Advent Begins with Christmas Tree Cauliflower

20111127-205228.jpg Today Advent begins. We’re well underway with the secular preparations for Christmas, but now we start the real work of preparing ourselves to celebrate the holy feast.

Even the food begins to take on a more symbolic character. So for our dinner, we prepared a roast chicken breast, the whole thing, just with legs and wings removed. We coated the roast with some Daily Dijon from Kozlik’s, thyme, and orange zest. After nestling it on a bed of onion in a Dutch oven, we added the juice of the orange, and a splash of white wine.

We popped the whole thing in a 450F oven uncovered for half an hour. Then we covered it until done. (Depending on the size and how cold it is when you start, this will take 1/2 hour to an hour more. Your instant-read thermometer should be at 185.

At the same time we roasted some beets.

While the finished chicken rested for 10 minutes or so, we steamed this varietal cauliflower – it looks like tiny Christmas trees on the plate. It was delicious and for that we’re very thankful.

Mushroom and Marinara Pasta


Hurry! It’s nearing the end of the year…too much to be done and not enough time to do it in. This is the perfect dinner for that sort of day.

We cooked some whole wheat pasta. Meanwhile, we sautéed a couple of cups of mushrooms, part of a bell pepper, a stalk of celery, and half an onion. Then we tipped in a cup or so of marinara (ours was made and frozen in the summer, but store-bought works, too)!

Let the sauce simmer while the pasta cooks. Then add the drained pasta to the sauce, toss, and let stand for a few minutes for the flavours to absorb.

Serve with some grated Parmesan cheese, and then hurry along to wherever you need to be.

Flakes of Goodness

20111121-193433.jpg. It is the season when flakes start to fall…but these flakes are flakes of delicious pastry!

8 sheets phyllo pastry
1/8 c butter, melted
3 apples, peeled and sliced
2 T sliced almonds
2 T raisins
2 T flour
3 T brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a bowl, mix the apple with the flour, sugar, raisins, nuts and cinnamon. Take a sheet of phyllo and brush with butter. Top with another and brush again. Put 1/4 of the apple mixture 4″ in from short edge. Fold edge in, then each long edge. Roll up like a jelly roll. Place roll, seam side down on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining three rolls.

Beat egg and brush tops of rolls. Bake for 25 minutes until golden. Cool slightly (filling will be hot) and serve.

A Lemony Twist on Winter Pot Supper

This roast chicken dinner features some traditional fall flavours (like red potatoes and cabbage), with a twist.

First, we zested a lemon and grated some ginger. We mixed this with coriander, the juice of the lemon, and about a teaspoon (5ml) of olive oil. This was rubbed under the skin of the chicken. Then to the pot, we added some quartered red potatoes, and wedges of cabbage. We rubbed the cabbage with a little sesame oil.

We roasted it without a lid until it was nearly done, then added some water, popped on the lid, and put it back in the oven for about 10 minutes to get the chicken up to temperature. When the chicken was done, we tented it to rest and returned the remainder of the dish to the oven (now turned off) to keep warm.

Putting the lemon under the skin gave the chicken a strong, lemony flavour that might have been diluted if we’d rubbed it on the outside. The sesame added a nice touch to the sauce. Best of all, only one pot to clean!

Oven Fish and Chips with Heritage Carrots

20111114-152932.jpg What do you do when you want fish and chips but you know it’s just not the healthiest option? We made these great oven fillets and chips.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into “fries” and toss with just a little olive oil and salt. Put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Then julienne the carrots. Again, just a little oil, and a grating of ginger. Wrap these in a foil packet so they’ll steam and stay moist.

Next, in two shallow dishes (pie plates work well) prepare the dipping ingredients. In the first, a whole egg beaten with a little milk. In the second, a mix of cornmeal and whole wheat flour, some dried dill, and chili powder. Dip the fish fillets in the egg mix, then in the cornmeal mix, to coat. Put on the sheet with the “fries”.

Put the baking sheet as well as the foil packet in the oven. Bake about 15 minutes, flip the potatoes, and then leave for another 5 or 10, until fish flakes with a fork.

We Remember

Today is Remembrance Day. We’ll re-read in Flanders‘ fields, then at 11am, we’ll be pausing for a moment of silence to remember all of the men and women who have given their lives in the service of our country. Come to think of it, perhaps we should honour them every day. Won’t you join us?

Fabulous Tummy-Warming Oatmeal

20111109-110823.jpg. Oatmeal used to be a real challenge to make; hence the instant kind. But in just 10 minutes, you can make this amazing breakfast using real, large-flake rolled oats. No additives or preservatives. This serves two people a good-sized bowl.

Dice an apple into a microwave-safe casserole. Add 3/4 cup (180 ml) rolled oats, 2 T (30 ml) chopped walnuts and a good sprinkling of cinnamon. Then the water – about 1-1/4 c (300 ml). No need to stir yet. Our microwave has an oatmeal setting, but otherwise, about 5 minutes on high, followed by 3 minutes on medium power should do it. when it’s thick and bubbly, give it a stir. Serve with a little brown sugar and some milk. It’ll get your day of to a good, warm start.

Salmon Basil Pasta

An easy weeknight supper, when you don’t feel much like cooking: pasta. But spaghetti with meat sauce can get old, really fast. So can red sauce from a jar.

So instead, put some whole-grain vegetable pasta on to cook. Meanwhile, quickly stir-cook some fresh veggies in a large skillet with a lid (we had peppers, broccoli, celery, onions, and mushrooms). Stir in a chopped tomato and turn the heat to low, and cover it.

When the pasta’s cooked, toss it all together (use a little pasta water if it needs moisure; ours didn’t). Then stir in some herbs (we had a little basil), pepper, and pop the lid on again. Let it stand with the heat on very low, about 4 minutes, for the flavours to combine.

Beautiful Black Beans

Winter is returning. The urban farm is looking pretty barren, with the exception of the bird feeder and the occasional cardinal. The silver lining? Damp, chilly days are a great time to warm up the house with a batch of beans.


In this case, they’re black turtle beans from our friends at Better Bulk. We’ve got a host of meals planned to use them over the coming weeks, including Black Bean Enchiladas, so we cooked them with some onions and hot peppers. They’ll warm us up, for sure!