Keeping hope alive & Fiddlehead Velouté

IMG_0505IMG_0506IMG_0507IMG_0508I can’t quite believe it, but it snowed today… Now it didn’t stick around mind you, but still, snow… in May… So lets actively deny that it happened and move on! So on that note, fiddleheads appeared at the market this week and I jumped on them! As they are only around for a week or two, I wanted to make sure I had the chance to broaden my recipe range.  I had been thinking of making an asparagus velouté when it occurred to me, let’s try out a velouté with fiddleheads, so… One attempt and beautiful results! Oh, and p.s., my truffle oil obsession continues!!!

Recipe

2 cups fiddleheads, rinsed

1 large potato, peeled and cubed

2 cups stock

3/4 cup cream, 1/4 cup whipped

1 large shallot, thinly sliced, reserve 1-2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon butter

Salt & pepper to taste

Truffle oil

Instructions

Sauté shallot in butter until glassy, add fiddleheads and sauté a further 2-3 minutes. Add stock and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, fry reserved shallots in olive oil until crisp and browned. Drain on absorbent paper. Add vegetables and stock in blender with the cream and blend on high until smooth. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve in bowls topped with whipped cream, fried shallots and a few drops of truffle oil. Serves 2. Bon appétit!

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My spanish roots & the queen of all comfort food: My Yaya’s spanish meatballs

If ever I had to choose from all the delicious comfort foods in my repertoire, this would probably be it. It was one of my favourites as a child and I would get really excited when I would see my grandmother preparing them. When my grandparents retired, they would spend winters in Spain and my grandmother would always prepare me a large batch of these in the freezer. They would, sadly, never last that long… I just couldn’t resist! When she passed away, I had one regret, that I still hold to this day, that I didn’t put down in writing all of the family recipes. Most of them I manage by experimenting, memory or with the help of my mom and aunt that have their versions of the recipes as well, but one thing I found out after discussing this specific recipe with my mother, is that we have different versions of the recipe. Clearly, as with all good cooks that experiment and are always trying different things or ‘perfecting’ their recipes, the dish evolves as does the individual that is cooking it. So my recipe is completely different to the one my mother has and neither of us has ever even seen let alone eaten the others version! Funny that, no?scn_0044

So getting back to february being the month for comfort food, here is my version of spanish meatballs! My version uses minced mushrooms instead of the classic breadcrumbs and egg  for the meatballs. I find it lightens it up, adds veggies and depth to the meatballs. You can, of course, revert to the classic. I also use coconut cream instead of milk, but you’re welcome to do the milk version! Boy am I a happy camper to have these ready to eat!!!

 

Spanish meatballs

Ingredients

225 gr. mix of ground beef, pork & veal

1/4 cup finely minced mushrooms

1 Tb pine nuts

1 large onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large potato

2 medium carrots, sliced in 1/4 rounds

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/4 almonds roughly chopped (or 2 Tb almond butter)

1 Tb olive oil

1/4 tp smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

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Instructions

Heat olive oil in cast iron pan, add 1/2 of the onions and stir until translucent. Add 1/2 of the garlic and stir for a minute or so then add almost and continue until fragrant (2-3 min.). Add paprika and combine well then add carrots. Stir for another minute then add just enough water to cover. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until carrots are tender. Meanwhile combine ground meats with remaining garlic & onion, pine nuts and dash of paprika, season with salt and pepper. Roll into golf sized balls, you should have 8 meatballs. Set aside. When carrot mixture is ready, transfer to a blender with coconut milk and blend on high until smooth. Return sauce to pan and add meatballs. Make sure sauce is almost covering the meatballs. If pan is too large, transfer to a smaller pan, cook on medium-low heat to simmer, occasionally stirring. Peel and cut potatoes and place in small pan, cover with water and season with salt. Cook covered for 5 minutes once water comes to a rolling boil. Remove from water and add to meatballs and sauce. Cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring occasionally making sure elements are covered in sauce and correcting seasoning of necessary.  Serves 2, can be frozen without the potatoes. If you only want one portion and freeze the other, use a small potato. You can freeze the remaining meatballs on their own with enough sauce to cover.  Enjoy!

February is for comfort food & the classic comfort duo: Cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but soups seem to be a recurring theme at my house. I guess soup is the perfect quick comfort food. It’s nourishing, tasty, can be made in every colour of the rainbow and can be made as light or as hearty as you desire. So today I’m sharing my cream of tomato soup recipe. I’ve been making it for over twenty years and the ingredients have evolved over the years. You can swap from milk to dairy alternatives, coconut milk/cream, from the cream cheese to greek yogurt or anything you want to use, experimentation leads to perfection!

Cream of tomato soup

Ingredients

1 28 oz tin of canned tomatoes

1 medium onion with 1 clove inserted

1 medium carrot, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups milk (or alternative)

1 Tb flour

1 Tb butter (or alternative)

Dash of grated nutmeg

1 cup cream cheese (or alternative)

Instructions

Place tomatoes, carrot and onion in saucepan, season with salt & pepper and cook on medium-low heat , covered, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile in a separate saucepan make a béchamel by melting butter on medium heat, add flour and stir until well incorporated and whisk in milk slowly, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. When the milk has thickened, allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside. After 30 minutes, add cream cheese to tomatoes to warm. Put all the ingredients in a blender and process on high until smooth. Makes 2-3 servings, can be frozen for 3-4 months.

Grilled cheese

Ingredients

1 large slice country bread cut in 2 (or 2 slices regular bread)

2-3 slices of cheese of your choice

Cranberry chutney

Butter

Sliced scallion

Instructions

Butter outer sides of bread. Spread cranberry chutney on the inside of bread, place 1-2 slices cheese on top, sprinkle scallion and add another slice of cheese. Close with 2nd slice and cook on medium heat in a cast iron pan until well browned on both sides. Serve and enjoy!

The most scrumptious cream of butternut soup and a special grilled cheese

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It’s been so grey this winter, it’s hard to not feel a little down when the sun goes awol. Kind of wish I had the means to hop on a plane and head south…! So to combat the grey skies I’m cooking with colour! This creamy delicious butternut squash soup brought a smile back, at least for a short moment! Be sure to scoop out the seeds and use them as well, nothing should go to waste, plus they’re delicious!

Cream of butternut squash soup

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed, seeds removed and reserved

1 medium onion

Enough stock (I used chicken) to cover veggies

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon grilled sesame oil

1 1/2 teaspoons hawaiij spices (recipe below)

1 can cream of coconut, reserve 1/6 for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro leaves and sliced green onions for garnish

Sauté onions in olive oil until soft and translucent, add butternut, spices and sesame oil and sauté until well blended. Add stock and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until squash is tender. Add to blender with coconut cream and blend on high until smooth. Serve and garnish with reserved coconut cream, green onions and cilantro.

Grilled cheese

1 large slice of country bread

2-3 slices of aged cheddar

Red curry paste

Cilantro

Sliced green onions

Butter

Spread a thin layer of the curry paste on the bread, garnish with the sliced green onions, cheese then cilantro. Cut in half and close into a sandwich, butter both sides and grill in hot pan with a weight to brown well. Check and when bread is golden brown turn over and repeat.   Enjoy with your soup for a delicious meal!

Hawaaij

Hawaaij is a Yemenite spice mixture, varying from home to home, much like the curry mixes in India. This is a blend that Melissa Yeh shared on her blog, My name is Yeh

2 tablespoons ground ginger

2 tablespoons ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Roasted pumpkin or squash seeds

1 cup seeds rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

dash of ground chipotle

Blend all ingredients and spread on a lined baking sheet. Cook in a 350º oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Will keep at least one month stored in an airtight container. Enjoy sprinkled on soups or as a snack!