Tag Archives: Food

Heavenly carrot soup

23 Feb

I wish I had the patience for food photography. There are so many wonderful blogs out there that make your mouth water just to read them because of the gorgeousness of the photography. And food should be beautiful, in my opinion, if it’s at all possible. When food is beautiful and then the taste is scrumptious, then you don’t have to wait to see if there’s a heaven after this life on earth.

I made an amazing carrot soup tonight. I know it’s bragging, and it was kind of accidental, but everyone who tasted it agreed.

So, I’d loved to have photographed it properly and presented it to you like this:

This roasted carrot soup picture looks totally awesome, and I bet it tastes divine, too. If you want to try making the soup pictured here, I stole it from http://beingsuzyhomemaker.blogspot.ca/2011/02/roasted-carrot-soup.html. Click on the pic to go there.

This roasted carrot soup picture looks totally awesome, and I bet it tastes divine, too. If you want to try making the soup pictured here, I stole it from http://beingsuzyhomemaker.blogspot.ca/2011/02/roasted-carrot-soup.html. Click on the pic to go there.

Instead, this is what I’ve got for you:

Beautiful colour, but not such an impressive picture. But you know you'll want to make this soup.

Beautiful colour, but not such an impressive picture. But you know you’ll want to make this soup.

The problem with carrot soup is that the flavour depends so much on the quality of the carrots. And let’s face it, in the middle of winter, a lot of carrots have become kind of bitter, bland, or otherwise uninspiring, when what you really want is sweetness, with just a hint of zing.

That, my friends, is what this soup delivered. Pure, sweet, carroty goodness. My method was the taste-test-add-taste-again method, but I’ll try to estimate quantities for you.

Heavenly Carrot Soup

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 5 or 6 large carrots, washed, unpeeled (so easy)
  • 1.5 – 2 L water
  • 1 tbsp savoury
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 – 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 – 3 tbsp creamed honey
  • 2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • fresh mint for garnish
  1. In a large pot, melt the coconut oil. Add chopped onions and cook until softened. Some slight browning is okay. Just let them cook while you chop the carrots.
  2. Discard the tops of the carrots and chop into 3-5mm circles. Probably you could chop into any size you want, but I wanted these to cook quickly. Add the chopped carrots to the pot.
  3. At this point I also added three peeled and chopped broccoli stems that I happened to have hanging about. I don’t think they did a thing to the flavour, but you know, in the spirit of full disclosure here…
  4. Add 1.5 to 2 L of water and bring that baby to a boil. Turn down to a slow boil or hot simmer. Whatever you feel like. I was impatient. Dinner was late as it was.
  5. Add the savoury, celery seed, and salt. I used coarse sea salt because I ran out of the fine stuff. I figured it would dissolve anyway and it wouldn’t matter. I like to be kind of generous with salt, I admit it. Salt to your own taste.
  6. Add enough honey to make the soup as sweet as summer carrots.
  7. Lemon juice adds just a slight puckery zing to the soup that is otherwise just too sweet. Don’t add too much or it’ll just taste like lemons. Fresh-squeezed is SOOOO much better than the bottled kind. I happened to have some leftover from last night’s dinner (but truly fresh-squeezed would have been even better, as I find it starts getting bitter when it sits out). But, hey, even bottled is better than none at all.
  8. After the carrots are cooked soft, get out your handy-dandy immersion blender (or transfer in batches to the other kind of blender) and whirl it all up until smooth(ish).
  9. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh mint. Ooooh, yeah. Mint and sweet carrots are a match made in heaven, baby.
  10. Michael had his soup as-is. Halia’s got the ice cube treatment. I added a splash of almond milk to the middle of mine. It was aaaaaalll good.
  11. Enjoy!

Here’s a PDF version of the recipe if you want it to be easier to print: Heavenly Carrot Soup

Made him a believer

11 Oct

Michael has never been a fan of eggplant. I’ve cooked it maybe twice in our 14 years together, and last summer he tried some he deemed “acceptable” while attending a wedding. This spring, Halia planted an eggplant at her dayhome, and it was duly transplanted into the greenhouse. It didn’t survive transplantation, but Michael planted a new one on the sly.

I harvested that one eggplant — with some injury to my fingers, because did you know that eggplants grow gigantic spikes?? — just before our trip to Ottawa and brought it all the way to Ontario with me so that we could cook it there and eat it together.

That eggplant is still sitting in my mother-in-law’s fridge. Or perhaps it joined the rest of the Thanksgiving scraps in the compost bin. Poor eggplant, so arduously cared-for all summer long. The whole saga is so distressing, I had to buy an eggplant when I did my big homecoming grocery shopping on Tuesday morning.

Today, I cooked the darn thing. And it was delicious. So delicious, in fact, that Michael proclaimed it something he would happily eat frequently. I do have my doubts about just how nutritious it is, being so fried and salted. But it’s delicious. And easy, too.

Oops, we ate them up so fast, there are none left to photograph. Here’s, uh, the pan I fried them in.

Gluten-Free Vegan Battered and Fried Eggplant

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant, any size you wish
  • salt
  • cornstarch
  • corn flour
  • coconut oil, or other oil of your choice for frying

Directions:

  • Wash, peel, and cut eggplant into 1 cm slices. You can remove the peel entirely or peel it in “strips” to leave a bit of the purple on the outside edge.
  • Generously salt the eggplant and set it in a colander for an hour. Salting the eggplant draws out the bitterness and also removes excess moisture that can cause the eggplant to be soggy when cooked.
  • After salting is done, rinse the excess salt off and use two hands to squeeze each slice to remove excess moisture.
  • Start heating your oil in a pan. I used coconut oil and had it about 0.5 cm deep, so a good thick layer of oil.
  • Toss slices in a bowl to give them a coat of cornstarch. Make sure both sides are coated.
  • Dip each slice into a bowl of water, then coat each side in corn flour.
  • Fry 4-5 slices at a time in hot oil, letting each side turn golden before flipping. Don’t crowd the pan!
  • Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Let them cool a bit, and then enjoy! Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside!

Michael now believes in the deliciousness of eggplant.

Thai red curry

21 Jan

Kelli, aka Captain Momma, asked me for the curry recipe from this post and I typed it up for her in less than ten minutes.  Since I plan to be in bed before midnight for once, I figured it would substitute for a post.

We’ve only ever tried this with chicken, and we cheat because we use Indian curry paste (which is easy to find) rather than Thai, so I guess we’ve never had the “authentic” stuff.  I don’t think Michael ever follows the recipe exactly anymore, but it’s always danged good!

Thai Red Curry with Beef or Chicken from The New Canadian Basics Cookbook (Carol Ferguson)
If you’re not familiar with Thai cooking, this easy recipe is a pleasant introduction to typical flavours.  Adjust the curry paste to taste (Thai curry pase is very hot).

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp (or to taste) red curry paste
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 lb beef stir-fry strips or boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 sweet red pepper, cut into thin strips
3/4 cup coconut milk (Michael always uses to whole can and gets extra sauce, so he probably also uses extra curry paste to compensate)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice (we always use lime)
3 cups cooked jasmine rice

In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil.  Add curry paste and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.  Add onion; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add beef or chicken strips; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until almost cooked through.  Add red pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Stir in coconut milk, fish sauce, and lime juice.  Bring to simmer; cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes.  Add more fish sauce (for saltiness) if needed.  Serve over jasmine rices.  Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Not Chinese

17 Jan

Michael had an out-of-town business associate over for supper tonight. He made Thai red curry, served over fragrant rice. (It was delicious.) I am now cleaning up the kitchen. The three bowls we used were stacked on the counter. You can tell which two belonged to the white people. Two bowls had to be rinsed so as not to clog up the dishwasher. One bowl hadn’t a single grain of rice left in it.

I try not to judge them…

Hot and Sour Soup

7 Dec

I have seven draft posts saved as we speak, but neither the time nor the attention span to finish any of them in a thoughtful manner right now. So I am totally copping out momentarily filling the void by presenting you with one of my mom’s delicious and authentic Chinese recipes: classic hot and sour soup.  (Thanks to Jenny for the suggestion!)  I realize there are no amounts here, so for that part, you’ll just have to feel things out.

Ingredients

  • chicken broth (make your own by boiling a whole chicken, and you’ll have plenty of broth, as well as cooked chicken)
  • cooked chicken, diced
  • diced tomatoes, no skins (I used canned ones, myself)
  • red bell pepper, diced
  • carrot, diced
  • dried wood ear mushrooms, softened and chopped
  • bamboo shoots
  • salt
  • sugar
  • five-spice powder (optional)
  • vermicelli noodles (also known as glass noodles)
  • corn starch (or, even better, tapioca starch, since it leaves the soup clearer and prettier)
  • eggs, beaten
  • white vinegar or rice vinegar
  • hot chili sauce
  • green onion, chopped
  • cilantro, chopped
  • sesame oil

Cook the veggies in the broth, adding salt, sugar, and five-spice powder to taste.  When carrots are soft, add small pieces of vermicelli.  The easiest way to do this is to hold the dry vermicelli over the pot and use scissors to cut 1-inch-ish lengths into the soup.  Add chicken, then thicken the soup with starch.  Bring to a gentle boil and gently pour the eggs in a very thin stream into the boiling soup, using a circular motion.  Do not stir the soup while pouring the egg.  Turn off heat, cover, and let stand for half and hour.  Add vinegar and chili sauce to taste.  (This is the HOT and SOUR part of the soup, so I say be generous with both!)  Add fresh green onion and cilantro and finish with a whiff of sesame oil.  You may also add some tofu, which I love, but it doesn’t freeze well, so if you’re making a large batch, it’s probalby best to leave it out.

Ladle into bowls and add a small amount of soy sauce to each bowl, if desired.  Eat up and enjoy the praise from everyone else at the table.

Polenta Pleasure

18 Aug

Sometimes rice, pasta, and potatoes just start to feel constraining, yanno?  I sometimes switch things up with quinoa or couscous, but last night, inspired by the bag of cornmeal I bought recently, I decided I wanted to try polenta.

I’ve tried making polenta once or twice before, and I’ve eaten it at restaurants, but I’ve never been that impressed.  It’s always been bland, or else too dry for my taste.  But I love the texture of cornmeal and didn’t feel like making cornbread, and I figured that surely, somewhere out there must exist a tasty polenta recipe.

It took a few minutes on Google to find one that looked flavourful but was still fairly simple, meaning I had all the ingredients on hand and it wouldn’t take an hour to make.  The recipe I found came from this post at The Amateur Gourmet, who in turn borrowed it (and slightly altered it) from The Barefoot Contessa.  He forgets one of the steps (when to add the cheese), and he doesn’t start with a list of ingredients, which I found annoying.  Still, it turned out great, so I’ll reproduce it for you here.  He does have some fab photos of the process.

WARNING: This is not a low-fat recipe!  But it is oh-so-good and such a nice change of pace from your everyday starches.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a grinding or two of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp (or to taste) fresh thyme or rosemary (I used dried)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth (I used bouillon satchets and water)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1-1/4 cups cornmeal
  • flour
  • 1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil for frying
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and mix with olive oil.
  2. Add chopped garlic, herbs of choice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cook until garlic is tender.  Normally I would use my garlic press for this, but it was all crustified, so I just made sure the garlic cooked awhile, and it didn’t cause any problems in the finished product.
  3. I added the parmesan at this point because I notice this step was missing.  In the comments of the post (which I didn’t read before I started) the Amateur Gourmet says to add it after adding the cornmeal, when you’ve taken the mixture off the heat.
  4. Add the chicken stock and milk and bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. Remove from heat to add cornmeal slowly, mixing thoroughly with a whisk to avoid lumps.
  6. Return to heat and let cook at low heat until the mixture has thickened.
  7. Pour into a 9-inch cake pan (round or square) and stick it in the fridge to cool while you start cooking up the rest of your meal, or a sauce for your polenta, if that’s how you like it.
  8. I only let my mixture rest for 5 or 10 minutes before I took it out of the fridge.  It should have firmed up a little bit by now.  Cut it into triangles or wedges.  Sprinkle some flour on top.  (I’m not sure why one is supposed to sprinkle the flour on top; I’m pretty sure you could skip this step and no one would notice…)
  9. Melt the butter and olive oil in a pan.  Fry the wedges of polenta until golden on both side.
  10. Serve with supper with pride!

You could actually skip the frying because the polenta tastes wonderful even without.  I think I’ll try making this sometime with 1/4 cup less cornmeal and serving it “wet”, almost like mashed potatoes.  We ate ours with a salmon and a fabulous asparagus recipe that I’ll have to share another time.  Mmmmm, bon apetit!

You asked…

9 Apr

Hee hee!  Some fun stuff here!

MommyTime asked…

  1. What is one book you love and why?
  2. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you pick and why?
  3. And what’s something you looove to eat?

One book I love to read

Oooh, MommyTime, you asked me some toughies!  ONE book I love?  How to choose?!  It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of juvenile fiction; classics like The Secret Garden, Five Children and It, and A Little Princess I’ve read over and over again over the years, and I’ve also found many more modern tales that I love. 

But let’s see, if I had to choose something a little more mature, I’d probably pick Like Water for Chocolate.  It’s a romantic novel, but it has a fairy-tale flair to it that I can’t resist.  And it’s written like a cross between a cook-book and a diary.  What girl can resist good food (especially with chocolate in it!) and a little gossip?  I also love the idea of ones emotions flowing into ones creations, the way Tita’s flows into her cooking, inflaming the eaters of her food with the same feelings.  The Chinese believe in this, too; one should be happy and joyful when cooking because that energy is transferred into the dish.

Oooh, but then there’s The Time-Traveler’s Wife, and the recently discovered Thursday Next series.  Stop me now or I’ll never stop…

A place I’d like to travel

I was having some notions of travelling to Taiwan this year.  Taiwan is where my mother grew up, and where that whole side of the family still lives.  The last time I was there, I was about 6 years old, so I only have splashes of memories: waking up to the cock crowing, children teasing me and my sister through the screen door of my grandparents’ house, calling us “big nose”, bright red (hibiscus?) flowers, crowded streets on the back of my grandfather’s motorbike.

The last time I saw my maternal grandparents was when they came to visit us in Northern Ontario back in, hmm, 1993, perhaps?  My grandfather has since died, and I would love an opportunity to get to know my grandmother a bit before it’s too late.  Particularly with this pregnancy, though, I don’t know if going to Taiwan in high summer is a good idea.

And someday I want to go back to that little place in Mexico where my sister got married in November.  Maybe just with Michael this time.  *dreamy sigh*

Something I love to eat

Oh dear, again, how to choose?  You see, I looooove food, and I love such a variety of foods.  I sure have been having a lot of chocolate lately.  (Michael accuses me of making our future child chemically imbalanced, but I read a study somewhere that says pregnant moms who eat chocolate once a day have happier babies.  So there.  Pbththt!)  Right now, if I could choose one thing to have that absolutely looove, it would be my mom’s spring rolls.  She would make her own skins and it’s a ton of work to make the stuffing and then roll the darn things and then deep-fry them.  But damn!  They’re worth it.  If only we hadn’t been living apart for the last 14 years, I’m sure I would have learned by now how to make them just her way.

Thanks for the great questions, MommyTime!  I’m going to stop here for tonight — more answers to more questions next time! — because I really need to get some work done in the kitchen.  Michael’s away and Jade and I had sandwiches for supper because we were running late.  I need to create something for lunch tomorrow and plan something a little more complete for tomorrow night’s meal. 

That’s assuming we end up even going to work/daycare tomorrow, of course.  There’s chicken pox going around at the daycare and they think maybe Jade has it.  I’ll be counting spots in the morning…

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