Posts Tagged ‘carrots’

Dippity Do

Roasted Carrot Dip

My mother in law is the queen of the newspaper recipe.

Because they often have 3 of the 4 local papers in the house, it’s not unusual to find her kitchen at home or at the cottage littered with clippings of recipes she is longing to try.  She’s pretty open minded, but definitely has a soft spot for Lucy Waverman’s weekly column.  Generally speaking, I don’t usually find recipes for my kind of food in the paper (with the exception of Bittman, that is) so you can imagine my surprise when we all (myself included) immediately fell in love with a dip she’d cribbed from the paper over Christmas.

If I’m not mistaken, the original recipe was also a Waverman, but I can’t confirm because I’ve been unable to find it online.  The recipe in question was for a rather festive roasted red pepper and artichoke tapenade, made unique by the fact that it didn’t actually contain any olives.  I know, it’s technically not a tapenade without them, but I kind of think of it along the same lines as the universe basterdizing hummus.  At any rate, this tapenade was SO good that all of us spending Christmas at the cottage were hooked and slurping it up like crack.  Since then, I’ve regularly made it twice a month in 3 cup batches and find it as a welcome addition to a lunch basket.

However, while recently peeling and turning a 5 pound bag of carrots into sticks, I started to wonder what would happen if I started messing around with the proportions of veg in the recipe.  Before I knew it, I was steaming a handful of carrot sticks and collecting the rest of the ingredients I wanted to play with on the counter.  By the time I was done, the recipe bore little resemblance to the original, but still had the same raw, sweetly pungent bite that the roasted pepper variety had.  The lovely thing about the dip is that it gets better and better the longer it sits, as the flavours have time to meld.

Foodie’s Roasted Carrot Dip

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Reusability Redux

Lamb Chops With Sauce

A few weeks ago when the Everyman made un-Valentine’s Day dinner for me, the accompanying sauce for the pork chops was so slurpable that I could not bring myself to rinse the leftovers down the drain.  Instead I kept the pear, thyme and shallot infused jus in a small container in the fridge, with no clear idea for what I meant to do with the rest.

Flash forward to nearly 2 weeks later when a dinner of broiled lamb loin chops and cumin glazed carrots was looking rather forlorn on the plate.  Digging the jellified jus out of the fridge, I opted to warm it in a saucepan with a frozen cube of vegetarian stock.  Once it had thinned out a touch, a knob of membrillo jam melted and sweetened it a bit, while a splash of barley malt vinegar brought everything into balance.

Served with the crispy broiled lamb, the resulting sauce was quite nearly the perfect pairing for lamb.  It was so well matched that I think I’d even go to the trouble of making it from the start just for lamb chops next time.  Score 1 for culinary ingenuity!

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The Most Ambitious Project Yet

Garden 2010

After much deliberation (and a healthy dose of procrastination), I’ve finally selected and plotted my intentions for the 2010 garden.

It might seem awfully early to some, but seeds must be ordered, delivered and started before a springtime sowing in late May can be accomplished.

This year will be interesting for a number of reasons.

Primarily because I’m going to be trying to grow a couple crowns of asparagus for the first time, but I’m also attempting rare French strawberries from seed, as well as leeks, garlic and chard.

As you can see from my crude 10,000 foot drawing, there are lots of different veggies being installed, as well as a small bee garden that I hope will attract a healthy amount of polinators to our rooftop sanctuary.  We had a bit of a problem with the lack of bees last year, though I’m not sure if it was due to colony collapse or the overall shitty weather, but it can’t hurt to encourage them with a pretty flower garden.

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Meatycake, Meatycake, Butcher Man

Stockcakes

Day by day, it’s getting colder and colder, and becoming more and more apparent that summer is long gone.  With that shift in seasons, we spend a little less time cooking outside on the grill, and a little more time indoors baking, braising and stewing, etc.

One of the indicators that typically signals the arrival of fall for me is my willingness to spend time making homemade stock.  Such a steamy, sweaty endeavour would be out of the question during the dog days of summer, but in the fall when days are brisker and nights hold a chill, warming the air with rich, meaty scents sounds like a wonderful, reflective idea.  It also happens to appeal to my waste-not-want-not mentality.  Each time I make stock, I continually marvel at the amount of flavour you can extract from little more than kitchen scraps.  And with such a small amount of effort, you can improve just about every dish you add it to.  Bored of rice?  Simmer it in stock.  Making mashed potatoes?  Boil those in stock first, too.  Deglazing pan juices?  Stock can do that.  In just about any cooking application where you would use water or wine, stock makes a flavourful stand-in.

But, before we get to the meat of the matter, a few “suggestions” about making stock that will make life a little easier.

1) Be organic – I try to buy as much organic food as possible, mostly because I think it tastes better, but also because it’s better for me and the environment.  I usually try not to preach to others about why they should too, because I understand that some things about food are very personal matters.  In this case I’m breaking my rule, though.  If at all possible, try to use organic food to make your stock.  With something as simple and elemental as boiled bones and veg, imperfections easily come through, so starting with the best product possible will automatically put you ahead.

2) Save, save, save – If you roasted a chicken, save that cleaned carcass in a ziploc bag in the freezer.  Once you’ve amassed a few, you’ll be well on your way to a flavourful stock.  And don’t hesitate to add vegetable trimmings to the bag either, as long as they’re cleaned first.  Carrot peels, onion skins and celery leaves all make great additions to a stock base.

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Salad Days

When I was younger, I was what you might call a hardcore carnivore.  But, as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized the importance of living a more flexitarian lifestyle, not only for my health, but also for my wellbeing.  For the most part, the Everyman begrudges me on this.  Since I do all of the cooking, he really has no choice anyway…

That desire became part and parcel of my decision to grow much of our food on the roof.  Having a constant supply of freshly grown produce just outside the back door tends to make it that much easier to eat all those servings of fruit and veg, don’t you think?  Plus, I can feel comfortable knowing that the only things that assisted my plants’ growth were sun, rain and the occasional sprinkling of composted cow poop, rather than scary industrialized fertilizers that could grow me a third arm.  Although, I could use a third arm.  It would make it so much easier to smack the stupid people… hmm…

In warmer years, my various salad leaves would have long gone to bolt by now.  If you’re not familiar with that term, bolting is when the lettuce plants shoot up their flowers and start going to seed.  It typically happens when the weather gets too warm (high 20′s to 30′s), and for some reason causes the greens to get bitter and inedible (unless you like that sort of thing).

However, the cool and rainy summer we’ve been experiencing in Ontario has allowed the majority of the greens to remain lush and verdant well past their expected harvest date.

This unexpected overage of leafy veg has meant that we’ve had to get creative with our usages.  The greens are so (surprisingly) flavourful on their own that I usually do little more than salt, pepper, oil and balsamic them before eating.  But, sometimes the body craves a little variety.  And just in time for that, Mark Bittman has put out a list of 101 ways to prepare the humble salad.

I haven’t managed to read through the entire list yet (that’s a lot of salad, after all) but I’m sure there must be at least a dozen or two possibilities included that will work perfectly for dispatching the rest of our lettuce.  I wonder if he has any suggestions for all of those beet greens that are overtaking my garden…

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Anything Goes…

Every day that passes brings the gardening season that much closer (fingers crossed that we’re done with snow).  To while away the time I’ve become hooked on something I read about over at You Grow Girl several months ago… Gardening Mama!  It’s a game from the people who making Cooking Mama, which I also obsessively love, but more than that, it keeps my hands busy while I’m waiting for the universe to hurry up and warm up outside already…

Though I may have let the past few months pass in relative silence on the garden front, you can be assured that I’ve not been dormant.  From taking my seed catalogs with me on Christmas vacation so I could pick out my new projects (yes, I am a garden dork and I was mocked mercilessly about it the entire vacation), to harassing the people at West Coast Seeds when an order didn’t arrive, to finally breaking out the potting soil and mucking about in my basement laundry room, the last 3 months contained their fair share of preparatory activities.

Project Sustainability 2009 is well underway, with approximately 60 seedlings chilling out on the grow tower.  Considering that last year was my first attempt at growing anything more involved than a cactus, I was pretty impressed with the end results.  There were definitely lessons learned, and notes made about plants I wouldn’t bother to grow again (read: corn and those weeds I thought were beans).  But this year, along with bringing back favorites and successes from 2008, I also picked a bunch of new plants to try.  As our diet becomes increasingly varied, the memories of how explosively flavorful my completely organic, fresh picked produce was last year inspired me to try my hand at even more.  I can never replace Bob (our organic delivery guy) or our CSA farmshare from Zephyr Organics, but being able to combine two of my all-consuming passions is just too good to pass up.  Plus, creating your own tiny microcosm means being able to experiment with more unique and just plain bizarre produce that larger growers might not bother with.

So far on the rooftop roster this year we have:

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