Saturday, July 10, 2010

Roasted Heirloom Beet Salad with Goat Cheese & Lemon Vinaigrette

A few weeks ago, we had a barbeque at our place for some family and friends. Though more friends showed up than family we truly had a great time. The morning of that party consisted of a visit to both the Burlington Mall Farmers' Market as well as the Hopedale Mall Farmers' Market. I love going to the market and scouting what they have and being inspired by their ingredients. It not only makes the adventure more fun but it's a great way to try things that I wouldn't normally buy. 

This particular market trip introduced me to some varieties of heirloom beets. I've seen regular beets before and have heard of golden beets but what I didn't expect to see were candy cane beets! They're probably the most beautiful vegetable I've ever seen. 

I decided to roast these beets with a drizzle of olive oil and herbs and then wrapped them in some foil. I cut them in half as well and sprinkled some salt and pepper on them too. Here you can see the beet halves and how pretty they truly are:

Regular Beets

Golden Beets

Candy Cane Beets

I roasted the beets are 375F for about an hour and then let them cool to the touch before trying to peel off the skin by placing the beets in a freezer bag and rubbing the skin off that way. 

I chopped up the beets into smaller pieces and plated them. I love the way the colours of the beets just work so well together! 

Crumble some goat cheese (whatever flavour you like... we used plain) and dress with your favourite vinaigrette and I promise you will be in beet and goat cheese heaven. My vinaigrette for this salad is a Maple Lemon Vinaigrette that will knock your socks off! 

Maple Lemon Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (I use lemon thyme, parsley, rosemary and tarragon)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake, shake, shake!  The dressing will emulsify and it's delish! Pour over beet salad and enjoy! 

Happy Cooking! 


A New Favourite Cookbook!

I'm completely aware that this post will not contain a recipe but I just couldn't resist posting. I was wandering through Costco today when I came across the most wonderfully amazing cookbook! It's Williams-Sonoma's Cooking from the Farmers' Market and I fell in love instantly (and not just the gorgeous cover art)!

As most of you know from previous posts, I absolutely LOVE farmers' markets, especially in the summer! All of the different produce and baked goods and amazing farmers just make it such an enjoyable experience. This cookbook takes all of the great qualities of a farmers' market and shows you how to make tons of variations on dishes while using these ingredients! Most importantly it's focus is on fresh, local and organic ingredients which I have definitely tried to start using more of. Whether it's homemade pasta or ice cream, it's such a pleasure to be able to pronounce absolutely everything that you're eating without needing to Google anything!

There are a few things that I want to try from this cookbook right off the bat: Beef and Sweet Potato Stir-Fry, Golden Cauliflower Gratin with Capers (though I may omit the capers), Mixed Garden Bean Salad with Shallots, Warm Beans with Lemon Vinaigrette and Blueberry-Vanilla Panna Cotta.

Tomorrow is Market Day at my house where I will most likely be heading over to the Burlington Mall Farmers' Market where some of my favourite vendors are. I have been discovering new ingredients, like the candy cane beets that I used to make a beet salad (check back for a post about those soon) and so many other delicious things. Hopefully, I will find some things to start trying these amazing things from this cookbook. I'll keep you posted! Maybe I'll bump in to some of you there (and by there, I mean... here!)

Happy Weekend and Happy Cooking!


Monday, July 5, 2010

Soup? Really? On the HOTTEST day in Toronto?

It's true. Today, of all days, I decided to make soup for dinner. I had bought some beets a couple of weeks ago and didn't use all of them and didn't want them to go bad. So, naturally, the only reasonable thing to do was to make some Borscht! 

For those out of the loop, borscht is an Eastern European soup which is typically made primarily of beets. My maternal grandmother has always made an amazing rendition of this soup for the holidays and it is such a comfort food it's not even funny. I think that's why I was craving it; I guess I was just looking for some comfort on this hotter than an inferno day!

While I'm sure my grandmother would screech at me for not making a fully 'authentic Ukrainian borscht", I have to tell you, I may even be almost as fond of my own version almost as much as my Baba's. My version is adapted from the version in The Joy of Cooking with a few twists.

Begin with 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tsp of olive oil in a soup pan. Heat on medium high heat and add in:
  • 3-5 grated carrots (depending on how much soup you want to make and how much carrot you like in your soup), 
  • 1 large red onion, chopped and
  • 3-4 beets, (previously roasted in a 400 degree oven for an hour while wrapped in tin foil)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
Stir all ingredients in the pot until the vegetables soften a little bit. It should look something like this.

Add 10 cups of chicken stock and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. I know what you're thinking... 'why am I putting vinegar in my soup?'. Let me tell you that the vinegar makes all of the difference! Let  the soup simmer for 30 minutes. 

I found that after 30 minutes of simmering that I needed to skim the surface of the soup. This stuff is a little gross but completely normal from the stock. Just skim away and it will be delish! 

After skimming, I let the soup simmer for another 15-20 minutes to soften the veggies up a little more and then served it in a mug with some yummy crusty bread! This is the easiest soup to make and the results are so amazing you won't know how you lived without it.

Happy Cooking! 

Spaghetti and Meatballs with a twist!

I have always loved a classic bowl of spaghetti and meatballs but this time round, I have a bit of a twist on this delicious dish!

We had a cupcake challenge at work this past week and rather than doing something themed to the travel/airline industry, I decided to do something that was a trop l'oeil submission instead. Having borrowed a lovely book from my girlfriend, I began my research through this wonderful book! 

Hello Cupcake! 
I've gone through this book before and thought it would be the perfect place to find my inspiration and there I found the instructions on how to make Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes. They were so easy that I couldn't pass them up. 

I wanted to make the cupcake batter delicious and decided to make some creamsicle cupcakes (the easiest and most amazing things to make). Simply take 1 box of vanilla cake mix and 1 box of orange cake mix and mix them. I made a creamsicle cake a few weeks ago and here is how the mixing process worked in cake form:

The cupcakes, after baking, were just the perfect little cakes:

The rest is absolutely simple. Take some standard vanilla frosting(I probably should have made my own but it was early in the morning and I was on my way to work) and add 1/2 tsp of cocoa powder and 3 drops to yellow food colouring. 

Add the icing in to a freezer bag and cut the corner out. This is literally the best part of the process. Grab your inner 5 year old and squirt the cupcakes everywhere (as such):

The one thing that I will suggest is once you have 'piped' your spaghetti, put the cupcakes in the fridge to set a up a bit, otherwise your spaghetti will run once the meatballs are put on (not that mine did or anything like that....)

Once your 5 year old soul has had its fill, you're ready for some meatballs. This has to be the easiest way to make meatballs every and I swear that all meatballs should taste like this!!!! Take some unwrapped Ferrero Rochers and rolled them in no sugar added strawberry jam. You have just created meatballs and tomato sauce! Strategically place your meatballs on the cupcakes and you will have something that resembles the most awesome piece of dessert heaven EVER! Don't forget to grate some white chocolate on top to make it look like cheese (thanks Mum for reminding me to do that!) Et Voila! Please note the last picture clearly shows why you need to put the spaghetti frosted cupcakes in the fridge for a while! 

Happy Cooking! 


P.S. I have a few more posts coming so check back in the next few days :)