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Archive for the ‘Comfort’ Category

As February begins, I am still excited by wintery meals. I haven’t gotten sick of root veggies or stew yet, so I’m excited to share with you one of my most recent potato-based creations.

I had a spontaneous meal with a friend, so I had to make it interesting – and this is what came out! I’m both delighted by the simplicity and the rich flavour.

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Ingredients: 2 servings (plus some leftovers if eaten as part of a meal)

-2 large yellow-fleshed potatoes, washed
-1 Tbsp butter
-1 clove garlic, crushed or finely minced
-2 tsp dried fresh parsley
-1/4-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 cup milk

-1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
-2 tsp vegetable oil or butter or a mix
-pinch salt

Directions

Cover the potatoes and boil whole for 40 minutes, or until cooked through. You can use smaller potatoes, it will be faster.

While the potatoes are boiling, heat the 2 tsp oil or butter in a frying pan to make the corn over medium heat. Add corn and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 4-5 minutes, until corn becomes browned. Remove from heat and then heat up again just before serving.

Once the potatoes are cooked through, either mash them with their skins on or off depending on your preference (this recipe is not fussy).  Cover with a lid while you melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When it begins to bubble, add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and add salt and parsley. Add milk and return to heat until the milk is hot but doesn’t boil over (not fun to clean). Add to the potatoes and mix well.

Enjoy!

-Sitelle

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As I write up my blog about the most recent, and one of my most exciting culinary adventures in a while, I realize there are a few things I want to share with those who read this blog, including why I’m so excited about this recipe, and who I’m dedicating it to. It’s a bit more personal than normal (aka longer to read), so if you’re looking for the recipe fast, then just scroll down a bit past the photo!

First of all, as I look back on my relationship with food over the years – going from child to want-to-be-chef to medical student, it’s funny to see how my relationship with food has changed. I realize that I was very lucky to have parents and friends who took such great care to feed me healthy food me despite my wishing that I had more access to junk food when I was in primary school. I remember spaghetti squash days as those when I would have done almost anything to have a less healthy meal instead. I’d have traded almost anything for a fruit roll-up, or some dunk-a-roos. Now, though, here I am becoming a healthcare professional, and really (naively) hoping that one day, many of the patients I see will be able to have access to healthy food, will have spaces in which to cook it, and time and knowledge to do so. Not to mention the desire to cook and to eat healthy food, or at least have someone around them with the desire and all the other necessary prerequisites, who would share it with them. I know it’s an ideal and a very naive wish, but hey, it’s what I wish for.

Second, as this recipe is my own creation, I’m publishing it for Catherine, my wonderful friend and co-blogger, for her birthday this year!  I know I’m early, but I’ve already promised to publish this recipe to a number of friends, and I’m sure Catherine would love to know that the recipe I’m sharing in her honour has already been enjoyed by many! This recipe is perfect for Catherine: it’s one that keeps on giving (one spaghetti squash can feed many mouths, or can make many lunches!), it’s delicious, healthy, and it’s fully realistic to make while busy with clerkship. All you need is the ingredients, 10 minutes to assemble, and an hour in the oven.

I hope you enjoy this spaghetti squash surprise!

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Ingredients – for 1 full spaghetti squash, or approximately 6 servings

-1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise with seeds scraped out
-2 Tbsp olive (or other) oil
-1 onion, diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tbsp dried parsley
-1 tomato, diced
-lb lean ground beef
-1/2 cup dried cranberries
-zest from 1 lemon, finely grated
-1/4-1/2 tsp hot chilli flakes or cayenne
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1/4 tsp salt or more to taste

Topping:

-1/2 cup breadcrumbs
-1 Tbsp butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Dice the onion, mince or crush the garlic, chop the tomato and the parsley, zest the lemon, and throw all of these ingredients in a medium bowl with the meat, chilli flakes, cinnamon, cumin, salt, and dried cranberries. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and mix well.

Meanwhile brush or coat the two spaghetti squash halves with the other Tbsp of oil. Fill each of the spaghetti squash halves with the meat stuffing, packing it down so it all fits. If it overflows a bit, it’s fine.

Place the spaghetti squash halves in a deep baking dish with 1 inch of water in the bottom of the dish. Cover with aluminum foil. Cook for 50-60 minutes, until the squash is soft. Once cooked, you might find there is a lot of juice in the squash (depends on the squash) – you can just drain it by pressing the meat stuffing down into the squash and placing the squash at an angle to let it drain out. This might not be necessary.

Before serving, melt the butter in a frying pan, and add the breadcrumbs. Top the squash with the breadcrumbs and keep in the oven until ready to serve!

Bonne appétit,

-Sitelle

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I’ve been waiting for some inspiration in the last year in order to bring you some new recipes on Gourm(eh), and I’ve finally admitted to myself the reason that it’s been a slow time in my culinary adventures. The truth is, it’s not very exciting to cook for oneself. One thing that I’ve really enjoyed, however, has been long-distance meal-planning with my significant other, especially because it’s so exciting to see that despite distance, food is still able to bring us together and we often send messages back-and-forth of ideas and questions about how best to prepare things, and what produce has been good lately at the market or grocery store. Yes I’ll admit, Hamilton is a bit ahead of Ottawa, but we’ve got some good things here too now! It’s not nearly as nice as a meal together, but it will do if it’s all we’ve got for now!

I’m telling you this because this recipe was inspired by his own a few weeks ago. A tomato sauce with beets! I had one pound of delicious ground beef from my CSA box, new young leeks, fresh oregano and beets, so I decided to attempt some meatballs with spaghetti and a spicy beet tomato sauce. The spicy sauce is well-balanced by the sweet beet base, and it goes very well with flavourful beef.

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Ingredients – 4 servings

Meatballs

1 lb ground beef, extra lean
2 young leeks, cleaned and minced
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
3 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed (I like to pound mine in a mortar and pestle)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 egg
dash salt and pepper
olive oil

Spicy beet tomato sauce

1 onion, diced
2 young leeks, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 – 1 tsp dried chili flakes (to taste)
1 beet, diced into small pieces
1  good tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 can diced tomatoes (796 mL or 28 Oz)

Spaghetti or other pasta, enough for 4 (according to package)

Parmesan, for garnish

Directions

Mix all ingredients for meat balls except olive oil and egg in a bowl with hands until everything is well mixed, then add the egg. Form into small balls in the palm of your hands, and place on a plate drizzled with olive oil. Roll the meatball in the olive oil so it is coated, and repeat until you have made all the mixture into meatballs. Depending on the size, you should get 20-30 meatballs. Set aside in refrigerator while you prepare the sauce.

For the sauce, dice the onions first, and heat up the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onions for a few minutes, then add the minced leek. Cook for a few more minutes and then add the garlic, chili flakes and basil. Stir until the onion is soft and everything is fragrant. Add the beet, and then the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a strong simmer and then reduce the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, while you prepare the meatballs and the pasta.

For the meatballs, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat in another frying pan. Once the oil is hot, cook the meatballs, turning them carefully so all sides brown. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, until they are cooked through (you should not see any pink inside).  Set on a paper-towel lined plate once cooked.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook pasta to your liking. Pour a ladle-full of water into the beet sauce to make it a little saucier if you like. Serve the meatballs tossed in the sauce, over the pasta, with grated parmesan and enjoy!

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If you’re looking to find some warm colours and comforting flavours on this Ontario Election Day, look no farther than this simple farmhouse vegetable stew! This recipe created itself from the remaining vegetables in my CSA box this week, and I’ve already put it into jars as I’m looking forward to sharing some with someone this weekend!

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Ingredients – for 6 portions

1 onion, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 turnip, peeled and diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 acorn squash, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp flour
4 cups vegetable stock, hot
1/2 cut hot milk
Grated parmesan, for garnish

Directions

Dice the onion, and then sauté over medium heat in the olive oil in a stockpot. Once the onion is soft, add the remaining vegetables and cook  and stir for 5 minutes or so, until fragrant. Sprinkle the flour onto the veggies and stir to coat.

Add the hot vegetable stock and hot milk, and bring to a simmer. Allow the whole soup to simmer on low for 45 or so minutes, with the lid partially on to prevent too much evaporation.

Serve hot with grated parmesan and crusty bread!

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By March, I’m tired of winter food: the root veggies, onions, and garlic are at the end of their time, and the new spring crops are far from being ready, unless Maple Syrup falls in the category of a proper food!

Instead I’ve been leaning to dried pulses: beans and lentils, which seem to be timeless. This week, I’ve been inspired to create new dishes inspired by Latin American flavours. This dish came together on its own, from simple ingredients, and requires little effort other than remembering to soak the beans in advance. The result is a delicious bean stew, which can be eaten with tortillas, over rice, or even as a soup if you cook it in large volumes of water or broth!

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Ingredients – 4 servings

-1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked for 1 day or boiled, rinced, boiled again, and soaked for 3 hours
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 red onion, diced
-1 jalapeño, finely diced (seeds removed if you don’t like it too spicy)
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tsp chili powder
-1 stick cinnamon
-1/2 to 1 tsp salt (to taste)
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-juice from 1/2 a lime
-1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce (omit if vegetarian, and add 1/4 vegetable bouillon cube to replace)
-1/2 red pepper, small dice
-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
-1L water

Directions:
Soak the beans in advance. When ready, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until they become soft, then add the garlic, jalapeño, cinnamon stick and the spices. Sprinkle the salt over the top, and stir, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

When the onion begins to brown, add the water, and bring to a boil. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the lime juice and simmer on low for 1-2 hours, covered.

Increase the heat to medium and add the red pepper. Remove the cover, stirring and crushing a few of the beans. Allow to simmer uncovered at a mild boil until most of the liquid is either absorbed or boiled off. The beans stew should become a bit thicker, and there should not be more than a ‘sauce’ when it is ready. Finally, add the cilantro, and if you like the lime feel free to add another spritz or two of lime before serving!

-Sitelle

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One of the things I miss in Toronto is nearby cross-country ski trails.  There is nothing I like better on a sunny winter day than to strap on my skis and enjoy winter.  Home for the holidays, I took full advantage of the nearby proximity of Gatineau and skied half a dozen time with friends and family.  The weather cooperated (only on Christmas was it below -20!) and the skiing glorious, as Ottawa had received over half its  average annual snowfall before the New Year.  

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One of my best skis so far this season was with Sitelle and her partner.  We trekked about 16 km in the south end of Gatineau, going up and up and up the 15 to the MacKenzie King Estate before gliding gently home on the parkway.  The scenery was idyllic, with the snow glistening on tree branches.  We managed to work up a large appetite – luckily my family had planned a large prime rib roast for Sunday dinner. 

Nothing quite beats a little yorkshire pudding with roast beef.  We discovered this recipe from Brian Turner via food.com that looked quick, simple, and delicious.  The only modification we made was to add in a little rosemary to the mix. And we certainly weren’t disappointed.  The Yorkshire Puddings were divine – crisp on the outside and delightfully fluffy on the inside.  I’ll certainly be looking for my next excuse to make Yorkshire Pudding sometime soon! 

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Yorkshire Pudding

(serves ~6)

 

Ingredients

– 1 cup plain flour

– 1 cup egg

– 1 cup milk

– salt to taste

– 2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425F. Put a teaspoon of oil/butter/beef drippings in each of several muffin tins until the fat is really hot and beginning to smoke (about 1-2 minutes). Meanwhile combine the rest of the ingredients and beat to form a batter of the consistency of double cream.

Working quickly to keep the muffin tins as hot as possible, pour in the batter, making sure to avoid overfilling.  Put the tin back into the top of the oven as soon as possible.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the Yorkshire Pudding is puffed up and crisp.

– Bon appetit!

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Since I’ve recently moved to a new city – Ottawa – I’ve quite enjoyed exploring the new market and food scene here. I love how I can also cross the river and end up in Québec, where food is inspired by ages of artisan craft. In homage to la belle province de Québec, we recently cooked a feast using local ingredients, featuring a Maudite beer and a plump, gnarly and bright orange hubbard squash. This risotto is perfect for those cold evenings we’ve been getting recently; and the smooth and rich pieces of roasted squash mixed in keep it lively.

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Ingredients – 6-8 servings

1 onion

1 large clove garlic

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 well garnished sprig of fresh thyme

8-10 cups homemade (or packaged if you don’t have any) vegetable stock

1 cup dark beer (we used Maudite)

1/3 cup parmesan

1/2 tsp salt plus any more to taste

1 1/4 cups arborio rice

1/2 kuri (hubbard) squash, cubed, roasted (400F) in 2 Tbsp olive oil + 1/8 tsp salt + 1 tbsp fresh thyme + 1 minced clove garlic

Directions

To prepare the roast squash, preheat the oven to 400F and peel and dice the squash into 1 inch cubes. Mince the garlic and combine the olive oil, salt and fresh thyme with the garlic in a large bowl. Place squash cubes into bowl and toss with all ingredients. Arrange the squash cubes on a baking dish, making sure none are touching so they roast best. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the edges become golden and the squash is tender. Remove from oven and reserve.

Heat the stock in a pot and keep it simmering with a lid on while you cook the risotto in another pot.

Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion with the fresh sprig of thyme until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Once the onion is ready add the garlic and cook for one minute, and then add the arborio rice and stir to coat. Cook the rice grains in the oil/onion/garlic mixture for 3-4 minutes, until they become translucent as well. When the rice is ready, add the beer and stir to mix it all in. After this, add the stock one cup at a time, stirring, until the stock is absorbed. You don’t need to be stirring constantly, but it does require a lot of stirring for best results.

Continue adding stock one cup at a time, until the rice is cooked through and the risotto is creamy. Season with salt. When just about ready to serve, stir in the parmesan and the cubes of squash. Serve in bowls or deep plates, and garnish with a pinch of parmesan and fresh thyme if you like!

Bonne appétit.

-Sitelle

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