Let's root, root, root for the team!

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. 

Now begin…

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.

Something from nothing…

The fridge is starting to look a little bare as we get ready for a cleanup and refresh. Whether it’s because you’re going away, there’s a change of season, or your cupboards and fridge just need a good sorting, it helps cut down on waste if you take one day a week to cook just with what’s on hand. 

Here’s what I saw that needed to be used:

3 homemade sourdough buckwheat buns – I keep these in the freezer because with whole grains and no preservatives they spoil easily.

Sundried tomatoes in oil – bought for a recipe; I prefer the dry-packed, as they keep longer without electricity.

Green olives – good for martinis but alas, we are out of gin.

A can of tuna in water.

Kozlik’s Tripke Crunch mustard, which I love but which has, of late, been ignored in favour of Old Smokey.

Some cheese bought “off list” on last week’s market excursion and needing to be finished off.

I chopped the tomatoes and olives, mixed with the tuna and mustard, and spread this on the buns (sliced in half). Next I grated the cheese and put it on top, popping under the broiler just until melt-y.

That’s it! Another weekend use-it-up assignment complete:

  

And we are still eating it…

  
We have really been focusing on local veg this week. One thing I love to make is a big Asian-inspired slaw. Although it began with a recipe, in truth, it is this simple: 

Grate a bunch of winter veg – think celeriac, carrot, beet, turnip, cabbage. A food processor makes it  easy to do a big bowlful. Toss this with a tablespoon or so of sesame oil, some vinegar (change it up!), grated ginger and garlic – as much as you like, a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup, and some sesame seeds, any colour. Beets make an especially eye-catching mix. 

On day one we are it with poached fish. Yesterday we tucked some in our sandwich. And last night, we buried some Whitehouse Meats smoked wild boar sausage in it and baked it for half an hour at 350, covered. It was delicious with mashed blue potatoes.

Any meal, anytime…how can I use THIS up?

  
For us, today is meal-planning and market day. We mostly plan dinners, eating leftovers the following day, or a salad or soup. At the end of the week we take stock: what didn’t we make? What made too much and needs to be used up?

Last week we tried a recipe for bacon and leek risotto. Even reducing the arborio by half, it was more than a meal’s worth for the two of us. So we tucked away the leftovers in the fridge with all good intentions. Here we are, Saturday, and that little package of risotto either must be used or thrown away. Sure, it could form the basis of a creamy rice soup. Or it could get buried in some casserole, or formed into patties and browned until slightly crisp on the outside, given that it has absorbed the liquid and sort of, well, solidified. But all that seemed boring. 

What about breakfast? I sautéed an onion, four mushrooms and a stalk of celery (all sliced or diced) with any leftover fresh herbs from the fridge, chopped. Then I tipped in the risotto (about a cup, for two) and a chopped tomato that was on its last day. A quick stir, and then I cracked in two eggs. On low heat with a lid, it took just 5 more minutes for a tasty medium poached breakfast bowl to be ready for each of us.

A grind of pepper on top and we are off to a healthy, happy start to our weekend!

What Can You Put in a Pancake?

Well, we managed to get shoveled out after a huge winter storm (thanks Paul, for the plow!) and over to the Parents’ house yesterday to deliver…the Internet! Mom and Dad are easing into the digital age.

This morning all is right with the world – no quakes or anything. So we are continuing on our journey of “use up stuff left in the cupboards and freezer from the holidays”. This morning’s version: Mincemeat Pancakes. We’ve put all sorts of things in pancakes – apple chunks, blueberries, shredded carrots… We’re not talking about things wrapped in pancakes, or piled on top of pancakes (sorry, crèpes and blinis), but actually incorporated into the pancakes. These turned out deliciously cakey and spicy, perfect with just a little maple syrup.

For 6 pancakes…

In a medium bowl combine 3/4 c or 185 ml whole wheat flour with 1T or 15 ml baking powder. Make a well in the centre. Into this put 1 egg, 3/4 c or 185 ml leftover mincemeat, 2 T or 30ml canola oil or melted butter, and 1 c or 250 ml milk.

Cook on a buttered griddle or frypan at 350F, turning as the edges dry and bubbles begin to appear.

Serve with maple syrup and watch others wonder what the secret ingredient could be.

Live gratefully!

20140105-091159.jpg