Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Squash, Carrot & Ginger Soup with Blackened Cumin

We made another trip to the farmers marketing this past weekend. It was a chilly day! Everyone was wearing sweaters and some even in their winter jackets! When it's cold outside it makes me crave warm food, comfort food.  So I picked up some butternut squash and carrots that would be perfect for a Sunday soup! The aroma of the soup filled the air and made the house smell the way I want my daughter to remember our home smelling, like delicious food on the stove.


3 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
8-10 regular size carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 butternut squash
3 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cloves
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped


In a small frying pan over high heat toast cumin seeds until they are fulled toasted or blackened.  Set aside and allow to cool.  I typically make extra and keep them in an air tight container for later use.

In a large pot heat the butter and cinnamon stick over medium heat.  Add onion and carrots and saute for 5-10 minutes.

Add garlic and ginger and continue to saute for another 3-4 minutes.

Using a mortal and pestle crush blackened cumin seeds and cloves into a powder and then add to pot.  Stir well.

Add the squash and continue to stir.  Slowly add in the water.

Using an immersion blender blend the soup until all the chunks have turned into a beautiful, thick soup.

Increase temperature to high.  Bring soup to a boil and then reduce temperature to medium and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add maple syrup and sour cream to the pot.  Mix well and scoop into serving bowls.

Top with a dollop of sour cream and fresh cilantro.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato & Grapes

It's hard to image that summer has already come and gone.  It was just a few weeks ago I prepared this salad to take on a picnic with my 17 month old daughter.  I'm sad to say it was probably our last picnic of 2013.  My daughter loves each of these ingredients on their own and when put together in a salad it went over fairly well.  She hasn't quite mastered the ability to chew cabbage, lettuce or raw kale, so I was able to use ingredients that she can manage and yet I would enjoy also.  This salad has since become a staple weeknight meal in my house.  It is easy to make, healthy and delicious!


2 cups quinoa, cooked
1 large sweet potato, peeled, boiled and cut into cubes
1 cup grapes, halved
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons mint, chopped
1/4 cup Lemon Maple Vinaigrette (recipe follows)


Put all ingredients into a bowl and toss with Lemon Maple Vinaigrette.

Lemon Maple Vinaigrette


1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and shake until combined.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Basil & Almond Pesto with Rice Linguine

I went to the Uxbridge Farmer's Market on the weekend and picked up some beautiful produce from my favourite vendor, Willo' Wind Farm (www.willowind.ca).  This time of year there is so much fresh produce to choose from it makes Sunday night suppers so much fun.  As the weather starts to change and the fall foods start to appear I want to start making warmer food, fall food, hearty food.  Seeing as it is not quite cool enough to dust off the crock pot, I thought a warm pasta with a fresh pesto would be a perfect combination to represent the transition from summer to fall.


2 cups fresh basil (pushed down)
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
salt & pepper to taste
1 pound of linguine rice pasta (cooked)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place almonds on a parchment lined baking sheet.  When oven is up to temperature toast the almonds until they begin to turn brown.

In a food processor combine almonds and garlic and blend until crumbly.  Add basil, Parmesan, olive oil and salt & pepper.  Blend until just combined.

Toss pesto with cooked pasta and serve.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Vij Family's Chicken Curry

I was in Vancouver a few weeks back and had the chance to visit one of my favourite restaurants, Vij's Rangoli.  This popular, award winning Indian restaurant is to die for!  Not only do they source local and sustainable ingredients, but it's all made from scratch.  The food is aromatic, incredibly flavourful and leaves you yearning for more.  If you ever have the chance to pay them a visit, I strongly recommend it.

Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala, co-owners as well as husband and wife, have published two wonderful cookbooks.  The first, called Vij's Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine, which is part of my collection.  It includes the Vij Family's Chicken Curry, which is one of the best curries I have ever made. 


1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups finely chopped onions (2 large)
3-inch stick of cinnamon
3 Tbsp chopped ginger
2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp garam masala 
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
3 lbs chicken thighs, bone in
1 cup sour cream, stirred
2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (including stems)


In a large pan, heat oil on medium heat for 1 minute.  Add onions and cinnamon, and saute for 5 to 8 minutes, until onions are golden.  Add garlic and saute for another 4 minutes.  Add ginger, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala and cayenne.  Cook this masala for 5 minutes, or until the oil seperates from the masala.

Remove and discard skin from the chicken thighs.  Wash thighs and add to the masala.  Stir well.  Cook chicken thighs for 10 minutes, until the chicken looks cooked on the outside.  Add sour cream and water and stir well.  Increamse the heat to medium-high.  When curry starts to boil reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times, until chicken is completely cooked.  Poke the thighs with a knife.  If the meat is still pink, cook for 5 more minutes..  Remove and discard the cinnamon stick.  Cook curry for at least half an hour.

Transfer cooled chicken to a mixing bowl.  Wearing latex gloves, peel chicken meat off the bones.  Discard bones and stir chicken back into the curry.  Just before serving, heat curry on medium heat until it starts to boil lightly.  Stir in cilantro.

Vikram Vij and I outside of Vij's restaurant