Sunday, October 26, 2008

birthday cake

It has been a lovely birthday this year. Two close friends came over last night and helped me eat the Harvest Cake that I have been dreaming about for quite some time. Matt and Helen and Ant all agreed that it was very tasty--success! it is a recipe that really suits me; it starts off with grated beetroot, carrot, and courgette.

The batter is a mellow pink colour, not unlike the beetroot spice cake I made recently.

The icing is made with goat's cheese and cream cheese sweetened with maple syrup. So delicious. Although I chilled the icing as directed it was still a bit runny and so I tried to convince everyone that it was really a sauce. We served it with some Merlot, and enjoyed it heartily. (Nice photography, Helen!)

Monday, October 20, 2008

lunch salad

Another salad recipe, this time by request. :) I made this cauliflower and chicken salad at lunch today, from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook.

Roasted Red Pepper & Cauliflower Salad
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special

1 roasted red pepper, sliced
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 large russet potato, sliced into rounds
2 T olive oil
dash of salt

4 c spinach or salad leaves
2 T chopped parsley
8 olives

2 T vegetable oil
2 T olive oil
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 t fennel seeds
1/4 t salt

Roast the cauliflower and potato slices, tossed with olive oil and salt (about 20 minutes). Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Arrange the salad leaves on plates or a platter. Mix the red pepper and roasted vegetables and place on the salad leaves. Drizzle the dressing on top, sprinkle with parsley and olives.

When I made this salad today I increased the quantities of cauliflower to a whole head and used several potatoes. I omitted the olives since Ant is not a big fan (and hence we never have any in the house). And I added grilled chicken on top to make this into a meal. I cooked the chicken on our new, bigger George Foreman grill.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

planning in advance

I am so obsessed with food that I plan our week's meals in advance. I do this so that I can decide which recipes I want to cook and make sure I have all the ingredients on hand. Tonight I had planned two recipes to make from my new Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook.

The Tunisian pumpkin soup was delicious and came with a "spice swirl" (pictured below). The spice swirl is an essential part of the soup, I discovered. It was the tastiest little thing I have ever eaten! And I served the soup with a bulgur salad with artichoke hearts and a little feta. The steak on top is not part of the Moosewood recipe but is an addition to satisfy my carnivore husband.

My food obsession means that once I find a cookbook that fits my style I start working through it pretty regularly. I have been fortunate to get three new cookbooks in the last two months and I am using them to plan all our meals at the moment. On a quiet evening, I make a list of all the things currently in the cupboards, fridge and freezer. Then I pick recipes from my current favourite cookbooks that use up these ingredients. I add in a few more recipes and ingredients and order it all online. I keep the planning notes on the fridge so that when I get home from work I know can get to work without the dreadful feeling of having to think up what we are going to eat each night. We get to eat a lot of different things this way and I get to try out loads of new recipes.

Tunisian Pumpkin Soup
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special

2 c chopped onions
2 T olive oil
1/2 c sliced carrots
1/2 c sliced parsnips
1 1/2 t salt
2 1/2 c water or stock
1 1/4 c apple juice
1/2 c tomato juice
1 t cumin
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t paprika
1 3/4 c cooked pumpkin (=15 oz can)

Spice Swirl
2 T olive oil
1 t minced garlic
4 t coriander
1 t ground caraway seeds
1/4 t cayenne
2 T lemon juice
2 T chopped cilantro
1/8 t salt

In a large soup pot, saute the onions, then add the vegetables. Saute for five minutes, then add stock, juices, and spices. Cover and bring to the boil, simmer until veg is soft. Add pumpkin and then puree the soup until smooth.

To make the spice swirl, heat the oil in a small skillet and briefly saute the garlic. Add the spices and cook, stirring constantly. Remove from heat after two minutes and add the lemon juice, cilantro, and salt.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with some spice swirl.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

happy thanksgiving

I remembered (Canadian) Thanksgiving this year! And I also managed to cook my first real big meal. And we had a few friends round and we used my Canada maple leaf napkins. Sadly there are no pictures but it was a really good time--quite relaxing as well since I paced the cooking better than usual. Everything was ready in time and the kitchen was also mostly clean when everyone arrived--that contributes a lot to my enjoyment. We had some lovely rose wine (thanks, Matt and Lucie) and everyone seemed to have a really good time. Lucie and Dave had a vegetarian nut roast (which may or may not have been pre-prepared). Others had lovely turkey breast (which may or may not have come without the rest of the turkey). We had loads of food, but I completely failed to remember to make gravy, so the stuffing was a bit dry. Oh, well. The pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream made up for this! You know a big meal, so the saying goes, by the number of vegetable side dishes. Well, we had brussel sprouts (with garlic--actually very nice); roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, and parsnips; carrot and fennel salad; and mushroom stuffing. Afterwards we sat around in the living room, chatting, watching TED talks, and yawning at each other. Mmmm. A lovely evening.

Oh, and aren't real turkey sandwiches a wonderful thing for lunch the next day?


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