Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easy Vegetable Stock

Seriously, why buy vegetable stock?! If you've got at least three vegetables, an onion and garlic, it's way easier to make then to go to the store and purchase a boxed version. Had I known this, I would have been doing this all along and it would have saved me a ton of times this winter when I was making all those soups!

I spread the word to all, vegetable stock is the easiest thing since sliced bread. All you need are some trimmings of vegetables. Celery, fennel bulb, garlic, onion, carrot peelings, basically any vegetable peelings and some herbs.

I used:

carrot peels
celery ends
garlic cloves
dried rosemary
bay leaves

I roasted the carrot, celery, onion and garlic in the oven at 400 degrees. It took little to no time to roast. The vegetables softened almost immediately. I had to cut the onion in chunks so that it would cook quickly. I also wrapped the garlic cloves in aluminum keeping the skins on.

Here's a photo of the post-roasted veggie scraps.

Bring a pot of water to boil with salt. I find that if the water level is just high enough to cover the veggies, the stock won't take as long. Add roasted veggies and let simmer for about 30 minutes. It smells lovely and poof! You've got yourself a no nonsense healthy veggie stock. :)

Now how easy is that?

I think I'm going to make veggie stock from now on every time I have a load of veggies that I've chopped and peeled. After the broth is strained, the veggies can still go directly to compost, thoroughly used.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mussels, Monkfish, and Moving

If you bear with me (rowr!), I'll get to the food in a moment. I just wanted to give some thought to some upcoming changes in our attic apartment, namely that we will no longer be living in it. I, in fact, am sitting at my desk for the last time before I dismantle it. And the weather in Halifax is suitably rainy and blustery: just perfect for a sad little woman to put everything in a box and take it away. I stumbled across some sort-of-suitable words from Philip Larkin here, although his sentiment isn't quite what I'm feeling, but maybe the only attitude that'll get me through is the "bigger-and-better-things" ambition. But, It. Has. Been. Wonderful.

It's a sad time, but we're trying our best to celebrate what we've made here. Last Friday Katherine and I shared a bottle of wine over some special cheeses we bought from the shop down the street, along with impressively hand-made bread. What else? A gift of daffodils from the service desk at the supermarket!

That is how I choose to remember our dining room, even though it currently looks like this. How can so little look like so much, and vice versa?

Oh right, I promised I would get to the food, didn't I? We were at the supermarket buying ingredients for Katherine's famous nachos, and while I was looking to get some shrimp, I noticed that the seafood guys had been having a little too much fun.

Why not though? Who likes monkfish anyway?! But it was good advertising, since it was right next to a big display for PEI mussels for only $1.99 a pound! SO!

Sophia's guide to perfect mussels:

To store the mussels, put them in a large bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. DON'T just leave them out, and DON'T put them in water.

Act out those childhood Santa-fantasies, and remove their beards with a quick tug. If the mussels are open at this point, give them a tap against the counter. If they close up again, throw them back in, but if they don't, toss'em.

Now, you'll need:

5 tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 sweet onion, diced
1 cup wine
MUSSELS! (I did about 2 pounds)
1 tbsp chives, chopped

put a large pot on high heat and throw in two tablespoons of the butter, allowing it to foam

throw in the garlic and onion and let sizzle for about 15 seconds before pouring in the wine (this part is really fun). Bring it to a boil (just a warning: this doesn't take long at ALL)

Then, add your mussels! Cover the pot and give it a good shake from tie to time. Check after 2 minutes to see if the mussels are opening. Once they're all open, they're done! So simply pour into a serving dish along with the delicious, delicious sauce. If however, some of them haven't opened, they never will, and DON'T eat them. Getting at a mussel should never be difficult.

Now, even though you've got a great liquid to serve the mussels in, I find I like to serve them with an additional dip, just in case someone doesn't think this has enough variety of flavour.

Simply melt your remaining butter and add your chives. DONE!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Everyone Has a Food Vice

I love potato wedges even more so than fries if seasoned properly. I love how they're baked and not greasy and I especially love how well they go with fried chicken, my weakness and vice. For some women it's chocolate, for some men it's burgers and bacon. For Caroline it's nachos... for Sophia it could be chips. For Sarah, it's pizza. For me, it's fried chicken. It's a terrible vice to have. Tonight I decided to sway my craving with making potato wedges with my three pathetic potatoes that I had abandoned in my cupboard for weeks. I came across the recipe from food blogger and small time entrepreneur the Purple Foodie, based out of India. It was a recipe named for all time favorite and was featured on one of my favorite food browsing hot spots, Food Gawker.

I found the idea of microwaving the potatoes first a little strange. I think next time I'll parboil them as she suggests. I also would be curious to try this with some baked onions. I love chunks of roasted onions with potatoes. This recipe can also be adapted to your own tastes by playing with the seasonings. Why not add a little chipotle chili powder instead of cayenne? Or substitute with a bit of garam masala and coriander? Or change it up with basil, parsley, or rosemary with roasted chunks of tomato? I think I'll be using this recipe again anytime I'm craving fast food or fries. It does the trick, it can be made within an hour, it's much better for you and it's dirt cheap.

Recipe taken from

Garlic Fries
Adapted from: Lottie + Doof

8 garlic cloves, minced
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 russet potatoes (about 8oz each), each cut into 12 wedges
3 tbsp cornstarch/cornflour
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 225°C/440° F.
Combine the garlic and oil in a large bowl, warming it until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
Transfer 5 tablespoons of the oil (leaving the garlic in the bowl) to the baking dish, coating it well.
Add the potatoes to the bowl with the garlic mixture and toss to coat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and microwave on high power until the potatoes are translucent around the edges, 3 to 6 minutes, shaking the bowl to redistribute the potatoes halfway through cooking.
Combine the cornstarch, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the hot potatoes and toss well to coat.
Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake, turning once, until deep golden brown and crisp, 30 to 40 minutes.

Instead of microwaving, Purple foodie suggests par-boiling the potatoes and then letting them dry on paper towels.