Monday, March 30, 2015

Bowmore Make It Fair Curried Beet and Coconut Soup

Went to the Bowmore Make It Fair and brought along this soup. Had a few requests for the recipe, so decided to do up a post for posterity.

The thing is, there is no real recipe...and I hate purple beets but I like this recipe. I first tried doing this for Valentine's potluck at work. I decided to leave out the blue cheese whipped bits but if you are interested, it is described in the link above. Anyways, I will try to break it down for you and just let me know if you have any problems.

Curried Beet and Coconut Soup (Vegan version)
makes a 6 quart (5.5 L) crockpot full

8 Large beets (2-3 lbs)
3 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garam masala
1 can (~400ml) coconut milk
750 ml apple juice
15 ml lemon or lime juice

Okay, here is what I've done with all the riffs included.  I may include an unannotated version afterwards but this reflects how I actually cook.

Cut up the beets in reasonable chunks for roasting in a 350 oven for an hour. If you don't cut them up, it will take longer. A neat trick is just to put them in any time you are cooking something else. I added a few carrots to roast as well. Cool slightly and peel. In a dry pan, add spices to toast lightly on a medium heat. Or if you don't want to bother, just skip this step. Basically keep the proportions so that no one spice mix dominates. You can skip the garam and just keep cumin and curry in equal proportions. Once it starts to smell, add a little water and the miso paste. Cook until dissolved. Add beets and carrots, coconut milk and apple juice. The liquid should just come up to the beets, you need enough to cook them in. If it doesn't, add some water until it does. Don't worry about adding too much water because you will have to thin the soup later when blending. Cook until beets are soft enough to blend with a stick blender or whatever blendy thing you are using. (about 45 minutes). Make sure not to boil the soup too hard. If it starts rapidly bubbling turn it down. I guess that is a simmer, as in simmer down. Blend the soup and add water to desired consistency. Add lemon or lime juice before serving.

All said, I know the time looks long but I often add beets or other roots vegetables to the oven when I am cooking something so I tend to have them on hand in the winter. In the summer, forget about it. That is the time for things that need less heat. And they can cook unattended. Go watch an episode of Game of Thrones when they are in the oven. Same with the on the stove thing. I finished cooking the soup while I was having my morning coffee and getting ready for the Fair, looking for cords and tweeting and FBing and other nerdish stuff.

Anyways, enjoy. Let me know your riffs, if you do any.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Near Misses #1: Frittata and an attempt at Garlic Bread?

One of the comments I hear from people when they are listening to me talk about making supper or cooking something new is that they could never do it. Behind that is an assumption that somehow, cooking is a talent rather than something to work at and explore. It also doesn't help that there is always an idea that to make a good meal, it takes a lot of time.

So, going to start breaking down some of those myths by sharing my near misses and failures. It is only in the failures that you learn something. We had two near misses in my household this weekend; the first was a frittata that used goat cheese and the second was... interesting.


Frittata is just an Italian word shortcut for puffy omelet. Take some eggs and milk or cream. Beat them together. Put them in hot pan that can be put in the oven. Put in some carbs and other tasty things. Wait for a bit of setting and then put it in the oven. I generally put it in at 350 for until it's set and then broil it for browning or cheese melting.

We always make extra pasta and serve our sauce on the side so as to have enough leftovers to make this omelet. This time there was butter sauce on it. That's just plain butter and a little salt. The filling this time was adding a little goat cheese. Also, had a little leftover mushroom soup that I flicked on. The kids did not like it. Even though, they both have had soft goat cheese before, this time it did not go over well. A couple reasons other than that the only substantial flavour was the tang from the cheese could have been the all day sucker that they finished only hours before. Trying something out of the box at the end of the day is always risky but even worse when you have tired and strung out boys. But we did agree to try a better grade of cheese sometime in a different manner to make sure it wasn't the cheese.

Something Else

At the cheese shop, the kids tried Lankaaster cheese and really liked it. So much that they wanted to do something with it for supper. The intention was to try Mark II on the Frittata and serve it with baguette. Somewhere along the way, the plan morphed.

We got this.

This is a baguette smeared with bacon fat, topped with pasta and cheese. The kids loved it. It didn't hurt that my eldest came up with idea. It was quite rich and should have been served with fresh veggies or something to cut the fat. It wasn't. As the meal went on, there were some concessions after the initial chowdown that maybe some garlic could have been used and yes, maybe a sauce would make it better. Regardless, there is a good germ of an idea here that merits exploration.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Recipes: Family Day Sandwiches

We had bologna sandwiches and chocolate bar sandwiches for Family Day. I'm going to blame David Chang and Quebec for the first and Food & Wine for the second. 

This is a straight up recipe post with only a bit of setup. I've been messing around with bologna sandwiches for quite a while. One of my favourites is to grab mortadella which is the original bologna from, well, Bologna in Italy. It looks like our favourite except with specks of black pepper and spackled with fat nodules. My son requested this sandwich after watching an episode of In The Mind of a Chef.


Fry some thinly sliced mortadella and reserve any grease. Place on bread with provolone cheese, Italy's favourite processed cheese. I like rye bread for the bread, as it gives it that Montreal flare. Smother with mustard. Hot mustard helps cut the fat. Take sandwiches and fry them until cheese is melted or bread is at desired colour. Take it out and eat 'em. Serve them with ketchup if you must.

Now, about that chocolate bar sandwich... A friend talked about his Scottish childhood and how he would go to school with candy bar sandwiches and trade for fresh veggies and regular sandwiches. I'm beginning to question my choice to limit my kids' intake of sugar right about now. Also, in January's Food & Wine there is a recipe for Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches with Caramel Sauce. So, I tried two takes on that: one with Laura Secord's nutella homage (Nutella is better but next time) and another with a Caramilk bar. 


Put ingredients on bread. Toast them in a frying pan. Serve them with another set of liquid sugar such as caramel sauce or Mapo Spread. That's what I used. It is an incredibly sweet, maple flavoured spread. Pretty freaking awesome. The kids preferred the candy bar one as the caramel and chocolate had seeped into the bread. This is an easy dessert but you will have to have candy bars on hand. In some houses, this is an impossible task.

That was lunchtime for Family Day...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine's Potluck

Two weeks ago, work decided it was putting on a Valentine's brunch but we had to tie our food to Valentine's with colour or something. The first thought that passed through my head was to do up some beef heart in some fashion - tartar or a stew.

I didn't do that. Maybe some Texas red with heart shaped biscuits? Beet sandwiches cut into hearts? These gimmicky things are both a nuisance and a time to shine. I just couldn't figure it out. Part of it is that I'm just not into this holiday this year. With the dissolution of my marriage last year, it seems more hokey than normal. So many sites talk about food to get you in the mood or romantic food.

The thing is that aside from heavy meals, I find that any meals can a bit of eroticism to them. In turns watching someone eat can be disgusting or evocative. A lot of that is, of course, the meal companion. If you find someone attractive, there are so many things that you can forgive and overlook. So, the idea that red food somehow shows more love than a well cooked and intentional meal is a little hollow.

Any meal cooked with love and explicitly for someone is sexy.

But back to what to bring to a potluck. I'm making a beet, coconut and lime soup with a blue cheese cream. The soup base has beer and coconut milk stirred into sweating onions where guajillo chili, cinnamon, chili powder and turmeric have been added. Then the beets were added and cooked until tender. The soup was blended with vegetable stock as needed.

Blue cheese was whipped with whipping cream.

This will be served chilled in a small cup with a dollop of whipped blue cream and a toothpick dragged through to make a white heart on top.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Dregs Round-up for December 2014

Here are a collection of links and interesting rumours that haven't made it to a full post.

Toronto and Montreal got a shout out from Daniel Boulud as cities to watch for interesting food.

While I am starting to think about a series on the issues that foodies face while grocery shopping, along comes an article that talks about replacing meat with vegetable protein. While it handles many issues of higher inefficiencies that in converting plants to muscle, it doesn't say enough about the issues of eating less processed food. I think the article in some ways furthers the more mechanistic and nutrionist leanings of food culture. The idea that animals are nothing more than conversion machines. Anyways, it was a good read and I am definitely interested in protein from other sources and of course, have issues with fake meat.

Just yesterday I talked about beer flavoured coffee and updating my quest. Seems Starbucks has beaten me to the beer barrel. The good news is that the tasters aren't exactly loving it. My experiments are here: 1st Attempt, 2nd Attempt.

Speaking about coffee and beer, Boxcar Social which I reviewed here will be opening up another location on Queen East in the land of decent coffee. There place will have a good beer focus as well. Not sure of the opening date but they have inked the contract.

Boxcar let slip that they believe a brewery will be opening up beside their new location. There is already a bunch of breweries looking or set up on the East Side. Left Field, Sweetgrass and Louis Cifer are the ones that are well known and given coverage. On Mom and Hops, there are a number of planned breweries for Toronto and some seem to have an eastern connection.

- Danforth Brewing
- Strathmore Brewing
- Muddy York Brewing, and
- The Only Nanobrewery.

None of these seem like the likely candidate and so I wait to hear more. Anyways, there are a few morsels that I couldn't quite make into a full blog post unless I did some serious work.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Resolutions 2015

Today I was going to write about either microwave cooking or some type of foodie resolutions of eating better, or smarter or whatever. Instead, after a discussion with a close friend, I'm going to be more ambitious with this post. No resolving to change behaviours or achieving measurable goals this year; I want to focus on shifting priorities. I want to describe the journeys that I want to go on this year and where I hope to end up.

Jordan St. John has posted a good post on what is happening in beer policy land and I am still skeptical on how to achieve the goals of replacing a whole sail system with bits and bobs of fabric and expecting it to stay afloat. If something can and does shift this system, it would be interesting if some of the same approaches could be used in the food system. If this doesn't make sense to you, it is because I haven't unpacked any of it and that is what I hope I can post about. Examples include:
- Farmers' market and whether they are just feel good for urbanites
- Maybe our grocery stores are a type of ogliopoly
- CSAs and how they are supposed to work
- Big business got that way for a reason such as reducing inefficiencies in the system so what is the purpose of these smaller markets or to put another way, goals such as sustainability bring what value?
- Are small and craft sustainable? If not, should we look at ways of helping make it so?

A bunch of my experiments disappeared and I need to bring them back and update them.
- beer flavoured coffee
- teff beer
- post about more of the "failures"

Evolution (just so I can use another E word):
- changes in my approaches to food now that I am a single dad or just single sometimes
- expand on my drunk reviews, maybe even split em off. Not related at all to the first bullet.
- more reviews on vegetarian and vegan places or even damn good dishes

End targets:
- publish more posts in more areas and more sites
- you mean I can get paid for this?

So those are my best guesses at things that I'd like to do with this blog this year. Of course, there will always be posts on whatever strikes my fancy but I think it is time that I started focusing on a few things...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Leftover Breakfast #1

Almost New Year's and I'm thinking about starting a new series of blog posts and reviving some older ones. Hopefully, it will last longer than most resolutions that die before a month is over. Anyways, I have been reading too much of Ideas in Food blog because once again their type of thinking has inspired me to look at my leftovers a bit differently.

Today, using some leftover naan, we had French toast naan. There were several aha moments and I could and should milk those insights for multiple posts but I'm so excited how the whole thing came together that I am going to do all of it right now.

French toast is like fried custard 
On some level, I know that but soaking some of the bread for a while in the egg mixture reminded me of how alike french toast and bread pudding are. I wonder what frying leftover bread pudding would be like?

Bread is Bread
Speaking about frying bread pudding, there are so many breads that are non traditional for french toast. Makes me want to make a spice loaf or a pumpkin loaf just to toast and the dip it in egg mixture and have a desserty french toast. The texture of the naan was pancake like. I wonder how pancakes or bannock would taste. Sometimes this is a case of more is more and this piling on of flavours will collapse into turducken territory. But these were leftover naan and definitely stale.

Sugar is Sugar
Had way too much apricot gomme from a review I did for beer cocktails for eatdrinktravel. Apricot gomme is just a simple syrup that is thickened with a gum, or in this case, I used apricot paste. It is thick and sugary with a light apricot taste. It is a syrup and tasted great poured over the naan. Reminds me of the time that I made a smoke simple syrup to be poured over fried leftover oatmeal.

I guess if you fry most leftovers and pour syrup over it, you can call it breakfast? So many interesting (to me) ideas that I may have to purposely make some leftovers.