Monday, October 31, 2011

Tabouli with Pomegranate

There's this cafe on Robson called Falafel Maison. It used to be run by an older couple, but we haven't seen them there in ages. They were awesome. Matt and I went for lunch a few  years ago and I had a big bowl of tabouli for lunch, I told the woman I loved her tabouli and she clapped and yelled out,  "my tabouli loves you too!".
My mom made tabouli a lot while I was growing up and it's a bit of a comfort food for me, here's how I make it. 

Tabouli with Pomegranate and Fresh Herbs
1 cup coarse bulgar 
2 cups water
pinch of salt
4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup of pomegranate seeds 
1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
juice and zest of a lemon
salt and pepper

Bring water to boil and add bulgar and a pinch of salt. Let simmer, covered for five minutes, remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Let cool.

In a large bowl mix tomatoes, cucumber, pomegranate, mint and parsley with the cooled bulgar. In a separate bowl mix all the dressing ingredients, pour over other ingredients and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cold weather cooking - chili and cornbread

Autumn dinner = chili.
This isn't a traditional texas chili, or a classic recipe in any way. This is the way I've been making chili for a couple years and its really tasty.

Smokey Chili with Zucchini and Red Pepper
1 1/2 lbs lean or extra lean organic ground beef or 2 packages of veggie ground round
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 28oz tins of diced tomatoes 
1 28 oz tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 zucchini, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp fresh oregano or 1tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each of smoked paprika, chipotle chili, ground cumin, ground coriander
hot sauce to taste - I use a few big splashes of Frank's Red Hot and a couple dashes of Tabasco
salt and pepper to taste 

In a heavy bottomed pot, brown ground beef over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Add onion and red pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and let simmer for 15 minutes. 
Add beans, zucchini, garlic, tomato, oregano, honey, salt and spices. Simmer for 25 minutes, season with hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with chopped green onions, grated cheese and a big old piece of cornbread!

Speaking of cornbread ...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

the weekend.

We had a lovely laid back weekend. I was feeling under the weather on Friday and Matt took the day off to look after Hannah. I spent the better part of the day snuggled under a blanket on the couch napping and watching tv until I had the ridiculous idea to clean out the pantry. I pulled apart the shelves, stood dumbfounded in the middle of the room, pushed everything back on to shelves and got back on the couch.

The rest of the weekend was filled with pillow forts in the living room, park visits, naps, soft boiled egg breakfasts, aurura gala apples (winner of best apple at the UBC Apple Festival this year), persimmons and pomegranates, reorganizing and cleaning out the pantry (once I felt better), roasted veggies, visiting with friends and my niece, errands in the sunshine, a birthday party at a friends apartment with the most amazing view of a wonderful sunset over Vancouver and the North Shore. 

Food is prepped for Hannah for the next few days while she's with her nanny and after the laundry is folded time to watch some Community and call it a day.

I have a lengthy history of getting the Sunday Blues. They can hit as early as mid Sunday morning, growing in intensity through the day. I made it through today with just a few fleeting moments of blues. 

Hope you had a relaxed weekend. Good luck with the week!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

the pumpkin patch

Bright and early Sunday morning after one of our best friend's birthdays the night before, we groggily headed out to Westham Island Herb Farm Pumpkin Patch with friends and their babes. Neither Matt nor I had ever been to Ladner before and definitely never to Westham Island. I had no idea how beautiful it is out there, it was a sunny morning, so I may have been swayed by the sun coming in on a misty landscape, it happens to me all the time. I was entertaining thoughts of moving out there five minutes into the drive and was on real estate sites when I got home.

Hannah and I had been to a pumpkin patch on Friday with my parents at Richmond Country Farms. It was more of an event there with wagon rides and music, a pumpkin princess and entertainment. Lots of fun, but the Westham Island patch was perfect for a quiet Sunday morning with friends surrounded by goats, chickens, cows, organic veggies, wheelbarrows and of course, pumpkins.

Thanks to Shellie for the photos!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cheddar Corn Muffins

This is an old recipe that I first made when I was about twelve, it's from the Canadian Living cookbook series they used to give out at Shell gas stations. I don't know if that was just an Ontario thing, but the muffin cookbook was really good. It's not the most healthy recipe you'll see on here, but they are really tasty. Great with breakfast or homemade chili.

Cheddar Corn Muffins
a) 1 2/3 cups flour
     1 1/3 cup cornmeal
     4 tsp baking powder
     1 tsp baking soda
     1 tsp salt

b) 2 eggs
     1 14 oz creamed corn
     1/4 cup melted butter

c) 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375°.
Mix (a). In separate bowl whisk the (b) ingredients. Blend (a) with (b) and add half of the cheese. Mix until moistened. Batter will be thick!
Spoon into greased muffin tins. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Dust lightly with paprika. Bake on middle rack for 20-25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

These are great with any number of additions:
• green onions, roasted red peppers, parsley, basil, chopped tomatoes . . .

Friday, October 14, 2011

Garlic and Parsley Fried Chickpeas

This is an easy appetizer to snack on, great in salads, tasty as a side dish and takes 5 minutes to make with what you likely have on hand.

Garlic and Parsley Fried Chickpeas
1 14 oz tin of chickpeas, rinsed and dried
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
1 glove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil and butter in fry pan over medium heat. Add well dried chickpeas and garlic and pan fry for 5 minutes constantly stirring. Add parmesan and parsley and stir well, keep on heat and stirring for another minute or until the cheese starts to get a bit crispy. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

autumn island treats

Cheddar and Corn Muffins - recipe to come
Late lunch with Smoked Kippers
Garlic + Parsley Fried Chickpeas - recipe to come

Making Pie Crust

Family Hashbrowns with secret ingredient - recipe to come

Perfect Breakfast - crepes with cranberries and brie

Thanksgiving stuffing to go with 3 roasted chickens

I took a bit of a risk and I tried roasting chickens a new way for Thanksgiving. I've always cooked them the way my mom taught me and they've always been really tasty but I'd heard so much about the Thomas Keller method that I had to try it. A very high heat oven, a well-trussed bird and a tablespoon of salt - that's it. I panicked a little with the salt and didn't use the whole tbsp, and about twenty minutes into roasting I panicked again and brushed some of the salt off. When the bird came out of the oven I wiped even more salt off. Those chickens were some of the juiciest and tastiest birds I've ever had and I recommend trying this method.

Our friends made amazing food - swedish crepes with cranberries, brie and candied pecans. Cranberry sauce with hazelnuts and orange, amazing salads, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, spirited pumpkin pie. I've had nothing but salad and chicken soup since we've been home!

home again

We had a great time on Saturna. It wasn't as relaxing as it can sometimes be - a combination of having a fifteen month old girl, twelve people, thanksgiving and late night crokinole tournaments.

I ran every morning and came across resting deer in the forests and a family of raccoons hanging out by the cliffs. We went on hikes, ate fantastic food, saw friends we don't see all that often and enjoyed.

I always find it hard to come home from the island. Finding I'm in a bit of a slump back on the mainland as the air gets colder, no vacation on the horizon and winter starts to approach. I'll come around, I always do.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

happy thanksgiving!

I've got rubber boots, cozy sweaters, books, tasty treats, red wine and fixings for Thanksgiving dinner all packed and ready to go. We catch the ferry to Saturna tomorrow morning and get Island life for four days. Long weekend with ten of our friends, two cats, one dog and three cabins.

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

quiet saturday


I'm having a quiet day, feeling the residual effects of emergency dental work earlier this week. Enjoying catching up on my google reader while listening to old forgotten favourites like Mazzy Star and Spiritualized.

Here's some of the pretty I've been looking at while snuggled under my wool blanket:
3191 Miles Apart, I've loved A Year of Evenings, A Year of Mornings and pretty much anything these two put together
• Wishing I was heading out apple picking today, just so I could wear this.
• Catching up on my favourite blog, sweetfineday

* images from 3191 Miles Apart