April 29, 2012

guest post: indian spice cauliflower soup




Here's a guest post from Mr. A:

It was Wednesday night and my turn to cook!  The cooking process begins by consulting with the Kitchen HQ (me and Mrs. A).

We had a head of cauliflower in the fridge, so my mission was to turn that not very exciting vegetable into a delicious soup.

After a quick "Google" (TM) search, I found a nice recipe that I based this dinner on.  See the the original here.

Indian Spice Cauliflower Soup

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (a key substitution from the original canola oil)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (this is a mix of Indian spices you can find at pretty much all grocery stores these days)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed (whoops, didn't have that, so I used ground cumin - the seeds would probably be better)
  • 1 onion, sliced (hopefully you know what an onion is)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (or more!)
  • 1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets (the pieces should be able the size of a grape)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup yogurt
  1. In your soup pan, heat the coconut oil, add the garam masala and cumin.  Stir and let it cook for about a minute.
  2. Add the onion and garlic, stir and cook for about 5 minutes or so
  3. Add the cauliflower, stir and cook for about 10 minutes
  4. Add wine and cook it down for a few minutes
  5. Add stock and simmer for 15 minutes, or until cauliflower is very soft
  6. Blend the soup - easy if you have an immersion blender - if not, good luck!
  7. Serve the soup, with yogurt on the side.  Add a spoonful or so with your soup and mix.
  8. Yum!

April 28, 2012

zucchini spice bread


I found a lone, forgotten zucchini in the back of our fridge so I decided to make a bread out of it.   One of the things I love about baking is that it's great for using stuff you find in your fridge which you better use right away or else it'll go bad.  Baking's great that way.




I got this recipe from Martha Stewart, but I added in some roughly chopped walnuts which I think really adds to this recipe.  My other favourite thing about this recipe is the blend of warm, comfy spices like cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.  It's like getting a cake hug.





Here's the recipe!

Zucchini Spice Bread
adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
Directions:


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside. Grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater (to yield 1 3/4 cups); set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, oil, vanilla, and eggs.
  2. Into a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, and stir to combine well. Stir in grated zucchini and fold in walnuts.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack, then reinvert, top side up. Cool completely before slicing.

April 20, 2012

double chocolate chip muffins


I recently discovered Pinterest.  Am I late to the party?  Probably, but that's ok.  I like all the pretty pictures and all the great ideas.  But for the life of me I can't get an account on it.  Oh well, I'll just have to look and not pin.  Anyway, I found this recipe when I was browsing all the pretty pictures.  I thought I'd try it because it was made of ground up oatmeal instead of flour.





Here's the recipe!

Double Chocolate Chip muffins
adapted from Healthy is Always Better

Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 cup oats
  •  2 eggs
  •  3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular plain low fat yogurt)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar or sugar substitute (like Splenda granular) 
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or use white chocolate or peanut butter chips!)


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners, or spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a food processor, blend the oats until they are finely ground.  Pour finely ground oats into a medium bowl and sift in the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to combine.


In the food processor, mix the eggs, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, vinegar, and oil.  Add the wet ingredient to the dry and fold the mixture.  Now add the hot water in mix well.  Fold in 1/2 of the chocolate chips (set the rest aside). Scoop mixture into prepared muffin pans.


Place muffins tins in the oven for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, remove muffins from the oven (but don’t shut oven off), and distribute the other half of the chocolate chips on top of each muffin.
Place  the muffins back into the oven and bake for an additional 2-5 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool muffins before removing from pan.
Enjoy!

April 16, 2012

simple





I've been craving simpler foods lately.  I think spring has something to do with it.  Or maybe it's that my tastebuds need a bit of a break from the tangy, spicy, and hot.  This rice recipe is simple and subtle, and just the thing if you're looking for something a little simpler for dinner this evening.  It's persian rice dish and I think it's pretty simple to make too.  

Here's the recipe!

Persian Dill & Peas Rice (Nokhod Polo)
by my Mom

Ingredients:
about 1/3 cup dry dill
vegetable oil
3 tbsp milk
2 cups of rice
4 cups frozen peas

Directions:
Place the rice in a non-stick pot and rinse thoroughly.  Add 4 cups of water.  Place the pot on the stove on high heat and let the water/rice come to a boil.  This part is tricky: you need to add the peas to the water right before the rice is fully cooked.  I basically wait until the rice has doubled in size and then I add the frozen peas right to the pot.  Bring the water back up to a boil, then remove it from the heat.  Drain water from the rice & peas using a sieve.

In the same pot, add the milk and 2 tbsp oil (this will help the bottom of the rice crisp up, a persian treat called Tahdeeg which literally means pot-bottom).  Add 1/3 of the rice & peas to the pot, then sprinkle with 1/3 of the dill.  Continue adding the rest of the rice & peas and dill in the same layering fashion, finishing with the dill.  Sprinkle the rice with another 2-3 tbsp of oil.

Place the pot on medium low heat with the cover on and let it cook for 30mins until the bottom crisps up and you have tahdeeg.

Season with salt.  Served with yoghurt, it's just delicious.  We made a special yoghurt with grated cucumber and dried mint.

Enjoy!

April 13, 2012

to kick-start the weekend


Top 7 things I'm looking forward to this weekend:

  1. spending time with Mr. A
  2. wearing my home booties (see below)
  3. couch time
  4. watching the American Idol results on PVR (the key is PVR, otherwise it's Ryan Seacrest overkill)
  5. sunny days
  6. Mr. A's popcorn
  7. cooking, baking and crafting and putting them up here



If you like salads, mangos, spicy chilis or all of the above, please try this salad at home.  This is a spectacular salad, the kind you make want you really want to impress.  It's sweet, it's salty, it's crunchy and juicy.  Thank you Jamie Oliver, for your delicious recipe. (This is the second recipe I've attempted from his show, 30min Meals which is the new favourite around our house).








Here's the recipe!

Thai Mango Salad
adapted from Jamie Oliver 30min Meals

Ingredients:
A large bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
400g beansprouts, washed and dried
100g cashew nuts, peanuts, crushed or sliced almonds
1 tsp honey
1 fresh chili
2 ripe (but not over-ripe) mangoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated
1/2 tsp Soy sauce
1/4 tsp Sesame oil
Juice of 1 lime

Directions:

Place a frying pan on a low-medium heat. Place the nuts in the pan. Shake the pan so that the nuts get toasted on all sides.

Once the nuts are golden, add the honey. Toss the nuts around in the honey until they turn dark brown, then set them aside to cool completely.

Toss the cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, cilantro and mangoes.  Sprinkle with the glazed nuts and fresh chili.
Dress the salad with soy sauce, sesame oil and lime juice. Toss well.

Enjoy!

April 09, 2012

long weekend cranberry coffee cake


This long weekend I made a yummy cranberry coffee cake.  It's the perfect recipe for a long weekend because it needs alot of time to bake.  But it's definitely worth the wait.  I love the tartness of the cranberries contrasted with the crunchy, crumbly sweetness of the almond crumble topping.  Look at me saying fancy things like "contrasted"!







Here's the recipe!


Cranberry Coffee Cake
adapted from Joy the Baker
2 cups all purpose flour (I substituted 1/2 with whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup yoghurt
2 cups frozen or fresh cranberries
Topping:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 stick unsalted butter, well-softened
1/3 cup finely chopped almonds
1/6 cup quick oats
Put a rack in middle oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a loaf pan and set aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Combine butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in almond extract. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and yoghurt in alternate batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and mixing until just incorporated. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into baking dish and spread evenly.
For the topping, place the flour, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon and oats in a large bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon. Work the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until evenly distributed. Take two full handful of the topping and spread it over the cake batter. Use a knife to swirl the topping into the batter. Spread the rest of the topping evenly over the cranberry cake batter.
Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 1.5 hours to 1 hour and 45 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. 
Enjoy!

April 08, 2012

camping adventure



No, this isn't a sandy beach in the Caribbean.  This weekend we went campaign on the West coast... Ontario's West coast!  It was a-mazing.  I couldn't believe the turquoise blue waters.

finding pretty rocks

making a rock sculpture
I brought some of these rocks home and I'm planning a little craft project... coming up!

-zaza


April 03, 2012

rainy day soup


This soup is perfect for a cold, rainy day.  It instantly perked me up and made my belly very happy.  I think the heat (as in spice) had something to do with both.  I don't know what to call it exactly but it kind of reminds me of Pho soup.  I love Pho.





I saw this recipe on Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals and search as I may for the recipe online, I couldn't find it, so I had to kind of recreate it from memory and sort of strayed from the original.

Here's the recipe!

Pho-style Soup
adapted from Jamie Oliver

Ingredients
2 crushed garlic gloves
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger, thinly sliced
1 large red or green chilli
1 tbsp Chinese five spice (I substituted with a combination of turmeric, cinnamon, fresh ground black pepper and coriander seed)
1 package of snap peas, washed
1/2 package of bean sprouts, washed and drained
900 mL chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup rice noodles
1/2 cup fresh coriander (cilantro) roughly chopped
juice of 1 lime, to taste

Directions
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large pot on medium heat.  Add the garlic gloves, ginger and chilli.  Sautee for 2 minutes, then add the spices.  Sautee for another minute.  Add vegetable stock and 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add snap peas.  Cook for 5 minutes, then add the rice noodles.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes and remove from heat.  Add the bean sprouts right away, and serve.  Sprinkle with fresh coriander and lime juice as desired.

Enjoy!