Rich flavours and a hearty sauce will make everyone think you have been cooking for hours. Bone in chicken has more flavor and is the classic way to make this dish, but feel free to use a boneless piece.
2 pounds/900g chicken leg quarters
1 teaspoon/5ml sea salt
1/2 teaspoon/2ml black pepper
1/3 cup/90ml olive oil
1/2 cup/125 dry white wine
2 medium onions chopped
1 clove garlic minced
8 ounces/225g baby bella mushrooms sliced
1/2 cup/125ml pureed tomatoes
2 tablespoons/30ml chopped parsley
Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Thoroughly wash and pat dry the chicken and season with salt and pepper liberally on all sides. Brown chicken 4-5 minutes on both sides. Reduce the heat to medium and add 1/4 cup of the wine. Cook chicken for 10-12 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, and 1/2 of the parsley cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes. Cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and add remaining 1/4 cup of wine. Blend well and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add parsley and pour sauce over chicken.
Serve with browned potatoes and green beans.
Baked or fried this are sure to please even the carnivores. Freekeh gives the mouth feel of meat and mushrooms the meaty taste.
Makes 8-10 burgers or about 20 “meatballs”
4 ounces/116g uncooked freekah
3 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced and mashed into a paste
4 ounces/116g mixed mushrooms (we used baby bella, white, and shiitake)
small bunch parsley, chopped
1 15 ounces/425 can of chickpeas drained
1 teaspoon/5ml olive oil
1 tablespoon flax with 3 tablespoons water OR 1 egg
1/4 cup/59ml/43g potato flour (sub rice or almond flour or 1/2 cup/118ml/60g dried bread crumbs)
1 teaspoon/5ml sea salt
1/2 teaspoon/2ml ground black pepper
In a medium sauce pan on medium high heat add the freekah and spritz with oil. Toast for 30-45 seconds. Add enough water to come the width of 2 fingers above the freekeh. Turn the heat up to high and cook until the water reaches the top of the freekeh. Stir, cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 16 minutes.
While the freekeh is cooking place the shallots, garlic, mushrooms, parsley, and chick peas into a food processor. Process for 30-45 seconds. It should not be pureed, but look like a fine dice.
In a medium skillet on medium high heat. Add the oil, let heat up until shimmering then add the mushroom mixture. Cook for 4-5 minutes or most of the moisture has cooked out. Remove from heat and let cool.
Turn on the oven to 400 F/200 C/ Gas Mark 6. When freekeh is cooked add it to the mushrooms mixture along with the flax or egg, salt and pepper and flour. Mix well. Form patties or balls . When oven has come up to temperature place the formed patties or balls onto a nonstick baking sheet. Spritz the top with oil if you want. Bake for 15 minutes, turn over and bake another 10-15 minutes.
Today is national chocolate covered raisins day. How about a vegan option!
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1-2 tsp virgin coconut oil (more for thinner chocolate, less for thicker)
1/8-1/4 tsp cloves or cinnamon (optional)
I a medium sized pot on low heat, place the chocolate chips, coconut oil and spices. Stir occasionally as they chips melt to mix together. Add in raisins and mix until all are coated evenly. Spread out mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place into fridge to harden. Once hardened, break up pieces and eat!! Super simple and delicious. Store the rest (if there are any left!) in the fridge.
Recently we found ourselves with a glut of field greens. Lovely, green and deep purple, and eggplant with no one to eat them. We believe in using and eating food, not throwing it away. So what could be done to preserve the goodness at hand? Soup came to mind, but you can eat only so much soup and it has a tendency to get “grainy” when frozen. Juicing was another option, but our illustrious leader (Chef Ya) decided to go a different route. PESTO.
The sauce pesto originated in the northern region of Italy, Liguria, Genoa. According to Wikipedia, the name is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pestâ (Italian: pestare), which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle. The ingredients in a traditionally made pesto are ground with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar. This same Latin root through Old French also gave rise to the English word pestle.
Traditionally the sauce is made of basil leaves, salt, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, pepperoncini, Parmigiano Reggiano and Fiore Sardo.
Lettuce pesto is made in much the same way although we found the leaves could take more garlic. We almost doubled the garlic without the garlic becoming an overpowering taste. We also used lime juice as we had a bag full of fresh limes. We made 2 batches and froze the majority of it. Pesto freezes wonderfully.
In a 11 cup/2.6 liter food processor:
4 whole peeled garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup/31g pine nuts (sub peanuts or mixed nuts)
juice of 3 limes
1/8 teaspoon/.5ml red pepper flakes
4 handfuls mixed field greens ( any lettuce will do )
1/2 cup/125ml olive oil ( more or less depending on the consistency you want)
1 handful about 1/2 cup/90g grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Place the garlic, salt, pine nuts and lime juice into the processor. Process until it is a slightly chunky paste (1 minute). Stop the machine, remove the cover and add the pepper flakes and lettuce. Pulse to begin breaking the lettuce down. With the machine running slowly pour the olive oil in the feed tube until you have a loose paste or firm sauce. Add the cheese and process for 30 seconds. Taste for seasoning.
The pesto can be used immediately, place in the refrigerator for 7-10 days or frozen for up to 3 months in a well sealed container.
1lb/450g pasta, cooked according to package directions al dente (to the tooth)
2 tbsp/30ml olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
⅛ tsp/.5ml red pepper flakes
1 cup/225ml onion, diced
1 bulb, 2 cups/450ml fresh fennel, cut into bite sized pieces
2 cans anchovies, drained and chopped
2 cups/794g crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp/30ml tomato paste
1 tbsp/15ml basil, chopped
Heat oil in large pot, and saute in it the garlic and pepper flakes (30 seconds), add the fennel, onion and anchovies, saute until fennel is soft and onion is becoming translucent and anchovies “melt”(3-4 minutes). Stir in tomato paste and coat all vegetables (1-2 minutes). Add tomatoes and basil. Simmer 30 minutes.
2 tbsp/30ml olive oil
1 tsp/15ml garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp/30ml pine nuts, chopped
2 tbsp/30ml basil, chopped
1 cup/225ml fine homemade breadcrumbs , toasted
Pour oil and garlic in pan. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add crumbs and remaining ingredients. Pour sauce over the pasta, then sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.
It seems that St. Patrick’s Day is the only real celebration most people think of when it comes to the month of March. Being of one half Italian heritage, another important day in March is The Feast of St. Joseph. St. Joseph is known as the the patron saint of the worker and the poor throughout Italy, and the fava bean, or broad bean, has the story of being the saviour of a nation, that of Sicily. Yes, Sicily is part of Italy, but that debate will not be waged in this column.
As the story goes, there had been a horrible drought in Sicily. All of the crops died. The fields looked like deserts in a sea of dust. After much praying to St. Joseph, there was one crop that survived and indeed thrived. It was the fava bean, which is why it is now commonly called “the lucky bean.” An added bonus is the nutritional value. They are very low on the Glycemic Index, and in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Favas are also a good source of fiber, protein, phosphorus, copper and manganese, and a good source of folate.
Below are two recipes for traditional dishes that can most certainly be eaten at any time of the year, but are particularly appropriate as part of a meal on this day of celebration.
2 pounds/900g fresh
1 bunch green scallions
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup/225ml)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon/15ml fresh mint leaves, chopped
zest of one lemon
handful chopped parsley
1/4 cup/60ml olive oil, divided
2 ounces/60g pecorino romano, shaved or grated
1/2 teaspoon/2ml sea salt
1/4 teaspoon/1ml black pepper
Remove the top and tail if using fresh beans. Pop the beans out and boil for 5-10 minutes. They will look wrinkled and grey. Squeeze them to remove the wrinkled skin. The beans will be bright green. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1/2 of the oil to the pan. Sauté scallions, onion, and garlic with the bay leaves until the onions are soft (about 4 minutes). Add beans and cook for another 4-5 minutes or the beans are soft. Remove the mixture to a bowl, removing the bay leaves. Add the lemon zest, parsley, mint, remaining oil, and cheese. Toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. This can be served as a first course or over rice or pasta.
This next one is a variation of Pino Correnti’s and has its roots from the celebrations of the Spring Equinox, using only dried beans “in the expectations of the new harvest to come.”
Maccu di San ‘Giuseppi (St. Joseph’s Bean Soup)
2 quarts/2 liters water
5 ounces/145g dry fava beans
4 ounces/115g dried peas
3 ounces/85g navy beans
2 ounces/60g garbanzo beans
2 ounces/60g lentils
1 onion, diced
1 pound/450g fresh spinach
1 tablespoon/15ml fennel seeds
fronds from one bulb of fennel
1 ounce/30g sundried tomato, chopped
10 cured olives (optional)
1/2 teaspoon/2ml sea salt
1/2 teaspoon/2ml red pepper flakes
1/4 cup/60ml olive oil to drizzle
Soak all of the legumes except the lentils overnight in a large pot of water. Drain and rinse. Add all of the soaked beans to a large pot along with the onion. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and to a simmer for 1 hour. Add lentils, spinach, fennel seed, frond, tomato, and olive. Simmer for another 30 minutes or beans are all tender. Serve topped with croutons and drizzled with olive oil.
If you are looking for a heart-healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean-styled diet might be right for you. A Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps a glass of red wine — among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limit unhealthy fats. While these parts of a healthy diet remain tried-and-true, subtle variations or differences in proportions of certain foods may make a difference in your risk of heart disease.
Benefits of the Mediterranean-Styled diet
Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, a recent analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality, a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer mortality, and a reduced incidence of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
For this reason, most if not all major scientific organizations encourage healthy adults to adapt a style of eating like that of the Mediterranean diet for prevention of major chronic diseases.
Given how hard it is to study the effect of food on long-term health, there probably won’t ever be a definitive study of red meat and mortality. The evidence that’s accumulating has us believing that less meat is probably better for health.
Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as the Mediterranean diet. Instead, there are many ways to go Mediterranean. Here are the basics:
- Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds every day; they should make up the lion’s share of foods.
- Fat, much of it from olive oil, may account for up to 40% of daily calories.
- Small portions of cheese or yogurt are usually eaten each day, along with a serving of fish, poultry, or eggs.
- Red meat makes an appearance now and then.
- Small amounts of red wine are typically taken with meals.
Cutting back on meat can also help the health of the planet. According to an eye-opening book from the Union of Concerned Scientists called The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices, meat consumption is the second most environmentally expensive consumer activity, behind how we transport ourselves from place to place. Making one pound of beef for the table creates 17 times more water pollution and 20 times more habitat alteration than making its caloric equivalent in pasta.
That makes eating less meat an excellent two-fer.
The following recipe is from one our favorite Chefs, Jennifer Patterson. While preparing, and especially just before you are about to start whisking, break out into a verbose song and sneak an extra nip of whiskey.
Irish Coffee Pudding
With St. Patrick's day in mind, the following is a Gaelic treat handed down through many Irish families.
4 ounces/113g caster sugar, or less if preferred
1/2 pint/250ml espresso coffee
3 tablespoons/45ml Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce/15g of gelatin
1/2 pint /250ml whipping cream
extra whipped cream and chopped walnuts
Separate eggs. Put yolks and half of the sugar into a bowl. Whisk until smooth, then add three quarters of the coffee. Stand the bowl over a saucepan of hot but not boiling water and stir briskly until you achieve a thickened custard which will coat the back of a spoon. Mix in the whiskey. Sprinkle the gelatin into the rest of the coffee and let it stand for 5 minutes, then dissolve it over hot water. Blend with coffee custard and leave to cool and stiffen slightly. Whip the cream into peaks. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold in the remaining sugar. Fold the cream and then the egg whites into the jellied mixture and spoon the lot into a dish or six separate ones. Chill and set, top with cream and walnuts.
It is tough to find good snacks for kids in this day and age of highly processed, fast foods. Here are some healthy ideas for snacks...all organic of course.
These ideas are great for adults too! Need a little extra boost at the office between meetings and meals? Here are a few solutions.
Eat Healthy Stay Healthy
- Apple Slices and Peanut Butter(try adding a bit of organic maple syrup to the peanut butter and microwaving for an extra special treat)
- Fruit Slices and Soy Cream Cheese (a tub of vegan soy cream cheese (at room temperature) with 1/4 cup undiluted apple juice or orange juice concentrate and a dash of cinnamon. Stir vigorously until smooth. Serve with apple and pear slices, strawberries, and banana chunks for dipping.
- Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins
- Tortilla Chips sprinkled with Cheese (or cheese alternative)
- Fruit Skewers (simply cut any fresh fruit in season into bite-sized chunks and alternate on wooden or bamboo skewers with grapes)
- Dried fruits (such as organic raisins, dates, apricots)
- Crackers and Cheese
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Ants on a Log (celery or cream cheese with peanut butter and raisins)
- Carrots, Celery, and Pita Triangles with Hummus Dipping Sauce
- Banana Pops (dip in yogurt, roll in crushed grains, and freeze)
- Frozen Grapes
- Yogurt Cups or Smoothies
- Dehydrated Veggies
- A Box of Raisins
- A Bowl of Mixed, Raw Nuts
It is the time of the year that many of our clients are eating more fish. This is an adaption of a dish I grew up with. Fresh poached and flaked tuna replace the canned version. The dried "Italian Blend" herbs and powdered garlic are substituted with fresh mint and garlic. Canned tomatoes have been left in, but feel free to use your own tomato concasse (skinned and seeded) diced tomatoes. Whole cherry tomatoes would be fantastic too. Mint you are saying to yourself, really? Pazzo couco unico! This is not dessert. This is pasta. Basil goes with pasta. Everyone knows that even those not brought up in a household with Italian heritage. The mint brings an unexpected freshness and "pop" to the dish. As usual I would not finish this with cheese as it is a fish dish. A drizzle of good olive oil and if anything dried breadcrumbs.
As always this is quick, easy Good and Good for You!
1 pound/450g Penne Pasta
(4) 5 ounce/145g tuna fillets
1/4 cup/60ml olive oil, divided
6 cloves of garlic, minced
28 ounces/790g canned dice tomatoes
1/2 cup/125ml dry red wine
1 tablespoon/15ml sea salt
1 tablespoon/15ml balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons/30ml chopped fresh mint
1 cup pasta cooking water
1 tablespoon/15ml fresh black pepper
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Add tuna for the last 7 minutes. Remove tuna to a bowl before draining pasta. Make sure you reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Using a potato masher break up the tuna fillets. Heat half of the olive oil in a 12 inch/31cm skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic stirring constantly for 30-45 seconds to soften the garlic. Be careful not to brown it. Add tomatoes and wine. Bring to a high simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add tuna and salt to the tomatoes. Stir to mix. Add mint and balsamic, cook for 1 minute. Carefully add the pasta to the pan. Toss to coat evenly. Loosen with cooking water if necessary. Drizzle with olive oil and top with cracked pepper. Toss and serve.