To do with eggplant.

This recipe is for the Feed Feed, enjoy!

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Roasted Eggplant with Garlic Tahini Crema, Pomegranate, and Mint

Rice with Turmeric and Currants

  • 1 c rice, rinsed until the water runs clear then drained (long or short grain are both fine)
  • 1 c filtered water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp dried currants
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  1. In the pot of a rice cooker, combine all ingredients. Add 1 cup of water to the outer pot.
  2. Cook until the rice is tender but well-defined. Fluff with a rice spatula, put the lid back on and keep warm.

Roasted Garlic Tahini

  • 1 c roasted garlic
  • 3/4 c tahini
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • water, as needed
  1. Place all ingredients besides water in a blender and blend until smooth. Add enough water and blend through to adjust the consistency to that of thick yoghurt. Store in a mason jar and refrigerate until needed. Stores up to 3 weeks.

Tahini Crema

  • 1/2 c Roasted Garlic Tahini (above)
  • 1/2 c plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • salt, to taste
  1. Stir together all ingredients until smooth. Use immediately.

Roasted Eggplant

  • 2 small eggplant, washed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Slice each eggplant lengthwise in half, and cut off a thin slice from the rounded side of the eggplant so that the slices have a flat base.
  3. Season both sides of the eggplant and brush generously with olive oil.
  4. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until completely tender.
  5. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.

Assembly:

  • 1 cup Tahini Crema (above)
  • 1 cup Rice with Turmeric and Currants (above)
  • Roasted Eggplant (above)
  • arils from 1 small pomegranate
  • 2 tbsp crushed pistachios
  • 1 handful torn mint
  • pomegranate molasses, to drizzle
  • pistachio or extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle
  • sumac, to finish
  1. Place the roasted eggplant slices on 2 plates (as main course) or 4 plates (as starter). Spoon over the tahini crema to cover the eggplant.
  2. Add some clusters of rice around the eggplant.
  3. Scatter all over with pomegranate, pistachios, and mint.
  4. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses and oil, then dust with a pinch of sumac.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Only: Pan Seared Trout with Pickled Fennel, Grapefruit, and Mustard Creme Fraiche

Today I had a grilled salmon salad with a few of my colleagues at a harbourfront restaurant. It had a small mountain of sweet and bitter lettuces of various textures tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette, a small mound of diced tomatoes, a few spears of smoky charred asparagus, and a haystack of crispy shoestring potatoes and it was delicious. The salmon was well seasoned, with grill marks to put any neighborhood barbecue daddy to shame and cooked perfectly – buttery with the fat between the muscle layers just melted and the flesh itself just turning opaque.

But c’mon guys, it’s 2017, it’s okay to show some skin.

Which brings me to this salad, which screams spring to me and justifies the fact that I’m sharing a salad because it’s 68°F in Baltimore today and also because lunch reminded me. The crispy pan-seared trout has skin you can hear crackle under the pressure of your knife. The sweet fennel-pickled-fennel cuts through the fattiness of the fish and provides a refreshing crunch to the salad. Bright ruby red grapefruit has bitterness that harmonizes with the muted bitter tones of the kale. All of this is brought together with a smear of mustard creme fraiche for tang and because the tiny pops of mustard bring this dish to a new level.

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Crispy Seared Trout with Pickled Fennel, Ruby Grapefruit, and Mustard Creme Fraiche

Fennel Pickled Fennel

  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp toasted fennel seeds
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c white vinegar
  1. Put the fennel seeds, sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil until sugar has dissolved completely.
  2. Pack the shaved fennel tightly into a large mason jar.
  3. Pour the hot sugar-vinegar liquid over the fennel and seal with the lid.
  4. Cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge for at least 3 days and up to 4 weeks.

Mustard Creme Fraiche

  • 2/3 c creme fraiche, sour cream, or Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp grainy mustard
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 2 days or until needed.

Crispy Seared Trout

  • 2 portions of pin-boned trout fillets, with skin AND scales
  • sea salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  1. Preheat a cast iron skillet until very hot.
  2. Tip the oil into the skillet and swirl it around so the bottom’s evenly coated. The oil needs to look shimmery – it means that your pan is hot enough. Season the skin-side of your trout and lay the skin-side down in the skillet. It should sizzle immediately. Shake the pan a few times to prevent it from sticking, but if it does just be patient – once the skin is ready and crisp it will loosen from the pan.
  3. Season the top side and watch the flesh turn opaque up the sides – this gives you an idea of how cooked the piece of fish is. Once it’s opaque past halfway, and the skin releases from the pan (about 3 minutes), flip it over and cook another 2-3 minutes before transferring to a plate to rest with the skin side FACING UP (we didn’t go through all that tending and watching to have our skin go soggy at the last minute)!

Kale and Grapefruit Petite Salade

  • 3 c baby kale
  • 1 large ruby red grapefruit, segmented and with 2 tbsp juices reserved
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. In a salad bowl, whisk together the reserved grapefruit juice, olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper until emulsified.
  2. Add the kale and grapefruit segments, then toss gently with your hands to coat and combine.

Assembly

  • mustard creme fraiche
  • seared trout
  • fennel pickled fennel
  • kale and grapefruit petite salade
  1. Plop a dollop of the mustard creme fraiche on a plate and smear it across with the back of your spoon. Top with a piece of seared trout.
  2. Grab a handful of the petite salade with your two hands and lay it down gently beside the trout. Finish with a few pieces of pickled fennel here and there, as you like it.

Enjoy! I think something bubbly would be appropriate, because it’s spring and we’re eating pretty things. Yeah?

There always is

So,

why do we do Thanksgiving anyway? According to the internet*, or BuzzFeed (it’s all the same to me), it’s not about giving thanks. 44% of respondents said family was the point of thanksgiving, and 28% said it was all about the food. So what?

This means that T-dawg is f*cking stressfull, that’s what. Why? Because if the mother-in-law ain’t impressed with the less-than-impossibly-flaky crust beneath the pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving is ruined. Because if  the turkey is (oh sweet baby Jesus forbid) dry, Thanksgiving is ruined. Because if anything is less than perfect, T-dawg gon’ flip the table that you spent half an hour setting and send all the green bean casseroles, cranberry jelly, and lumpy mashed potatoes plastered to the wall.

Now, rewind.

Why do you think this hypothetical mother-in-law will be taking a ruler to your crust? And if your crust has only nine hundred and ninety-nine layers, or is kind-of soggy because you skipped blind baking it, will she loathe you for all eternity? And if you catch her pursing her lips and not taking a third bite, how does that somehow mean that Thanksgiving is ruined?

You see, much like in statistics, things are much more simple if we make the assumption that each covariate (fancy word for things that you think are important for, in this case, predicting the successfulness of Thanksgiving) is independent. If you see each gesture, each dish, each word, each family member, each unfinished or finished plate as somehow leading to another thing that adds up to how much you scored on Thanksgiving, you’ll find yourself seeing nothing but a huge bowl of tangled-up spaghetti (and spaghetti, I think we can all agree, is the worst thing to show up on this day. Literally a slap in the face.)

So stop.

Things are always going to go wrong on a day as big as this, just keep in mind:

  1. One bad thing doesn’t have to lead to another.
  2. Your family is there most likely because you’re their family too, and food’s secondary.
  3. There’s nothing a few extra glasses of wine can’t fix.

But is that the best you can do? See everything as a set of random events that don’t really lead to how well the day turns out?

Well, here’s the thing. If you define the value of Thanksgiving as spending quality time with family and eating tons of delicious food, then that really is the best you can do.

On the other hand, if we see Thanksgiving for giving thanks and appreciating everything we already have, then guess what? Thanksgiving will be 100% every time, because its value is based on that which has already been given to us and which nobody can discredit.

*Admittedly the internet has repeatedly proven itself to know nothing twice this year after June 23rd and November 8th.

 

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now;

rather, we fix our gaze

on things that cannot be seen.

For the things we see now

will soon be gone,

but the things we cannot see

will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:18

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Spiced Kofte with Roasted Garlic Tahini, Jewelled Rice, and Beet Pickle

Roasted Garlic Tahini

  • 1 c roasted garlic
  • 3/4 c tahini
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • water, as needed
  1. Place all ingredients besides water in a blender and blend until smooth. Add enough water and blend through to adjust the consistency to that of thick yoghurt. Store in a mason jar and refrigerate until needed. Stores up to 3 weeks.

Tahini Crema

  • 1/2 c Roasted Garlic Tahini (above)
  • 1/2 c plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • salt, to taste
  1. Stir together all ingredients until smooth. Use immediately.

Beetroot Pickle

  • 8-12 small beets, washed and trimmed (but not peeled)
  • 1 c white vinegar
  • 1 c raw sugar
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 5 cloves
  1. Steam the beets until tender. Place in a mason jar.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, coriander, and cloves. Bring to the boil and pour over the beets to cover.
  3. Seal with the lid and cool completely before refrigerating for at least a week before using.

Jewelled Rice

  • 2 c brown basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 2 1/2 c water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp rice spices
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp dried currants
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  1. Place all ingredients in the rice cooker and let the rice soak for 3 hours.
  2. Steam until tender and fluff with a fork.

Spiced Kofte

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 large brown onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp anchovy paste
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 kg ground beef
  • 4 c bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/3 c milk
  1. Saute the onions and garlic in oil until broken down and deeply caramelized. Stir in the anchovy paste and fry until fragrant.
  2. Meanwhile, place the cumin, fennel, and oregano in a spice grinder and grind until fine.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, season very generously, and mix through until homogeneous, without over-mixing. The mixture should be moist and soft. Add more milk or water as necessary.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Shape the mixture into 2 tbsp-sized balls and place on baking sheets. Brush the tops with a bit of oil and bake until browned, about 25-30 minutes.

Roasted Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Toss the florets with the oil and season well.
  3. Transfer to a baking sheet with the cut sides facing down and bake for 30-35 minutes until tender and charred on the bottom and around the edges.

Carrot-Top Skhug

  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch carrot tops, washed thoroughly
  • 1 tsp hot chili flakes, optional
  • 1 tsp toasted coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/3 c whole roasted almonds (in the microwave will do)
  • 1 strip lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp Parmiggiano-Reggiano, optional
  • 1 c olive oil
  1. Place the garlic in a pot of water and bring to the boil. Add the carrot tops and remove immediately (5 seconds max) to refresh in ice water. Squeeze out any moisture and add to the blender with the boiled garlic cloves.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients to the blender and blend until a textured sauce forms.
  3. Transfer to a mason jar and refrigerate until needed.
  4. When ready to use, spoon what you need into a small bowl and stir through with some extra virgin olive oil for brighter colour and flavour.

Assembly

  • Jewelled Rice
  • Tahini Crema
  • Spiced Kofte
  • Roasted Cauliflower
  • Beetroot Pickle
  • Skhug, thinned out with some EVOO
  • date syrup or pomegranate molasses
  • sumac

Divide the rice among 5-8 plates. Add a dollop of tahini crema to each plate and top with the spiced kofte (you can skewer them after baking if you want, for fun). Pile on the cauliflower and add a pickle. Drizzle the skhug over the meatballs, and everything really. Finish with a swirl of date syrup and dusting of sumac.

Enjoy!

Two and Fifteen Gifts

Where I am, the high tops of conifers are draped underneath a veil of fog just thin enough for a few branches to poke through. The ground is missing the crisp touch of frost, and is instead drenched in a blanket of condensation to be lifted once the day begins.

This is not quite the Vancouver I grew up in, but the humidity made the air familiar as I drove down Dewdney.

I am not quite the one who left three years ago, but the few I was about to visit were so much a part of me that setting foot back in their corridors did not seem like an act of trespass. And for all the roots they gave me, I was grateful.

Every good gift

and every

perfect

gift

is from above, coming down

from the Father of

lights

with whom there is no variation or shadow

due to change.

James 1:17

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Roast Winter Vegetables with Charred Scallion Dressing

Roast Vegetables:

  • 1 mini pumpkin, seeded, diced
  • 3 small sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • few rounds black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil

Toss all ingredients together until evenly coated and roast at 450 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until tender.

Charred Scallion Dressing:

  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 strips lemon zest
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • 12 almonds, toasted
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Char the scallions on a grill or on your stove’s electric coils.

Brown the butter on medium heat until the milk solids are well-browned and the butter is very nutty. Remove from the heat and stir in the chili flakes.

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend into a chunky paste.

Serve the roast vegetables with the scallion dressing. This dressing is also great for sandwiches or to stir into puree soups.

Bonus question: who inspired you in 2015, and how? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your stories!

Eggs for the better

Deep into Friday night, when the Internet usually creeps the closest it can to something remotely akin to repose, sparks flew. The world was bellowing its plea in three words: pray for Paris. Those who understood the heaviness of those words and the price of prayer knelt on their knees to pay just that. Some who have only seen the Bible a on a handful of occasions when they visited their grandparents’ abode passed on the phrase for its propriety. Still there were others wholly unknowing of the term, yet still disseminated the message on their feeds. I thought this the most curious. Had the special attention given to posts hashtagged #prayforparis prompted this like some uplifting current? Or were consciences restless until a tragedy response post was made so that subsequent posts of novelty could be made with a peace of mind? Or maybe, and I am hopeful in this, this hashtag made it just a tad, ever so slightly clearer that as humans we are broken. The hands in which we pride ourselves and to which we owe the complexity of our civilization do little but destroy at a rate exponentially greater than we can ever dream to mend. Perhaps we are coming to terms with the fact that we, humanity, is desperately in need of a hand – a hand apart from our own. One of healing and love which we do not deserve, yet extended in grace so we might receive a fate we can ever fabricate on our own.

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace –

only that it meets us where we are

but does not leave us

where it found us.

Anne Lamott

Turmeric Jewelled Rice with Spiced Ratatouille, Cumin Fried Egg, Yoghurt, and Pistachios
Turmeric Jewelled Rice with Spiced Ratatouille, Cumin Fried Egg, Yoghurt, and Pistachios

Turmeric Jewelled Rice (serves 4)

  • 1 2/3 c brown jasmine rice, rinsed
  • 1/4 c sultana raisins
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • generous 2 cups water
  1. If you have a rice cooker, perfect. Just put everything in the rice cooker and steam as you normally would until the rice is cooked through. If you don’t have a rice cooker, bring 2 1/2 cup water to a rolling boil in a small pot, add everything and lower the heat to a steady simmer. Cover with a lid, and cook for 35-45 minutes until the moisture is completely absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Keep warm.

Spiced Ratatouille (serves 4)

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 c cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large Chinese eggplan, quartered and sliced
  • 4 plums or apricots, pitted and sliced
  • 1 small red chili, seeds removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • black pepper
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • 1 tbsp honey
  1. In a hot pan, sweat the onions and green peppers with a bit of salt until soft. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, plums, and chili. Cook on high heat until the liquids are reduced.
  2. Deglaze with cider vinegar and add 1 cup of water. Season with the remaining salt, cinnamon, and black pepper.
  3. Cook until almost dry, then stir in the lemon juice and honey until the mixture reaches a chutney-like consistency. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Cumin Fried Eggs (serves 4)

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 large free range eggs, cracked into a bowl
  1. Heat 1 tbsp butter and 1/4 tsp cumin seeds in a nonstick pan until fragrant.
  2. Tip in an egg and fry until sunny side up until the whites are set. Slide onto a plate and repeat with the remaining eggs.

To serve:

  • chopped pistachios
  • plain yoghurt
  • mint leaves (optional)

Divide the rice and ratatouille among four dinner plates (or bowls). Add a dollop of yoghurt, top with an egg, and finish with chopped pistachios and mint leaves.

Enjoy!

On Alex Colville

It’s the ordinary things that seem important to me.

This Sunday I enjoyed the rare luxury of having the entirety of an afternoon liberated from any obligation to weigh it down. So I went see the lovely mister Alex Colville at the gallery across the bridge. If you’re anyone like me, regardless of the reason (be it the need to get the most bang for your buck, pure curiosity of a three-year-old, or genuine appreciation for the arts), you’d make your way along the walls of the gallery at approximately sloth-pace for the sake of reading every single description, quote, and commentary of every single painting.

Colville’s works, in all truthfulness, did not appeal to me in the least when I stood in front of the gallery, staring into the woman with the binoculars’ forehead on the oversized promotion poster. No vivid colors, nothing provocatively creative about it, just painfully ordinary.

But as I moved from frame to frame, I became moved frame by frame. Something about the way his impeccably detailed brush strokes merged into minimalism and the way the intense reality of each subject somehow hinted at the surreal was simultaneously familiar and refreshing.

Indeed enjoyment, at least for the modern busy soul, rests in the down of the everyday, and is defined by a taste for the yesterdays.

And behold,

there arose

a great storm on the sea,

so that

the boat

was being swamped

by the waves;

but he was

asleep.

Matthew 8:24

Tomato Creamed Eggs
Tomato Creamed Eggs – fan q’ieh chow dan

My grandmother had an unwavering belief in eggs. In the mansion in southern Taiwan where my mother and her three siblings grew up, they kept chickens on the rooftop terrace. It was at once a delight and a pain to reach past the menacing beaks of the angry hens and to sneak out a couple of down-specked eggs each morning. For my ah-ma a few eggs symbolized the wholesomeness she worked so hard to provide for her children. In retrospect, the eggs tell a different story – one of contentment, and how it only decays as our haves become greater.

Ingredients for the Tomato Creamed Eggs:

  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp canola oil, divided
  • 3 large free range chicken or duck eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk or water, optional
  • 3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp loosely packed brown sugar
  • sea salt, to taste
  • splash of white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch, stirred well with a glug of cold water
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the milk or water lightly using a fork in a small bowl.
  2. Add 1 tsp of the oil into the skillet and pour in the eggs. Stir and break up the mixture by pushing the outer edges into the center using a pair of wooden chopsticks. Dump everything back into the bowl once the eggs just begin to set. Set aside.
  3. Preheat a wok or a sauce pan on high heat until very hot. Tip in the remaining oil, swirl the pan to cover (it should be a shimmering coat), and add the sliced tomatoes. Add the sugar and season with salt to draw out the moisture. Cook the mixture on high heat until the tomatoes have dissolved and the juices have become syrupy, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add a splash of vinegar to brighten the tomatoes, stir, and fold through the eggs, breaking them up a little. Immediately pour in the corn starch mixture in a round motion and stir through until the mixture tightens up. Remove from heat immediately and transfer to a deep plate.
  5. Serve with freshly steamed short-grain rice or some crusty bread.
  6. Enjoy!