Sunday, April 15, 2012

Friends, It's Time for a Flavour Party - Lemon Rice Pilaf and Mahi Mahi with Coconut Curry Sauce

This little meal came together quickly in response to looking in the fridge and being faced down by two enormous bags of greens. Kale and some unidentified purple rapini-ish situation, to be specific. I knew I needed to hammer some of those greens into my maw before they rotted in their bags, and I wanted something fast that pack a favour slap to the face. A quick inventory of the freezer and pantry determined that mahi mahi and brown (sprouted, WTF?) rice were going to be the dinner dance partners, so I decided on tarting the fish up with a quick coconut curry sauce and a side of lemon-y rice pilaf. The flavour slap was delivered, and, bonus, it took under an hour, including a quick trip to the store when I realized my curry had expired some time around Thanksgiving. Sadface.

I was cooking for two, though we had enough fish and greens for another meal. We would have had extra pilaf two, if I hadn't been Gosling distracted and burned the bottom. Damn you Gosling!*

Get the pilaf going, and while it's doing it's thang wash and prep the greens, pre-boil the water for steaming so it's good to go, and get the curry started. Easy peasy. 

Lemon Rice Pilaf

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup sprouted brown rice
1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock**
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 inch chunk of ginger, grated
1 inch piece of lemongrass, finely chopped***
3 lime leaves, sliced thin

Heat oil in sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, or until soft. Add the rice, lime leaves, lemongrass and ginger and cook one minute. Add the stock to the pan and cook 12-15 minutes, or until almost all the stock has been absorbed. Stir through lemon juice and parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

It'll look a little something like this:

** I find store bought stocks salty, so I used a home made chicken stock. I freeze it in ice cube trays and then transfer to a Ziploc freezer bag. That was it's quick and easy to thaw exactly the needed amount. Ditto for soup and excess coconut milk/cream.

*** Only use the bottom white part of the lemongrass. Also, if it's old it can be a little woody. Find the freshest, palest, juiciest looking stalk you can, and don't wait too long to use it. 

Mahi Mahi with Coconut Curry Sauce

1/2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
2 - 2 1/2 inches of lemongrass, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup coconut cream
2 pieces of mahi mahi (I split them both in half)
handful whole basil leaves
3-4 lime leaves, sliced thinly
juice of 1 lime
mango slices and crushed cashews for garnish

Add the curry paste, lemongrass and water to a frying pan over medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the coconut cream and simmer an additional 3 minutes. It will thicken up a little. Add the mahi mahi and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness.

 Stir through basil, lime leaves and lime juice. When it looks this delicious you are good to go:

Add the greens to your steaming basket and steam for a few minutes until just darkened. Over-steamed greens are just sadness. 

When you serve it up, spoon a little curry sauce over fish, and garnish with a few slices of mango and crushed cashews. Go on, you deserve it.

Not the smokin'est picture, but cold greens are second-sad to over-steamed greens, and I was hangry with a capital H.

Happy eating!


* This Gosling:                              

Not this gosling:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Comfort Cake for a Cold Winter's Day

Upon returning from my snow prowl the other day I decided the best way to defrost was to get a little domestic and do some baking. I decided to take a crack at a tasty looking apple cake recipe I'd seen on Poppytalk, which I thought would adapt well to a wheat free version. I'm also trying to cut back on sugar in my baking, so I replaced 1/4 of the sugar in the recipe with chopped dates, and made adjustments to the liquids to compensate for the coconut flour. The original recipe for Teddie's Apple Cake is here. Looks like it's made the internet rounds. If you're stronger-gutted than I and can eat wheat, you may want to refer back to the original, as coconut and other alternative flours can get a little pricey. I'd still jack it up with the dates and apple slices though.

I am 100% an organic Braeburn apple person for straight up eating apples. When in season, go Braeburn or go home. For this though I made use of a few rogue Galas and, I think, a Fiji. Honestly, I think I'll go to the trusty Braeburn or a Granny Smith next time I make it. Also, I hadn't decided to top the cake with sliced apples when I started it, so I was working with a standard greased and floured pan. I'd definitely go springform next time, or at the very least line the pan with parchment. It was a beast to remove from the pan, which explains why there aren't any sexy serving shots. Learn from my mistakes; I promise to do better next time.

Jacked Up Teddie's Apple Cake

1 cup Pan Riso Rice Bread and Baking Mix
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup almond oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 - 3/4 cup water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 c chopped dates
2 apples - peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
1 apple - peeled, cored and sliced thinly
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon brown sugar mixed with approximately 1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9 inch springform cake tin, or line a regular 9 inch cake tine with bakers parchment.

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt and baking soda together. Set aside.

Beat together the oils, 1/2 cup of water and brown sugar until well mixed. Add in the eggs and vanilla and continue beating until the mix is creamy. Dump in the flour mixture and slowly mix until just combined. Add additional 1/4 c of water as needed if mixture is too thick. Fold in the apples and the walnuts.

Spoon batter into the prepared cake pan. Arrange the sliced apples on top of the cake sprinkle with sugar and spice mix. Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and either release the springform sides of the pan, or gently lift out the cake with the bakers parchment.

It's not a particularly sweet cake - the sort that goes well with tea or coffee. I meant to try it with a little warmed coconut cream spooned over it, in place of the ice cream or whipping cream, which is my delicate constitution's mortal enemy. Next time, because, oh ... there will so be a next time.


xoxo ~  your friend melissa

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lentil Pancakes and Prune Chutney

First off, for those of you who thought Hanger Monster in yesterday's post was a typo ... not so, MoFo. Hanger, it's a word meaning so hungry one gets angry,  look it up.

Anywhoo ... another food post. This will probably be happening a lot over the next few weeks, as food is pretty much all I'm thinking about. I want to stick my face in a sluice of coffee, wheat and sugar and just motorboat the hell out of it. But I can't, so I'll just keep experimenting with tummy friendly foods and sharing them with you, ummmkay?

I've been really missing bready things, and as a result I have a growing collection of non-wheat, gluten free flours. Amaranth flour is supposed to have a slightly peppery flavour, but I haven't noticed it. I've only tried it in a few things so far; these pancakes were the best of the experiments. Yes, more pancakes. But pancakes that (hopefully) won't make my trainers give me their stern voices. Because they're packed with lentils, yo.

Again, both of these recipes are adapted from Recipes for IBS by Ashley Koff, RD, though they've both been changed up a bit.

Lentil Amaranth Pancakes

1 cups cooked pink lentils

1/2 cup amaranth flour

3 tbsp almond oil

1 tsp cumin

1/2 cup almond milk

In a food processor combine all ingredients until well mixed.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and spray with oil. Place a tablespoon of batter in the pan (I use a large enough pan to do four at a time). When the edges begin to brown, flip the pancake and flatten with the flipper. Continue cooking until done and serve with prune chutney.

Prune Nectarine Chutney

2 teaspoons canola oil

2 shallots, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup chopped fresh prunes

1 nectarine, coarsely chopped

1 tsp honey

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

In a heavy sauce pot, cook the shallots in oil over medium heat, stirring to prevent them from burning, until softened. Stir in the prunes, nectarine, honey, ginger and vinegar and simmer approximately 10 minutes until prunes soften and nectarine is cooked.

Serve warm or cold over lentil pancakes. Garnish with toasted pine nuts.


xoxo ~ your friend melissa



Monday, August 15, 2011

Two Soups for You!

Do people under 30 get the Soup Nazi? Am I old enough to have redundant pop culture references? The thought of it ... such sadness.

I'm eight days into a three week elimination diet. My uppity GI system has been the bane of my existence for many years, and I figured it's about time to nut up and get accountable. And this time I won't go hog wild on liqour and huevos rancheros as soon as the three weeks are done, thus rending useless the agony of the effort (see Elimination Diet 2009/ Patrick Wolf at Richards on Richards / brunch at Suze). No, I will diligently reintroduce one food every three days, dragging this process through wedding season, past Hallowe'en and knocking right on the door of Thighmageddon, better known as the Christmas baking season.

Having tried and failed in spectacular fashion last time I attempted this, I like any good Boy Scout, know that the key is being prepared. So I spent a Sunday prepping and freezing soups so I'd have quick options for when the Hanger Monster reared it's ugly head. Little tip - I freeze my soup in ice cube trays and then dump them in freezer bags. Four or five cubes is about perfect, they heat up quickly, and there's no chipping away at a two litre tub of frozen soup.

Both soups were adapted from Recipes for IBS by Ashley Koff, R.D.

White Bean and Fennel Soup

1 large fennel bulb with about 1/4 inch of the stems, sliced fairly thin (reserve leaves)

1 1/4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp freshly grated lemon peel

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 15 oz can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained

salt and pepper to taste

Place the sliced fennel, broth, fennel seed, lemon juice and lemon peel in a large covered skillet over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until fennel softens. Reduce heat to low, add the beans and simmer approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. It should look like this:

Transfer to a food processor and puree. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot, garnish with fennel leaves, like so:

Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

3 cups onions, chopped

2/3 cup carrots, chopped

1 granny smith apple, peeled and diced

1 3/4 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced

3 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups water

2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

3 tsp fresh oregano

1 tsp fresh dill

1 tbsp curry powder

3 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, saute onions, apples and carrots in olive oil until onions are soft but not brown. Add squash, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and curry powder and continue to saute for about five minutes, until squash is soft. Add water, broth, oregano and dill. Cover and simmer until all vegetables are soft. Remove from heat.

In a blender, puree the vegetable mix in batches until smooth. Return pureed mix to the pot to heat through before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste, adjust flavour as necessary. Sprinkle with a dash of cloves when serving.


I just now realized that both soups are pretty much table coloured. Nice.

Another little tip - to get your clove sprinkles light and even, tap the spice bottle lightly over the wrist of your other arm. It's an old barista trick, because I was just that anal about never putting out a latte with clumpy cinnamon or chocolate garnish. Works well for soup too.

xoxo ~ your friend melissa, and her grumpy gut


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Snooty Almond Nectarine Pancakes

Hello Friends, it's been a while. My bad. I've been in a blogging funk. Like going to the gym, if I miss more than two days I may as well write it off for a season. Blarghity blargh.

I apologize, and will now attempt to weasel my way back into your hearts with food. Since breakfast is the most important delicious meal of the day, we'll start there.

I remember when I was a kid being at a friend's house, and her dad was making us pancakes for breakfast. Being a pancake fan I was rightly stoked. Until I saw him open the cupboard and reach for a box of pancake mix. What the hell? Until that moment I honestly had no idea such a thing existed. It's not like pancakes require much effort. Boxed mixes? That's for camping (though I'm more likely to pre-mix my own dry ingredients) or last minute birthday cake emergencies.

I may be something of a pancake snob. Ok, just a general snob. I also hate smelling like food, and will not make breakfast after I've showered, unless a re-shower is possible. Especially if there is bacon involved. We all have our things.

These pancakes would be perfectly palatable without the nectarine, I just like it because A) it looks awesome and only takes about 2% more effort, and B) it gives a hit of sweet that negates the need for syrup.

Please also note that I don't actually measure spices, so the measurements are approximate. Adjust to your preference.

Almond Nectarine Pancakes

You will need:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or 3/4 cup each all purpose and whole wheat)

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar (white or brown)

1 3/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinammon

1/4 to 1/2 tsp nutmeg, preferably freshly grated

pinch of cloves

2 eggs

3 tbsp vegetable oil*

1 to 1 1/4 cups almond milk *

Two nectarines, thinly sliced

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Sift together dry ingredients (except almonds).

Beat eggs. Add vegetable oil and milk. Whisk together. Fold in dry ingredients. Stir until well combined, adding more almond milk until it's the desired think/thinness. I prefer them a little on the thin side.

Add a titch of oil or butter to your pan / griddle.

Place a slice of nectarine in the pan. Give it it a minute or so, until the bottom looks a little brown and caramelized. Flip over and sprinkle on a few almonds.

Cook another minute, then pour about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of batter over the nectarine slice.

They're ready to flip when the batter is full of holes. If you aren't sure, sneak a peak at the bottom. They should be uniformly golden. Though, if you're like me, the first one is always sort of pasty and a throwaway.

Note, that if you're using thick batter you'll run the risk of uncooked batter under the nectarine. I have friends who actually prefer their pancakes rare (no jokes, runny in the middle), but like anything with a snot-like texture it gives me the heaves.

When they're looking holey and somewhat dry flip them over.

They'll only need a minute or so to brown up the other side. Again, sneak a peek if you aren't sure. When they done either serve immediately, or transfer to a baking sheet in a warm oven until your pancake army is all cooked and ready for serving.

Enjoy your delicious breakfast. Please, don't drown them in syrup. You may as well be eating boxed pancakes if you do.

xoxo  ~ your friend melissa

* I am a lactard. You can totally use melted butter in place of oil and real old school dairy instead of almond milk. Whatever floats your boat.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Best Damned Corn You'll Ever Eat

I grew up with a lot of boiled vegetables. Boiled rounds of carrot haunt my dreams. As an adult I do the bare minimum amount of boiling. I'd say I pretty much reserve that for the occasional egg. I know corn might seem like an obvious exception to the no boil rule, but I believe their is a better, far tastier way.

Grill that sumbitch. And while you're at it, tart it up with a few garden fresh herbs.That's what I'm talking about, and here's how to do it.
Herbed Grilled Corn

If the ears have heavy husks peel off the top few, leaving just a couple of layers.

Soak the whole cobs in cold water for 15 minutes. This will speed up the cooking by providing steam and, prevents dried out kernels. Note: it's a nice idea to use soaking water to water plants rather than just dumping it down the drain.

While the corn is soaking preheat the grill to medium and prep your herbs. I used a mixture of parsley, sage, oregano and chives. If the basil was up yet I'd have used some. Personally, I think sage is key. I only did two cobs, so I just picked a few sprigs of each. Chop it fairly fine.

Pull back, but do not remove, the husks. Remove the silk.

Lightly spray the corn with olive oil.

Lightly season with salt and pepper. Rub on her mixture.

Pull husks back over corn and secure the middle and open end with strips of the discarded husk.

Place the corn on the grill over medium heat.

They're like delicious little presents!

Turn occasionally to keep from burning. Note that you can totally do this over hot coals on a campfire.

Cook the corn for approximately 15 minutes, being careful not to overcook. Mushy corn is nasty. It's ready when the husks have browned and are lifting from the ear.

Remove corn from the grill (using tongs, safety first!) and pull off husks. I'm not a butter adder, but if you are, do your things.

Hopefully yours isn't a weird FrankenCorn like this. Seriously, I had a hard time eating this one. It looked like Hallowe'en teeth. How does that even happen to corn?

Whatever, it still tasted delicious.


xoxo ~ your friend melissa

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Start the Week with Something Sweet

After Friday's burst of vitriol I thought it was best to post something sweet today. So I made up a recipe.
Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, cream together:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter

When well creamed, add:

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 well mashed ripe banana

Combine and add to the creamed ingredients:

1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp almond milk (or milk)

In a separate bowl, sift together:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose (white) flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp powdered ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinammon

Add to the wet mixture, beating until smooth, then add:

1 cup quick rolled oats
1/4 cup coconut

Beat the mixture well.

Drop by the teaspoon full onto baking sheets lined with bakers parchment and bake until bottoms and edges are light brown - approximately 10 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.


I would have used almond butter, but it's a new jar, and, frankly, I didn't feel like stirring it. It takes forevvvver and I always end up with oil everywhere.

Raisins would be nice. I didn't have any. Sad face.

I think the sugar could be reduced. And, the butter too. That might make them too healthy though. Ewwwww!!!!

Hope you enjoy.

xoxo ~ your friend melissa