Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dish of the Day: Focaccia Sandwiches

This is another recipe from Paul and Tami's kitchen.
Sandwiches for dinner don't have to be boring if you use fresh ingredients and extra flavourings like a good olive oil or pesto. Start off with good whole grain bread. Look for large round focaccia to make this recipe serve 4. In Vancovuer, try Duso’s or Zara’s at Granville Island Market or Calabria Bakery on Victoria Drive.

Vegetarian Focaccia Sandwiches

You'll need: good quality olive oil; fresh basil leaves (at least 10); red, yellow and green bell peppers (one of each) sliced into thin rings; one jar of marinated artichoke hearts, diced and woody part removed; fresh asiago cheese finely grated.

To build your sandwich; first carefully cut the bread in half and remove top. Then spoon or baste olive oil to cover both sides of the bread. Next place a layer of basil leaves on the bottom half of the sandwich – covering the entire surface. Then layer one colour of the pepper rings first in concentric circles. Almost like the Olympic rings! Then add the next colour. Now carefully fill the spaces between the pepper rings with the diced artichoke hearts. Finally, add the last layer of peppers. Cover with a generous layer of fresh asiago. Top with the bread "lid". Cut the sandwiches into 4 wedges.

Now it is a nice idea to wrap each sandwich up in saran snugly and put in the fridge for an hour or two and allow the flavors to meld. These are wonderful on a picnic, or for dinner with soup. They keep very well.

***Please remember the most important thing in making this sandwich is the bread. It must be fresh, authentic and not crusty.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Salad Days of Summer

Following my last post on eating summer salads, I came across this article in the New York Times with 101 salad recipes. They're organised by categories such as Vegan, Vegetarian, with Seafood. What a fabulous article; bless the Times once again for their earnest (and often delicious), cerebral journalism.

To whet your appetite, here are just a few of the salads featured:
- Grilled eggplant with toasted pita, white beans, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes
- Cherries in a balsamic dressing with hazelnuts and radicchio
- Arugula with cold whole wheat penne, lemon zest and olive oil
- Vidalia onions with seared skirt steak, roasted red peppers and salad greens

These salads are epicurean meals unto themselves. We at BEYG may not have the time to make some of the more involved recipes but we're sure tempted and inspired to try many.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cheers to not cooking dinner!

It's been unseasonably hot here in Vancouver and I can't bear to cook over the stove. Plus, with an unruly mess of vegetables growing out back, we can't help but build our meals lately around big salads. Here are some of the combinations I've been putting together:

- Leaf lettuce, green onion, baby corn, colourful bell peppers, fresh peas and radishes
- Homemade caesar dressing with Romaine leaves, artichoke hearts, capers, and bacon (veggie or piggie)
- Romaine or other firm leaves with hard boiled egg, potato, tuna, green beans, olive and green onion
- Any lettuce with baby chard, blanched and chopped kale, chunks of cheese, chick peas and cucumbers
- Mixed greens with cherry tomatoes, and nuts or seeds (pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, pecans or walnuts
- Spinach with peppers, bean sprouts, BC blueberries and chopped pecans or walnuts

And to any of the above, I love to throw in delicious sunflower greens. At our farmer's marketthere is a local guy who sells them by the bag and they are so nutty and delicious. I've tried to grow sunflower greens myself but they're a bit fiddly, and I'd rather pay the $5 to this dedicated urban farmer who grows them far better than I could.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Guest Blogger: Handheld Tortillas

My friend Tami is mostly vegan and knows her way around the kitchen. She wanted to respond to my taco post with one of her own recipes. There's lots of room for flexibility and customisation here. Tami makes them side-by-side in the kitchen with her husband so they're like a Taco Tag Team. Take it away Tami!

Caroline: Here's a variation of your taco recipe and one we have often. It’s a great way to use up leftovers and use your creativity in the kitchen. These are delicious and nutritious and the only real learning curve is the assembly part.

Sunshine Handheld Tortillas

Start with,
1. whole wheat tortillas
2. frozen tofu, thawed, with all water squeezed out, then cuised to a "ground round" consistency, (we usually have leftover "tofu ground round" from a previous dish (e.g. Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese) as we only use up half of it in a recipe at once.
3. cooked brown rice

- Saute up onion, garlic, peppers, fresh diced tomato, add the brown rice and then stir in the "tofu ground round"
- Scramble up a couple of eggs in a separate pan and add them to your rice mixture.
- Cover, set aside and keep warm.
- Meanwhile, put on a large pot of cold water with a pinch of sugar in it and add 3 cobs of fresh sweet corn to the cold water, then bring to a boil. Once the corn has boiled for a couple of minutes, take it off the heat and let stand in the water. Whenever you are ready remove the corn from the pot of water and cut the kernels off the cob and place in small dish.

All items below (or your substitute fillings) should be prepped and in front of you before you begin.
- fresh corn
- chunky fresh salsa (it is generally easy to find a good store bought one)
- grated Jack cheese
- chopped cilantro
- plain yogurt

Warm the tortillas one at a time in a pan and lay them out flat in the centre of your work surface. First place some of the rice in the middle of the wrap and flatten. Then put all your remaining ingredients on top of the filling - the fresh corn, salsa, cheese, cilantro and a drizzle of yogurt. Don't overfill; the ingredients should form a long sausage shape down the centre of the tortilla. Then fold up the bottom of the wrap, about 2 ½ inches over the filling, fold right side next to cover the filling, then pull over the left side of the wrap to complete. Next put a toothpick or an hors d'oeuvre pick in the centre towards the top of the wrap, plate it and eat as a hand held.

Other fillings to try: diced mushrooms, meatless chicken strips, leftover cooked red potatoes cut up, refried beans, avocado or whatever you fancy.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dish of the Day: Pasta with Yogurt Cream Sauce

originally uploaded by me.
The above pic is to show you what my kitchen looks like after I've cooked dinner, and before my wonderfully amazing husband cleans it up. Hopefully you can derive some satisfaction - as some do when watching Reality TV - such as "Phew....that's not my life!"

Tonight we had fresh pasta (asparagus and cheese ravioli) with kale, basil and a garlicky cream sauce. I do enjoy cream sauce but when it's made with real cream it's often too heavy for my liking. And it is summer. So I threw together a lighter yogurt sauce that you can do quickly, and customise it to your taste.

The Italian in me says all recipes should start with this first step:
- chop some garlic, throw in a pan and brown in olive oil for a couple of minutes
- bring a large pot of water to boil
- throw in your pasta and veggies (we used fresh kale and put it in for 2 minutes then added in fresh pasta that boiled for 4 more minutes)
- when cooked to your liking, dump pasta and veggies out of pot into a colander
- turn off heat and place pot back on the stove
- add yogurt to taste into the warm pot (I used 1 cup for 3 servings and this was too creamy for my liking; I'd use more like 1/2 to 2/3 cup next time)
- add in shredded or grated cheese, such as Parmagiano, to taste, about 2-4 Tablespoons
- place the pasta and veggies back into the pot and mix gently to coat with the yogurt mixture
- now place a dollop (1 Tbsp or so) of butter into the olive oil/garlic pan and warm it up until butter foams slightly
- meanwhile place the pasta on the plates
- remove garlic pan from heat and swirl the oil around several times and drizzle the contents over each plate of pasta
- top with chopped fresh herbs, salt and pepper and serve

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dish of the Day: Garden Soup

Garden Soup
Garden Soup,
originally uploaded by me.
Tonight's dinner included soup made almost entirely from food from our garden. The only exceptions are garlic (which I must plant next year) and chick peas, both obtained from the Portuguese grocers next door. How's that for fresh and local?

This soup was made by heating up 2 tablespoons of olive oil and adding chopped shallots to taste, then chopped garlic and stirring them for 2 minutes. I then added 2 cups of water and a roughly chopped tomato, and 2 handfuls of finely chopped kale. I simmered this on medium for 5 minutes, then added in 1 handful of chopped Swiss Chard, and some chick peas and simmered for a few more minutes. Right before serving I added chopped basil and chives.

Have a look in your garden or vegetable drawer and try throwing them into a soup with the addition of your favourite spices for a quick and healthy meal.