Posts Tagged ‘Vegetable’


Warning, night photos with very bad lighting!

Many years ago, a woman from Florida started commenting regularly on my blog. Of course, I began reciprocating on her blog (which was the point, I guess) and I discovered that the more blogs I commented on, the more comments my blog would garner. That can get old really fast. I nick-named the task ‘comment whoring’. These days, I only comment on a select few blogs, many of them I have actually met the author in person and have a non-blog relationship. It’s not that I don’t like lots of comments (it makes me feel very popular, unlike real life), but I’d rather have a few of real value than a bunch of “yum!”. I’d love to hear what you think. I like to leave value comments too, you may have noticed that they can be a bit wordy! 😉

That woman from Florida was a Military wife and she knew how to make a dollar stretch. One of her posts was about a vegetable stock made entirely from vegetable trimmings. At first, I thought it was strange (OK, and a bit gross) but a really good friend recently mentioned she does the same thing, so I decided to give it a try. I am proud to say that I am now totally a convert. The stocks are always richly flavoured and a beautiful colour due to the onion skins. Onion skin broth is supposed to be a natural blood pressure remedy, although I have no idea how much you need to have for it to work! I keep a ziplock bag in my freezer and not one Veggy trim goes in the bin, it all goes into the freezer bag and once I have filled the bag, I take out my broth pot and fill it with water and simmer with all the trimmings for 3 hours, give or take. At the end, I turn the gas off and allow it to cool off. I strain the liquid 2-3 times, having the final strain through a metal, fine coffee filter (not the paper kind, they bung up too quickly). The straining allows you to capture any bits of dirt and gunge that may have gotten in the stock. The stock is delicious on its own or used in recipes. No two broths are alike. I encourage you to give this a go, there are no rules other than washing your trimmings well or just buy organic (although, I’d still wash well). And as usual, I don’t salt until I use it because everything requires different seasonings.



This pot was comprised of some leftover shoot veggies and lettuces.


Read Full Post »


As usual, I’m a little late on the bandwagon for this post. The humble zucchini noodles have been around the web-o-sphere for some time now with the very fancy (and expensive) spiralizers. I wasn’t ready to commit to such a large piece of equipment for yet again, one task, until I saw Liz’s easy Zucchini Noodles with Parmesan using a hand-held spiralizer. Now that’s something I can definitely get my head around! So I bought a cheap and cheerful version ($3) thinking if I liked it, I would go ahead and splurge for the OXO version ($15) and take the cheap and cheerful version to the cottage!


Cheap and Cheerful version

We’ve actually been making zucchini noodles using a simple mandoline and the taste was fine but they really didn’t resemble noodles too well. So when I started seeing the curlier noodles made with this incredibly simple hand held version, I was smitten.

Did I love it? HELL YES! I’ve already made zucchini noodles a many, many times since purchasing the spiralizer and have been LOVING it. I loved it so much, I went out and purchased a good quality version as a hostess gift. I’m sure it’s much better quality and will likely last longer.


It really is one of the most delicious vegetable dishes EVER! AND low calorie (if you don’t use pesto)

Zucchini Noodles with Walnut Pesto

Serves 2


  • 2 small straight zucchinis
  • 2 tbsp walnut pesto (recipe below), or pesto of choice
  • 10 walnut halves
  • freshly grated Parmesan Cheese


  1. Wash and dry the zucchinis. Microwave whole vegetable on high for 40 seconds each; microwaving warms the zucchini and softens it a bit so the noodles cut smoother.
  2. Spiralize both zucchinis using the small blade, cutting the very long lengths into spaghetti lengths. Microwave the zucchini noodles on high for about one minute to heat.
  3. Toss gently with the pesto and garnish with parmesan cheese and walnut halves.

Wrapping the “noodles” on your fork is just as easy as regular pasta

Walnut Pesto

A Kitchen Inspirations Original Recipe.


  • 100 g walnut pieces
  • 1 large bunch of fresh basil, washed and stems removed
  • 1/4 cup EVOO, or more if desired
  • 100 g freshly grated Parmesan Cheese


  1. Lightly toast the walnut pieces and allow to cool.
  2. In the bowl of a large food processor, add the basil, olive oil and cheese.
  3. Pulse until a desired consistency is achieved.
  4. Freeze pesto in about 1 tbsp ice cube containers and once frozen, remove and put into a zip lock baggy and return to the freezer. Use as required.


  • I used to use the larger blade but honestly, the smaller blade results in linguine noodles.
  • You can peel the zucchini but I like the contrast in texture and colour of the dark green peel. I did not test peeled zucchini in the initial microwave so you’ll have to tread lightly — you want to soften the zucchini and not turn it to mush.
  • Use a combination of zucchini and summer squash (yellow zucchini) for more interest.
  • Microwave the “noodles” to heat, you really don’t want to cook them through. It’s noodle texture you want with a slight crunch (al dente)!
  • Pine nuts have been ridiculously expensive over the few years. The $15 bag I used to buy at Costco is now close to $30 at Costco. It comes from China. I have since refused to buy the Chinese product for a variety of reasons (this is the main one) so I am constantly on the lookout for good pesto nut/seed substitutions.
  • If you prefer a more runny pesto, add more olive oil.
  • ALWAYS clearly label nut products in the freezer so you don’t poison someone (unless you want to).

Read Full Post »


Flowers from Tina and Todd.

We had very good friends, the Evans’s and Todd and Tina (lead carpenter from reno) over for dinner this Saturday (Todd is working with Rob on HGTV).

Here is the menu:

Round 1: Champagne and Hors D’oeuvres (3 tiers hors d’oeuvres)

  • Smoked salmon, crĂšme fraiche on chive biscuits with caper
  • Bacon wrapped dates
  • Vegetable platter (for those of us watching our girlish figures)

Round 2:

  • Roasted Red Pepper, Boconcinni & Arugula Salad with balsamic reduction dressing

Round 3:

  • Caesar Shrimp shots (home roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic, purĂ©ed with a dash of vodka, tobasco and horse radish) in a cute little shot glass

Round 4:

  • Medallions of Beef Tenderloin with a balsamic glaze, and hors radish dots
  • PurĂ©ed roasted celery root and cauliflower
  • Asparagus spears

Round 5:

  • Chocolate Panna Cotta with balsamic reduction, dallop of cream and strawberries
    Coffee / Tea

The smoked salmon on chive biscuits can be found on the Valentine’s Day menu.

Bacon wrapped dates (these are too yummy, and so easy, you have to try them!):

  • 1 package regular plain ordinary bacon (chose less fat if at all possible)
  • 1 package honey dates (dried and pitted)
  • toothpicks
  1. Cut bacon slices in half width-wise.
  2. In a standard microwave, par cook these half slices for 2-3 minutes (you want to render a lot of the fat out). The bacon will shrink and curl somewhat. You don’t want crispy bacon because it’s impossible to roll around the dates!
  3. Remove bacon and wipe with paper towel to remove more fat. Allow to cool.
  4. Wrap 1 bacon slice around 1 date and skewer with toothpick. You may freeze at this point.
  5. When you want a quick hors d’oeuvres, take the quantity of frozen dates out of the freezer and follow step 6.
  6. Bake in a hot 425°F oven for about 8-10 minutes (bacon should render completely and turn a bit crispy).
  7. Serve. Careful, these are extremely hot.

Puréed Celery Root and Cauliflower (These are going to be a replacement for mashed potatoes, a little better for carb watchers)

  • 1 large head of celery root, cleaned, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 small cauliflower
  • bowl of water with 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large garlic bulb (roasted to soft and squishy)
  1. Pre heat oven to 400°F
  2. Put cleaned and cut up celery root and cauliflower into the bowl of water with olive oil, remove and drain (this process will coat the veg with a little olive oil in a healthier way than drizzling all over. Pour veg into a roasting pan and roast for about 45 minutes.
  3. You may want to roast veg separately since they may cook at different rates. Roast until they are mushy soft.
  4. Pour all veg into a food processor, including roasted garlic (remove cloves from skin).
  5. Purée until very smooth (could take 10 minutes), adding a little bit of water to loosen (not to make soup!)
  6. Remove from processor and strain through a fine sive (this is very important, it will make the purée silky smooth).
  7. Keep warm over a bain marie, and serve like mashed potatoes (use leftovers as soup – just add stock!).

Chocolate Panna Cotta (italian milk jello) adapted from May 2005 Page 108 delicious magazine. Serves 6 (here is a how to video, using a slightly different recipe)

  • 3/4 cup light cream (this is important so jello does not separate)
  • 1 cup milk (whole is best, skim has too much water)
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar (or to taste)
  • 200 g good quality dark semi sweet chocolate (I like it a bit denser, so I add more chocolate!)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (you don’t want to taste it, just enhance the chocolate flavour)
  • 2 packages gelatin
  • 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, reduced to 1/4 cup
  • 24 strawberries, hulled and cut into halves
  1. Place cream, sugar and chocolate in a sauce pan on medium heat. Stir until everything is dissolved and melted (about 4-5 minutes)
  2. Then bring mixture to just about to boil and remove from heat.
  3. Use gelatin packs according to directions and whisk into chocolate mixture.
  4. Pour through a fine sieve into 100mL ramekins (I used silicon as they are easy to remove) and chill for 4 hours or overnight.
  5. To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen and dip each ramekin into boiling water (careful not to let water come into contact with jello) for a couple of seconds. Turn out onto a plate.
  6. On each plate, decorate the equivalent of 4 berries and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

This past weekend my niece Laura (John’s sister’s daughter) came down from London to do some shopping with me. I tested a dinner menu that we will be serving on the 19th. This is quite possibly the BEST beef I have EVER had. The small 750g beef was $33.00!!!! But really worth it.

Photo and recipe from Epicurious.

Beef tenderloin in a port wine sauce


1 4- to 5-pound trimmed whole beef tenderloin, tail end tucked under, tied every 3 inches
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
1 cup ruby or tawny Port (or a really good heavy red wine)
Beef Stock

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, coarsely cracked in mortar with pestle or in resealable plastic bag with mallet

For beef:
Sprinkle entire surface of beef tenderloin with coarse kosher salt. Place beef on rack set over large rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered at least 24 hours and up to 36 hours.

For sauce:
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots; sauté until soft, 3 minutes. Add Cognac, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon cracked pepper and cook until liquid evaporates, 1 minute. Add Port; bring to simmer. Add all of beef stock. Boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. Strain into medium saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids in strainer. DO AHEAD: Can be made 24 to 36 hours ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and chill.

For roasting:
Let beef stand at room temperature 1 hour before roasting. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Rub beef all over with oil; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cracked peppercorns, pressing to adhere. Return beef to rack on baking sheet and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 125°F for medium-rare (135°F to 140°F in thinnest part), about 30 minutes. Remove roast from oven and let rest 15 minutes.

Bring sauce to boil; whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut off string from roast. Cut roast crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; arrange on platter. Serve with sauce.

TEST-KITCHEN TIP: Salting in advance, also called dry brining, is often done to improve the texture of sinewy cuts of meat. But it also works magic on tender cuts, amping up flavor and juiciness. It sounds counterintuitive; for years the accepted wisdom was that pre-salting dries out meat. But the moderate salting you’ll be doing here does the opposite. Water is first drawn out of the meat and then gets reabsorbed; this saltier, more flavorful moisture helps intensify taste. What’s more, the exterior of the tenderloin dries out slightly, making it quicker to brown in the oven.

Green Beans with Caramalized Shallots (From Epicurious)
2 pounds haricots verts or slender green beans, trimmed
1 pound medium shallots
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Cook haricots verts in boiling salted water until tender, about 4 minutes (or 6 minutes if using green beans). Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in several layers of paper towels. Seal in plastic bag and chill.
  2. Cut off and discard ends from shallots. Cut shallots lengthwise in half, then remove peel with paring knife. Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; sauté until shallots are browned and tender, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover loosely with foil and let stand at room temperature.
  3. Add haricots verts to shallots in skillet and stir over medium-high heat until heated through, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatos (this is my recipe)
2-3lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 large head garlic
Olive oil, sea salt

  1. Make a pouch out of parchment paper, put garlic in centre (no need to trim or cut) drizzle generously with olive oil and sea salt, and cover completely with parchment and then with foil. Roast in a hot oven 375F for 45 minutes or until garlic is really soft. Let cool slightly.
  2. Remove cloves into a blender – they should just fall out (emersion blender also works). Add olive oil that was used to roast. Add cream or milk or make a nice thick cream. Set aside.
  3. Boil potatoes until soft.
  4. Put potatoes through a potato ricer (this is important to get rid of the chunks).
  5. Whip with an electric mixer beater and add the garlic purée. Add milk or cream to achieve desired consistency.
  6. Keep whipped potatoes warm over a bain marie (a double boiler with simmering water or make one up yourself using a pyrex bowl over simmering water). This is the only way the potatoes will not dry out.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: