Foodie Friday

It’s that time again! Friday already? Man how time flies!
Bread pudding: not just for dessert anymore. Today’s recipe is one of my go-to when I don’t really feel like cooking. It’s nice because once you have the basic recipe down you can pretty much alter the ingredients to whatever you please and it’s a different dish each time! The best part about this recipe is that it’s fast.

Savory Bread Pudding

Ingredients
Serves 6-8

2 medium tomatoes, diced
6 leaves fresh basil, sliced thinly [chiffonade]
2 green onions, sliced thinly
12 slices (3/4 of a package) bacon, cooked crisp & chopped
12 slices French bread
6 whole eggs
2 cups 1% milk
salt & pepper, to taste

The how-to

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C), grease an oven proof dish that’s 14 inches x 8 inches and 2 inches deep.
2. Whisk eggs together in a small bowl, add milk, salt & pepper.
3. In a large bowl combine all the other ingredients.
4. Add the egg & milk mixture to the rest of it, stir to coat.
5. Place in greased dish, smooth the mixture so it’s evenly distributed.
6. Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the top starts to brown.

Options

The great thing is you can pretty much substitute anything you fancy in place of the tomatoes, basil and bacon. It could be ham and cheese; zucchini & tomato; mushrooms & ricotta… the possibilities are endless. All you need to remember is the bread, eggs and milk are the ingredients that make the bread pudding – your imagination can run wild on the rest of the flavours!

Enjoy!

Foodie Friday

In relation to my cookbook of the week I thought I’d grace Foodie Friday with another recipe from the coup. The previous being the rosemary yam wedges featured a few weeks ago.

The beet is a great vegetable, apart from being multi-seasonal it’s filled with nutrients that provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. Besides all the nutritional mumbo jumbo it’s cheap and flavourful. They come in many different colours: red, golden, orange and candy cane. If you like to have raw beets gracing your salad plate the candy cane beet with it’s unique stripes makes any dish beautiful.
This recipe is a lovely little salad that is a great way to welcome spring while honouring winter. It’s an easy-peasy, healthy, flavourful salad that makes a nice side to just about anything you decide to grill up.

*My suggestion for working with beets is to cover your work surface with plastic wrap, or even the bag you brought the beets home in. Working over plastic will help with clean up as all the beet juice will stay on the plastic and prevent your surface from staining. Although when you’re cutting the beets, be careful for two reasons; one: you’ll cut through the bag if you’re to forceful and defeating the purpose of it and two: they’re round therefore they roll which can be really dangerous when working with a sharp knife. So take care and you and your surfaces should come out on top.

Beet & Feta Salad

Ingredients
serves 4-5

6 medium beets, peeled and chopped in bite size pieces
2 lemons – zested and juiced
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
2 cups sheep or cow feta, crumbled
1/4 toasted almonds (optional)

The how-to

1. Steam the beets until they’re soft.
2. Place in a bowl, mix in lemon juice, zest and dill.
3. Top with the feta cheese just as you serve it on the plates, otherwise the cheese really does turn a bright shade of pink.

Enjoy!

Cookbook of the week

In honour of my trip to Calgary tomorrow I thought that I would showcase my other favourite vegetarian cookbook. (I’m not a vegetarian, I promise!)

This cookbook hails from a little eatery on the hip 17th ave in Calgary call the Coup. It’s a kitchy little place that I discovered when my best friend, who is a vegetarian, requested to go there for her birthday one year. The menu is lovingly crafted and healthy to boot! The flavours are dynamic and one of a kind. We ordered their famous “Beatnuts” to start. I noticed upon entering the restaurant that they had a cookbook available. I had one bite of that starter and said if this recipe is in the book – I’m buying it for both of us. Well, thankfully, it is. I’ve made this recipe countless times, it is one of my absolute favorites. I think one of the reasons I like it so much was because the restaurant serves it on a bit of goat cheese and with cucumber slices instead of crackers or chips. I honestly had never thought of serving a dip with cucumber slices instead of the bread product and it is ingenious!

The book’s name: meet the coup cooks is a play on the name of their lounge, Meet and the restaurant, The Coup.

The great feature of this cookbook is that not only the fantastic food but the straight forward, no nonsense way that the recipes are presented. It has a clean layout and everything is very easy to follow. I like that in a cookbook. I’m very much the kind of person that doesn’t read a recipe all the way through and when they’re complicated I have a tendency to miss things. With this book, you really don’t. The “method of madness”, as they put it, is simple sentences instead of long paragraphs making it easy to just skim the recipe, see what you need and dive right in. Each of the recipes feature a little symbol for ease of use as well. The little V in a circle means the dish is vegan – meaning it contains no animal products of any kind. The “df” means dairy free; the “gf” gluten free and the “nf” nut free. It’s a handy guide for those looking for a specific dish. While I don’t subscribe to the whole raw vegan diet there are even a few recipes, like beatnuts, in here that meet the specifications of a raw vegan diet.

I think the only down side to this book is that the quantities the recipe states it makes can be a little off. The beatnut recipe, for example, says that it makes 6-8. Being a small family I always cut the recipe in half and that half recipe still serves 4-6 people. I, once, quadrupled the recipe to serve 70 people and ended up with enough to serve almost 200. We had beatnuts for a month! Luckily it’s fabulous on pretty much everything and therefore wasn’t too much of a chore to eat. (We still had to throw some out as it did mold and go bad.) Another example is the apple, parsnip and caraway soup, while flavourful it seems to be a bit off. I made the full recipe, which serves 6-7 people knowing that I’d have left overs to freeze. Well it ended up with enough to serve 10-12 people. Like I said, the yield on the recipes can be a little off.

I really like the variety of the recipes in the book. They’re all a little bit different than other vegetarian cookbooks. Which, like I said previously, can get quite tired and repetitive. A unique, at least so far in my travels, thing to this book is that the cream soups call for coconut milk instead of cream or milk. This adds a depth of flavour that I hadn’t experienced before.

There’s a little bit for everyone in this book. The section of appetizers make a great spread for a get together and the mains make great meals for everyday living.  There’s even a great section on drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

My two favourite, go-to recipes from this book are definitely the beatnuts pate and the cashew yam burgers. The cashew yam burgers are amazing. Their flavour is so complex and yet so simple. When it’s topped with the beatnuts it’s even better. A word of warning about the book: they like their foods to be quite spicy. So if you’re not a fan of spicy add pepper according to your tastes instead of what the recipe calls for.

If you’re ever in Calgary I suggest visiting the restaurant for great drinks and a fantastic meal and to pick up this book.

meet the coup cooks is only available through the restaurant at this time.

Foodie Friday

Today’s foodie Friday recipe was actually cooked up on Thursday for dinner. I adapted this recipe from here. I’m personally a big fan of onions and garlic in everything and I found the initial recipe to be a bit wet, not holding together very well. I’m also not a huge fan of mustard so I changed things up a bit.

Sorry for no photo of the food this time round folks, we gobbled it up before photos could be taken! It was hungry night. And these babies sure are filling!

Apple Maple Turkey Burgers

Serves 4

Ingredients

8 strips of bacon
3 tbsp maple syrup

1 lb ground turkey
½ cup chunky applesauce (or homemade apple butter)
3 tbsp maple syrup
½ med yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp Italian or poultry seasoning (sage, basil, oregano, parsley, garlic)
1 egg
1 cup oats
salt
black pepper

2 roma tomatoes
1 Avocado, sliced
Alfalfa sprouts
4 multi-seed buns
2 tsp salad cream

The How-To

1. Pre-heat oven to 400˚F.
2. On a parchment lined baking sheet lay out the strips of bacon. Drizzle 1.5 tbsp of maple syrup over the strips – make sure to drizzle the maple syrup lengthwise over the strips instead of back and forth; you want the syrup to stay on the strips.
3. Bake the strips for 10 minutes.
4. Flip the strips over and drizzle the remaining 1.5 tbsp over them. Bake for another 5 minutes.

5. Combine the second section of ingredients together in a bowl. Mix well.
6. Form into patties.
7. Fry in a pan (or on the grill) for 5 minutes per side. Cover for 2 minutes. Make sure the burgers are fully cooked by cutting into the middle of one.

8. Butter the buns, cover one side in salad cream (mayo).
9. Garnish the buns with the avocados, tomatoes and sprouts. Top with the burger and the bacon.

Enjoy!

Cookbook of the Week

This week’s cookbook is probably my absolute favorite of the moment. Although it’s one of the more complex books in my library, and not really meant for college students, I still wholeheartedly recommend it.

My Mom and I, to change pace, decided to spend Christmas at the Post Hotel in Lake Louise. The Post Hotel is part of the Relais & Chateaux properties – world class luxury hotels. Our stay was absolutely amazing and breath taking. But the highlight of the trip, of course, was the outstanding food. Christmas day dinner I ordered their miso and sake marinated black cod with an orange tamarind sauce. This was by far the best meal I’d had all year – and that’s saying something. Back in our room there were this set of two books: 85 Inspirational Chefs and Chefs at Home. I took a look at the two of them and to my delight the black cod recipe was included in the 85 Inspirational Chefs book. The Chefs at Home book was filled with pretty amazing recipes too, I opted to pass on that one due to the fact that most of the recipes I had in other books somewhere and I was familiar with most of their executions. I knew that the front desk was selling the two books independently as well as in a set and I bought the 85 Inspirational Chefs for myself the day we left.

This cookbook is filled with recipes from different Relais & Chateau properties from around North America, the Carriebean and Mexico. It is full of phenomenal recipes. From a prawn roulade, to lamb ratatouille, to the miso and sake marinated black cod. Each property included in the book wrote 2 or more recipes each. Most include an appetizer, a main and a dessert. I’ve only experimented with a fraction of the recipes in the book and none have disappointed.

All that praise being said this book is not for the faint of heart. Each recipe is extremely involved. Many of these recipes aren’t for everyday use unless you like spending hours in the kitchen each night. Most of them are multi-step processes and include some complicated (for the average person) cooking terms and processes.

So why am I choosing to include this book as a cookbook of the week if it is so complicated? Because the recipes are worth slaving over. If you’re like me and love planning out complex dinner parties to impress and wow your friends then you won’t blink when using this book. If you love going out for 5 star meals and have always wanted to attempt to make them yourselves then this book is for you too. If you’re adventurous and love trying new things… All you really need to decode this book is a good food dictionary. Granted there are a few recipes in this book that involve tools that I don’t have [not for lack of dreaming – I’m looking at you sous-vide!], complicated processes that even I don’t want to go through the effort of trying and ingredients that are can be very difficult to find. Sadly, there will always be some recipes in this book that will go untested.

Not to fear! A lot of the recipes are very simple and straight forward. There’s a nice balance of complex and simple. The miso and sake marinated black cod that I raved about earlier is actually one of the more simple recipes – if you omit the foam that the recipe includes. (The recipe doesn’t have the intoxicating orange tamarind sauce that I experienced at Christmas though, it’s an older recipe but the basics of the fish are there.) The black cod recipes mainly involves marinating the fish for 4+ hours then placing it on a baking sheet and letting it bake for 15 minutes. It’s super straight forward and filled with flavour. I cook this dish probably one a month right now. I’ve experimented with all kinds of fish as black cod is not readily available in the Prairies. I’ve fallen in love with marinating rock fish, but any hearty, strong fish like cod or halibut would hold up against the flavours.

If you live in a big city, or a town filled with ethnic grocers, most of the ingredients are fairly easy to find. Granted you usually have to go grocery shop hopping from ethnic market to ethnic market but, again, the recipes in the end are very worth it. The flavours that develop from slaving over a hot stove and oven for hours are complex and well worth it.

I kid you not, this book is amazing if you’re looking to expand your cooking horizons and attempt some more out-there recipes. If you’re still shy of trying complicated recipes this book will make an excellent coffee table book until you’re ready to give them a go.

85 Inspirational Chefs and Chefs at Home are available at Amazon.com and through any of the Relais & Chateau properties.