Green Goddess Dressing (aka creamy avocado dressing)

Don’t remember the last time I bought a salad dressing.  It’s all too easy to make your own from scratch and so much tastier.  This creamy, versatile and delightful dressing is packed with vitamins and goes with almost any salad.  It’s a  healthy alternative to dairy or mayonnaise-based dressings.

Image: Simply Scratch

What you need:

  1. 1 whole large ripe avocado.
  2. 1 clove garlic, peeled.
  3. 1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice.
  4. 3 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
  5. ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
  6. ¼ cup low-fat greek yogurt (optional)
  7. 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  9. water, as needed

Directions:

  1. Place all the ingredients In a food processor or blender.
  2. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. Thin the salad dressing out with about 1/3 cup water (give or take) until it reaches a desired consistency.
  3. Keep in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.

ENJOY

 

 

 

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Full of Goodness Soup

 Winter vegetable soup for the soul

Photo: d. king

A friend requested I post a vegetarian/vegan soup recipe.   I’ve never followed one so this is a kind of non-recipe recipe.  All you need are a variety of vegetables and patience for chopping. Because literally you just chop & toss everything into a pot.  This soup is chock full of nutrients & tons of flavor.  Because vegetable soup can lean towards being more bland than other kinds, you can play with your spices. Add 21 vegetable spice mix, pepper, sea salt and Herbs de Provence.  Of course ***bay leaves  are a necessary addition while cooking.

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients
4 cups of vegetables, roughly chopped.  Use a mix of spinach, kale, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yam, sweet potato, parsley, etc.
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic,  chopped
2 Tbsp coconut oil or *ghee (Note: if using ghee, the recipe is no longer vegetarian/vegan)
**4-6 cups vegetable broth (I made mine from scratch but you can use better than bouillon.
Or; water to cover
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice
Spices

When serving add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil & sprig of parsley to garnish

Directions
1. Heat coconut oil or *ghee in large pot or a Dutch oven.
2. Add onions and garlic, stirring until fragrant, then add vegetables and stir for a minute or two longer.
3. Add broth or enough water to cover the vegetables. Let simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender and puree in a high speed blender (or with a hand blender) until smooth.
4. Season as desired and serve with a squeeze of lemon, a splash of olive oil and some sea salt (Maldon is a good choice).

*Ghee is a type of clarified butter that’s made from heating butter and allowing the liquid and milk portion to separate from the fat. The milk caramelizes and becomes a solid, and the remaining oil is ghee.  Ghee has a long-standing reputation as one of the healthiest cooking fats available.  You can buy it at many grocery health-food stores like Whole Foods.

This ingredient has been used in Indian and Pakistani cultures for thousands of years. When used in place of butter, ghee has several benefits.   Ghee is rich in conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, a fatty acid known to be protective against carcinogens, artery plaque and diabetes.  So it is known.

**Homemade Veggie Stock: I’ve been freezing ends and skins of vegetables like carrots, onions and herbs like parsley, cilantro, etc. to use for making stock.  I wash everything before freezing then place them in a pot & heat with covered water.  It offers more flavor rather than using plain water.  Of course you must discard the vegetables and use only the stock when making veggie soup.

***Nutrient Packed Bay leaves offer us a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, magnesium, calcium, manganese, potassium, and iron. Bay leaves apparently help to soothe body aches. You can add 4-5 bay leaves in 1 litre of water and add to bathwater to relieve sore muscles and rejuvenate the body. Supposed to ease joint pain from arthritis.  Try it!

Hope you enjoy it.  Let me know how it turned out. xo

Comfort Cooking: Creamy Lemon Chicken

SLOW COOKER CREAMY LEMON CHICKEN

A slow cooker is such a great kitchen appliance to have around.  Especially if you want to let something simmer for a long time without worrying about it.  I found this recipe on a website called dinnerthendessert.  Original recipe calls for chicken breasts but it’s equally good using chicken thighs. It’s also perfect as a pasta topping!  In fact that’s exactly what I did the next day – with tossed linguine.

Image + recipe: dinnerthendessert.com

This recipe is not only simple to make, it’s simply delicious with a creamy butter, garlic and lemon coating.

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 *chicken breasts boneless and skinless 
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon **kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 lemons juiced and zested
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon chicken base (optional) but delicious! I use “better than bouillon”

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large cast iron skillet add 1 tablespoon of butter to melt on medium high heat.
  2. Add the kosher salt, black pepper and Italian seasoning to the chicken and add it to the pan.
  3. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes to brown.

  4. Add the chicken to your slow cooker.
  5. Cover with lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and the rest of the butter in pieces (lemons in the picture is just for reference. Don’t cook the lemons in the slow cooker).
  6. Cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours.
  7. In a large measuring cup add the half and half, cornstarch and chicken base (bouillon) and whisk well.
  8. Add the liquid, mix, and cook an additional hour on high.

    *Did you know?

    Canada banned the use of hormones in Canadian poultry on March 4, 1963. Though it is rare, some marketers still classify their chicken as “hormone-free.” This is used as a marketing tactic, since all chickens raised in Canada have been raised without added hormones.

    **Why do recipes recommend kosher salt?

    Kosher salt is often recommended by TV chefs because it has a less intense and more pure, salty taste and because it’s easier to pick up the crystals and toss them into the pot!  The flaky structure also makes it easy to spread atop your food.

    By the way, kosher salt is so called because of its role in the process for preparing foods such as meats according to the Jewish tradition. Because it has so much surface area and doesn’t dissolve as quickly as table salt. Though it’s not much different than regular salt, it’s less likely to contain anti-caking agents and added iodine.

    Let me know how you like it?

Food: Autumn Beef Stew

A hearty stew is perfect comfort food for Fall.  This one pays homage to Julia Child’s legendary boeuf bourguignon, stealing her trick of flavoring a wine-rich beef stew with bacon drippings, but adding generous chunks of carrot, potato and butternut squash.  Serve with a side of crusty fresh bread.  And make sure to drink some of the wine.

Image: Midwest Living

ingredients

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • pounds boneless beef chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • strips bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • Canola oil
  • medium onions, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • tablespoons tomato paste
  • cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • cups less-sodium beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • bay leaves
  • tablespoon snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pound potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • pound butternut squash; peeled, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • stalks celery, sliced into 1/2-inch thick
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

directions

  1. In a large plastic bag, combine flour, salt and pepper. Add beef; shake to coat evenly. In a Dutch oven or large heavy pot, cook and stir bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels with a slotted spoon. Add enough oil to bacon drippings to equal 2 tablespoons. Add half the beef to pot, shaking off any excess flour. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Remove beef with a slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining beef.
  2. If pot is dry, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add onions; cook and stir for about 4 minutes or until starting to brown. Stir in garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste. Return beef, bacon and any remaining flour to pot. Stir to combine. Add chicken and beef broth, wine, bay leaves, thyme and paprika. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add potatoes, squash, carrots and celery. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove lid and simmer about 15 minutes more or until vegetables are tender and liquid is desired consistency. Remove bay leaves. Stir in parsley.

Enjoy!

 

Goldfish themed sweet treats

A good friend of mine who lives part-time in Tokyo just texted me a photo where she was eating a goldfish at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

This is a lifelike goldfish lollipop

Okay; it’s not a real goldfish (thank goodness) but a jelly dessert that’s part of a Goldfish Festival on until the end of September.  So I had to research the festival because one of the many things I remember about the time I lived in Tokyo was that they have an abundance of not-your-norm festivals.  

WHY GOLDFISH?

In Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868), in the days before the blissful arrival of air conditioning and electric fans, the residents of Tokyo had their own tried and tested ways of dealing with the hot summer weather. Traditionally, people would don lightweight yukata cotton robes and found that viewing images of goldfish had the mysterious effect of providing psychological relief from the summer heat.

The Eco Edo Nihonbashi is a festival themed on the cooling image of goldfish, which aims to replicate this marvelous placebo effect as it takes over the streets of downtown Tokyo from early July until late September. Festival-goers are invited to try for themselves some of the tactics used to keep cool by Tokyoites of yore as they scoop goldfish, dance among the fish at a night-time aquarium party, and munch on refreshing goldfish-themed summer treats.

Eco Edo will showcase the curious cooling properties of goldfish to the full, with an array of goldfish-themed attractions. All these forms of Edo-period wisdom can be enjoyed in a traditional Japanese festival atmosphere, with the surrounding streets decked out with the festival’s trademark enormous goldfish lanterns.

Goldfish Sweets & Bar Walk

New to this year’s festival, enjoy traditional Edo hospitality on a gourmet stroll through Nihonbashi and Ningyocho districts, where many bars, cafes and restaurants will be plying guests with goldfish-themed sweet treats and bar menus as well as locally-produced Japanese sake. Dishes on offer include colourful jelly in glass dishes designed to resemble goldfish in a goldfish bowl, and chilled oden (fish and vegetable hotpot) garnished with tiny carrot goldfish. Visitors can also claim special gifts in each area they visit and collect stamps to enter a lottery to win luxury prizes.

As part of the food and hospitality event, the Mandarin Oriental is also tempting festival-goers with several special offers:

Goldfish Bowl Desserts

Slurp on exquisite layered jelly desserts made to resemble goldfish swimming in a goldfish bowl – they’re almost too beautiful to eat!
Where? Ground floor, the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
When? 7:30-20:00 (weekdays), 9:00-19:00 (weekends and public holidays) to 24th September.
Only in Japan!

Food in the Forest: pilgrimme

pilgrimme on Galiano Island is a foodie dining out discovery.  It may be off the beaten path, but even so, it’s not easy to get a reservation.  It has been voted in Canada’s 100 TOP Restaurants for good reason.  I called a couple weeks in advance and was considered lucky to get a table for four during my recent stay on Galiano.  And what a dining experience it turned out to be.

plgrimme, the restaurant.  It’s worth the ferry ride over.

For years, Galiano remained a well-kept secret, its charms known mainly to the farmers and artisans who called it home.  The cozy wood cabin previously existed as a much loved French restaurant for years before present owners Leanne Lalonde and Jesse McLeery put their name above the door.  Leanne had previously worked for Rosewood’s King Pacific Lodge in the great bear rainforest where she first met Jesse.

Jesse made the inspiring journey to Denmark to spend the winter in the kitchen of Copenhagen’s acclaimed Noma, a two-Michelin-star restaurant . Returning west with new ideas and a reinforced vision, Jesse, with Leanne, opened pilgrimme working with the growers and artisans of Galiano Island.  Everything is made fresh from scratch, locally sourced, farm-to-table, creatively plated and extremely tasty.  Even the ceramics are made on the island.  They have a nicely curated wine list too.

Some of the shared plates created especially for us

Here’s the thing that impressed me the most.  The restaurant created an all vegan menu which was absolutely delicious because out of our group of four people, two and a half of us are vegan.  I must admit that I had my reservations about that at first because I thought that vegan food would be less tasty but everything turned out to be surprisingly excellent.  As good or better than anything I’ve had in a restaurant all year.  And it made me change my mind-set.  In a perfect world we would all be vegan and everything would be better off.  Although I’m not quite ready to totally live up to that.  I’m not perfect just yet.

http://pilgrimme.ca/visit-pilgrimme/

 

 

A timely recipe for August

After my recent visit to a blueberry farm let’s just say that I came home with an abundance of the delicious antioxidant packed berries.  They’re ripe and in season. So I decided to try something simple but different.  In the sense that I made this dessert completely gluten free. Just because I wanted to try it. And it was as good as if I had used regular baking flour, etc.  Trust me on this – It really was that good! 

GLUTEN-FREE BLUEBERRY CRISP

This crisp is delicious served warm or cold, with yogurt for breakfast, ice cream for dessert or simply on its own!

*So here’s the big question: Are oats truly gluten-free? 

The short answer is YES — non-contaminated, pure oats are gluten-free. They are safe for most people with gluten-intolerance.

The main problem with oats in gluten-free eating is contamination. Most commercial oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat, barley, and rye. The gluten in these ingredients can contaminate oats, and the nature of most gluten intolerances is that even a trace amount of gluten can cause severe discomfort. So that box of Quaker Oats? Probably not gluten-free.

Recipe adapted from Valley Natural Foods

Dressing up for lunch or dinner

with Creamy Carrot Ginger Salad Dressing

photo: d. king.

AHA – a healthy alternative to bought salad dressing

Easy to make and soooo delicious!  I think you’re going to LOVE this one.  Plus it looks pretty, especially in a pineapple bowl.

INGREDIENTS

  1. ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil.
  2. ⅓ cup rice vinegar.
  3. 2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (about ⅔ cup)
  4. 2 tablespoons peeled and roughly chopped fresh ginger.
  5. 2 tablespoons lime juice.
  6. 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey.
  7. 1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil.
  8. ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste.

    Photo: d. king

INSTRUCTIONS

In a blender (I use Vitamix), combine all of the salad dressing ingredients as listed. Bend until completely smooth. Taste, and add additional salt if the dressing doesn’t make your eyes light up. It should have some zing to it but you can always blend in a bit more honey if need be.

Serve over greens and add toasted sesame seeds (optional) to top it off and some shaved carrot.  TIP: you can have it as a main course if you toss in some cooked salmon or chicken.

Adapted from Love Real Food cookbook

Enjoy

 

 

 

Food: Cravings

Simple. Savory. Satisfying.

You need only a few key ingredients to whip something up in a pinch.

Image: cravingsofalunatic
Photo: d. king 1)penne 2)scrambled eggs

These simple worthy recipes for breakfast lunch and/or dinner use only three (or four) savory ingredients – an old standby of sour cream, chives and bacon no less.  On their own they’re pretty dull, but collectively they add a powerful punch to some dishes.  Something definitely to consider but maybe not to incorporate into a steady diet.

I can’t remember the last time I went out and actually bought bacon in a store because I usually reserve bacon as a side for occasional Sunday brunch.  However I was cross border shopping and ended up buying a box of uncured fully-cooked apple smoked bacon at Trader Joe’s.  I don’t know; just had a craving. And I hate frying up bacon because of all the rendered fat and this one only needed a few seconds in a microwave or frypan.  The problem is, then you have to use it up in a  relatively short time span.

For a few days I made the most delicious BLT sandwiches, but I switched the lettuce for avocado so it became a BAT instead.  So yummy with beefsteak tomatoes, good bread and mayo.

I probably won’t eat bacon for a while now, but if you have a craving as I did, here are a few easy ideas to help use it up. With sour cream and chives of course.

Breakfast Bourdain style:

Anthony Bourdain’s Scrambled Eggs

Image: d. king

Cook time: 10 mins Total time: 10 mins Serves: 2 servings

Here chopped bacon is fried until crisp.  Eggs are whisked and added to pan (sans milk or water). When eggs are finished cooking, a dollop of sour cream is stirred into the eggs, along with chopped chives or green onions.  It works and tastes incredibly good.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup sliced bacon (about 2 slices of thick-cut or more depending)
  • 4 eggs, whisked
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chopped chives
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat a medium or large pan (nonstick if you have it) over medium-high heat.
  2. Add bacon to pan and cook, stirring frequently, until bacon is crispy, about 4-5 minutes (if using regular).
  3. Lower heat and drain some of the bacon fat.
  4. Add eggs to pan, stirring constantly, and when set, remove from heat.
  5. Stir in sour cream, chives and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Lunch: Penne pasta with sour cream, bacon and chives 

INGREDIENTS for two (or four as a side)

Image: d. king
  • 8 ounces short pasta (penne, ziti, etc)
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped and cooked until crispy
  • 1/2 stick butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream at room temperature
  • Chives, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Return to the hot pasta pot.
  2. Put the pot on the lowest heat setting on your stove and stir in butter and sour cream. Stir until both are melted and combined into the pasta.
  3. Stir in chives and cooked bacon.
  4. Serve at once.

    Image: cravingsofalunatic

Dinner: Baked Potato

Whatever you’re having with a side of baked potato.  Tell me you don’t need any instructions on this. OR; even better: just a fully-loaded baked potato with added stuff like broccoli and cheese.  I know you want to!

We all have to satisfy our cravings.  Okay; I’m done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dishing: a good side of Bad-boy Cauliflower

From Bland to Beautiful. Cauliflower; you dress up nicely.

Photo: d. king

My food goal this week was to make the easiest Anthony Bourdain recipe I could find.  There were two.  But I chose this one for two reasons.  1) I had a head of cauliflower in my fridge intending to make cauliflower rice. 2) Anything that makes cauliflower more flavorful is worth a try.  This one will not disappoint.  It’s actually very delicious – tastes better than it looks.  What I find funny is that Cauliflower is one of my least favorite vegetables yet I’m appreciating how adaptable it is.  Unfortunately I’m not a big fan of the cruciferous kind.  But there are exceptions to every rule.

This recipe is dead simple to throw together too. It’s also intriguing because it mixes Greek & Italian herbs with Middle Eastern tahini and Japanese miso. Proves we can all get along.

The cauliflower gets crisp and charred on the edges. After the florets are roasted and tossed in the thick sauce of tahini, miso, red wine vinegar and a splash of water, the heat of the cauliflower will loosen up the sauce and coat every inch in delicious nuttiness, umami and a tad of tang.

It’s a side dish but Bourdain said one adult could easily polish off the entire dish for dinner. As usual, he said it exactly like it is.  I did it.

So when he described this dish as This s–t is compulsively delicious, you can bet that he was right.

“Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame” is from his book, “Appetites: A Cookbook”

It’s the last cookbook he wrote. This isn’t a collection of necessarily cutting-edge cooking, but rather recipes for dishes that he loved to cook at home — well, on the rare days that he was actually in New York and not traveling the globe for his must-see “Parts Unknown” show on CNN. They’re also dishes that Bourdain thought every home-cook ought to have in his or her repertoire.  It will be a part of mine from now on.

Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

1 head of cauliflower, broken by hand into florets

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt (I used fleur-de-sel)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon white miso  (it’s a paste that you can readily find now at most grocery stores)

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds (I used a mixed sesame seasoning seed blend)

*I squeezed a little bit of fresh lemon juice over top but try it “as is” first.

All you have to do is toss the cauliflower with spices, roast, and then toss it again with your tahini and miso mixture. That’s it!

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower, oil, salt, coriander, oregano, and pepper and toss well to evenly coat the cauliflower with the oil and spices. Transfer to a sheet pan and arrange in an even layer, making spaces between the pieces as much as possible. Roast the cauliflower in the oven for 20 minutes, turning the tray and lightly tossing the pieces halfway through.

While the cauliflower roasts, combine the tahini, miso, vinegar and 1 1/2 tablespoons water in a small mixing bowl, and whisk until smooth.

Once the cauliflower is done, remove it from the oven, transfer to a mixing bowl, and toss with the sauce and sesame seeds to coat evenly.

Side note: Bourdain’s chapter on desserts is all of one page, which essentially says, “F–k dessert.” Turns out he wasn’t big on sweets, preferring cheese instead.

Adapted from “Appetites: A Cookbook” by Anthony Bourdain