Monday, 31 January 2011

Moosewood Mondays: Risotto with Carrot and Feta, and Apple-Celery en Bleu

Even omnivores are trending towards partially vegetarian diets. Veggie til noon, til dinner, or on certain days. It's very vogue now, and we like to think we invented it. But looking back on some of the older books in our collections we can see the hip veggie dishes that were being created long before we came aboard.

I for one have decided to really take the time to try out lots of the delicious veggie dishes in the Moosewood collective. I must have at least three of the old books and they are easy to come by in used book stores or online.

If you've been meaning to dust off your old Moosewood books, feel free to join me!

This week I made a delicious veggie feast of carrot and feta risotto, paired with apple-celery salad. Both are rich in cheesy goodness. And if you have cheese - everything is wonderful. If you have wine, even better.

Mmm, doesn't that look fantastic? And it's good for you!
Risotto With Carrots and Feta
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home


    * 5 cups vegetable stock
    * 4 carrots, cut into match sticks
    * 1 onion, small, diced
    * 1 tablespoon olive oil
    * 1½ cups arborio rice
    * 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh dill
    * 1 lemon, juice of
    * 1 cup feta, crumbled
    * 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped


   1.  Bring the stock to a boil in a covered pot.
   2.  Put the carrots in the stock water, lower the heat and very gently simmer.
   3.  In a large wok or saucepan, saute the onions until softened but not brown.
   4.  Carefully add the rice and stir gently until the grains are thoroughly coated with oil.
   5.  Add the dill.
   6.  Ladle 1 cup of the carrot stock into the saucepan with the rice and stir.
   7.  When it is absorbed, ladle in another cup worth.
   8.  Keep stirring in the stock and carrots like this until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is tender but al dente (20-30 minutes).
   9.  When the risotto is ready, remove it from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, feta and parsley.
  10. 10 Serve immediately.

*I like my rice a little softer and so used a bit more time and liquid. 

Go ahead, take a big bite!
Apple-Celery En Bleu
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

1 Apple
2-3 Celery stalks
1/3 cup crumbled blue or Roquefort cheese
Leafy greens for 2 servings
1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. honey
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup toasted walnut halves for garnishing


Core the apple and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Thinly slice the celery. Combine the apples, celery and crumbled cheese in a serving bowl. Rinse the greens, shake them dry, tear them into bite-sized pieces, and add them to the bowl. In a cup, use a fork to whisk together the vinegar or lemon juice, oil and honey. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss well, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnished with walnut halves.


Sunday, 30 January 2011

Book Review: Vegan in 30 Days

Get healthy. Save the World. 
Sarah Taylor
Paperback, 128 pages

Vegan in 30 Days is a book for people who have made the decision to begin a vegan diet. It is a 30 day game plan of inspiration, elimination, and tips for a new vegan lifestyle.

Sarah Taylor was inspired by author John Robbins to give veganism a try in 2002. She had been vegetarian for 10 years and was curious to see how a vegan diet would affect her. She had planned on doing it as a one month cleanse, but found she felt so good that she adopted the vegan diet as a permanent lifestyle.

She recommends veganism as a way to lose weight, prevent or reverse disease, increase energy, save animals from suffering and death, and reduce your carbon footprint. But the book isn't so much to convince you to become vegan as to give you the steps to ease into it over the course of a month.

Each kind of animal product is slowly eliminated from the diet over the month, while you are given tips and coaching on eating well, learning more about the vegan lifestyle, and the philosophy of veganism.

As a motivational speaker, she is very positive and energetic in her writing. Her enthusiasm is contagious. If a vegan diet is one that you are seriously considering, this book is a handy little guide to help you in your transition.

Sing a Song of Six Breads: A Pocket Full of Rye

90% Rye / Shaped in Brotform
This month the Mellow Bakers explored the Detmolder method of rye bread production.
This is a slow build, formulated in Germany, to get optional performance out of delicious rye sourdough. You do need time to make these loaves, and some consideration towards temperature, but the Detmolder method produces some delicious and complex ryes that any baker would be proud to present.

Rye gluten is rather week, so you won't get the elasticity that you do from wheat breads, but the flavour is deep and satisfying.
I did a month long project of comparing the loaves, and found that we liked the strongest rye (90%) the best. Feel free to experiment with the Detmolder method yourself, and see what you like best.

Three Stage Sourdough Ryes (70%, 80%, 90%)
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
for the Mellow Bakers

Day One
 70%- 1½ Tbsp Rye Flour, 1 Tbsp Water, 1 tsp Mature Rye Starter
 80%- 1½ Tbsp Rye Flour, 1 Tbsp Water, 1 tsp Mature Rye Starter
 90%- 1½ Tbsp Rye Flour, 1 Tbsp Water, 1 tsp Mature Rye Starter

Day Two
Basic Sour
 70%- 3.2 oz Rye Flour, 2.4 oz Water, all Freshening Sour
 80%- 3.2 oz Rye Flour, 2.4 oz Water, all Freshening Sour
 90%- 3.2 oz Rye Flour, 2.5 oz Water, all Freshening Sour

Day Three
Full Sour
 70%- 7.7 oz Rye Flour, 7.7 oz Water, all Basic Sour
 80%- 8.6 oz Rye Flour, 8.6 oz, Water, all Basic Sour
 90%- 8.6 oz Rye Flour, 8.6 oz, Water, all Basic Sour

Day Three or Four
Final Dough
70%- 11.2 oz Rye Flour, 9.6 oz Bread Flour, 13.4 oz Water, 1 Tbsp Salt, 1 tsp Instant Yeast, all Full Sour

80%- 13.5 oz Rye Flour, 6.4 oz Bread Flour, 13.5 oz Water, 1 Tbsp Salt, 1 tsp Instant Yeast, all Full Sour

90%- 1 lb, 7 oz Rye Flour, 3.2 oz Bread Flour, 13.7 oz Water, 1 Tbsp Salt, 1 tsp Instant Yeast, all Full Sour

80% Rye / Baked in Loaf Pan
Directions - The Build

Day one - your starter should be nice and healthy, mix up ingredients for the Freshening. Cover and let ferment at room temperature for at least 6 hours, or overnight if cool.
(Ideal temp - 77°-79°F)

Day two - Add in the ingredients for Basic Sour and stir well. Cover and let ferment overnight. 15-24 hours.
(Ideal temp - 73°-80°F)

Day three - Add in the ingredients for Full Sour and stir well. Let ferment at least 4 hours, or overnight if cool.

Final day - set aside a small portion of your build as a mature sourdough culture for another project.
Add the rest of the ingredients listed under Final Dough. Mix to combine with a spiral mixer. You will need to stop and push down the dough from the sides from time to time. Dough will be sticky, do not add flour.
When fully combined, knead on a board for 4 minutes. Let rest, covered, for 20 minutes.
70% Rye / Free Form Loaf
Divide and shape - Divide dough into two, shape into loaves. Rounds, ovals, free-form, brotform, or even loaf pans are fine.

Let rise, covered, for 1 hour at 82°F or longer for cooler temperatures. There is not a lot of oven spring in these breads, so you want them to rise some before baking.

Preheat the oven, with a stone, to 480°F at least a half hour before baking.

Score loaves with a dough docker and mist lightly before loading into the oven.
Bake at 480° for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 410° for a total baking time of about 40 minutes.

Let cool completely on racks, wrap when cool and let sit overnight before slicing.

- all water used should be water that has stood out overnight - to release any chlorine and to come to room temperature.
- if you aren't getting quite the temperatures required in the instructions - make up the difference with time. A cooler ferment needs more time, use your own discretion. 
- all ovens are different, baking times may vary slightly.
This bread has been Yeastspotted!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Golden Raisin Bread

This is a hearty and delicious hearth loaf, with hits of sweetness from golden raisins. Great for cheese sammies, or just toasted with butter, this rustic loaf is fun and easy to make provided you have a healthy sourdough starter on hand.

Some people have several starters on the go, or build up special ones for special breads. I don't have that kind of patience. I keep one going, that goes dormant in the fridge from time to time, and gets fed whatever I am in the mood for. This particular one that I used for this bread had been eating rye for a while. The small amount of rye in the bread doesn't make much of a difference to the loaf. My point being - use what you have. 

Golden Raisin Bread
adapted from Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
for Mellow Bakers


4.8 oz Bread flour
6 oz Water (that has stood out overnight)
1 oz Mature culture

1 lb, 4 oz Bread flour
6.4 oz Whole wheat flour
1 lb, 1 oz Water (that has stood out overnight)
1 Tbsp Salt
1 tsp Instant dry yeast
3.2 oz Rolled oats
8 oz Golden raisins
All of Preferment (above)


The night before:
Mix up your preferment. Let stand at room temperature overnight. (12-16 hours)

Day of:
In you stand mixer bowl, combine oats and water. Let stand a couple of minutes to hydrate the oats.
Add all the rest of the ingredients, except the raisins.
Mix with the dough hook, on low, until thoroughly combined.
Mix on second speed for 3 minutes.
Add raisins.
Mix on low again, just until incorporated.
Shape into a ball and let rest 1 hour.
Fold the dough and let rest another hour.
Divide the dough into two and shape into loaves.
Let rise, covered, for 1 hour or, if it is cool, 1.5 hours.
Preheat the oven with stone to 460°F.
Score dough and mist lightly with water. 
Bake at 460°F for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 430°F for an additional 25 minutes.
Let cool completely on racks.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Pantry Staples: White Bean Tuna Salad

Having a stocked pantry means the world to a home cook. When you come home late or tired, pantry staples can be key to getting a quick and nutritious meal on the table.

Tinned beans are so versatile, whether puréed into a quick dip or tossed into a soup or salad. They add quick fibre and nutrition to any meal.

Sure it's great to have the dried ones on hand, but for cooking on the fly - keep a few tins in stock as well.

This White Bean and Tuna Salad takes advantage of two pantry favourites - tinned white beans and tuna - and transforms them with the help of fresh produce and bold flavours. And it takes all of five minutes to make.

No more cold cereal for dinner because you are in a hurry, this salad fits into any schedule and is infinitely variable. Also makes for great lunch box fare. Cheers!

White Bean Tuna Salad
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis,
for IHCC January Potluck


    * 2 (6-ounce) cans dark meat tuna, packed in olive oil
    * 2 (15-ounce) cans cannelini white beans, drained and rinsed
    * 1/3 cup small capers, nonpareil in brine, drained and rinsed
    * 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    * Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
    * 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
    * 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
    * 2 cups fresh arugula (or any other baby greens)
    * 6 fresh basil leaves (optional)


In a large bowl, add the tuna, reserving the olive oil in a separate small bowl. Break tuna into bite-size pieces with a large fork. Add the beans and capers. Into the bowl of olive oil, add the red wine vinegar. You should have 1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil - add more extra-virgin olive oil if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Pour dressing on the tuna, bean and caper mixture and allow the flavors to infuse while slicing the vegetables. Add the onion and tomatoes to tuna mixture and toss gently.

Place the arugula on large decorative platter and top with tuna mixture. Tear fresh basil leaves over the top and serve immediately.


Thursday, 27 January 2011

Bolillo Dough Burger Buns

In the search for the ultimate burger bun, I have found that a soft center paired with a slightly crusty shell makes for a lovely burger eating experience. Not that my 17 year old burger aficionado pays as much attention to the bread as his mother the baker... but he does appreciate a good bun. And you should too. Just say no to those squishy grocery store offerings, these simple buns can be made in an afternoon, largely unattended.

The recipe is for bolillos, a Mexican crusty roll, published recently by my friend Heather. I have republished her original recipe here - you can find my adaptation notes at the bottom. Also, I used a stand mixer. Either way is fine, use what you have.

Bolillo, like baguette, refers to the shaping as well as the dough. So these burger shaped buns are not true bolillos, but they sure make good burger buns. Try them yourself!

Mexican Crusty Rolls

adapted from Cocina de la Familia
by Heather of Girlichef
for Bread Baking Day #36 Corn-y Breads
makes: 12-16 rolls

1 Tbs. sugar
14 g. (½ oz.) active dry yeast
2½ c. warm water
½ c. olive oil
1 Tbs. fine sea salt
~5 c. all-purpose flour
½ c. masa harina
½ c. white cornmeal

1 tsp. fine sea salt
¼ c. warm water

white cornmeal, as needed

Place ½ cup of warm water in a large bowl.  Sprinkle in sugar and yeast.  Stir and let mixture sit until it becomes a bit foamy, ~5 mins.  Once mixture is ready, add remaining warm water, oil, salt, 2 cups of flour and stir together with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the masa harina and white cornmeal, then gradually add the last 3 cups of flour.  You may need to switch to your hands if the spoon no longer does the job.  Turn dough out onto a work surface (add a bit more flour if it seems sticky) and knead until dough is firm, resilient, and smooth, ~4-5 minutes.

Oil a large bowl and turn ball of dough in it so that all sides are covered with a thin film of oil.  Cover with plastic and let sit in a warm spot in the kitchen until doubled in size, ~1 hour.

Lightly flour your work surface again and turn dough out of bowl.  Knead for 2 minutes.  Depending on if you'd like larger or smaller buns, divide your dough into 3 or 4 equal portions (to make 12 or 16 bolillos) and then cover all but one portion.  Divide the piece of dough you have left into 4 equal pieces.  Form each dough into a roll shape, then flatten into an oval.  Fold each oval into thirds (like a letter), then pinch ends together to form a spindle shape.  Place each piece of formed dough, seam side down, onto a sheet tray lined with parchment or a silpat and sprinkled with extra cornmeal.  Repeat process.

Cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place for ~30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375° F during last 15 minutes of rising time. 

Combine warm water and salt for the wash and lightly brush over risen dough.  Slash the side of the dough with a sharp knife, ~¼" deep.  Lightly pinch the end of the rolls again.

Bake for ~25 minutes or until rolls are a pale golden color and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Remove them to a wire rack to cool.

To make burger buns: For the shaping - just make rounds, press lightly to flatten a bit. When finished rising, score the edges like above. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Armchair Novel Review - Don't Be Afraid

Steven Hayward
Hardcover, 320 pages
also available as an ebook

Don't Be Afraid is a novel about a teenage boy whose life changes after the explosion of the local library and the loss of his brother. It is seen through his eyes, both in the present and glimpsing back to the events that lead up to the tragedy.

Mystery surrounds the explosion and the missing brother; his mother retreats into herself; his father buries himself into finding the cause; while Jim is left to take care of his little brother and make some sort of sense out of life. 

What we are treated to is an almost poetic journey through the alien and surreal aftermath of loss. How life inexplicably keeps moving forward, from the mundane to the ridiculous.

I really enjoyed this book. It is thoughtful, tragic, and funny all at the same time. An excellent read.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Armchair Novel Review - The Wild Zone

The Wild Zone
Joy Fielding
Trade Paperback, 416 pages

A night out in a local bar sets in motion a story of intrigue, secrets, and violence.

Three guys walk into a bar.. one tall and handsome, the playboy boyfriend of the buxom bartender; his estranged half brother who has recently shown up on his doorstep; and his volatile best friend, with whom he has a history of staging daring and dangerous bets.

The bet made that night centers around a mysterious beauty sipping pomegranate martinis in the back of the bar. They each vie for her affections. They each get much more than they bargained for.

The book is a fast-paced suspense novel with intriguing, if not exactly likable, characters. You get the idea that, with their particular personalities and circumstances, something bad was likely to happen regardless - but Joy Fielding manages to keep you breathless in the roller coaster ride to the end. Watch out for hair-pin turns, she really does keep you guessing - just when you think you have things all figured out.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Homemade Sour Cream

Forget store bought sour cream. It is filled with gelatin and stabilizers and who wants those in their cream? Homemade is looser and silkier, with a lovely tang. All you need is time.
My husband is quite used to seeing my little kitchen science experiments around, and didn't even lift an eyebrow at the jar of cream fermenting alongside the sourdough and yogurt and various other concoctions. But when I spooned it onto his chili he took notice. A lovely rich and delicate condiment that is so much more delicious than store-bought.
Try it yourself! All you need is 35% cream and some cultured buttermilk and time, lots of time.
*I got a nice, thick cream by the end - but if after 3 days you don't - try whipping it. 

Homemade Sour Cream
adapted from
Make your own homemade sour cream from heavy cream and buttermilk or more sour cream. Plan ahead to give the sour cream 24 hours to thicken up and chill.

Prep Time: 48+ hours
Cook Time: 5 minutes


    * 1 cup heavy cream
    * 1/4 cup cultured buttermilk

Mix heavy cream and buttermilk in a screw-top jar, shake, cover, and let stand at room temperature about 24 hours until very thick. Place in fridge for another 24-48 hours before using.

You can find alternative Homemade Sour Cream recipes here.


Sunday, 23 January 2011

Raspberry-Vanilla Smoothie

Oh yay, coldest morning of the season so far.

One of those mornings where it seems that if you stand outside for too long, like, say, 2 minutes - your face might shatter and fall off.

These kinds of mornings make you wonder why you live in Canada when clearly your California friends are so much warmer. Where, according to the tourism commercials, all they do is lunch, drink wine, and play golf all day. I would be willing to learn to play golf if I lived there. And I have the wine thing down pat.

Now I just have to find someone who wants to adopt me...

Okay, it may be some time in coming. My son is thinking of moving down there, maybe he'll send for his poor, frozen mother later. A gal can dream. For now, a gal can bundle up and make a smoothie with her frozen fruit and pretend to be in sunnier climes.

And then go back to bed. Wake me up when it is summer.

Raspberry-Vanilla Smoothie
Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis Food Network
for IHCC California Dreaming
2 large servings


    * 1/2 cup sugar
    * 1/2 cup water
    * 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
    * 1 cup frozen raspberries
    * 1/2 cup apple juice or cider
    * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    * 2 cups ice


In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes. *We subbed in a little extra juice and yogurt for the syrup

Pour the cooled syrup into a blender. Add the yogurt, raspberries, apple juice, vanilla, and ice. Blend until the mixture is smooth and thick.

Pour into glasses and serve.


Saturday, 22 January 2011

Porktacular Slow Cooker Chili with Black Eyed Peas

I don't babysit. Okay, there were those desperate years in the beginning, but I was young. I needed the money.
We have a rule in our home now, no big dogs or small children.
What is it about having small children (back then, mine are grown now, thank goodness) that makes people think that you would like to look after theirs too?
I am hoping that, no I know that, I will feel differently when I have grandchildren. Who of course will be just as perfect, good looking, talented, brilliant and wonderful as my own kids. Not like other peoples children. *Shudder*
But until then, no babysitting.
Same goes for long-cooking meals. If there is a possibility of getting the slow cooker to do the work? I am all for it.
So here it is, Michael Symon's porktacular chili, edited by moi for the slow cooker. Absolutely delicious and a wonderful departure from traditional chili. Leave the kids at home and drop by for a bowl. Or, better yet, make a batch yourself!

Porktacular Slow Cooker Chili with Black Eyed Peas
adapted from this recipe, from Michael Symon
for Symon Sundays


   1 tablespoon ground coriander
   1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
   1 teaspoon ground cumin
   2 pounds cleaned and trimmed pork cheeks or shoulder
   Salt and freshly ground pepper
   2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
   1 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
   1 large onion, finely chopped
   6 garlic cloves, minced
   2 jalapeños, sliced (seeded if you like)
   2 red bell peppers and one poblano, chopped
   One tall can of Guinness (440 ml, about 14-15 oz)
   2 chicken bouillon cubes, crumbled
   1 28 oz can whole Italian tomatoes, crushed
   2 canned chipotles in adobo, chopped
   1 pound dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
   1 small cinnamon stick
   Shredded extra old or smoked cheddar cheese, green onions, and crème fraîche, for serving


   1. In a large bowl, combine the coriander, paprika and cumin and toss with the pork chunks. Season with salt and pepper.

   2. In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the pork and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the pork to the slow cooker.

   3. Add the bacon to the pan and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Toss into  the slow cooker.

   4. Add everything else to the slow cooker, stirring to combine, and put on low for 8 hours. Stir every few hours if possible, to make sure all the beans get a chance to plump.

Season the chili with salt and pepper. Spoon off any fat from the surface and discard the cinnamon stick. Serve the chili in bowls. Pass the toppings at the table.

Cute and healthy black eyed peas. Fergie? Is that you?