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Today, as I drove home I listened to a tribute to Stuart McLean of the Vinyl Café playing on CBC radio. It was a show about love stories, encounters, and friendships. It was all about companionship. One of the stories was about a couple who had magical chemistry, and they would send each other photos of them eating cookies. It reminded me of what role food plays in many of our lives. Not only is it what sustains us, but it is often something that brings people together. Often it is not necessarily the food itself, but the fact that it is shared, that makes it special.

I can remember even when I was a very small child looking forward to meals with our family in France. It was always special. Meals often took hours, but we didn’t notice the time going by.

When I was in undergrad, meals brought friends together, many of whom are still very near and dear.

When I lived in The Gambia, not a day went by without food being shared. I could never keep up with the enormous generosity of the village where I lived, until one day I learned that I could share the food that was brought for me. We would nurture each other.

These past few weeks I’ve had a lovely time in a clinical rotation, working with a special team dedicating themselves to providing the best possible care for their patients, at a level which I have rarely seen. Witnessing such dedication, I wanted to give back, so I made these delicious cookies to help fuel us through the day. I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as we did, and that it serves as a backdrop to many tea parties, work afternoons, or any other pick-me-ups you might need.

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Ingredients – for approximately 40 cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted and softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups oatmeal – I use old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease them
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. I use a stand mixer but you can also beat it by hand. Add eggs and vanilla and beat for a few more minutes, until pale and well incorporated
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and mix
  5. Stir in cranberries, coconut and chocolate chips
  6. place spoonfuls of the dough in your hand and roll into a ball. Place on cookie sheet 1.5 inches apart and bake for 13-15 minutes
  7. Cool on wire rack

Hope you enjoy these little treats!

Sitelle

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It’s been many years that I’ve anticipated getting the wonderful cookbook Plenty, by Ottolenghi. Last weekend, the book in my hands, I poured over every recipe with so much excitement.

As a busy student in my 4th year of medical school, and my fiancé in his first year of residency, we sometimes stall when it comes to creative ways to cook delicious vegetarian meals. We get a weekly local food box, which is wonderful, but we sometimes lack the creativity that we used to have. This cookbook has completely turned that around, helping us come up with fantastic delicious and realistic ideas.

Pulses are a wonderful alternative to meat protein. I tout their benefits to many people who ask me about ways to increase fibre or to those who are looking to increase the amount of alternative proteins. They fill me up, so that if I am on my feet all day long, I am still able to function at the end of the day.

This recipe is particularly flavourful, with nutty richness and crunch, the surprise hints of mint, and the buttery celeriac. I cannot recommend it enough!

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Directions – serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup puy lentils
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 small celeriac, peeled and cut into 1/2 cm wedges
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp hazelnut oil
  • 3 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp chopped mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 275, toast the hazelnuts for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool. Chop coarsely.

In a medium pot, combine the lentils, water, bay leaves, salt and thyme, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils become cooked but remain slightly chewy. Drain with a sieve.

In the meantime, bring lots of salty water to a boil in a separate pot. Boil the celeriac 10-12 minutes until soft.

While things are cooking place the oils, vinegar, mint and some salt and pepper at the bottom of a serving bowl. When the lentils are drained pour them into the serving bowl and stir to coat with the dressing. Place the celeriac, 2/3 of the chopped hazelnuts as well as 1/2 the chopped mint in with the lentils and stir until mixed in. Serve with crusty bread and sprinkle the remaining mint and hazelnuts on top.

Hope you enjoy!

-Sitelle

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I love this vibrant salad from its bright colours to its burst of herbal flavours. It’s light enough to enjoy on a hot summer day, yet with the rice and beans, hearty enough to be the star of a meal.   And the jalapeno pepper adds a nice kick.

This recipe comes from Bonnie Stern’s Simply HeartSmart cookbook. It’s a family favourite at the cottage and in the middle of winter, when I need something that reminds me of the freshness of spring, it’s a go-to recipe.

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Black Bean, Corn, and Rice Salad

(Makes 8 servings)

 

Ingredients

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup basmati rice

2 cups cooked corn niblets, either frozen or canned

2 sweet red peppers, diced

1 jalapeno, finely diced

1 bunch arugula or watercress, trimmed and chopped

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives or green onions

 

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Cook rice until tender as per package directions. Cool by spreading on plate and placing in freezer for ~15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine cooled rice with black beans, corn, red pepper, jalapenos, arugula, cilantro, basil, mint, and chives to salad.

To make dressing, whisk together vinegar, pepper, garlic, and salt. Whisk in olive oil.

Toss dressing with salad. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

 

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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Inspired by the changing autumn colours, the crisp morning bike rides through the streets of Ottawa, and the bountiful harvest, I sometimes feel like I cannot satisfy my desire to cook at this time of year. There are so many things I’d like to make!

This soup is inspired from rebar, a fantastic cookbook Catherine has already talked about. What I love about this soup is the tangy, rich and spicy flavour, in the form of a light soup. It is simply delicious!IMG_20151004_200842

Ingredients – 6 servings

-1 1/2 lb tomatillos, de-husked and washed
-1 hot chili of your taste (jalapeno or other), diced. You can remove or keep the seeds depending on how spicy you want it
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-4 garlic cloves, minced, and divided in 1/4 and 3/4
-1/2 tsp salt and pepper

-6 cups vegetable stock, kept hot while preparing the rest
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-1 red pepper, diced
-1 tsp ground coriander
-1 tsp salt
-2 cups corn kernels
-1 small zucchini, chopped
-1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
-1/2 lime, juiced

Directions

Preheat oven to 425. Cut the tomatillos in half and place in a bowl with the olive oil, the chili and 1/4 of the garlic. Toss with salt and pepper and then place in a large enough baking dish that they can all be roasted without being piled up. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes until they are browned and roasted. Cut in quarters and set aside.

In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer, with the corn kernels.

In a large soup pot with a lid, heat the olive oil. Sauté the onion until it softens. Add the red pepper, the garlic, coriander, salt, and sauté for a further 3 minutes before adding the zucchini. Once the zucchini is in add the minced cilantro and stir, until the veggies are soft and the garlic is fragrant. Add the stock and lime juice and bring to a boil. Simmer the mixture for 30 minutes, then add the roasted tomatillo mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Add cilantro leaves for garnish. This is a delicious tangy soup you can have as a full meal with fresh corn bread or as a first course in a bold autumn feast!

-Sitelle

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This year, I’ve been spoiled by my grandmother – which is not unusual – except that I am now receiving a quarterly magazine with fresh, classic, and inspiring recipes from Normandy. It’s great, coming at a time when I am often at a loss for ideas since cooking for one is simply less fun than for two. It’s amazing how easy it is to get entrenched in routine in the kitchen, and this magazine has done wonders for me this year in getting me back into the exciting realm of cooking.

I love how this salad captures the flavours of summer, while being filling enough for a weekday lunch. I’d recommend making this soon, while the tomatoes are still sweet off the vine.

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Ingredients – for 4 servings

-1 Boursin cheese, garlic and herb
-1 boston leaf lettuce, washed and dried
-200g cooked Puy or French lentils (I cooked 1/2 cup in 2 cups vegetable broth for 25 minutes)
-1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
-1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
-1 Tbsp butter
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-2 chicken breasts
-1 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped

For the vinaigrette:

-4 Tbsp olive oil
-1 Tbsp dijon mustard
-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
-1 Tbsp honey
-3 Tbsp chicken cooking jus
-salt and pepper

Directions

Cook the lentils until tender but still intact, about 25 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Dice the chicken breasts. Heat the butter and 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, sear the chicken. Cook 4-5 min per side until cooked through and golden. Season with salt and pepper. When the chicken is cooked, add 30mL of water to the pan and scrape the pan with a spatula to make the jus. Simmer until reduced and flavourful.

Coarsely chop the pistachios. Break up the lettuce leaves coarsely, add them to a large bowl with the lentils, the quartered tomatoes, the chicken, small spoonfuls of the Boursin, and sprinkle with the pistachios.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the chicken jus with the mustard, honey, vinegar and salt and pepper. Once it is smooth, add the olive oil one spoonful at a time while mixing. Season to taste and drizzle over salad. Serve immediately!

-Sitelle

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Kuri squash soup

A well-prepared soup always pleases guests. On top of this, many soups are very easy to make, and once you have one simmering away as your guests arrive, you can easily finish assembling the rest of the meal without worrying about it. Soup is, in my mind, a perfect entrée that sets the mood for a nice evening meal (entrée translates to “opening/entrance of the meal”, contrary to the “entrees” which have become the main course name on English menues).

Here, I am sharing the recipe for a soup I had the pleasure of making not only for Catherine, but also for her parents, when we had a dinner party last weekend. Despite our busy schedules both as clinical clerks living in 2 different cities, we managed to cook a very fine meal which we’re both excited to share.

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Ingredients – 6 servings

  • 1 kuri squash (aka hubbard squash), sliced in half and seeds removed
    • 2 sprigs rosemary
    • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 leek, light part only, washed and diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable broth of your liking
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 small dollops crème fraiche
  • 100g pecan halves
  • 1/2 package fresh sage leaves
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Directions

Heat the oven to 375F and place the squash prepared with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and a sprig of rosemary in each on a baking dish.  Roast for 40 minutes approximately. This can be done even the day before you make your soup

To make the soup: prepare the leek, and heat 1 Tbsp of butter in a large soup pot with a lid over medium heat. Once the butter is bubbly, add the leek, and cook, stirring occasionally and otherwise keeping the lid on until leeks become soft. Add a little more butter if necessary if they begin to brown too fast before softening.

Once the squash is roasted, slice it and cut off the peel as much as possible (a little that remains is fine and will just increase the fibre content!). Add the squash to the leek mixture, and stir. Over this sprinkle your nutmeg, pepper, bay leaves, and a few pinches of salt.

Add the stock and bring to a slow boil, covered. Once it is boiling, reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes, leaving off the lid for the final 5-10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, and then blend the soup in a blender or with a hand blender, until fully smooth.

When you are almost ready to serve the soup, heat the pecans in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat, and toast carefully so they brown but don’t burn.  Coarsely chop the sage in the meantime, and when the pecans are almost ready, melt the other 1 Tbsp of butter in with them, and add the sage for 1-2 minutes once the butter is bubbly, just long enough for it to crisp up a bit and to flavour the butter.

Serve the soup with a dollop of crème fraiche and a spoonful of the pecan-sage-butter topping in each bowl.

Enjoy!

-Sitelle

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I often forget how versatile and easy beans are to work with. Tonight, as I prepared for a meeting at home, I wanted to have a healthy and simple snack for those in attendance that would be satisfying and unique. I didn’t want to make hummus (although I love hummus), or anything with ranch dressing in it. So I googled spicy bean dip and came across a recipe for some spicy Asian bean dip on another blog. It was very popular, and incredibly easy. With a few modifications based on my pantry, this is the recipe I followed:

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Ingredients – serves 8 as an appetizer

dip
-1 cup dried white beans, cooked in a pressure cooker with 3 c water for 35 minutes (you can substitute 1 can white beans)
-2 Tbsp canola oil
-2 tsp sesame oil
-Juice from 1/2 lime
-2 tsp hot sauce
-2 tsp soy sauce
-1/2 tsp curry powder
-1 clove garlic, crushed
-1/8 cup hot water

veggie sticks
-4 carrots, cut into sticks
-3 stalks celery, cut into sticks
-1 red pepper, cut into sticks

Directions

Combine all ingredients for the dip in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. I like to add the water last and drizzle it in while the motor spins. Blend for 3-4 minutes, until fully smooth.

Serve with an array of veggies (add any of your favourites!), and you’re sure to have a crowd-pleaser! This also makes for great snacks for work or school.

Have a wonderful week!

-Sitelle

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