Do you remember that wonderful post that Shelly from Vegetarian Ventures did here a few weeks back? Well she was kind enough to let me build on that and give you the secret to pureed soups, and put it up on her beautiful blog! Hop over there now to check it out!
You know that moment the morning after a couple too many drinks when you first wake up, and realize that you forgot to put the cork in the bottle of red, that you opened much too late and drank only half a glass out of?
And it’s sort of heart breaking that that lovely bottle that so many grapes died for is now just going to be thrown down the drain?
And you think, well, maybe I opened it late enough and you put the cork back in it and hope for the best, but by the time you open it up the next day (lord knows you’re not trying anything boozy that night) it’s absolutely tragically off.
I can’t be the only one who does that right?
So recently a friend of mine suggested red wine salt as a solution, and my brain nearly exploded.
There is a use for corked and terrible left over wine?
How am I only just figuring this out?
It’s a day full of questions.
Here’s what you need to know.
You take that wine, you reduce it down like crazy, and when it’s a thick syrup you stir in a whole bunch of coarse salt, and then you spread it on a tray and let it sit out overnight.
And the next day, unlike the last when you woke up knowing that you’d ruined a bottle of wine, you wake up to something wonderful. Something that will instead add a bit of depth to your steak dishes, and gussy up a piece of duck, and look tres chic on your dinner table when you’re entertaining. Or bottle it up and give it as a hostess gift!
Just don’t tell them that really, it’s just the cheapest salt around with an old bottle of wine.
Last Christmas was awful. Beyond that actually, last December was awful. It was single handedly the most stressful month of my working life, I learnt the important lesson of saying no, I can’t do that, albeit too late. And poor Jordan had major hip and knee surgery and couldn’t do much of anything without a lot of assistance. Which is why this year I decided we needed to truly get into the Christmas season and do everything we could do make up for last year.
This means dinner parties with friends, decorating our apartment even though we’ll be out of town for the actual day, and trying to just do little festive things for each other to get us in the spirit.
And then today it snowed! It never snows in Vancouver! I am so excited. It’s a little ridiculous.
Also ridiculous are these calvados caramels. It’s like eating a candy apple, only much richer and unctuous. Little bags of these will be going in everyone’s stocking this year, and while you might be intimidated by any recipe that needs a candy thermometer, I promise these are actually very easy to make.
3 ½ c Sugar
1/3 cup Corn Syrup
¼ cup Water
200mL Heavy Cream
100mL Apple Cider
3 ¼ c Butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp Salt
Line a baking sheet with parchment, and lightly grease. Put aside.
In a large heavy bottomed pot stir together the sugar, corn syrup and water.
Put a lid on it and bring it to a simmer over medium heat.
Allow all the sugar to dissolve with the lid still on- this helps keep sugar from crystallizing on the edges.
Remove the lid when it’s all dissolved and, without stirring, allow the sugar to caramelize.
When it is a nice auburn colour add in the cream. It will spit and boil like crazy- it’s okay, just be careful!
Add in the apple cider and 50 mL of the calvados. Stir in the butter, piece by piece, with a whisk. DO not stop whisking, this will make sure it’s totally emulsified.
Put in your candy therometer and, while stirring constantly bring the caramel sauce up to 254F
Stir in the remaining calvados (again it will bubble and hiss, again be careful!)
Pour into prepared pan.
Allow to sit for at least 4 hours before cutting and rolling.
Sometimes I just get stuck on a recipe. I’ll see it in a book and think, that’s weird/different/crazy/maybe delicious but I’m not sure yet, and I won’t make it for fear that what ever is weird/different/crazy/or maybe delicious will actually be awful and I’ll have wasted time and money on something I’m going to end up pushing to the back of my fridge so I can’t pretend I forgot about it until it’s too old and I have to throw it out.
I do this a fair bit. Because usually when I think something is weird and might not turn out, it doesn’t. And there are few things more frustrating than making something you think might not work, and then having it not work for just the reason you thought before you started. I’m learning to trust my gut on this.
The exception to this rule is Ottolenghi. Because he puts some things together and I think “I’m not sure about this” and then it’s always amazing.
And so with this proven track record of exceeding my expectations, I made pasta with a yoghurt based sauce.
I have been staring at this recipe since I bought the Jerusalem cookbook over a year ago. My love affar with yoghurt is logn and well documented, but on pasta? I’m a little bit Italian and that seems pretty sacreligious to me.
Guys. I should not use my head, and instead to use Ottolenghis. I shouldn’t pretend I know better.
This pasta is wonderful. It’s light and creamy and tangy- the way you would expect from the yoghurt, but it’s also crunchy from the nuts, and super salty in certain bites from the feta.
I had to make a few changes to the recipe- I switched the pine nuts from the original to hazelnuts, because I had them kicking around, and inexplicably my local shop was out of frozen peas (seriously, who runs out of frozen peas?) so I used spinach instead.
The result was a pasta that was totally unexpected, and one that you should probably make right away. Seriously. Do it now.
Oh I’m so excited for Stocking Stuffer Sundays! They were easily one of my favourite series I’ve ever done on the blog and, perhaps because I am such a huge lover of all things Christmas, I’m so jazzed to be starting it up again!
Just like last year every Sunday I’ll post a fun edible gift that you can make and give. And just like last year there will be a cute fun free downloadable gift tag option! Only this year, with my mad new photoshop skills that I learnt at Blogshop a couple weeks back, I was able to design the tags myself.
On a side not, how fun is photoshop? I was so intimidated for so long, but no longer!
So without further ado here is one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever find on this site- Irish Cream. Sometimes known as Bailey’s, it literally takes 5 minutes to make, but instead of being full os preservatives this stuff is just cream, condensed milk, whiskey, vanilla and coffee.
But I hope you look at this as a jumping point- add in more coffee if you want a darker flavour, stir in some melted chocolate, or caramel for a more dessert flavour. Basically, mix it up as you like, this is just the beginning!
Click here to get the FREE downloadable labels!
I don’t remember my mom ever making us rice pudding.
My mom, the best woman you could ever hope to meet, and a very gifted cook, is a terrible baker. She makes brilliant pies and biscuits, and fails miserably at just about everything else. I grew up with banana bread for every birthday- it was the only cake dense enough that it couldn’t fall in the middle after it came out of the oven.
So her standard throw together desserts were not cakes or cookies, but pudding-y things. In the summer this meant ice cream with warm blueberry compote, and in the winter it was custard with stewed apples.
I love stewed apples and custard. To this day my favourite flavour to pair with apples isn’t cinnamon, it’s vanilla and I know it’s because it reminds me of weird powdered Bird’s Custard with slow cooked apples melting on top.
Imexplicably it was only ever the powdered variety. She never made it from scratch. That was the way it was.
Which seems so strange to me, having discovered the joys of rice pudding as an adult. Why did she never cook rice in cream and put a compote on top of that? She made everything by hand, why not pudding, which is so crazy simple to make?
Life’s big questions friends.
All of this leads up to two things- one of which is that homemade pudding is just the most glorious thing, and two, that rice pudding is a close second.
I love rice pudding. So much.
My only qualm with it is how heavy it feels, really it’s just whipping cream and refined rice. Rice pudding is not for the faint of heart.
So when I saw a recipe for sweet buttermilk risotto in Aran Goyaoga’s cookbook I knew it needed to be mine right now. I substituted yoghurt for the buttermilk, mostly because I had some in my fridge and I was flipping through my cookbook having just gotten out of the bath, and there was no way I was not emotionally ready to take off my slippers and put on boots and head out into the rain. But also because I like yoghurt just as much as buttermilk. And then I switched up the kind of rice and used Arborio, so it was super starchy, and so instead of stirring it for half an hour I just simmered it. I also, as I usually do with rice pudding, used some water with the cream, just because I don’t like thinking about eating that much whipping cream in one sitting. It’s delicious, but also a bit hard to rationalize.
I’m not sure why, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my trip to New York last year. Maybe it’s because it was this very date, last year, when we were there, or maybe it’s because I’ve been flipping through the pages of of the Ann St Studio blog lately and she has the most gorgeous pictures of that fabulous city. Or maybe, and mostly likely, it’s because I have felt like I haven’t left Vancouver in too long. I’m feeling wistful and dreaming about hoping on a plane to go somewhere, anywhere maybe. Thinking about it, I’ve realized that I’m often somewhere else in the fall. It might be my favourite time to travel.
Not that I’m complaining or wining, I’m going to be in Seattle not once, but twice next week for workshops, and I think that will push this feeling out of my system.
But in the interim, I’m going to sit here and think about New York.
I’m going to imagine my next trip and plan it in my head and pretend I’m going to visit my sister and that we’ll go to galleries, and drink cocktails, and just hang out and catch up. In this dream she isn’t working full time and doing her MBA but would have time to show me her favourite spots and introduce me to her friends and let me see the life she’s building there. A life I would love to see.
And I’m imagining going back to this wonderful little restaurant called Left Bank where I ate the most amazing chicken of my life last year.
The chicken itself was nothing crazy, just roasted simply with some lemon and thyme, but the sauce was revelation.
And also, possibly the most basic sauce I’ve ever had on a meal at a restaurant.
It was simply the most gorgeous bright green olives that were torn into small pieces and mixed with lemon and orange zest and bound in a very loose way with olive oil.
But these olives. They were the best olives, and the orange was just this hint in the back that brightened the whole thing.
There was absolutely nothing fussy about any of it, but it was perfect.
So I was thinking about this the other day when I was panning on having some friends over, and I made this sauce, only I made a great pile of it and we slathered it on baguettes and ate it with our wine.
I’ve never had a tapanade with green olives but that’s basically what this was.
With the left overs, I have dolloped it on top of poached eggs, put spread it on toast and made a chicken sandwich, served it along side pork.
It’s just the most lovely sauce, that is both deeply savoury and a little bit fruity.
And it’s wonderful.
I’m so excited today, because instead of me writing for you, you get the fabulously talented Shelly from Vegetarian ‘Ventures is here instead! She’s going to do a much needed Tuesday Tutorial on veggie broth, and next week you can see what I made with it! So here we go.
Heyyya! My name is Shelly and I usually blog over at Vegetarian ‘Ventures. I’m filling in for Claire today and am going to teach you my favorite kitchen tutorial.
Today I’d like to talk about my favorite winter kitchen secret: homemade vegetable broth! Excuse me while I nerd out a little but this really is one of my favorite kitchen topics. I know, I know - broth?! But really - it’s one of the easiest and most practical ingredients in the kitchen. How many times have you bought a can of broth only to throw half of it away? Or let those cartons sit in your fridge until they start to expand so much they are going to explode? Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be like that. You can make your own broth by the gallons and freeze it to hold you over all winter. Homemade veggie broth lasts for two months in the freezer! No more letting those cartons explode after a week and a half!
Not sold yet on why this is the best winter kitchen trick? Here is another reason why it’s great: you don’t have to spend any extra money on ingredients (except if you factor in a small part of your water bill). I just freeze leftover veggie scraps (ends of carrots, celery after it’s gone limp, kale stems, slightly wilted cilantro, etc) until I’ve filled up a freezer bag full. Once the bag is crammed with vegetables, herbs, stems, and spices, I know it’s time to whip up some broth.
Use whatever kind of vegetables you have on hand – there are no wrong veggies here! But don’t limit yourself to just vegetables. Here are some non-vegetable ingredients that also add depth to your broth:
- Herbs (or the sprigs from herbs once you’ve used the leaves for other recipes)
- Whole peppercorn
- Tomato paste
- Bay leaves
Okay, so let’s make some broth! There is no exact science to this and no real wrong / right way. I love the way no two batches of broth turn out the same. In the summer, my vegetable scraps reflect a light broth with red hues from tomato chunks. In the winter, my broths tend to be dark brown with loads of root vegetables and leftover rosemary. As I keep stating, use what you have on hand and experiment. It’s going to turn out delicious no matter what.
I’m just letting you know that for the next couple months I’m going to be changing up my Sunday Salad column to a Sunday Sides column. This is to prep for American Thanksgiving (Sorry Canada) and for Christmas. It will be full of veggie side dishes (and sometimes mains) that will hopefully inspire your holiday tables. I’m also doing it because this time of year begs for hot dishes, and as much as I love salads, and I do, I am craving things warm and cozy. And now to begin!
As sad as I am to see the summer go, and I am, there is something comforting about the fall. The cozy sweaters, the thick socks, the covering up your bad hair day with a cozy hat. I have been doing a lot of this lately, largely in my apartment. Why are you wearing so many layers in your apartment you ask? Because, my apartment is heated through radiators, and my landlord, who is essentially a slumlord, turns off our heating at night. Yes, that is correct. He doesn’t turn down the heat at night (from the very low temperature he keeps it at during the day), he turns it off. Let it be clear that it’s not like I have thick windows to keep out the draft (they are in fact so thin they rattle aggressively when someone playing music with a loud bass drives by) or I have heated flooring or anything like that.
Friends, it is a high of 3 degrees celsius today (that’s 37 to you crazy non metric people). It is bloody cold. So cold in fact that I started keeping my oven on with the door open during the day to heat my apartment.
The things we do for cheap rent.
So, now that the oven is on 8 hours a day I’ve been roasting everything in sight so I don’t feel so wasteful of energy. Chickens, squash, carrots, apples. Nothing is off limit, as long as I can open the door every half hour or so to keep the temperature of my apartment up. No soufflés here, just straight up roasting.
One of the things I roasted were these lovely acorn squash. And after they were roasted I spooned on some cilantro yoghurt sauce, and then I drizzled them with some pomegranate molasses. And they were crazy delicious. I recommend you do the same, weather or not you are heating your living room with your oven
It has been a long week. It’s been a good week, don’t get me wrong. No complaints here. But none the less, a long and exhausting one. I for one and very excited about leaving this coffee shop that I have been calling home these days, and heading back to my actual home, and pouring something stronger than the green tea that is currently sitting beside me.
And in the name of sharing, I thought I should mention a couple good ones, ones in fact that I have made and written about in the last couple weeks over at HelloGiggles.
First is the Rosemary Lime Gin Spritz, which tastes like a crisp fall day in a glass. It’s a thing of beauty.
The second is what I’ve been drinking perhaps too much of lately. Maple bourbon sours. Need I say more?
And lastly is the Rainmaker, which is just a bit of gin and earl grey tea happiness. I think you’ll be into it.
And with that in mind, happy friday! See you on Sunday with a salad!