Thursday, August 20, 2015

E's 3rd Birthday


I won't even apologize for a lack of posting.  Our lives have changed enough that posting isn't a priority anymore.  But, every so often, I get inspired to post; mainly to document something from our lives.

It's strange how one day you're announcing the birth of your firstborn...and then the next it's his/her 3rd (10th...20th..25th..) birthday.

1st Birthday


2nd Birthday


A few days ago, we celebrated E's 3rd birthday.


I finally got to use the cupcake cake form that Giz decided should live at my house.  I used Barefoot Contessa's Ultimate Chocolate Cake recipe.  I was worried that the batter was too liquidy and would fall apart once removed from the pan, but everything came out perfectly.


Actually, this was her second birthday cake, since we had an early birthday celebration in Toronto, with a Minion-themed family birthday party.




Our friends came over for dinner on her birthday and I tried out a new recipe, 20 Minute Skillet Chicken and Spinach Parmesan.  It was a yummy recipe that I would definitely use again.


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Friday, August 7, 2015

Marinated Vegetable Salad



I'm forever in search of new ways of preparing vegetables.  New salads, fritters, breakfast options, you name it I try them all.  The find this week is a marinated vegetable salad from The Seasoned Mom.  Hmmmm, marinated vegetables sound interesting to me.  I like the idea of putting on a dressing (marinade), putting in the fridge and have it taste better after it sits for a while.  Sure beats soggy salads.

This variation looks like an old family recipe and when mom passes it down to daughter, there's something that makes it more interesting.  The best - it takes 10 minutes to put together and lasts a few days in the fridge.

Ingredients

3/4 cup slice mushrooms
3/4 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
3/4 cup sliced zucchini
3/4 cup peeled chopped carrots
1 small sweet bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup cauliflower florets
1/2 tsp minced garlic (I used a little more)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions

1.  Place all vegetables in a large bowl
2.  Place all remaining ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake until completely combined.
3.  Pour dressing over vegetables
4.  Refridgerate salad at least 2 hours (or overnight)



Fresh, addictive and healthy

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Polish Sorrel Soup


Saturday was market day and Toronto is definitely a great place to visit the markets.  One of my favourites is the Evergreen Brickworks Farmer's Market.  It's more than just a market - it's an experience and it's impossible to leave there without feeling enriched somehow.  The vendors are all first class, extremely friendly and great educators.  It's not possible to go to the market without struggling over which slow food vendor you want to satisfy your taste buds with.  This should only be my worst first world problem.  On the trip to the market my friends and I talked at great length about the amazing breakfast crepes and how long the lineups were but so worth the wait.  Frankly, there isn't a vendor there who isn't worth the wait - seriously

When we were in Poland it was always pretty easy to find unique soups with a bit of a sour twist to them.  I had no idea what the main ingredient was but found out it was sorrel.  I found a recipe for this interesting  Polish Sorrel Soup  from Barbara Rolek, Eastern European Food Expert.  Barbara is my "go to" person for all things Eastern European.  But, let me tell you - this is not a grocery store item one finds easily.  I had all but given up when, as I walked through the market....voila .... sorrel!!! I'm sure the vendor thought I had really lost it; who gets so crazy over finding sorrel.  For those who aren't familiar with this ingredient I looked it up on Wikepedia:
 "Sorrel soup is a soup made from water or brothsorrel leaves, and salt.[1][2] Varieties of the same soup include spinachgarden orachechardnettle, and occasionally dandeliongoutweed or ramsons, together with or instead of sorrel.[1][2][3][4][5] It is known in Ashkenazi JewishBelarusian,[4]Latvian,[6] LithuanianPolishRussian,[1][2] and Ukrainian[3][5] cuisines. Its other English names, spelled variously schavelshchavshav, or shtshav, are from the Proto-Slavic ščаvь for sorrel. Due to its commonness as a soup in Eastern European cuisines, it is often called green borscht, as a cousin of the standard, reddish-purple beetroot borscht.[1][4][3][5] In Russia, where shchi (along with or rather than borscht) has been the staple soup, sorrel soup is also called green shchi.[7][8] In some cookbooks it is called simply green soup.[2]
Sorrel soup usually includes further ingredients such as egg yolks or whole eggs (hard boiled or scrambled), potatoes, carrots, parsley root, and rice.[1][2][9] A variety of Ukrainian green borscht also includes beetroot.[8] In PolishUkrainian, and Russian cuisines, sorrel soup may be prepared using any kind of broth instead of water.[1][2] It is usually garnished with smetana (an Eastern European variety of sour cream).[1][2] It can also be akosher food. It may be served either hot or chilled.
Sorrel soup is characterized by its sour taste due to oxalic acid (called "sorrel acid" in Slavic languages) present in sorrel. The "sorrel-sour" taste may disappear when sour cream is added, as the oxalic acid reacts with calcium and casein."
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 large peeled and sliced carrot
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • bay leaf
  • 3 peeled and cubed medium potatoes
  • 1 chicken or vegetable boullion cube
  • 1/2 pound fresh sorrel, washed, stemmed as for spinach and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh dill or parsley
  • hard-cooked eggs cut into quarters
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 65 minutes
  • Yield6 servings Polish Sorrel Soup
PREPARATION
  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, place 6 cups cold water, carrots and parsley. Bring to a boil and add bay leaf, potatoes and boullion cube. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender.
  2. In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté sorrel for 10 minutes. Transfer to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Remove bay leaf. Fork blend sour cream with flour and temper with a few ladles of hot soup. Transfer tempered sour cream to soup, stir well and simmer until thickened and just under the boiling point. Adjust seasonings.
  1. Portion soup into heated bowls and garnish with chopped dill or parsley and egg quarters.
We finished all the shopping and it was time for our crepes - delicious as always and really quite filling.  I have a friend who is at the market every week.  He's an Italian from Venezuela who has this passion for all things Spanish.  If that didn't confuse you, he's now planning to go to Morocco and expand his offerings with Moroccan flavours.  Jose Arado who is the owner and main chef at Pimenton   is a total joy to be around and has a forever smile on his face and a big hug waiting for you when you come his way.  I hadn't seen him in a while and was very excited to treat me to one of his creations.  Don't forget, I'm full from the crepe but Jose's enthusiasm is spell binding and there's no way to say no.  He brought me this dish of organic greens with Spanish chorizo sausage topped with a soft cooked egg over the top and a home made hot sauce that was entirely "to die for".   Of course I ate it knowing full well I was going to be full beyond belief.

If you didn't click on Jose's site above make sure you do and watch the you tube video. You'll see an array of Jose's creations, his presence at the market and get infected by the amazing Spanish music and his love of food.  Enjoy!!
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