Tag Archives: nutritious

Spinach-Celery-Turmeric-Lemon Soup: A Wee Taste of Scotland?

Is it possible to be excited over spinach-celery-turmeric-lemon soup? For me, the answer is a resounding yes.   This soup is a revelation for its simplicity, satisfying texture, and profound flavour.   When combined with store-bought stock and onion, these four ingredients transform into a deep, rich, and ultra-wholesome soup.

To explain my bizarre journey in finding the recipe, we need to return to its origins.  I was excited to have found a copy of Baroness Claire Macdonald’s Seasonal Cooking a small charity shop in Glasgow, Scotland, in October. A renowned author of many cookbooks, Baroness Macdonald is the Scottish Julia Child, if I dare take such a liberty – though, with her title, does she need anything more?  The Baroness is the chef-owner of the Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye – an inn so well-known that even the New York Times wrote about it as one of the top three dining options on Skye.

While we ate at another one of the three New York Times’ suggestions during our day-long visit to Skye, I later recalled Baroness Macdonald’s name.  Thus, I was able to spot her book on the shelves of a shop benefiting one of the UK’s health charities.  This particular shop was on the main drag of  Sauciehall Street in beautiful downtown Glasgow (like “beautiful downtown Burbank,” for those of you who remember the classic 1960s/1970s comedy show, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In).  To borrow the catch-phrase from Laugh-In, Sock-It-To-ME!  It was such a deal for just one quid (slang for one pound sterling, or about $1.50 US) for a classic, which promised 12 months of Scottish cuisine at its finest.

For the soup review, ingredients, and the recipe…

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Double Your Fight Against the Dreaded Green Squash’s Invasion: Zucchini Bread – Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Loaves

When I think of zucchini, I think of other foods, which have super-powers.  For instance, the classic “B” movie Attack of the Killer Tomatoes comes to mind.  Then there was the “Eggplant That Ate Chicago.”  Or else I think of the Blancmange which ate Wimbledon, on Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  As with the tomatoes, eggplant, or blancmange, zucchini will take over, if you give it half a chance.  Do not turn your back or  close your eyes for a millisecond.  Be afraid…very  afraid of this green garden menace.

I do not grow my own zucchini, as I know that I will benefit from others, whose gardens are overflowing with the squash.  On my island within a matter of days, I received one zucchini as a party favour, if you will, at the end of a dinner party (how can one say “no, thank you”?) and then a phone call from a neighbour who was trying to unload her excess.  I accepted the second offer, too, as there were a couple of cucumbers thrown in to make it irresistible.

Now I know to wait until August for the largesse of zucchini.  This year, however, was the first when I finally decided to finally try zucchini bread.

In addition to using two of the three aforementioned squash I received, I wanted to finish up some light sour cream in the fridge.  America’s Test Kitchen’s New Best Recipe (ATK) had an attractive option for zucchini bread.  The ATK version makes one loaf, though it uses yogurt instead of sour cream.  Despite their warning that sour cream made their loaves too heavy and rich, I went ahead with it anyway.  ATK – like the zucchini-zombies – could not scare me away.

I always appreciate ATK’s rigourous experimentation with ingredients, technique, cooking times, pans, etc.  Their recipe stated that the subtlety of the zucchini can be lost, when many other spices are used, e.g., cinnamon or nutmeg, so they limit flavour-boosters to lemon juice to brighten the taste.  This approach works well, so I give them credit for their thoroughness, as always.

The only drawback, perhaps, is that it is rather time-consuming to shred/grate the zucchini, before draining in a strainer and drying it in paper towels after 30 minutes.  Even using a food processor, this is a bit of a long recipe – another reason to double the quantities and bake two loaves.  I strongly advise doing two at once, as the bread freezes well or lasts three days, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

The bread has a fine crumb.  This is attributable to the yogurt, or sour cream, and the lemon juice.  I found the zucchini flavour to come through in a distinctive and pleasant manner, but it was definitely not over-powering.  The toasted walnuts add a crunchy textural counterpoint to the rich body of the bread, which really is more like cake.

For the doubled-up recipe…

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“Karma Chameleon” Bucatini with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil – Red, Gold, and Green

At the risk of being sued by Boy George (as opposed to a-wannabe-lawyer-who-liked-to-bathe-in-apricot-Jell-o), I decided to call this treatment of bucatini with cherry tomatoes “Karma Chameleon” for obvious reasons.  The pure red cherry tomatoes with the vibrant “sungold” cherry tomatoes (from our deck-top garden) and fresh basil (right off the deck, too) made me think of the lyrics:

Loving would be easy if your colours were like my dream
Red, gold, and green, red, gold, and green.

Huh? What exactly does that mean?

This is from an era of many pop songs with memorable refrains but not much meaning:  the 1980s, of course.  The song was very catchy but did not really have the “deeper” meaning indicated by the references to “karma” and the changeability of the chameleon. There is good alliteration with “karma chameleon” together, while “red, gold, and green” make a nice vivid trio of colours.  But does the song really say anything, other than just being a fun tune?

Like the song, bucatini is a fun pasta. However, it is not always easy to find bucatini in your grocer’s shelves, nestled among its more popular cousins, spaghetti and linguine (do not even try to find “buca-what?” on a small island like this one).  Bucatini is like a drinking straw, with a hollow centre, a kind of tubular spaghetti, which provides, a nice al dente contrast to the warmed cherry tomatoes, and good textural counterpoint to the light olive oil-butter sauce.

My inspiration for combining bucatini with cherry tomatoes comes from a casual dinner a few years back, hosted by friend and fellow island blogger, Lynn, of Real Food from a Small Island.  Lynn’s sauce was delicious yet somewhat different from this recipe.

I like the classic Italian base of garlic-olive-oil-black-pepper-and-Parmigiano-Reggiano.  This base also can include parsley, bread crumbs, red chili flakes, anchovies, lemon juice, capers, or many other ingredients, depending on the region. time of day, and the chef.  I posted about a combination that I did a few months back, Umami Linguine.  A bit of butter, I find, in a sauce like this helps improve with the mouth feel and adds a bit of richness to the sauce without becoming heavy.

For the recipe…

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Halibut in Lime, Ginger, and Cayenne Cream Sauce: Super-fast and satisfying dish – just for the halibut

As I mentioned before, I was rather odd as a child.  One example that comes to mind – with halibut as a punch line – was an overnight field trip to a wilderness campground around age 11.

I had taken karate before this trip, yet I stopped upon reaching the first belt (the yellow belt, which is a cowardly far cry from the ultimate:  the famous black sash).  However, I was happy with that rank and to have achieved one higher level; I really did not care for the martial arts.  So I continued to wear my karate get-up – replete with the yellow belt – whenever possible.

During this particular trip, the fizzy candy which explodes in one’s mouth called, “Pop Rocks”, were all the rage.  I had a variety of packets with me, which I shared with my friends.  (This is the first of two-sort-of-but-not-really-directly-food-related references in this flashback).  The karate outfit fortunately had pockets for hiding “Pop Rocks” and other candy.

After the dinner in the “mess hall”, which I definitely do not remember, we participated in skits.  I was in a skit with another boy and it was a joke, the punchline of which was “I did it just for the halibut!” (if you were not paying attention, that is the second of the two food references, one which is supposed to be a play on words, albeit it childish).  What I remember is that I did not deliver this line but had to fall down as if struck down  by the painful pun – which I did during rehearsal.

However, during the skit when I was outfitted in my karate robe with yellow belt, I fell and knocked over the other boy.  My pratfall was not the most graceful of stage falls, nor the most pleasant experience for my fellow actor, given that I was chubby at the time, as I had yet to start with my tennis fixation which began soon after this trip.

Quick and simple mise-en-place just for the halibut.

For the halibut recipe and more….

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Capers-Lemon-Parmesan-Prosciutto Linguine Umami: Fast, Full-Flavoured, & Fantastic Pasta for Mid-week


I am not a “super taster”. My palate is not sensitive nor is subtlety my desired approach in cooking. Forget the understated, muted flavours for me. While I would like to be more “discerning” in my ability to distinguish barely distinguishable flavours, this is not the case. So it is not a surprise that I prefer highly seasoned, strongly flavoured, and spicy foods – not to mention coffee, chocolate, rich caramel, raspberry, lemon, and mint in desserts.

One way for those of us who are decidedly not super tasters to enjoy food is through “umami”, which is hard to translate from the Japanese. It describes rich, savoury, meaty, and satisfying earthy flavours, such as prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano, ripe tomatoes, as well as soy and fish sauce. Interesting that these are hallmarks of Italian and Japanese cuisines, both of which are noted for their simple preparations of high-quality ingredients.


For more Umami – and the recipe  Continue reading

Carrot-Ginger Dressing + Composed Avocado Salad: Colourful, Flavourful, and Healthful as a Main Course

How do you feel about the wide world of food blogs?

I am fascinated by this subculture of the blogosphere and the online do-it-yourself culinary world. As someone relatively new to this milieu (blogging and blogging about food, to be precise), I enjoy the variety of food sites from around the world, having read a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of blogs (probably in the hundreds of thousands, if not the millions, by now).

As a contemporary literary form, the food-as-secondary-to-a-story genre intrigues me most. There are many fine writers – not necessarily trained culinary professionals – blogging today. Likewise, one also can find many fine chefs/bakers, who are not necessarily the best or most compelling writers. Occasionally, professionals do tell a good story with clear instructions and captivating pictures (e.g., David Lebovitz – justifiably popular for his adventures and clever accounts of the pastries, food, and life in Paris).

Most engaging are the amateurs, who convey the context of their recipes in conjunction with clear directions and captivating photography. Of course, there is the whole visual element of food styling and web design, too, which can make or break a site. Top-notch food styling is a draw for some of my favourite sites, Memories in the Baking, pierre.cuisine, Mowielicious, MattBites, and island-neighbour, Island Vittles. None of the above, I believe, work full-time as professionals in the food industry (though Matt is a professional in the design world).

What I seek in the best food blogs Continue reading

Linguine with Roasted Broccoli, Prosciutto, & Pine Nuts: Truth in Advertising (albeit delicious)

Toothsome, nutritious, and satisfying, this dish is not at all Asian, however.

I am a big believer in factually representing any product. Thus, I was very surprised by the recipe, which inspired this post. The original recipe came from a cookbook called, Everyday Asian , by Patricia Yeo and Tom Steele.

At a bookstore in Vancouver, I bought a copy of Everyday Asian on sale, as I liked to do when indulging my compulsion bad habit hobby of buying cookbooks. It looked like a fun and diverse collection of pan-Asian recipes. I liked the simplicity of the recipes I reviewed and the variety of approaches (including substitutions and options for many ingredients, techniques, and variations). I am always on the hunt for new approaches in synthesizing the exciting range of Asian cuisines. Of Chinese descent, the author grew up in Malaysia, received her culinary training in France, worked at China Moon Café in San Francisco, and then worked for Bobby Flay at the Miracle Grill. So it appeared that Ms. Yeo knows a thing or two about Asian food.

Roasting broccoli is a breeze.

The review continues – and the recipe Continue reading