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Friday, October 29, 2010

Balsamic Roasted Heirloom Carrot

Not only do we enjoy food because of the way it tastes and smells, but also because of the way it looks. There is nothing more pleasing to the eye than a plate full of beautiful colors. That is why I was excited to roast these multicoloured heirloom carrots I bought at the local market. The yellows, oranges, blues and purples made the plate look very vivacious, which transcended into me feeling the same way. I kept them whole and unpeeled to get that rustic fall appearance. Tossing the carrots in balsamic vinegar added a complex and faintly sweet flavour to these vegetables. The carrots were a side dish to a creamy root vegetable mash and mustard and herb crusted top sirloin which was cooked by rotisserie on the grill.
Balsamic Roasted Heirloom Carrots

1 lbs heirloom carrots (washed, unpeeled)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 T balsamic vinegar
1 T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a medium pot of water to boil and add the carrots. Boil them for 10 minutes. Remove and place carrots in a bowl. Toss with olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper. Place them on a baking sheet or pan and cook them for 30 minutes at 350F.

Heirloom Carrots at the Parkdale Market

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Leek & Potato Soup

This past Sunday was a perfect fall day, weather wise. The sun was bright and warm, so I opened all my windows to let in the fresh air. With weather like that I certainly did not want to be cooped up indoors for the whole day, so in the morning I ventured to the Gatineau Park for a trail run with my husband. I figured that it would be a popular thing to do in weather like that, so I was up early and out the door allowing me to have the trail all to myself (except for my husband a few white tailed deer).

After the run I was incredibly hungry for lunch, but also being so motivated by the fall weather to be productive I went through my fridge and gathered the ingredients to make a silky smooth leek and potato soup. This soup does not take long to make, so I decided it was worth the wait and had some other nibbles to tie me over until the soup was ready.

This recipe is from the Loonies Spoons cookbook and incorporates buttermilk at the end, rather than cream or milk. Not only does the addition of the buttermilk make the soup extremely silky and smooth, but it makes it an incredibly low fat and low calories lunch. After trying buttermilk in this soup, I have taken that idea and now use it to replace cream or milk in most of my soups and even in my baking.

As it was so gorgeous outside I could not resist but to sit out on the back deck to enjoy my soup while watching the squirrels comb the premise for buried nuts. Rather than sit at the patio table I threw down a cozy blanket, sat cross legged like a child and enjoyed a picnic style lunch with my warm soup, topped with my garden chives and served with a couple slices of warm whole wheat baguette.

Leek & Potato Soup

1 T butter
2 cups sliced leeks (white parts and part of green)
1 cup celery, chopped
4 cups low-fat vegetable broth
3 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup carrots, chopped
3/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup buttermilk (or more as desired)

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add leeks and celery. Cook and stir for 5 minutes, until veggies soften. Add broth, potatoes, carrots, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Return to pot. Stir in buttermilk.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Butternut Squash & Kale Lasagna

My favorite time of year is autumn, I love the smell of the crisp fresh air and the wood burning stoves. I love the color of the changing leaves. In fact I was really happy to get out for a long 20km hike in the Adirondacks last weekend to enjoy the changing of the leaves. But most of all I love the bounty autumn offers. I think my favorite of all the great produce of fall is the squash. There are so many types of squash and they are colorful and very versatile – you can use them in pies, soups, stews, pastas, and/or side dishes such as salads or risottos.

My father provided me with yet another large butternut squash from his garden. I made butternut squash and spinach lasagna last year and was excited to make another one but wanted to change it up a bit. This time I used provolone cheese instead of mozzarella and enjoyed its stronger taste and how it did not melt as much as mozzarella does and rather crisped up a bit.

In this dish the butternut squash is pureed rather than left in chucks. I have no preference over either method in terms of texture they are both good, but the pureed form made putting the lasagna together and serving it much easier as it kept its form better when cut. The recipe also has other changes such as kale vs. spinach and a few different spices. Overall both recipes are highly recommended and make a great week night vegetarian meal.

This recipe was adapted from two different lasagna recipes from cooking light.

Butternut Squash & Kale Lasagna

Cooking spray or olive oil
3 cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves peeled (1 whole and 2 minced)
1 lbs fresh kale
6 round slices sharp provolone cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1 (30-ounce) carton part-skim ricotta cheese
6 cups diced peeled butternut squash cut into ½” cubes

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large saucepan add the olive oil and heat over med-high heat. Add onion and whole garlic, cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano, and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer until thick and flavors are combined, about 30 minutes. Set aside.

While sauce is cooking, in a large baking pan, sprinkle squash with thyme, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Add minced garlic cloves and toss squash mixture to unsure the squash is well coat with the oil. Bake until soft about 30 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Transfer squash and garlic to a food processor and purée until smooth.

Tear kale leaves from center ribs and discard ribs. Boil leaves until soft 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and let cool. Squeeze out as much water as possible and chop finely.

In a bowl, mix ricotta, nutmeg, eggs, parsley and salt and pepper.
In a 10x10 baking dish put the lasagna together.

First Layer:
Spread 1/2 cup Marinara sauce in the bottom of one prepared dish.
Arrange 3-4 noodles over sauce.
Spread 1/2 of the cheese mixture over noodles.
Arrange 1/2 squash over cheese mixture.
Spread 1/2 kale mixture
Spread 1 cup tomato sauce over squash and kale.

Second Layer:
Arrange 4 more noodles over sauce.
Spread the other 1/2 of cheese mixture over the noodles.
Spread remaining squash.
Arrange the rest of the kale mixture over squash.
Spread 1 cup sauce over kale.

Third Layer:
Arrange 4 noodles over sauce.
Spread rest of the sauce over noodles.
Lay down provolone sliced on top of sauce
Cover pan with foil and bake at 375° for 30 minutes.
Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

46er Sandwiches - Mt. Marcy and Algonquin

Chalkboard with all the 46er Sandwiches
(in order from highest peak to lowest peak)

Last weekend I hiked in Lake Placid and completed my 20th out of 46 high peaks. My husband and I decided on hiking the close by Whiteface, which is the second highest of the 46ers. The following day rather than hike again we decided to head into Lake Placid and check out Big Mountain Deli. This is a Deli that our friends had introduced us to the previous day. The gourmet deli offers up a menu of 46 sandwiches named after the 46ers. They also offer many more sweet and savory items ranging from egg dishes, crepes, soups, chicken curries and so much more it is difficult to decide.

As a group we decided that it would be fun to enjoy a 46er sandwich after summiting a 46er. We were are are definitely excited about that idea. Having summated Whiteface the previous day, we thought perhaps we’d enjoy a Whiteface sandwich. However we have also summated 19 other peaks before Whiteface and therefore decided to pick one of those. I had the Mount Marcy (Roast turkey, cranberry horseradish sauce, cheddar, apple on Whole wheat bread) and Marc enjoyed the Algonquin (Roast turkey, apple wood smoked bacon, avocado, sprouts and Russian dressing on seeded Rye Bread). We cannot wait to go back and try more sandwiches and all their different breads they have - they even make there own breads - asiago/peppercorn, caramelized onion, rosemary garlic, basil pesto are the homemade choices and then the list continues with whole wheat, rye, flour intolerant, wraps.

Check out Uberfit for posts on hiking the Adirondack 46ers.
Check out Simply Gourmet Lake Placid

Here are photos of our gourmet sandwiches:

Mt. Marcy Sandwich

(Roast turkey, cranberry horseradish sauce, cheddar, apple on Whole wheat)

Enjoying my sandwich on the main strip in Lake Placid

Algonquin Sandwich (Roast turkey, apple wood smoked bacon, avocado, sprouts and Russian dressing on seeded Rye Bread).

Marc enjoying his Sandwich

Big Mountain Deli

Views on the drive home from Lake Placid