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White Bean and Oregano Bruschetta on Sautéed Swiss Chard

7 Feb

My friend Steve is an excellent photographer and offered to come try out some food photography with me. We discovered it’s a lot more complicated than it looks, between garnish, cutlery placement, layering of textures, lighting, other accessories…the list is endless!

photo by Steve Coutts

I cooked a few simple dishes to experiment with. This is the first dish we shot, which I think turned out pretty well and it  was delicious! I modified this recipe from Simply Organic: A Cookbook for Sustainable, Seasonal and Local Ingredients. It called for mustard greens but I used swiss chard because I had lots on-hand. I think any greens that sauté well would work.

Stephanie over at Clockwork Lemon, our friend Rachele, and I had had a baking date a few days earlier where we made this Whole-Wheat and Rye Swirl Loaf. I cut a bunch of slices into triangles, drizzled with grapeseed oil and toasted them in the oven. The hint of caraway every few bites added another touch of deliciousness too!

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Spiced Maple Pecans

4 Feb

I forgot to post my Om Cooking article from the Bodhi Tree’s December 2011 Breathing Room Newsletter. Even though it was aimed at Christmas giving, the same principals can be applied throughout the year!

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Gift giving is something I like to do all year round, but of course, more so around the holidays. However, I’m not your typical gift-giver. My attitude around gifts changed the year I started making my own Christmas cards, writing a message to each of about 50 friends. The process was special to me, methodical and meditative. I was proud of what I made and the time I put into them; what I gave and to whom didn’t matter so much anymore – I was happy knowing that each person who received a card would be beaming with joy when they got something in the mail besides a bill.

What can you make that will bring you joy first? What skill can you showcase? Contemplate these questions this year and you might find that it brings a renewed excitement to what can be a stressful and frantic time-of-year. Anything you make yourself that brings you joy will bring others joy.

If you need an idea to get started, try this month’s recipe. Packaged in mason jars or bags tied with ribbon, this is one gift that will bring a smile to anyone’s face.

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Chia Smoothies

2 Jan

Here’s the latest article from the Bodhi Tree’s Breathing Room Newsletter.

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A few months ago I wrote about incorporating a new ingredient into your repertoire. What better time to revisit this concept than January, I say!

In the last few months I’ve been experimenting with chia and at the same time experimenting with bringing headstand and forearm stand back into my yoga practice – a little sprinkle here and there. You may have a yoga pose that you tried once, twice or many times, that has fallen out of your regular practice. Or perhaps you have a pose that you’ve always wanted to try but aren’t quite sure you’re able to. Well, this month it’s time to take the plunge!

Take a moment to think of that elusive pose you’d like to work on, then make a commitment to yourself to make slight modifications in your practice to accommodate that pose. Every little opening of the body is reaching that goal, no matter how long it takes to actually get into the shape.

I’ve been making an effort to do dolphin pose instead of downward dog and warrior pose with cactus arms to gradually ready my body for my goal pose of forearm stand. In the kitchen, I’ve been adding a tablespoon of chia into my baked oatmeal or a smoothie, experimenting with the texture and flavor of chia.

To help you along your way, try this Chia Smoothie recipe. One thing to note about chia is that it raises energy levels, which makes it a good substitute for coffee and not so great to ingest at night.

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Roasted Parsnip Soup

29 Nov

Here’s the November article from Bodhi Tree’s Breathing Room Newsletter. I also made this soup for a recent Monday Night Supper Club potluck. It worked very well as an amuse-bouche garnished with a little thyme and a baby parsnip. Delish!

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Yoga, in its purest form, is about being present and aware in every moment of your life. We are all built with five tools that act as a gateway to this present moment awareness: the senses. Some moments your senses may be engaged with perfect clarity; you are aware that you feel the body you’re in, see the colours around you, hear the sounds in your environment, taste each morsel you eat and smell every aroma that wafts your way. Other moments, due to stress, routine or the mind’s games, your senses may be clouded, or on auto-pilot.

Along with the senses, asana, meditation and pranayama use drishti (focal point), intention (love!) and mantra (om) to help you focus, calm the mind and bring about present moment awareness, if only just for a second. What’s great about these techniques is that they can be applied outside of yoga as well, to work, relationships and even cooking.

This month’s recipe stars parsnips, which are abundant at farmers’ markets as Autumn matures. Using a recipe that focuses on one ingredient will help you engage your five senses, becoming present and aware as you’re cooking. Pay particular attention to how the parsnip’s aroma changes from raw to cooked. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!

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Roasted Parsnip Soup

1 kg/2.2 lbs. parsnips, cut in half
1 large onion, sliced
1 head garlic, top ¼” cut off
2 carrots, cut in half
2 stalks celery, cut in half
2 Tbsps. olive oil
2 tsps. fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
1 L/4 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F. Arrange all vegetables on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive
oil and toss with salt and pepper. Bake 40 minutes, until vegetables are soft and garlic is golden.

In a large pot, squeeze garlic out of its peel, combine with roasted vegetables and stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Purée in a blender or food processor. Add ginger, thyme, nutmeg and season to taste. Garnish with fresh thyme and roasted baby parsnips.

Serves 4-6.

Happy Cooking!
Jacinthe

Pumpkin Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

15 Nov

I made this soup last week after a trip to the dentist – I’ll spare you the details – left me only able to eat soft foods for a few days. I had one small pie pumpkin left, an abundance of carrots and some fresh sweet potatoes (or yams, depending on who you ask).

What resulted is a rich and creamy soup (without cream!) that’s perfect for fall days and sore mouths.

Pumpkin Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

2 medium sized yams, cut into 1″ cubes
1 small pie pumpkin, cut in quarters, seeds removed
3 medium sized carrots, cut in 4
1 onion, small dice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup orange juice
1 lemon, zested and juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Roast yams, pumpkin and carrots on a parchment lined baking sheet at 350 F for 30 minutes, until just starting to brown.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, saute onions in olive oil until translucent. Add thyme and garlic and saute until just fragrant.

When roasted mixture is done, add it to the pot along with stock and orange juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. When cooled slightly, partially or fully puree mixture and pour back into a clean pot. Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves. Can be frozen or kept in fridge for up to 5 days.

Enjoy!
Jacinthe

Autumn Kale Salad

11 Nov

I’ve been making a version of this salad a lot over the past few weeks because of the abundance of kale at the farmers’ market and thus in my fridge. It’s super quick to make and because kale is so hearty, it lasts for up to 4 days. Experiment with different greens, dried fruits and ingredients in general! I like to make a large mason jar of vinaigrette and have it in the fridge to use at any time.

Autumn Kale Salad

2 cups raw kale, finely chopped
2 small heritage carrots, finely sliced
1/2 small red pepper, finely sliced
1/2 a large parsnip, shredded
1/4 white or red onion, finely sliced
2 dried nectarine halves, finely slice (or any other dried fruit)

Dressing:
1/4 olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp dried herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary)
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp onion granules
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp sugar

Toss everything in a bowl with dressing and let sit for about 2 hours. Kale will start to soften. Portion out individually and store for up to 4 days.

Enjoy!
Jacinthe

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

1 Nov

Lentils are a great alternative to using ground meat for Shepherd’s Pie. Green lentils keep their shape, while orange lentils melt into mush; using both gives a similar texture to meat.

This is definitely a dish for potlucks (even meat-lovers like it) and to make when you’re on a budget – each serving works about to approximately $1.50 (depending on how much butter, cream, and cheese you use)!

I like to make a double or triple recipe of this, portion it out into 7″x5″ 3-cup Pyrex bakeware, then freeze for easy weeknight meals. Continue reading

I made bread – you can too!!

26 Oct

Ok, so. Those of you who know me know that I’ve been wanting – nay, yearning – to learn how to make bread. My relationship with yeast has been tepid, at best. I’m not talking about tepid as in the lukewarm water you’re supposed to use to activate the yeast. I mean every time I’ve ever tried using yeast, I’ve somehow killed it (the time I thought I was supposed to use 100 degree CELSIUS water, not 100 degree FAHRENHEIT – whoops), or it’s only partially risen (not enough rising time??), or it’s risen and then baked into a brick (no idea)!

I got The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Easy Artisan Bread from the library, without even knowing it was a collection of no-knead bread recipes. I’ve seen Michael Smith’s Chef at Home episode where he makes no-knead bread as per the technique developed by Jim Lahey and outlined in the New York Times piece by Mark Bittman. So I thought, how hard can it be? It’ll perfect for my computer weary arms.

The first try I did everything the book told me, including mixing the yeast in with the dry ingredients and then adding the liquid. Two hours of rising time went by and…nothing happened. My hopes dashed, I asked around and was told that I had to activate the yeast (I totally knew that…but I was following the book directions!)

Anyway, I made the recipe again, with already activated yeast, and viola – bread was made. Calgary is SUPER dry, so I ended up adding a full 1/2 to 1 cup more water than the recipe called for.

Classic French Boule – from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Easy Artisan Bread

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
1 1/4 – 2 1/4 cups lukewarm water (I activated the yeast in about 1/4 cup lukewarm water with 1 tsp sugar)
2 tbsp cornmeal

Stir everything but the cornmeal together in a large bowl, until it comes into a ball. Loosely cover with plastic wrap (and a damp tea towel) and let rise on the counter in a draft-free place for 2-3 hours. Place in the fridge and let sit overnight up to 48 hours.

Preheat a Dutch Oven (enameled pot) in a 425 F oven for 45 minutes. With floured hands on a well-floured surface, draw the dough together into a 6″ ball. Let rise, seam side up in a bowl (covered again with plastic wrap or a damp, floured towel) for 30 minutes – 1 hour.

Once the Dutch Oven is heated, sprinkle the cornmeal on the bottom and turn the dough into it (seam side down). Cover it and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake for 20 minutes more or until an internal temperature of 210 F is reached.

Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Enjoy!

A Red Green Smoothie

21 Oct

Green drinks/smoothies are one of my favourite breakfast meals or snacks. There are so many combinations of fruits and vegetables to use, usually whatever you have in your fridge! I add protein powder in to make them a full meal that will keep me satiated for around 3 hours. The trick is to use a very good blender. Otherwise, you’ll end up with pulpy slush that isn’t very appetizing. In this version, I added a beet, which not only lends its beautiful colour to the drink, but also its vitamins and nutrients!


Red Green Smoothie

1 small beet, peeled and cut into wedges
3 cups greens (kale, swiss chard, lettuce, mesclun)
1 stalk celery
1 small carrot, peeled
1/2″ fresh ginger
1 apple (or pear, nectarine, peach, whatever’s in season)
1 banana
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh juice (cranberry is my fav)
1 serving’s worth of protein powder
water

Place everything in a blender and add enough water to almost cover. Blend until super smooth. You can stop and start the blender to let the larger pieces settle to the bottom. Pour into your favourite smoothie glass and enjoy! Keeps in the fridge for about 2 days.

Happy Cooking!
Jacinthe

Baked Crabapples with Onion and Sage

14 Oct

Here’s the latest article from the Bodhi Tree’s October 2011 newsletter.

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Many times in yoga class we are asked to set an intention for our practice. It could be anything from courage or strength, to softness or vulnerability. Setting an intention helps us move from just making shapes with our bodies to watching what comes up during our practice and working with the energy in our subtle bodies to deepen our understanding of ourselves.

Recently as I’ve come to my mat, I’ve found that “love” is the intention that pops into my head first. Sending love out into your everyday life not only benefits you, but also strengthens your relationships with the people around you and the earth. You might recall a time when “love” was the intention for your asana practice as well. That day, maybe you left that love intention on the mat, carried a little into the next activity you did, or perhaps you made love your highest purpose in life!

You can express love for yourself and for others in many ways: smiling at a stranger on the sidewalk, sending a note to a dear friend out-of-the-blue, expressing gratitude, or doing something by yourself just for the fun of it. Another great way to share this intention is through food. Cooking for those you love, bringing baked goods to friends or coworkers, is enough to let anyone know that they are loved!

Crabapples are ripe all over the city, just waiting to be used in this month’s recipe. Try it for upcoming holiday meals, because food made with love always tastes better! Continue reading