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.
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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

Prosciutto Laced Potato & Rutabaga Pie

IMG_6869A few nights ago, the sisters and I decided to have a mini potluck and cards night.  Nothing fancy, just a bit of good food and a game of cards (and maybe a bottle or two of wine). It was so fun to go to the little house in the woods, for such a cozy evening.

I knew that one would be doing chicken, and the other a salad, so decided to go with potatoes.  And some rutabaga.  And some prosciutto.  And butter.  So good, and it hit all the comfort food marks.  I made it earlier in the day, and just put it in the oven to finish just in time to leave.

This dish is very traditional, except for the prosciutto, but why be a traditionalist when you can try something new? After all, they’re just vegetables… Continue reading

Glazed Parsnips

IMG_6204This time of year, it’s all about root vegetables.  The more of them we eat, the better we’ll be able to handle spring when it comes.  Which is not today. winter day 2014 02 24

This is how Mom used to cook parsnips, glazed in a cast iron frying pan.  It is still my favourite way to eat them.

Parsnips have a flavour that is so different from any other root veg, sweet and earthy.  They’re an old historic vegetable, used as both a sweetener and sustenance.  They add depth to mixed vegetable dishes, such as roasted roots or a good bordelaise mirepoix.

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