Friday, 29 June 2012

Celebrate with Cupcakes!

Wow, there is so much to celebrate right now!

And what better way to celebrate than with cupcakes? They are self-contained individual servings of deliciousness and everybody loves them.

Seriously, how can you be sad when there are so many different kinds of cupcakes to bake - and eat! 


150 Best Cupcake Recipes
by Julie Hasson
Paperback, 192 pages

The love for cupcakes is a phenomenon that shows no sign of slowing down, and Julie Hasson (Host of Everyday Dish)  has 150 recipes that you can serve for any occasion! Parties, lunches, board meetings, even weddings. Cupcakes go with everything. There are even 25 recipes for vegan cupcakes. Nobody should be without cupcakes.

In the Introduction you will find: Decorating Tips and Techniques, Theme Decorating, Simple Garnishes, Decorating for Kids, Tools and Equipment, Common Ingredients.

The chapters are divided into: Chocolate, Fruit, Nuts, Adults Only (you know what that means!) Kids' Corner, Spice It Up, New Twists, Vegan, Frosting, Glazes and Fillings.

My favourite kinds of cupcakes? Ones with fresh fruit in them. Especially berries, in the summer. Ooh! and cream cheese icings. What are your favourites?

Raspberry Vanilla Cupcakes (page 107)
Makes 12 cupcakes

These cupcakes are easy to prepare, reliable and always ready to please the pickiest palates. They're a great choice for afternoon tea, which is my favorite time to eat them.

•    Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
•    Muffin pan, lined with paper liners

1½ cups    all-purpose flour    375 mL
1½ tsp    baking powder    7 mL
1⁄4 tsp    salt    1 mL
1 cup    granulated sugar    250 mL
1⁄2 cup    canola oil    125 mL
2    eggs    2
1 tsp    vanilla    5 mL
1⁄2 cup    milk    125 mL
1⁄3 cup    raspberry preserves    75 mL
    Frosting (see Frosting suggestions, below)

1.    In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
2.    In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Alternately whisk in flour mixture and milk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of milk, beating until smooth.
3.    Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.
4.    Remove paper liners from cupcakes. Slice cupcakes in half horizontally. Spread bottoms with raspberry preserves, replacing tops. Top filled cupcakes with frosting.

Tip: These are best served the day that they're made.

Variation: Substitute apricot or cherry preserves for the raspberry.

Frosting suggestions: Lemon Cream (page 164), Chocolate Glaze (page 150) or Cream Cheese Icing (page 158).

Excerpted from 150 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Best Chocolate Cupcakes (page 18)
Makes 12 cupcakes

Here is a great basic chocolate cupcake just asking to be frosted with a creamy, rich topping. I like it topped with everything from Chocolate Fudge Frosting to Cream Cheese Icing (see Frosting suggestions). This recipe is loosely adapted from a recipe in Natalie Haughton's 365 Great Chocolate Desserts.

•    Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
•    Muffin pan, lined with paper liners

1¼ cups    all-purpose flour    300 mL
1⁄2 cup    unsweetened Dutch-process     125 mL
    cocoa powder, sifted
3⁄4 tsp    baking soda    3 mL
1⁄4 tsp    salt    1 mL
1 cup    granulated sugar    250 mL
1⁄3 cup    canola oil    75 mL
1    egg    1
1 tsp    vanilla    5 mL
3⁄4 cup    buttermilk    175 mL
1⁄2 cup    semisweet chocolate chips    125 mL
    Frosting (see Frosting suggestions, below)

1.    In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
2.    In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, egg and vanilla until smooth. Alternately whisk in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of buttermilk, beating until batter is smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.
3.    Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 22 to 27 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.

Tip: These cupcakes freeze well. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store them in resealable plastic freezer bags for up to 2 weeks.

Variations: German Chocolate Cupcakes: Omit the chocolate chips in the batter. Frost with Coconut Pecan Frosting (page 154).
Substitute white chocolate chips for the chocolate chips.

Frosting suggestions: Chocolate Fudge Frosting (page 149), Cookies and Cream Buttercream (page 157), Vanilla Cream Frosting (page 160) or Cream Cheese Icing (page 158).

Excerpted from 150 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes (page 78)
Makes 12 cupcakes

Ice cream cones filled with cake and iced to look like real ice cream cones are a fun treat for kids and make a great alternative to ordinary birthday cake. They're a classic but still cool.

•     Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
•    Muffin pan

1    recipe White Cupcake batter     1
    (see recipe, below)
12    flat-bottomed ice cream cones    12
    Frosting (see Frosting suggestions,below)
    Sprinkles, candied cherries or
    other garnishes of choice

1.    Fill muffin pan with flat-bottomed ice cream cones. Fill each cone three-quarters full of cake batter. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until tops of cupcakes are golden brown and a tester_inserted in center comes out clean.
2.    Let cool completely in pan on rack. Top cooled cupcake cones with frosting. Sprinkle with garnishes.

Tips: These cupcakes can be made up to 1 day ahead, but they taste best the day that they're made. Place unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container and store at room temperature. Frost just before serving.

One package (18.25 oz/ 515 g) of cake mix will work in place of the cupcake batter. Prepare mix according to package directions, fill cones and bake as directed above.

White Cupcakes
(page 85)
•     Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
•    Muffin pan, lined with paper liners
1 cup    all-purpose flour    250 mL
1⁄2 tsp    baking powder    2 mL
1⁄4 tsp    baking soda    1 mL
Pinch    salt    Pinch
3⁄4 cup    granulated sugar    175 mL
1⁄4 cup    unsalted butter,     60 mL
    at room temperature
2    egg whites    2
1 tsp    almond extract    5 mL
2⁄3 cup    buttermilk    150 mL
    Frosting (see Frosting suggestions,
    below)

1.    In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2.    In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter until well combined. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in almond extract. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of buttermilk, beating until smooth.
3.    Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.

Frosting suggestions: Vanilla Cream Frosting (page_160), Peanut Butter Frosting (page 169) or Strawberry Cream Cheese Buttercream (page 172).

Excerpted from 150 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Armchair Novel Review: The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken

The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken
Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator

Written by Tarquin Hall
Trade Paperback, 368 pages
Also available as an eBook

What is better than reading a mystery novel in the summertime (or anytime, for that matter?) Reading a mystery novel set in a foreign country. I have long loved my Scandinavian whodunnits and have always wondered what other settings I might find as intriguing backdrops to mystery.

Along comes Tarquin Hall with his Vish Puri series set in India - a wonderfully quirky, cozy and intriguing series with the rich histories, peoples and landscapes of this complex land.

The Vish Puri series has been compared to Alexander McCall Smith's works and I definitely agree, but Tarquin Hall's books manage to keep a light edge while delving deeper into the murder mysteries. His background as a journalist shows through in his attention to detail, creating a thoroughly and immensely enjoyable read. 

In The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken, the father of a famous cricket player is poisoned at a VIP banquet and Vish Puri must delve into the lives of him and his son, as well as the other famous people at the table. The case takes him into Pakistan, and deeper into Indian history than he imagined. Even his own family history is shaken up in this addictive read. Meanwhile he is on the hunt for the thief of the country's longest mustache, stolen right from the lip of the wearer. Intrigue compounds for our intrepid, and hungry, "Most Private Investigator".

Tarquin Hall is a British writer and journalist who has reported extensively on S.E. Asia and the Middle East for the British press. He is also the author of the highly acclaimed non-fiction books Salaam Brick Lane and To the Elephant Graveyard. Hall is now at work on the fourth installment of the Vish Puri series. He lives in Delhi, India.

Other books in the Vish Puri series

#2 The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing – A Seattle Times Best Crime Novel of the Year

#1 The Case of the Missing Servant – A New York Times Notable Crime Book

Visit Vish Puri's India!
Tarquin's Blog
Tarquin Hall on Facebook
Vish Puri on Facebook

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Avocado-Dressed Shrimp a la Mexicana

Tostadas are awesome as they are naturally gluten-free, crispy and flat and delicious, and perfect for piling on all sorts of great flavours. They even come in different sizes, but we like the 4-inch ones for lunches and dinners. They can be messy, but that's part of the fun.

The other day one of our cooking club members, Michelle, made these delicious looking tostadas with avocado and shrimp and I knew I had to make them right away. Who doesn't love avocado and shrimp? Together they make one happy mouthful. Add in some veggies and seasonings and you have the perfect bite, my friend. Especially if that bite is on a crispy tostada.

I made a couple of changes to mine, feel free to put your own spin on them.

Happy munching!

Avocado-Dressed Shrimp a la Mexicana
Camarones a la Mexicana con Aguacate
Recipe from Season 6 of Mexico - One Plate at a Time, Rick Bayless
Online recipe source here.

Ingredients

12 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) medium-small, peeled-and-deveined cooked shrimp
1 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large tomato, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (you should have a generous cup) (I used red pepper)
1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
Hot green chiles to taste (usually 3 serranos or 1 to 2 jalapenos), stemmed and roughly chopped
1 medium avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and chopped
1/3 cup (loosely packed) chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish (or parsley)Salt
(I garnished with some carrot strips for contrasting colour)

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, onion and tomato.  Measure the lime juice into a food processor or blender.  Cover and turn on.  Drop in the chile(s) and, when chopped, turn off and scoop in the avocado and cilantro.  Blend until smooth.  Thin to a "creamy dressing" consistence with water (usually 2 to 3 tablespoons). Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon.  (You will have about 1 1/2 cups.)

Mix the dressing into the shrimp mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the shrimp a la mexicana and refrigerate.  When you're ready to serve, scoop into a serving bowl, decorate with a cilantro sprigs and it's ready.


Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded IHCC

Monday, 25 June 2012

Eat Raw, Eat Well!

Eat Raw, Eat Well
400 Raw, Vegan and Gluten-Free Recipes
by Douglas McNish
Paperback, 384 pages

"The traditional raw food diet is vegetarian or vegan. The term "raw food" typically refers to any unprocessed whole food in its purest form."

In my home we are omnivores, which, rather than meaning we eat everything, means that we have days that we eat meat, days that we eat veggie or vegan, and even days that we eat raw foods.

Eat Raw, Eat Well goes beyond salads to explore a broad wealth of dishes that are both nutritious and delicious. Eating raw gives one sense of renewed vitality - you are eating foods in their most wholesome state, without losing essential nutrients that cooking can destroy.

Most importantly, Doug shows you how living a raw life can be simple, and can include your favourite foods! Raw vegan Alfredo sauce, nachos, or pizza anyone?

With Doug's help equipping your kitchen and sourcing great raw ingredients, you can incorporate raw foods into your life and enjoy the health benefits of unprocessed foods.

Contents include:
Introduction
Raw Food Know-How
Equipping a Raw Food Kitchen
***
Breakfast
Smoothies, Juices and Other Drinks
Dips and Spreads
Soups
Salads and Dressings
Sauces and Condiments
The Main Event
Sides and Small Plates
Snacks and Breads 
Desserts
***
Buying Raw Ingredients
Online Sources for Certified Raw Food Products
Index
Mango, Jicama, Pumpkin Seed and Fresh Herb Salad
(page 154)

This light yet intense salad is bursting with fresh summer flavors and interesting textures. It is sure to impress your guests at a dinner party or Saturday afternoon picnic.

Makes 2 main-course or 4 side salads

2 cups sliced peeled jicama 500 mL
1 cup sliced peeled mango 250 mL
1⁄2 cup raw pumpkin seeds 125 mL
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice 30 mL
2 tbsp cold-pressed (extra virgin) olive oil 30 mL
1⁄4 cup chopped parsley leaves 60 mL
1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro leaves 60 mL
1⁄4 cup chopped basil leaves 60 mL
Pinch fine sea salt Pinch

1. In a serving bowl, toss jicama, mango, pumpkin seeds, lime juice and olive oil until evenly coated. Set aside to macerate for 15 minutes. Add parsley, cilantro, basil and salt and toss gently. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Tips

To peel and chop a mango, cut a small slice from the top and bottom of the fruit to make flat ends. Using a vegetable peeler, carefully peel away the skin. Stand mango upright on a cutting board. Using a chef’s knife, run the blade through the flesh, taking approximately three slices from each of the four sides. When you are close to the stone, use a paring knife to remove any remaining flesh from around the middle.

Pumpkin seeds provide an impressive array of nutrients. They contain healthy poly- and monounsaturated fats, protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese, thiamine (vitamin B1) and vitamin E — not bad for the seeds of a common squash.

Excerpted from Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

 
Pesto-Coated Carrot and Parsnip Fettuccini

(page 236)

This dish is a great way to get as many healthy ingredients into your body as possible without having to sacrifice any of the things you love. The softness of the root vegetables makes it reminiscent of traditional al dente pasta.
Makes 2 servings

3 large carrots, peeled 3
3 large parsnips, peeled 3
1 tbsp cold-pressed (extra virgin) olive oil 15 mL
1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided 60 mL
1½ tbsp fine sea salt, divided 22 mL
3⁄4 cup cold-pressed hemp oil 175 mL
1⁄2 cup raw shelled hemp seeds 125 mL
3 cloves garlic 3
3 cups chopped fresh cilantro leaves 750 mL

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots and parsnips into long, thin strips, dropping into a bowl as completed (see Tips, left.) Add olive oil, 1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice and 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) salt and toss until vegetables are well coated. Set aside for 10 minutes, until softened.

2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process hemp oil and seeds, garlic and remaining lemon juice and salt, until somewhat smooth but the hemp seeds retain some texture. Add cilantro and process until chopped and blended, stopping the motor once to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Add pesto to fettuccine, toss well and serve.

Tips

Peeling the vegetables lengthwise produces the long, thin strips required for this recipe. For best results use a Y-shaped (slingshot) vegetable peeler. When using a regular peeler, you can glide down the length of the vegetable to make one long, thin strip.

If you prefer, combine the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl before tossing with the vegetables, to ensure even integration.

Excerpted from Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


Pecan Pie

(page 354)

This heavenly dessert is definitely decadent — creamy, luscious and smooth. This is a great recipe to make for people who are new to raw food, because it is so rich and delicious it’s sure to make a convert of even the most skeptical guest
.

Makes 16 servings

• 10-inch (25 cm) springform pan

Filling


4 cups pecans, soaked (see Tips) 1 L
1 cup filtered water 250 mL
1 cup raw agave nectar 250 mL
1 cup melted coconut oil (see Tips) 250 mL
2 tbsp ground cinnamon 30 mL
2 tsp raw vanilla extract 10 mL

Crust

2 cups whole raw almonds 500 mL
6 chopped pitted soft dates 6
2 tbsp raw agave nectar 30 mL
Pinch sea salt Pinch

1. Filling: In a blender, combine soaked pecans, water and agave nectar. Blend at high speed until smooth. Add coconut oil, cinnamon and vanilla and blend until smooth and creamy.

2. Crust: In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse almonds until crumbly. Add dates, agave nectar and salt and pulse until combined, with no large pieces of almonds or dates remaining. Press into bottom of springform pan and set aside.

3. Assembly: Pour filling over crust and freeze for 5 to 6 hours or until firm. About half an hour before you are ready to serve, remove from the freezer (pie needs to be soft enough to slice). Serve immediately. Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Tips

To soak the pecans for this recipe, place them in a bowl and cover with 8 cups (2 L) water. Cover and set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Drain, discarding remaining water.

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature. It has a melting temperature of 76°F (24°C), so it is easy to liquefy. If you have a dehydrator, place the required amount in a shallow dish and warm at 100°F (38°C) for 15 minutes or until melted. If you do not have a dehydrator, place a shallow glass bowl over a pot of simmering water.

Excerpted from Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Meet My Grand-dog, an Iams Dog!

This is my grand-dog, Kimbo. He's a Cane Corso / Dogo Argentino cross and is one year old. A far cry from shih tzus! Some people are intimidated by his size, but he has no idea. He's a puppy through and through and he loves his grandma (me!). I bring him presents every time I visit him, most recently a deer antler and a lunge leash for training. (Which I had to get at a horse tack shop - I am a dedicated grandma.)

My son, Kimbo's dad or master, loves dogs and wants to work with them as a career. He loves practicing obedience training with Kimbo and of course they are best friends.

When I got to go to Ohio with P&G to visit the Iams and Eukanuba plant I was also fortunate to receive dog food vouchers for both my little guys and for Kimbo! Now grandma brings him delicious and nutritious food, too. I'm going for grandma of the year.


Touring the factory in Leipsic (which spellcheck wants me to change to Popsicle) was amazing. It was just like being in an episode of How It's Made. We wore hardhats and earplugs, hairnets and safety glasses. I won't say it was an attractive look for me, but it was kind of fun to be all dressed up like that. It was interesting to see how the food is made and packaged and the standards that they set are serious! There was much washing and disinfecting of us visitors as well as the people who worked there. I'm glad they go above and beyond to make sure the dogs have the healthiest foods possible. After all, they are family! (The dogs, not the staff, although they are pretty friendly.)

A message from Iams about their food:

The IAMS Brand offers four types of products for consumers to choose from:

•    IAMS  ProActive Health with PreBiotics improves digestion and strengthens the pet’s immune system.
•    IAMS Healthy Naturals strengthens the pet’s immune system by providing natural protein sources, Vitamin E and antioxidants, wholesome grains, and natural fiber found in apples.
•    IAMS Premium Protection offers the most advanced Iams nutrition available.
•    IAMS Veterinary Formula is designed to promote the optimal health of dogs.
•    IAMS Senior Plus formulated to address the nutritional and health needs of cats and dogs 11 years or older.

The brand’s most distinguishing element is nutritional superiority, with quality ingredients that help deliver a quality end product. Iams has led our industry with a number of nutritional firsts, including advances like tailored nutrition and foods designed for smarter, more trainable puppies. Through superior nutrition, Iams helps unleash pets’ potential, giving them more years of healthier living.

Iams makes Kimbo one happy and healthy doggie!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human

Zoobiquity
What Animals Can Teach Us 
About Being Human
by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers
Hardcover, 320 pages
Also available as an unabridged audio CD 
and an unabridged audiobook download

Okay, are you ready for some raving?

This has to be one of the most fascinating books that I have ever read.

Written by a medical doctor and a science journalist, Zoobiquity explores the similarities between humans and animals and what we can learn from them.

We are animals, after all. No matter how fancy our shoes or floral our perfumes or esteemed our CVs.

But that all seems like an understatement to me. The book was inspired after some conferring with the medical doctor (Barbara) about a patient who happened to be a primate. And not the human type.
In the spring of 2005, the chief veterinarian of the Los Angeles Zoo called me, an urgent edge to his voice.

“Uh, listen, Barbara? We’ve got an emperor tamarin in heart failure. Any chance you could come out today?”
Fascinated by her experience working with this animal and the animal doctors, especially the similarities with human medical procedures, she began to research other similarities and wondered what all we could learn from the health, behaviours and lifestyles of animals and also what we could learn from the animal doctors.
Around this time I started working with Kathryn Bowers, a science journalist. A nondoctor with a background in social science and literature, she saw wider implications in these medical similarities. She urged me to view my overlapping experiences at the zoo and the hospital in a broader context. Together we began to research and write this book, bringing together medicine, evolution, anthropology, and zoology.
The book is filled with so much information but presented in a way that is very readable. Addictive, really.

Let me show you the chapters, so you'll have an idea of what the book covers:

1   Dr. House, Meet Doctor Dolittle   
Redefining the Boundaries of Medicine
2  The Feint of Heart   
Why We Pass Out
3   Jews, Jaguars, and Jurassic Cancer   
New Hope for an Ancient Diagnosis
4  Roar-gasm
An Animal Guide to Human Sexuality
5  Zoophoria
Getting High and Getting Clean
6   Scared to Death   
Heart Attacks in the Wild
7   Fat Planet   
Why Animals Get Fat and How They Get Thin
8  Grooming Gone Wild   
Pain, Pleasure, and the Origins of Self-Injury
9  Fear of Feeding   
Eating Disorders in the Animal Kingdom
10  The Koala and the Clap    
The Hidden Power of Infection
11  Leaving the Nest   
Animal Adolescence and the Risky Business of Growing Up
12  Zoobiquity 

It is astounding how much we have in common with our fellow creatures, not just physically but emotionally too. I guarantee you will learn tons and love every minute of it.

Browse and Search
Zoobiquity here:


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Chipotle Chicken Salad with Avocado, Potato, and Baby Spinach - Served in a Tortilla Bowl!

How are you doing in this heat?

Yeah, I thought so. The pups feel the same way. I have to almost push them out the door and they race back in as soon as they are done, then flop on the floor as if that two minutes in the backyard (which, with this humidity, resembles the tropical enclosures at the zoo) was the marathon of a life-time. Who can blame them?

In this heat I either like to BBQ or make a salad. Or, if you BBQ the night before, you can make a salad out of the leftover chicken. Or a rotisserie chicken. Or even leftover roast chicken if you are that crazy. I am.

And, if you are feeling creative, you can serve your salad in a tortilla bowl. Check out Ricardo Cuisine to see how to make tortilla bowls for your salads!

Chipotle Chicken Salad with Avocado, Potato, and Baby Spinach
adapted from Mexican Everyday, Rick Bayless
for I♥CC Summer Salads

1 Yukon Gold potato, sliced ¼ inch thick and steamed until fork-tender, cooled
3 tbsp cider vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1 canned chipotle pepper, minced
¼ sweet onion, chopped
1 large, cooked chicken breast, coarsely shredded
2 cups baby spinach
2 ripe avocados, sliced
4 tortilla bowls - optional

Toss potato, cider vinegar, olive oil, oregano, kosher salt, chipotle pepper, and sweet onion in a large bowl. When combined, add the rest of the salad ingredients, tossing gently. Serve in tortilla bowls or regular bowls.
Serves 4


Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded IHCC

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Book Tour: A Lighter Shade of Gray

A Lighter Shade of Gray
472 pages, available in paperback and Kindle editions

What does it feel like to stare into the face of madness? Or to anticipate your own? Would you drive away your only love? Could you pretend it didn't matter? How far would you go to protect a friend, or to avenge a death?

My mother always told me that there was a fine line between genius and madness. Also creativity, which seems to fit right in there with both of them.

Devon Pearse weaves a poetic novel with one foot in lyrical dreamscape and one in harsh reality. She explores loneliness and regret, fear and self-loathing, love, secrets, betrayal, friendship, family, and mental illness. Oh, and did I mention the elements of mystery? How about that it is semi-autobiographical?

A Lighter Shade of Gray is a remarkable effort from a talented writer who isn't afraid to bare her soul.

About the Author

While A Lighter Shade of Gray is a work of fiction, Devon Pearse has intertwined many semi-biographical elements into the story as well.
In researching the novel, Pearse spent a great deal of time reflecting on her own life, and the lives of her closest friends.
One of the things she discovered is that not all things are black and white.
This gray area is the lifeblood of A Lighter Shade of Gray, which takes us on a psychological journey into love, sanity and justice.
Vital Links for Devon Pearse!


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Finally! - South Asian Dishes in the Slow Cooker!

150 Best Indian, Thai, Vietnamese & More 
Slow Cooker Recipes
by Sunil Vijayakar
Paperback, 208 pages

Let's face it: some slow cooker books are kind of.... safe. You know, another chili, more soup... beef stew. Not that I don't love all those things, but I always wanted a slow cooker book that ventured way out of the ordinary and delivered exotic cuisine with great flavour.

Somebody heard my wishes!

As the book covers many countries and regions (all of them delicious!) many different styles and ingredients are covered. There are even some pickles and chutneys at the end of the book to go with your fabulous dishes.

I don't know if I ever told you - before I moved to the coyote-infested suburbs I lived in a largely South Asian part of Toronto. Submerged in the fabulous cultures, my tummy was always my guide and I learned to love the infinite variations on curries there are to be had. And what better way to make a curry than in the slow cooker? First - you don't have to heat up your house, and curries are perfect for the old crockpot - prep them in the morning and have sumptuous, exotic, and fragrant dishes ready for dinner!


Contents include:
Introduction
Slow Cooker Know-How
Meat Dishes
Poultry & Eggs
Fish & Shellfish
Vegetables, Fruits & Nuts
Rice & Pulses
Accompaniments

We tried the Cambodian Pork & Lemongrass Curry the other night - absolutely delicious!

Here are a couple of recipes that you can sample at home, happy slow cooking!

Beet Curry
Serves 4

Vegan Friendly
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Medium (approx. 4 quart) slow cooker
Heat Rating: 2

2 tbsp    oil    30 mL
1 tsp    black mustard seeds    5 mL
1    onion, chopped    1
2    cloves garlic, minced    2
2    long red chile peppers, finely chopped    2
8    curry leaves (see Tips, left)    8
1 tsp    ground turmeric    5 mL
1 tsp    cumin seeds    5 mL
1    piece (2 inches/5 cm) cinnamon stick    1
1 lb    beets, peeled and cut into matchsticks    500 g
1 cup    diced tomatoes, with juice (see Tips,     250 mL
    left)
1 cup    water    250 mL
    Salt
1⁄4 cup    coconut cream (see Tips, left)    60 mL
    Juice of 1 lime
    Chopped cilantro leaves

1.    In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and cover. When the seeds stop popping, uncover, reduce heat to medium and add onion, garlic and chiles. Stir-fry until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add curry leaves, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and beets and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
2.    Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Add tomatoes, water and salt to taste. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until beets are tender. Stir in coconut cream and lime juice. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

Tips
If you can’t find curry leaves, substitute dried or fresh bay leaves.
You can use fresh tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes. You will need about half of a 14-oz (398 mL) can for this recipe.
Coconut cream is a thicker, more concentrated version of coconut milk. Look for it in Asian markets. If you can’t find it, skim off the top layer of a can of coconut milk that has been left standing (not shaken).


Excerpted from 150 Best Indian Thai, Vietnamese & More Slow Cooker Recipes by Sunil Vijayakar © 2012 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


Cambodian Pork & Lemongrass Curry
Serves 4

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Medium (approx. 4 quart) slow cooker
Heat Rating: 2

2 tbsp    oil    30 mL
6    shallots, finely chopped    6
2 tbsp    finely chopped lemongrass     30 mL
    (see Tips, left)
1 tbsp    minced gingerroot    15 mL
1 tbsp    minced garlic    15 mL
1 tbsp    ground cumin    15 mL
2 tsp    crushed fenugreek seeds    10 mL
1 tsp    ground turmeric    5 mL
1¼ lbs    trimmed pork shoulder or blade (butt),     625 g
    cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes and
    patted dry (see Tips, left)
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp    tamarind paste (see Tips, left)    15 mL
1 tsp    finely grated lime zest    5 mL
2 tbsp    freshly squeezed lime juice    30 mL
1    can (14 oz/400 mL) coconut milk    1
8    baby new potatoes, quartered    8
2    red bell peppers, seeded and chopped    2
1    long red chile pepper, thinly sliced    1

1.    In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots, lemongrass, gingerroot, garlic, cumin, fenugreek and turmeric and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add pork and sauté until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2.    Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Stir in tamarind paste, lime zest and juice, coconut milk and potatoes. Cover and cook on Low for 3 to 4 hours or on High for 11⁄2 to 2 hours, until potatoes are cooked and pork is meltingly tender. Stir in bell peppers and chile pepper. Cover and cook on High for 15 minutes, until peppers are tender. Ladle into warm bowls.

Tips: Serve with fluffy rice.
Before chopping the lemongrass, be sure to remove the tough outer leaves.
Many butchers sell cut-up pork stewing meat, which is fine to use in this recipe.
Be sure to use tamarind paste (sometimes labeled “concentrate”), which comes in a jar. Tamarind in a block needs to be dissolved in water and pressed through a sieve to remove seeds and pulp before being added to recipes and, therefore, becomes more diluted in flavor and texture.


Excerpted from 150 Best Indian Thai, Vietnamese & More Slow Cooker Recipes by Sunil Vijayakar © 2012 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


Bombay Chicken Curry
Serves 4

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Medium (approx. 4 quart) slow cooker
Heat Rating: 2

2 tbsp    oil    30 mL
2    onions, chopped    2
2    cloves garlic, minced    2
3 tbsp     medium curry powder    45 mL
1 tsp    ground ginger    5 mL
1 tsp    ground turmeric    5 mL
2 lbs    skinless bone-in chicken thighs    1 kg
    (about 8)
1    can (14 oz/398 mL) diced tomatoes,     1
    with juice
1    can (14 oz/400 mL) coconut milk    1
    (see Tips, left)
    Salt

1.    In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and stir-fry until soft and beginning to turn golden, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, curry powder, ginger and turmeric and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until well coated with mixture and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, with juice, and stir, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan.
2.    Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Add coconut milk. Season to taste with salt and stir well. Cover and cook on Low for 4 hours or on High for 2 hours, until chicken is falling off the bone.

Tips
Serve this with an abundance of steaming basmati rice to soak up the sauce.
Be sure to shake the can of coconut milk well before using, because the cream layer collects on top after it’s been sitting.


Excerpted from 150 Best Indian Thai, Vietnamese & More Slow Cooker Recipes by Sunil Vijayakar © 2012 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


Sunil Vijayakar was born in Bombay, where, while working as a food stylist for the film industry, he founded a successful catering company. He is now based in London and specializes in preparing food for photography.

Sunil has written a number of cookbooks and contributes to many popular weekly and monthly publications.