How to: Seasonal Cooking – Strawberry Rhubarb Pavlova

 

DSC_8845

The moment the spring weather hit last year I was all up in rhubarb’s grill.

It’s one of those truly seasonal foods I wait for all year.

DSC_8803

So, I’m at it again.  Exactly one day after our final snow fall of the year no less. And I swear to god if it’s not the final snow fall…

DSC_8774

Last year I also paired strawberries and rhubarb in a crumble.  It’s one of my all time favourite flavour combinations and it just makes sense; they grow in the same place at the same time of year in the same climate. They’re meant to be.

DSC_8789

Now the pavlova. That’s a new thing for me.  They seem to be a popular dessert option for those who celebrate Passover, so there have been a number of inspiring recipes that have crossed my path in recent weeks.

DSC_8791 DSC_8804

It’s basically a big ass meringue topped with whipped cream and delicious fruity things. The texture you’re going for is a firm and almost crisp exterior with a soft marshmallowy centre.

DSC_8822

DSC_8825

This recipe worked for me the very first time I tried it and it was so easy and so beautiful it has definitely made the shortlist of easy and dinner party worthy desserts.

Be sure to add the whipped cream and berries just before wowing your guests.

Enjoy,

Erin

DSC_8845

Strawberry Rhubarb Pavlova

Serves 4-6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Website Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

Meringue

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Compote

  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb (½ inch pieces)
  • 1 pint strawberries (sliced - roughly 2 cups)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Note

The meringue can be made ahead and kept in an airtight container for up to three days.  The same goes for the compote, but make sure your whipped cream is nice and fresh.

Directions

Meringue
1. Preheat oven to 225 F.
In a large mixing bowl (I used a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, but an electric hand mixer would work too), whisk egg whites and salt at medium speed until they begin to froth.
2. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.
Add gradually to egg whites while increasing mixing speed to medium high. Mix for 2 minutes, then slowly add vinegar and vanilla. Mix at medium high speed for 5-6 more minutes or until stiff glossy peaks form.
3. Transfer meringue mixture to the centre of a parchment lined baking sheet and spread it to form an 8" round, with a slight depression in the middle.
4. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn oven off and allow meringue to cool completely in the oven.
Compote
5. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Whipped Cream
6. Place sugar into mixing bowl. Add whipping cream and whisk until stiff peaks form.
7. To assemble, top meringue with a layer of whipped cream followed by compote. Keep leftover compote in the fridge.

 

 

 

 

How to: Simple Homemade Cheese

DSC_8740

Life is unpredictable, and sometimes messy, and often glorious, and occasionally insane. What it is not, is simple.

When life feels all jumbled up, it’s important for me to find a place I can feel grounded…  see the big picture and all that.

Spending time in the kitchen, cooking, does the trick for me.

IMG_6981

You should really try it.  The results are generally quite delicious.

DSC_8709

This is as basic a recipe as you can get.

Who knew making cheese at home could be such a cinch? 3 Ingredients!

DSC_8715

Cheesecloth can be found at any major supermarket.  I never find it in a specific aisle though, so you may have to ask where the store’s supply is.

DSC_8721

This recipe comes courtesy of Mark Bittman’s – How to Cook Everything Vegetarian iPhone app.  It’s a great investment if you’re looking for some new inspiration, and features hundreds of veggo recipes.

DSC_8729

Oop, here’s a peak at my grandmother’s hand.  Slash my old ass looking hand. Damn that thing is wrinkly.

DSC_8732

This is what I used to let my cheese rest and set.  The finished product is mildly sweet and has a slightly chewy yet crumbly texture.

DSC_8755

I used my finished cheese in the easiest way I could think of – with Ontario greenhouse tomatoes, basil, excellent quality extra virgin olive oil and s&p.

Keep it simple, folks.

Erin

Simple Homemade Cheese

Serves 1 pound
Cook time 2 hours
From book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian - Mark Bittman

Ingredients

  • 2l 2% or whole milk
  • 1l buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. In a heavy bottomed pot heat milk over medium high until it starts to bubble up around the edges (about 10-15 minutes).
2. Meanwhile, line a large strainer or colander with 3 layers of cheese cloth. Have a long piece of string or twine ready.
3. Once the milk starts to bubble, add buttermilk and stir constantly until the mixture separates into curds and whey. Remove from heat and add salt.
4. Slowly pour mixture through the cloth so the curds collect at the bottom and the whey drains off. Gather the corners of the cloth and twist the top and work the curds into a ball. Run the ball under cold water so you can handle it while twisting and squeezing out the whey until the budge feels firm.
5. Tie a string around the top of the bundle and the other end to a long spoon, stick or something that can be suspended over the sink to drain. Let rest undisturbed to cool and set, about 90 minutes. Remove cloth and serve immediately or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

How To: Quickie Meal – Parmesan Baked Tilapia

IMG_2905I’ve recently been giving my immersion blender, food processor, and hand held masher quite the workout in my kitchen. And no, it’s not because I’ve been whipping up some of our tasty sesame mashed sweet potatoes or delicious broccoli and cheddar soup. It’s because I have started feeding my little one solid food.

IMG_2889

IMG_2895

And I have to say, I can make a mean parsnip puree! And homemade applesauce, well it beats the commercial jarred variety by a mile. But one thing that is not so delicious, pureed tilapia.

IMG_2896

I know, it’s a shocker! But surprisingly, a plain old baked piece of tilapia, whipped up in my mini blender, is not appetizing. And no matter how much mashed up squash I mixed it with, it still did not go over well for my almost 7 month old (or for me or my husband for that matter!)

But do you know what does taste good? These parmesan crusted fillets.

IMG_2900

IMG_2899

They are also a cinch to whip together. A blend of low fat mayo and Greek yogurt help keep the tilapia fillets nice and moist. A sprinkle of parm adds to the golden delicious crust. They are delicious over a salad, with a side of whole grain of your choice, or as a sandwich stuffer.

IMG_2904I think I may have some more success with this tilapia recipe. I will probably save the blender for the carrots and pears!

Dara

IMG_2906

Parmesan Baked Tilapia

Serves 4
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Website Adapted from Whole Foods Market

Ingredients

  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 3 tbsp low fat mayo
  • 3 tbsp 0% Greek yogurt
  • 1 lime (zested and juiced)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Note

Serve these tilapia fillets with some brown rice or quinoa and a vegetable of your choice for a complete meal. They would also be delicious over a salad or stuffed in a pita or wrap for lunch. The marinade mixture would also work great on salmon.

Directions

1. Combine 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Rub tilapia fillets all over with mayo mixtures and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Let marinade for about 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350. Scoop any marinade on the sheet onto top of fillets and bake tilapia fillets for about 8-10 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and switch to broil. Sprinkle remaining parmesan on tilapia and broil for about 5 minutes, or until browned.

 

How to: Recipe Makeover – Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad

DSC_8700

So I’m remaking yet another vintage recipe.

Not quite sure what’s gotten in to me lately but I seem to be on an old things kick.

I just want to curl up and watch old movies, read classics and listen to 60s soul. And style my hair in a bouffant.

DSC_8670The classic Waldorf Salad takes it’s name from the NYC hotel where it was invented sometime in the 1890s.

Traditionally, apples, celery and walnuts would be dressed in mayo and served over lettuce.  My version is…much less nasty than that.  Delicious, even.  And super damn healthy.

I’m just kidding about the bouffant by the way.

DSC_8663

You wanna talk whole grains, a wheat berry is where. it. is. at. It’s actually the entire wheat kernel – bran, germ and endosperm. The whole kit and caboodle. They have an incredibly satisfying chewy texture.

I’m not sure how widely available they are in supermarkets (can’t find them in mine) but I buy them from Bulk Barn. If you can’t find them, substitute any variety of whole grain in this recipe.

DSC_8679

Adding cooked lentils to this salad makes it a meal in itself. A little Yin, a little Yang.

DSC_8676As always, toasting nuts for any recipe will improve their flavour.  If you’re in a time crunch though, you can certainly skip this step.

DSC_8689

How gorge is that?

DSC_8695How even more gorge is this?!

Serve it up as a side or a light lunch. It would even work as a nice accompaniment to Easter brunch.

Enjoy,

Erin

Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup wheat berries
  • 1 cup cooked lentils (brown or green, canned works perfectly)
  • 1 cup walnut halves (toasted and chopped)
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes (halved)
  • 1 granny smith apple (chopped)
  • 75g Macedonian or Bulgarian Feta Cheese (Any feta will do though)

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons liquid honey
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Note

A traditional Waldorf salad also includes celery.  Add it if you wish, but this version has plenty of great texture already.

Directions

1. In a small sauce pan, cover wheat berries with about 1.5 - 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered for 45 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid and cool.
2. In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients together.
3. Combine remainder of salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently with dressing until everything is well coated.
4. Crumble feta cheese over individual portions or a large serving platter.

How To: Healthy Breakfast – Mushroom, Broccoli, and Sun Dried Tomato Strata

This recipe is my “go-to.”

IMG_2827

Don’t you all have your “go-to’s?” You know, your “go-to” shirt for doing out for dinner, your “go-to” pyjamas for when you want to be warm and cozy, your “go-to” Thai place for take out. Well, now you can add a “go-to” brunch dish to that list.

IMG_2820

IMG_2821

This strata is just as perfect for entertaining a crowd for a Sunday brunch as it is for a quick re-heatable weekday morning option.

It is also easily made in advance – actually, you have to make this in advance as it needs to sit overnight to let the egg mixture soak into the baguette cubes.

IMG_2822

IMG_2823

It’s loaded with all sorts of good for you vegetables and gets a hit of flavour from some grated parmesan and sliced sun-dried tomatoes.

I have in fact made this not once, not twice, but THREE times in the last couple months when hosting a brunch and lunch at my place and it has never failed to impress.

IMG_2826

And if this happens to become your new “go-to” breakfast, brunch, lunch, AND dinner recipe, well, I won’t tell!

Dara

IMG_2841

Broccoli, Mushroom, and Sun Dried Tomato Strata

Serves 8
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Breakfast, Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Pre-preparable
By author Adapted from Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

  • 5 cups cubed whole wheat baguette
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 500 gram bag frozen broccoli (defrosted and chopped)
  • 85 gram bag sun-dried tomatoes (rehydrated in boiling water and thinly sliced)
  • 8 eggs
  • 8 egg whites
  • 1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard

Note

This strata is an excellent make ahead weekend brunch option. It can also be portioned out for breakfast or lunches during the week.

Directions

1. Preheat a non stick skillet over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add onions and garlic and cook until onion is translucent and soft. Remove to a large bowl and set aside.
2. Add mushrooms to pan and cook until browned and liquid has evaporated. Add mushrooms to bowl with onion and let cool.
3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, and dijon mustard until combined. Add onion mixture, broccoli, sun dried tomatoes, thyme, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese and mix until combined.
4. Spray a 9 x 13 pyrex with cooking spray and evenly distribute bread cubes along the bottom. Pour egg mixture over top and make sure bread cubes are all covered with this mixture. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 350 and bake strata for about an hour (it should be browned on top). Remove and let cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

IMG_2840