplicably deleted the driver for my Samsung notebook's touchpad. Oops! The following Chilli update is much less painful. Promise.

What I found was my Chilli was sticking to the bottom of the pot. I had to stir it often to prevent burning. So I said to myself, "Yves Original Ground Round is already cooked, so why not stir it in near the end of the cooking period, just so it has time to warm up?" Low and behold, the package advises the very same thing. 

And how about replacing the 28-oz-can tomato sauce with a 14-oz-can tomato sauce and a 14-oz-can diced tomatoes to give the Chilli a more rustic look and mouth feel?

Lastly, 5 jalapenos is a lot. And you can buy some pretty hefty jalapenos! It might be wise to call for 4 jalapenos. Or better yet, 3 chillis for a spicy, red-speckled look. Yup, I'm going back and changing my original post. I mean...I could leave my original Chilli recipe post alone, but when I cook, I want to refer to a single recipe with all revisions incorporated, so here goes...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Case of Maple-roasted Beet Soup

In a previous post, I said I hadn't yet "discovered" my vegan alternative to dairy. Light coconut milk just may be it! According to product labels, 60 ml light coconut milk has 40 calories, compared to 60 calories in 2% evaporated milk, which I've already substituted for cream. Regrettably, light coconut milk does have more fat – 3.5 g compared to 1.2 g. But if animal products aren't part of your diet, that's not such a big deal, is it? And when I dilute light coconut milk (1 part light coconut milk to 1 part water) to make "milk" for cereal, the resulting 250 ml beverage again has more fat than 2% milk – 7.5 g compared to 5 g – but its calorie count at 84 is much better than 2% milk's at 130.

Unfortunately, coconut palms don't grow in Black Currant Bay, Northern Ontario, Canada. So light coconut milk doesn't score points in the "buy local" arena. Shall I be kind to the environment and buy local, or be kind to the environment and eat vegan? Often the two acts are simultaneous. In this case, they're not. Buy local...eat vegan? And here's another dilemma – I photographed my vegan Maple-roasted Beet Soup accompanied by a grilled cheese sandwich. Life is complicated.

Maple-roasted Beet Soup

6 red beets, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seed
2 tbsps olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 cups water
4 rounded tsps (for 4 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
1 cup light coconut milk
salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place the beets and onion in a 9" X 13" pan. Sprinkle with the garlic and cumin seed, and drizzle with the olive oil and maple syrup. Toss to coat the vegetables. Roast for 30 min. Scrape the roasted vegetables and juices into a saucepan with the water and vegetable bouillon powder, and simmer, covered, until the beets are tender. Blend, and return to the pot. Stir in the light coconut milk, season with salt and pepper to taste, and heat to serving temperature. Serves 4.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Case of Tomato Cucumber Salad

I photographed this salad outside in the sun, and you can tell autumn is here, because there's an amber quality to the light – lovely, warm, and...disturbing at the same time. Why? Because it heralds the imminent succession of the hard blue light of winter.

Tomato Cucumber Salad

1-1/2 cups seeded, chopped cucumber
1-1/2 cups seeded, chopped tomato
1/2 cup Greek olives, pitted
1/8 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsps olive oil
vegetable seasoning

Toss together all the ingredients, including vegetable seasoning to taste – I use plenty as you can see in the picture – then chill. The salt in the vegetable seasoning coaxes out the juices in the vegetables so they bathe in their own "vinaigrette". Serves 2.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Case of a Variety of Blessings

One autumn evening, when the air outside was tinted the dusty rose of a Northern Ontario sunset, hubby Karl looked up from his copy of the Black Currant Bay Beacon Star and said, "Sounds like Tom's having trouble with his Jeep."

What? I could barely hear what he was talking about, would never have identified it as a Jeep, certainly not a Jeep in trouble, let alone Tom's Jeep in trouble. Not wanting to believe perceptiveness like this was strictly a Chief of Police thing, or heaven forbid a man thing, I decided to come up with an equally impressive example of insightfullness from my own experience.

How about that time I pointed out a problem in a high-priced Toronto antique store? I remember Karl beseeched me at the time to leave it alone, but the owner had mistakenly labelled an occasional chair Louis XV, when I knew for sure it was Louis XVI. Karl claimed both Louis' were way too dead to care. I realised we are all blessed...differently. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

#57 The Case of Caribbean-style Rice and Peas

3/4 cup brown rice, soaked uncovered for 1 hour, then drained and rinsed
2 cups water
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 Scotch bonnet pepper
2 rounded teaspoons (for 2 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
1 teaspoon allspice
3/4 cup white rice
19-oz-can kidney beans, rinsed
2 green onions
salt

Bring the water, light coconut milk, pepper, onion, thyme, Scotch bonnet pepper, vegetable bouillon powder and allspice to a boil.

Add the brown rice and the white rice, cover, return to a boil, and simmer for 17 min.

Remove the Scotch bonnet pepper.

Stir in the kidney beans, 1 chopped green onion, and salt to taste.

Turn off the burner and let the pot sit, covered, for another 3 min.

Plate, and snip the remaining green onion over the top to garnish.

Serves 4.

Becki

PS Share the love!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

#55 The Case of Curried Egg Salad Sandwiches

I'm convinced it's possible to enjoy cruelty-free eggs ever since I vacationed at a small farmstead, when early Saturday morning I strolled to the hen house out back and gathered an abundance of eggs from clean straw beds, while the chickens roamed outside. I felt no guilt scooping the eggs up, which I surely would have, had I sensed I was taking something those hens weren't willing to part with. Sadly, I'm convinced that mass production of what animals are able to offer as gifts is another story.

Curried Egg Salad Sandwiches

3 extra large or jumbo eggs, hard-boiled and shelled
1/2 tablespoon grainy mustard
1-1/2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
pepper
4 slices whole-wheat bread
handful sorrel leaves (lemony)

Mash the eggs, and mix in the grainy mustard, light mayonnaise, curry powder and pepper to taste.

Spread on two slices of the whole-wheat bread. Top with the sorrel, then the two remaining slices of bread.

Serves 2.

Becki

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Case of Penne in a Creamy Sauce with Zucchini Sun-dried Tomatoes and Fresh Parsley

If you're like me and afraid to open your fridge for fear of all the summer squash accumulating inside, please go to my post, Penne in a Creamy Sauce with Mushrooms Sun-dried Tomatoes and Fresh Parsley, and instead of the mushrooms, use 1 lb zucchini, chopped.

     "No, that's alright, Kathleen. I've got plenty of zucchini. Thanks anyway."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Case #53

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb zucchini, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
3 rounded teaspoons nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup light coconut milk
salt to taste
8 ice cubes plus water to make 1-1/2 cups

Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender, in the order given, and blend on the "Smoothie" setting.

Serves 2.

Becki

PS Good enough to Tweet.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Case of Curry Fried Rice and Long-grain Rice

Curry Fried Rice

3 rounded tsps (for 3 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
1/8 cup boiling water
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp canola oil
2 rounded tsps curry powder
2 tbsps soya sauce
2 eggs, beaten
1 recipe Long-grain Rice (see below), reheated in the microwave
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Dissolve the vegetable bouillon powder in the boiling water. Stir-fry the onion, garlic, and red pepper in the two oils. Add the curry powder, soya sauce, and the vegetable bouillon mixture. Stir-fry for 1 min. then push to the side in order to scramble the eggs, separating the eggs into bite-size pieces. Now stir in the rice with the fresh cilantro. Serves 4.

Long-grain Rice

3 cups water
salt
1-1/2 cups long-grain rice

Bring the water and salt to taste to a boil. Add the rice, cover, return to a boil, and simmer for 17 min. Serves 4.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Case of Green Basil

Black Currant Bay herb farmer/market vendor Al (haven't got his last name yet) looks like a former body builder, but probably built his impressive frame working his farm. He wears a white cowboy hat every time I see him, and this last time, he drawled out, "Ma'am, most cut herbs you keep in plastic in the fridge. Basil is the only herb you store stems down in a glass of water at room temperature – just like a bouquet." Thanks Al!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Case of Penne in a Pesto Sauce with Red Onion and Grape Tomatoes

To swirl garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan and fresh basil through its blades for pesto, my blender demands too much oil. Maybe a food processor is more efficient – don't have one – you tell me. Anyway...instead I mince by hand. It's not hard. Really. And it's oh so satisfying to toss hot penne rigate with homemade pesto, red onions for crunch, and grape tomatoes for their burst of sweetness. 

Notice in this recipe I forgo my usual practice of using half whole-wheat penne rigate/half regular penne rigate. A health sacrifice so as not to muddy my basil green palette.

Penne in a Pesto Sauce with Red Onion and Grape Tomatoes

4 cups penne rigate
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil, minced
1/4 cup pine nuts, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt
I cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup grape tomatoes, the larger ones halved

Cook the penne rigate. In the meantime, stir together the Parmesan, garlic, fresh basil, pine nuts and olive oil. Salt to taste. Drain the pasta and toss with the red onion, grape tomatoes, and pesto. Serves 4.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Case #49

My sister, Anne, was visiting Karl and me in our apartment above Beautiful Things and it was a hot, humid, summer evening, just like it's going to be again this evening...almost too hot to move...
 
"You know what I enjoy?" I said, pushing my middle finger against my thumb in preparation. "Pinging flying bugs off the window screen from inside."
 
"You enjoy that," Anne confirmed.
 
"Yes. Think how exhilarated they must feel when they find themselves launched out into open space." I flicked my finger and sent one rocketing off the kitchen screen.
 
Anne looked at me as levelly as possible with one slightly crossed eye.
 
"Really, you should try it sometime," I said. "It's therapeutic. Releases pent-up emotion."
 
"As liberating as that may be," she acknowledged, "here's hoping it's not genetic."
 
Wisely, Karl said nothing at all.
  
Pasta with Grape Tomatoes Greek Olives Green Onions and Pine Nut Parmesan

enough whole-wheat spaghetti for two people
enough regular spaghetti for two
2 cups grape tomatoes
2 rounded teaspoons (for 2 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
3/4 cup Greek olives, pitted
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup Pine Nut Parmesan
pepper

Cook the spaghetti (add the whole-wheat spaghetti to the pot first, bring back to a boil and cook for 1 min. before adding the regular spaghetti).

Just before the pasta is al dente, with a potato masher, smash the grape tomatoes in the bottom of a pot. Add the vegetable bouillon powder and Greek olives and bring to a boil. Simmer until hot.

Drain the pasta and toss in the tomato mixture with the green onions and Pine Nut Parmesan.

Plate and grind pepper on top to taste.

Serves 4.

Becki

PS Good enough to Tweet!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Case of Chilled Yogurt Cucumber Soup

The Internet can be an anonymous medium. And sometimes I'd like to keep it that way, because...judging by my former teenage standards...I'm ancient. Of course I'm younger than Joan Rivers, yes...but I'm much older than Natalie Portman. Older than Catherine Zeta-Jones (still her doppelganger)...younger than– Listen, if I've got my facts straight, I'm about five years younger than John Travolta. Which means I'm old enough to have studied computer when just one processor took up an entire room, and young enough not to be terrified of ATMs.

Chilled Yogurt Cucumber Soup

2 cups 2% yogurt
1 seedless cucumber, chopped
1 tsp honey
salt
pepper
1/8 cup fresh chives

Blend together the 2% yogurt, cucumber, honey, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into bowls and snip the chives on top. Serves 4.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Case of Bocconcini Salad (Cantaloup Variation)

You can see I don't make perfect cantaloup balls. But, hey, I slice most of them in half anyway, to be of a consistent size with the bocconcini. One thing for sure, on a hot summer day, this salad quenches!

Bocconcini Salad (Cantaloup Variation)

1 cup cucumber, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1 cup cantaloup balls, most of them halved
1 cup bocconcini
1/2 recipe Olive Oil and Red Wine Vinegar Vinaigrette
1/8 cup fresh chives

Toss the vegetables, fruit and cheese with the Olive Oil and Red Wine Vinegar Vinaigrette. Plate, and snip the chives on top. Makes 2 meal-size salads.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Case of Asparagus with Parmesan Lemon Mustard Sauce

Occasionally when I was little, and Maria – my friend and our beloved cook – was off, Mom stepped in and made Stephen and I asparagus with cream sauce on toast. She'd belt out an aria as she whisked flour, salt, pepper and milk into melted butter in a saucepan on the stove. Seasonal asparagus made Mom happy. I tend to romanticize the things she loved myself...well...except opera.

Saturday, these jade green spikes of asparagus, tipped with lavender, jumped out at me at the farmer's market. I carried two bunches to our apartment above Beautiful Things. In our cozy kitchen, I made my own, up-dated, carb-wise version of my mother's meal, for Karl and me.

Asparagus with Parmesan Lemon Mustard Sauce

2 bunches asparagus
2 tbsps butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsps flour
1/4 tsp salt
pepper

1 cup 2% milk
1 tsp grainy mustard
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tbsp lemon juice
Parmesan to shave

Cook the asparagus until tender-crisp. In the meantime, sauté the garlic in the butter. Add the flour, salt, and pepper to taste, and whisk until smooth. Gradually add the 2% milk, and whisk until thickened. Stir in the mustard, grated Parmesan and lemon juice. Lay the asparagus spears on two plates and spoon on the Parmesan Lemon Mustard Sauce. Shave a little extra Parmesan on top to garnish. Serves 2.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Case of Grilled Veggies

Grilled Veggies

2 zucchinis, thickly sliced on a diagonal
1 red pepper, cut in pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut in pieces
1 orange pepper, cut in pieces
2 tbsps olive oil
vegetable seasoning (Club House la Grille Vegetable Seasoning is nice)

In a large bowl, toss the veggies with the olive oil and vegetable seasoning to taste. Grill on a BBQ until marked on both sides and tender crisp. Serves 4.

Monday, June 13, 2011

#43 The Case of Papaya Coconut Milkshake

1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup (at least) seeded, peeled and chopped papaya (1/4 papaya)
1/2 tablespoon raw agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 ice cubes

Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender, in the order given, and blend.

Serves 1.

Becki

PS If using cashew milk instead of coconut milk, reduce vanilla to 1/4 teaspoon.

PPS Share the ♥! 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

#42 The Case of Penne in a Creamy Sauce with Mushrooms Sun-dried Tomatoes and Fresh Parsley

4 cups penne rigate
1 cup cashew cream, which is simply Cashew Milk made with half the water
2 rounded teaspoons (for 2 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
1 1b mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, sliced
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Boil the penne.

Just before the pasta is al dente, sauté the mushrooms in the olive oil until golden brown.

Add the cashew cream and vegetable bouillon powder and stir until thickened.

Salt to taste.

Drain the pasta and toss in the creamy mushroom sauce with the sun-dried tomatoes and fresh parsley.

Serves 4.

Becki

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Case of Strawberry Black Bean Salsa

While prepping ingredients for a June variation of Pineapple Black Bean Salsa (substituting strawberries for pineapple), I realised the size of the red onion in the recipe should seriously be discussed. Reason being, I've seen some GINORMOUS red onions in my time...and an onion of approximately 1/2-cup volume is plenty thank you very much. I consider an onion of approximately 1/2-cup volume an average onion, and one that fits all my recipes.

Strawberry Black Bean Salsa

1 lb strawberries, chopped
19-oz can black beans, rinsed
1 red onion (approximately 1/2-cup volume), chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds

Combine all the ingredients and chill. Serves 4.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Case of Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte

Eat your heart out Starbucks!

Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte

1 tbsp honey
1 cup 2% milk
1 vanilla rooibos tea bag

Pour the honey into the bottom of a small teapot. Gradually stir in the milk to blend. Nuke in microwave on high for approximately 1 minute, 45 seconds. Drop in the vanilla rooibos tea bag and let steep for 3 minutes. Dunk the tea bag a few times to dispense its flavour, take the tea bag out, then pour your latte. Serves 1.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Case of Yogurt and Honey Ranch Salad Dressing and Dip

How to make a traditional tossed salad special? Use the freshest greens, the crispest cucumbers, the most succulent tomatoes, and MAKE YOUR OWN DRESSING. Then call that tossed salad your own!

Yogurt and Honey Ranch Salad Dressing and Dip

1/2 cup 2% yogurt
70g (about 1/2 cup) feta, chopped
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
3/4 tsp honey
1/8 tsp garlic powder
salt
pepper

Blend together all the ingredients, including salt and pepper to taste. Serves 3.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Case of Spaghetti Low Carbonara Footprint

Pasta is vegetarian, but it's also a carb – a carb that is not my friend if I want to keep on looking like Catherine Zeta-Jones that is. Karl, Anne, Stephen, Kathleen, France...all you family and friends...you can stop snickering now. Oh but I love pasta! So I eat it for lunch instead of dinner to burn up those carbs during the most active part of my day. And I never, ever, add bread.  

Spaghetti Low Carbonara Footprint

enough whole-wheat spaghetti for two people (I have a bright yellow spaghetti measure, do you?)
enough regular spaghetti for two
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tbsp olive oil
3 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
salt
pepper
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, chopped
2 tbsps chopped fresh parsley

Cook the spaghetti (add the whole-wheat spaghetti to the pot first, bring back to a boil and cook for 1 min. before adding the regular spaghetti). Just before the pasta is al dente, sauté the garlic and rosemary in the olive oil. Drain the pasta (saving 1/4 cup pasta water), and toss the pasta in the fragrant oil. Quickly whisk together the eggs, Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in the reserved pasta water. Toss with the spaghetti until the sauce thickens. Plate, and sprinkle with the sun-dried tomatoes and parsley. Serves 4.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Case of Dying for Chocolate

Mysteries and chocolate brought us together – Janet Rudolph and me. Janet writes the wonderful blog Dying for Chocolate. Plus Mystery Fanfare and Team Building Talk, both of which you can link to from Dying for Chocolate. Janet and I also have running businesses in common. Her business is Murder on the Menu, an interactive mystery event planning company, and it's division TeamBuilding Unlimited, where she and partner Frank Price create Chocolate Scavenger Hunts...Chocolate Tastings...and so much more. She's been a judge at the San Francisco Chocolate Salon and the Tasty Awards. She's the director of Mystery Readers International, edits the Mystery Readers Journal, facilitates a weekly mystery book group, hosts literary salons with mystery authors, has been a committee member for numerous mystery conventions, and has a Ph.D. in religious mystery fiction... You can imagine how thrilled I was when Janet invited me to guest blog. And so...it's a privilege and an honour for me to forward you, treasured reader, to http://dyingforchocolate.blogspot.com/2011/04/french-chocolate-hazelnut-toast-cynthia.html, there to discover a world of chocolate, and my guest post featuring French Chocolate Hazelnut Toast, pictured above.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Case of Orange Vanilla Vinaigrette

Can't help but look forward to this year's June fair. Although it's still chilly here in Black Currant Bay, when I gaze at this snapshot of the set-up of last year's event, I anticipate those carefree days. Salad Days.

Orange Vanilla Vinaigrette

2 tbsps lemon juice
1 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps honey
1 tbsp grated orange peel
1/4 tsp vanilla

Whisk or shake together all the ingredients. Serves 4.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

#34 The Case of Grilled Fig Salad

This salad tastes way too decadent not to be dessert and yet...it's leafy greens.

Grilled Fig Salad

10 oz (284-g-pack) mixed lettuce
1 cup pecans, toasted in the oven at 350ºF for 10 min.
12 figs (more or less, depending on size), stems removed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup light ricotta

Toss together the mixed lettuce, Orange Vanilla Vinaigrette and pecans.
 
Plate.
 
Cut the figs in half lengthwise and grill them face down 30 seconds in a hot, non-stick pan brushed with the olive oil.
 
Arrange the figs on the salad. Dollop with teaspoons of ricotta.
 
Makes 4 meal-size salads.
 
Becki
 
PS Also good with a bunch of raw grapes cut in half lengthwise to replace the figs.

Friday, April 1, 2011

#33 The Case of Not Just for Breakfast Sandwich

In the sandwich above, a thick, juicy slice of tomato subs for ham. It's exactly like when the substitute teacher rocks in the classroom.

Not Just for Breakfast Sandwich

1 egg
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 English muffin
1 slice tomato
salt
pepper
1 slice old Cheddar

Fry the egg in the olive oil in a non-stick pan.

Toast the English muffin.

Lay the slice of tomato on one half of the toasted muffin, slide on the egg, salt and pepper to taste, top with the Cheddar, then the other half of the muffin.

Eat enthusiastically.

Serves 1.

Becki

Monday, March 21, 2011

#32 The Case of Lemon Risotto with Leeks and Peas

One of the things I promised myself when I decided to eat vegetarian was I wasn't going to consume unappealing stuff just to avoid meat. There may be vegetarians out there (hats off to you) who stick to their principles even if they have to restrict themselves to the bread basket (I mean the bread in the basket and not the basket itself) in a 5-star restaurant. Sorry, not that kind of chick. So every now and then I get stuck eating meat. Good thing about that scene is—I keep a reference to how non-veggie food tastes and ensure all my vegetarian recipes compete.

Like this risotto recipe. Not a drop of chicken stock in it but you won't miss it. I promise.

Lemon Risotto with Leeks and Peas

2 cups boiling water
2 rounded teaspoons (for 2 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
1 shallot, minced (or an equivalent amount of minced onion)
3/4 cup chopped leek
3 teaspoons olive oil
2/3 cup Arborio rice
1/6 cup white wine
1 cup fresh (or frozen) peas
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/6 cup grated Parmesan (or Pine Nut Parmesan for the vegan option)
1/2 teaspoon (plus a little more to garnish) grated lemon rind
salt
pepper

Prepare a bouillon with the water and vegetable bouillon powder.

In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the shallot and leek in the olive oil for 2 min.

Add the rice and sauté for 5 min.

Add the white wine and stir until it's nearly absorbed.

Add 1/3 cup of the bouillon and stir, and continue to simmer, until liquid is nearly absorbed. Continue adding 1/3 cupfuls of the bouillon and stirring.

With the last addition of the bouillon, add the peas. Add 1/3 cupfuls of water if needed and stir and simmer for a total of 25 min. or until the rice is creamy and firm but not hard.

Stir in the lemon juice, Parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Plate, and sprinkle with a little more grated lemon rind.

Serves 2.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

#31 The Case of Tomato Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato Goat Cheese Tart

1 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon sugar
3/8 teaspoon salt (divided)
1/3 cup butter, chopped
4 teaspoons vinegar
5 oz goat cheese
3 eggs
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup evaporated 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 green onion, chopped
4 Roma tomatoes, quartered lengthwise, with cores and seeds removed

Grease a 9" round pan, one with a removable ring.

Mix together the spelt flour, sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add the vinegar and work until a ball forms. You may need to add a teaspoon of water.

Press the dough over the bottom and slightly up the ring of the pan, and refrigerate for 30 min.

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Mash the goat cheese in a bowl.

Whisk the eggs, then whisk in the 2% milk, 2% evaporated milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

Gradually combine the egg mixture with the goat cheese, not worrying about lumps.

Fan the tomatoes on top of the crust in a circular pattern. Pour on the egg mixture. Evenly distribute the green onion.

Bake on a lower rack for 50 min.

Let stand 15 min.

Set the tart on a serving dish, run a knife around the edge of the pan, then remove the ring from the pan—ta-da!

Serves 4.

Becki
 
PS Replace the tomatoes with cooked beets and the goat cheese with feta for an alternative yum.