Food and Drink Free Magazine

If you live in Canada you can easily add the LCBO (where us Ontario folks buy our spirits) free magazine to your recipe collection. The Winter edition is out right now…

 

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The magazine is obviously a great way to advertise different wines and spirits but I still quite enjoy it. It’s fun to see the recipes they come up with that use different liqueurs etc. As I vowed to make recipes out of magazines this year (yes, even free ones) the other night I made the recipe for Tahini Swirl Brownies p.32IMG_2429.jpg Don’t let the tahini put you off. Personally, I LOVE tahini and could eat it by the spoonful and it does give it a subtle nutty flavour. I admit I did over bake them and they were too dry at the edges so BE CAREFUL! It says to bake until the skewer comes out clean but perhaps not too dry! I may have also left them in too long because my self-diagnosed ADD kicked in and I got doing something else. I’m sure I did hear the buzzer lol!…

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I’m actually very curious about this recipe because the new Sweet cookbook by my fav Ottolenghi and Goh also have a tahini brownie recipe. I’m going to try it soon to compare!

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Happy New Year From Me and Plenty

I hope everyone had a happy New Year. We finished the year with a gorgeous pasta recipe from Plenty, Saffron Tagliatelle with Spiced Butter p.260. It was rich, so don’t go overboard on the sauce, but always satisfying to make fresh pasta…

Given how busy December can be I’m pretty impressed with how many recipes I managed from Plenty. They always looked so involved with lots of ingredients but actually it’s usually just a lot of lovely spices and if you already have them in your cupboard then you will be fine to make these recipes. Most recipes use fresh herbs as well so that could be a draw back for some. Overall, I was pleased with all the recipes we tried. Some have already become serious favourites and have already made them again. Two recipes in particular will make the “weekday meal round-up” for sure, Shakshuka p.87 and Cardamom rice with poached eggs and yogurt p. 240. Both were healthy, hearty and quick to make…I’ve learned how to make the most gorgeous poached eggs as well, very proud of that…

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Cardamom rice cooking

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Cardamom rice with poached egg and plain greek yogurt dollops

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Shakshuka cooking. Doesn’t it look cozy!

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A must it with lovely white bread

The Christmas break helped me to make a couple feasts, one being Spicy Moroccan carrot salad p.14, Sweet Potato Cakes p.32 and Freekeh Pilaf p. 241...All were totally Moorish…

One of the other keeper recipes I’m going to remember that will be great for company is the Surprise Tatin p. 22. It was soooooo simple but looked impressive! It was filled with slow roasted tomatoes, sauteed onions, baby potatoes and goat cheese. The most interesting part was the caramel sauce that baked in on top to give it a wonderful colour and buttery taste…

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Another company crowd pleaser was the Very Full Tart p.84. Roasted sweet potato and eggplant were the star of the show…

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Not oddly, one of the most moorish, wonderful recipes was one of the simplest. The Burnt Eggplant with Tahini p.122 was incredible. I did the “salad” version with mini cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. A must eat with quality Lebanese style pita…

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I’m pleased to have a nice “side” recipe that could be done at a larger meal. The Herb-Stuffed Tomatoes p. 136 would be great with a Sunday Roast or a Full Breakfast…

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For me, (as everyone else loved them) there was one recipe downer this time and that was the Puy Lentil Galettes p. 208. It was cook error though. I messed with the puffed pastry too much and they didn’t puff up and cook through as one would have liked. I should have just ate the lentil mix on it’s own as it was divine…the combo was a bit odd, if honest…

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Finally, the recipe that has inspired my new foray into fresh pasta making was the Lemon and Goat Cheese Ravioli p. 250…

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Everyone knows that fresh pasta is the best but one must remember how incredibly easy it is to make too! If you have the pasta maker it can be done so quickly. Of course ravioli takes longer to put together so not a weekday meal but I challenge everyone to get on with MAKING THEIR OWN PASTA! The tarragon and pink peppercorns in this dish were truly divine as well.

So that’s the cookbook challenge for 2017 done! Wow, what a marathon! I’m so thrilled with all the new recipes accomplished! Our waistlines haven’t suffered too much. Stay tuned for a post about which of the 12 books I tried that I think you need to get as well as my idea for a 2018 challenge. Get cooking everyone!

November Cookbook Challenge

Below could be the reason that I didn’t make as many recipes from the November book. I just wanted to get home and cuddle my new little friends. Welcome to Gigi and Gus, too bad you can’t eat any of the yummy food I make!

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Gigi, grey calico and Gus peachy tabby!

I’m highly annoyed I didn’t try the yummy looking Macaroni & Cheese with sun-dried tomatoes & basil crumb topping p.135 but I could always try and squeeze it in over Christmas break!

First up was the Haloumi, Zucchini & Mint Fritters p. 64. I found them a little bit hard to hold together but they worked ok. They tasted great! I would recommend a dipping sauce of some sort. I think a nice Tzatziki would work perfectly…

BEST FIND IN THE BOOK NEXT! NEED A RECIPE FOR A HOLIDAY PARTY? READ ON…

The Chili Flake & Feta Dip p.78 is my new go-to dip for sure! It is basically whipped up feta with spices and olive oil. Genius, Quick, Super Yummy! Serve with flatbreads or crackers (I like rice crackers or Pita Bites). Honestly, this dip takes about 10 min or less to whip up. Just keep a big chunk of feta on hand this Christmas and you have a scrummy dip ready for pop in company!…

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Next up we tried the Puy Lentil Salad with Roasted Vegetables p.87. John really liked this dish. It was packed with everything I love (especially roasted fennel) but for some reason I can’t explain it didn’t quite do it for me. I think something in the slight sweetness of the sauce. Just a personal preference though!…

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The next 2 recipes were a real hit for a main, great for company. We loved the Cinnamon-Spiced Squash & Lima Bean Stew p.120 with the Chile Cornbread p.178. The spice in the bread was perfect and it was quick to make. Don’t let the name of the stew fool you. It wasn’t super cinnamony or sweet, just rich and moorish…IMG_1697.jpgIMG_1694.jpg

The final recipe I tried was the White Chocolate & Raspberry Ripple Cheesecake p.204. This was seriously delicious and VERY simple and quick to make which is always a bonus for a fancy looking dessert. NOTE: I would HIGHLY recommend that you only use some of the raspberry compote on the top to form the swirl and save the rest to drizzle on afterwards. I’d throw some fresh berries in the layers but the compote just sunk through the layers and soaked the crust. It was still delicious but it didn’t look that great!…Ugh sorry I can’t find a pic of mine but here’s a quick peek from the book.

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December is upon us! I can’t believe that a whole year has passed and my cookbook a month challenge is almost over! I need to think about what to do next year. I have some ideas…

School finishes on the 22nd this year so I’ll still have a solid week after Christmas to make some December book recipes. Of course I HAD to pick an Ottolenghi book. Hopefully I saved the best for last. I love Ottolenghi and feel lucky that we visit the UK so often that I get to eat at his restaurants every year. Many of the ingredients are a bit harder to find in Canada but I’m going to do my best with his first veg book Plenty. I’ve had this book since it came out but have shamefully only made 2 recipes from it, I think. His recipes are like eye candy for me so I read his books all the time but because they are a little more involved with fresh ingredients they aren’t my quick go-to supper books. So excited to get going though…Happy Holidays everyone!

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July’s The Green Kitchen: A book of contrasts

Apologies, this post is a few days late…it’s been a busy start to August with getting ready to cottage for a month. August’s recipes will all be made with these gorgeous views from the kitchen…Georgian Bay – Cognashene…

If you follow my instagram you will see that not all the recipes in Green Kitchen were loved by all! I truly feel that this book has some striking contrasts; when the recipes were good they were amazing but when they fell short they were catastrophic. I am quite good at following a recipe exactly and expect it to turn out. Once I’ve made a recipe once then I think about how to adapt it to my taste but I really feel that I want to honour an author’s/chef’s recipe by following it to a tee the first time. The few recipes that went horribly wrong I do wonder if it was my taste or just an odd combination of ingredients. (Note: North American’s will probably have a hard time finding some of the ingredients in this book. There will be a few recipes you won’t even attempt, e.g. nettles are hard to come by.)

I still love the idea of the Green Kitchen, don’t get me wrong! I think I’ll just be more conscious of reading the ingredients lists more carefully before I start. Overall, I personally think most of the recipes could be seasoned more/better. The photography in Green Kitchen is stellar. If you want to give them a go then you can buy their app for cheap and try some recipes that way first before you commit to their books. They have a new one out now that I will probably still buy because I’m crazy like that! Always love to complete a set lol!

You will have to forgive me with the names of these recipes because the cookbook is at home 3 hrs by car and a 1/2 hr boat ride away!

I didn’t get many recipes done this month because of our annual summer UK trip. It’s no hardship travelling and eating in the UK… we had a blast with mom this year…

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Birthday dinner at NOPI (An Ottolenghi restaurant that I love!)

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NOPI – The roasted peach burrata is one of my favs. Love the classy Eton Mess for dessert too.

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NOPI – best for sharing plates.

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A little Eggs Florentine to start your b-day out right! At the National Portrait Gallery restaurant. The view is amazing. Worth a trip and I always recommend it to visitors to London.

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Pimms anyone! It’s summer in the UK.

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Fav new pic! At a wedding that had fab food. Wadhurst castle, Kent.

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Fruit stand in Royal Tunbridge Wells. Gorgeous!

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Trying the Pear Cafe in Bristol. You will know her online as Elly Pear. Yum Frittata and sammies for lunch.

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Bristol, down by the pier. Funky, revitalised area. How cool is this coffee shop!

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For me, nothing beats a UK flat white!

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Costa soy, flat white for a little Espadrille making course, Bath, The Makery.

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Just 2 of us in the class meant lots of support! Teacher was lovely too.

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Yes, making our own shoes, who knew!

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Gorgeous pub food, outside Bath at Country pub! The Talbot Inn.

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Not your typical country pub food!

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Fancy fish and chips!

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Gorgeous starter of radish and yellow courgette strips. Talbot Inn pub.

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Hello, halloumi fries, Camden Market.

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Yum breakfast spot, Neil’s Yard, Covent Garden.

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Gorgeous 26 grains breaky. Avocado on sourdough.

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26 Grains porridge bowl. Love the gooseberries!

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Missing John for breaky.

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Ahhhhhhh, UK cream how I miss thee.

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First day emotions!

Now for Green Kitchen successes…

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Curried egg salad for sammies. Different combination. I was sceptical but it was delish!

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Can you see the apple in the curried egg salad. Odd maybe but yum!

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Also asparagus tips in the curried egg salad. I’m totally making this again.

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Buckwheat groat porridge on the go. Maybe more of a fall dish but it was lovely. 

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Dress those groats up!

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I used too many cardamom seeds in this groat porridge but it was still yummy!

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Just a simple guac to use up some old avocados. Delish.

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I think it was avocado based pudding. I’ve made a few of these and without the book with me I honestly forget. In any case, yum!

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Roasted root veg with quinoa stuffed tomatoes. Definitely a fall/winter dish but it was so tasty. Definitely get the wrinkly black olives; they give amazing salty flavour.

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Love a good roast up. The lemons were a fab addition.

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Looking yum like the pic I think?!

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This was the first recipe I tried actually. It was a vinaigrette, horseradish baby potato salad. It was simple and sooooo worth finding fresh horseradish. It’s one of my new go-to salads for sure. 

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Moroccan Vegetable Tagine with whole wheat Israeli couscous. 

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Tagine by the pool! Loved the flavours of the tagine; it smelled heavenly. I could have done without the couscous addition.

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The makings of a beetroot chocolate cake.

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Moist and earthy beetroot chocolate cake. It used olive oil that I’m sure I enjoyed. I think it added to the earthy flavour though. If I make this again I will use a lighter oil like safflower.

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Almond crust for a gorgeous tart…see below…

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Coconut and Fennel Tart. It was amazing!!!

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Cannot recommend trying this tart enough. It was unique.

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Served with Caramelized Red Onion Chutney of course. (M&S brand is my fav and we forgot to bring some new bottles home, eek! What to do, lol!)

Now for the epic fails. I really hate giving bad reviews but the following recipes did not sit well with me…they even looked pretty ugh…

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This cold zucchini noodle salad with cashew and sun-dried tomato cream dressing and marinated portobello mushrooms started out so beautiful. Love me some courgette noodles!  

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Gorgeous right…see the ruin below…

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Doesn’t even look like the pic at all. Hello, photoshop?!

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I love vinegar but it was too much. That’s all I could taste. The cream dressing on it’s own was so thick that no amount of added water could fix. Would have been better as a veggie dip I think.

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First attempt at dark rye bread…hmmmm. not convinced. The dough remained very wet.

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It came out with a pretty ok flavour. I couldn’t find rye kernels so used a cracked rye that I was able to get. This definitely could have been the culprit. I also let it sit in the fridge for over a day because I forgot about it! I would try this again…

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Ok…veggie chorizos. I was soooooo pumped but I have to admit they were a failure. I personally think they needed much more seasoning of all different sorts. The texture was right and everything else worked out fine I think. It was just that bland flavour ugh…

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Veggie chorizos in the making.

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These bad boys were wrapped in cheese cloth, kinda fun eh!

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All wrapped up!

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The cooking went well in veg stock.

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Ended up slicing them and frying again to make them more sausage like.

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Served in the suggested salad with quinoa, butter beans and apple. Bizarre and I couldn’t finish it. John liked it though. I think it’s partly that in my mind I really wanted them to be more sausage like so I could use them with buns. Not the case! Poor me.

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Maybe looked ok though?!

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Tasty banana blueberry pancakes but epically challenging to hold together!

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Actually not a fail, just hard to flip and make. Ended up cooking the rest like scrambled eggs and eating like a porridge! Still tasty.

So now we are at a cottage for the month of August and I needed to pick a book with easy to find ingredients that didn’t use a food processor for every meal. At the last minute I decided on a new book that I grabbed at Costco a couple months ago called Vegetarian Any Day by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming. They are the authors of Quinoa 365 that came out in the midst of the whole Quinoa craze. I have used many recipes from that book and thought this one looked pretty good. There seems to be heaps of recipes that will appeal to the meat-eater in your family.

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They seem to have a great blog too; at http://patriciaandcarolyn.com. Check it out…

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Ok Quinoa Sisters…Let’s have a healthy August together! Can’t just whip out to a grocery store when I’m on an island in Georgian Bay though! This is going to take some planning ahead to the next shop run!

Have a fabulous end of summer everyone!

Ottolenghi

John and I are spoiled to be able to go into London for dinner! I’m taking a weekend dressmaking sewing course at Raystitch in London (Islington area) on the weekend so we went in tonight to get fabric. I suddenly realised last night I needed to wash the fabric first so off we went after work tonight.

I know I’ve mentioned I love going into St. Pancras before but it really is such a nice vibe (probably because I don’t have to do it everyday for work)! It was a nice evening tonight and a few sights filled me with joy at being here…overflow pubs and flower stalls…

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Of course Raystitich is around the corner from my favourite restaurant, Ottolenghi! Did I plan it that way…hmmmmm. I can’t even explain how I love the flavours here. I adore the roasted eggplant salad with this yummy yogurty dressing sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. We had a gorgeous corn fritter with a side of pickled beet and yogurt. The courgette (zucchini) and broccoli salad was to die for as well. We also splurged for the rum chocolate fondant cake! I’m in food bliss right now writing this post.

I have a lovely chambray fabric to wash, a heavier blue twill and a lovely faded red Robert Kaufman cotton. I got all three because I couldn’t decide which I would use on the weekend…

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On this course I will be making 2 patterns by Deer and Doe, the Chardon Skirt and the Sureau dress. Not sure about how the skirt will look on me but am eager for the dress. I hope to just gain some extra confidence in making my own clothes. It’s 10-5:30 Saturday and Sunday so it better be worth it or a weekend lost!!!