Soup season has arrived! (Okay, to be fair, it is always soup season at our house). Each time we have a bag of parings, ends, and leftover veg bits, we make stock. And the same goes with something like the Thanksgiving turkey. We don’t eat much meat these days, but when we do, we are conscious of using every bit.
This starts with putting some sliced onion (skin and all) or other vegetable parings underneath the bird as it cooks. These will add flavour to the stock. We like to use a large roaster with a lid, and cook the stock right in the same pan, or otherwise put some parchment underneath so every bit can be transferred to the stock pot. We always keep stock on hand, and we love to make traditional soups, like Traditional Turkey, or new ones, like Turkey Chickpea Curry Rice soup.
What’s your favourite soup?
Fresh, ripe tomatoes, warm off the vine. You might think you need a plot of land, or at least a large-ish garden to make this happen, but we have been happily surprised with the productivity of our condo garden this first year. We have planters on our balcony, as well as a metre-square plot in the building’s communal roof garden (a yard, if you’re using imperial measures).
We’ve been incorporating fresh tomatoes into our menu for a couple of weeks now, and have even canned a couple of jars. Small-batch canning is easy enough; you really just need a big pot of boiling water that is deeper than your canning jars. I’ll blog about that another time.
Today’s recipe is for a favourite breakfast of ours. Simply chop a big bunch of tomatoes. Add herbs if you like; we had a bit of basil and also a smoky chipotle in adobo which we chopped and put in the pot. Get the tomatoes really simmering. Once you’ve got them bubbling away, crack in a few eggs, one or two per person. I find the easiest way to do this is to crack them one at a time into a small bowl or cup, and gently pour into the tomatoes. Cover with a lid, turn the heat to medium-low, and check every couple of minutes until they are poached as you like. (Probably 5 or 6 minutes). Typically this is just enough time to make some toast.
This is an easy lunch or brunch dish, or a hearty, healthy, low-fat breakfast.
We are very conscious of food waste in our house, so when we cook, we save vegetable scraps to make broth. We also roasted a chicken earlier in the week, and the carcass went into the stock pot to make chicken soup. Since I hadn’t made bread yet this week, I put together this batch of savoury whole-wheat cheddar and sage biscuits to go with the soup, and we ate the leftovers the next day for breakfast.
It’s an easy recipe, adapted from tea biscuits from a recipe book of my mom’s. You could probably make vegan substitutions such as chilled coconut oil for the butter, or soy cheese – my go-to expert is my friend Louise Spiteri at Vegan Footprints – but I used what I had on hand:
Preheat oven to 400F
Put 1 c (250ml) whole wheat flour, sifted with 1 T (15ml) baking powder in a large bowl. To this, cut in chilled butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. I used to use vegetable shortening but I would rather have an ingredient that is less-processed. When using butter, I generally use the salted kind but there is no additional salt in the recipe, except what occurs in the cheese.
Gently stir in 2T (30ml) chopped fresh sage or 2t (20ml) dried sage, plus 1/2c (125ml) grated sharp cheddar (or other hard, flavourful cheese as you like). Vegan cheese can be substituted.
Add 1/2c (125ml) almond milk and stir just until mixed. Drop onto cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
Makes 8 biscuits.
Our recipe used Canadian-milled flour from Rogers Foods, sage from our garden, and aged Ontario cheddar, purchased at St. Lawrence Market.
I like a toast soldier as much as the next guy, but this is a great way to get more flavour and vitamins if you favour an eggy breakfast.
I started with a sliced onion, half a bell pepper, diced, and a chopped hot pepper in a nonstick pan. A regular pan will work also; just add water in small increments to keep it all from sticking. After it got going a bit on medium heat, I added about a cup of chopped kale.
Once all this was softening, I chopped and added two ripe tomatoes – one red, one yellow. Once it came to full heat, I cracked in four eggs, reduced the heat to medium-low, covered the pan and cooked undisturbed, save occasional checks until the eggs were done.
Quick, easy, and tasty. To veganize I might substitute cooked kidney beans or tempeh for the eggs.
If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know I am a great promoter of buying local. However it’s often darkest before the dawn, and at this time of year, when fresh local produce is just barely trickling into our stores, I have been known to give in to a moment of weakness. I had just such a moment yesterday, when I bought kale that had been trucked in, all the way from Texas. This entire smoothie is as un-local as it gets, with the kale, avocado, almond milk, frozen peach-mango-strawberry mix, cinnamon, and turmeric.
Despite all this, and the perhaps unappealing colour, it’s delicious. In fact, it has already transformed my day. I could have been grumpy at the freezing temperature, but instead, I’m starting with a spring in my step and a smile in my tummy.
Today’s lunch is on a limited time budget. Lots of client work to do, problems and puzzles to solve! So how to make good food fast? You can never go wrong with a salad.
It helps to have one or two serving batches of frozen cooked legumes on hand, as they are much healthier than canned. But even those are an excellent choice in a pinch.
I layered some prewashed spinach on plates, and then cucumber, celery, mushrooms, and the chickpeas. For the dressing, 1/3 c or 80ml cider vinegar, 1 T/15ml olive oil, and the same amount of Dijon – whisk together for 2 servings.
You could also make one of those handy mason jar salads this way, and take it to the office.
That’s it! Now back to work.
Spring is coming, we believe, although the weather is being uncooperative. Here’s a grest dish for the last of those winter veg.
This is a lovely vegetable gratin. The directions are unspecific…yet easy.
Heat the oven to 400F.
Spray a casserole dish with olive oil spray.
Slice some vegetables thinly, by hand or with a mandolin or food processor. Layer them in the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle with herbs, pepper, nutmeg, or other tasty bits. Grate or crumble on a scanty bit of cheese (this is not a cheap discount pizza)!
Repeat for 4 to 6 layers. At learn every second layer should be a root veg, to give body to the thing. Ours was purely potato, carrot, beet and parsnip. But kale, tomato, onion or beans are great additions as long as there are sliced veg on the top and bottom.
Press the top layer down. Then, grate on some real grated Parmesan – it adds a richness that no other cheese can match.
Bake for 45 minutes with a cover, the remove the cover and give it 15 minutes more. Let it cool 5 minutes before serving. Also great served cold the next day.
It starts with some simple sliced onions – in this case a yellow onion, but any colour or type will do. For two, we used half a very large onion.
These are browned in a pan with some olive oil (Grammy would have used butter, but it’s much more inclined to burn).
Don’t be afraid to use a regular (not non-stick) pan – it will give much better colour to the dish. Cook the onion until it is a little more caramelized than these, then add the pork chops. We bought the onion and the chops from our local butcher, Mark, at St. Jamestown Steak and Chops. We don’t eat much meat any more, so when we do, we like to make sure it’s good quality.
Raise the heat a bit, and brown the chops on both sides. When they have some good colour, and the bits in the bottom of your pan are turning a nice brown, deglaze with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of wine or vermouth. We used vermouth. Grammy would have used neither. She also would have used a lot more salt, but we love the natural taste of the meat and the onions.
Next, add about 1/2 a cup of water, cover and simmer about 20 minutes over low heat – your chops will relax and become very tender.
Stir in a tablespoon or so of cornstarch that you’ve dissolved in a bit of water. Raise the heat to medium and stir, just until the juices become clear again and a delicious, oniony gravy has formed.
We served ours with mashed sweet potatoes and a simple salad of local hothouse mixed greens and cucumber, dressed with equal parts walnut oil, Kozlik’s Old Smokey, and homemade white wine vinegar.
Call them what you will, one of the best ways to stretch your grocery bill is to incorporate leftovers or things that need using up into your lunch.
We’re off to run a couple of errands before the Super Bowl and we were smart enough not to eat the two extra lamb chops in the grocery store package (on sale last week and held in the freezer). We broiled the lot last night and sliced the leftovers for lunch. They’re served on a bed of local baby greens and cukes, both hothouse-grown.
For the dressing:
1/4 c / 60ml homemade wine vinegar
2T / 30ml olive oil
1oz / 30g crumbled feta
1T / 15ml Dijon
1T / 15ml dried oregano or basil
6 dry-cured olives, chopped
Sprinkle on top:
1T / 15ml chopped sundried tomatoes
Weekends are a great time for a relaxing breakfast – but this easy oatmeal recipe takes so little effort, we often have it on weekdays, too.
Put in a microwaveable glass or ceramic casserole:
1 diced Apple
3/4 c large flake or steel cut oats
A sprinkle of cinnamon
1/2 c chopped nuts or seeds (we used hazelnuts and black sesame seeds for this version)
1-1/2 c water
No need to stir!
Microwave uncovered on high for 3 minutes, and on 50% power for 5 more minutes.
Stir and serve with maple syrup and some milk or nut milk.