Saturday, September 29, 2012

Simple tomato soup and grilled cheese

I am wallowing in the glut of tasty fresh tomatoes this fall.  I have been canning and freezing enough tomato puree and roast tomato sauce to get me through the winter.  But last weekend I needed some lunch and really wanted to enjoy some of these wonderful tomatoes in season instead of just putting by for the winter. So I made my husband and I some fresh tomato soup and used up some left over brie to make a grilled cheese accompaniment, because tomato soup does love cheese sandwiches.

To make enough for 4

  • 1 tablespoon of garlic
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
  • 6 large tomatoes cut up (I do not bother to peel)
  • 1 handful of fresh basil chopped.
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup of cream or milk
  • Salt and pepper

Cook the garlic and onion in the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat until the onion is transparent. Add the chopped tomatoes, basil and stock.

Vij's grilled tamarind marinated chicken

My Father came in to meet me for lunch the other day and we went to one of our favourite Vancouver restaurants Rangoli's.  This is the casual cousin to Vij's restaurant on West 14th.  The food is every bit as good and if you arrive just before 12:00 noon you can usually get a table with no problem.  We both ended up ordering the same dish, tamarind marinated grilled chicken, which we also both really enjoyed.  So when I looked on Vij's website and found that they had a recipe for this dish I had to try it.

So Sunday night dinner I cooked an Indian meal with this as the star.  One of the main ingredients for this dish is tamarind paste.  You could of course buy tamarind pods, peel them soak them and push the pulp through a sieve, or you could buy a pot of tamarind paste. I think you can guess what I did, you can pick this up at any Asian market and it keeps for a long time in the fridge.

Feeds 4

  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 cup of plain low fat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of tamarind concentrate
  • 1 large garlic clove grated or finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne 
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin

Borlotti bean soup

When shopping at the Red apple on Hastings I came across these very beautiful beans and had to buy them.

They have several different names, depending where you come from, the Italians call them borlotti beans but they are often called cranberry beans in North America.  I suspected (and was correct) that like purple beans they loose their colour and beauty when you cook them.  I decided to make soup as this seemed to be the way that they were often cooked when I researched them. The shells are very hard so you have to shell them first before cooking.

I also picked up some beautiful local red chard as I thought these two flavours would go very well together.

1 small onion chopped
1 clove of garlic thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 cups of chicken stock
1 bay leaf
A sprig of rosemary
A sprig of sage
2 cups of hulled borlotti beans
1 bunch of red chard

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lighter chicken parmasan

I am again trying to eat lighter and exercise more, this is almost an annual thing for me, as I have a tendency to gain weight and after all I love food, and would rather eat and cook than almost anything else. I committed to lose 8 lbs before going on my next big trip in late October, 3 weeks in and I am down 3lbs with 5 more to go in just over 4 weeks. So comes the challenge to create tasty food that is low in calories and fat.

I saw the idea for this on pinterest, but the version there was using prepackaged items and was not particularly healthy so I have changed it up a lot and came up with a dish that fits my brief of using fresh ingredients, and I will definitely make it again.

For 4

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in to quarters
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cups of tomato puree or tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmasan cheese
Place the basil, garlic and olive oil in a small food processor.

Wizz up to make a nutless pesto.

Spread all this mixture on the bottom of baking dish.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Green tomato chutney

My house faces due south and therefore my back yard is due north, in the middle of summer this is often a good thing as there is always some shade and it does not get too hot.  On the other hand it means that it is not very good for growing vegetables, especially tomatoes. My front deck however is not only good for growing tomatoes, it is also a good place to display my first jar of green tomato chutney.

As well as facing south there are no trees shading it, and the glass front on the deck shelters all the plants and works almost like a mini green house.  This extends the growing time as well as the sitting out time to almost any sunny day in the year.

Up to now I have grown only cherry tomatoes, but this year I bought a plum tomato plant as well as some other variety of larger tomato.  The plum tomato plant has been very prolific and I will certainly plant more of these in the future, I have eaten many beautiful red tomatoes off it this summer, but now in late September I am afraid those green tomatoes are never going to ripen.

So fearing the worst, Connie I decided to turn the remaining unripened tomatoes in to green tomato chutney. I have never made this before so I had to hunt on the Internet for a suitable recipe. I found one on the River Cottage website which is from England and is all about less dependence on the outside world, food integrity, and the consumption of local, seasonal produce.

All the green tomatoes left on the deck
I have changed the recipe a little as I wanted more spices and I did not have enough raisins or malt vinegar, but any way this is what we did and it turned out beautifully. We made 4 times the recipe, but I have given the ingredients for the original quanaties.

Curried chicken and grape sandwich

I needed to make some lunch, and there was some left over cooked chicken sitting in my fridge, and a fresh loaf on french bread on the counter, oh happy day.  I am trying to eat a little lighter at the moment in order to lose a few pounds before a big trip, so I wanted to make a lighter chicken salad for my sandwich.  I cut the the mayonnaise in half and substituted plain yogurt.

Chicken sandwich for two

1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of plain yogurt
1 teaspoon of curry powder
1 cup of cooked chicken cut up
About 8 large green grapes halved (or you could use raisons or dried cranberries)
About 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro

Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise and curry powder and chicken together and mix.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Spontaneous Urban day in Vancouver with lunch at the VAG

The weather continues to be warm and the sun keeps shining and it seemed like a good day to be a tourist in our own very beautiful city. There is an exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) that is nearly over, that I had been meaning to get to all summer, so Connie Nancy and I set out for a day of art and exercise.

Granville Street Bridge with Burrard behind
The exhibit was a collection that had been amassed by the Cone sister of Baltimore.  it contains the largest collection of Matisse in the world.  Not only was the art awe inspiring, but the story of these two sisters from the turn of last century was inspirational as well.  These were two strong minded women, who I would like to say were truly independent, but unfortunately they gained their money from their brother and father, so that can not quite be said.  Regardless they lived their enviable lives travelling Europe collecting art (and clothes) and the eldest sister was a research Doctor.

We thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit which included a very good documentary film hosted by Micheal Palin.  After all this culture we were ready for lunch and headed up to the gallery cafe.

We picked up our food and found a table in the dappled sunshine on the deck.  Even if the food hadn't been very good, this would be a wonderful place to come for lunch right in the heart of downtown Vancouver.  But fortunately the food is good too, it seems to me when in doubt where to have lunch in a new city head to an art gallery or museum.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Grilled herb marinated chicken

Our summer seems to be continuing on and so many excuses for dinner on the deck, last week is was feeding friends and family that just accomplished a good hike in the local mountains. 

I said that I would have dinner waiting for them for when they got back. I decided barbecued chicken legs would make a good main course.  I have a lot of fresh herbs on my deck, so it seemed a good idea to marinate them in a herb and wine marinade, almost like a pesto.

I gathered a bunch of basil, sage and rosemary then wizzed them in the mini food processor.  You could just finely chop them but this is way easier.


One bunch of basil
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh sage
2 cloves of garlic cut into quarters
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup of white wine
salt and pepper

light eggplant parmasan

I found some wonderful baby eggplants (aubergines) this weekend, and as I was doing an Italian themed dinner I thought I would make a quick light version of eggplant parmasan.

This made enough really to serve 4, there were many among the 11 eating this evening who did not like eggplant! They do not know what they are missing. 

2 small eggplants
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small jar of home canned tomato puree (about 1 1/2 cups) bought crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup of finely grated fresh parmazan

Slice the eggplants about a 1/4 inch thick and brush with olive oil.  

Place on a hot grill until cook until browned on both sides.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Roast garlic and tomato pasta

Any one who knows me will know that I am not a lover of pasta, I am not sure why, because often when I have it, I think "oh this is not bad, maybe I like it this way" Any way if I am going to make pasta, I do not want my pasta overcooked and I do not want a jar of sauce poured over it.

Right now when all the produce is abundent and at it's best I wanted to make a pasta dish to be served as a side dish to some grilled chicken. Using all the fresh tomatoes and garlic that are available.

I harvested my tomato plants and this is what I got.

Obvoisly not enough to make a sauce for 11 people which is how many were coming for dinner, so I would have to supplement.  I had 1 jar of home canned tomato puree left from last summer, as I am now putting down for this summer this had to be used. So this is what I came up with.

This made enough as a side dish for 11 or main course for 6

  • 1 whole head of garlic cut in half 
  • About 3 cups of cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 can of tomato puree (home made best, but a jar of Italian tomato puree second best)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 1 package of linguini or pasta of choice.

Place the tomatoes and garlic on a parchment lined cookie sheet sprinkle with salt, and drizzle a little olive oil over the garlic.

You will notice I had to add some bought baby plum tomatoes, but they were very tasty too. Bake this at 350 for about 1/2 an hour until the garlic is soft and the tomatoes have concentrated down a little.

Pita bread and late summer greek dinner on the deck

Monday evening was the last vestiges of the labour day weekend the traditional end of summer.  The weather was sunny and warm, but there is a feel of fall in the air and we were trying to squeeze one more summer evening meal outside. As I had some fresh local lamb in the fridge (oh happy day) we picked Greek as a theme.  I have never made pita bread before so decided to give a go.

This was a bit of an experiment for me, but actually they turned out rather well I thought. I used a recipe I found on the internet on middle eastern food

1 package of yeast
1/2 cup of warm water
3 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 cup of luke warm water

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.

Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour yeast water in depression. Add 1 cup of warm water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic.

Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. When the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic, it is ready.

Coat large bowl with olive oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tomato, olive flat bread

I was making bread as an appetizer on the weekend and I had harvested two large plum tomatoes from my deck and wanted to hilight them as they are the first large tomatoes I have grown in over 30 years.

To concentrate the already wonderful flavour of the fresh tomatoes I roasted them in the oven first.  I sliced them thinly, sprinkled with salt and pepper and olive oil and then roasted in a 300 oven for 20 minutes.

Before roasting
This dries the tomatoes a little and intensifies their flavour.  If you did not want to go through this extra step, you could use sun dried tomatoes.

I made my favourite foccacia bread but before baking it I brushed on olive oil and then placed the roasted tomato slices and a few olives sliced evenly over the top.

Barbecued chili lime chicken

It is no secret I love spit roast meat and chicken, and the spit roast on my barbecue gets a regular work out during the summer.  I was making dinner for a couple of friends and my family on Sunday evening, so I picked up a large roasting chicken from Hopcotts, and was searching for a new flavour rub to use.

I saw a chili lime chick pea recipe that I thought I would like to try out some time, and thought that chili lime is a wonderful combination and would go very well with chicken.  So I made a chili lime rub for my spit roast chicken.  You could of course just roast this in a regular oven if the weather was not conducive to barbecuing or you are not lucky enough to have a spit roast.

Chili lime rub

3 tablespoons of chili powder (I used combination of chipotle and regular chili powder)
1 teaspoon of salt
grated rind of two limes

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Crispy chicken and roast tomatoes

On my front deck I have a multitued of herbs growing some lovely geraniums and several tomato plants.  Most are cherry tomatoes and one very productive plum tomato plant.  I am now starting to get a small crop and it gives me such pleasure to go out on to the deck and harvest some tomatoes and herbs and produce a meal using them.

A cherry tomato plant nestling with the geraniums
I needed something simple to make the other evening for my husband and I and though still a pleasant day, it did not feel like barbecue weather, so I turned on the oven and came up with this.

4 chicken thighs
A handful of cherry tomatoes
1 clove of garlic cut up
A sprig of basil roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of good balsamic vinegar

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Preserving summer, roast tomato sauce

I saw this idea on pinterest, which appears to be the newest way to suck time from my productive life. having said that I have seen several ideas that I want to give a try along with far too many that use packages of this and packages of that. Any way I happened upon this idea last week and thought since we are in full tomato season this along with canning would be a good way to preserve the wonderful taste of in season tomatoes to use in the in depths of winter.

I can not really give measurements, but I will give approximately what I used. I would normally not have sliced the onions so thin for this but I had a large ziploc bag of sliced onions that needed using up.

8 large field tomatoes cut in to chunks
1 large onion cut up
4 cloves of garlic peeled
bunch of basil torn in to large pieces
3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper.

Place all the ingredients in a large roasting tin toss together and drizzle the olive oil over.