First of all, thank you so much for your kind words about my refrigerator woes, and an immense amount of gratitude goes to my friends and family for offering to help store our food over the weekend. You’d think there would be an emergency fridge delivery service, eh? Or maybe our landlord just opted for the “deliver it on Monday” option. Suffice it to say we had three days without fridge stuff.
How did we manage? Oatmeal. Twice a day. I am only partly joking. If I going to make a single serving of any food, it better be quick. Hence, the oats. I jazzed them up as a dessert pudding with chocolate protein powder, which is also how I ate them for breakfast, too. Still tasty.
Rob and I also unearthened some of our favourite foods from the freezer. It is amazing what I had forgotten that been stashed away. I had the forethought to freeze meals in single servings (or 2), so it was perfect. Freezer meals don’t have to be shabby. We had memories of summer produce by munching through Greek Stewed Swiss Chard With Tomatoes, Mint and Lima Beans, Peruvian Mayocoba Bean Bowl with a Roasted Pepper Sauce, Iraqi-Inspired Eggplant and Seitan Stew and even older but (still) goodie Cauliflower, Spinach and Chickpea Balti. Score!
I also experimented with frozen oats and frozen stir fries. Meals that I had made before the fridge died but then stashed outside, in the winter chill, to freeze. It works! Turns out I am not the first person to have figured out you can freeze steel-cut oatmeal (Trader Joe’s even sells it). You can rest assured I will be sharing those recipes eventually (the stir-fry, not how to freeze oats).
In the meantime, I am sharing a cinnamon-spiced beet and sweet potato salad with spelt berries and kale. Ashley raved about Kath’s salad, so I had been meaning to try it out for a while. Plus, Valentine’s Day is all about the red foods, eh? Bring on the beets!
I’ve gone the savoury cinnamon route before (Strawberry and Roasted Chickpea Salad with a Cinnamon Vinaigrette, Moroccan Barley and Pea Shoot Salad, Cherry Collard Dolmas) and this was pretty good, too. I won’t gush its praises but it was fit for a weeknight meal (maybe not for anti-kale guests). It may seem like an involved salad but you just need to prepare each component separately – the cinnamon-roasted beets and sweets, the spelt berries, the sauteed kale and finally, the dressing.
I have had problems with burned spices when added to roasted vegetables, but this worked out. The sweetener from the dressing helps to accentuate the earthiness of the cinnamon. I imagine adding maple syrup to the veggies while roasting would be delicious as well.
How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day? Red food? Chocolate? Or nothing at all, since every day is an awesome celebration of love? I vote for the latter, but I know Rob is planning a special home-cooked meal for me later this week. He has leaked that it will involve frozen bananas. (Exciting! Nothing more sexy than your man in an apron, no?)
My brother and sister-in-law moved into their new condo the week after us. Their place is spotless, nearly everything has been put away, and they are meticulously figuring out which furniture they still want to buy. They are missing dining chairs, though, but told us we could come over for dinner once they arrived. In about…. 16 weeks (eek!!).
Rob and I, on the other hand, have a functional house. We combined both of our stuff, miss-matched in all its glory. While the house is mostly functional for day-to-day living, we still have a lot of unpacked boxes in our offices and in the basement. With Rob’s old mattress and boxspring in the living room along with our 3 bikes. But despite that, we have not put our social calendar on hold until we clean house. We are still having fun, opening our messy home to our friends and family as an easy place to gather.
We have gotten better at the barbecue thing, which is where Rob usually hangs out. Which is a blessing in disguise, because when I made this salad, I knew I would be a goner if I had to man the roasted veggies. Not because it is difficult, rather it is difficult to stop snacking on the tasty veggies! I honestly roasted a bunch of asparagus but you will have a hard time finding it in the salad because I probably ate half of it straight off the barbecue.
Let me back up a bit: I had a recent hankering for pomegranate-roasted vegetables. I wanted to add them to a wheat berry salad. At first, I scoured the web for other pomegranate-grilled vegetables, but then I remembered I already knew the perfect glaze! Last year, I made a delectable pomegranate-glazed salmon that combined a simple glaze of pomegranate molasses with olive oil, but then it was heightened with fresh lemon juice, maple syrup and chopped basil.
Therefore, I based my new recipe on that template, adding more pomegranate molasses and less maple syrup, because I wanted a more pronounced deep pomegranate flavour. Pomegranate molasses can be tart, so taste as you go. Little did I realize how similar this dressing was to my Turkish Bulgur Salad, of former Best Salad Ever fame. With all the roasted veggies, it is kisir on steroids. Or maybe just a winning Janet original.
In a few months, I will be moving from my tiny (but cozy! I love it! I will miss it. Anyone want to rent it?) apartment to a house. Not any house, though. A house with a garden: which I plan on filling with vegetables.
While I had a mini container garden on my balcony last year, there will be a lot more space in the new place. Thus, the question is what should we be planting as beginner gardeners for our first garden?
My first list was to pick the things I like to eat: tomatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, spinach, broccoli, bok choy, cilantro, garlic, and lots of herbs. I have visions of lots of kale, swiss chard and snow peas. However, after reading a bit more, I definitely had to revisit these plans. Butternut squash need a lot of room. Broccoli and cabbage scream “eat me!” by attracting a lot of bugs. Bok choy is hard to grow. Cilantro likes to bolt when the weather gets hot. Garlic needed to be planted in the fall. Hmmpht, this is not as easy as I was hoping.
In an effort to find easy plants to grow that we will want to eat, we’ve been investigating new vegetables. Eat them now to see if we want to grow them later.
The first vegetable we were intrigued by was kohlrabi, one of the oddest looking vegetables (?alien baby in vegetable form). Truth be told, I had never even heard of kohlrabi until Dawn started posting a bunch of recipes as she got them through her CSA. I had not seen them in the grocery stores, either. Until I started to look, of course. Bestwin for the win, sells 4 of them for $1.
Rob took a few and made a light, yet earthy Indian-Spiced Kohlrabi and Quinoa Salad and I used the last kohlrabi to make this delicious wheat berry salad, inspired by Enlightened Cooking. It has been a while since I’ve cooked up some wheat berries. Since wheat berries take an hour or so to cook, I was tempted to bring out quinoa instead for the salad. After seeing wheat berries appear in a few recent recipes, I reconsidered. It has been too long.. and I should be cleaning out my pantry, right? It was the right decision, too: wheat berries were fabulous here.
Reminiscent of two of my favourite wheat berry salads, a bright citrus dressing pairs incredibly well with plump, nutty wheat berries. The salad is flavoured with a tart-sweet crisp apple, chopped sweet red pepper, dried cranberries as well as crunchy carrots and sunflower seeds. I added lots of cilantro and mixed in slivered baby spinach (pea shoots were great, too!) for more body. While it may seem counter-intuitive, a tip I’ve picked up for wheat berry salads is to dress it right before serving. Otherwise, the wheat berries sop up the dressing and it becomes dry when eating them as leftovers.
Oh yes, and the fresh kohlrabi. Hard to describe, but it tastes like broccoli and cabbage with the texture of an Asian pear in a broccoli stem form. Maybe that makes sense to some of you. The conclusion, though, is that I like it! This was a fabulous salad, kohlrabi and all. Hopefully it makes it into our new garden.
Have any suggestions for planting a garden in Toronto? I am all ears!
Other kohlrabi recipes that have interested me:
Kale and Kohlrabi Salad with Miso-Tahini Dressing by Florida Coastal Cooking
Kohlrabi Slivers and Pea Shoots with Sesame Dressing by Gourmet
Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad by The Wednesday Chef
Coconut Curried Tofu, Eggplant, and Kohlrabi with Green Jasmine Rice by Eats Well With Others
Turnip-and-Kohlrabi Slaw with Ginger-Vinaigrette Dressing from The Bitten Word
Asian Slaw with Kohlrabi, Daikon and Turnips by Eggs on Sunday
Savoy Cabbage, Kohlrabi and Grapefruit Salad by Food & Wine
Kohlrabi and Cabbage Salad in Plenty by Ottolenghi
Sometimes I get distracted at a grocery store by sales. A pound of frozen edamame was $1 at T&T and I snapped it up, despite not knowing what to make with it. I luckily found space in my tiny condo-sized freezer until I spotted this delicious salad at Keep Your Diet Real, who spotted it from an ad in a magazine.
A cup of shelled edamame didn’t seem like a lot, so I started shelling some of my frozen edamame. It was well over 40 minutes, and through my entire 400g bag, that I finally shelled 1 cup of edamame beans. Gah! I will not do that again since I know there are bags of pre-shelled edamame, too. Even if I see them for sale again, I will not succumb to the temptation.
This was a light yet hearty salad at the same time. It was hearty with one of my favourite whole grains: wheat berries. Nutty and chewy, they can really hold their own in a salad. Sweet cherry tomatoes, creamy edamame beans and white beans are added for further textural and nutritional contrast. The dressing is a plain red wine vinegar vinaigrette and the red onions add the bit of kick needed for such a simple salad.
One of the best compliments of someone’s cooking is when others use your recipe regularly. Many people may ask for a recipe, but they may not venture to make it. It likely gets added to the ever-growing list of recipes to your ‘to-try’ file (and oh, am I guilty of that!). The biggest compliment is when a great cook adds your dish into their repertoire… especially when that fabulous cook is your mom, who can do no foul in the kitchen.
This is one of those dishes that my mom has lifted from my files and I figured it was about time I shared it with everyone else. I have already professed my love for wheat berries, the nutty, chewy kernels of wheat and this was the recipe that got me hooked. Wheat berries are combined with a sweet citrus dressing, paired with some greens (mixed, spinach, watercress, whatever!) and crunchy nuts. This makes a light yet filling salad, perfect all year round. I adapted this recipe from Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers.
Now a diversion regarding food photography: I attended a talk by food photographer Robert Wigington through the Toronto Camera Club last week. Granted food bloggers are very generous with their tips on how to get that perfect photo, and some have photographed their own cookbooks, but I get curious how the professionals do it. I actually eat the food I feature in my photos, and try not to let the food get too cold. Robert has shot food photos for numerous cookbooks, magazines as well as for companies like President’s Choice. I liked how he highlighted the importance of the food stylist, who makes and styles the food.. But not necessarily with the real recipe – a roast turkey would be cooked for 20 minutes, not hours! He rarely eats the food, probably because it isn’t real! While shooting a shot of a pizza slice with dripping melted cheese, he could go through 10 pizzas over a morning of photographing, just to get that perfect shot.
My favourite tip from the night, though, was how he loved reflections to convey whether a dish was moist or juicy. Usually I try to eliminate odd shadows or reflections, but I think these shots show how the reflections from the dressing work well with the first photo. The second one, below, doesn’t look as appealing and I blame it on the lack of shine.
I absolutely love salads hearty enough to be a meal. Especially after all the holiday-induced sweets. This salad, adapted from Two Dishes by Linda Hanes and Devin Connell, is a subtle salad. Nothing is screaming its flavours, but they meld well together; rather unassumingly. It features hearty wheat berries (aka wheat kernels) with apricots, chives and almonds. This is for all those looking for meal-worthy winter salads. Enjoy! As well, feel free to share your own favourite hearty salad recipe.
Let me start this by saying I am not a foodie hippie. While I do enjoy granola, my cupboards are not filled with wacky ingredients like agave, nor do I believe that all organic food is the right way to go. I don’t have many cupboards in my apartment, so I try to keep quasi-normal ingredients in my pantry. However, I have a stash of wheat berries. I was first introduced to wheat berries a year ago, and it was an interesting adventure to procure the nutty wheat gems. I originally found them in a natural bulk food store, of the organics variety, with a higher price point. In fairness, I had no idea what I was looking for, but I was pleased once I made my first salad. They were delicious and worth it. Once I was armed with what wheat berries looked like, I found them much cheaper at Loblaws, but under another name: wheat kernels.
Wheat berries are the whole kernel of wheat, minus the hull, so they are chockful of nutrients. Wheat is typically stripped of nutrients during the processing of white flour. Wow, I sound kind of like a granola girl… but what you really need to know, and all that matters is that they taste great and are incredibly filling. A little bit goes a long way. The slightly nutty flavour is captured within a chewy nugget that is perfect for salads, soups, and sides.
The following salad combines wheat berries with equally nutty wild rice and pairs them with crunchy apples, sweet cranberries and toasted almonds. It is all tossed together in a flavourful citrus dressing. This is one of my favourite salads, and the slightly counterintuitive secret may be to dress the salad just as it is being served. (more…)