Archive | vegetables

Simple and Easy Corn and Pea Soup

The last few days have certainly felt like a cold tap on the shoulder reminding me that summer is almost over. Yesterday morning I found myself reaching for a wrap to keep me warm while I checked on our vegetable garden before work. [I hate transitioning from zombie-like mode to work mode when I'm cold.]

While I like eating corn and peas fresh (they’re sweet!), it’s comforting to have them in a steaming bowl of soup to welcome the change in season. And that I did. I’ve been cooking less on the grill and utilizing the kitchen stove again — another indicator of the cooling temperature in the evenings.

Fresh peas from the farmer's market

Fresh peas from the farmer’s market

We’re so very lucky to have an amazing array of fresh ingredients throughout the year, and it’s not hard to make wonderful dishes from them with just a few additions.

Fresh peas and shucked Okanagan peaches and cream corn

Fresh peas and kernels of peaches and cream corn from the Okanagan

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Posted in healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, soups, vegetables, vegetarian3 Comments

Go-To Light Sesame Ginger Dressing for The Salad Impaired (Like Me)

I’m salad dressing combo-making inept.

I grew up in a culture and age where salads were mostly either made with vinegar + salt + pepper or mayo. I don’t remember salads being a big part of our meals in Manila when I was young. We had our double starches (rice, bread and noodles — any combination of those) to go with the main courses. Fresh or steamed vegetables were dipped in sauces like vinegar with anchovies, soy sauce and calamansi (my favorite), or mayo and ketchup. I have a very good taste memory, but without any childhood recollection of taste combinations, I’m at a loss in a salad-inclusive North America. I even avoided volunteering to bring a salad to potlucks. It stressed me out just to think about it. [It still does.] I would gladly make you pie or cake. You can just see my deer-in-the-headlights look.

One of my cooking-related goals this year is to get in there, try as many dressings/salads (sorry, friends and family), and make some more until I can whip them together with ease. I have a 50% failing rate as far as my own rating system goes–I’m hard on myself, but that helps me keep improving. I still have a lot to learn.

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We’ve been enjoying the summer bounty from our local farmers markets. Here I used shaved carrots, radishes and a variety of tomatoes.

This dressing I’m sharing today is not one of those failures. This is my go-to recipe over the past year, my saving grace when my mind is blank at the end of the day and we have some beautiful vegetables to eat fresh. It’s a light sesame ginger dressing that has been well-received during family dinners. If we can make the kids eat a few bites of veggies, it’s considered a win.

It tastes similar to the light dressing that comes with the house salad at a Japanese restaurant. If you like that, you will love this. There’s just enough boost of flavor, but it lets the vegetables shine. It’s good to start with some lovely produce.

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Posted in appetizer, dressings and sauces, featured, healthier choices, quick & easy, raw, salads, vegetables, vegetarian0 Comments

Change, Rituals and a Go-To Recipe for Pate Brisee

Last Monday was Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year, according to a publicity campaign from a travel company. This pseudoscience was based on a formula including factors such as weather conditions, debt level (i.e. debt from the holidays, I assume vs ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action. Needless to say this is rubbish. Any day could be really bad for anyone, just as it could go stupendously well for another.

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Ground frost from our New Year’s Day walk in the park.

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Posted in baking, cheese, Meatless Monday, tarts, vegetables, vegetarian0 Comments

Adventures in South Asian Cookery: Indian Lentil Curry

I love trying different cuisines, although I’m not adept at making most of them. At all. This may come as a surprise that as much as I throw myself at the mercy of the most complicated and time-intensive baking recipes, I am timid about cooking beyond my comfort zone of Filipino, Southeast Asian, and North American dishes. I used to shudder at the thought of having to prepare Indian dishes. Luckily, Jens is a fantastic cook and prepares Indian food like a boss. When we started dating, this Indian lentil curry was the first thing he ever cooked for me, with the addition of prawns in it (yum). I remember being led away from the kitchen and asked to just relax on the couch and “eat bonbons” (his words, not mine, and sadly there weren’t really any bonbons, boo) and watch TV. I think I turned on the news, pining for those phantom sweets. Ha.

I could smell the onions being sautéed with cumin and there was much banging of pots, pans and chopping board. At the time I was really glad I wasn’t the one toiling over the stove, smelling of onions, and only had a small chance of partaking in the cleanup afterwards. (Or did I? I can’t remember.) All that was left of the memory of that dinner was how good this was, and how I needed to get the recipe.

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It’s the one thing I ask him to make  a couple of times a month and with the summer months over, I’ve been craving it even more. I’m not the only one who loves it–anyone who’s tasted it wants the recipe. We recently brought it to a Thanksgiving lunch and as expected several people asked us how to make it. It didn’t help that half the soup was spilled in the car en route to Maple Ridge, so guests only had a little bit of it, left wanting more.

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Posted in featured, soups, vegetables, vegetarian0 Comments

Linguine with Braised Chard and Prosciutto

After a busy day, there’s nothing more that I want than fast food. Not the McD kind or the pizza kind. I want something I could fix ASAP without having to fret over ingredients I’m missing. You must think I just bake and eat baked goods all the time with everything that I’ve been posting lately, but I still do cook. I want to spend my time in the kitchen wisely (=quickly), making something that’s good enough to eat and enjoy, but still healthy. I mean, cutting out the part where I drink wine is eating healthier, right? Aha.

There were still fresh pasta and prosciutto from my last trip to Granville Island, and a bunch of almost- forgotten Swiss chard that commanded attention or they will take a direct trip to the food scrap recycling bin. And then there’s the leftover ricotta from my crumb cake baking, plus a lonely shallot bulb.  I’m not organized enough to have my market loot assigned into dishes and menus, so this is a regular plight: Get available and/or in-season ingredients and figure it out in the kitchen later. The pantry and fridge supplies my cooking notes, and sometimes we orchestrate some magic. This one will be added to my pile of go-to quick food, with the greens adapted to what’s in season or easily available.

Simple food can be satisfying, you just have to be willing to try. And don’t forget to check what you already have in your kitchen. Yes, that is a lesson for myself as well.

If you’re into Swiss chard, check this other recipe, too: Eggplant & Chard Lasagne. It’s a vegetarian dish that has a good chance of winning the meat lovers over. :)

Happy weekend!

   Get the recipe for Linguine with Braised Chard and Prosciutto

Posted in cheese, experiments, Fuss Free Fridays, main dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, pasta, quick & easy, vegetables3 Comments

Fuss Free Fridays: Steak with Green Peppers

I foresee simple meals until the end of Christmas.

I’ll tell you why: I’ve wanted to be able to make all the gifts I’ll be giving for Christmas for the longest time and I think this year it’s finally going to happen. [Right, I could be crazy.] Of course, whenever I make that decision, things happen. However, I’m going to tough it out and fight my odds through the years. I’ll be sewing and baking like there’s no tomorrow.

It’s only this year that I really appreciated the fact that the Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, I have to say. It really does give me more time to prepare for Christmas, even though I’m still trying to catch my breath and hoping I make all my deadlines.

When I was in the midst of my cross-stitching frenzy, I cooked this quick stir-fry of sliced steak with green peppers and onions, eaten over a steaming bed of rice.

Heaven for the weary.

Anyway, back to the dish. This is easy to make, and you don’t really need a recipe. So below is a “guideline” to create your own recipe. It’s something you can put together with whatever you have. :)

Sorry, this is short and sweet, BUT I promise you: Donuts this weekend!

STEAK STRIPS, PEPPER AND ONION STIR-FRY
Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients

  • 19 0z of steak
  • 1/2 green pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

Preparation

1. Heat oil on medium high and saute peppers for 2 mins. Transfer to a plate.

2. Place onions in the pan and cook for 1 minute and put on another plate.

3. Heat garlic and meat sprinkled with salt and pepper. Turn occasionally and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until all the liquid from the meat is almost gone.

4. Add back the pepper and onions and toss with the meat for a few seconds before transferring onto a serving plate. Enjoy with some pita bread or place over a bed of fresh steamed rice.

Posted in beef, Fuss Free Fridays, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, vegetables1 Comment

The Mummy Diaries, Part 1: Spanaspookyta

Up until we moved from Manila, the Halloween holidays were spent going to cemeteries to visit our loved ones who passed away. We begin this cemetery-hopping with family from All Saints Day through All Souls Day. They weren’t ever about parties or making ghoulish treats, which would seem inappropriate when you’re visiting your loved ones’ graves. Nowadays it’s a long way from “home” to do our annual visits. I haven’t forgotten our roots, but I’m slowly adapting Western Halloween festivities. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?

Fact: I avoid horror movies and can’t watch them alone. I can’t handle haunted houses, unless you can stand me screaming my brain off, then your brain off. I’m afraid of the dark. Halloween food and costume parties are as far as I’d go for Halloween. Thanks to Renee‘s #GreatHallowTweet BlogHop, I’m getting into the spirit! I’m fumbling my way through while my Hallow cohorts have better things up their sleeve. Look for the pumpkin on the sidebar and click on their links to see what they’re up to. Whooo!!!

My first Halloween “treat” for you this year isn’t a sweet treat and requires some imagination…so forgive me. I love vegetables. For some people, knowing that this has spinach inside it is spooky in itself. Haha. [You can also check out last year's Macawrongs.]

Mummified spanakopita!

If you poke a couple of holes with the tip of knife, boring through the filo to a glimpse of the spinach before baking, the "eyes" would well up like this.

I’ve included some photos of the process of mummifying them. These are basically snack size and would also make excellent appetizers! I already have half of mine in the freezer for later.

Spread the spinach mixture (use your go-to spanakopita filling recipe) on two filo sheets greased with olive oil or butter.

Fold over, and slice the whole length of filled filo into 2-inch width strips. You will end up with about 12 filo mummies. If you do, you will need 4 more filo sheets to for mummification.

To create the mummification strips, brush half of a single filo dough and fold crosswise. Cut in half.

For one of that halves: Cut into quarters. For the other, cut into 8 strips crosswise, which will be the mummy strips.

Get one of the quarter sheet and fold over one of the spanakopita pieces.

Use a dab of olive oil to stick them together if needed.

Lightly and sparsely brush the thin strips of filo pastry with olive oil and wrap around to create the mummy effect.

Tadah!

Posted in appetizer, baking, cheese, events, snacks, vegetables29 Comments

Pan-Fried Eggplant with Lemon-Soy Sauce Dip

Hmm…so much for Fuss-Free Fridays! How about Too Lazy Tuesdays? Hahaha.

I used to be a picky eater as a young child. It’s not that I won’t eat vegetables or that I will only eat burgers (McDonald’s burgers were actually a rare treat because it wasn’t a place we .). The thing is, when I likes something in particular, could you just please cook it for me everyday until I tire of it? I had a lot of phases: fried chicken, corned beef, Mah-Ling, Spam, tomatoes, green beans, peas, broad bean, mung beans, etc. My blood was also half soy sauce and calamansi juice because I will dip almost anything in that sauce. Take for example, one of my favorite Filipino dish,  Pritong Talong (PREE-tong Ta-LONG; talong = eggplant; prito = fried). It’s as simple as what the name suggests: Fried. Eggplant. No salt. No pepper. Just wash, cut, and fry in oil.

Our Philippine eggplants are long and slender, similar to the Chinese and Japanese ones, and they’re cut in half lengthwise and crosswise, leaving you four pieces per eggplant. You can also use the much plumper variety, American globe, for frying, just cut them across, about a third of an inch in thickness.

Now depending on who’s cooking, it can be very oily, and that’s one thing I avoid. The older I get, the more naturally averse I am to oily food. What I do instead is to fry them in little oil and then steam by adding a small amount of water, just like when you cook potstickers.

The Method: Put enough vegetable oil on a frying pan, just enough to coat it. Heat on medium. Place eggplant slices (about 1/3 of an inch thick) sliced side down and cook until it it begins to turn brown on the edges. Flip to the other side, and wait until the edge starts to brown. And then quickly add about a tablespoon of water per slice of eggplant in the pan and quickly cover the pan until all the water evaporated. Transfer eggplants onto a plate. Coat pan with oil with every batch of eggplants cooked.

The sauce is just soy sauce with calamansi juice, lemon or lime juice. The salty and tangy sauce with the slightly sweet eggplant is a match made in heaven. Filipinos are huge rice eaters, and the fried eggplant is one of rice’s concubines. Give me plain steamed rice with fried eggplants for breakfast and I’ll be happy. Unless you make me some Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelette), which I also love. I’ll be posting about that soon!

What about you — How do you cook your eggplants?

Posted in Asian dish, Filipino dishes, fried, healthier choices, vegetables, vegetarian6 Comments

Recipes Lost in Notation and Other Recipe Testing Fails

It’s funny how when I get my writing mojo back, I can’t seem to lay off of it. [This is a Leo thing, right Tracy?] So here I am, burning the midnight New Moon oil with a lot of things swirling in my head. I still have two or more IFBC posts, but I’m giving it a break or you might think I’m utterly stuck waxing poetic about food blogging conferences and friends.

I’m sure you other food bloggers will agree that not everything we prepare in the kitchen makes it on our respective blogs. In my case, about half of what I cook and bake never gets featured here because they:

  1. taste meh, bad, or just okay,
  2. look gross,
  3. accidentally fell on the floor or disintegrated before taking photos,
  4. were not photographed,
  5. were badly photographed,
  6. inedible,
  7. or most likely: lost in notation

I had this Filipino dish to have you try, called Tortang Talong (Filipino Eggplant Omelette), but it had a case of #7. It’s super simple, but my limited short-term memory didn’t retain the oven setting and time. It’s easy enough to search online on how others do it, but I just don’t include a method, technique, or other parts of a recipe if I didn’t test it myself. So this will have to wait until I buy more eggplants and oven-roast them again. On the other hand, more eggplant goodness for my belly.

Still on a Southeast Asian Motherland kick, I’ve been wanting to share the  Filipino Chicken Empanada recipe that I learned while observing relatives of relatives on the East Coast. BUT. Guess what? #7.

If this keeps going on, I don’t think I’d even get to my golden years!

Tonight I wasn’t particularly keen on cooking. I began reviewing a friend’s book draft (I’m not a professional, but she asked me to check it out…as a friend) after a 4-hour meeting the previous night, and now with 3 hours of sleep. Long story short, this Energizer bunny needs to rest. All my residual charge could muster up to do was boil, peel, and slice beets. And then I decided they need some other color, like pluots. And then I wanted something salty and creamy, there goes the feta.

A light drizzle of blood orange olive oil later…

Beets with pluot and feta cheese

Beets with pluot and feta cheese

…an excited first bite was superseded by great disappointment. That’ll be number 1 and 7.

However, all is not lost as I discovered that pluots and feta party together. I mean, Hi, let’s go on another date tomorrow! I’m feeling creamy feta-pluot in my next 24-hour future. What it would end up as, I’m not sure, but I’m getting them a room already. Hopefully it works out.

Have you put together something that seemed brilliant in your head and ended up in a pile of disappointment, beside newly delivered pizza? Or maybe, you have recipe testing fails to share? Do tell!

If you have other pluot-feta recipes, I’m yours. Oh, just remember I have 1/8 cup of butter left. That’s all I can use for now. It’s ghastly to have less than 4 sticks of butter available. That’s just not right.

Energizer bunny out.


Posted in cheese, experiments, fruits, vegetables, vegetarian8 Comments

Quick & Easy: Endives with Lox & Cream Cheese Spread

Here in Vancouver, we are quickly shifting into summer and it is getting HOT. I don’t know if it’s because of this that I am suddenly lethargic, but this has to stop soon because I have a lot of things to do! That includes our newsletter (which is looking more like June would be the next) and the roundup of the virtual Tea Exchange party I hosted. My apologies, dear participants!

Going along this lack of energy theme, I could (figuratively) barely lift a finger to prepare anything that requires cooking these days. I feel like my body’s battery is mimicking the iPhone’s. Ha ha. I haven’t baked or cooked in a while. Perhaps all the eating out has contributed to my body blues? In any case, quick and easy isn’t so bad…

I got the idea to make this from Danielle’s Home-cured Salmon Spread & Endives. She made home-cured salmon, while I used up some leftover lox. And I didn’t follow the quantities of the recipe, I just glanced at the ingredients and made a quick mix of chopped lox, walnuts, cream cheese, a drizzle of lemon juice, a few wisps of lemon zest and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Serve that in crisp endive leaves and enjoy it with a glass of wine or fresh ice tea…mmm. They make a good summer combo.

It’s the easiest thing to make and it was surprisingly filling. Again, there’s no (strict) recipe required, only your imagination and an openness to taste.

I love being inspired by other people’s recipes, especially from food blogging friends. Although we don’t see each other that often (or most of the time, have never met in person), we could share the same feast.

Do you have any other no-cook recipes (or recipes that require little cooking)? Please share!

Posted in appetizer, healthier choices, quick & easy, seafood, snacks, vegetables13 Comments