all in eh?

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the result of other peoples’ thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

-Steve Jobs

It’s that awkward time of the year where the skies are churning thickly with blobs and streaks of saturated grey and the air is heavy like an underground parking lot on a rainy day. In the morning I look out the window and glumly pull out the next season’s clothing, which I didn’t think I’d need for another three weeks.

I slip into brick red jeans, and wiggle my head through the peppered sweater. Two seconds later, both articles of clothing are scrunched and stranded beneath my bare feet as I grope in dull frustration for the familiarity of nude shorts and a faded T.

Such a curiously bland event has happened more times than necessary in this past week. Indeed, summer being washed away by an early arrival of autumnal shower.

There is no time as melodramatic, though hardly sorrowful, as the current: the thriving green of summer sent upwards in vibrant splashes as the heft of autumn’s amber abundance falls into place.

Gremolata and kabocha, there is not a better time for the two of them to marry. Of course, goat cheese would be more than welcome, as always.

Love colour. Send those sparks flying against the walls raining down.

Let no one despise you for your youth,

but set the believers and example

in speech, in conduct,

in love, in faith,

in purity. 

1 Timothy 4:22

 

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Ingredients for the gremolata:

8 almonds

1 lemon, zested

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

1 c lightly packed flat-leaf parsley

1 large garlic clove

sea salt, to taste

To make the gremolata, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it forms a textured sauce. Stir in a squeeze of lemon juice. Cover and set aside as you roast the squash and onions.

Ingredients for the roasted kabocha and onions:

1/2 small kabocha squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch thick wedges

2 small brown onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges

3 tbsp avocado oil

sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

few dried rosemary needles

To roast the vegetables, preheat the oven to 410 degrees F, with the rack placed in the middle of the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Toss the vegetables gently with oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Arrange on the baking sheet and sprinkle on the rosemary needles.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the vegetables are caramelized and tender.

To serve, drizzle the gremolata over the roasted squash and crumble on some goat cheese, if using, to finish.

Enjoy!

the Original Drive-Thru

It’s always in the simplest, purest of ingredients that you notice the biggest difference. This time, I’m shining the light on a local farm that treats their hens right. And of course, happy hens => happy eggs => happy eating.

What’s even better? I don’t even have to stand in line at the farmer’s market to get them. They have a drive-through right at the farm, and literally all you need to do is “honk for service”. Yup, an egg drive-through. Where do I even come from, right?

Maple Ridge, British Columbia. And the adorable farm is called “Never Say Die” Nursery. See? Adorable.

But back to the eggs, gorgeous doesn’t describe them. And the term #yolkporn disgusts me. Seriously, don’t adulterate something so natural and nourishing. Whenever I come across a good egg it always makes me momentarily breathless. It must be the combination of the yolk’s bright tangerine color (#f28500 hex color code, look it up), the way the yolk stands so proudly in a visibly distinct sac of albumen when you crack it open that inspires me to treat it well.

This time, it’s poaching. There’s something about the tenderness of spring asparagus, the whimsy of sweet peas, and the viridity of a jiggly poached egg that makes them, together, instinctively irresistible.

As for those limp, watery eggs that have a sad, deflated, pale yellow yolk swimming inside of them, hide them in a box-mix cake or something. Do not attempt to serve them in their form. Also, never buy them again, for those eggs are from caged, drugged hens (in the name of mass economical production! oh joy!) and should not even be produced.

Hopefully you’ve seen the light as far as the topic of eggs, now go and convince your taste buds!

Take no part in

the unfruitful

works of darkness,

but instead

expose them.

Ephesians 5:11

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Believe it or not, this is my very first time poaching an egg. So as you can see, it really is nothing to be scared of. To be honest, I was pretty terrified right up to the point I lowered in the egg, but immediately I realized that you are physically incapable of messing this up so long as you follow along this little tutorial. Also, as if I have not drilled it into your kitchen backsplash, a good free range egg is not negotiable – you and your family deserve at least that.

So here goes:

How to poach an egg

Step 1: If your egg has been sitting in the fridge, bring your egg to room temperature by submerging them in a bowl of warm tap water for 5 minutes. Pat your egg dry and crack it into a small bowl. If your egg’s already at room temperature, just crack it into a small bowl. Take care not to break the yolk. (This should not be difficult as fresh free range eggs have very robust yolks!)

Step 2: Add 2 tbsp white vinegar to a large pot of water and let it come up to a rolling boil.

Step 3: Turn off the heat and use a spoon to stir the water quickly in a clock-wise direction to make a whirlpool in the pot’s center.

Step 4: While the current is still strong, gently tip the egg into the middle of the whirlpool.

Step 5: Cover and let it poach for 150 seconds (2 1/2 minutes), then carefully lift it out with a slotted spoon.

At this point you can either serve it immediately, or place it in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.

Now let’s get on with the recipe!

Ingredients for the Penne with Pan-Roasted Asparagus, Sweet Peas, Pesto, and Caramelized Lemon

serves 4

340 g organic corn penne, or your preferred chunky pasta (I like penne because it’s the same shape as the asparagus)

1 large lemon, scrubbed clean and halved

3 tbsp olive oil

600 g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch sticks on the diagonal

1/2 c basil pesto (recipe follows)

2/3 c white wine (whatever you have on hand, I used chablis)

1 1/4 c frozen sweet peas

lots of fine sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil to season

To make the asparagus penne, cook the pasta as directed on the package.

Meanwhile, heat your cast iron on the stove until very hot. Place the lemon halves, cut sides down in the hot pan and hold them down firmly for 30~60 seconds, or until the surface is well-browned and caramelized. This will completely change the flavour profile of the lemon and give it a sweeter, deeper dimension. Slice off and reserve the caramelized parts only. (Use the rest for lemon water or something.)

Keep the pan on medium heat, add 1 tbsp of the oil just to coat the bottom and add the asparagus. Season generously and let it sit undisturbed for 20 seconds or so to get some browned, crispy bits. Stir a couple times, just until all the pieces are bright green.

Transfer the asparagus into a large salad/mixing bowl. Stir in the frozen peas to stop the cooking process. By now the pasta should be cooked. Drain and toss it with the vegetables.

Keep the element on and add the remaining oil to the pan and stir in the pesto to wake up its flavour. Deglaze with the white wine and stir until the alcohol burns off. Pour the sauce over the pasta mixture and stir through. Check and adjust the seasoning.

Divide between four plates. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, top with an optional (but definitely recommended) poached egg, and serve with a slice of caramelized lemon.

Enjoy!

To make a vegan pesto, throw 50 g sweet basil, 2 garlic cloves, 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts, 3/4 tsp sea salt, and 1/2 cup olive oil in a small food processor and whiz to a textured puree. Store in a glass jar, pour a thin film of olive oil over top to seal and cover with the lid. This will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

 

 

Foodie’s Gold

For me, a good recipe should always hit the spot on taste, that is, flavour and texture. A recipe that I’ll make over and over again, however, must also be wittily simple, nourishing, and dirt cheap. I mean, sure, a delicate entremet is surely delicious, but let’s be honest here, ain’t nobody got time to chill and set six frickin’ layers. And yeah, totally, if I bacon anything (yes, it’s a verb now) I’m pretty sure I can tag it #mattprestonlikedit, but I’m sure I’ll enter a sweaty bacon coma shortly after eating it. And heck, I could practically do anything to a piece of chilean sea bass and it’d be yum, but I’d be broke in a week.

Thus arises the dilemma of a poor foodie: sacrificing taste vs sacrificing time/health/wallet’s embonpoint. But you can’t starve a foodie, it just doesn’t work like that. We are a very advanced type of people in terms of our ability to self sustain because a huge part of our brain specializes in just that: nom and nosh.

I am thankful that I can tell when tofu’s gone sour. I am thankful that I am educated to choose those foods that help me thrive. I am thankful that I am not rich, should the abundance turn me a glutton. Yet I give thanks that I am not poor, should the words that fill my mouth become bitter and dry. I am thankful that there is not one perfect way to make a dish, but many different ways to make a dish perfect. And I am thankful that I can find my way.

What are you thankful for?

Remove far from me vanity and lies:

give me neither poverty nor riches;

feed me with food convenient for me:

Lest I be full, and deny thee,

and say,

Who is the Lord?

or lest I be poor,

and steal,

and take the name of my God in vain.

Proverbs 30:8-9

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Far from being traditional, this paella still hits all my check-points as far as a recipe is concerned: delicious, simple, healthy, and cheap. I ditched the saffron and gave turmeric a try. I used regular brown rice instead of imported paella rice. Excuse me for using frozen seafood, but excuse you for not knowing that flash-freeze technology has hugely improved since two decades ago. Also, I didn’t bother with any type of stock because I have no intention of using store bought, and time or spirit for simmering my own. Hence I added depth of flavour by charring my corn, tomatoes, and pepper which brings out their sweetness.

Delicious, simple, healthy, and cheapo points: check, check, check, check!

Ingredients for the paella – part I :

3 cups brown rice, soaked overnight

1 large red bell pepper

1 ear corn, husk removed

3 tomatoes on the vine

To prep for the paella, char the pepper, corn, and tomatoes on the gas stove by holding them with metal tongs over direct flame until the skin blisters blackens all over. Be careful when you try to do this with the corn – it will pop a bit! Leave them until cool enough to handle.

Core and remove the seeds from the pepper, then thinly slice. To remove the kernels from the ear of corn, hold it vertically over a large mixing bowl and slice downwards along the core. This way you save all the sweet juice and the hassle of chasing after kernels flying through the air. Finally, dice the tomatoes. Reserve until needed.

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large red onion, diced

1 spicy chorizo, sliced into 1-cm thick coins

1 fat garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp ground turmeric

1 tbsp fish sauce (yes it stinks, I know, but it’s practically msg-less shellfish bouillon)

4 1/2 cups water

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1 pkg (16 oz.) frozen mixed seafood, do not thaw

1 pkg (16 oz) frozen raw mussels on the half shell, do not thaw

To make the paella, heat the oil in a large roasting pan. Sweat the onion and chorizo on medium heat until the onions are translucent and the chorizo is browned. Add the garlic, paprika, turmeric, and fish sauce and fry until fragrant. Add the prepared vegetables and cook on high heat until the tomatoes lose their raw flavour, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the soaked rice and water, then season well. Cover and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with the rack placed in the lower third of the oven. Once boiling, remove it from the heat, stir well, and arrange the frozen seafood on top. Do not stir once you add the seafood!

Cover and bake in the reheated oven for 1 hour, or until the liquid has been completely soaked up by the rice. Turn off the oven and leave the paella in the oven to rest for a further 10 minutes, undisturbed.

Serve immediately with a simple herb 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!