Saturday, June 26, 2010


Well friends this week has come and gone and Summer is actually showing her true colors! And so am I! I have never been so happy to pull out my bright and colorful summer wardrobe. I know there will still be cloudy days and the occasional rain but I can live with that as long as the warmth keeps up!

Mike and I are Seattle bound tomorrow morning. We plan to do the tourist thing for 4 days and are especially looking forward to some great cuisine and of course Trader Joes. If any of you have any recommendations please do share! I am currently having a pep talk with Kobi the cat to ensure she is on her best behavior for her babysitter. I am getting a lot of back talk though so I'm not entirely convinced.

I'm leaving you with a classic falafel recipe that I think you will all have fun with. And I think the word fun can be applied to more than one part of the falafel experience. Fun as in you can dress it up any way you like. You can use them in a salad or roll them up in a pita. But it doesn't seem to matter how you do it, falafels are messy! This is not polite food people! You are going to get your hands dirty whether you like it or not. It is inevitable that your pita will split and your beautiful master piece will slowly slide out the back door and onto your plate and all over your fingers! My only advice to you is to embrace it. This is not in any way a sign that you have failed to pull off a perfect falafel. And it is in no way different then having your burger slide out of your bun! It simply can not be helped.

I like falafels with tzatziki but this time around we tried out a miso dressing that was equally as satisfying.

  • 1/4 cup bulgur
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • a pinch of red chili flakes
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 19oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 egg
  1. Spread bulgur, coriander and cumin seeds on a baking sheet and roast for 5 mins (or until golden brown) in a 350° oven. Cool and grind thoroughly in a clean coffee grinder. You could also use a mortar and pestle.
  2. Heat grapeseed oil in a skillet. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and remaining spices and sauté for a few more minutes.
  3. Combine all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth and sticky.
  4. Shape into 1.5" patties and cook in a greased skillet over medium-high heat about 3 minutes each side or until golden brown. Transfer cooked patties to an oven set at 200° to keep warm until you are ready to serve.
Note: You can top your falafels with a large array of vegetables such as shredded carrot, beet, diced cucumbers or peppers, lettuce, spinach or sprouts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Raspberry Sorbet

Summer....has finally arrived! Today was not exactly the model summer solstice day as it was a bit gray and not so summer like. However, I am looking forward to the smattering of summer days coming our way in the next few months. I got so excited about the prospect of summer that I took it upon myself to open up all the windows in our suite to air out the winter/spring congestion. I'm afraid by doing so I may have negatively contributed to Mike's hay fever. Sorry honey!

Speaking of summer, have you seen all the beautiful local berries that are beginning to appear at the farmers markets? I’m afraid my list of fruit dishes and desserts to try is becoming a bit ambitious! I find inspiration for cooking everywhere but there is something overwhelming about summer produce. It’s just too hard to pass up!

This particular dessert is very easy and light compared to traditional desserts. You could easily make it with whatever berries or soft fruit you have on hand. Peaches and blackberries come to mind when I think of a nice variation.

Recipe featured in the July 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Recipes yields 4 servings.

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups fresh or 300g frozen raspberries
  1. Stir together water and 1/4 cup sugar until sugar dissolves.
  2. Pulse raspberries in a food processor until coarsley chopped. With machine running, pour in sugar-water; pulse until mixture is smooth. Transfer to an airtight container, and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spaghetti with Eggplant Sauce

There are very few things that we ourselves can control in our lives. You can complain about the nagging things in your life, like the pot hole at the end of your street or rain during your week off. A traffic accident when you're already late or a group of over friendly seagulls that have taken it upon themselves to serenade you when you want nothing more than you're precious allotted sleep! I could go on but I won't because I'm starting to sound like an Alanis Morissette song!

It's not so bad really. I mean for all the things we can't control we always find a way around them. And when it all comes down to it we have the reins on some of the things that matter most in our lives. Like food. Without it we would no survive. Which is why we are lucky to live in a country with an overwhelming array of food choices. We have no excuse for not eating healthy wholesome foods. What you put into your body is one of the most important things you can control in your life.

It's easier then you think to turn a much loved dish into a healthy dish. Especially if you try to keep your processed foods to a minimum and cook with as much fresh, local and organic produce as possible. Little things like using whole wheat or brown rice pasta instead of white flour pasta and adding fresh chopped spinach before serving with a side of salad instead of bread. You will find yourself missing your bread and white pasta for the first while but will quickly adjust and possibly even acquire a taste for your new substitutes. Plus think of all the benefits you gain from the vitamin rich foods you are now consuming on a regular basis.

Spaghetti is a staple in our household. We quickly learned that it is not only very easy to omit meat in pasta dishes but quite satisfying to discover a whole new palate of wonderful flavors that were previously masked by the overpowering flavor of meat. Vegetables offer so many sweet and savory flavors that can easily be altered by different cooking methods. For this dish I simply made a quick marinara sauce combined with my eggplant meatball recipe without forming the meatballs as I wanted a ground meat texture. I also roasted the eggplant instead of sauteing as I wanted a hands free method of cooking the eggplant while I whipped up my marinara sauce. I served this dish over a bed of whole wheat spaghetti and chopped spinach topped with sauteed corn and shallots with a sprinkling of smoked Gouda. I used fresh corn instead of frozen because it's currently in season. Simply shred off the kernels using a large knife cutting in a downward motion.

Note: The first corn of the season is almost always the sweetest!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lentil Salad with Mint, Roasted Peppers and Feta Cheese

Deborah Madison is like the Julia Child of vegetarian cooking. Her methods are tried tested and true. I can say from experience that they are also thoroughly flavorful. With that said, I would like to caution the importance of reading through her cooking methods. I for one used to skim through her recipes often skipping important steps that I thought to be tedious and unnecessary. As I become a more experienced cook I can see that by leaving out important flavors and bypassing steps I was depriving my dish from it's true potential. Now that I am coming back to some of these recipes and trying them again without skipping steps or leaving out ingredients, I have noticed quite a difference in the finished product.

This salad would not have such a rich flavor if you didn't roast the peppers or use fresh mint. It is also important to use French lentils as they hold their shape without becoming mushy. I served this salad with honey mustard glazed tofu but I think it would also be nice served with roasted vegetables or poached eggs served on toasted bread.

You can find this recipe in The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison or via a Google search.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Leek Soup

It's amazing how quickly a good day can turn into a bad day. Sometimes it's the little things that make for a bad day. Like misplacing your keys or forgetting your lunch at home. Today it was the news that our new Subaru had been victim to a hit and run. Once I get over the shock that our four day old car is no longer the beautiful shiny car we couldn't wait to call our own, and realize that these things not only happen but they can happen to you. I think I will be thankful that no one was hurt and that it is just a car which can be fixed. And as I listened to the many similar experiences around my office I realized that this is all part of growing up!

I initially felt like sulking this evening instead of making dinner. Then my tummy started to grumble and I realized my time was better spent making something comforting to eat, while taking advantage of the therapeutic benefits of doing something you love.

Since I have my homemade vegetable stock on hand and couldn't resist buying an armful of local leeks (which were awkwardly taking up space in my already cramped fridge) I decided to put some of my new soup making skills to the test and whip up a pot of leek soup!

I must take a moment to enlighten those of you that don't already know this little secret. In order to obtain a very smooth melt in your mouth consistency for cream soups you must strain the entire finished product through a sieve. Thus, resulting in a beautiful creamy soup that will instantly turn you into a soup snob!

  • 4 large leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise and sliced thin (about 6 cups)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp grape seed oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • kosher salt
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 4-inch sprig fresh thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat butter and olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in sliced leeks, onion and 1 tsp kosher salt. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often until leeks and onions are soft about 10 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to high, stir in vegetable stock, potato, bay leaf and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatos are tender about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig. Puree soup in two batches in a blender or food processor, or in the pot using an immersion blender. Return pureed soup to dutch oven. 
  4. Strain soup through a fine mesh sieve into another pot using the back of a ladle to push any liquid through. Compost the remaining pulp. Bring the strained soup to a simmer. Season to taste with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Garnish, if desired, with chopped chives, scallions or croutons. I reserved some leeks to sauté for my garnish.