Category: Uncategorized

Sausage, Sweet Potato and Tortellini Soup with Coconut Milk

This is such a mash-up that I didn’t even know what to call it. It really came together using a couple tail-end ingredients from the fridge (half a huge sweet potato and part of a leftover package of tortellini), adding a couple sausages to give it some body, and finally rounding out the flavours with some Asian ingredients I was craving (ginger, coconut milk).

I start this in a non-stick pan and scraped it into a pot before adding in the liquids. The first time I tested this I tried to do it all in a regular pot but because I didn’t want to add too much extra oil the sausage stuck to the bottom and I had to deglaze before the onions got a chance to start to caramelize. You can do it either way but for me, washing the extra non-stick pan is not a big deal.

One thing I like about this soup is that I can make it right up to the point that the sweet potatoes are almost tender, and then remove it from the heat and let sit for an hour or so until Husband walks through the door. From there it’s simply 10 minutes to reheat and cook the tortellini before stirring in the coconut milk.

2 mild Italian sausages, meat removed from casing
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBS fresh grated ginger
1 tsp turmeric powder or 2 tsp fresh grated turmeric
1 tsp coriander seed, ground
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup crushed canned tomato
1 sweet potato, 1/2 inch dice (my sweet potato was huge so I used half, about 2 cups)
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
large handful fresh tortellini (about 1/2-1/3rd package, or 6 ounces)
1 cup coconut milk
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Heat a glug of oil in a good sized pot or non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add sausage meat and onions to fry, breaking up sausage meat with your spatula until it is starting to brown and the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic, ginger, turmeric, and coriander and fry for one more minute. If using a non-stick pan for the frying part, you can now scrape this into a pot before the next step.

Add chicken stock, crushed tomato, and sweet potato. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Bring to simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes, until potatoes are almost tender. Add fresh tortellini and let simmer an additional 5 minutes until tortellini is cooked through. Stir in coconut milk. Taste and re-season to your liking.

Quick & Dirty: Muesli

When I want an easy, healthy breakfast or snack, this muesli is my go-to. It is infinitely adaptable. My basic formula is 2 1/2 cups of grains (I like a combination of rolled oats and whole grains) and 1 1/2 cups of nuts and fruit. Mix together and store in an air tight jar. I keep the jar on my kitchen counter with a 1/4 cup scoop. One scoop in the bottom of an 8 ounce wide-mouth mason jar, a layer of fresh or frozen fruit, another scoop of muesli, top with another layer of fruit, pour over some sort of milk (I use almond milk), and let sit for about an hour (or overnight in the fridge for a quick breakfast the next morning) for the grains to absorb the liquid.

I use roasted, salted nuts because I love the salty/sweet thing but you can use raw or roasted with no salt. In the version pictured I used a combo of slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, and chopped pecans for the nuts and dried blueberries, cranberries, and raisins for the fruit. I also love sunflower seeds and chopped walnuts for nuts and dried apricots, cherries, apple, (and sometimes a bit of candied ginger for a treat) for fruit. For the fresh fruit layer I usually use my home-grown frozen raspberries or blackberries but today I had a mango that needed to be used!

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (NOT quick cooking or instant)
1 cup whole grain cereal
3/4 cup mixed nuts
3/4 cups mixed dried fruit

Combine the rolled oats and mixed grains in a bowl. Roughly chop nuts or dried fruit if the pieces are large. Toss with oats and store in a air-tight container.

Beet Galette

beetgalette7A friend from culinary school emailed me a while back to chat (mainly about food) and mentioned she was having guests over that night and was making spanakopita.

ARRRGHHHH. Cue the monster craving! Does that ever happen to you? You are going along minding your own business and then, BAM… you spot a kid eating an ice cream cone and you’re not much into ice cream but you LOVE crunchy and salty so you start thinking about potato chips but those aren’t “appropriate” for dinner so you imagine all the salty crunchy foods you could actually eat for dinner without attracting the attention of the food police and your mind wanders through the possibilities of nachos, homemade french fries, deep fried onion rings, fried chicken, fried chicken and bacon(!) and so on and so on…

So, yup… that happened. Now I had spanakopita on the brain but no filo dough and no spinach. My mind started twirling with ideas. Could I make spanakopita with pastry dough sort of like a hand-held pie instead of the light and crispy filo dough? But no, that would be waaaaaay too heavy. What if I did it open faced (half the pastry!) but instead of a pie, I made a galette? And could I use something from my garden instead of spinach? What about beet greens? And HOOOOOLD ON… what if I used the beets as well?!? \Whoa lady, this could be good!


After mulling it over a few days (craving still burning hot), I decided to add onions to cut the sweetness of the beets and throw in some feta (my “nod” back to the original spanakopita idea). The end result was, if not one of the tastiest experiments I have ever embarked on, definitely one of the prettiest!

I used my new pressure cooker to cook the beets (15 minutes!) but it is very easy to boil or roast them… just takes a bit longer.

The dough is my usual recipe which you can find here except I subbed in whole wheat flour for half the white. You can use any pie crust dough you are comfortable with. You will need enough to make one round about 14-15 inches across and slightly thicker than 1/8th inch.

Pie crust dough to make one round 14-15 inches across
1 generous pound beets
8 cups beet greens, washed
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Couple glugs olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
couple sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
pinch red pepper flakes
3 oz feta, crumbled
1 egg
1/4 cup cream
Optional: 1 additional egg whisked with water to brush pastry if you want that shiny look

To make the filling, cook the beets to your liking (boil, bake, or in a pressure cooker). Once cooled enough to handle, peel and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.

Wash beet greens, do not dry. Warm a glug of olive oil and garlic in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add beet greens and toss until wilted, about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside in a bowl.


Heat another glug of olive oil in the same pan you used for the beet greens. Add onions and fresh thyme. Fry until starting to turn golden, 7-8 minutes. Discard thyme and add onions to the beet greens.


Add crumbled feta and pinch of red pepper flakes to the filling. Season with salt and pepper.


Assemble the galette:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Roll out dough on a clean, lightly floured piece of parchment in a circle about 14-15 inches across and slightly thicker than 1/8th inch. No worries if the dough goes over the edges as you will be folding it up over the galette shortly. Spoon approximately half the beet green/onion mixture in a circle evenly in the centre of the dough, ensuring you have a good 2 inch border all around the edge. Top with beets overlapping the slices in circles. Finish with the remaining beet greens. Fold the edge of the dough up and over the filling, overlapping where necessary and press down lightly to create the folds.



Slide the parchment with the dough onto a cookie sheet. Whisk the egg yolk and cream together and pour into the centre of the galette. If you would like the pastry to be shiny, brush the border with the egg wash and sprinkle with flake sea salt.  Place in oven and bake 35-40 minutes until crust is golden. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing. We ate this as our main course but a smaller wedge alongside a leafy salad would be a lovely first course.


Wheatberry “Risotto” (with mushrooms and blue cheese)

wheatberry risotto4Let’s be honest – this is not risotto. And let’s be even more honest – I would probably not be eating a lot of wheatberries if they weren’t healthy. I don’t mind them once in a while, but they do not impart the same starchy creaminess that you find in real risotto. However, I have to admit that married with the earthy, silky loveliness of braised mushrooms and then amped up with blue cheese, you can’t help but fall a teeny little bit “in like”, if not love. They also have a satisfying chewiness that makes me feel like I’m eating more than just “healthy”. And bonus, Husband really enjoyed this (albeit 2 hours late and at room temperature) and that’s always a plus for me!

I have noted in the recipe to sauté the veggies in olive oil but if you’re anything like me, you will have that glass jar in the refrigerator which you are constantly topping up with drippings from bacon, fat from slow roasting pork, and what’s left in the pan after frying sausages, etc. Use it! Pork fat is all about flavour and, after all, everything else about this dish is pretty healthy.

I also used a cup of beef stock to deepen the flavour but feel free to use all poultry stock or make it vegetarian by using all vegetable stock. Whatever floats your boat! :)

½ ounce (1/2 cup, approximately) dried mushrooms (porcini or a mix)
1 1/4 cup boiling water
2 cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
1 cup beef stock (or another cup of poultry or vegetable stock)
1 tsp salt
1 cup uncooked wheat berries
2 tablespoons olive oil (or other fat)
1 medium finely chopped onion (approximately 1 generous cup)
12 ounces white or brown mushrooms cleaned, trimmed and sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (or other herb like sage or thyme)
1/3 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 ounces of your favourite blue cheese
handful of chopped fresh parsley

To speed up the cooking process you can soak the wheatberries in a bowl covered with hot tap water for 4 hours or overnight.

Put dried mushrooms in a bowl or measuring cup and cover with 1 1/4 cups of boiling water and let sit. Agitate the mushrooms at around 15 minutes to loosen any grit. After 30 minutes remove and finely chop mushrooms. Strain liquid to remove any grit. You should have 1 cup.

wheatberry risotto1

Put all stock in a saucepan (chicken, beef, and mushroom broth) and bring to simmer. Add 1 teaspoon of salt.

Heat the olive oil or other fat in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they begin to sweat and soften (about 3 minutes). Add the fresh mushrooms and continue to cook until they soften (about 5 minutes). Add a pinch of salt, the garlic and rosemary and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms start to brown (about 5 more minutes).

Add the wheatberries and reconstituted mushrooms. Stir in the wine and cook until most of the liquid as been absorbed, scraping the bottom of the skillet to remove any brown bits. Add 3 cups of the heated stock to the pan. Cover and maintain at a low simmer for 60-90 minutes. The timing will depend on your wheatberries. At the 60 minute mark check every 10 minutes or so until the wheatberries have reach desired doneness (ok, that may not be a real word but I’m using it anyway), adding more of the reserved stock if necessary to keep the dish from drying out.

wheatberry risotto3

When the wheatberries are done to your liking, taste and re-season with salt and pepper (remember you will be adding more blue cheese to don’t go crazy with the salt). Stir in the chopped parsley. Remove from heat, crumble blue cheese over the pan and top with the rest of the parsley. Serve and enjoy.

Unholy Mess

Congealed-SaladOMG, HAHAHAHAHA! Lest you think trying to create new recipes is easy, you should have been at my house last night. Lordy. It was a COMPLETE disaster. Ok, COMPLETE may be be a bit of an exaggeration. The flavour was quite tasty, but that’s about the nicest thing I can say about it. I wrapped small pieces of fish (fingers) with cilantro and ginger in rice paper wraps and then tried frying those little packets until crispy. Sheesh. I think the biggest problem is I don’t own a non-stick frying pan. Helluuu? I guess I need to buy a non-stick frying pan. The idea holds promise but the plate appeal on my first try?… an unholy mess.

I wish I had taken a picture to show you but then again, perhaps it’s best I didn’t! Instead I give you the 1950’s jello salad, and let you be thankful those days are over.

I want you to know that I am not a great cook… I am a cook who loves food so I try hard and repeat things until I get them right. Anyone can do it. :)

Stay tuned. Hopefully I’ll have a lovely little crispy Asian fish packet recipe for you one of these days. And in the meantime, keep cooking!

Grilled Carrots with Carrot-Top Pesto

carrot pestoEvery Saturday morning, May through September, an amazing farmers’ market pops up a 3 minute walk outside my back door. When we were house-hunting just over 5 years ago, we never imagined moving to the area of the city in which we now live, but one look at the massive park (with a lake!) just outside the back gate sold us. And with each passing year we fall more and more in love with our neighbourhood, including all the wonderful festivals and special events that happen in and around our park, one of which is our farmers’ market.

Right now the market is filled with fresh peas, baby carrots, spring greens, zucchini blossoms, and the first strawberries, blueberries, and cherries of the season. Soon there will be peppers, zucchini, and new potatoes, which will eventually lead us into the fall crop of crisp apples and sweet corn. But right now, it’s about the first gatherings of spring and last week my eyes fell on a beautiful bunch of new carrots and I knew I had to try a recipe from Food 52 (if you love to cook and you’re not following Food 52, you’re missing out).

This recipe was a revelation for me. I never imagined using carrot tops to make pesto (and I am now waiting anxiously for enough radish greens in my garden to try making pesto with those, because, why not?!). I haven’t changed the recipe ingredients at all, but I did grill my carrots on the BBQ rather than roasting them in the oven… it IS spring after all. As well, I did not top the carrots with burrata as per the original recipe because I didn’t have it on hand, but I’m sure it would be delicious. The recipe says it serves 4-6 people, but as per usual, we polished off the entire dish. Apparently, the leftover pesto freezes very well… mine didn’t last long enough to test this claim.

For the carrot top pesto:

4 cups lightly packed washed carrot tops, stems discarded, roughly chopped
a small handful basil leaves
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
1 medium garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Maldon or other flaky sea salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

carrot pesto tops

Make the pesto: Combine the carrot tops and basil in a food processor, pulse, then add the nuts, cheese, garlic, and salt. Pulse again, and then with the machine continuously running, add the oil in a thin stream. (You’ll have to stop to scrape down the sides a few times.) Taste and adjust for seasoning.

carrot pesto pesto

For the carrots:

20 small carrots, scrubbed and tops trimmed but stems left on (or, if your carrots are bigger as mine were, cut in half (crosswise) and then cut the wider half of the carrot in two, lengthwise)
large glug of extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 teaspoon plus a few pinches flaky salt
3 tablespoons carrot top pesto, plus more to taste
Half a lemon

Make the carrots: Turn your BBQ on to high and heat to 400°F.
Top carrots with a glug of olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt. Toss onto the hot BBQ and grill, turning occasionally, until the carrots are browning in spots. Turn heat down to medium and cook with the lid closed until the carrots are done to your liking. Remove and let cool slightly.

carrot pesto grilled

Toss the cooked carrots very gently with the pesto, using more or less based on your taste. Transfer the coated carrots to a platter (this is where you can top with the burrata, if you wish).

Dress with a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of good fruity olive oil, and a small pinch of salt.

Really Me

reallymeI had a really bad day at work today. I started a new job about a month ago and it’s a struggle learning a new culture and new job, and to top it all off, I screwed up and wasn’t paying enough attention. I showed up for a meeting this morning at the wrong place and as a result, I was 15 minutes late for the real meeting at a different location. My new colleagues were very understanding and my attendance wasn’t even required, but I elected to go to learn more about the business and, as a result, made a not-so-good impression (in my mind at least… as I said, my colleagues appeared not to be phased but no one is harder on me than myself.

I worked late tonight and emailed my husband to say he was on his own for dinner but on my way home, I decided something. I love to cook. I love to cook with loud music and a beer. So I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few supplies, came home and got into some comfy clothes, popped myself a beer, turned up the music, and started cooking. And do you know what, I FEEL GREAT! No matter what happens during the day, I need to do what I love to do. So today’s post isn’t a recipe. It’s really me… cooking, dancing, and singing!

So go do it yourself! xo