Sunday, September 19, 2010

canning and etc.

It was me and Rosemary's first foray into the wonderful world of canning. The beets were an impulse buy at the ridiculously low price of 1.77$ for 10 lbs, who could resist? Not me. I had plans for these succulent red beasts, oh yes, I did.

Canning jars were purchase at the local hardware store. They went into a pot of boiling water and were sterilized for 10 minutes.

Peeling and slicing 10 lbs of beets was a snap. You just need music, some peelers or paring knives, and a friend to natter away with about everything and nothing.

Gah! It burns, it burns! Nah, not at all, just looks cool.

We opted to steam the beets rather than boil them in order to preserve some nutrients. I discovered my silicone colander doubles as a steamer. Bonus!

Two basic pickling recipes were decided upon. A classic style, and an Asian inspiration. You can't get more classic than an olde tyme recipe from Charlevoix, taken from this here recipe book.

Two parts organic apple cider vinegar, one part water, 2 tablespoons salt and herbal magic: cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme. The Asian pickle juice was made from 2 parts rice vinegar, 1 part umeboshi vinegar, 2 teaspoons salt and a whole whack of minced ginger and garlic.

Then we played around with spices, as you can see. Fennel, nutmeg, cinnamon.

Ready to be doused.

Once the jars are filled, you seal them in boiling water for 20 minutes.

You hear the most satisfying "ping!" sound when the jars' seals are created. Music to my ears.

10 lbs of beets turned out to make 12 and a half jars. We had some sterile jars that couldn't go to waste so shoved some cabbage and onions in there.

Baby plantlets and orchids. So cute it hurts.

This is an experiment worth waiting for. I'm all about all kinds of experiments these days and the results have been surprising, unexpected and quite enjoyable. In a month I'll know how the beets turned out. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

i love dinner parties

Dinner parties where people come to your house and cook for you don't happen regularly, so I felt really lucky to have my friend's chef bf cook for us! Yes, I am blogging a meal I didn't make because it was just THAT GOOD.

Fillet of cod were marinated in mirin, lemon zest, ginger, garlic, and apple juice.
I cracked open a bottle of Nova Scotian port that is made with real maple syrup to impart a sweetness that is second to none.

Expertly diced fixings for the quinoa salad. Remarkably similar to one I make. Go me!

I will never ever question a chef when he directs me to put in a whole bulb's worth of garlic in roasted potatoes. No wonder I wasn't a huge fan of potatoes. They were missing garlic!

Quinoa salad. Next time I will toast the grain before boiling. Plum forgot this time.

The roasted veg also had a whole bulb of garlic in there. And fennel seeds, ooooh!

Viv wanted him to plate it all fancy and chef-life but we were too hungry to wait.

This was a super memorable meal. Thanks again V and Q!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

ass kicking tofu, peanut sauce and coleslaw!

Wow, has it been tasty around here. This tofu is a tried and true favorite for carnivores and vegetarians alike. I usually end up eating half of these little batonets before their intended use in stirfries, salads or my favorite--summer rolls. Try 'em even if you don't like tofu. Trust me.

How to resist golden crispness such as this?

The process begins. Start with a pound of firm organic tofu. For extra chewiness, freeze then thaw the tofu. Cover with some paper towel or a clean dish towel.

Gently press the excess water out of the block of tofu by weighing it down with something heavy.

Our star marinade ingredients: rice vinegar, dark soy sauce, hot pepper sesame oil. I've used just the soy sauce with good results so don't stress if you only use that.

Getting all coated up in here! Tofu doesn't need much time to absorb delicious liquid marinades...5-10 minutes will do the trick.

Then you need to get yourself some good tasting yeast, also called nutritional yeast. Note my mom's handwritten label, awww. Nice cheesy flavor. It's great sprinkled on salads and popcorn! It's a main ingredient in aux vivres dragon sauce if you are a fan of that.

Put about this much in a shallow bowl.

Get a tablespoon or 2 sized plops of coconut oil in a large frying pan and heat to medium.

Your tofu will be wet and ready to receive the sprinklings of yeast. Roll it around to get it all coated. Do not read too much into the previous two sentences.

Transfer the yeast covered tofu sticks to the hot, oiled pan like so. Let them brown on each side and when they seem crispy, stiff and golden they're ready.

What are you gonna eat this with? Well, a stick shaped food just begs to be dipped right? Right. Here comes the peanut sauce. I didn't realize how easy and addictive this is, beware.

You will need: 2 plops of peanut butter, 1 plop of hoisin sauce, 2 cloves minced garlic, a wee squirt of hot sauce and water. If you want to get fancy you can infuse the water with kaffir lime leaves, or chilis, or whatever turns you on. Use warm water (or microwave) to melt ingredients together. Add enough water to make a dip-like consistency: not too thick, but thick enough to still stick to whatever you're dipping.

You could serve the tofu with a nice Asian flavored slaw. Have I mentioned how much I love purple cabbage? So beautiful, so healthy, so inexpensive!

This is all you need for a wonderful tasty slaw.

So pretty.

Hello dressing ingredients! Some are missing though. You'll also need sugar and salt. But they don't photograph well, so I forgot about them.

The measurements are a bit iffy (if you don't know me by now...well just google a similar recipe or something). I'd say about 1/2 cup of oil of which the sesame oil makes up 2 tablespoons, a little over a 1/4 cup of rice vinegar (you can use lemon or lime juice too, or a combination thereof), a scant 1/4 cup of sugar and about 2 teaspoons of salt. Play around with the flavors until it is sweet yet tangy.

Bon appétit!