Monday, January 30, 2012

a forced vacation in bed - not as sexy as it sounds

Hi all. I'm going to keep it short as I promised my doctor I would do nothing but read trashy magazines, watch movies and rest. I have had a very rough weekend suffering from an awful ear infection. Today my chiropractor suggested that it seems my body is trying to force me into taking a much needed vacation. Too bad my body can't transport me to a tropical destination for this unplanned unwanted time off. For now it's just me my pillow and bottle of ciprofloxacin for the next week. Kinda wishing my hubs wasn't on a two week business trip in the UK. Anyhoo  I just wanted to let you all know I should be back to blogging in a few days. Chow for now. xo

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Purple potato salad

After another round of fridge survivor (that's when you don't go grocery shopping and have to create a dish from the left over contents of your fridge) I created this colourful plate of deliciousness. I'm really pushing myself to write this post in an effort to get my mind off of my discomfort. The pain in my ear comes and goes and right now it's here with a vengeance. This damn ear infection better go away soon because I'm falling behind on this weeks to do list and I don't want to have to give up my weekend again. Oh well a Tomato Snobs gotta do what a Tomato Snobs gotta do! I have to say if I didn't care about my lovely readers I wouldn't bother writing this evening. Instead I'd curl up on the couch and watch "Touch" Keifer Southerland's new show that premiering right now - I pvr'ed it for later instead. I'm going to make this short and sweet. Purple potatoes make me happy! They have a stunning vibrant colour and subtle earthy sweetness. I think it's just more fun to eat colourful food. Doctors always say you should eat the rainbow and I'm pretty sure they aren't talking about skittles candy. This salad speaks to that concept in spades.

Purple Potato Salad 
purple potatoes - boiled and chopped 
green beans - blanched and chopped
radishes - chopped
marinated artichoke hearts - chopped
celery - chopped
cucumber - seeded and chopped
feta cheese - crumbled 
orange - juiced
lemon - juiced
cold infused olive oil - for dressing
salt & pepper
PREP: Boil the potatoes until tender, let them sit in a colander above the boiling water so that the steam can allow any excess water to evaporate. Blanch (in salted water) and shock the green beans, then chop. Chop the remaining veg and toss in 2 tbs or so of the cold infused olive oil, citrus juices and season with s & p to taste. *If I had parsley, mint or I would have chopped some up and added it to the salad. Crumble feta on top and enjoy. 

Chow for now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ear in F$%&Sh&$%!

Today I'm thinking about silly wives tales. I woke up yesterday with pain in my ear, which I though may just be water trapped in there, since the last time it happened my Dr. told me that was probably the culprit. As the day went on the pain got worse and worse and I started to think maybe I have an ear infection. Part of me thought ear infection? No Way! That's the type of thing only little kids get. I would have done anything for some relief, so I started to look up home remedies. There were all sorts of suggestions including drizzling oil oil in the ear or placing a hot towel over a cup and placing it on the ear. Dropping more liquid into my ear just freaked me out so I settled for placing a clove of garlic in my ear which did relieve some of the pain - I will admit. Waking up this morning my pain was even worse. Thank goodness I made a Dr's appointment for first thing today. It was confirmed I indeed have an infection in my ear boo hoo hoo. The pain has been terrible all day. When I told my mother in law about my infection she said "did you go outside in the cold with out a jacket?" It kind of made me laugh as do most old wives tales. No I obviously did not go out in the Canadian winter with out a jacket. She did impart some good advise telling me that applying heat to the ear would help with the pain. She was sort of right. Although it does relieve some of the pain I'd still like to rip my head off. Please don't expect too much from this Tomato Snob for the next few days. If anyone has any other home remedies I'm all ears. Lol... Oy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

California Sandwich - chicken parm & raipini

 There are some pretty good sandwich spots in Toronto. Some of them pop up and are slammed for a few moths or so before becoming a desolate wasteland. Then there are others that  a true urban tradition. Today I'm talking about California Sandwich - a legendary spot for Italian sandwiches.This delicious close up is of my chicken parm sandwich from the other day. The only thing better then a chicken parm sandwich is, a chicken parm sandwich with extra sauce and rapini. To tell you the truth California Sandwich isn't the absolute best, however it is sure to satisfy your sloppy sammy craving in desperate times. I will give the sandwich three starts out of five due to the fact that the chicken lacks in crispiness and is almost always soggy - the breading peels right off the chicken which is a sign that they might not be dredging properly. By this I refer to the assembly line process of dipping the flattened chicken breast into flour, then into egg and finally in marinated bread crumbs before taking a deep fry Jacuzzi in scolding hot oil. I will assume they are taking some short cuts to keep up with the demand for greasy goodness. Their bread could also be better i prefer a chewier crustier variety. Their sauce ie "gravy" as the Italians call it is top notch. After much finger licking and drinking directly from the tiny side order cup I will conclude that there are roasted jalapenos in this stunning concoction. The rapini was an excellent addition of garlicky bitter goodness. Never have I enjoyed a topping on this sandwich more. I'm not a fan of the hot pepper and onion mixture, nor the onion and mushroom offering. This place does have a cult like following. I am sure you will not be disappointed if the mood strokes you. I can not comment on any other dishes at this time since my knowledge is limited to this particular favorite. If I ever do try any of the other selections I will definitely keep you posted. Gnight!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

End of the weekend blueberry loaf with meyer lemon glaze

I hope you all had a great weekend, mine has been very relaxing spending time with my family for my dads 56th birthday. We had dinner at his place last night and I made a few dips and a blueberry loaf that caught my eye on one of my favorite blogs Eat Yourself Skinny.  I promised a weekend post and I thought this blueberry loaf would be a wonderful treat - I made a few changes to the original recipe (Adapted from Joy of Baking) and the cake turned out splendid. 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour - I used 1/2 stone ground whole wheat
1 tsp. baking powder
6 Tbsp salted butter, room temperature (if using unsalted butter add 1/4 tsp of salt)
3/4 cup organic demerara sugar (cane sugar)
2 large eggs - room temp.
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cardamom 
2 meyer lemons - zested 
1/2 cup light cream
1 cup fresh blueberries

FOR GLAZE: Just whisk the two together until smooth
about 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
juice form 2 meyer lemons

PREP: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.  Grease a 8inch square pan.  In a spouted large measuring cup combine sifted flour, baking powder, cardamom & salt. In a standing mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer combine sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time followed by vanilla & lemon zest. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times while incorporating the flour and cream. You want to add 1/3 of the flour then 1/2 the cream and repeat by adding another 1/3 of the flour and the rest of the cream finishing with the flour. Then gently fold in blueberries. 

BAKE: At 350 for 35 mins until slightly golden on top. Let the cake rest for 5 mins before removing from the pan, then drizzle with lemon glaze. 

 I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much I did. Chow for now. xo j.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Taboule with a Twist

 Taboule or tabouleh is a very traditional Middle Eastern salad. It's something I grew up eating and really love. Most of the time you see this being served along side a hummus plate or inside a shewarma sandwich. Traditionally taboule is made simply with bulgur, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, mint/ parsley, and lemon. I've obviously put my own Tomato Snob twist on it by using arugula in place of the parsley. I also added radish which I love for their bitter crunch, I also used red onion instead of white. This salad is wonderful served along side my blackened salmon or any grilled meat. As I'm trying to eat healthier and get more vitamins I also blanched off and quick pan fried some kale in my cold infused olive oil (from yesterdays demo).  Here's the taboule low down...
1 cup cooked bulgur - cook like rice: 1 cup dried bulgur to 1 3/5 cups liquid 
2 handfuls of arugula - fine chop
1 clove garlic - minced
2 tomatoes - seeds removed & finely chopped
handful radishes - fine chop
1/2 red onion - fine chop
2 baby cucumbers - seeds removed & finely chopped
1 sprig of mint - fine chop 
pinch salt & pepper
1 lemon - juiced
sumac - pinch 
drizzle olive oil - infused oil works too!
PREP: Chop all ingredients, add lemon s&p, sumac and drizzle of oil. Toss and enjoy! 

That's all folks... Happy Friday! Stay tuned for a special weekend post. I'm thinking a healthy baked good.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ladies of Hadassah - Cooking Demo

Hey yall. I just want to start out by welcoming some new readers to my blog. Last night my company The Fooding Co. conducted our first large cooking party. The party was hosted at my friend Sari's house who along with her awesome sister Alana. They are the baking babes from Cupcake Culture. I promised the ladies who attended that I would dedicate today's blog post to go over a few things form our demo. As my faithful readers - you'll also get to hear about what we did last night. 

The topics were hot vs. cold olive oil infusions as well as amping up simple healthy snacks to make them appropriate for entertaining. On the menu was our signature herb popcorn an artsy goat cheese tray with roasted grapes and stunning edamame hummus all served with home made crostini and baked naan chips. 

PART 1: Oil infusions : Hot vs. Cold
  • Popcorn - uses a hot oil infusion, which involves bringing olive oil to a boil (listen to the oil - it will speak to you by making snap and crackle noises) then turn the heat off and add dried herbs (Herb de Provence). By letting the herbs steep the oil becomes perfumed and more flavorful. 
  • Crostini / Naan chips - uses cold olive oil infusion. This involves using dried or fresh herbs (bruise them by rubbing with your fingers) crushed garlic, lemon zest (peel w/ vegetable peel) etc. To crisp up bread toast at 350 degrees for about 5 mins per side (or until golden & crispy). * Last nights cold oil included 2 crushed garlic cloves, lemon zest, 2 juniper berries crushed, pinch of dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, red pepper flakes, pink peppercorn, & salt. 

PART 2: Cheese Tray 
  • Goat Cheese Truffles - break up goat cheese into small chunks, then roll each chunk into little balls / or take the entire log of goat cheese & mould into flattened sphere. Then roll cheese in your herbs or lemon/ orange zest. *Last nights herbs included herb de Provence, Meyer lemon zest, tangerine zest, grapefruit zest, black & white sesame seeds, thyme, pink pepper corn, chives, and caraway seed. 
  • Roasted grapes - drizzle w cold infused oil & pinch of salt & pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Red or purple grapes work best. 
PART 3:  Edamame hummus & crudite
  • Roasted garlic - Cut top off head of garlic season with oil pinch salt & pepper and enclose in tin foil package. Roast at 350 for 35 mins to an hour (check after 30 mins). You are looking for a over all golden colour and soft buttery texture.
  • Blanch & shock - Slightly salt water and bring to a boil. Cook 1/2 pack (about 1 1/2 - 2 cups edamame) for 2 minutes, then "shock" them in cold water (this halts the cooking process there for preserving nutrients and bright colour). This can be used with any vegetable!
  • 1 can of chick peas - rinse (to remove excess starch & sodium).  In a large tall plastic Tupperware add chick peas, edamame, garlic, drizzle of cold infused oil, lemon juice (1 lemon), pinch or two of cumin, sumac, salt & pepper and blend with immersion blender (hand blender) until smooth (add some of the blanching liquid if the mixture is too thick). *Serve with cut up vegetables crostini or baked chips.  
Stay tuned for beet chips recipe next week on

Sorry kiddies, no post for today. I have been a busy bee - no time for blogging. Tomorrow I'll have a special post from The Fooding Co. I did a food demo for about 25 women tonight and I promised I  dedicate tomorrows blog to recap all the delicious thing we made. I promise I'll make up for the lost post over the weekend. 

- chow for now

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Twisted Tuesday - Not your average Mac & Cheese (Penis Pasta)

Hello friends and complete strangers who read my blog. Today I'm quite tired and not really up to writing a long recipe post. A while back I wrote about throwing a Sexy Stagette well today I'm re-visiting one of the interesting menu items from the party. I know a bunch of you have been anxiously awaiting the photo of the infamous PENIS MAC & CHEESE. From the naked eye can not distinguish the uniqueness of this nontraditional pasta shape, but if you look closely you can see the pasta's are indeed in the shape of teeny weeny peeny's. You can find these HIGHlarious pastas at your local sex shop or buy online

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sharing is caring - Cold weather Metabolism boosters

I know it can be difficult  to get your metabolism going when it's cold and cranky outside. I found this article and thought you would all appreciate it. There are some easy healthful things you can do to improve your ability to burn calories. Including: 
1. Eat a hot breakfast - Oatmeal is full of fiber and will keep you feeling satisfied until lunch. I like to grate 1/2 an apple into mine with a scoop of almond butter & a sprinkle of cinnamon. 
2. Get your Zzzzz's - listen to your body. Use your weekend to catch up on sleep, but try to get at least 7 hours a night. Not getting enough sleep will effect your ability to burn sugar. 
3. Something about dropping a gym work out for an out door activity - I will not give this one any insight since I hate all winter sports unless they involve discount shopping. The point is more to switch up your workouts so they don't get boring. 
4. Increase your water intake. Since it's more dry in the winter our bodies require more water to keep moist literally! Your skin will be less likely to crack and chap if you add an extra glass a day. 
5. Lay off the booze - a direct link from drinking more water. This is kinda of a no brainer since alcohol dehydrates you. If you didn't know that before, well now you do! If you love to drink have one glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage to prevent dehydrating - I'm a former lush so I know how to trick the system. 
6. Make your own kale chips - something I tried Saturday night after feeling like crapola all day from a cold. Kale is a wonder food filled with enough fiber to keep you pooping regularly (yes I said poop!), tons of vitamin C which is supposedly a necessary nutrient to keep your metabolism going strong. As well it contains calcium and a bunch of other stuff that's god for you. Kale chips are ridiculously simple. Tear washed (and dried) leaves into bite size pieces, toss with olive oil s & p then bake on tray at 350 for about 10 mins. That's it!
7. Eat rye (not drink rye).  Aside from the fiber content there is no real science behind this one but a bunch of Swedish people swear when they eat dark rye bread they feel less hungry then eating light wheat bread. I just like the taste and texture of rye bread. 
8. Take fish oil supplement. Eating fish is just a healthy protein to eat. For those of you who don't like fish take an Alaskan fish oil pill. These are packed with omega 3's known for their mood boosting power. Maybe if you are in a better mood you'll be more likely to follow the rest of these tips. Who knows. I actually started taking this supplement as it's also supposed to be good for skin problems and I suffer from psoriasis. 
9. Do a spin class. This one can be called do any work out where you sweat your ass off, but do it! You don't have to spin. Some people say that it hurts their man/lady parts. You can buy a pair of padded shorts if you like, but the point of this really is to just do an intense work out. When you work out you don't just burn calories while you are working out. You continue to burn well after you are fast asleep that night. #Bonus. 
10. Eat starchy stuff like beans, grains and potatoes. That goes out to all the carbaphobes. Your body needs these things to feel full, which is probably because these things are filled with fiber and help to rev your body into fat burning mode. 
Hope you enjoyed my cheat notes now I'm off to the gym - go me!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

How a logo goes a long way - My best friends wedding

Hi guys. I'm feeling a little under the weather yet again today - perhaps I should have taken my Dr. up on that flu shot she offered me a few months back. Either way I wanted to leave you with a photo of a beautiful cake. It was a super moist and yummy banana cake with butter cream - just to set the mood for you. As some of you may or may not know, I'm a graphic artist. I designed this wedding monogram for my dear friends Haley and Pablo, and they used it as a design element on their delicious and stunning wedding cake, or should I say Haley's mom did. 

This wedding logo/ monogram is a perfect example of how something so simple can really carry the decor of your event. One simple design element can become the vision and focus for all your decor, then everything else becomes cake - ha! The wedding was stunning with white flowers consisting of hydrangeas, orchids and calla lilies. Lucite Versailles chairs with silver accents on the table and candles. It really was the epitome of simple and elegant. I would show you photos, but I would have to check with the bride who is currently on her 3 week honeymoon in Thailand - lucky bitch. 

Anyways below is my inspiration board for the wedding monogram and invitation. I find that it's always useful to find visual design cues to help in your own creative conception process. This is my first step in designing, or decorating. I hope you all have a great rest of your wintry weekend. Chow for now!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

North African sausage dish with local fingerlings & crispy onions

This recipe couldn't be easier. It's a bit of a cheat seeing as that I'm not grinding and casing my own sausages but I am roasting my own potats and crunchifying my own onions so I still see this as my own winning combination. Merguez sausage is traditionally a lamb or beef fresh sausage originating from North Africa but commonly enjoyed in the Middle East and Europe as well. This smokey spicy meat is packed with flavors like cumin, sumac, fennel, garlic, harissa and paprika which gives the merguez it's distinct red hue. 

I'm completely mad about Moroccan flavors. They are so complex and interesting they really dance on your tongue. Since marrying a man who family is from Tangiers (Spanish Morocco) I've become quite good at preparing his favorite Moroccan meals. This dish really takes him back to his childhood and the memories of his grandmothers traditional cooking. There is actually quite a large Moroccan community in Toronto so you would think there would be some great Moroccan restaurants, however there are none. The famous Sultans Tent restaurant is pretty much a joke - only good for the decor and entertainment provided by the scantily clad belly dancers. Go for drinks and skip the food if you are tempted to go. 

I have discovered two great places to buy pre-made merguez.  Hartman's a kosher prepared foods spot who's  merguez are slightly greasier but damn tasty - and kosher if you're into that type of thing. Or my ultimate favorite grocery store Fiesta Farms who's merguez are deep red and bursting with paprika and spicy goodness. 

Another component to this recipe is the ras el hanout rubbed fingerling potatoes. These are to dye for! Ras el hanout is another wonderful flavor combination that comes from North Africa. I'll do a proper spice lesson on it in another post. All you need to know for now is that you can mix up your own or purchase a tried and tested blend from Williams Sonoma in a pinch.  

Merguez with Ras el Hanout fingerling potatoes & crispy fried onions
Merguez sausage - pan fried 
2 cookin onions - halved and thinly sliced
2 handfuls of fingerling potatoes - these were red skin yellow flesh cut into 4
ras el hanout - a few pinches
4 sprigs of thyme 
1 tsp olive oil - to start the onions off frying 

PREP:Slice onions and potatoes. Pre heat eat oven at 350 - toss potatoes with spices and a small amount of olive oil and begin to roast for 35 mins.
COOK: Then in a cast iron pan (preferably) sauté onions & thyme in a small amount of olive oil until translucent -then add them to the potatoes. Add the merguez to the hot pan to sear - brown on all sides, then add the onions & potatoes to the merguez and continue to bake in the oven for another 20-25 mins. Until the potatoes are crisp, merguez are succulent and onions are crispy. Remove thyme before serving.

Chow for now!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Grilled cheese or grilled sleaze

There's nothing like trendy food that lures you in with the promise of gooey cheesy deliciousness then rapes your wallet and leaves you feeling gassy and bloated. I haven't tried the new Toronto lukewarm warm spot Cheesewerks and I'm actually not sure that I will. I read a review by BlogTo yesterday and there were a lot of hater comments about this place - I can't blame them! Most of these grilled cheese sandwiches are hovering at the $10 mark. I'm sure their bread is fluffy the cheesy is salty and satisfying but there are a whole lot of better ways to spend ten dollars on then  bread and cheese. This shop also charges .75 cents for a side of specialty ketchup - sacrilege! They probably just dress up some Heinz with siracha and black pepper and call it a day. Their house made sodas at $3 a pop (no pun intended) which seems steep seeing that sodas are made from sugar and water. What really surprises me is that this place doesn't even have the courtesy of posting the prices on their website - I guess they don't want to scare anyone off. I'm really curious to know how much a dill pickle cost. What do you guys think? Am I being a judgmental hater or should I swallow my pride have a business meeting there and write off my overpriced cheese sandwich?
* side note - rumor has it Montfort Diary has a stall in the Live Local Marketplace at Scadding Court Community Centre just up the street. They have their own artisan grilled cheese sandwiches that are half the price and the ketchup is free!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Easy Oven Naan after a 2 hour dough nap

A few weeks back I conquered baking naan for the first time. My hubs just loooves Indian food and since I pretty much decide what we get to eat for dinner every night, I figured it would only be right to attempt a few of his favorite things.  I served this along side my pitiful attempt at saag paneer which I will not be posting a recipe for any time soon. In all honesty it tasted ok - hubs was a happy camper, but it really was not  up to my Tomato Snob standards.  Perhaps after a few more tries I'll be closer to channeling my inner Padma Lakshmi. As for the naan the recipe it's super straight forward. The bread is delicious and leftovers were awesome two days later slathered in cheese, sliced tomatoes and more leftover tapenade - YAY. 
Easy oven naan 
INGREDIENTS: Yields 8 flat breads
1 1/2 tsps dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsps cane sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour or stone ground whole wheat
1 tsp salt
6 tbss ghee - melted & cooled
3 tbs yogurt - I used low fat
3 tsp toasted cumin seeds (optional)

PREP: Combine water, yeast & sugar and let set until frothy (about 10 mins). Sift flour & salt into a large bowl, 3 tbs of the ghee, yogurt as well as the yeast mixture. Mix through with your fingers until the dough comes together and transfer to a clean floured surface to kneed. Kneed the dough until smooth and elastic (about 10 mins). Add a few drops of oil to a clean bowl place the dough in and cover to rest for 1.5 to two hours.  Punch down and kneed for another 10 mins. Divide dough into 8 balls, then flatten out (about 1/2 inch thick) onto an oil foil lined baking sheet - you can use a rolling pin if it's easier.  Brush the naan with more ghee and sprinkle with toasted cumin seeds.
BAKE: Pre heat at 400. Then bake naan until puffy and golden. About 10 mins.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mmmm Meatless Monday - Parsley carbonara & looking new

If you haven't heard about it before you've been living under a rock. Meatless Mondays is a nation wide campaign to get people to go meatless at least once a week. This beautiful parsley carbonara is an excellent way to enjoy a meatless meal in a flash. The sauce is basically an herb aoli that cooks when it hits the hot pasta.You'll also notice over the next few weeks I'll be playing around with the look of my posts. A new year, a new blogger interface and some new Tomato Snob tricks. PS. I'm also going to be investing in a digital SLR since I love design, photography and lets face it my current point and shoot is a total joke. Stay tuned for exciting new stuff! xo

Parsley Carbonara with macaroni & red bird chilies 
box of macaroni pasta - or other 
red bird chilies - optional 
garlic clove - minced
2 egg yolks 
2 tsp dijon mustard
2tsp lemon juice 
1 cup olive oil 
parsley - large handful chopped  
1 cup pecorino romano - grated 
s & p - to taste 
PREP: The "sauce" combine garlic, egg, mustard, lemon juice, parsley in a blender (or immersion blender) slowly drizzle in oil to emulsify. 
COOK: Boil pasta in salted water - add the sauce to the pasta as soon as it's al dente making sure some of the starchy pasta water gets added along as well. Toss with chilies, cheese s&p. DONE!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy Saturday and Broccoli spinach soup with feta & herbs

UPDATE: I'm so excited that this recipe has been featured on #healthbuzz. 

Since it's the new year and I'm trying to break a bunch of bad habits I've decided to publish a post today, since I missed yesterdays. If you haven't noticed I try to post 5 days a week usually Monday - Friday.  So today I'm waking up and treating you all to a healthy soup recipe on this lovely Saturday. I say lovely because it's January and it's about 5 degrees and sunny out side - this is not typical of a Canadian winter. I hope it's not because the world is coming to an end and this is the calm before the storm - I kid. Anyways here's a healthy soup recipe that's packed with vitamin C, calcium and some other good stuff.  You'll need a blender or immersion blender for this silky soup! 

INGREDIENTS: Broccoli and spinach soup with feta & herbs (any herbs you like)
head of broccoli - medium chopped & blanched
2 -3 handfuls spinach - fresh or frozen (1/2 pack)
1 onion - chopped
2 garlic cloves - chopped
4 sprigs of thyme - chopped
red chili flakes - a pinch (optional)
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cumin
2-3 cups water or stock
1 cup milk/ cream
1 tbs butter
1tbs olive oil
s&p - to taste
feta cheese - crumbled for garnish
mint/ parsley - for garnish

PREP: In a pot of salted boiling water blanch your broccoli for 30-45 seconds - then put it straight into very cold water to halt the cooking process.  Rough chop all other ingredients.
COOK: In a large pot sauté onion and garlic in butter, olive oil, thyme, cumin & chili until translucent. Then add your stock to heat through. Once the stock is hot toss in your spinach, broccoli, pinch of s & p. When spinach has wilted you can remove from the heat and blend until smooth. Return soup to the pot (not on the heat) add the milk or cream by whisking, then add your nutmeg. To re heat do so on low - you do not want to bring to the boil.
SERVE: With crumbled feta chopped mint or parsley.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The dual of crostini - tapenade vs. artichoke bruschetta

As per yesterdays post I will absolutely be provide the "recipe" for my mixed olive tapenade. These are two wonderful ways to top a crostini for a fabulous cocktail party. They also make delicious additions to celery ribs, sandwiches and are especially amazing when added to an omelet for a huge flavor punch! I  served these at an event a while back and people were just flipping for the bruschetta. A break from the traditional will always impress a crowd. 

If you're like me you respect recipes; love to read them, sometimes follow them, will even share them with your friends, but rarely do you NEED them to prepare something in your comfort zone.  When i'm grooving and cooking - not baking, just straight up throwing together a dish I can't be stifled by following directions, measuring, processing what happens next. If you're a seasoned enough cook you know there's a rhythm that just happens when you are making something with ingredients you love. These two dishes are the prefect examples. Your taste might be a little more of this and a little less of that. You really can't screw these up too bad. Unless your taste buds are shit and you have never tasted these flavors before. I have full confidence in my fabulous readers and your ability to make these dishes and make them delicious!

For the Olive Tempanade - use olives you like & do not add salt to this!
bitter crushed green olives - pitted (small amount)
black sun dried Moroccan olives - pitted (mall amount)
straight up large marinated briny green olives - any variety (majority)
black kalamata olives - pitted (medium amount)
garlic - crushed (few cloves)
red pepper flakes - optional (pinch)
lemon - juice and zest 
anchovy paste (2tbs)  or two - three filets 
capers - optional  (small amount if any)
small bunch parsley
black pepper - pinch
drizzle of olive oil - for good measure 

PREP: In a food processor pulse everything until desired texture - mine was super fine chopped (almost smooth). If you like more garlic add more... this goes for all ingredients. Let your favorite olive variety be the most prominent or the one you have the most of. Other herbs can be substituted such as rosemary or thyme. Just make sure all the olives are pitted or your going to have some issues.

For the Artichoke bruschetta
Marinated or canned artichokes - the ones in a jar from Costco are actually amazing
roasted red peppers - you can find them pre roasted at antipasto bars, canned or jarred
roasted garlic (a few cloves) - if you have the time if not raw will do - just use less!
lemon - juice & zest
parsley - large handful
thyme - optional dry or fresh
pinch of s & p
drizzle of evoo

COOK: To roast garlic, slice the tips of the tops off (that's right!) drizzle with evoo s & p, wrap in tin foil and roast at 350 until golden and tender (about 40-50 mins).  If you are roasting your own peppers and have a gas stove awesome - char those babies right on the gas until blackened, then place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool. Peel off the skins and then marinate with s & p, evoo, thyme, lemon juice, red pepper flakes a splash of vinegar, pin of oregano etc... make them taste good, damn it! If you are using pre marinated peppers, re purpose them by placing them on a baking tray and roast them further for another 20 mins or so (at 350). 
PREP: Thinly slice the roasted red pepper. Then in a food processor pulse the remaining ingredients - this should remain quite chunky.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fougasse with olive tepenade, rosemary and lemon

I love olives! Black, green stuffed, spiced sun dried - you name it, I like them all. What better way to show my love of olives then to make an olive bread. This recipe is adapted from Laura Calder's Fougasse recipe from her show "French Food at Home". Fougasse is a bread typically associated with being from Provence that is shaped like a ear of wheat or in this case a leaf.  Like versions of this bread can be found in many parts of southern Europe including Spain, Italy, and Portugal although it is most commonly seen with olives or cheese in France. This version can be regarded as a primitive pizza sans tomato sauce, very texturally similar to a focaccia. 

Fougasse is a beautiful centerpiece because of its shape and lovely sheen. You can omit the olives if you don't like them, you can also use sun dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, or lemon zest. I actually had some extra tapenade which is what I used to flavor my whole wheat version. I'm of the mindset that if I'm baking bread at home it has to be whole wheat! 

INGREDIENTS: Fougasse with tepenade, rosemary and lemon
2 2/3 cups sifted stone ground whole wheat flour
1 tsp dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 eggs - room temp.
1 tsp salt
2 tbs evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
2 tbs dried rosemary 
1/2 cup mixed olive tepenade - recipe to follow

PREP: In a glass measuring cup (or small bowl) add yeast to warm water, stir and let sit for 10 mins - until it starts to foam.  Then place sifted flour in a large bowl and create a well for the eggs, salt, rosemary and oil. Break the eggs with your fingers, and slightly start to combine the ingredients in the well - then add your yeast mixture and begin to incorporate the flour. Once it all starts to come together add the olive mixture and begin kneading the dough. When the mixture starts pulling away from the bowl transfer to a clean floured surface and kneed until smooth (about 8 mins). Then place in a lightly oiled bowl cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour. 
- Punch down the dough and kneed again for 5 mins, and shape into a tear drop.  Place some flour or cornmeal on a baking sheet and place the dough on top. Cut six slits in the dough to resemble a leaf cover and let rest for another 30-45 mins. 
-Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Egg wash the top of the bread and bake  until golden - about 25 mins. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Detoxing for the food obsessed

Yesterday on twitter there was much talk about the best way to do a cleanse.  My advice straight from my fabulous doctor - Dr. Marla Shapiro recommends simply staying away from heavy dairy, eliminating yeast or fermented products, increasing water, fiber from whole grains, fruits and veg obviously and limiting your intake of fatty meat such as beef, lamb and going for lean protein like fish, chicken and turkey. Nuts and seeds are great too and an excellent source of healthy fat. I remember years ago I did a master cleanse - you wouldn't believe what I put myself through for six weeks. Just to give you an idea it involved eating only seeds, nuts and veggies, and drinking clay, psyllium husk and castor oil three times a day. To say the experience was hell is a complete understatement.  Giving your body a  cleanse is a great idea, but it needs to be assessable and somewhat satisfying. Leave it to Bon Appetit online to publish an amazing two week planned cleanse to make things easy. Remember to stock up on the thing on your safe list, and designate time on weekends and after work to prep so you don't find your self in the take out line at McDonald's if you forget your healthy snacks. Check out the wicked Food Lovers Cleanse and start the new year off right. * With any cleanse or new regime your body will react in some way. Expect to feel low energy or tired at first, you're body is detoxing from processed foods, or sugar so don't push yourself. You may also get headaches at first. You'll find by the end of the week to have more energy and begin to feel great!

Monday, January 2, 2012

In 2012 I resolve ...

Good Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful new years. I know my trip out to Plantagenet was great. It was pretty cool being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees, snow and some close friends. I'm excited to begin this year with a positive attitude and optimistic outlook that there will be great things to come. 
Does anyone still make new years resolutions? My husband and I have decided that we would focus on getting back in shape - eak getting married has been good for our hearts but not for our figures. Obviously being an excellent chef and obsessed with cooking doesn't help, but getting back into a hard core gym routing surely will. We will also continue to work hard at our new business to make them successful.  Big congratulations to my husband on his T.V. show "The Rugby League Show" being renewed for three years.  I have resolved to be more patient with the people I love. Another thing I'm thinking about doing is going  gluten free for a while. I'll keep you in the loop and let you know my plan of action and my reasons for going that rout. I guess one thing at a time, baby steps right. Step one work out - here we go...