Smashed Potatoes ~ 3 ways

IMG_1543With the early darkness of winter nights, comfort foods are appreciated far more than in the light of summer. To brighten some of these meals, we look for ways to switch it up, while sticking with the tried and true basics. Here are three ways to enjoy red potatoes as sides. Super simple, but each one gives us a bit of a twist, to complement the main course. The third option is for pancakes, which are so easy to do from leftovers from an earlier meal. Just store the leftovers, covered, in the fridge for up to a week. Ready when you are. Continue reading

Eggplant & Yam Stew with Miso

IMG_9185There are two things that I go to for energy revival when travelling, miso & beer. Lovely fermented liquids that give me a bit of a kick start. All I need is a bowl of miso, to sip and feel like my gut is revitalized. Beer does exactly the same thing, but I need to be aware of what I’m doing after drenching my innards with a long tall cool one. Usually it is my go to after a long travel.

Miso is an amazing food. Not only does it give you a boost, but it has so much umami that it easily transforms many a vegetarian dish into something so rich and fulfilling, that you won’t miss the meat.

The original recipe for this stew came in BBC Good Food’s cleansing edition last January. We’ve made it many times always enjoying its robust flavours.
Continue reading

Roasted Carrot & Apple Purée

IMG_8745Textures and colours have always been important to me when it comes to food. I’ve had two memorable meals that were so off the mark that they made hospital food look good. Both were served on plain white china. Just setting the mood.

The first was served in a small home eatery on one of the Gulf Islands. Dinner was sliced chicken breast, mashed potatoes and cauliflower. Sounds great, yes? No added herbs, sauce, gremolata, or anything resembling colour or flavour, bland, bland, and bland. I could not believe that someone was proud to serve this to paying guests. Of course, maybe they weren’t. Maybe they didn’t care.

The second was at a major restaurant chain. We stopped in for a quick supper during a shopping trip. I ordered Fettuccine Alfredo, looking forward to a velvety sauce full of flavour. What I got: soft noodles smothered in a cream sauce. I couldn’t detect any cheese flavour at all. As well, there was nothing else on the plate, no sprinkling of herbs, not even a sprig of parsley. Disappointment prevailed.

When I plan a menu, I love to incorporate lots of colours and textures, as well as great taste. I’m happiest when I hear people exclaiming how beautiful it all looks, and then look forward to the silence as they all tuck in.

When planning a buffet, I like to have a purée of some sort as part of the mix, nothing soft and mushy, but something with deep, interesting flavours that is firm, as well as having a velvety texture. For an upcoming job, I want to have carrot purée tucked in amongst the other vegetable dishes, to compliment them in colour, but also that has enough flavour of its own, that people will go back to it for seconds.

So here’s what I’ve come up with. Continue reading

Gingered Carrots

IMG_8681Our first truck was a ’47 Ford 1 Ton. Dark green with gold detailing, and very much a work truck. In the early eighties, with my hair in braids, wearing a down vest, and gum boots, I loved being the one that would go to town to pick up supplies, whether it was feed or fence posts. Even though the truck was 9 years my senior, we were good friends. It could hold so much, and anytime I pulled into a yard the staff was excited to see the truck; consequently I always got speedy service.

There was an inherently farm feel about picking up 50# burlap sacks of potatoes, onions and carrots for us, while 50# sacks of barley and oats were thrown in for the horses and pigs. These sacks of vegetables would sit in the cold room in our barn, and feed us through the winter (this sounds like the olden days, but really it was the eighties). They were the mainstay of our diet, supplemented with our own meat & squash, and winter hardy greens from the farmers market. Some of the carrots where oddly shaped, resembling the human form in many variations. Some would make us blush, while others would have us laughing outright.

Eating the same veg day after day, made us try lots of different recipes. A pan with all three tossed with a bit of oil, and seasoned with salt & pepper, then roasted is still one of my favourites. Glazing some carrots always made those dinners seem fancier. I used to do a brown sugar, butter & ginger glaze, by just draining the carrots and adding the three additions back with the carrots into the pot, to heat for 5 minutes or so before serving. Years went by, and I started to gently sauté the ginger before adding, and then I bought the Silver Palate cookbook. Well. They added in caraway, a whole new flavour to elevate my simple glazed carrots. While their recipe uses ground ginger & golden sugar, I still like to use minced ginger & brown sugar. But it’s all about innovating, so with a bit of this and a bit of that, here’s the Silver Palate enhanced version of my simple Gingered Carrot recipe. Enjoy, while you remember that it really is okay to eat the same thing most days, as long as it’s good for you! Continue reading

Persian Potato Cakes ~ Kookoo

IMG_8422We went out in the boat this week for a late afternoon trip over towards the Secretary Islands.   So often the channel between Thetis and the small island group is very choppy, but that day it was beautifully calm. We were able to look at all the amazing rock formations, centuries old yew trees, and an abundance of seals.

It’s rare not to see a seal when you’re in these waters, but there were more than usual. Whether they were resting on rocks or in the water, they were all around. I suppose the fishing was good!

It was a lovely prelude to our fish & chips at Vesuvius, trying to squeak another wonderful dinner at the Seaside Restaurant before the days are too short.

The trip back was full of a late summer’s evening light, resting on the sandstone cliffs of Tent & Penelakut Islands. We could all feel the bit of chill in the air, reminding us that autumn isn’t far off.IMG_8314

September is our month for getting all those outside jobs done before fall really does set in, easy suppers, served late, and quickly getting back outside to do evening chores before dark. Meals have to be quick on these days, so I’m always looking for new ways to make that happen. Working on the middle-eastern menu for the island’s recent Summer Soiree, I found the lovely Persian vegetable & egg cakes called Kookoo. They are so versatile, and easy to make. We did a potato version as one of the appetizers. Our Gypsy-King musician, Barra, was so excited to have these treats from his heritage. His enthusiasm made them a hot item!

Somehow I’ve gone from centuries old yew trees and seals to middle-eastern traditional cuisine, but it all fits; a dish that is new to us, but traditional to others. It’s all about where we come from, and where we are today. Continue reading