Oftentimes, my breakfast and dessert could be the same dish. I never really thought I had sweet breakfasts, but I definitely prefer more wholesome desserts. Muffins, scones, and granola all work double duty.
When I saw this Apple Pie Oatmeal in Bob’s Red Mill Cookbook (also posted here), I knew I wanted to ring in my fall breakfasts with a cinnamon and apple-flavoured oatmeal. I just wasn’t prepared for how similar it would taste like apple pie. The flavours were all there, cinnamon and nutmeg, juicy sauteed apple pieces, with the warmth from the cooked oatmeal.
Light and sweet, this was delicious and the key was using apple juice to cook the oatmeal. I made a few modifications to the recipe, such as decreasing the amount of oats and liquid to increase the apple ratio and have less leftovers. I also found the original recipe a bit sweet when eaten fresh (it mellows as leftovers, though), so I decreased the sugar. I also decreased the oil because I didn’t find it was necessary with the juicy apple. While I wouldn’t eat oatmeal for dessert, this oatmeal has the same flavours as apple pie. Thus, dessert for wholesome breakfast. Add some apples and spice to your morning routine. You won’t regret it.
This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring apples.
Wait! Deja vu? Eggplants, tomatoes, pomegranate molasses, beans… I think we just saw this as the delicious mualle, the Turkish Eggplant, Tomato and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate!
I really liked how the mualle turned out so I wanted to try make something similar again, while tomatoes and eggplants were still in season. I found this in Arabesque by Claudia Roden, and was drawn to it by its simplicity. Mualle takes a while to make and it works because the flavours are just bursting from the slow braise. However, I can’t make it every day. This dish, which has many of the same ingredients, comes together quicker, especially if you use canned chickpeas.
There was a sweet and tart play with this dish, from the sweet braised tomatoes and the tart pomegranate molasses. I liked the heavier presence of chickpeas, which is how I love my salads. If you wanted to spice things up, I don’t think you could go wrong with adding some mint or Aleppo chili flakes. The tomatoes cooked down to a sauce, so unless you don’t mind tomato peels, it would be better to take a few extra moments to skin the tomatoes (blanch then peel).
I served this as a vegetarian main with a slice of bread, but Roden has it listed as a mezze (starter or appetizer) and explains it could also be a side for a meat dish.
This is my submission to Nithu for this month’s Cooking with Whole Foods featuring chickpeas, this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook, and to this month’s Monthly Mingle, featuring Lebanese cuisine.
You don’t win friends with salad. Well, I think my friends could be won over by a tasty salad. Nothing says ‘I love you‘ better than a healthy, tasty meal, right? Or is it just me? While I do enjoy desserts, I am more likely to fawn over mangoes, raspberries, pomegranate molasses, baked eggs, marinaded tempeh and let’s not forget the best salad ever. Bulgur has also been a summer obsession and when I was invited to bring a salad to a BBQ gathering with friends, I thought this would be a perfect side salad for the tasty grillings.
This salad was adapted from Delicious Days, who called this “The Salad You Must Make”. I was very tempted. My winning salad was also made with bulgur, and I really like almonds, cranberries and lemon (yes, I cook with them a lot). I knew I had a great combination despite the seemingly simple ingredients, so I brought it along for BBQ bliss.
I really liked the salad, albeit a side salad. Truth be told, I wouldn’t normally make it for myself as I prefer one-dish meals. I was worried it would be dry (where is the dressing?) but it worked well together. The coarse bulgur was slightly creamy. The cranberries were sweet and the lemon zest a bit zippy with the nutty almond crunch. And the grande finale came from the sauteed green onions. They melted down and added that extra dimension (creamy? tasty? buttery? it was great anyhow). I think leeks could work as well, but green onions are cheaper so kudos to that!
I can only fight off fall so long. I have started to wear my cycling hat because it is so cold as I whisk down to work in the morning on my bike. Bestwin has butternut squash on sale for 17 cents/lb this week. Let’s ring in the fall produce!
This is another winning salad from Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers. It has so many unique salad ideas, I love flipping through it. My other favourite recipes from her book include the Wheat Berry Salad with Almonds and Spinach in a Citrus Dressing and the Wild Rice and Wheat Berry Salad with Apple, Cranberries and Almonds in a Citrus Dressing.
This salad features a crisp, sliced apple, with crunchy toasted almonds and juicy pomegranate seeds over a bed of arugula. I used baby arugula which wasn’t that peppery, but arugula would work well with the sweet apple-laced vinaigrette. Another option I might entertain next time is a pomegranate vinaigrette with pomegranate molasses, but I liked the focus on apple. Sadly, salads with dressed greens do not bode well for leftovers, so I halved the recipe to serve 2 and only dressed it before serving.
There are many recipes for broccoli salad. It usually includes chopped red onion, raisins, sunflowers seeds, crumbled bacon and a mayonnaise dressing laced with sugar and vinegar. It is delicious. I even asked for the recipe after I ate it a few summers ago. But I haven’t made it yet. I find I get turned off of recipes when I know exactly what goes inside. Bacon and mayo are delicious, but I just don’t cook with them that often.
This is why I perked up when I saw a mayo- and bacon-less broccoli salad on 101 Cookbooks. There are many different crunchy aspects to the salad; tender-crisp broccoli, crisp apple pieces and toasted almonds. The magic ingredient was probably the crispy onion. They were crunchy and added a unique flavour. I cheated and used store-bought crispy onions that I found in Kensington Market a while back but I included the directions to pan-fry your own shallots, if you choose to do so. The dressing was a bit on the thick side for me, which was probably due to my almond butter. It spread out more than I thought once it dressed the salad. It certainly is not a mayo-dressing, but a decent alternative.
I love fish. Especially salmon. I prefer fish baked until just barely cooked through and many of my recipes include salmon baked with different glazes, like teriyaki or maple, or soaked in white wine and wrapped in phyllo dough. It is a very simple way to keep the moisture within the salmon, and up its flavour with the glaze.
I knew pomegranate and salmon paired well together, but I wanted to try something with a stronger, tarter glaze. When I spotted a Pomegranate-Glazed Salmon in The Breakaway Cook by Eric Gower, I knew this was exactly what I was searching for. The salmon fillets are baked with both olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Once it emerges from the oven, a lemon-maple sauce is drizzled over top. This sweet lemony accent, combined with the tart pomegranate glaze was everything I could have hoped for with my salmon. Eric suggests using chives to top the salmon, but fresh basil was a good, if not better, substitute.
I still enjoy my salmon teriyaki recipe, but found the flavours more complex here. I really enjoyed it. My mom preferred it to the maple salmon, which is more salty from the soy sauce and sweet from the maple syrup. Once she picks up a bottle of pomegranate molasses, she may make this her new go-to fish recipe. I definitely plan on making this again.
You win some, you lose some. While I have had a few successes with recipes from Arabesque by Claudia Roden, I didn’t feel this lived up to my expectations. I love everything in the salad: sweet apples, roasted red peppers and tomatoes with a dash of Aleppo chili flakes. But together they just didn’t work. Don’t be fooled by the word salad. This is more of a spread or dip, but my apple slices were big enough that I had to eat it with a spoon, rather then spoon it onto pita bread instead. I mean it wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t great. It was better when served chilled, rather than warm or at room temperature.
And you may be asking why the heck and I posting this recipe if I didn’t like it. Well, consider it adding to the living community of recipe critiques. I love recreating dishes from other food bloggers’, or places like Epicurious where people post reviews, because you can see how the recipe worked for other people. With cookbooks, you can never be too sure what to expect. Good? Bad? Ugly? I love food bloggers who cook through cookbooks and give us the skinny on what really works (like Steph who went through Momofuku – what she liked and disliked). In fact, I may even google the recipe title to find feedback about the recipe before I venture to try it myself. (I even did it with this recipe, it had one positive review). Someone else may search for this recipe in weeks, months or years to come, and they will know what I thought about it, too, and use some of my suggestions on how to improve it.
This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring apples, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to My Kitchen, My World, featuring Moroccan dishes this month, and over to Chowhound which has Arabesque as one of their Cookbooks of the Month.
I am fighting it.
I know it is now mid-September. The kids have gone back to school. My century ride last weekend was called “Summer’s End Century Tour” and yes, I have started to wear a jacket while cycling to work. I will have to abandon my cycling shorts, too, because it is pretty frigid with the wind in the mornings and evenings. I even close my balcony door at night, which has been on perma-open since May.
I think fall is here.
But that doesn’t mean I am jumping for the butternut squashes just yet (in due time!*). I am still lingering in summer’s bounty of fresh local fruit and vegetables, including fruit for these tasty crumbles: local peaches, blueberries and raspberries.**
*Bestwin has butternut squash on sale for 17 cents/lb this week. I may be stocking up afterall!
**Frozen fruit would work well if baking this out of season.
I know everyone already has a favourite crumble, crisp or cobbler recipe – usually the one that Mom made. But when I spotted this on Joy the Baker, I was intrigued by the combination of fruit and spice. Peaches and blueberries work well together, but how would it work with raspberries? (And why would I even consider baking with fresh, juicy, light raspberries?? I must be mad!) But Joy paired them with cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup, which was a match in heaven. The raspberries were a nice sweet/tart addition to the fruit trio and I enjoyed how they all worked well with the nutmeg and maple.
At first, I enjoyed this warm from the oven as dessert, but throughout the week, the leftovers made their way into breakfast. The crumble topping was reminiscent of granola and with the baked fruit, it was great with yogurt. A perfectly healthy dessert and breakfast. Got to love the transition!
Rolled oats are no stranger to the breakfast table and oatmeal is a regular standby in my morning routine. After the Nutrition Action Health Letter (aka the Consumer Reports of healthy foods), deemed Bob’s Red Mill Country Style Muesli their favourite, it became my new breakfast.
Oatmeal is cheap, healthy and relatively quick. It is great since it is a whole grain, fiber-rich, and lowers cholesterol. When you cook traditional oats, you also have no added sugar or salt (can’t say the same for the instant, flavoured varieties). But let’s be honest: when you cook rolled oats with water and a dash of salt, they aren’t that tasty. You can make oatmeal more flavourful by adding in your own sweeteners, fruit (dried or fresh), nuts, seeds, peanut butter, etc. The possibilities are endless.
This recipe for whipped banana oatmeal is a great way to make a creamy bowl of oats without any cream at all. The magic comes from a ripe banana that melts seamlessly into the oats, imparting both sweetness and creaminess. It is a bit more involved than your standard bowl of oats, as you need to whip everything together, but it is worth it. I liked the addition of dried cranberries, but feel free to add in your favourite fixins. I spotted and then adapted the recipe from Macheesmo, who adapted it from Kath Eats’ Tribute to Oatmeal.
This is my submission to this month’s Breakfast Club, featuring British breakfasts (the Brits call this porridge). This recipe, coupled with Peach Blueberry Raspberry Crumbles, is my entry to Blog Bites 7, Iron Chef-style, where we use one ingredient two ways! My ingredient: oats!
My last post was written a while ago… one of my many recipes from the draft folder. And while these fruit, nut and seed bars were made later in the summer as well, I am writing this post after biking the double imperial century ride from Ottawa to Cornwall and back. The big kahuna. The grand finale.
And I did it!!
It was such an amazing feeling to accomplish such a feat, especially since I only started long distance cycling this year. If I can do it, anyone can!
What was more amazing during this ride, though, is that I learned how great it is to cycle in a group. Usually I bike with 1-2 other people, but we just have fun while cycling, stopping when we want, etc.
This was different.
My Dad and I joined the Touring 1 group for the Imperial Century Route (160km). The posted average speed was going to be 23-26 km/h. I usually get around 23km/h which is really not that fast but I can’t seem to do any better. I can do 26km/h average when mainly downhill…. but not when I factor in going back uphill! Hills are my weakness.
So there were 6 of us in the group. Totally not a beginner group (um, what kind of beginner would be cycling 320km??). A and T were both older gentlemen who enjoy cycling and were along for the ride. Strong cyclists but always reminding us to have fun! H was going for a ‘hat trick’ award. This year, she had already cross-country skiied 160km over 2 days, ran a marathon, and once she did the double imperial century, she was all set! Her friend L came along for the ride – but she had only done the shorter routes before. My dad has done the Cornwall and Kingston rides for 10 years, so he’s very strong.. and then there’s me!
It is mainly flat, but I found it quite windy. Being in a group of 6 (3 pairs), we rotated routinely, and were able to draft off of each other. The hills at the end had me struggling a bit, especially when I fell out of formation but the group would wait at the top and my Dad would try to deflect some of the wind off me. Once you lose the group, it is even more hard to join up again! We left at 0800 and arrived in Cornwall at 1600. Not bad at all. I was very pleased! 165km. 4 breaks, including a longer one for a flat tire. Average speed 26.1 km/h.
We lost and added a person for our return ride. T wanted to do the 120km and J joined us from the faster group. There were 60 people doing this ride and we were the only group doing the 160km back. We had 1 other person, biking solo, pass us, so most people picked the 120km back.
Anyways, we got the hills over with at the beginning and the route was mostly the same but it did change in some places as well.
In the end, our stats were: Left at 0730. Arrived at 1430 (imagine that!!) with 4 breaks. 162 km. Average 26.6 km/h! By 124 km, our average was 27.0 km/h! But it rained the last 30km, so we slowed a bit.
The group was really fantastic. Very encouraging and never dropped me despite being the weakest in the group. In fact, they were great about whisking me along. I felt a bit like Lance Armstrong as people tried to figure out where to position me in the group to capitalize on my strengths. There was a LOT more wind this time and sometimes it helped us! Our max speed was 39km/h which we got on a flat.
In conclusion, it was a great end of season trip. While I won’t be putting away my bike just yet (I hope to keep commuting until December, at least until the snow arrives), I am also not entirely sure where to go from here. I am considering investing in a nice road bike, but we’ll see.
Now about these bars! I spotted them at Enlightened Cooking. They were a nice change of pace from the date-heavy bars, with a citrusy burst from the orange juice and the apricots. The seeds and almonds provided a nice crunch as well. They were a bit more moist then some of my other bars this year as well.
On the same day I had my flat tire, complete with 2 exploded inner tubes while trying to repair it, I had this for dinner.
Having a couple of lackluster dishes the week before, I was a bit uneasy about trying a new recipe.
But I had a hankering for fish and wanted to try it with my new favourite ingredient, pomegranate molasses. Plus, there was the bonus of roasted eggplant, with this Georgian recipe I spotted in The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean by Paula Wolfert.
The original recipe suggested rainbow trout, but my love for salmon won that battle.
The dish was not what I expected but it was delicious. At first, I was hoping for something with a sharp tanginess from the pomegranate molasses, but this was mellow. The pomegranate flavour was mainly in the eggplant, which sopped up the basting liquid. The salmon was nice and flakey, but not infused with much pomegranate flavour. It was there, only subtly. But once you wrapped the salmon in some pomegranate roasted eggplant, this is where you made magic. Eating the two together is where you get the merriment of the flavours, the contrast of textures and simply a great meal. It made my inner tube worries melt away…
This weekend, I might die. Hopefully, not literally. But I am nuts. I hope I can still stand on Monday.
All summer, I have been training to cycle between Ottawa and Cornwall and back again. A double imperial century, or 320km. A double metric century, 240km, if we chicken out. Either path will be difficult.
A few of my latest training runs have been cancelled due to rain, so I am hoping that the weather will be nice (no rain, no wind) this weekend. Last I checked, everything was good to go, but nothing matters except the weather on the day. Heck, on Monday it wasn’t supposed to rain either, but at 9am, after 3km, it started to rain. We took shelter for an hour to re-evaluate. It continued to rain. We watched another episode of Dexter. By this time, we decided to forego my last 120km training ride and hit the pool instead.
While loading up on carbohydrates hasn’t been proven to work as well in women, I have been scouting out high carb meals this week. Oatmeal sprinkled with pomegranate molasses, is a new favourite for breakfast. Welcoming pasta back into the mix, including this Japanese-inspired noodle dish I found at 101 Cookbooks.
It was a simple dish with subtle flavours. I thought the ginger would overpower the dish, but it blended seemlessly with the noodles and broccoli. The mint and basil worked well together with the chili flakes in this Japanese dish.
If I was truly carb-loading, I would omit the tofu (72% carbs) but I think tofu adds a certain filling factor, so I kept it in. Good thing I am a woman!
This is my submission to Regional Recipes, featuring dishes from Japan, this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook, to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Abby of eat the right stuff and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.
Have you ever had this burning craving for something?
Today it was cheesecake.
I don’t know why, but I wanted cheesecake. It was all I could think about at work.
A heavy, decadent slice of cheesecake.
I have a great no bake Toblerone cheesecake recipe that I haven’t made in years, but I didn’t have Oreo cookie crumbs nor cream at home. Plus, I wanted one slice, not an entire cheesecake.
I contemplated making Kevin’s no bake blueberry cheesecake, which serves 2, but again I didn’t have any cream or graham cracker crumbs.
If I were to head to the grocery store to buy those items, then I may as well pop over to a restaurant and buy a slice of cheesecake.
So I looked for the next best thing: chocolate. Oozing, creamy chocolate. A molten chocolate lava cake. A cake where the outside is cake-like but you are surprised in the middle with soft, oozing chocolate.
Spotted at The Pioneer Woman, this recipe was perfect for molten chocolate cakes. After I halved the recipe, it served 2. I had all the ingredients in my pantry already.
In the time it took to preheat my oven, I had already whipped up the batter. I spread it between 2 ramekins and in 15 minutes, I had my chocolate fix! Quick, easy, decadent and now a very satisfied feeling.
This was the first time that my stomach screamed at me to finish taking my photos. Especially as I watched the ice cream melt before my eyes, amongst the warm oozing chocolate filling… Thankfully, as good as it looked, it tasted even better. I quickly snapped a few photos so I could eat this in all its warmed glory.
There was a dense chocolate cake exterior, but inside the middle was soft and silky. Thick, but decadent. Unbelievably rich and filling. As a note for next time, I used bittersweet 72% chocolate and found the cakes a bit sweet. Next time, I’ll scout out unsweetened chocolate or decrease the sugar.
This is my submission to the Chocolaty Dreams Virtual Party.
The summer lends well to cooking Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. Local, fresh produce is at the heart of many of their dishes. Eggplants, tomatoes, and zucchinis abound in grocery stores and my cookbooks simultaneously.
When I spotted this Turkish casserole stew, also known as mualle, I knew I had a great summer dish. I don’t immediately think of stew as a summer dish, but here, layers of eggplant, tomatoes and lentils are slowly braised with mint and pomegranate molasses to create a melt-in-your-mouth dish. Aleppo chili flakes add a nice burst of heat. Sweet, salty, sour, spicy, it has all the components of a great dish. I didn’t even need to turn on my oven, to boot!
After the long stove-top braise, I allowed the stew to return to room temperature. Leftovers were phenomenal. This stew was delicious served with a toasted baguette. By the end of the week, my bread was more stale, but I plopped it in with the stew for a few hours before lunch, and it was great. I can finally start to see the appeal of a bread salad like panzanella. Others have recommended serving it with rice and garlic-spiked yogurt, which is more authentic.
This recipe was adapted from Almost Turkish Recipes, who adapted it from Food & Wine (July 2004). I will decrease the olive oil a lot next time (2 tbsp may even be sufficient), as can be found in a very similar recipe by Paula Wolfert in Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking.