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Hail Caesar, I mean “Hail Kale!”  The vegetable of course.  Sorry about that.  I have been watching a lot of tv series on DVD lately, since we are sans an actual TV, and Rome season 1 and 2 have been the most recent.  We would normally be watching episodes of Lost or How I Met Your Mother, but alas, the video rental shops feature slim pickings when it comes to tv series.  It has broadened our horizons, though.  Now I know more about Henry VIII from The Tudors (we checked out the story line on wiki and it was pretty bang on) and I know more about how people in California live (Californication season 1).  Turns out that basically people were just doing a lot of hanky-panky.  Back in the day in Britain and recently in California.  Who knew?

Back from the gutter people, let’s get down to business.  Salad.  Kale.  Who even knows what kale is?  It is a leafy green veg similar to swiss chard.  It’s quite firm and on the bitter side.  It is nice as a side, steamed and slathered with butter and seasoned with salt and pepper.  A very nice change from spinach.  Sorry to all you spinach lovers, but I just don’t like how it gets so soggy when steamed.  Kale retains its bite and it a stunning green.

I guess I first encountered kale during my second year of university.  The first 2 years I lived in a house that rotated people through five rooms.  I was a regular and so was the owner’s daughter.  It was good times, good time I say!  In those days I relied on a stirfry mix that came in a red box and included the sauce.  How many times did I make that?  Now I know how to make a stirfry out of fresh vegetables, but how fun to look back on my so-called “home-cooking.”  At least I wasn’t spending my dinners at MicDics!

Anyways, in the second year I had a roommate that was Dutch.  One day he mixed kale with mashed potatoes and called it delicious.  It was a Dutch delicacy.  Little did I know that it would be the favorite dish of my future husband or that I would be living the Boerenkool life on a daily basis in the actual country, but I digress.  I soon found myself checking out this mystery vegetable.  It was touted as a superfood.  Extremely healthy for the body.  How could an athlete pass that up?

Years later, an organic store in Calgary popped up and offered a cookbook – Planet Organic Market.  This is a cookbook basically every Canadian speed skater owns because we are all about the nutritious and delicious.   Gotta fuel the body, you know?  It just so happens that this salad is a fave of these skater cookbook owners.  This is a virtual superfood feast!  Not only that, it has wonderful colour, crunch and an unexpected taste.  This salad is dinner party worthy.  Think slaw with a kale base.  It especially looks great on a plate in the fall with its deep saturated hues.  Try it this autumn, you will “fall” for it just like the rest of us!  Oh that was bad…

Hail to the Kale Salad – adapted from Planet Organic Market Cookbook

1 bunch (about 5-6 leaves) chopped

3 cups grated carrots

Half a head of purple cabbage, thinly sliced

0.5 cup each of pumpkin and sunflower seeds

Vinaigrette:

0.5 cup oil (I use veg oil, but hemp or flax oil bumps up the nutrition)

0.33 cup soya sauce (the recipe calls for Braggs Liquid Aminos which I also use, but soya sauce is just more readily available)

5 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tp dried oregano

Start but washing the kale.  You need to de-stem these babies and here is the easiest way.  Grab the end of the stem with one hand.  With the other hand make a claw and run your fingers on either side of the stem.  This will pull all of the leaf off of the stem.  Discard the stems and chop the leaves.  Shred the carrots on a box grater and thinly slice the cabbage.  Throw it all into a huge bowl. 

Mix up the vinaigrette in a trusty jar and pour over the kale mixture immediately.  Stir and coat everything. 

Now here is where I digress from the original recipe.  They want you to roast the seeds in a pan and then coat them in tamari.  You can definitely do this step, but turns out the coating just comes off once the seeds hit the vinaigrette in the salad.  I usually just buy salted seeds and roast them and then toss them in with the salad.  The roasting brings out their flavour and their saltedness is basically what you are going for with the tamari. 

Toss it all together and let sit for 30 minutes (they say 2 hours! Who can wait that long?).  This gives the leaves a chance to soak up all that good vinaigrette.  You can leave it for longer or if you just can’t wait, like you just got home from training and are about to parish from hunger, then dig immediately! 

 This is a massive salad (serves 4-6 hungry athletes) so you can half it or it keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days.

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We are lucky enough to have Mr. Foodlova’s Dad staying with us for a few nights.  I already told you how he is totally a gourmet whiz in the kitchen.  That means that it was time to step it up a little for a fine dinner.  I have been eyeing a recipe for pissaladiere on Sasasunakku ever since she posted it.  It is a “pizza” from southwest France.  Salty anchovies and carmalized onions on a crispy base.  It was the perfect time to try it out.  I paired it with an Emmental and Gruyère cheese fondue with steamed broccoli and green beans for dipping.  If you are into some fare on the lighter side, that pairs beautifully with some wine and friends, then this dinner combo is for you! (Wow, I just wrote an if-then statement!  That hasn’t happened since my lab writing school days…)  

A Fine Dinner

Look here for the pissaladiere recipe.

Look here for a cheese fondue recipe or search for one that sounds great to you.  The alcohol-free version with a milk base that we tried turned out very stringy, but still tasted great.  I recommend using a wine or hard apple cider base to keep the cheese smooth.  If you happen to be expecting like me, your fondue just might be stringy….

Chop the broccoli, leaving a long stem and leaving each piece thick enough so they will not break while dipping.  Pop off the ends of the green beans and leave them whole.  Steam the whole lot together just until they are bright green and still have a bit of a crunch. 

Pop a bottle of your favorite wine and sit down around a table with a person you love, family or good friends and enjoy something different for dinner.

This here is my favourite warm sandwich.  It has bold flavours that complement each other well.  It has sauerkraut.  Enough said.  I have a thing for sauerkraut.  And Pickles.  And things fermented in vinegar solutions.  What more can I say?   I’m really not going to convert any of you sauerkraut haters out there, so I won’t even try.  All I can say is that I sometimes warm it up in a frying pan with some sliced onion and salt and pepper and call it a side dish.  That is my love for this condiment/veg/whatever it is considered.

My first encounter with a Reuban sandwich was in my Mom’s kitchen.  I call it my Mom’s kitchen because she cooks, except when Dad makes breakfast or tomatoes and macaroni, but Mom still cleans up, so it’s definitely hers.  You won’t believe what she used to do when we were kids.  No it was not some weird dance or something, it is something way more unbelievable.  She would wake up before work and cook supper for the evening and then go for a walk and then go to work for the rest of the day.  I’m talking, waking up at like 5am to cook supper before any of us would even be awake.  Then she would have enough time to get her exercise in.  Is my child expecting this from me too?!  Mom you set a ridiculous precedent – just saying.

Anyways, on days when she slept in (like never) or couldn’t think of something to make…(Ok, let me go on a side bar here – remember when your Mom or Dad asked what you wanted for dinner and all you ever said was “I don’t know”?  I didn’t realize then that when someone asks you that it means that they can’t think of anything and are desperate for some input.  So, now you know, so give some input people!  Those of us in charge of dinner are desperately seeking some sort of creative suggestion. Help!)

Ok back from the side bar, when Mom just wanted to throw something together at the actual dinner time slot (and Dad put in a suggestion), we would have Reubans.  This was not a disappointment in our house.  We were pumped! (Ok, maybe not little J.)  We would start an assembly line.  Rye toast, corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, rye toast, microwave, sandwich bliss.

Then, at a restaurant one day, I saw it on the menu!  I was shocked since I thought that it was a Simpson household invention.  To my delight, other people had found out about it and were serving it in restaurants!  Now, I have wizened to the fact that the Reuban was not invented by my parents, but rather was a famous sandwich from the days of yore.  No matter, it still tastes awesome and now I can even get someone else to make it for me.

Reuban Sandwich

 

You can seriously pile on the ingredients here to resemble a Montreal smoked meat sandwich or just keep it simple so you can eat more than one, wink, wink.  I usually go heavy on the sauerkraut, but highlight any of the ingredients that make your skirt fly up.  Lots of Reuban “recipes” call for some sort of sauce.  I say, omit the sauce and let your mouth focus on the already bold flavours.  There’s no need to slather on the sauce. 

2 slices of good quality rye bread

3 deli sliced corned beef (can substitute with pastrami or montreal smoked meat)

1/3 cup sauerkraut (I like Bicks)

1 or more deli slices of swiss cheese

Ok, start with putting the bread in the toaster.  While the bread is toasting, pour the sauerkraut into a sieve and drain it a little.  Really wet sauerkraut makes for a soggy sandwich.  When the toast pops, butter it or not.  I butter for the record.  Now start the piling.  Meat, sauerkraut, swiss and then the top toast.  Place on a plate and microwave for 1 minute on high.  Since I am sans microwave, I put it in the oven and the cheese melted just fine.  Slice in half and sink your teeth into the strong flavours and let the sauerkraut juice run down your chin!

My new city of inhabitance is somewhat of an anomaly.  I say this because it is what one would call a “university town”.  Not that this city started that way.  Oh no!  It has a centrum built starting in the 14th century with old brick building, churches, market squares and narrow, narrow roads.  The city is renowned as the hometown of the first King of the Netherlands – Willem van Oranje (now you know why they all wear orange!).  It is the burial site of all Dutch royals and is famous for the Delft Blue china.  More recently, a Technical University has sprung up and has risen to being very well-known in the engineering world.  This is precisely why I am writing you this post from a 1 bedroom university apartment in Delft, Netherlands.  Mr. Foodlova is partaking in his PhD in engineering at the TU Delft.  Now, I can finally get to my point – which is that, because Delft is a university town it is filled with internationals!

Of course, we fit into that group.  Our apartment block houses said international students from Brazil to India.  Arne’s office contains not one student from the same origin.  All of these mostly male students come from all over to study at this particular university.  Now, this being a food blog, one might ask, what do international students eat?  What is the shared fancy of all international students?  Well, it is as easy as asking what the favorite food of University of Calgary students is – PIZZA of course!

Pizza, it is the most international food I have ever seen.  I have seen all different faces being filled with the cheese topped dough.  I have seen students carrying pizza home by bike, walked home in arms stacked high and eaten on the street right outside of the shop.  When recently having some new friends over for dinner, what did we serve those who hailed from Hungary?  You guessed it – homemade pizza.  You just cannot go wrong.

On the same thread, every blog out there has a pizza crust recipe and pizza idea.  It seems a bit unnecessary to add another, but I will.  The dough is very much like any dough recipe I’ve seen, but you can’t beat a fresh pizza dough – so make it.  The toppings are a little different from what I’ve seen, though.  The usual is fresh mozzarella, basil, artichoke, prosciutto, etc.  This one is a little less gourmet and a little more yum!  It is spawned from an illusive tex-mex frozen pizza I ate when I was about 12 and my fave pizza from Panago.  It is also a shout out to all of you pizza makers out there (or soon to be) – go nuts with the toppings!  Try something totally different.  BE international! 

Taco Pizza – Dough recipe from Mrs. Morrison

Dough (makes 2 crusts or 1 thick crust):

1 cup warm tap water

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp or package of instant yeast

1 tsp salt

0.25 cup olive of veg oil

2.5 – 3 cups all-purpose flour (also works with 1/2 white and 1/2 wholewheat flour)

Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl.  Dissolve the sugar in and then add the yeast.  I usually do a quick whisk to get all the yeast into the water instead of it floating on the top.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

Turn the oven on at its’ lowest setting.

When you look at it after 10 minutes it will be all frothy and smell strongly.  Sprinkle in the salt and pour in the oil.  Whisk just to combine.  Start with adding 1.5 cups of flour (use the wholewheat flour first if you are going that route).  Using a wooden spoon, stir until the mixture is wet and sticky.  Add 1 more cup of flour.  Stir until mostly combined.  This is where you can tell if it need more flour.  If it is still very sticky add about 0.25 cups more at a time.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until the flour is combined.  Plop the dough back into the bowl and let rise for at least 20 minutes.  Put the bowl into a warmed oven  make sure it is turned off and not hot enough to make a crust on the dough.  When the dough is about double the size – it is ready!

You could fold it over and make a calzone

Toppings (for 2 pizzas):

300g browned ground beef or 2 boiled and shredded chicken breasts

1 packet taco seasoning or your own mexican seasoning mix

1 can garlic tomato paste

1 red and green bell pepper

medium or hot salsa

1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Half a head of iceberg lettuce

a handful of cilantro (optional)

250 ml sour cream (or the smallest available pack)

While the dough is rising, get the toppings ready.  You can cook the meat before hand since it takes longer and only chop the veg at this point.  Totally up to you.  I usually just brown some ground beef, but this time (because of my super smeller) I boiled and shredded some chicken.  Once the meat is done cooking, sprinkle on some of that mexican taco spice and a little water to make sure it coats all the meat.  I use the packet of taco spice because that is the white trash in me!

shred boiled chicken with two forks and then spice

Chop the peppers into small cubes, shred the cheese, thinly slice the lettuce, chop the cilantro, and set aside. 

When the dough is ready, separate into 2 halves.  Take one half and spread with your fingers into a large circle or square.  Be patient and nice with the dough!  I always use parchment paper between the pan and the dough to avoid sticking.  Smear half of the can of tomato paste evenly over the dough and leave an edge for the crust.  Sprinkle on half the meat, half the peppers, half the cheese and with a spoon, dot the whole thing with some salsa.  Put in a preheated 425 degree farenheit oven and bake for about 20 minutes.  The way I check and see if it’s done is if the cheese is melted and bubbling and I also tap the crust to see if it feels hollow and not doughy anymore. 

When you take it out, sprinkle on half of the lettuce and cilantro and then drizzle some sour cream over the whole lot.  I put some sour cream in a small sandwich bag and then snip the corner off and use it like a piping bag to drizzle the sour cream.  You can just used  a spoon and dollop it or whatever if you want.

Repeat for a second pizza and then stuff your face!

Foodlova

I'm an ex-Olympian and I have a serious passion for food. I guess you could call me a food lova! What about you?

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