slake

“1. to allay thirst by satisfying

2. to make less active, vigourous, intense, etc.

3. to cause disintegration by treatment with water”

– dictionary.com

That’s slake for you.

For some reason I thought that would be appropriate for this post, which is all about watermelon, which we’re all very familiar with. Most of the time we just eat things without giving it a second thought. Don’t worry, it’s not about world hunger today, nor is it about the dark side of food production. None of that sociological stuff. Rather, today we’re going a little deeper. Let’s get lost in chemistry.

Osmosis, actually.

Ever wonder why people salt their watermelon? Or if you’re gawking a what you’ve just read, you should start doing it too. Well, aside from what I mentioned over last time, salt also makes your watermelon sweeter. In a spoonful, a light sprinkle of salt makes osmosis happen on the surface of the watermelon – the water inside the cells get “sucked out” in attempt to balance sodium concentrations in and outside of the cell.

Blah blah blah, did I just lose you?

That’s okay, because here are the important 1-2-3 bits:

1. the drawn-out moisture that’s now sitting on the surface of your slice of watermelon makes it look more juicy and appetizing. You eat with your eyes first.

2. the moment you bite, the moisture is the first thing that comes in contact with your palate, so you’re tricked to thinking that it tastes juicier.

3. that moisture quickly leaves your palate, and you’re left with the slightly dehydrated watermelon, in other words, a mass of cells which are carrying a higher concentration of sugar.

But of course all that’s just too much info, so let’s just get down to the noshing bit. Who needs knowledge?

Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live;

learn to use good judgment.

Proverbs 9:6

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Ingredients for the balkan granita:

1/2 c balkan style yoghurt, 6% MF

To make the balkan granita, place the yoghurt in a freezable container and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Take it out, stir it, and freeze again for 30 minutes. Repeat until icy and set but still scoopable.

Ingredients for the assembly:

chilled watermelon slices

small handful fresh sweet basil leaves

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To assemble, first chill your serving plates; place them in the freezer for 7-8 minutes. Meanwhile, roll up the basil leaves tightly into a cigar. Pour some olive oil over it and slice very thinly with a sharp knife. (The oil coats your knife as you slice and seals the broken cells from the air to reduce oxidation – keeping your lovely green basil from turning black.)

Once that’s done, take the plates out of the freezer. Put the watermelon on the plates, dot with the balkan granita, garnish with basil, drizzle with olive oil, and season. (Just get everything on that plate.)

Enjoy!

 

Caught

Like everyone, I use filters. Oh how we adore them. We filter our lives through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s fantastic – it’s like Sephora, except not just for the female visage – it’s for everyone’s cyber avatar (which could arguably be a disturbingly independent, distinct identity from its owner).

But filtering is more than selectively publishing life statuses and photographs. Filters obscure, and make mild of perception. They deceive and dismiss the reality, the rawness of things.

Do you agree, that the heart is felt with more reality, above all else?

Do you agree, that the heart is beautiful?

But we filter the living breath out of it.

I’m far from perfect – I’m me, and I know better than anyone that I am despicable – but I try.

I try to be the person I want to become, and stop trying to become the person I want to be, else I’ll always wallow in self-loathing and self-pity because I will always be a step behind.

Let’s be honest. With ourselves and those around us. (This does not equate with being nasty.)

And keep hashtagging edited photographs with #nofilter. You wanted real, didn’t you?

Therefore let us celebrate the feast,

not with old leaven,

nor with leaven of malice and wickedness,

but with the unleavened bread of sincerity

and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:8

Also, raw is beautiful, just look at this beauty of a feast.

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This is honestly the best fish I ever had, and what’s even better is that it’s part of my 7-Ingredient series. I originally wanted to bake it en papillote, but the four-pound beauty has outgrown the paramenters of my parchment paper by an unsalvageable margin.

What I ended up doing was even simpler. Basically, from what you see above, I just covered that whole thing with aluminum foil, pinched down the sides tightly, and put it in the oven at a really low temperature. The result was phenomenal – the flesh was incredibly buttery and tender. And because I love all parts of fish, I ate the skin too, which was also extremely rich and creamy. That’s not all, the few roasted, sweet lemon slices basically worked magic and managed to permeate the entire fish with their vibrant perfume.

Ingredients for the slow-baked trout:

1 fresh trout, 3-4 lbs, cleaned (I had mine freshly caught and I highly recommend that)

4 tbsp coarse sea salt

1 small lemon, thinly sliced

3 tbsp basil pesto

1 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size half-moons

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

few rounds freshly ground black pepper

To make the slow-baked trout, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, with the rack placed in the center. Cover the bottom of a large roasting pan with aluminum foil. Drizzle it all over with 1 tbsp of the olive oil.

Meanwhile, prepare the fish. Trout have a slimy protective coating that also happens to be the source of its “fishy” taste. To remove this slime, rub the skin of the trout generously with 2 tbsp of the salt – that’s right, massage it with lots of love. Leave it for 2 minutes and rinse off the trout under cold, running water. Pat as dry as possible with paper towel, and repeat the process again with the remaining salt.

Place the cleaned, dry trout into the prepared pan. Smear the pesto onto each of the lemon slices and fit them snugly, overlapping slightly, into the abdominal cavity. Add the zucchini to the pan and season everything with black pepper and a little more salt. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake for 20 minutes, turn off the oven, and let it sit in the hot oven for another 45 minutes, up to an hour.

Serve with boiled new potatoes and/or a light green salad.

Enjoy!

 

A Bit of Spring Cleaning

Get ready! Because you’re about to be hit by a blizzard , no it’s not winter anymore, I mean, explosion of recipes, all of which are vegan, super vibrant, fresh, and absolutely delicious! For those of you who are staying in touch via instagram (it’s on the right-hand-side, just click and follow to stay up-to-plate with everything I’m whipping up), you’ve probably been wondering why I haven’t put up the recipes to those pictures and I apologize!! Sorry, I truly am because sometimes I click on something that looks totally yum hoping to find its recipe but then it just turns out to be foodporn, and that makes me really disappointed.

I get that. So here’s a treat: a collage of recipes to kickstart spring!

Here I wanted to feature some of those under-acknowledged ingredients such as beet greens, parsley stems, green peas, and grainy mustard. Beet greens and parsley stems tend to just get trimmed off and thrown into the garbage which I find to be such a waste. Beet greens are actually loaded with all the great nutrients its roots has, but with more fibre and less sugar while parsley stems have even more flavour than the leaves, not to mention the nice texture it gives to the green falafel mash (recipe below!). Green peas and grainy mustard, on the other hand are like ugly christmas sweaters – you have them lying around not because they’re a kitchen staple, but because there was this one day when some magazine or trend convinced you to buy a bag/jar of the stuff (like how your friends convinced you of the sweater at Value Village). Then ever since that day it’s just been a shameful lump stuck in your pantry or fridge door.

It’s okay, it’s all good, literally. And I encourage you to really take this as a new starting point, see what poor miserable thing is your fridge or pantry that you’ve been wanting to get rid of, and cook dat thang!

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled,

and those who humble themselves

will be exalted.

Luke 14:11

Collage

Rice with Beet Greens (Top Left):

1 tbsp avocado oil

1 medium brown onion, finely diced

1 bunch beet greens, stem portion diced, leaf portion shredded

2 cups cold, cooked red and brown basmati or jasmine rice

sea salt

white pepper

pinch of cinnamon

To make the rice with beet greens, heat the oil on medium in a skillet or wok. Add the onions and let it sweat until translucent and fragrant. Turn up the heat to high and add the chopped beet greens, continue stirring until tender, then add the rice and season well to taste. Stir until the liquid is fully absorbed and mixture is heated through.

Serve immediately, with an earthy wild mushroom or nutty pureed squash soup.

 

Garlic Coconut Butter Grilled Naan

with Green Falafel Mash, Parsley Mango Slaw, and Sriracha Aioli (Top Right):

for the garlic coconut butter grilled naan:

2 fat cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp coconut oil

4 pieces whole wheat naan bread

To make the coconut butter, put combine garlic and coconut oil in a small bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds until fragrant. Brush the mixture onto one side of the naan and put that side down on a hot grill pan (it’s still pretty cold where I am, but if it’s summer wherever you are and you have the luxury of using a grill, by all means fire it up!). Lift up a corner to see if it’s nicely charred, once it is, brush the oil on the upper side and flip it over to get it grill-marked.

for the green falafel mash:

2 cups flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped (throw the stems in there!)

1 can (540 ml) chickpeas, drained

1 generous tbsp madras curry powder

3 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

sea salt, to taste

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a coarse puree forms. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with some more EVOO and set aside.

for the parsley mango slaw:

1 large mango, ripe but firm, thinly sliced

1 cup finely shredded flat leaf parsley

Stir together the mango and parsley in a bowl and set aside.

for the sriracha aioli:

2 heaping tbsp good quality mayonnaise, feel free to use your favourite vegan mayo or cashew cream!

1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce (don’t tone it down, go beyond if it’s your thing!)

1 tbsp lime juice

In a small bowl stir together the mayo, sriracha, and lime juice, adding a bit more sriracha or lime juice to get a nice drizzling consistency. To assemble, spread the falafel mash onto the grilled naan, top with the mango slaw, and drizzle with the sriracha aioli.

Serve immediately with a minty cooler : blend together frozen yellow watermelon cubes + fresh mint + lime + coconut water!

 

Roasted Aloo Gobi (Bottom Right):

1 head cauliflower separated into bite-sized florets

1 large baking potato, diced into 1-inch pieces, boiled for 12 minutes

8 cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 cup shelled green peas, frozen is fine

3 tbsp madras curry powder

2 heaping tbsp grainy mustard

1 cup crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

sea salt, to taste

2 tbsp honey or agave

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine all ingredients besides the honey and place into two large baking trays. Bake for 1 hr, stirring every 10~15 minutes. Drizzle with honey and bake for another 10~15 minutes until vegetables are tender and caramelized.

Serve with coconut steamed basmati rice or garlic coconut butter grilled naan (above).

 

Lemon Butter Bean Tartines  with Spring Sugar Peas, Butter Lettuce, and Radishes (Bottom Left):

for the Lemon Butter Beans:

1 can (540 ml) white or butter beans, rinsed and drained

1 heaping tbsp grainy mustard

zest and juice of 1 small lemon

2 tsp honey or agave

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth, you might need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Set aside.

for the tartine assemby:

few slices toasted baguette or spelt or dark rye bread, really anything goes

1 head Boston or butter lettuce, leaves washed and patted dry

1 cup shelled sweet peas, frozen ones are fine, just let them sit at room temperature for 20 minutes

2 scallions, thinly sliced

4~5 radishes, thinly sliced

Spread a bit of the bean puree onto the toasted bread, then put the lettuce on (that way the lettuce will actually stay on the tartine). Fill the lettuce with more of the puree and garnish with the peas, scallions, and radish rounds.

Serve  with a strawberry almond milkshake: blend together frozen strawberries + almond milk + agave + vanilla extract

Happy spring cleaning your body, mind, and pantry!

 

Plain Lucky

Perks of knowing how to cook:

a. eating $100 meals for under $16

b. grocery shopping is a piece of cake

c. making fun of boneless-skinless chicken breasts

d. good food magically happens

e. people love you

f.  you love life

g. afjsdk;oiveoih09/@””!!~

Perks of not knowing how to cook:

a. all of the above**

**if you do the following:

Sprinkle their blood on the altar,

and burn their fat as a special gift,

a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

Numbers 18:17

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Ingredients for the 72-hour beef ribs:

2 tbsp ground thyme

2 tsp rosemary leaves

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 fat cloves garlic, mashed to a fine puree

1 tbsp sea salt

2~3 tbsp olive oil, enough to form a rough paste with the spices

1/2 rack beef ribs (4 full-size ribs, preferably free range)

To make the 72-hour beef ribs, stir together the thyme, rosemary, pepper, garlic puree, salt, and olive oil until a thick paste forms. Rub this mixture all over the beef ribs (on all sides, emphasizing the top-side). Place the ribs in a roasting tin and cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate for 3 nights (2 days).

On the third day, 3~4 hours before mealtime, preheat the oven to 315 degrees F, with the rack placed in the middle of the oven. Take the roasting tin with the ribs straight from the fridge into the oven, you don’t even have to wait for the oven to reach its temperature. Bake for 3~ 3 1/2 hours until the meat literally falls off the bone and your house smells better than any steakhouse you know.

Serve immediately. I highly recommend serving this with mashed potatoes and a generous drizzle of the beef drippings. I’m sorry I don’t have photos of the finished product, but that just goes to testify for its deliciousness.

Enjoy! (Oh, boy you will…ahh..)

It just creped into my mind

“Even shit sounds sexier in french.”

I totally abide that. No shame either.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that the french language just forces out the sexy voice of whoever speaks it, or is it just the fact that the language is inherently elegant. My point is, it’s sad, but most of us will voluntaritly listen to farts spewing out of someone else’s mouth if that person has even so much as a great smile, bright eyes, or a really attractive voice.

Nah, are we really that shallow? That a heart-to-heart conversation is not as high on our bucket list as being seen with a pretty-face? Perhaps we kid ourselves as we plow through the garbage that’s up to our eyes, trying to find some evidence of worth, some evidence that tells us that we are not so merely-skin-deep and that see? this dump is worth preserving because look what I found! A dime!

You are not a dump site, so stop setting yourself up as one.

And believe me when I say this, if you would just slow down a bit, and just stop looking for the most eye-catching person in the room, the conversation will find you. It will be when you least expect it, and it will be a surprise. It will be completely new, and it will be familiar at the same time. You don’t have to try to make an impression, because it wasn’t of your doing that it started in the first place. Just relax, because that’s when you are most lovely.

Humble yourselves, therefore,

under the mighty hand of God

so that at the proper time

he may exalt you.

~1 Peter 5:6

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Savoury Crepes with Kale Bechamel and White Button Mushrooms

Ingredients for the kale bechamel:

2 tsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

4 cups loosely packed torn kale leaves (stem removed)

1/4 cup water, divided

1 1/2 tbsp corn starch

3-4 tbsp heavy cream or half-and-half

pinch nutmeg

sea salt and black pepper to taste

To make the kale bechamel, heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant, then add the kale leaves. Stir and add a splash of water and cover to steam the kale. Stir the cornstarch into the remaining water. Once the kale is completely wilted, pour in the corn starch mixture and stir until the mixture tightens. Transfer to a tall container, season with sea salt, black pepper, and nutmeg. With a hand-held blender, blend the kale with the cream until a thick puree forms.

Ingredients for the rice crepes:

45 g fine rice flour

20 g tapioca or potato starch

1 free range egg

125 ml almond milk (soy, rice, or cow’s will all work)

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

pinch nutmeg

To make the crepes, heat a heavy non-stick skillet or seasoned crepe pan on medium-high heat. Meanwhile in a bowl, whisk together all ingredients until very smooth. ( I like to whisk everything together in my beaker which has a handle, this makes the actual cooking part very clean and easy.)

For the crepe filling you will also need 1 cup sliced mushrooms and 3 tbsp god quality mayonnaise.

Once the pan is hot, dampen a piece of kitchen paper towel with oil or butter and wipe the pan all over with it. Pour in the batter and swirl it around the pan to form a thin layer. Place mushroom slices on one half of the crepe, spoon over the kale bechamel, then dot with the mayonnaise. Put the lid on to let the mushrooms soften a little, about 1~2 minutes. Lift up the untopped half of the crepe and fold it over to enclose the filling. Slide onto a hot plate, and serve. Do the same until you use up all the ingredients. You should be able to get 6 small crepes or 4 medium crepes.

Enjoy!

Tierce de Picanterie

Recently I’ve been noticing the simmering of a modern phenomenon, one that bubbles up against convention, and one that, truthfully spoken, makes me quite simultaneously pleased and bereaved. This new truth of the era cries out “good cooks are not the pudgy ones you’d imagine”.

Yes, sure, with the dawn of refined sugar and mass production of butter and white flour one would expect that chefs ought to be fat. But you know, people who can seriously cook are not stupid. We know the ingredients that are culprit to obesity (though we still put them into our creations from time to time as a shortcut to make people happy). We know exactly what goes into the food we make (and eat, since we most likely made it), so we have a choice – a choice for good health.

But I am grieved. Grieved from watching one of my best friends die in my generation. Why has the heart of a home become no more than a microwave? It should be a place where fresh water rushes cold from the tap, where the backs of spoons sound against the sides of porcelain bowls, and where one can just hear the muffled sputtering from inside the oven.

People, microwaving dehydrated potato sticks is not cooking. Never has a decent fry been made like so. I personally don’t like the wasteful nature of deep-frying (oil goes rancid if reheated after having previously been at a temperature sufficient for frying), so bake. Ditch the microwave/precut/frozen/not really fries.

Get real. Eat real.

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Ingredients for the mayonnaise trio:

3 tbsp good quality mayonnaise (with as little ingredients as possible), or vegenaise

1/2 tsp each chipotle paste, freshly cracked black pepper, and wasabi paste

To make the mayonaises, mix one tablespoon of mayonnaise with each of the flavourings in separate small dishes. Refrigerate until needed.

Ingredients for the yam fries:

3 medium-sized yams/sweet potatoes, washed and cut into 1/3-inch sticks with the skin on*

2 tbsp grape seed oil

2 tbsp sweet potato flour or cornstarch

coarse sea salt

To make the yam fries, preheat the oven to 410 degrees F, with the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper brushed lightly with extra grape seed oil. In a large bowl, toss the cut up yams with the oil and starch.

Spread the yams evenly onto the baking sheet in a single layer without crowding. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly charred crisp-brown.

Serve immediately with the chilled mayonnaise.

Enjoy!

*for even crispier fries, leave the yams to air dry for 3o minutes after cutting and before tossing with the other ingredients.