Category Archives: food

The Kitchen Garden

It’s time to harvest; tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, parsley, squash, mint are all begging to be brought inside and cooked, preserved, fermented and/or dried. Though, if you are an edible food in my garden, more likely placed directly on a plate as salad. More recipes will come on cooking from the kitchen garden. But, for now, a bit about the garden.

 

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Our kitchen garden was designed based on some simple permaculture ideas. We are novices in this field, but we are guided by the principles of using local resources, planting edible fruits, keeping your herbs and annuals close to the house so you can tend to them, building garden beds that require little irrigation, composting EVERYTHING, planting a “food forest,” and generally establishing systems that take a while to create but are low maintenance and autonomous in the long run.

My favorite permaculture technique? Hugelkultur. Long story short, hugelkultur entails burying logs or big sticks underneath your layers of compost, leaves, mulch, soil etc. Why would you do this? Less irrigation for starters. (I watered my vegetable garden 3 times this summer, after planting). Lots of oxygen for the plant roots is another reason. Third, if your compost is like mine and comes mostly from kitchen scraps, the carbon in the wood (brown stuff) balances out all the nitrogen from your kitchen waste (green stuff). The result? We are harvesting zuchinni, basil, crookneck squash, bushels of cucumbers and lots of beans and peas; all out of a bed we hardly watered. And they taste amazing.

 

Let us know: what are your favorite fruits or vegetables in season right now?

 

 

 

 

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Vegan Burgers

These falafel burgers are lightly fried, and then baked. This makes them much less greasy, but maintains the delicious crunchiness. We served them on fresh organic blue corn tortillas, to make them gluten-free. Most traditional Mexican tortillas are made with nixtamalized corn (a process of soaking the kernels in wood ash), which releases its nutrients and rids it of toxic phytic acid. Organic corn is the best because it is free of GMOs. (Assuming that pesky wind didn’t cross-polinate any of the crop with some frankenpollen).

Falafel Burgers*

The recipe for the burgers depends on your preference. The basic ingredients are chickpeas, fava beans, onions, garlic, parsley, and thyme. These get blended in the food processor. To this you can add an egg for stickiness and grated potato sweet potato.  The result should yield a doughy mix that can be formed into patties. Lightly fry them on either side, then continue cooking in a 350° oven until crispy, about 15 minutes.

*Another lovely photo by Kaela Greenstein.

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Sumac Salad Dressing

Sumac is the best-kept secret of spices. It comes from a species of Sumac tree native to the Middle East and North Africa. The taste is subtle, so it’s best eaten raw. Persians simply sprinkle it on meats right on the plate, adding a slightly sour lemony taste. You can find it at spice shops and Middle Eastern specialty stores.

I make this salad dressing in large batches  in a mini-blender, so it lasts a  few weeks. The onions actually improve (as in become less spicy and more sweet) in the lemon juice as it sits in the fridge.  It tastes amazing on salads, falafel, french fries, or just as a dip. The amount of lemon juice should be almost the same as the other wet ingredients. Use equal portions of olive oil and tahini. If you blend it, stir in the sumac at the end so it doesn’t lose its texture.

Sumac Salad Dressing

  • Tahini
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Onion, blended until smooth
  • Mustard
  • Salt
  • Sumac
  • Honey (optional)

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Chocolate Amaranth Cookies

I was inspired to make this recipe by the abundant nourishing foods that come from America. (The two continents, not just the united states of). With the globalization of trade, we can now get food that looks the same anywhere in the world. While the ingredients in this recipe aren’t exactly local (Central America is just about as close to Toronto as London, England), I think foods indigenous to America are too often overlooked. Imagine how different Europe would be without potatoes, tomatoes, corn, coffee, or chocolate. These are not only native to America, but the techniques for their breeding, cultivation, and preparation date back thousands of years.

 

The pecans in this recipe are native to North America, cacao was first cultivated in Mexico, and amaranth is an ancient American (super-)grain that is especially high in protein, iron, and calcium. Only the orange zest originates across the ocean, but this could be omitted, leaving the vanilla extract (another Mexican food) to complement the chocolate.

 

 

Chocolate Amaranth Cookies

Mix together in a large bowl:

3 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil

1/4 cup honey or agave syrup

3 tablespoons warm water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine in a medium bowl:

1 cup amaranth flour

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1/4 teaspoon gum arabic*

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

*(A binding agent which comes from the sap of the acacia tree. This can be substituted for one egg).

Add dry ingredients to honey water and stir. The consistency will be somewhat pastey. Add to this:

1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 pecans

zest from one orange

Form the dough into small cookies (about 1 heaping tablespoon each) and place on a baking sheet covered in parchment. Top each cookie with a pecan half.

Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes, until cookies have slightly darkened on the bottom.

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chocolate checkerboard cake

My grandmother used to make this cake for our birthdays. Because it is so rich with buttery, gluteny, betty-crockery goodness, it’s something to make only for very special occasions. I had been waiting impatiently for one such day, when finally a good friend of mine had a birthday.  And coincidently, this friend happens to love chocolate, butter and sugar! I would like to share this family recipe with you, but with a warning: it is incredibly thick, making it easy  to form the checkerboard shape. Make sure you have lots of people to share it with you.

 

Chocolate checkerboard cake

1 1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. all purpose or cake flour
1 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder

 

 

Grease and flour the bottom of each cake tin. Beat together sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Sift flour and measure.  Add baking powder and salt to flour and mix. Add 1/4  of flour to mix and beat.  Add 1/3 of milk to mix and beat. Repeat until all milk and flour are added to the mixture.

Divide batter in half and 1 1/2 squares of chocolate to half of the cake mix.

pour the batters like a target....I don't know how my grandmother made it look so even

Divide in round pans by creating three circles with each tin as follows- first pan:  chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, second pan:  vanilla, chocolate, vanilla. Bake about 20 minutes at 35o°.  Cool before removing from cake tin. For icing, I used a basic chocolate and butter recipe and added orange zest.

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mushroom broccoli mini quiches

This is the perfect recipe for winter because you can literally substitute any vegetables in and it tastes great, thanks to all the cheese. The more vegetables you add, the more exciting each serving will be. My favorite variation includes brusell sprouts cut into fourths, green onion and  bacon. Needless to say, this recipe can be quite easily converted to fit an herbivore diet. I like an egg-heavy quiche, but if you want something a bit lighter, add an extra 1/2 cup of milk and leave out a few eggs.

The crust comes from one of my favorite food blogs: chocolate and zucchini. To make the mini-crusts, follow the dough recipe*, divide the dough in half, roll it out and cut it into twelfths with a sharp knife. It takes a little bit of manipulating, but each piece will fit it into a muffin hole (muffin cavity?). This recipe will make crusts for 24 mini-quiches.

*It calls for 250 g of flour, but 2 cups is pretty close.

 

Mini-quiche filling:

  • 7 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 3 slices of prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup broccoli flowers
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower flowers
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • dried sage
  • salt and pepper

 

Lightly fry the vegetables in butter, salt and pepper. Add a pinch of sage or oregano right before you turn it off. Lightly beat the eggs, milk and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add most of the cheese, and the prosciutto.

 

 

Arrange the vegetables in the crusts and pour the egg mixture on top. Here, I used less shredded cheese and put chunks of soft cheese in with the vegetables. Sprinkle that extra cheese you put aside on top. Bake for 25 minutes at 400°.

 

 

 

 

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gluten-free banana super bread

 

 

 

Gluten-free banana bread


  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup teff flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups ripe mashed banana
  • 3/4 cup nuts
  • 1/2 cup fig or apricot chunks
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Mix the dry ingredients first, then add the oil, honey and banana pulp. The last three ingredients can be substituted with just about anything that’s not too moist; oatmeal, raisins, candied ginger, sunflower seeds…You may also substitute 1 grated lemon rind for the cinnamon, maple syrup for the honey, or grated pear for the banana.

Bake for 50 minutes at 350°. For muffins, bake for 35 minutes. Makes two loaves or 24 muffins.

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olive rosemary focaccia

For our inaugural post, we chose a recipe that represents our cooking philosophy: simple, gourmet food made at home. The dough (which is actually a modified pizza dough recipe) gets better with age, so if you have the luxury of planning three days ahead your bread will be soft and chewy. However, if you let your dough rise for at least an hour, it will taste fine.

 

 

Olive Rosemary Focaccia

Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 packets (1 1/2 tablespoons) dry active yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

 

Toppings:

  • Olive oil or olive juice
  • Olives
  • Feta Cheese
  • Rosemary
  • Tomatoes
  • Any vegetable in season

 

Making the dough:

Dissolve the sugar in the water and add the yeast. Allow yeast to activate (you will see bubbles) for 1-2 minutes. Mix the flour and salt together. Add the yeast mixture and oil and stir until a ball forms. Sprinkle a flat surface with flour and knead the dough for about 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover with a wet towel or greased plastic wrap and allow to rise one hour, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough, cover, and place in fridge to rise at least overnight.

 

When the dough is ready:

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Place on a greased baking sheet and poke some holes with a fork. Add whatever toppings you like (plain olive oil, salt and rosemary taste wonderful) and place in a 550° oven for 9-11 minutes- until cheese melts.

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