Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Cold and rainy night's Batcheloring Pea Soup

For the next few days I am alone at home with my faithful Yogi dog and the weather outside is wet and bonechilling so when I got home from work tonight I thought a comforting pea soup would be the best way to go.

This pea soup is my own albeit a touch of inspiration from who knows where a while back to add the lettuce. This is an old English thing to change the stodgy texture of the traditional pea soup and also to add a delicate sweetness to the soup.

Here's the basics:

...325 gms baby/fresh frozen peas
...3/4s head of iceberg lettuce
...10 tablespoons of salted butter
...2 large shallots
...1 medium leek

...1 carrot
...4 cups of vegetable stock
...fresh Sage and Dill to your liking...these I like lots but be careful because this soup is very delicate and you don't want to overwhelm the subtle sweetness of the lettuce and fresh peas.
...salt and white indonesian style pepper to taste

The prep and the basic cooking should take you a max of 1/2 hour. Then you will be ready to relax with a beer or two and eat at your leisure with in this case some Pumpernickle bread toasted with a restraint of butter since otherwise you may be a fat batchelor forever in this World of youth and beauty and slimness........and wrinkle freeness........and doomed to cook this yummy soup alone for eternity. Unless a wandering bear comes along to rescue you that is.

So start by glazing the chopped shallots, carrots, leek in the butter with a twist of crushed salt and your liking of white pepper.

Add the shredded lettuce and cook till very wilted.

Add the Sage and Dill and mix around for a while.

Then the peas and the 4 cups of vegetable stock.

Just because I had them I added the mature sprouts from the sprouter and simmered the whole lot for a few minutes and then turned off the heat and left the mix to sit for as a while to cool off and let the flavours develop individually.

Time to sit down and relax with a beer........25 minutes in the making so far.

Now blend the soup and it's done and ready for the sipping or whatever with the restrained buttered pumpernickle toast.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Chocolate Cake with a very big Bear kick!!

This is my favourite chocolate cake recipe. I found it in a book by David Lebowitz called "The Sweet life in Paris". This is a very good resource written by a famous chef from San Francisco who's partner suddenly died and he decided to sell up everything and move to Paris since it was the city of his dreams and you only live once.

Well this is his recipe (from his neighbour madame Pellas) with my own added twist of the Extreme Espresso Bear Chocolate made by friend Colleen Bowen the owner of the Salish Sea Chocolate Company. A percentage of the sale of each chocolate bar goes to the Raincoast Conservancy in British Columbia to protect the Spirit Bear habitat in the Pacific Northwest Rainforests and since I love bears this addition is very apt.
Madame Pellas likes to store this cake in her kitchen cabinet with her Brie for two days before eating it and even carries a bit around with her to nibble during the day when the moment necessitates.

so here's the basics:

Always use the best quality ingredients you can afford. If you are on a limited budget just eat less.

9 ozs (250g) dark chocolate ( in this case I used half the Extreme 70% Espresso Bear Bar and half a regular dark chocolate chocolate)
8 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/3rd cup of sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt


preheat the oven to 350C and butter a loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper in the base to line.

In a double boiler/bowl set over boiling water melt the chocolate and butter until smooth, remove from the heat and mix in the egg yolks, 1/3rd of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour.

Whip the whites of the eggs with a pinch of salt and slowly add the remaining sugar till stiff peaks form in the mix.

Add 1/3rd of the whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten the mix then fold in the rest of the fluffy whites till the mixture is uniform.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 35 minutes. Rack cool and turn out.......then either eat straight away or as Madame Pellas does, store for 2 days and then indulge at whim on the bus, in the park, waiting in a movie line up or maybe just in the bath since it crumbs very well and leaves a trail of evidence around.  

Mushroom and pumpkin Ravioli

The first of a series of big fall storms has been pummelling the BC coast so this is essentially the end of the outdoor life for a while so we decided to get back into the routine of creating food again. So today it was a mushroom and pumpkin ravioli.
I went to the market and bought a piece of deep gold pumpkin, some shallots and some chanterelles and shitake mushrooms. Also a big celeriac root. David Wood's truffle and pepper goat's cheese and some of his Montana sheep's cheese.

this is very relaxing I am told
For the pasta I took three and a half cups of white flour, 6 eggs and 10 tablespoons of olive oil, began the mix in the mixer and then finished up by hand kneading it for about five minutes then placing it in a plastic bag to sit for an hour or so.

the basic chopped up
I soaked some Porcini mushrooms then glazed the shallots and added the chopped mushrooms with the porcini stock and some fresh sage. Once that was done and cooled, I added the grated celeriac and pumpkin, some crushed walnuts and the goat and sheep cheese and mixed the whole lot up.
mixing it all together

basic pasta hardware
rolling the circles 
spooning the mix
trimming the edges
Ravioli ready for cooking and freezing. Also the sprouts from the new sprouter after 3 days.
Then the arduous task of rolling and stuffing the pasta and making all this into 59 raviolis. I froze a bunch and cooked the rest and served it with a homemade basil and parsley walnut pesto I made in the Summer when basil was plentiful and cheap. Added to that a large Arugula and avocado salad with a white balsamic and birch syrup dressing and it was super yummy hiding from the storm with a big fire raging to keep the rain demons out.

With the left over pasta dough we made some linguini.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dr Vogel's Original bioSancky Germinator

Water the source of all life.
Forever I've been frustrated by my seed sprouting life. They sprout like a lawn on a wet Summer's day then they get mouldy, then they just don't bother to sprout. I've been through baked clay tray sprouters, ceramic attempts and the old standby of canning jars covered by cheese cloth mesh secured with elastic bands.

So today when I was in town I saw this new and improved Swiss made "Original bioSnacky Germinator" and because it was endorsed by the Dr Vogel group it MUST surely be the answer to everything sprouting that has ever plagued my healthy eating life.

As a start I bought some Alfalfa, Red Clover and Broccoli seeds. Of course these are all very organic and sourced from the most impeccable of all sources and bla bla bla. However the bioSnacky box did supply some Mung beans which I decided to put at the bottom of the sprouter stack.......these are Swiss sourced so I expect totally excellent results with absolutely no reject seeds.

Mung beans
Broccoli seeds
Dribbling water
First rinse the seeds and spread them evenly across the base of the tray. Do this for all the different types of seeds then fill the top tray with filtered and in this case our own mountain top, well sourced Saltspring Island water. This water will dribble down through the red drains from the top tray to the bottom reservoir. Once this is done, discard the water into some thirsty houseplant since it is filled with magical, nutrient filled water infused with the essence of life enhancing stuff. Place the lid on top to retain the moisture in the air around the seeds and place the container in a light but not direct sunlight spot at a temperature between 18 and 24 degrees Centigrade.
a nesting sprouting tray stack
This rinsing should be done twice a day till the sprouts are ready to eat.
Keep the trays clean by washing well between batches with warm soapy water and rinse very very well........cleanliness is a virtue in this game.
To keep a constant supply of sprouts going the trays can be staggered 4 days apart and then you can have fresh sprouts forever and ever...............I'll show the final results when and if they happen in three or four days.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sliced Almond, Hemp Hearts and Orange Zest Florentines

So here's an easy and healthy cookie snack inspired by Ottolenghi a restaurant in London but modified by me to reflect the hemp and omega 3 obsessed culture of the Canadian West Coast.

260g of 2/3rds sliced natural almonds and 1/3rd hemp hearts
whites of 2 eggs
100g icing sugar
zest of 2 oranges

Gently mix all these ingredients together while heating the oven to 300 degrees centigrade.

Spoon clumps onto a lightly oiled parchment sheet, flatten down thinly and bake for about 18 minutes till the bases are golden brown.

Rack cool and if you want add some melted dark chocolate. Store in a cookie jar with a padlocked lid otherwise they will disappear faster than you mixed the stuff up.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Thanksgiving Wild Mushroom Terrine of sorts

Here we have Lentinula edodes (Shitake), Boletus edulis (Porcini from Italy) and some small Portabella common brown mushrooms. 
I've been thinking about making a wild mushroom terrine come pate loaf thing for a while but just have not got round to getting the right mix, so today I thought I'd give it a whirl since this is mushroom season round here and also I've just signed up for Paul Stammet's mushroom growing course near Olympia, Washington. I've been dying to do this course with one of the doyens of mushroom knowledge so this is a sort of celebratory loaf for me.

So today being the first big wet day of the Fall I went to town and foraged for ingredients. We are very lucky to have such wonderful stuff that is grown right here on our little island. First stop was the Saturday Market where I saw a bunch of Mayan type folk from the Permaculture Project and a Mountie wandering through the stalls.
I bought Shitake mushrooms from the nice mushroom growing man where I had a chat about my Mushroom Perfecti course. Then I spied some tasty Rocket/Arugula and of course David Wood's truffle goat's cheese and his Montana sheep cheese. So now with Max the Italian pasta man's porcini mushrooms I had my loaf base ingredients.

I was going to use a long terrine container but when I popped into the kitchen shop I found a four loaf setup that just suited my needs........easy to load and unload and just enough to make a few loaves so that there's no wastage at a few sittings.

The idea is to have slices of this wild mushroom loaf with freshly baked Ciabatta rolls and lashings of butter.

In addition to the ingredients above (in the dialog that is) there are shallots, sage and thyme, celeriac  and of course some dry sherry and some peas for the end (shown here). amounts are not accurate.....lots more mushrooms and less butter and cheese and of course sherry etc......see steps as we go along.
1: Shave some carrots
blanch the carrots till they are soft and malleable
line the little loaf pans with the soft carrot shavings
2: Chop the mushrooms, the shallots and herbs.
3: Saute the shallots in a bunch of butter, add salt and pepper and then add the grated celeriac root.
4: Add the mushrooms, herbs and the Porcini liquid and saute till the whole lot is wrinkled and tasty.
4: Toast some walnuts and then blend them into small bits and also add at least a cup of dry white sherry to the mushrooms and reduce further.
5: Let the mushroom mix cool slightly then add the ground toasted Walnuts, finely grated hard sheep cheese and the truffle soft goat's cheese........mix up well to a uniform mix and spoon into the prepared, carrot lined tins. 

6: Spoon it in and boil up some peas.

7: Take the peas and press them into the mix.....these will be the base when the sort of terrine is inverted ready to be sliced and woofed down with warm, buttered Ciabatta rolls.I'll add some pics of the eating session once the terrines have been refrigerated overnight.