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Archive for September, 2011

Links I like (September)

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Cookbook review: Rebar

So I’m a little late reviewing this cookbook – a quick Google search shows there are plenty of positive reviews already out there.  It won a Canadian Culinary Book award in 2002.  And, there is even a blog where the authors tried to cook their way through the book from 2009.  All that I can say is that ten years later this cookbook still holds up.  It is a cookbook that I use often and always feel inspired after cooking from its pages.

The pasta and entrée sections of my cookbook are littered with checkmarks and words like: “amazing” and “make again”.  This is where you get your money’s worth from this cookbook.  Some of my favourite dishes are the border paella, the savoury bread pudding, the pad Thai and the Santa Fe pasta salad.  Sure, some of these recipes require a lot of work and can be quite time-consuming but they make great company dishes.  A good example of this would be the recipe for the Parmesan corn risotto cakes – there was so much prep work it took me two nights to make them but they were beautiful and delicious!

So that being said, my least favourite part of the cookbook is the lunch section.  These recipes often take just as much prep as the entrées but the results are less rewarding.  The drinks section is also underused in my home but I’m certain that is because I don’t have a juicer yet.  One of my go to recipes when I’m getting sick is the Liver Quiver much to Mike’s disdain (It contains raw garlic).

Overall this is easily one of my favourite cookbooks with recipes that I cook frequently. I’ve not yet been to the restaurant nor have I been to Victoria but it this cookbook is any indication of how tasty the food will be there I will plan to try this place the next time we make it out West.

Highly recommended for vegetarians!

(Want to buy this from a local bookshop – try Octopus Books)

Title: Rebar Modern Food Cookbook

Authors: Audrey Alsterberg, Wanda Urbanowicz

Publisher: Big Ideas Publishing, 2001

ISBN: 0968862306; 9780968862308

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Stuffed Squash

This makes a full meal for 2 people.   Some notes:  I used Lundberg brand rice in this recipe but any brown rice would workAlso you can substitute the  rosemary for thyme if that’s what you have on hand.

  • 2 cups of cooked rice
  • 2 small butternut or buttercup squashes
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sliced leek (or if you prefer use an onion)
  • 2 bell peppers (any colour), cut into small triangles or cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 cups of sliced mushrooms
  • grated Parmesan cheese as needed
  1. Make the rice. As rice cooks, preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly oil and baking sheet or lay down some tinfoil.
  2. Wash the squash and then slice in half. Spoon out the seeds. Use about 1 tablespoon of the oil to rub on the squash and then place them cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes.
  3. While the squash cooks, sauté the leeks and garlic in the remaining oil until the leek is translucent. Add the bell peppers and rosemary and continue to cook for about 5 minutes more. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are just tender and release their water. Remove from heat.
  4. Mix together rice and vegetable sauté.
  5. When the squash is finished baking remove from oven and turn cut side up. Mash the flesh slightly (working carefully!) and then stuff with rice mixture. You can use all of the rice mixture here or you can save some for a side dish. Return the stuffed squash to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle cheese on top and enjoy!

Stuffed squash

This recipe originally appeared in Food for thought : a cookbook for the Canadian library community.

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I grew up in a very meat and potatoes family.  When I started cooking without meat I often found myself craving food from my childhood – here I’m posting a  pretty standard  “meat and potatoes” dish that I’ve adapted for vegetarians.  I also have a great vegan version with mushrooms which I will hopefully get around to posting soon.  This recipe is perfect for those fall nights when you want something comforting. 

A couple of notes if you decide to try this recipe.  First, I don’t usually cook with  fake meat products because of the high salt content.  If you are totally against using processed foods you can make the entire base out of the lentils – you may need to add some extra root vegetables.  And you will notice that I  don’t add salt to anything else but if you absolutely can’t stand your potatoes without salt feel free to add some.  Second, this recipe only calls for carrots but I often experiment with the base of the pie — when I come home from the farmers market with a tonne of root vegetables (turnips, rutabagas, etc.)  most of them end of in this dish.  Just make sure you cut them small enough to cook (or cook them beforehand).

Veggie Shepherd’s pie (Cheesy version)

¾ c du puy lentils (French green)

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 bay leaf

1 celery rib

1 medium celery root

1.2 kg (2.5 lbs.) potatoes (about 6 large potatoes)

340 g Yves’ original veggie ground round

2 med. sized carrots

½ c milk (2%)

1 tbs. unsalted butter

150 g of smoked cheese, grated (I prefer Gouda but in the photos we are using smoked mozzarella smoked in house at Il negozio nicastro a local business in the West Wellington area)

Fresh thyme to taste (optional)

Fresh ground pepper

Lentils and aromatics

Prepping the lentils for the pie's base.

  1. Check your lentils for stones and rinse the dust off them.
  2. Put them in pot with 3.5 cups of cold fresh water.  Cover and bring the water to a boil.
  3. While waiting for the water to boil prepare your aromatics.  Quarter the onion.  Finely chop the celery and peel the garlic clove.  Once the water has boiled, add these aromatics to the lentils and turn the heat to simmer.  Cook for around 25 minutes.  You want your lentils to be firm and not mushy – also many people would add salt at this point but with all the salt in the veggie ground round I usually avoid it here.
  4. As the lentils cook prepare the celery root and the potatoes.  Basically if you already know how to mash potatoes this step will be very easy for you.  Peel the celery root and the potatoes.  (Note:  if you have organic potatoes no need to peel them – I love the rustic look of the potato skins in a mash.)  Chop the potatoes into small pieces roughly the same size.  The celery root takes a little longer to boil so you want to chop these pieces a little smaller.  In a large pot add enough cold water to cover the potatoes and celery root and bring to a boil (turn down to a simmer once they have reached a boiling point).
  5. As this point your lentils should be finished.  Drain and if you want you can reserve the liquid to use for stock at some future date.  Remove the onion, garlic and bay leaf.  Don’t worry if you can’t remove all the onion – some small pieces in the lentils won’t hurt.  Season with some freshly ground pepper.
  6. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. Put the lentil mixture into your casserole dish – I use a 9×15” glass casserole dish.  Mix in the veggie ground round.  If I have time I start preparing the carrots (step 9).Finished Base
  8. If your potatoes are ready, drain the water (you can also save this and add it to the lentil cooking water for stock) and mash them with the milk, butter and thyme.  I usually mash them in the same pot that I cook them in and leave them covered until I am ready to use them.
  9. Prepare the carrots by peeling, and cutting into quarter or half moons.  I like my carrots very crunchy in this mixture so I tend to keep them on the larger side.  Add them to the lentil/veggie ground round mix.  This is your base.
  10. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the base mixture.  Spread the grated cheese over top of the mashed potatoes.
  11. Cook for 20 minutes in your pre-heated oven.  You can turn the broiler on for the last couple of minutes to brown the top.  But, keep a close on it.  Mike and I were sorting out our compost and I totally over-cooked the top of this pie.

Good side dishes:  garlicky kale, rapini or the classic stand-by: peas.

Finished Pie (Missing some pieces because Mike and I were straving)

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Menu (week of 25/09/11)

  • Pumpkin Soup
  • Gnocchi with thyme vinaigrette and cashew cream, along with a tomato salad
  • “Sausage” and mash


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Gumbo

It’s funny that I chose to make gumbo last week – I was not the only one thinking about delicious fall stews.  One of my favourite blogs – the Post Punk Kitchen also posted a recipe for gumbo.  I think it must be the cooler weather in the evenings.  The recipe I used was from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone – Red bean Gumbo with greens.

Chopped Kale It was full of tasty kale, hearty kidney beans, and lots of aromatics and as I returned to the leftovers over the week it became more and more delicious.  I started by making my beans from scratch.  In the past I never had time for this step but lately I’ve been waking up ridiculously early on Sunday mornings so I soaked the beans that morning and started cooking them by 3PM.  The recipe called for a crazy amount of greens as you can see.

Like Isa, gumbo was not a food I grew up with. It takes practice to get the roux just right and every time I make one I still get nervous about burning it.  (But, 101 cookbooks has some great tips on how to get your roux right).  I think I liked this recipe because it’s full of ingredients that I am familiar with and no okra in sight.  I served it over some brown-long grain rice which cooked as I cooked the gumbo.  And, other than my nervousness making the roux it was a pretty easy recipe to make and it is a great Sunday afternoon cooking experience.  If you are looking for a delicious fall stew try this recipe and let me know what you think.

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Menu (week of 18/09/11)

  • All-you-can eat Sushi
  • Pasta with mushrooms and spicy peppers
  • Veggie Shepherd’s pie
  • Three sisters burritos with a mesa red sauce (The three sisters are: squash, beans and corn)

I’m really excited for all-you-can eat sushi with my library technician classmates – it’s been two years since we finished the program and I’m very keen on finding out how things are going for them.  The recipe for the shepherd’s pie will follow sometime this week too.

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