Archive for March, 2010

Holy crap, what happened to March?

Right. I was really busy, went on holiday for a week, and then March was over.  So, hello!

I can’t say I have anything to report food-wise from my holiday, because, well, all-inclusive resorts are hardly culinary destinations, especially those in Cuba, where the variety is a bit lacking. Needless to say, my pregnancy-induced craving for rice and beans is safely satisfied, and I can move on with my life.

So where does that leave us? Happily, in early Spring. We’re in that awkward time of year when Spring is in the air, people are walking down the street with an extra little bounce in their step, wearing more colours instead of their dark winter jackets. The problem with this time of year is, that while our minds are racing ahead into warmer weather, the produce is still stuck in winter mode. So what’s a cook, craving greens and Spring flavours, to do? 

Here’s one idea: take a wintery vegetable to a mandoline slicer (minding your fingers, of course), add a lemony vinaigrette and toss in a handful of hothouse grape tomatoes for a juicy bite reminiscent of warmer times.  It may not be the season’s new asparagus, but it’s pretty good.

This recipe is adapted from an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats. I love that guy.

Broccoli slaw with cherry tomatoes
serves 4 as a side dish

1 head broccoli

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

3-4 tbsp. olive oil

roughly 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes, halved

Depending on the size of the broccoli head, chop it down lengthwise (along the stem) so that it’s wide enough to fit on a mandoline slicer. Then, slice all the broccoli so that the stem is roughly cut into ribbons. The florets will generally break apart, but to me the variety of texture is what makes the salad. The result will be a bit messy, though, so do this over a cutting board so you can just tip the whole lot into a bowl once everything is sliced.

To make the vinaigrette, I use the jar-shaker method. Combine the lemon juice and zest, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper and olive oil in a small jar and shake to combine.  Toss it with the sliced broccoli, along with the halved grape tomatoes, and add extra salt and pepper if you think it’s needed.

It can sit for a while without going limp, unlike other salads, but it doesn’t really keep well as leftovers.

Here’s what it looked like after I dove in, then remembered to take a picture:



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Magical Healing Soup

Sometimes, you need a reminder that dinner doesn’t have to be a big deal. It’s a big deal when you’re hungry at the end of a long day, but sometimes cooking dinner can be easy, and making dinner doesn’t have to take a ton of time or money.

This soup was that reminder tonight, when tired and hungry, I realized I was headed home to a solitary supper and a mostly empty fridge. My options: go grocery shopping, buying a BBQ chicken, or just make do. I was too hungry for the grocery store, and felt too stingy to spend $10 on a chicken. But happily, I had all the ingredients I need for this soup.

This soup. This soup. This soup is what I eat when I’m staving off a cold or need some comfort on a cold winter night. Or just when the spirit takes me.

Having grown up in an Italian-dominant town, tortellini soup is a staple from my childhood. Usually this involves a handful of tortellini, a bowl full of chicken stock and a sprinkle of chopped parsley and grated parmesan. But to make it a meal, you need a bit more substance.

This is so inexact I can’t call it a recipe, but here’s what I had to work with:

  • Chicken stock that I made last weekend, along with bits of chicken picked off the bones
  • A handful of cheese tortellini from the freezer
  • Also from the freezer, a few oven-dried tomatoes, diced (sundried from the cupboard would work equally well)
  • A generous handful of chopped kale

Bring the broth, chicken and tomatoes to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, bring some water to a boil and cook the tortellini. Technically, you   could cook the tortellini in the broth, but this makes it cloudy. When the tortellini is cooked, drain the water off and toss the pasta into the soup pot. Last of all, toss in the kale and let it soften.

Seal the deal with a grind of pepperand a generous grating of parmesan.

This is what you end up with:

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