Friday, April 25, 2008

Sautéd Red Cabbage Salad (with tasty Greek influences)

I've made a solemn salad vow that is turning out to be scrumptious. This one was especially differently yummy.

I love cabbage and it's incredibly good for you, but sometimes when it's raw it's just too much. I wanted some colour in this salad for vitamins and cabbage keeps so well that it's a good standby. If you sauté it in a wee but of butter it makes a lovely salad topping. (Butter, I know 'bad,' but this salad is best enjoyed with a miniscule amount of salad dressing, so it's okay.) ;0) A little butter goes a long way in this: it lends the nicest creaminess to the nutty cabbage.

Sauté cabbage until it's al dente & adding sea salt helps keep the colour and pepper is wonderful with cabbage.
  • Start with your favourite green (this has romaine hearts & spinach-both organic)
  • Add the teeniest amount of finely-diced feta & spanish onions
  • Red cabbage goes on there too
  • Top with a hit of your favourite herb (I had basil on here & it was wondrously good)
Dressing suggestion: Greek. Nice. :0)

Happy eats!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ingredient of the Day: Infused Oil & Vinegar

Infusing oils & vinegars is so simple it'd be laughable if it didn't add so much to cooking. They add such a depth of flavour to salads, vegetables, or anything you use oil or vinegar for, (hahaha.) They also make lovely gifts. You can tailor your recipes to the favourite tastes of friend & loved ones.

This particular oil blend has:
  • Lots of lemon zest
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • Lemon scented thyme (crushed to release oils)
This 'recipe'--if you can call it that ;0)--was born, because I really wanted garlic flavour on some roasted potatoes, but I didn't want the burnt taste of overdone garlic pieces. If you use it right after mixing it is very subtle (garlic-wise.) If you want strong garlic flavour right away, or you aren't worried about burning, just chop the garlic cloves just mash 'em with a garlic press or fork.
You can use different oils, of course, so it's adaptable and healthful.

I've tried a spicy rendition for Christmas gifts that was very well received just by combining:
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • A few chili pepper flakes
  • Garlic cloves (peeled & crushed)
  • & Rosemary
Any herb you like is great. The woody herbs (like rosemary, thyme, sage...) seem to keep longer but tarragon, dill, cilantro, chives, green onions...and so on...impart lovely flavours. I've been salivating over the idea of an oil infused with my new curry plant (though I've read it's more fragrant than flavourful...we'll see. I'll let you know...)

Other great flavours are: ginger, lemon grass, bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves, dill seed, fennel seed, celery seed, Fenugreek, cumin, clove, cumin...well really any spice, heehee :0) Many will be best cut (lemon grass) crushed or grated.

Keeping your concoctions in the fridge ensures there's no unwanted bacterial business from the herbs...The vinegars are naturally antibacterial so they last longer unrefrigerated.

Vinegars, even the cheapest, are really improved by adding aromatics. Blends are nice too: A mix of white vinegar with red wine vinegar gives you that rosé colour, but is clear enough that it still lets the herbs show to their best advantage. I really like the flavour too. White balsamic vinegar is simply dreamy and so attractive. You can choose all kinds of pretty bottles for gifts--or for you! :0)

Happy easy culinary alchemy,

Homemade Roasted Peppers & Yogurt cheese in a Sandwich

The star of this ultra fresh-tasting sandwich is an orange roasted orange pepper. Roasted peppers are easy to make at home & they're juicier as well as sweeter than the jarred variety (the jarred ones always seem to go moldy on me.)

With fresh ones, you control the texture, since you can cook them as much or as little as you like. Plus--obviously--you can roast orange or yellow ones (or even hot peppers) for different flavours. I would find green bitter, but whatever floats your culinary boat...

It's also a great way to save those almost wrinkling peppers from certain doom. I just roasted this orange one (who was in his old age) in the oven at 500 degrees (while I was cooking turkey.)

The skin peels right off (easier when cooled-I tried it when hot, ooouch! ) You don't even need to blacken the pepper (unless you want it really roasted-- I like it just brown it in spots because it leaves the teensiest crispness to the pepper. Once roasted, they save nicely in the fridge for a day or two. You can freeze your roasted peppers, marinade them, or immerse them in a jar of oil.

This sandwich also includes another easy easy easy 'gourmet' gem:

Homemade Yogurt Cheese

Did I mention this was easy?:
  1. Just take yogurt (with no settling agents in it.) I used a natural Balkan style & it turned out lovely (smoother than other yogurts.)
  2. Put the yogurt in cheese cloth and set that in a sieve.
  3. Set the sieve over a bowl & Let the water drip out (refrigerating all the while)
  4. When the water is out and the yogurt is firm it's done (overnight is perfect, but you can check the texture & taste it
Cream cheese consistency is how like it. Yogurt cheese is great for those who like a rich tzatziki (me!) and it is a fantastic tangy but light tasting addition to wraps / dips / mashed potatoes / wraps / sandwiches...Which brings me to the actual sandwich; It's on buttered white toast (gasp!), but that's all I had, and I needed a sandwich fix. Its fillings include:
  • Yogurt cheese (herbs added to this are loverly)
  • Roasted orange pepper
  • A little mayo
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Sorrel (lemony wonder) & iceberg lettuce (or your favourite greens)
  • a sliced left-over chicken thigh
If you're a vegetarian, you could add avocado for a little richness instead of the chicken.

Happy cooking adventures!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Club sandwich Salad (a crunchy green take on the sandwich)

This picture is a cheat, because it's a bread-less version of this club salad recipe--with red pepper as a substitute for the tomatoes. Hardly the same, but kinda perty, no? It also has fresh dill and sorrel. (Sorrel is an unusually lemony perennial green that is delightful. I grow it in a pot.) :0)

Being a club sandwich fiend this is my favourite salad:
  • Lettuce (a mix of Iceberg or Romaine for crunch with organic salad greens like mescaline mix or baby spinach is scrumptious and a good way to introduce greener varieties of lettuce to kids)
  • Bacon Cooked 'til it's the crispness you like (avoid bacon bits like the plague--> they are evil! Muhahaha!)
  • Tomatoes (if you don't have fresh canned finely diced are nice)
  • Chicken or Turkey (For best results, put poultry in a ziplock bag and flatten it with a meat hammer until even. Cook 'til tender & moist, but not overdone of course!) ;0)
  • Havarti or old /medium cheddar (or your favourite cheese)
  • Green onion (fine chop)
You could use shrimp/crab/scallop as well or instead of poultry (seafood club, right?)
Avocado is awesome too (large cubes lightly salted.)

For entertaining friends who are Vegetarians: You could make a salad bar that includes the above, but also has chickpeas (Garbonzo beans--which are lovely toasted.) Other options include pine nuts, spiced pecans, pomegranate seeds...


I love this best topped with Ranch dressing (to which I add a shot of white balsamic vinegar & fresh herbs) or a with any mayonnaise-y vinaigrette. The pow of vinegar is the best! (TIP: If you can let your homemade dressings sit for at least an hour/overnight for flavours to marry.)

Homemade Sourdough croûtons:

If you hate store bought croûtons, like I do, you may be pleasantly surprised by making your own tasty morsels.

Butter & a little cooking oil
Sourdough (or other fresh bread)
Sea Salt
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch cayene
Paprika/other spices you like
Lemon/lime zest
Flat Leaf Italian Parsley/Cilantro/Dill or finely chopped Herb of your choice

Add the ingredients in the order above (most important is the garlic last to avoid burning it bitter.) Toast it. This makes crispy croûtons with a soft warm inside. Mmmmm....

Thanks for looking. Happy Cooking,

Monday, April 21, 2008

Red Cabbage Coleslaw with fresh Dill

The key to this coleslaw is to add more vinaigrette than mayonnaise (unless you like it the other way 'round.) The zingy vinegar & onion against the nutty cabbage & sweet carrot is nicely accented by fresh pepper and a touch of creamy mayonnaise.

  • 1/2 small Red Cabbage Finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot shredded (or add more to taste)
  • 2 green onions finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette (or more to taste)
  • 2 tbsp real mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp or more white balsamic vinegar (or dark balsamic or other vinegar)
  • Liberal amount of fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • Handful Fresh dill-chopped

Mix everything.

Couldn't be easier. Chops well in a food-processor also. This is lovely the next day... the flavours marry nicely. You may find you need to add a little more dressing & vinegar to get the same flavour kick.

Other flavour options:

If you can get your hands on Kohlrabi, Fennel, or Celeriac try a little in here too. :0) Kohlrabi is amazingly yummy. It's not that hard to grow from seed either.

Dry mustard
Optional add fennel seed


Lemon Walnut Bread

This lemon bread recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book It can have subtle lemon flavour, or you can boost it by adding more lemon zest & juice. It makes 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves (16 servings.) I love to serve it with lemon zest sprinkled all over the plate, so I can get as much lemon as possible.

TIP: If you're using the juice of a lemon but not the zest in a recipe, zest it first anyhow. If you zest onto a piece of plastic wrap you can freeze it for later. Also, rolling a lemon on the counter will make sure it gives up all of its juice. :0)


  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel (I like 3 or 4)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans/almonds) , toasted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (either granulated or powdered icing (confectioners) sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Grease 8x4x2-inch loaf pan or two 7-1/2x3-1/2x2-inch loaf pans. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients :

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • & 1/4 teaspoon salt
3. Make a well in dry ingredients
4. In another bowl, mix wet ingredients
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
5. Add to dry ingredients (in the well you made.) Stir until just mixed. Batter should be lumpy, otherwise it'll be tough.

6. Fold in nuts and lemon zest:
  • 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel (I like more: 3 or 4)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans/almonds) , toasted

7. Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and spread evenly. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven about 50-55 minutes for 8x4x2-inch loaf and about 45 minutes for 7-1/2x3-1/2x2-inch loaves or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center(s) comes out clean. (If necessary, cover loosely with foil for the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning.)

8. The sauce: While baking the bread, in a small bowl stir together 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon sugar until sugar is dissolved. Right after the bread comes out of the oven--while still hot--spoon glaze over top(s). Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack. Wrap in plastic wrap and store overnight before serving.

Make-Ahead Tip: Bake loaf or loaves. Glaze, then cool completely. Wrap in foil or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator up to 2 days. Or, place cooled loaves in freezer containers or bags and freeze up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Happy Baking,

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Peanutbutter Oatmeal Cookies with roasted almonds

These freeze well as rolls in plastic wrap, then you can slice off rounds and bake them super quickly.

Oatmeal Peanut butter cookies
(like girl guide ones) 5star rating by 215 people online

  • · 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • · 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • · 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • · 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • · 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • · 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • · 1/2 cup white sugar
  • · 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • · 1 egg
  • · 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • · 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • · 3 tablespoons butter, softened

FILLING: 1 cup icing sugar & 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter & 2 1/2 tbsp heavy whipping cream

BOWL 1---In a large bowl, cream together:

  • · 1/2 cup butter
  • · 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • · ½ cup white sugar
  • · ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • · And 1 tsp vanilla.

---Add egg and beat well. BOWL 2---In another bowl, Sift & combine:

  • · ¾ c flour
  • · 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • · 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • · 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add these sifted dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Stir. Add 1 cup oatmeal & Stir in ½ cup almonds (chopped and toasted)

Drop by teaspoons onto greased baking sheet, and press each mound down with a fork to form 1/4 inch thick cookies. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 minutes, or until cookies are a light brown.

(I made the ones above without filling, so I can't say how this is:)

BOWL 3--To Make Filling: Cream 3 tablespoons butter with 1 cup icing sugar, add 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, and 2 ½ tbsp heavy cream. Spread filling onto half of the cooled cookies, then top with the other half to form sandwiches.

Recipe from here

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Easy Casserole style Spanakopita

Charles gave this easy casserole style Spanakopita ten out of ten, and insisted it was company worthy. I loved it too...for some reason spinach by itself feels funny on my teeth, but this is a dream to eat. Popeye would approve!

It is such a satisfying dish that you need no meat (the egg adds protein of course.) It's a wonderful vegetarian entertaining option. This is perfect balanced with a lemony balsamic-dressed salad to refresh your palate. I like to sprinkle the dinner plate with fresh lemon juice & fresh ground pepper, so that every once in a while you hit a taste of it. Lemon wedges let your eaters add more if they like. :0)

To make it:

1 large bunch spinach Well washed--remove much of the stems & cook with a little olive oil and the 'aromatics' (or you can use two frozen packages squeeze to drain.) After cooking the spinach drain it.


  • Spanish Onion (1/2 medium sized one) I save some to add to the filling right before assembly
  • Cilantro (handful fresh chopped) (or dill)
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • Grating nutmeg (equivalent of 2 pinches) I add some during cooking and some before assembling
  • Fresh Lemon zest (2 tsp or so)
  • Pinch or two salt & lots of fresh ground pepper
Mix in with the above:
  • Aprroximately 150 grms (3/4 cup or so) Feta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • bit more fresh nutmeg
  • a bit more of the finely chopped onion
  • more fresh cilantro (or dill)
  • more lemon zest
Preheat oven and Layer in a casserole dish:
  • 1st: Phyllo pastry sheets (I use 3-4 layers on the bottom; it is not important if the sheets break, but melted butter brushed on them is key. I use my hands to put it on. No need for a brush)
  • 2nd:Add bread crumbs between layers
  • 3rd: Spoon in and spread filling
  • 4th: Add more bread crumbs
  • 5th: Add the 3-4 layers more lightly buttered phyllo on top. (Butter top layer well)
  • 6th: Add more bread crumbs
  • 7th: Sprinkle with Nonya seasoning
Bake at 400 degrees for 1/2 an hour (or until golden brown)

Don't have bread crumbs?

Take a bun/bread (I just LOVE sourdough bread) and put it in the microwave for a minute or so--or oven (until it's overheated.) Then just let it harden & grate it. I like that the bread still tastes fresh, not stale, and that you can make it quickly. Don't even have bread? Use well-crushed crackers. Ritz are nice and buttery.

If you cut slits in the top it lets the steam evaporate so it's not too moist:

I found that the slits closed during baking, so I just used a spatula to open them 1/2 way through cooking.

You can fold your phyllo into the traditional shape of spanakopita bundles instead OR roll it, chill it, and cut it to make appetizers. It freezes well and reheats nicely in the oven (though you may want to sprinkle a little butter on top before reheating to keep it from drying out.)

Happy cooking! Happy eating!

P.S. Roasted Feta looks GOOD

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Roasted Beet, Avocado & Asian Pear Salad

This is YUMMMMMMy! It's easy, and very good for you too. It's even pretty. It's nicest prepared fresh, and tossing it just makes the redness of the dressing even more appealing. The thing I love about it is the contrasting/complimenting textures. The earthy smoothness of the beet against the crispness of the Asian pear. The slightly bitterness of the crunchy romaine against the creamy avocado and the buttery crunch of pine nuts. Tasty!

If you don't enjoy fruit in salads, you may very well still enjoy the Asian Pear. You'd be surprised how subtle it's sweetness is and its moist crispness can't be found in anything else.

Beets With a bit of Zip:

I love pickled beets, so to bring out the sweet note of beets & to add a zing, I thought why not bake them with vinegar:
  1. Peel & chop beets; (baby beets are nicest)
  2. Blanch them (drop into boiling water for 30 seconds then put into ice water)
  3. Wrap them in tinfoil--drenched in vinegar, oil, sea salt & fresh pepper (to taste) Even white vinegar is great, but balsamic is lovely. (The tinfoil keeps the skins tender for the salad. If you want caramelized beets with a slightly drier skin, opt for a pan & no tinfoil.) :0)
  4. Roast beets at 375 to 400 degrees until tender. (Depends on the size you chop them)
  5. Chop them smaller for salad or eat 'em as is. They keep well.

The rest of the salad:
  • Organic Romaine Hearts washed & torn (or any lettuce/salad greens but crunch is nice)
  • Avocado diced (I half it, remove the pit, & dice it in the rind then scoop with a spoon=no washing up.) I think lightly salting the avocado is key.
  • Asian Pear peeled and chopped
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • I like to make my own dressing, but in a pinch Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette is my favourite store bought dressing.
You can substitute roast carrots/sweet potatoes for beets.

Other delectable substitutions/additions could include:

  • Cheese (A natural with this) Goat cheese, creamy feta, old cheddar, blue cheese... (or your favourite)
  • Spanish Onion (was all out or it would have gone in finely sliced- for sure!)
  • Cilantro or Italian Flat Leaf Parsley (nice against the creaminess & sweetness)
  • Other Toasted Nuts: walnuts, pecans, almonds or macadamia nuts<--(one of my faves in salad)
  • Other Fruits: crisp pear...granny smith or gala apples... Or plums/strawberries/raspberries (with a little lemon/lime/grapefruit juice)
Happy cooking,

Tools I Couldn't Cook Without: My Zyliss Salad Spinner +A Healthy Trick for Cleaning Produce

I left my ex-husband our salad spinner in the divorce, so I had to go out and get a new one right away. This is my current Zyliss Salad Spinner. The first one had a lid that you could use to convert the spinner for fridge storage (lucky guy!) ;0) So if you're in the market for a salad spinner & you can find the one with the lid--go for it. If not, you can still store with the lid of this one. It pulls like a lawn mower, smooth and fun! Just hummms away. I eat so much healthier when I don't have to towel dry lettuces. It's a great way to get kids involved in cooking; there more likely to A) help in the kitchen & B) eat the salad they made.

It also allows you to soak the lettuce for a while, which is nice if you can't buy organic, or if you want to perk up lettuce with cold cold water. I just tear lettuce roughly and fill with cold water. Pull the basket up and dump the water. Put the basket back and spin away. You can clean other veg in there too. :0) Adding a paper towel on the bottom of the basket for storage makes the lettuce last longer. (It gets damp from the lettuce & prevents it from dehydrating.)

Salty fruit???

After I soak fruit/veg, I scrub 'em clean with a brush and salt. Then rinse 'em.

  • Salt is naturally anti-bacterial (So it's great for things like cantaloupe which can harbor salmonella (source & more info)
  • It doesn't affect the flavour. In fact, some people like to add salt to fruit: apples for instance.
  • It's mildly abrasive, so it removes things like wax.
  • Salt is especially good for cleaning produce you eat/use the peels of like potatoes and citrus: it gets in those little divits!
Happy eating,