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To cure what ails you…

Grapefruit 2

Photo by Isox4 on flickr

It seems like everyone in my office is sick this week.  While many of my co-workers seem to be suffering from flu-like symptoms I have a nasty cold.  I hate being sick.  Yes, it gives me an opportunity to re-watch Veronica Mars and sleep an extraordinary amount, but it also comes with a constant dripping nose, aches, and tiredness that are not pleasant.  So, when I am sick I make this juice, which has become my go-to natural remedy that I pair with lots of dark leafy greens.  I love this recipe because it makes me feel better every time but I have to warn you that it is not a recipe that you make friends with – it contains one clove of raw pressed garlic.  For some reason, Mike is never sick when I am sick and he groans whenever I make this juice.  I guess when your nose is not plugged up the smell of raw garlic is pretty strong.

This recipe is adapted from Rebar’s liver quiver juice recipe.  And as a super plus, it is easy to make when you have no energy.

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 lemon
  • 1-3 oranges (or orange juice) *to taste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Juice the grapefruit, lemon and oranges.  Strain out the pulp (or leave it in) and combine the juices in a glass.  Crush one clove of garlic in a garlic press and then combine with the juice.  Add a pinch of cayenne pepper.

It is best to drink this fast in big gulps then get back to the couch.  That first season of Veronica Mars is not going to re-watch itself.

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Here is my vegan version of my shepherd’s pie.

A couple of notes if you decide to try this recipe. The recipe calls for black beluga lentils because that’s what I had on hand to make this but you could easily substitute du puy lentils (french green).  The mushroom gravy is not necessary – I often make this dish without but sometimes you just want some extra fat to up the comfort factor.  You need a large rectangle glass baking dish to make this in.

Veggie Shepherd’s pie (Vegan version)

1/2 c wild rice

1 1/2 c black beluga lentils

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 bay leaves

1 carrot

3 lbs. potatoes (about 6-7 large potatoes)

1 lbs. mushrooms (button, cremini)

1/4 c dried porcini mushrooms (about 6 or 7 dried)

1 tbsp. of olive oil

fresh or dried thyme to taste

1/2 c frozen peas

½ c soy milk* optional — you can also use the cooking water

1 tbsp. vegan margarine (I use Earth balance brand)

1/2 package of mushroom gravy (vegan)

Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

  1. Make your wild rice.  Rinse the rice and then stir it into a cup and a half of boiling water.  Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let soak in the same water, covered for 1 hour.  Drain.  Stir rice into 1 1/2 c of fresh boiling water.  Let simmer for 25-35 minutes.  Drain.  While making the rice – prepare the other parts of the shepherd’s pie.
  2. Check your lentils for stones and rinse the dust off them.
  3. Put them in pot with 3.5 cups of cold fresh water.  Cover and bring the water to a boil.
  4. While waiting for the water to boil prepare your aromatics.  Quarter the onion.  Finely chop the carrots and peel the garlic cloves.  Once the water has boiled, add these to the lentils, plus the bay leaves and turn the heat to simmer.  Cook for around 25 minutes.  You want your lentils to be firm and not mushy.
  5. As the lentils cook prepare the potatoes.  Basically if you already know how to mash potatoes this step will be very easy for you. Peel 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.   In a large pot add enough cold water to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil (turn down to a simmer once they have reached a boiling point).
  6. 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 leaves.  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.
  7. If your potatoes are ready drain the boiling water and leave them in their cooking pot until you are ready to mash them.
  8. Prepare your mushrooms.  Soak your dried mushrooms in warm water as directed.  Slice the button mushrooms and leave some pieces in quarters.  Once the dried mushrooms are soaked – slice into bite sized pieces.  Warm the oil in a frying pan and add all the mushrooms – you want to cook them just until they lose some of their juices.
  9. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  10. Now prep your base.   Add the lentils, mushrooms, frozen peas and wild rice.  Mix together.
  11. Drain the water from your potatoes if you have not already done so.  Mash them with the soy milk and margarine.
  12. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the base mixture.
  13. Cook for 20 minutes in your pre-heated oven. While it is cooking prepare your mushroom gravy if using.
  14. Remove from oven and spread mushroom gravy over the top.

Serve with: rapini with garlic and chili peppers.

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A few weeks ago I was flipping through Anna Thomas’ Love Soup to find some soup recipes for the winter months.  Near the back of the book I saw an entry for Parmesan and fennel biscotti.  I was intrigued.  The recipe looked delicious but I wondered if I could substitute the fennel for something else.  In the fall I had made a trio of savoury muffins and I thought about pairing parmesan and garlic instead.  Or if I was really ambitious I could make biscotti in each flavour like the muffins!  I started make my plan but with everything I was buying for holiday baking I decided just one flavour combination would be enough:  walnut and rosemary.  These biscotti were delicious – great with a sharp cheddar cheese and a nice glass of red wine.  We actually ended up eating most of these with soup or as an appetizer.  Not exactly a cookie but nice to have around the house to snack on.

Walnut-Rosemary Biscotti

(Inspired by Anna Thomas’ Parmesan and Fennel Biscotti in Love Soup)

  • 2 c unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted (plus some for the kneading surface for example a cutting board)
  • 1/3 c masa harina
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 to 4 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, removed from stem (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 c buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.  Prepare your kneading surface by lightly flouring it.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients:  flour, masa harina, salt, pepper, baking powder and baking soda.  Whisk these together.  Using a fork stir in the rosemary and walnuts.

In a small bowl use the same fork to beat together the eggs and the buttermilk.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir together with your fork until a crumbly dough forms.  You may need to use your hands to get it to stick together.  Now transfer the dough to your floured surface and knead it into a smooth ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Remove 1/3 of the dough and leave the remaining dough wrapped in plastic.  Roll the dough into a log about and inch wide and place on your baking sheet.  Flatten the top using your fingers.

Don't worry if they are not even -- you'll be slicing them into smaller pieces for the second baking stage.

Repeat with another third of the dough and leave about two inches between the logs.  Repeat with the last 1/3 of the dough.  Bake for 20 minutes.  They will have a nice golden brown hue.

The golden brown hue you will see after the first baking.

Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  They must cool for at least 30 minutes.  Don’t rush this step!  In the meantime, lower the oven temperature to 225 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with fresh parchment paper.

Using a bread knife, slice the baked logs about a 1/4 inch thick.  Place the slices on the baking sheets and bake for 35 minutes.  You don’t really need to leave any room since the biscotti will not be expanding anymore.  After the 35 minutes is up flip the slices and then bake another 35 minutes.  The biscotti will be crisp and dry.

This is the biscotti before their second baking. After the second baking the cookies will be more brown and the edges will be crisp.

Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Biscotti will keep for a couple of weeks in an air-tight container.

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I have been baking up a storm for the holidays:  these cookies for the exchange, trial cookies that didn’t work out so well, 7 dozen cookies from a class at Urban Element, fruitcakes and I’ll be baking more soon (recipes to follow) for another cookie exchange!  To top all of that off – I’ve been eating tonnes of great baked goods!  I received cookies from Eri @ It all tastes Greek to me and Heather @ New House, New Home, New Life (my 3rd set of cookies arrived today).  There is a new bakery open in my nieghbourhood with amazing gingerbread cookies and so many of my friends and family have given me baked goods.  I feel super lucky.

To begin my recipe you need to set the mood with the right holiday music:

Phil Spector Christmas

After you have the right music, holiday baking is a snap!

Oatmeal-Chocolate-Currant Cookies

(Adapted from a Moosewood cookie recipe)

  • 1 c unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 c sugar
  • ½ c butter
  • 3 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs walnut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ c rolled oats
  • ½ of this type of chocolate bar (but I have made these cookies with a number of different types of bars; this one wasn’t my favourite)
  • ½ c chopped walnuts
  • ½ c currants

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients:  flour, salt, and baking soda.  In another large bowl, beat together sugar, butter and oils until light and creamy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.  Stir in the oats, chocolate, walnuts and currants.  Your batter will be really thick at this point.

Drop batter onto baking sheet.  Leave about 2 inches in-between.  Bake for 10-12 minutes (check at the 8 minute mark).  You want your cookies to crisp and golden on the edges.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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It’s soup season!  Last night as I was walking home with a cold rain and harsh wind blowing I realized that pretty soon it is going to snow.  Luckily, Mike and I  had lots of leftovers of this soup to keep us warm.  If the ingredient list seems a little long it’s because there are lots of spices in here.  I actually did not intend on posting this recipe because I was just planning on making the Squash-and-White Bean Soup from this cookbook. However, when I started to cook  I realized I was deviating from the recipe quite a bit.  Instead of leaving chunks of squash and celery I blended the “base” of the soup to a creamy texture.  And while I love the taste of winter squash and white beans, I had black beans in the fridge that needed to be used. 

The real highlight of this soup is the garnishes.  I recently discovered Harissa and have a jar of it in my fridge to use up.  I knew the taste would go perfectly with this soup so I  drizzled about a 1/3 of a teaspoon in the bowl just as I served it.

Soup

  • Harissa (to taste)
  • Feta cheese (to taste)
  • Crusty bread
  1. Make the stock (if you have none on hand)
  2. Combine the oil, squash, onion, celery, jalapeno, ginger and garlic in a large soup pot. Cook over medium-high heat until softened for 7-10 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the vegetable stock, chile powder, thyme, allspice, salt, and ground pepper.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Using an immersion blender blend the soup to a smooth texture.  Add your ancho chilli powder and taste for salt.
  5. Stir in the spinach and beans and cook for about 10 minutes more.
  6. When serving add some harissa as garnish with a bit of crumbled feta.  Serve warm with crusty bread.

Soup, beer and bread

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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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