17 Dec

Zucchini Rösti

Zucchini Rosti

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta

(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)

(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)

(G or H)White Chicken Chili with Hominy

(I or J)Juniper Berry Bechamel

(K or L)Kamut Brioche

(M, N, or O): Caramelized Onions

(P, Q, or R): Pomegranate Glazed Eggplant (Favourite)

(S or T): Fattoush Salad with Sumac

(U, V, or W): Food for the Gods – Date and Walnut Squares (Favourite)

This month we are at the end of the challenge with letters are X, Y, or Z. My ingredient of choice this month was Zucchini.

I’ll admit that what I really wanted was Yuzu, a tart Asian citrus fruit used as flavouring in Japanese dishes. I’ve never tried it before (at least not that I know of) so I wanted to give it a whirl in my kitchen. Unfortunately my local Japanese grocery store didn’t stock any and the clerk told me she didn’t know where I could get any this side of Toronto.

So I had no choice but to go with my fallback ingredient: Zucchini.

Also known as courgette, marrow, or summer squash, the zucchini is one of the many fruits-eaten-as-vegetables. It can have many culinary uses, but my favourite by far is in zucchini bread (preferably with chocolate chips!).

But I decided to stick with a healthier, and nearly as delicious, option this time around: Zucchini Rösti

Zucchini Rosti

Zucchini Rosti

A rösti is the Swiss answer to hash browns. It’s a big pancake made out of shredded potatoes, cooked slowly in a pan so it is crispy on the outside and soft in the centre. In this version I added some shredded zucchini to the mix to ramp up the flavour and the nutrients of this typically potato-only dish.

I served this one with a mushroom ragout and it was a totally delicious vegetarian dinner.

Zucchini Rosti

Zucchini Rosti with Mushroom Ragout

Zucchini Rösti

Ingredients

2 large russet potatoes

2 zucchini

2 T butter

2 T canola oil

1 t kosher salt, plus more to taste

Directions

Peel the potatoes and place potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low boils and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain potatoes, and set aside until cool. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Grate potatoes using the large holes on a cheese grater.

Meanwhile, grate the zucchini into a sieve using the large holes of a cheese grater. Sprinkle lightly with a little salt and let sit for about 15 minutes to draw out the moisture. Gather the grated zucchini into a cheesecloth and wring out as much moisture as possible. (Alternately you can squeeze out the moisture with your hands, but it’s a little more difficult).

Heat butter and the oil in an 8″ nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add potatoes and zucchini, sprinkle with salt, and mix well, coating potatoes with fat. Using a spatula, gently press potatoes, molding them to fit the skillet. Cook, shaking skillet occasionally, until edges are golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.

Cover skillet with a large inverted plate, invert the rösti over onto plate, then slide it back into the skillet, cooked side up; cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, sprinkle with salt, and cut into wedges to serve.

 


(Click for more info on Eating the Alphabet)



13 Nov

Food for the Gods

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)
(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)
(G or H): White Chicken Chili with Hominy
(I or J): Juniper Berry Bechamel
(K or L): Kamut Brioche
(M, N, or O): Caramelized Onions
(P, Q, or R): Pomegranate Glazed Eggplant (Favourite)
(S or T): Fattoush Salad with Sumac

This month’s letters are U, V, or W. I couldn’t think of any interesting ingredient so I picked Walnuts.

Walnuts

Walnuts are super healthy tree nuts. They’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats and are good for lowering bad cholesterol (LDL).

I suppose all those health benefits are a wash when you eat them in buttery, sugary desserts like this one, but I’m going for flavour here, not health. If you want you could always just toast them up and put them on a salad instead.

Food for the Gods

One of my favourite gifts to get from people coming back from a vacation is cookbooks from the region they visited. I got a great South African cookbook from my friend Dan who interned there (remember the garbage can pizza?), and last year when my other friend Dan went to The Philippines he brought me back a cookbook of cakes and pastries.

Food for the Gods is the first recipe from that cookbook. They sounded simple to make so I wanted to try them (plus, that name!). I actually forgot that I wanted to make these until I saw Jun Belen’s Filipino Food Blog where he describes them as:

. . . a cross between a crumbly cookie and a moist brownie. They are chewy with the crunch of chopped walnuts and the dates lend a rich caramel flavor with hints of honey. These heavenly confections are the sweet heralds of the Holidays.

Photo Source

I tried them as soon as they came out of the oven: they were good. I waited until they cooled: they were phenomenal.

I’m definitely going to be making these again, and maybe play around with the spices by adding some cinnamon and nutmeg for Christmas.

Food for the Gods

Food for the Gods

Makes 18 Irresitible Bars
Adapted from The Best of The Maya Kitchen Cakes & Pastries

Ingredients

1-1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. coarsely chopped dates
1 c. butter at room temperature
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Dredge the dates in 1/2 of this mixture. Set aside.

Beat the butter until soft and fluffy. Add granulated and brown sugars and cream together. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition.

Fold in the flour mixture and dates into the creamed mixture. Add walnuts; stir to completely blend batter.

Pour the batter into a prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 300*F and continue baking for 30-40 minutes longer.

Allow to cool slightly then cut into 18 bars.



(Click for more info on Eating the Alphabet)



13 Oct

Fattoush Salad

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)
(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)
(G or H): White Chicken Chili with Hominy
(I or J): Juniper Berry Bechamel
(K or L): Kamut Brioche
(M, N, or O): Caramelized Onions
(P, Q, or R): Pomegranate Glazed Eggplant (Favourite)

This month’s letters are S or T so I decided to take a look at Sumac.

SumacSumac Plant (Image source)

Sumac is a quintessential ingredient in Lebanese and Middle Eastern cooking. The sumac plant grows wildly in the Middle East and is harvested in the fall. A variety of sumac also grows wildly in North America, I’m sure you’ve seen it before, except the North American variety is poisonous. . . so don’t try foraging it in your back yard!

The sumac plant makes a cluster of tiny fruits that are ground into a powder that is used as a spice. It is deep purple in colour and has a lemony taste but is more tart than lemon. There’s really no good substitute for sumac.

Sumac (1)Sumac Spice (Image Source)

One of my favourite use of sumac is in fattoush, a Lebanese chopped salad loaded with vegetables, dressing with a tangy sumac dressing, and topped with crispy fried pieces of pita. In this version I toasted the pita instead of fried it, which obviously isn’t as delicious as fried pita, but it is a quicker and easier variation.

This is a pretty standard fattoush recipe but you are free to play around with the ingredients a bit by adding chopped parsley or diced peppers or your favourite salad vegetable.

Keep in mind that the keys to the flavour of this salad are the fresh mint, the sumac, and the pita, so don’t sub these ingredients, whatever you do.

Fattoush Salad

Makes one huge salad (enough for probably 8 people as a side dish)

Ingredients

Salad

1 head of romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 medium English cucumber, diced
2 small tomatoes, diced
1/2 bunch radishes, halved and sliced
2 green onions, diced
1 bunch fresh mint, chopped
1 large pita

Dressing

2 cloves garlic
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for pita
2 T sumac, plus extra for pita

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325F. Brush the pita with the extra olive oil and sprinkle with the extra sumac. Toast in the oven until crispy and golden. Break the toasted pita into small shards and set aside.

Put all the salad ingredients into a large bowl and stir together.

Sprinkle the garlic with a dash of salt and mash with the side of a knife (or a pestle). Place the garlic in a small bowl and whisk in the lemon juice, sumac, and olive oil.

Pour the dressing over the salad and stir until all the ingredients are coated. Add the pita pieces and toss to combine.



(Click for more info on Eating the Alphabet)



12 Sep

Pomegranate Glazed Eggplant

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)
(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)
(G or H): White Chicken Chili with Hominy
(I or J): Juniper Berry Bechamel
(K or L): Kamut Brioche
(M, N, or O). Caramelized Onions

This month we focus on P, Q, or R. My ingredient of choice: Pomegranate

Pomegranate: Super healthy, super annoying to prepare

Pomegranates are native to Persia but now grow in many regions of the Middle East as well as Southeast Asia, Southern Europe, and North Africa. Right now, we’re at the very beginning of pomegranate season, and as the winter approaches you’ll be seeing them more and more in the grocery stores.

Pomegranates are really cool because you actually eat the seeds. They’re called arils and are surrounded by a delicious little bubble of sweet juiciness.

Pomegranate (2)

Unfortunately they are kinda a bitch to actually separate from the pomegranate rind. Some people do this in a bowl of water, but I find that a bit messy so usually I cut the pomegranate in half, then score the rind of each half with a knife a few times before holding the pomegranate half over a bowl and whacking the the rind with a back of a spoon until all the seeds come out. I guess this process is kind of messy too.

But once you do get the arils out they’re like pretty little rubies. Delicious little rubies.

I like to eat them with a spoon.

Pomegranate (6)

There has been a lot of hype about pomegranate’s ability to reduce heart disease risk factors but the efficacy hasn’t been proven through enough research to really say, one way or another.

But, they’re fruit so of course they’re healthy for you! They are really high in vitamin C and fibre. But only if you eat the whole seed (don’t be thinking you’ll get fibre from certain heavily marketed juices)

The Recipe

Pomegranate Eggplant (2)

And now that I’ve touted the benefits of eating the whole pomegranate aril for optimal healthiness I’m going to fail to take my own advice and offer up a recipe that uses Pomegranate Molasses instead.

Pomegranate Molasses is super concentrated pomegranate juice, boiled down until it makes a thick syrup with the consistency of molasses. It’s actually more tart than it is sweet with a really strong pomegranate flavour. It is used pretty heavily in Middle Eastern cooking (you can find it at your local Lebanese grocer. Probably next to the Date Molasses).

This recipe comes from the cookbook Super Natural Every Day. I bought the book not too long ago and all the recipes that I’ve made from it have been really good so far—simple to put together and very flavourful.

Here I used tofu instead of the tempeh that is called for. The dish works really well because the pomegranate molasses gives it a tart sweetness and the eggplant and sweet potato have a soft but slightly chewy texture and the feta cheese on top really brings the dish together.

Pomegranate Eggplant (3)

Pomegranate Glazed Eggplant

Ingredients

1 tsp sea salt
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 c pomegranate molasses
1/3 c olive oil
1 eggplant, cut into 1” cubes, (8oz)
1 block of firm tofu, drained and cut into 1” cubes
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1” cubes
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 c feta cheese, crumbed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Smash the salt and garlic into a paste with a pestle and mortar or with the side of a knife plate. In a small bowl whisk this garlic paste together with the pepper flakes, pomegranate molasses, and oil.

Stir together the eggplant, tofu, and sweet potato on a baking sheet or in a baking dish large enough to arrange them in a single layer. Zest the lemon over top. Pour 3/4 of the the oil mixture all over the veggies, toss to combine, and spread into a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring halfway through baking, until the sweet potatoes soften.

Serve topped with the cilantro and feta and a drizzle of the remaining pomegranate glaze.



(Click for more info on Eating the Alphabet)


15 Aug

How to Caramelize Onions

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)
(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)
(G or H): White Chicken Chili with Hominy
(I or J): Juniper Berry Bechamel
(K or L): Kamut Brioche

This month we look at M, N, or O. My ingredient of choice: Onions.

Onions: Everyone’s favourite vegetable

Onions

People who say they don’t like onions are either liars or ignorami. Maybe they don’t like raw onions, that must be it, because onions are cooked into practically everything. Pasta sauce, curries, stews, soups, cassaroles, hamburgers, and roasts all have onions. When cooked, onion imparts this amazing sweet flavour that you can’t get from other vegetables. It’s worth crying over.

Onions, of course, are very good for you. They’re a great source of vitamin C and a good source of fibre.

I use a range of different types of onions in cooking. I like red onions if I’m using them raw, white onions for Mexican dishes, sweet onions for caramelizing, shallots if I only need a little onion flavour, and yellow onions for everything. But really I use whatever onion I have in the onion basket for whatever I’m making. They’re all good.

Arguably my favourite way to prepare onions is to caramelize them. This is probably due to my rampant sweet tooth.
Onions have lots of natural sugars in them that can be drawn out by cooking them slowly at a low temperature. It’s amazing how pungent, raw onions can take on a candied taste with just some heat and butter.

Caramelized onions are the vegetarian’s answer to bacon. They taste amazing on everything. They add a touch of sweetness and richness and a silky mouthfeel.
The best thing is that making caramelized onions is super easy. It takes just 3 ingredients, a little bit of time, and not all that much attention.

You could add a touch of sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar if you’d like (I’m looking at you, sister) but it’s entirely unecessary to get you a deliciously sweet caramelized onion.

How To Caramelize Onions

Serves 4

Serve them with pretty much anything.

Ingredients

2 large or 4 small onions (sweet onions taste best but any old onion will do)
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Heat a large pan over medium-low heat while you thinly slice the onions into half moons.

Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt and bubble then add the sliced onions. Cover the pan with a lid and cook the onions until they are tender and just starting to brown ~10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove the cover from the pan and add the salt. They’ll look like this:

Continue to cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the onions turn a rich caramel colour (about another 15 minutes or so).

Midway through cooking uncovered they’re look like this:

Pay attention near the end because you want the onions brown but not overcooked. Something like this:

I think I even cooked these slightly longer after taking the picture.

Voila! Caramelized Onions. Easy Peasy.


 

15 Jul

Kamut Brioche

Kamut Brioche

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)
(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)
(G or H): White Chicken Chili with Hominy
(I or J): Juniper Berry Bechamel

This month we look at K or L. My ingredient of choice: Kamut.

WTF is Kamut?

What is Kamut? Khorasan Wheat is more commonly referred to as Kamut which is actually it’s trademark name. It’s a bit odd that a strain of wheat has been trademarked, but according to Kamut International, this is to ensure that customers are always getting 100% organic khorasan wheat that has not been combined with standard wheat or genetically modified. So if you’re buying Kamut and not plain old Khorasan wheat, you can rest easy my friends.

Kamut is a hardy strain of wheat that originated in Egypt. It grows relatively easily with less water than standard wheat requires to produce the same yield. It can often be grown without pesticides since the low moisture requirement naturally deters insects.

Kamut is high in protein (12-18%) making it a good substitute for bread flour in bread making. (Learn more about protein content of flours here). It can also be used in cereals, other baked goods, and pastas.

A serving of Kamut contains more than your daily required intake of selenium, the antioxidant that boosts immunity and prevents cancer.

Kamut tastes much nuttier than plain ol’ white flour or even whole wheat flour. I found it’s depth of flavour to be really very enjoyable.

(Sources: 1, 2)

How the hell do I use Kamut?

You can use Kamut either as a whole grain, cooking it like you would rice, or as a flour, baking with it in place of regular wheat flours.

– eat whole grain kamut it instead of oatmeal for breakfast
– use kamut flour for making pancakes, waffles, muffins, cookies, or bread
– use kamut pastas in place of regular pasta (or make fresh pasta with kamut flour)
– eat whole grain kamut instead of rice as a side dish at dinner

I decided to use Kamut flour in bread for its high protein content. I thought that its nutty flavour would be really good in a rich bread, so I baked the richest bread I could think of: brioche! But I kept the butter content on the lower end so that the flavour of the Kamut wouldn’t be overpowered bythe butter flavour of a richer brioche.

I think the nuttiness of Kamut would be phenomenal in a panettone, stollen, colomba di pasqua, raisin bread, or any other sweet or rich bread. I’m going to try that next time for sure!

Kamut Brioche

Kamut Brioche

makes 12 brioche a tete

Ingredients

Sponge
1/2 c. kamut flour
2 t. instant yeast
1/2 c. warm milk

Dough
4 large eggs (or 3 XL), lightly beaten
3 1/4 c. kamut flour
2 T. granulated sugar
1-1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. butter at room temperature

1 egg whisked for an egg wash.

Directions

Combine the sponge ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or until it bubbles and rises.

Whisk the eggs, sugar, and salt to the sponge until smooth. Add in the flour and stir by hand with a wooden spoon. Add the butter, about a tablespoon at a time while stirring.

Once the butter is incorporated transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until smooth and supple but not sticky, adding in more flour if needed.

Place the dough in a large clean bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover with plastic and let rise at room temperature for 90 minutes or doubled in size.

To shape the brioche, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a large log and cut into 12 equal pieces with a pastry cutter. Shape each piece into a ball, flouring your hands and the dough as needed. Then shape each ball into a tapered oblong shape, sort of like a snowman, with a head and body. Use your finger to poke a hole through the centre of the larger “body” of the brioche and poke the smaller ball through it. Place the brioches in an oiled muffin tin. Cover with a towel and let rise for 90 minutes, until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush the tops of the brioche with the egg wash; place the tins on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes, until an even rich brown colour. Cool the brioche for 5 minutes, then turn the brioche out of the tins to cool completely.


14 Jun

Juniper Berry Bechamel

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)
(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)
(G or H): White Chicken Chili with Hominy

This month we look at I or J. I’ve got two recipes in store with my ingredient of choice: Juniper Berries. But first. . .

WTF is a Juniper Berry?

Juniper Berry

The juniper berry is actually the berry-shaped pine cone of a certain genus of juniper. It has a distinct ‘pine’ flavour and is most commonly associated with gin— it’s the main ingredient.

Modern gin as a spirit actually evolved from the juniper berry’s international history of being taken as an alcoholic tonic in order to promote general health. This was pretty common with Europeans who used these juniper tonics for the antibacterial and diuretic properties of juniper berries. It particularly was helpful for kidney and stomach ailments.

European colonizers in India and South America took it as an antiseptic to prevent obtaining intestinal bacteria (and unpleasant bowel movements). And you know those modern Bombay gins? They trace their origins back to India when they were taken to prevent malaria. Who knew!

But juniper berries as a remedy date farther back than colonial times. They were used to treat tapeworms in ancient Egypt and the ancient Greek Olympians took them in order to increase their physical stamina on game day. Juniper berries were not only taken as a tonic but could be used topically. Canadian First Nations used juniper berries in a poultice to treat wounds among other things.

(Sources 1, 2)

WTF do I do with Juniper Berries?

You mean, I can use them for other things than just garnishing my gin & tonic?

If you don’t know what Juniper berries taste like, they taste just like gin. If you don’t know what gin tastes like, then we can’t be friends.

It’s fresh, and pine-y, and sharp– it is a flavour that really cuts through the rich meats and winter vegetables.

Culinary uses of juniper berries mostly come from Scandinavian and Northern European cuisine where they are added to wild game, hearty vegetables, or fowl dishes. Think the stuff you’d eat in the winter months: rich stews, roasts, and sauerkraut.

You can add them to:

– soup/stock
– cabbage or sauerkraut
– marinades for meat
– turkey stuffing and gravy
– bechamel sauce (like I did below)
– roasted pears (seriously, I’ll show you in my next post)

Be sure to crush or grind them before using for the most flavour.

In reading a bit about juniper berries I figured I had to make something rich out of them. I decided for my juniper berry recipe that a thick bechamel sauce with a creamy mouthfeel and a sharp pine flavour would be delicious. I paired the bechamel with pan-fried tilapia and I thought it tasted fantastic. Matt wasn’t a big fan on the first bite, but I think the flavours grew on him the more he ate it.

Juniper Berry Bechamel over Tilapia

Juniper Berry Bechamel Sauce

Serve this bechamel on chicken, pork, beef, or fish over a bed of wild rice.

Makes ~2 cups

Ingredients

20 juniper berries
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 Tablespoons butter
2 heaping Tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 c milk
3/4 c plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Grind the juniper berries and rosemary in a spice grinder or mortar & pestle until very fine.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook until it turns a light
golden brown.

Meanwhile, stir the milk, yoghurt, and lemon juice together in a separate bowl.

Once the roux is golden brown, add the milk mixture tablespoon by tablespoon. Whisk continuously until very smooth, adding more milk if the mixture is too thick. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes and remove from heat. Season with salt, rosemary, and juniper.

Serve warm over your favourite meat or fish dish.

Juniper Berry Bechamel over Tilapia


 

15 May

White Chicken Chili with Hominy

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)
(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)

This month we look at G or H. I’m going with hominy.

WTF is Hominy?

I picked hominy because I didn’t really know what it was but I know that I’ve eaten it before. Chances are good that you’ve had it too.

Hominy is used primarily in Latin American cooking where it is, most commonly, ground up into masa harina, the flour that is the basis for corn tortillas. If it’s ground a little coarser then it becomes white hominy grits.

Hominy

Hominy looks like mutant-sized corn kernels and that is essentially what it is.

Regular old corn is prepared using a process called nixtamalization where it is heated in lye and ash until the outer germ of the kernel falls off.

This process was crucial to the survival of the ancient Latin American people in a couple of ways. Nixtamalization is a method of preserving the corn beyond harvest time and, more importantly, the process exposes the inner kernel of corn making it is easier to digest and also releasing vitamin B3 which allowed the Latin Americans to avoid deficiency.

Hominy is the primary ingredient in a popular Mexican meat stew called pozole. It is also often used to make chili, which is what I decided to do with it.

Because of all the hominy in it, this chili tastes a lot like tortilla chips. I liked the taste of the hominy overall, but I found this chili to be just okay. Matt was a big fan of it though, but he loves anything with chicken in it.I wish I would have tried my hand at a traditional pozole instead.

White Chicken Chili with Hominy

White Chicken Chili with Hominy

From Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (~1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (~1/2 cup)
3 poblano peppers, seeded and diced (~1 1/2 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
1/4 t cayenne pepper, more to taste
1lb ground chicken
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
3 c water
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 t dried oregano
1 dried bay leaf
1 (19-ounce) can hominy, drained and rinsed
Salt

1/4 c nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt
fresh cilantro leaves
1 Lime

Directions

Heat the oil in large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, poblanos, and cook for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander and cayenne for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until fragrant.

Add the ground chicken and break it up with a spoon. When it is no longer pink add in the white beans, water, bouillon, bay, and oregano. Cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.

Add the hominy and salt and more cayenne pepper, to taste, and continue cooking, partially covered, 10 minutes longer. Ladle into individual bowls and top each serving with 1 tablespoon of yogurt a sprinkle of cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.

White Chicken Chili with Hominy


15 Apr

Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)

This month is E and F so I decided on figs!

Homemade Fig Newtons

 

Figs are one of my favourite fruits. They’re amazing when they are fresh in the summer months because they have a great texture is both smooth (from the flesh) and crunchy (from the seeds) at the same time.

Dried figs are satisfying in their own right because of their intense sweetness (one of the main reasons that I love them).

Even the leaves from the fig plant used in cooking, often as a parcel for roasting meat or seafood. I’ve never tried this before but it sounds pretty intriguing.

Homemade Fig Newtons

Aside from their deliciousness, figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure, and one of the highest plant sources of both fibre and calcium.

There are several different varieties of figs, but the more common ones are Black Mission which have a deep purple skin and Calimyrna which have a green skin (and are my personal favourites).

Fig Newtons are one of my favourite cookies (or should I say, ‘fruit and cake’) so this recipe appealed to me. Since figs aren’t in season right now, I made this recipe with dried Calimyrna figs that I picked up at the grocery store. The result was delicious. Matt and I nearly ate the batch in 3 days. Nearly. The cookie part is more of a cookie than ‘cake’ like a traditional Fig Newton, but I quite liked it.

I will make this recipe again.

Information Sources: 1, 2

Homemade Fig Newtons

Homemade Fig Newtons

adapted from Scientifically Sweet and Our Italian Kitchen
makes 20

Dough:

1/2 c butter
1/2 c sugar
1 egg yolk
2 T milk
1/2 t orange blossom water
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder

Jam:

1 package (8 oz) dried figs, chopped
1 1/2 c water
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 c brown sugar
juice of 1/2 lime

Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg yolk and orange blossom water.
In a separate bowl stir the flour with the baking powder and add this dry mixture to the butter mixture a little at a time, mixing on low speed until the dough starts to come together.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the jam ingredients over medium-high heat until bubbling. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, until it is thickened to a gel and very little liquid remains. Cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8”x8” baking dish.

On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a 8” x 16” rectangle, about 1/4” thick. Cut the dough in half (into two 8” squares) with a pastry cutter or pizza cutter.
Lift one square gently off the floured surface and place it into the baking dish. You want the dough to just cover the bottom of the dish so trim off any excess.
Spoon the filling on top and spread it over the dough evenly.
Place the second square of dough on top of the jam and again cut off any excess.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, rotating the baking dish halfway through, until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting into squares with a sharp serrated knife.


 

15 Mar

Grenadian Oil Down Recipe

So how about that weather today? It would have been a nice day for, say, June but I don’t think I’m ready for 23 degree weather in March quite yet. It feels like the tropics.

. . . and speaking of the tropics (cheesy segue). . .

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

February was Artichokes and Buttercup Squash with Buttercup Squash Pasta

March is C and D, and I chose a tuber that I’ve never worked with before:

Cassava

Cassava

Cassava is also known as yucca, but you may know it better as tapioca. It’s were tapioca starch comes from, so if you’ve had tapioca pudding then you’ve had cassava.

It tastes a bit like potato and the two can often be used interchangeably.

Cassava is, of course, a good source of starch. It is also high in fibre, and rich in calcium and vitamin C, but deficient in most other vitamins and minerals.

Cassava

Cassava grows in tropical climates and it is one reliable food source! It grows particularly well in poor soils, even without fertilization, and it is drought resistant.

Cassava is a staple food in Africa but is also served widely in Asia and the West Indies. It can prepared in a variety of ways from savoury to sweet. For this recipe we’re going savoury and we’re going to the Caribbean: Grenada.

The Recipe

Grenadian Oil Down

Oil Down is the national dish of Grenada and is usually made at a big party on the beach, or so I’ve read. I made this in my kitchen, so it’s not quite as fun, but it still tastes awesome.

Oil Down is a coconut stew that’s usually made with meat, but this version is also vegan, so, bonus points!

I’ve made this recipe before using parsnips as a substitute for what turned out to be a rotten cassava. It tastes much better with cassava than parsnips, in my opinion, since cassava has a much more subdued flavour.

Matt was a huge fan of this recipe and kept saying how much he liked it. I love when that happens (especially if the dish is a vegan one, hehe). He especially loved the dumplings.

If you like coconut and if you like dumplings (okay, who doesn’t like dumplings?) then you’ll probably like this recipe. Give it a try.

Grenadian Oil Down

Grenadian Oil Down

from Global Table Adventure

Stew:

3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 T vegetable oil
1 large cassava
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 cans coconut milk
2 cups water
2 cups chopped rapini (or spinach)
salt & pepper

Dumplings:

1 c all purpose flour
1/4 c masa harina
1/2 t salt
warm water, as needed

Directions:

Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and saute until softened.

Meanwhile, peel the cassava and cut it in half lengthwise. It has a tough, fibrous core (like a pineapple) that you don’t want so cut each half in half again, lengthwise, so you can cut out the centre. Then chop the cassava into 1″ pieces.

Cassava

Add the curry powder and diced hot pepper to the pot. Stir and let cook for about a minute.

Add in the coconut milk, yucca, and water.

Bring the stew to a boil then reduce the heat to allow it to simmer, uncovered, for thirty minutes.

Meanwhile make the dumplings:

Caribbean DUmplings

Stir the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add a little warm water at a time, kneading lightly until a soft dough forms comes together into a ball.

Roll bits of dough between your palms, to make about 20 dumplings that are tapered and about 2″ in diameter.

Now, back to the oil-down. After the 30 minutes are up, stir in the rapini.

Then stir the dumplings in and cook for 15 to 30 minutes more until the stew gets thick and the dumplings are cooked.

Serve with rice.


Eating Alphabet JPG