Archives for posts with tag: Recipe
A very simple, easy and delicious (oh yes, and nutritious) salad was my fast lunch today.

lunch today!

 I used prewashed, organic arugula greens from my local grocery, accompanied by delicious stuff I had in my cupboards. I “mixed” it all on the plate I ate off of. It took about a minute to make lunch, and about three to eat. My kind of fast food!

*Take a handful of arugula

*sprinkle with your favorite crumbly old cheese and almonds

*drizzle a couple tablespoons of organic olive oil on top

*throw on some ground pepper and dried dill

Ready!

Delicious!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

It is 29°C, there is a strong wind and all the plants in the garden are suddenly crying.  You could say that we have some heat.  The transition from blah rain to all of this warmth is a little exhausting. I am now inspired to experiment with coconut milk and frozen fruit.

Want something sweet and refreshing on a hot day?  Try this!

instant ice cream

600 g of mixed frozen fruit (I used a 670g mixture of mango and raspberry today.)

1/2 can of organic coconut milk

1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)

a couple good glugs of vanilla

1.  So easy!  Put everything in a food processor and blend until very smooth.

2. Put into neat little individual containers.  I was able to make seven 125ml containers.  Chose containers that will be easy to navigate with a spoon.  Allow to sit for a few minutes at room temperature if you are going to enjoy this straight from the freezer.

ready to go!

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

From “David Suzuki’s Queen of Green“, comes this Youtube video:

I am a fan of hers on Facebook. I love Facebook for the tailored information and priceless international contacts I’ve made.

All that aside, though, I am looking forward to buying an orange and a little rum to make my OWN hairspray!

Oh, yes!!!

 Natasha Henderson, Montreal

From a Scottish recipe book: stock made from s...

Cock-a-leekie! All of a sudden, I see this method everywhere!

Nigella Lawson is a woman who knows food, and she’s not afraid to show her love for it.  In the last few weeks I have discovered a great recipe from her latest cookbook called Kitchen.  Beyond being tasty, this recipe has made my life much less complicated.

It is her mother’s Praised chicken.  In the last while, I have made this recipe once a week.  It gives me enough soup stock and chicken to make tasty soups and salads all week long.  Long ago, I remember someone from Saskatchewan telling me this is a great way to cook chicken because it made a delicious and clear stock. I thought that roasting chicken is the best way, so I never bothered with this other method.  Well, years pass, and I now see that I have been missing out on something both great and efficient.  Both the soup stock and the left over chicken are delicious.  AND most importantly, it saves me time by making a stock and cooking a chicken, all at once.

What I do each week goes something like this.  I enjoy the chicken as a hot meal on the first day.  Within the same hour of preparing the chicken, I distribute the stock into individual portions that I can reheat during the week.  I then take apart the chicken (by far, my least favourite job!) and put this in individual jars, so that I have portions ready for any kind of salad.  The rest is a matter of finding a little lettuce and a few veggies, and then I am set for the week!  Truly, this is fast food.  And it is affordable, even if I buy an organic chicken.

Earlier this week I also discovered a similar recipe in the New York Times.  It is a saké steamed chicken with ginger and scallions.

So, with many of my lunches being ultra-healthy and fast, it seems to make for a really nice week.  And as a bonus, I feel that I can relax when I decide to go for a small treat at my favourite café.  With balance, living is very beautiful.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

not seaweed. not white rice.

Last night I really wanted to eat something cute for supper, while at the same time using up things from my pantry and freezer. I don’t know why I felt compelled to eat something cute, but such is life. I decided to make “sushi” out of brown rice, potatoes, eggs, frozen spinach, and a bit of avocado. I like normal sushi, but I don’t have seaweed (though I like it) nor did I feel like making and eating white rice (though I’d have eaten it gladly if someone else had made it) and I didn’t have wasabi nor pickled ginger nor soy sauce. Oh, and I don’t have a sushi mat.

Having recently been inspired by making “fake sushi” out of felt, I thought why not use my own ingredients to make edible, fake sushi? Something formed like sushi, that looks (possibly) a little like sushi, but certainly isn’t sushi…

To start, I boiled up some brown rice… about a cup or so. While it was finishing up, I added in two small, sliced potatoes. This was to make a starchy mash. I boiled this for a few minutes, then just covered and let stand for about ten minutes.

chopped up, rolled fake sushi is ready for the oven

In the meantime, I also boiled a few little frozen-spinach pucks. You could use about a half block of frozen spinach, if that is how your frozen spinach is sold to you. Once it had loosened, I placed it in a casserole dish. Then I cracked a couple of eggs into this dish, and stirred it around with the spinach. I pressed this down with a fork (yes, and my hands too), then popped it into the oven (about 350 F) for fifteen minutes.

I used this spinach/egg combo as my “seaweed”. I took it out of the oven, loosened the base with a spatula, and let it cool a little. Then I spooned some of the smushed-up potato/rice blend onto the half closest to me. On top of that, I laid out some thin slices of avocado.

Next, I rolled up this “sushi”. I popped it back into the oven. I cooked it for about five minutes in roll format, then took it out again to slice it into little rolls. I then placed them flat in the casserole dish, and baked an additional thirty minutes or so.

edibly delicious

This was quite delicious, however it honestly could have used a little sauce, home-made ketchup, or chutney. For a very late Monday night meal it did, however, completely fill the bill! Leftover mashed potato/rice and avocado worked deliciously scrambled into eggs the next morning. For the breakfast mash I added a large amount of chili powder and pepper, and this was so good that next time I will try this blend in the “sushi” too.

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

a pan of these lovlies, ready to pop into the oven for a quick appetizer

One of the quickest, easiest things to make with savory, sweet, salty, or miscellaneous ingredients is a plate of mushroom caps. True, you do need some fresh mushrooms, but besides the necessity of that one ingredient, pretty much anything else you have on hand can stuff them. I love how the natural moisture of the mushroom comes out, stewing whatever is stuffed in them into a little pocket of taste. When I was a child, it was an old standby in our house to have mushroom caps as an appetizer: Mom would use orange cheddar and a “seasoning salt” to fill them. I’ve been trying out a few different options, lately.

mushroom caps stuffed with hot peppers, hot peppers stuffed with mushroom stems

Some of my personal favorite combos are:

-any sort of pepper (green, jalapeno, spicy, etc) with a drop of cheese on top and maybe garlic too. Sprinkle on some black pepper and any range of herbs such as oregano or basil or rosemary or dill or…

-the stems from the mushrooms mixed in with tomato and a bit of honey and/or soy sauce or any other type of “sauce” you like and have. Or skip those sauces and mince up some olives.

-cheese and black pepper. Any type of cheese.

-salsa of any type, with or without leftover vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, sweet potatoes.

-bok choy with spicy chilli pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.

-sour cream and broccoli and paprika.

-rosemary and goat cheese.

-leftovers… any type of leftovers that can fit into a mushroom.

even in the heat of summer, these are worth turning the oven on for

Really, most any mixture works. I normally would “see what I have” then adjust my plans accordingly. I like to mince the ingredients up finely, then stir them together and spoon into the ‘caps. Sometimes, though, I don’t. This is a great type of recipe: there really aren’t any rules. Alright, one rule: if you use cheese, put it on top. That way it will melt and be a sort of “lid” for the rest of the ingredients in your little mini-casserole dish.

Cook at about 300-350 degrees ferenheit, for about 20-30 minutes… ’til “done”!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Fresh from the oven. They're delicious piping hot, too...

I have been living away from “home” now for four Christmases-worth. Happily, each year I have managed to spend the holiday season with good friends, enjoyed many wonderful meals and parties, and witnessed others’ traditions. There’s no place like home for the Holidays in many things, though… and for me, a big part of what makes up “home” (besides the loved ones surrounding me, of course) are certain treats that I enjoyed pretty much every year of my life thus far.

I have mentioned Mom’s Peanut Butter Balls here, before, and how I changed the recipe to be a little more healthy. Another recipe that I gleaned off Mom via telephone this year was Scuffles.

Scuffles are, for my family, one of the highlights of Christmastime. Despite the fact that they are made with common ingredients (I am on a tight budget at the moment, yet I have all the ingredients on hand…) and take very little effort, for us they are a Christmastime-Only tradition. Perhaps this is due to their fattening-aspects. Hmm. Well, in any event, it turns out that many of Scuffles’ ingredients can be altered to be a touch more “healthy”.

Mom’s Traditional Scuffles

-Combine 1 package yeast + 1/4 Cup lukewarm water. Let stand a few minutes.

-Mix: 3 Cups flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 Tbsp sugar, 1 Cup butter.

-Add: 1/2 Cup milk, 2 eggs, and the yeast mixture.

-Knead ’til soft. Leave, covered, overnight in fridge.

-Divide into four parts. Roll each part out on a layer of about 1/4 Cup sugar and cinnamon.

-Cut into approx. 1.5″ wide wedges (triangles) and roll up from wide end.

-Bake 15 minutes in 350F oven.

The dough can be frozen, the scuffles can be frozen, all sorts of things can be done to prevent you from eating the entire batch right away. I recommend having friends around when you make them, so that you cannot eat them all yourself.

UPDATING THE RECIPE:

Now, Mom’s recipe calls for some pretty traditional baking ingredients. I have changed this recipe a couple of times, with good results. My tentative changes have been:

-Brown sugar in place of “Sugar”: This caused a marvelous caramelization.

-More cinnamon in place of sugar on the outside: This was good, too. I love cinnamon, more than I love sugar.

-Half Kamut Flour instead of all Regular Unbleached Flour: I didn’t notice any difference, it was still really wonderful in both texture and taste.

-Using organic sugar, infused with cinnamon and vanilla (see previous recipe, thanks Tammy!) on the outside when rolling out dough: Wonderful, and even more delicious than ever.

Indeed, I thankfully have a packet of yeast, some flour and butter, a bit of sugar, two eggs and plentiful amounts of cinnamon. I know what’s for breakfast tomorrow…

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

New Year's Eve fireworks in Paris

Happy New Year!

Choco-Almo-Date Balls (Or Choco-Almond Balls, CABs, their nick-name), are wonderful. Delicious, easy and fast to make, and somewhat healthy too! Over the holiday season I kept a bowl of the gooey-mix in the fridge, as well as a small saucepan of the melted chocolate ready-to-go. I made some last night, so that my New Year’s Eve guests could enjoy the last of them. Any leftover chocolate drizzle? Well, someone is bringing a mystery dessert, so we’ll see if melted chocolate would work with it, I’ve also got some whipped cream… perhaps a New Year’s Sundae on Sunday is in order on the second day of the new year.

You might recall that I’d originally taken my mother’s old Family Favorite recipe and tinkered with it. Yes, I hate to say it, but these are better. Next year my family will receive some in the mail in advance of Christmas. Fortunately, they are always open to trying new foods, and will eat them even though my little CABs break with tradition.

My goal for next year’s “baking” is to have a second fridge-based, non-perishable item that I can make up a little bit here and there whenever needed/wanted. Freezer log-cookies, that’s an idea. I like doing something simple like “melting chocolate and dipping things in it”, though. Does anyone have more ideas? The Lazy Gourmet. Isn’t that a brand-name already…

Natasha Henderson in Montreal, not Paris.

elderberries, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves & elderflowers, yarrow, peppermint

Elderberry syrups are everywhere these days.

I love the fact that these products are available but I often wince at the price tag.  It is like anything though, you are paying for the convenience and the availability… and maybe a touch of hype?  I know how to make elderberry syrup, and I can tell you that it is not very expensive to make.   It’s no wonder that this syrup is in demand: elderberries are anti-inflammatory, relaxingly diaphoretic, antiviral against many viruses and a wee bit laxative in regular doses.  These little berries are helpful in cases of colds, sore throats and flus.

I like to keep elderberries on-hand. One of the advantages in doing so is that I do not have always make a syrup.  I can make a decoction of the berries, and then add little honey. Sometimes I forego the honey, since  it’s important to avoid sugar; too much sugar gives my immune system a lot to deal with. This will ultimately set me back.  On the other hand, there is a disadvantage to avoiding sugars in herbal preparations. In this case, an elderberry decoction has a much shorter shelf life – like between 24 and 72 hours – if kept in the fridge.  I add honey and make an elder berry syrup in cases where I want a longer shelf life, if I am dealing with people who are new to herbal remedies, or who have sensitive palates.

Elderberry Syrup

The most basic syrup is elderberries simmered for a long while in water, then squished, strained and composted. Add honey to the final decoction.  As always, I can add all sorts of tasty and useful ingredients to make it my own lil’ creation.

First Step

1/2 cup dried elderberries (50 grams)

3 cups of water

In a sauce pan, bring cold water and berries to a boil, then slowly simmer until it is reduced to 1/2 the amount, between one cup and one and a half cups.

Second Step: Squish the berries to release the juice, Strain with a strainer lined with cheese cloth.  Compost the berries.

Third Step: Mix 1 cup of raw honey into the hot decoction.  Sometimes I add tinctures, like 50 ml of echinacea.

Fourth Step: Put the syrup into a suitable container with a tight fitting lid, making sure that there is not a lot of head space.  Label clearly, note ingredients, suggested uses and the date it was made. Use within 2-3 months (before the end of the winter).

How I use the syrup: I take a teaspoon of the syrup several times a day if I am fighting a cold or flu because it will generally decrease the severity and duration of the illness.  It is nice to stir it into a tea… perhaps the elderflower, mint and yarrow tea?

The decoction: Take 1 tablespoon of the berries and put in a sauce pan with 2 cups of cold water.  Add fresh ginger or cinnamon if you would like.  Slowly simmer this until it is reduced by half or for a half an hour.  Remove from the heat.  If you want, add a teaspoon or two of dried leaves and flowers to this (yarrow, mint, elderflower) and steep for 10 minutes before straining everything.  This might seem like a strong brew, so I take a 1/4 cup every couple hours.  I drink other tea and water in addition to this because I know that I want to get a lot of fluids into my system when I am fighting something.

THE DIY elderberry syrup kit!

Take the ingredients of your choosing and put them in a little muslin bag.  Or put them in a cute jar that could hold the syrup after it is ready made.  Attach clear instructions on how to make, use and store this syrup.  Add a little container of ye olde traditional blend of peppermint, elderflower and yarrow. Decorate as desired.  The ready made syrup is a nice gift too.  I like the dried berries and such because it is easier to transport and people have the choice of making a decoction without sweetener or a syrup.

optional additions:

1 stick of cinnamon , 5 cloves, 3 crushed cardamom pods, 1 tablespoon echinacea root, 1/4 tsp ginger powder, a few slices of raw ginger

*glycerites of elderberry are also wonderful.

** the elderberries I am referring to are Sambucus nigra and Sambucus canadensis.  Be sure to know what berries you are working with.  The red berry elders are toxic.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

Besides the crunched-up almonds and vanilla, these are the ingredients.

A few days ago I shared the story about my favorite Christmas recipe: Mom’s Peanut Butter Balls. I had expressed a hope that I would be able to improve the healthiness of this treat, while maintaining the deliciousness of it. I think that somehow, through luck or divine intervention or possibly even ingenuinity, I managed to actually improve the recipe. Please don’t tell my Mom I said that.

So, if you look at the recipe for Peanut Butter Balls, you will see that icing sugar is called for. No. Not using that. I replaced it, on the advice of my Herbalist-Friend Tammy, with dates! They were available at the local cool grocery/convenience-ish store. One could use figs in the same way. I replaced the peanut butter with almond butter, and almonds in place of peanuts. I used good quality nice chocolate. I think my Mom’s already onto THAT one.

Mashing it up with a fork...

So, to be all precise, I used the amount of almond butter that I had left in the fridge. That’s about one cup. Then I chopped up the delicious “meat” of five dates, mixed that in with a dash of vanilla and a handfull of crumpled-up bits of almonds. I formed them into little balls, refrigerated overnight. The next day I took three (perhaps one too many) Lindt 70% Cacao chocolate bars and melted them. There is leftover chocolate (I threw the pan in the fridge) so I am compelled to make more of these. Darn… Coat the little tiny balls in the chocolate, let sit in the fridge overnight.

Delicious and somewhat nutritious too!

Roll the balls in the chocolate... mmm...

I presented them at an event (after taste-testing them a few times, of course) and everyone who tried them LOVED them. No one over-ate, and they just savoured the high-quality and richly flavoured little treats. So good. My new Christmas tradition…

Natasha Henderson, in Montreal

Important Update: See Comments below…

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