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Roasted Hakurei Turnips

Roasted Hakurei TurnipsI am and have been for a long time enamored with local farmers’ markets.  For those who don’t know me, I grew up in the country where my parents grew their own vegetables and later on had chickens and pigs (hobby farm, of sorts).  As much as I liked being able to walk over to the vegetable field (yep, it wasn’t a patch!) to pick or dig the veggies for the evening dinner, I did not like any of the work that went into growing and maintaining a vegetable garden.  I still don’t!

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Zucchini Tomato Pizzas

zucchini & tomato pizzaI had pizza on the brain the other day but wasn’t in the mood to make the dough and prep the toppings.  While I was at the grocery store trying to figure out how I could satisfy my pizza craving without doing too much work, I spotted a lovely display of zucchinis.  And there was the answer!   It occurred to me that I could use the zucchini as a base.   Inspiration for cooking comes from the most interesting or the least expected places.  What inspires you?  These zucchini tomato pizzas are a cinch to make.  I ended up making these as an appetizer followed by grilled veggies and a quinoa salad.  Zucchini is part of the summer squash family and is full of nutrients and vitamins.   It helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and is anti-inflammatory.

zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
oven roasted cherry or plum tomatoes
grated Parmesan
dried basil or oregano

Preheat oven to 375f (190c).
zucchini collageArrange zucchini slices on a greased baking tray. Lightly sprinkle dried basil over the slices.

zucchini & tomato pizza roundsAdd a pinch of Parmesan to each zucchini round and top with roasted tomato.

zucchini tomato pizza roundsBake in the oven 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese has melted.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
Allow the zucchini pizzas to cool slightly before serving.  Use sliced fresh cherry tomatoes if you don’t have roasted and for added flavor, try a small sprinkling of truffle sea salt on top of the tomato. Enjoy!

Blackberry Sorbet

blackberry sorbet by The Culinary ChaseIt’s the subtle changes in the weather when I start to notice a shift as we slowly drift out of summer and into autumn. I know, shhh! not so loud but it’s true. The sunlight looks different as it lands in areas of the house and the air smells different. As I was rinsing the blackberries a subtle breeze came through the kitchen window – the kind that signals things are changing. I remember my mom years ago saying something similar but at the time I really didn’t take notice. The summer harvest is a time of year I enjoy as local produce becomes more abundant. Blackberries (also known as brambleberry, dewberry) are loaded with nutrients and have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits. For more health benefits, visit the Huffington Post article.  Another sorbet to add to my list of simple desserts to make.

Makes 4 cups
adapted from Honey & Jam

2 cups water
2 Earl Grey tea bags
1 cup sugar
3 cups fresh blackberries
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

blackberries by The Culinary ChaseIn a pot, bring water to a boil. Remove pot from heat and add tea tags. Allow to steep 5 minutes then remove tea bags. Add sugar to the tea infused water and heat until sugar dissolves. Cool. Purée berries in a food processor and then push through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Add puréed berries and lemon juice to the tea mixture. Pour into a container and freeze until solid.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: This summertime treat is a gorgeous color and the flavor was amazing!   Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower with Linguine

roasted cauliflower with linguineIt seems like a such long time since we last had linguine.  The cauliflower in the fridge had been carefully selected for another dish but I wasn’t in the mood and decided last minute to make this.  I always have a bottle of capers and anchovies in the fridge so all that was needed was a bit of spice.  Dried chili pepper flakes are a perfect companion for this recipe.   Capers are an often overlooked garnish, but they make a tasty addition to Italian dishes of all types – used as a seasoning in pasta and salads.  Capers are a good source of protein, fiber and iron.  Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as a good source for folate, vitamin K and dietary fiber.  An easy vegetarian meal to throw together in 30 minutes.

Serves 4
small head of cauliflower, trimmed & cut into florets
olive oil
2 tablespoons capers
4 anchovy fillets, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons chili pepper flakes (or more if you like it hot)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
500g linguine

Preheat oven to 400f. In a bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place on a baking sheet and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until cauliflower is al dente and bits of brown starting to show. Remove from oven and set aside. Cook pasta according to packet instructions. While pasta is cooking, in a large sauté pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add anchovies and allow to dissolve in the oil then add garlic and chili flakes. Sauté until fragrant – keep an eye on this to make sure garlic does not brown. Remove from heat and add cauliflower, toss to combine.

When pasta is cooked, drain all but half a cup of the liquid. You may need to add this liquid to the pasta. Place sauté pan with cauliflower over medium heat and add drained linguine. Toss to combine and add pasta water if it looks a bit dry. Season and finish off with a splash of olive oil. Serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Adjust ingredients accordingly…I love the flavor of anchovies so I end up using more in this recipe as well as a bit more chili pepper flakes for a bit of heat. Enjoy!

Daylily Petal Salad

Daylily Petal SaladHow decadent! Daylilies in a salad!  Using flowers in a dish isn’t a new thing for me but it has been a long time since I last did so.  My grandmother always had a bed of nasturtiums in her flower garden which she used in bouquets around the house and if memory serves me correctly, she ate them in a sandwich.  In the 80’s it was all the rage to make candied (sugar coated) violets, rose petals, pansy flowers etc. as beautiful decorations for desserts.

I was asked to review Cooking with Flowers and was quite excited when the book arrived.  It’s full of sweet and savoury recipes…I have already bookmarked the ones I want to try.  This salad was easy to make, fantastic flavors and made for an interesting discussion around the dinner table.  Daylilies are native to Japan, China and Korea and were mentioned in the writings of Confucius (551-479 BC).  The Chinese grew these plants for their beauty and medicinal value.

Serves 4
adapted from Cooking with Flowers

4 cups arugula (rocket)
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
petals from 6 daylilies (washed lightly and dried on paper towel)
aged Gouda, shaved (use a vegetable peeler)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Maldon flaky sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

dayliliesPlace arugula leaves in a bowl. Add avocado, lemon juice, splash of olive oil and daylilies. Gently toss. Arrange on a platter or individual plates and top with shaved cheese, sea salt flakes and pepper. Serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Gorgeous! Daylily buds will keep in the fridge for several days. However, the flowers should be consumed the day they are picked for optimum freshness and taste.  The flavor of the daylily will vary but the ones we ate reminded me of slight hints of melon.  You can sauté the unopened flower buds in butter or olive oil and sprinkle sea salt over them.  Enjoy!

Grilled Romaine Salad with Rosemary, Garlic and Lemon Dressing

grilled romaine

‘We both love to garden. We love the look of our gardens (most of the time). We talk about what we will do next season differently and what new crop we want to try. But we both garden differently. Karen’s garden mimics the French “potager” (raised-bed in a pattern) style with an emphasis -a BIG EMPHASIS- on tomatoes of every type. She also grows herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Judith’s garden is more edible landscaping and container gardening with baby turnips, rhubarb, melons, Italian plum tomatoes, and baby lettuces amongst the pear trees, raspberries, roses, and lavender. Even though our garden types and plantings differ, we’re both on the same page – grilling makes garden-fresh foods taste great.’

After flipping through the pages of this cookbook and getting excited at what I saw, I read the introduction (part of it is shown above) and was immediately drawn in. John and I are avid grillers no matter what time of year it is. When it’s winter there are three paths cleared: driveway, front steps and a path from kitchen door to the barbeque!  I am in total agreement with Karen and Judith’s statement – ‘when you want fresh and healthy foods with more depth of flavor, grilling from the garden makes perfect sense.’  While I don’t have a garden in my back yard, there are local markets nearby.  Their book has me salivating and this recipe for today’s posting is the first of many from The Gardener & The Grill.

Serves 4
adapted from The Gardener & The Grill

2 heads romaine lettuce, trimmed
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
rosemary, garlic & lemon dressing (recipe follows)
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shavings (use a vegetable peeler)
4 slices cooked bacon (optional)

Preheat a grill to medium-high.

Rinse and pat dry the lettuce. Cut the 2 heads into quarters. Brush surface with olive oil and grill about 4 to 5 minutes total, turning occasionally. Place two wedges on a salad plate and drizzle with rosemary, garlic and lemon dressing.  Add bacon slices and cheese shavings.  Drizzle with more dressing, season with salt and peper and serve.

Rosemary Garlic & Lemon Dressing –
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the dressing –  if using a mortar and pestle, combine rosemary, salt, and garlic in the mortar and grind into a fine paste. Drizzle in the olive oil and grind again. Add lemon zest, juice, grind and taste. Alternatively, combine the rosemary, salt, and garlic in a food processor and pulse into a paste. Add the oil and pulse again. Add lemon zest and juice and pulse. Season as needed. The dressing will keep in the fridge for up to one week.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Wow! This salad is so unbelievably good! Use any leftover dressing on veggies, chicken, beef, pork or lamb. The authors also say to try it brushed on bread or pizza dough. Enjoy!

Coconut Orange Cake with Honey Whipped Cream

coconut orange cakeAll cake recipes should be this simple!  It’s moist and the flavors coming from this dessert are amazing.  This may look like an ordinary cake but let me tell you this, it’s not! Hints of orange softly perfume the cake and the slight crunch of the coconut will have you going back to the kitchen for a second helping!  The other really nice thing about the cake is that it stands on its own and doesn’t need any topping.  Bring this to your next family gathering…it won’t disappoint!

Happy Memorial Day weekend America!

Serves 8
adapted from Sur la Table

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 teaspoons grated orange rind
4 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1 3/4 cups desiccated coconut
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Honey Whipped Cream –
3/4 heavy whipping cream, chilled
3 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 350f. Prepare a 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray or butter and flour and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add sugar, butter, and orange rind. Beat until light and creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs and beat on low until well combined. Add the flour, coconut and orange juice through the mixture until well combined. Transfer batter to the cake pan. Bake about 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly on a wire rack (5 minutes). Invert pan and remove cake from pan.

orange coconut collageTo make the whipped cream – place a tablespoon measure in boiling water for about 15 seconds (the heat from the tablespoon allows the honey to liquefy), remove from water and dry off. In a bowl add cream and the liquefied honey. Beat with a whisk until soft peaks form.  To serve, cut into wedges topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:   Before placing cake pan in oven, give the pan a couple of hard taps on the counter top – this removes any air bubbles in the batter.  I made the whipped cream twice; once with the instructions above and the other by beating the cream until soft and drizzling honey on top of the cream – no need to measure at this point!  My take?  I prefer the latter.  Enjoy!

Beet and Goat Cheese Terrine

beet & goat cheese

“Cooking food and presenting it beautifully is an act of servitude. It is a way of expressing affection through a gift… That we should aspire to produce perfectly finished and presented food is a symbol of a willing and enjoyable participation in servicing others. Food pornography exactly sustains these meanings relating to the preparation of food. The kinds of picture used always repress the process of production of a meal. They are always beautifully lit, often touched up.”     Rosalind Coward

I struggle sometimes to capture that food moment when I take a few shots and take more and still are not satisfied with any of them. And then, there are those times when only a few shots are taken and I feel I have a winner with at least three. The photo of the beet terrine encapsulated that moment. Perhaps it was my mood or that I was so excited to try what ‘looked’ so amazing…luscious layers of crimson and pink with bits of white peeking through. I plated the food, presented it to John…he requested seconds, need I say more?

Serves 4 to 6
inspired by Frances Janisch

12 or more beets, assorted colors (if possible)
8 oz. (227g) goat cheese
extra-virgin olive oi
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
basil leaves

fresh beetsBring a pot of water to a boil. Add beets and reduce heat to a simmer and cook until soft and easy to slice with a knife (about 40 min. depending on how big the beets are). Remove from pot and rinse under cold water. Once cooled enough to handle, remove the skin and allow to cool completely. In the meantime, line a bread tin with plastic wrap allowing the wrap to hang over the sides. Once beets are cooled, thinly slice.

beetsTo assemble: start with a layer of yellow or orange beets, season with salt and pepper and a very light drizzle of olive oil. Next, add goat cheese chunks. Don’t try to spread the cheese – you’ll end up with a mess. Repeat another layer until the yellow or orange beet slices have been used. Do the same procedure using the red beet slices and end with red beet slices. Fold over the plastic wrap and add a brick or other heavy weight. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, use the plastic to remove beets from the tin and place on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slice. Decorate with sea salt flakes, basil leaves and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Oh my stars! The basil and sea salt flakes add just the right flavor to this eye-appealing appetizer.  Pressing the beets helps to release any air pockets and makes it easier to slice without falling apart.  Choose beets that are similar in size. I had to buy yellow beets as the orange ones were too small. Don’t worry if the beets don’t fill the bread tin.  Enjoy!

Baked Avocado with Egg, Tomato and Bacon – Happy Mother’s Day!

baked avoI don’t think there’s an avocado recipe I haven’t enjoyed and this dish is so easy to make.  The avocado has been around for thousands of years and is rich in potassium (helps regulate blood pressure) and vitamin A (helps your eyes). Avocado paste can be applied to the skin to help with rashes and to smooth rough skin.  Looking for a new breakfast/brunch recipe for Mother’s Day?  This fits the bill perfectly!  Experiment with other toppings that mom will like.  If you’ve never tried a baked avocado, you’re in for a treat!

ripe avocado, halved and pit removed
chopped tomato
cooked bacon, diced
salt and pepper
cilantro, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 375c. Arrange avocado halves on a roasting pan. If they are on a slant, slightly trim the bottom. Depending on how big the egg is, you may want to scoop out some of the flesh to keep the egg from spilling over. Season with salt and pepper and then add an egg to the avocado half. Bake in the oven 20 to 30 minutes until egg is cooked to your liking. Remove from the oven, add chopped tomatoes and bacon.

avocadoThe Culinary Chase’s Note: You may want to cook the avocado halves for 15 minutes before adding the egg if the flesh of the avocado is firm.  Enjoy!

 mothers day

Roasted Acorn Squash and Beet Salad

acorn squashIf you’ve been following my blog you know how much I love a salad.  For me a salad can be as simple as leaves such as rocket (arugula) gently tossed with extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper or dressed up where the veggies are grilled such as this zucchini ribbon salad.  Salads can make good use of whatever is leftover in your refrigerator.  Pomegranate is one of the oldest known fruits and is the most powerful anti-oxidant of all fruits.  It’s a good source of vitamin A, C, and E as well as a good source for folic acid.  Acorn squash contains vitamin A and C.  The yellow-orange flesh helps reduce the free radicals in the body.

Serves 4
acorn squash
mixed beets
pomegranate seeds
olive oil
sea salt and pepper
salad leave mix
1 tablespoon ground cumin (optional)

Preheat oven to 375f. Cut squash in half and use a spoon to remove the seeds (save the seeds and roast for a snack).  Cut the squash again into wedges – you can use the ribs of the squash as a guideline.  Remove the skin by using a potato peeler or knife.  Arrange on a cooking tray, add a splash of olive oil, cumin and toss to combine.  Bake 40 minutes or until fork tender.

acornsquashTo prepare the beets, make a pouch out of tin foil and leave an opening to place beets in.  You can also used a dish with a lid but I like using the tin foil pouch as there’s no mess to clean up.  Use a different pouch for lighter colored beets otherwise the juice from the darker ones will bleed into the lighter ones.  Add a splash of olive oil and roll up the pouch.  Place pouch on a cookie sheet and bake 40 minutes or until soft at 400f.  Remove and allow to cool enough to peel the skin – the skin can be easily slipped off with your fingers.

Arrange leaves on a platter followed by squash and beets.  Sprinkle over the salad with pomegranate seeds.  Add a splash of extra-virgin olive oil and season to taste.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Serve this with the veggies still warm or room temperature.  Enjoy!