Let this year’s abundance of autumn vegetables take your seasonal comfort foods beyond the usual mirepoix base of onion, carrot, and celery, to a whole new level. Soups and stews can be so much more COLOUR FULL than that.
So sharpen those knives and practice your chopping and dicing skills! Toss some crucifierous veggies into the mix ~ cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli…
Do more than dry or preserve garden herbs before the frost hits them. Use them fresh as flavour boosters in soups or stews ~ fresh thyme, parsley, basil, or rosemary.
Staring at a bumper crop of tomatoes? Soups and stews LOVE tomatoes of any kind, diced, halved, or even whole! Slice a few in half crossways, gently squeeze out the seeds, and throw them into the pot. How easy is that?!
Got garlic, chives, leeks, shallots, or green onion? Now’s the time to add them liberally to any recipe and see how it hits you ~ and see how they’re able to boost your immune system heading into cold and flu season.
A little off topic, but here’s a lovely tip to give chicken stock a ubiquitous “Thai” flavour; toss in a whole star anise for the entire cooking time, and a cinnamon stick for about ten minutes of the cooking time.
Be adventurous. Use up what you see in front of you and enjoy the complexity of flavour and colours that are autumn.
with joy over changing seasons and trying new things,
Diana E. Natalie
Hey guys, if you’re in the Ottawa area on Friday, September 18th, check this out ~ should be a ton of fun and Grace In The Kitchen, & Serious Cheese, is a great place to pick up some amazing foodie tips and “serious CHEESE”!!
For more info. see the GRACE IN THE KITCHEN Facebook page. They are located at 442 Hazeldean Road, Kanata, ON.
with joy over melting cheese of any kind by any means,
Diana E. Natalie
In her book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, author and Le Cordon Bleu graduate Kathleen Flinn highlights kitchen tools, basic cuts, and why you really need only a couple of good knives. Her assessment is both accurate and helpful as many of us have the misconception that we need the over-the-top eleven piece knife block set full of blades (some of which we will never use) in order to cook well.
Everyone has their favourite knife ~ the one they use most of the time, whether it be a vegetable or paring knife, santoku knife, or chef’s knife. It may be a twenty-five-dollar chef’s knife you picked up at the big box store, or an expensive Wusthof or Henckel selected for it’s full tang (where the blade extends all the way to the butt of the knife handle and is held together by rivets). Some people prefer a more expensive forged knife with a heavy bolster designed to help balance the knife in your hand as you are cutting. For some of you, as long as it feels comfortable in your hand and you’re able to slice and dice effortlessly, you really don’t care…
Flinn suggests the following two key considerations when buying a knife; “The steel and ‘the feel’. You want a knife with the kind of steel that can take an edge and hold it. Not all steel is created equal. Harder steel takes an edge better, resulting in a sharper knife.”(1.) “How a knife fits into your hand is the ‘feel’… Go to a place that has a good selection of knives…Feel the subtle differences in the weight and the grip of the handle. A comfortable knife is a highly personal thing.”(2.)
We suggest you buy only the knives you will actually use. Start with a good chef’s knife, a paring knife (with a blade a bit longer than your mother’s or grandmother’s), a nice bread knife, and when you’re able, supplement these with a santoku knife that has some curve to it’s blade for “rocking ability” (making it more multi-purpose) for effortless slicing, dicing and mincing. Santoku knives are often recognizable by the blade’s “scalloped” or dimpled sides. I also use my husbands extremely thin, sharp fillet knife periodically for removing membrane from wild poultry and game meats…he likes to clean fish for me so I miss out on actually filleting fish with it!
If your budget can handle getting one good knife, invest in the best knife you can afford. Look for full tang, good steel, and great feel! Take good care of it and it will be the best spent money on anything in your kitchen. Have your knives sharpened at lease once a year, and learn to properly hone (or fine tune) them yourself in between sharpening if you use them a lot. Most culinary or cookware stores that sell quality knives offer sharpening service.
I’ve waited for years to upgrade my favourite knife, and recently did so with zero buyers remorse. Pictured above: my new MIYABI 600S Morimoto edition santoku knife, made in true Japanese fashion by the Japanese factory of ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS, purchased on sale at Grace In The Kitchen, Hazeldean Road, Ottawa, Ontario. Thanks Jamie Nadon, for your assistance in helping me select my new best friend, and a sweet new cutting board too! Standing in my kitchen just reached a new level of effortless enjoyment.
I’m in Home Grown Heirloom Persimmon Tomato heaven these days. Oh, and watch for my fresh herb salt (pictured) recipe coming soon, just in time to preserve your September herb harvest for months to come!
with joy over sharpness and cutting ease…
Happy slicing, dicing, mincing!
Diana E. Natalie
References: (1.),(2.) The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. Kathleen Flinn, Copyright, 2011. Penguin Books.
Apologies for the lengthy period of silence since the last post on Stand In My Kitchen…Recovering from surgery I spent a period of quiet respite at a friends cottage this summer, where I was introduced to a delectable quiche with a delicious crispy crust crafted of thinly sliced sweet potato. The recipe can be found HERE on my friend Sally’s lovely blog entitled Love Letters In A Pan. Once I was feeling like cooking again, this was the first thing I had to try…and it definitely won’t be the last time this beauty comes out of our oven here!
With joy over sweet introductions!
Diana E. Natalie
Photo: ‘Sweet Potato Quiche in the making…’
The original recipe for cupcakes, by Carole Fraser in North York, ON Canada, was published in the 2013 Taste of Home Special Edition ‘Cupcakes’. Works well as a cake batter ~ with a moist, rich brownie-like texture due to the addition of grated carrots as well as zucchini. We followed the cupcake recipe, using organic zucchini & carrot quickly grated with a food processor, unbleached all purpose flour and organic Spelt flour, premium dark cocoa, and real vanilla. We then put the batter into a 9-inch springform pan, rather than a muffin tin, and increased the baking time to 5o -55 minutes.
1 1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar (we used Florida Organic sugar)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon real mexican vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached All Purpose flour + 1 cup Organic Spelt Flour (whole or light)
3/4 cup Royal Dutch dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt (we used Liberte Greek yogurt)
1 cup grated organic zucchini (use a food processor for grating to save time)
1 cup grated organic carrots (use a food processor for grating to save time)
FROSTING: We used a basic Butter Cream Frosting recipe for our birthday cake, and Royal icing for the Super Mario face decoration. We found a template on the internet for Mario’s face, placed it on cardboard, covered with plastic wrap, and painted the royal icing onto the surface. We used fruit leather and various candy and marshmallows to decorate. Super Mario’s nose is a pared down jumbo marshmallow. What two-year-old wouldn’t want to pull that off and eat it?! CAKE METHOD:
Prepare grated zucchini and carrot and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a stand mixer or hand held blender, cream butter and sugar together in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
Combine the Flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Measure out the yogurt.
Add dry ingredients (flour mixture) and yogurt alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.
Fold in zucchini and carrots.
Pour batter evenly into 9-inch springform cake pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 50 to 55 minutes – until a wooden pick inserted in centre comes out fairly clean. Cool. Remove from springform pan.
May be wrapped and stored in fridge for up to 48 hours before decorating. Cake remains moist.
A nice firm cake for decorating. Cut into smaller, dense slices, this cake serves 12 to 16 people.
With joy over chocolate cake and second birthdays, Diana E. Natalie
Note: All ingredients may be found at The Main Ingredient, 326 Charlotte St., Peterborough, ON. K9J 2V7
Muffins that taste like donuts? These aren’t far off for something made without any refined sugar or unfriendly oils! Make them ahead, store in an airtight container and enjoy for up to one week. Unlike other gluten free muffins which can sometimes dry out fairly quickly, these become more moist and taste even better after a day or two!
1/2 cup organic non-GMO cornmeal
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup brown rice syrup + 1/4 cup maple syrup (OR use 1/2 cup of maple syrup)
1 egg + 1 eggwhite
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/3 cup organic coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/3 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup almond milk or milk substitute
1/2 cup organic juice-sweetened fruit spread such as Crofter’s
Prepare muffin tin (grease or line with muffin papers). Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Blend dry ingredients together in a bowl using a wire whisk and set aside.
Beat wet ingredients together using a handheld or stand mixer.
Stir in dry ingredients until moistened – do not over mix.
Half-fill muffin cups. (Divide half of the batter between each of 12 muffin cups). Then carefully place one-half to one teaspoon of “just fruit spread” in centre of each muffin cup. (Is that me licking my finger in the picture below? Oops!)
Cover with approx. 1 Tablespoon of batter in each muffin cup, until all batter is used up.
Bake at 375 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into centre of muffin comes out clean.
As mentioned above you can make these muffins ahead, store in an airtight container and enjoy for up to one week. They moisten up and taste even better after a day or two.
Recipe makes 1 dozen.
with joy over gluten-free low glycemic muffins that taste like donuts,
Diana E. Natalie
P.S. All ingredients listed above are available at The Main Ingredient, 326 Charlotte St. Peterborough, ON.
Spring cleaning the freezer, we found a frozen container of Ricotta cheese, thawed it out, and used it and some frozen blueberries to make this amazing cake. One of those recipes that turns out so well and tastes so good we found ourselves dreaming all day about eating “just one more piece!” Eating this ‘cake’ for breakfast actually provides a decent level of protein from eggs, cheese, and milk, as well as fruit, and fibre if you use a whole grain flour in the batter. Super easy to make, you can likely experiment with some substitutions (i.e. alternate flours, sweeteners, oil, and dairy substitutes) with good success, as there’s plenty of egg and baking powder to make it rise up regardless. The cake should store well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, although ours didn’t last long enough to prove it, as we ate it with breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
INGREDIENTS Part One ~ “Batter”:
1 cup flour (we used 1/2 cup Spelt flour + 1/2 cup unbleached All Purpose flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup milk (or milk substitute)
1/4 cup coconut oil melted & cooled. (Also use a bit of coconut oil to grease a 9 inch square glass baking dish).
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
INGREDIENTS Part Two ~ “Filling”:
1 1/2 cups frozen (wild) blueberries
INGREDIENTS Part Three ~ “Topping”:
1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
1/3 cup Florida Organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9″X9″ glass baking dish with a bit of coconut oil.
Stir together the flour, sugars, and baking powder from Ingredients Part One.
Add the milk, oil, egg, and lemon extract. Using stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat on low for one minute, then on medium speed for 1 minute (use spatula to incorporate any ingredients coming up the side of the bowl) until well blended.
Pour this batter into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly.
Ingredients Part Two: Sprinkle frozen blueberries evenly over the batter.
In separate bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs from Ingredients Part Three, ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, and vanilla extract.
Spoon this mixture evenly over the blueberries.
Bake (uncovered) 50 to 60 minutes – keep your eye on it near the end to ensure the top is done but not too brown.
Cool completely. Cut into squares, and ENJOY!!!
with joy over blueberries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
<3 Diana E. Natalie
P.S. All of the ingredients except the blueberries can be found at The Main Ingredient, 326 Charlotte St., Peterborough, Ontario.