Sunday, 12 May 2013

Lavender Beignets with Rosewater Glaze

Don't they Instagram well?
Happy Mother’s Day! As you can probably gather from this blog, Kelly and I love our mummy very much. Sometimes, words fail you in situations like this, because it is impossible to express how you feel about someone in any other way but just feeling it.

Food, as cheesy as it sounds, is one of those mediums that you can use to express your love for someone without trying to describe it in words. That goes way back in our house, starting with Kell and I trying to make Mummy breakfast in bed when we were little. Although I’m sure my mum appreciated the gesture, I’m quite certain she didn’t enjoy the mess it made, left for her to clean up. As we got older, the mess got smaller, but the appreciation got bigger.

It’s funny how as you get older, your mum gets wiser. All those lectures, rules and guidelines that were painful when you were a teenager suddenly begin to make more sense. The lessons I’ve learned from my mum are infinite, I can’t even begin to count how many there are. There are some very important lessons I’ve learned from her though, and here a few:
1.     There is no “One.” You are your only One, so love yourself as much as you possibly can. Anyone else in your life is just added pleasure.
2.     If you find yourself getting shrill and hysterical, (as you are wont to do when you happen to be 16 and have what could be politely termed as a “flair for drama”) put yourself to bed for a little while. See how you feel when you wake up. Usually it isn’t as bad as you think.
3.     When entertaining, the most important thing to remember is that it’s all smoke and mirrors. Simple recipes, done well, have a lot more impact than over the top food which no one understands.
4.     Above all else, love your family. As my mother used to say when my sister and would fight, (and there were many, usually stemming from the Super Nintendo) “When I’m dead and gone, you’ll only have each other. So get a grip and say ‘sorry’.”

There you go. Now you have a little free wisdom, right from my mother. Don’t take those lessons for granted. They are more valuable than you think.

When my kitchen looks like this, you can tell I've been baking.
My mother and I are apart today, which is too bad because I would give just about anything to sit next to her on the couch today and watch the Food Network for hours upon hours, but we’re together in spirit. And if I were with her today, I would make these beignets for us to eat while we watch Giada and Chuck.

The best thing about this recipe 
 is that there is no yeast required, which is important to me because I hate buying things like yeast and waiting for it to activate and all that. It’s too annoying and requires far too much patience from me. All you need is:

   ½ cup butter
   1 cup water
   ¼ teaspoon salt
   1 cup all-purpose flour
   4 eggs
   Oil for deep-frying
   Teaspoon of lavender

Start by heating your oil in a deep fryer or deep pot/wok. Melt the butter and water together in a different pot and then add your flour, salt and lavender to the batter. I removed the pot from the heat and beat in the eggs. Now you’ll have quite a sticky batter.  Take a spoonful of this batter and fry. (Check your oil first for temperature by dropping just a little bit of batter in. It should bubble up right away.) Each one takes about five minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel.

Let’s make a glaze now. I adapted this recipe but changed it a little.
   5 1/3 Tablespoons butter
   2 cups powdered sugar
   1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
   1/3 cup hot water

Heat the confectioner’s sugar and water together pot, add the butter. I also added a few drops of rosewater with the vanilla.

Finished product!
When the beignets have cooled, dip them or drizzle them with the glaze. Allow them to dry. Enjoy! And give your mama a little extra love today. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Niçoise Salad

Summer eating is so different from winter eating. Not only are you less inclined to turn on your stove to roast or braise something, I find I am much more into lighter fare.

So what’s better in the summer than a nice, hearty salad? Nothing! Well actually, lots! (Burger, steak, Pogo…) But salads are really great too, and they can be filling.  And one I really love is Niçoise salad.

Salads are funny when you go to a restaurant. I find it can be really hit and miss. If you aren’t getting some bizarre, deconstructed Caesar salad, you get iceberg lettuce in a bowl with a tomato or two and some kind of gelatinous mess they claim to be a dressing. I absolutely cannot stand it when I order a side salad and all I get is bloody iceberg lettuce. I hate iceberg lettuce! It has no nutritional value, no taste, and no point on earth, with the exception to provide restaurants with an inexpensive solution for appeasing health conscious diners.

ANYWAY. In case you weren’t sure, this salad will not be including iceberg lettuce. We’ll use real greens, as in, the type that come pre-washed in the plastic tub (if you are lazy and hate washing lettuce like me.) If you want, you can also use some kind of real lettuce that you buy resembling a lettuce plant.

Normally, this salad uses tuna as a protein. However, Gordon Ramsey, who is on my list of one true loves, is the inspiration for this salad. Well, not HIM, it’s his recipe that was the inspiration (that sounded a bit Fatal Attraction, I don’t want his security trying to hunt me down). Gordon Ramsey uses salmon, and since he is a god and I am a mere mortal, we will also use salmon.

My dinner companion for this meal had originally requested smoked salmon, but I was worried that wouldn’t provide us with enough to eat. He’s one of Those People who won’t eat bread or dairy, so of course I was floundering for what to feed him. Where I come from, men eat meat and potatoes, and any meal lacking either of those components is not truly a meal at all. So, I used a filet of salmon, and I baked it in the oven at 350° for about 15-20 minutes, season with a little cayenne and paprika.  (My poor mother, I literally call her every single week asking how to cook salmon. It just will not stick in my head.)

You’ll also need:
§  Baby red potatoes (halved or quartered)
§  Green beans
§  Lettuce of some variety
§  Olives
§  Hard-boiled eggs (peeled and cut in halves or quartered)
For the dressing:
§  Olive oil (2 parts)
§  Lemon juice (1 part)
§  A little fresh dill
§  Salt and pepper
§  1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

To make your dressing, put all of the ingredients in a jar and shake. Or stir. Or whisk. Taste. Season as necessary.

I am going to assume you know how to hard boil an egg and cook some potatoes. But in case you don’t, just boil them until the potatoes are soft and the eggs are hard. Easy! I steamed my beans for about five minutes and then blanched them in ice water. Also, toss the salad greens with the dressing, but reserve a little.

You could serve this as a cold salad or a warm salad; I served it warm to make it more meal-like. This is the fun part, you get to plate it! Start with a bed of dressed lettuce. Place your warm salmon on top, then your eggs, olives, beans and potatoes. Drizzle your reserved dressing on top. Now you can serve a delicious salad with lots of protein and various other nutritious bits. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Stuffed Red Pepper (read: superiority on a plate)

Isn't it just calling your name?
 Holy, are we having gorgeous weather or what? I can’t even handle it. You may or may not still be inspired to get healthy and eat clean, so just in case you’re wavering a little, here’s a healthy and delicious pin-worthy/hashtag-able (this is my blog, and I can make up words if I want to) little number to increase your superiority over your friends who continue to post photos of drinking beer and eating wings on various patios, despite it being bikini season (the fact of which I am reminded every time I try to purchase something in a store which sells magazines.) And! You may not let this go, until October, at which point we move to Party Dress Season, thus requiring you to remain slender but still properly emotionally vulnerable to then buy into Resolution Season. Cook this up and smugly post it to your Instagram, reminding all of your friends and followers about how you snobbily decline to deign to destroy your temple with their disgusting, dirty food.

I mock the clean eating, but in reality, I totally buy into it, because I do like to feel good, and as we know, I am trying to be that snotty bitch who only drinks Perrier at the bar now. Not only that, if I am going to run for miles without a destination (besides getting back to my damn house) and downward dog enough to permanently damage the circulation system in my brain, I would like to see some results on my body that somewhat resembles muscle tone and/or a six pack. Sadly, this will not occur if you continue to eat poutine and Pabst, which is exactly all I ate last summer. (My darling American fan base- if you need to know what poutine is, check it out. Sadly, this national treasure will forever remind all of North America why Canada is, in fact, superior. Only in the freezing north could you find a dish that will add a full layer of fat to your body instantly. It’s practically a survival technique in this land.)

“Bailey, are we at any point going to get to the recipe, or will you continue to use this blog to emphasize your own superiority complex for the next several paragraphs?” I can see this very thought in your mind. So anyway, here we go.

You’ll need quinoa (a food which has become so trendy it now has its own section in Chapters, yet is not recognized by MS Word), a red pepper, your jazzy avocado sauce, various greens (I read about kale all the time, but I used chard in this recipe), a little garlic, feta if you do dairy, diced tomato, olive oil and various spices (chili, cumin, coriander).

Start by coring and seeding your red pepper. If you are a more popular person than I am, then obviously make a pepper per person. Cook your quinoa- just make as much as you want. This makes a great salad the next day if you have leftovers. Sauté your greens with garlic and add them to the quinoa. Now add your tomato, feta, and spices, plus a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Be bold- add whatever you like to this. This one had a southwest flavour, but you could go Greek, or Asian, the world is your proverbial oyster. Use what you have on hand.

Now bake in an oven for about an hour on 375°. Cover with tinfoil so they don’t dry out. Near the end, top with some cheese if you want to, although many health people I know don’t do the cheese. Also, if you want to make this vegan, you’d clearly want to skip it in that scenario as well. Do top with your avocado sauce, because you are the kind of person who drizzles and tops. I can tell. I like that about you.

Here you are! Your very own Instagram-able meal! Hashtag away: #vegan #cleaneating #imbetterthanyou
See? I Instagram: baileyreid85!