Friday, 15 February 2013

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Well. I have missed this blog everyday since returning from Central America. It just feels as though I've been so busy living that I haven't had a lot of time for documenting. Returning from a trip always means catching up on life, work, friends, laundry, doctor's appointments, social engagements, laundry, sleep, exercise, laundry, cleaning, cat cuddling and more laundry. And did I mention that I'm moving? Ya. It's been a little hectic. The ironic thing is, there has been so much cooking and baking going on over here! There have been black bean brownies, egg nog pancakes, chicken lemon soup, skillet cornbread, chilli, oatmeal raisin cookies, maple millet bread, guacamole, chocolate chia pudding, mediterranean quinoa salad, dark and stormy cake, carrot ginger soup and rosemary walnut loaf. There have been copious amounts of tea and knitting and not enough sun or sleep. With all this craziness going on it's been difficult to stop, slow down and process what sits before me. To take the time to appreciate the beauty of homemade food is a luxury.

On Friday I tend to make the grocery list and meal plan for the week so that I can go shopping on Saturday. I admit it! I make meal plans. You see, my week is so busy that I need to know that I have everything to hand when I need it. I also have to plan on which nights I cook and which nights we eat leftovers because I'm home too late from ballet. I also prep the boyfriend's lunches on the weekend so that the mornings are less frantic. Having a meal plan helps me to stay on budget but it also gives me something to look forward to throughout the week. The meal that I make on Friday tends to be a little more special than what I make during the rest of the week; it is my time to relax, drink some wine and take my time in the kitchen. I'll make something that requires a lot of stages or steps or has a fancier ingredient or two. This meal is so basic (pizza!), yet the flavours and textures are so complex. I invite you to open a bottle of wine, mix some flours, melt some cheese and relax with your favourite person/cat/book/movie after a long week.

Pizza with Two Different Toppings

Serves 4-6

For the crust:
1 3/4 cup rice brown rice flour
1 1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 tbsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp grond flax seed
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup almond meal
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp yeast
4 egg whites
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp vinegar
1 1/2 cup warm water

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease two cookies sheets.
2. Blend the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
3. Whisk the wet ingredients together in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix on high for 4 minutes. 
4. Spoon the dough mixture onto the prepared sheets and spread either in a circle or to the edges of the sheets.
5. Let rise for 10 minutes and then pre-bake for 10 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and spread with your favourite toppings (2 suggestions below). Bake for 25 minutes.

For the sauce:
1 6oz can tomato paste
6oz water
3 tbsp pecorino romano
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes

1. In a small bowl combine all ingredients and mix well. Let sit for 30 minutes for the flavours to incorporate.

Mediterranean Toppings:
handful of spinach leaves
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
200g goat feta
1-2 tbsp capers
1/2 can artichoke hearts (about 4), chopped
1/4-1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped

Potato Rosemary Toppings:
6 small Yukon Gold potatoes
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1/3 cup pecorino romano
salt and pepper
olive oil


Thursday, 13 December 2012

On the Road

So this is my first attempt at posting from my phone while on the go-go. As mentioned a few posts ago, the boyfriend has been enjoying himself in a tropical location for several weeks now on an epic bike trip. The amazing thing is, I'm waiting at the airport for my connecting flight as I'M ABOUT TO GO MEET HIM!!! I know! So since this is a blog about food (and, indirectly, about cycling) I thought I'd try posting this way. I had the longest layover I've ever experienced today (almost 13 hours!) and so I ventured out of the terminal and headed into downtown Seattle for some good eats. I ended up at a place I've been once before, Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe in the University District. Everything on the menu is vegan and organic and there are plenty of gluten-free options as well. I settled on the Hippie Bowl, with perfectly cooked quinoa, shredded carrots, sprouts, tofu, tahini dressing and black sesame seeds. I opted for the large portion so that I could take half with me for dinner. It was scrumptious! I also treated myself to their house juice, a blend of apple, orange and ginger and then I finished off with a coffee and a hazelnut chocolate chip cookie. I didn't get a chance to photograph the cookie because I was too busy eating it. *Cough cough* I will dream about that cookie. That cookie makes all the other cookies in my life jealous and normally I would be sympathetic to other cookies' inferiority complexes but not this time. Because I'm too busy having mouth daydreams. It will have to be recreated. Ok folks, that's all for now. I'm getting a little loopy and I think I'm done eating for the day. Back soon with some exotic photos. "I like piƱa coladas . . . "

Monday, 10 December 2012

Nuts for Acorns

Acorn squash, that is. This little number was literally something that I threw together in 30 minutes and the results were Delicious with a capital "D." I had been out for a walk in the cold rain, the kind of rain that isn't little drops that fall straight down but a freezing cold mist that surrounds your entire body, making your umbrella an entirely useless fashion accessary. Needless to say, by the time I got home I was a soggy icicle. What I really wanted was warm pumpkin pie but since I didn't have the makings for that (and eating an entire pie for dinner is never a good idea anyway) I opted for baked acorn squash stuffed with quinoa. I flavoured the quinoa with the same spices as pumpkin pie and the end result was the food equivalent of stepping out of the shower and having a dryer-warmed towel waiting for you. Ahhhhhhhhh . . . . . .

It's funny the reaction I get from people when I tell them that I can't have gluten or dairy. They inevitably sigh and tell me how sorry they are and how they could never eat that way because they either don't have the time or they love food too much. To which I respond, I ADORE food! I love growing it, harvesting it, buying it, preparing it, eating and sharing it, and now, writing about it. And good, healthy food doesn't have to take hours to prepare. This meal is proof. I simply looked in my pantry, pulled out a few things that I thought might go well together and was sitting down to eat a half hour later.

It's the little acorn squash that makes this meal magical. Acorn squash is deliciously sweet and creamy in its taste and texture and one half is the perfect portion size for one person. High in vitamins A and C and the complex B's, it also contains iron, calcium and some protein. And it's pretty.

We've already discussed the beauty that is quinoa (protein!), the other star ingredient at work here. But the bits and pieces that got tossed in the pot also have their nutritional merits. Pepita seeds and walnuts for good fats and omegas, cinnamon to stabilize blood sugar and ginger to aid digestion and diminish inflammation. All that and the entire thing tastes really good too!

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 4

2 acorn squash, cut in half and the seeds scraped out
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup pepita seeds
1/4 cup currants
2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 inches ginger, finely minced
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
salt and pepper
nutmeg and maple syrup for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a tray with parchment paper.
2. Drizzle squash halves with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place on tray hollow side down. Roast for 30 minutes or until caramelized and soft all the way through.
3. Meanwhile, heat a saucepan on medium high heat, add a splash of olive oil and saute onions until golden.
4. Add ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and stir until heated through and fragrant.
5. Add quinoa, walnuts, cranberries, pepita seeds, currants and water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. The idea is that the quinoa and the  squash will be done around the same time.
6. Remove squash from oven, scoop a quarter of the quinoa mixture into each of the four halves. Grate a little fresh nutmeg on top and drizzle with maple syrup.
7. Eat while watching a Christmas movie for the full effect.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Don't Blog on an Empty Stomach

Hello! I know, it's been a while. After Mr Cycling Chef left for his trip I was suffering from serious ennui. I drank too much wine, ate nothing but omelettes and overbooked myself with social events. Don't get me wrong, I make a damn fine omelette, but I wasn't feeling inspired enough to write about it. Then I was under the weather for a week and was eating the same damn fine omelette but without the wine. I've missed cooking but more than that, I've missed sharing! Cooking for one is a skill. Oftentimes you either end up throwing away spoiled food or eating the same thing for the entire week. Don't get me wrong, I love a good leftover, but they say variety is the spice of life and mine has been a little bland. So I put the empty wine bottles in the recycling bin, cleaned my kitchen and decided to make something for the office decorating party. I wanted something that would travel well, would showcase how delicious vegan desserts can be and that wasn't too fussy to make. I ended up with these:

Homemade, gluten-free, vegan Twix Bars!

These are to die for! Except you don't really want to die for them 'cuz then you wouldn't get to stuff your face. I originally made them as a thank-you for a friend of Mr Cycling Chef who had helped him move his stuff before his grand adventure. They were so good that only half of them made it to the guy, as Mr CC had to test the rest for, ahem, poison? Anytime my burly, prairie-raised, meat and potato guy enjoys one of my vegan, gluten free dishes it makes me goofy happy. I'm a total sucker. Anyhoo, back to these bars. If you're looking for something sweet, easy to make and slightly unusual, these are them. Developed by one of my favourite bloggers, Angela of Oh She Glows, these are a great treat to add to your holiday arsenal. You can find the recipe here. Like I said, I made a batch for the office holiday party and they were a huge hit. Just make sure you keep them cold, or else they start to get a little too gooey and soft. And try not to eat the whole pan at once, or you might end up looking like this:


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

What a Pear

Today I said goodbye to my partner in crime, my cycling companion, personal mechanic and ultimate taste-tester. He's off on an epic ride through Central America and I'm really proud of him for undertaking this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, not to mention being totally excited for him and really, really jealous. He inspires me to better myself, to seek out adventure and to continue to challenge myself. If he's reading this, he's totally disgusted by my flattery right now. But trust me, he's a pretty rad dude. 

Here's Baz being ever so helpful. Evidently, he has a thing for tools.

As expected, this weekend was busy with last-minute packing and organizing. I wanted to make him something special for breakfast, but also wanted it to be quick and easy so that it didn't take up the whole morning. What I ended up with was a chocolate pear scone. "Blog worthy?" I asked him. He didn't really answer, as he was too busy inhaling them. The way to a man's heart, etc. These were my first attempt at making a gluten-free scone. I've been making muffins and quick-breads for years, but for some reason, the scone just wasn't something that I tried to recreate. Well, let me tell you, it's probably a good thing that I wasn't aware of the amazing tastiness that are these scones (or sconces, as my tired fingers keep typing. Crunchy!) or I'd be the size of a truck by now (and that would be an American-sized truck, not a cute Japanese one). Without further ado, I bring you these:

Pear and Chocolate Scones
Inspired by these.
Makes 6

3 pears, cored and chopped quite small
1 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup potato starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 cup cane sugar
2 1/4 tsp gluten-free baking powder (or 1 1/2 tsp regular baking powder)
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold (solid) coconut oil
1 1/2 tbsp yogurt (I used goat)
1 1/2 tbsp milk (I used almond)
1/3 cup good quality chocolate chips or chopped up chunks
2 eggs

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment and place chopped pears in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes and then remove from oven to cool. 

2. Mix flours, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the pears, coconut oil, yogurt, milk and 1 egg and mix until well incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and mix. 

3. Line baking tray with parchment paper. Dust the baking tray with rice flour and rub your hands with rice flour as well. Pat dough into a round and cut into 6 triangles. Trust me, you need to cut and arrange the scones on the tray, as gluten-free dough doesn't have the same elasticity as glutenous dough. If you try to form the scones on the counter and transfer them, they will fall apart. And that's sad. 

4. Whisk the other egg and brush onto the tops of the scones. Sprinkle with some sugar. Arrange scones on tray and bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. 

5. Eat warm from the oven, with some tea and a loved one. 

Please excuse the quality of these pictures; the light in my basement suite wasn't cooperating but I NEEDED to share these with you all. So please, make them and share them with someone who you would be sad to be parted from. Or, if you're already missing someone, make these for yourself and eat your feelings. These are worth it. 


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Keen on Quinoa

Have you ever had the need to literally dive into a bowl of food, eat without breathing and not stop until the wobbly feeling in your legs has disappeared? No? Because that's what happened to me this weekend. I had a long commute in the cold rain and a totally exhausting ballet class on Saturday. I was cold, wet and so hungry I wasn't sure I was going to make it home. But I did. And I'm so glad about that, because born out of necessity came this meal I'm about to share. If I had passed out instead, I would be sharing a technique for getting grass stains out of your jeans and mud out of your hair. Let's save that for another post, shall we?

Evidently, I needed something fast and nourishing and for me, that usually means quinoa. The seed that thinks it's a grain, quinoa cooks up quickly and is full of good carbs and protein, both of which are a must after a crazy-intense workout. First eaten by the Incas four-thousand years ago (talk about shelf life!), quinoa is now back in fashion. And I am nothing if not fashionable. You know, in my rain-drenched leotard and all. This dish was really easy and really delicious and if spooning in bed was a meal, it just might be this one.

Maple Quinoa Porridge with Pears and Hazelnuts
Serves 4 (or 2 ravenous ballerinas)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1.5 cups water
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
Milk of your choice (I used almond)
Maple syrup
1 pear
Handful of hazelnuts (or filberts, if you're feeling posh)

1. Put quinoa, water, cinnamon, allspice and salt in a saucepan, bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the element for an additional 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, slice the pear.

3. Over medium heat, toast the hazelnuts until aromatic and just starting to brown. If you don't like the skins, rub them off at this point. Regardless, chop hazelnuts. Chop em' good.

4. Place quinoa in a bowl. Top with a splash of milk, a drizzle of maple syrup, some pear slices and the hazelnuts. Garnish with a little freshly grated nutmeg.

5. Inhale.