Tag Archives: Foodie Tuesday

Unsprung: 4 Things to Wrap and Roll

Crispy banana. Via Jinkzz Kitchen.

We do love our spring rolls, right? I like the fresh spring rolls with their chewy translucent wrappers or the delicate crepe-y ones. Fried spring rolls are a favorite of mine too — savory, crunchy, and satisfying. Whether they be filled with meat, vegetables, or seafood, they have this wonderful Asian awesomeness, all wrapped up in lovely little cylinders.

Not just for spring rolls. Image by Robin via Flickr.

But those sheets of rice paper aren’t just for spring rolls. They are so versatile, they can wrap around other things too, to make a myriad other yummy things — going as far as your creativity can take you.

I’ll let you in a few ideas to get your imagination rolling.

But before anything else, we’ve gotta get our technique down pat, or at least decent enough so that our rolls stay together. It’s pretty easy, with a little practice. Jaden from Steamy Kitchen has an excellent wrap-and-roll tutorial included in her spring roll recipe (you’ll have to scroll down quite a bit).

These ideas require deep frying, and thus an important reminder is to make sure the oil is hot, or else the wrapper will absorb all that grease like a sponge — blech, not good. Most of these fillings don’t require much cooking — the main objective really is to brown the wrapping to a crisp, so hot and fast is the key.

Banana and Jackfruit

Via Ang Sarap. Click for recipe.

It is called turon in the Philippines, and is a well-loved snack or dessert. The banana and sliced jackfruit are rolled in brown sugar before they’re wrapped up. The banana is a local variety that is usually enjoyed cooked, but it’ll work with another kind of banana, say cavendish, and will be reminiscent of bananas foster.

Cheese

Via British Cheese Board

This is also quite a treat where I come from, and is enjoyed as an appetizer or bar chow. Cut your choice of cheese into sticks and wrap them up and fry them. They’ll turn out crunchy on the outside, and cheesy and gooey on the inside. When making this, it’s extra important to make sure the wrapping is well-sealed, or else the melted cheese will leak out and end up at the bottom of the fryer.

This is delicious with a tomato based dip, such as marinara or salsa.

Creme Caramel

Via Makes Coffee Nervous

This one is fairly novel, one that was encountered during a recent dinner out. Refrigerate the custard first so it’ll be firmer and easier to slice and wrap. Deep fry and drizzle with caramel sauce after.

Crab Stick and Basil

Via SG Food on Foot

My sister is the only person I know who does this, but it really is exceptionally scrumptious. Make a slit along each crab stick and insert a sliver of basil and a dab of minced garlic.

And if you want to go hard core and make the wrappers from scratch, here’s a tutorial.


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Healthy and Quick Quinoa

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

How are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? Statistics say that most people will have abandoned their pledges by the end of the month, and I’m not surprised since they are often worded so negatively. This year I changed tack; instead of vowing to lose weight, I have promised to spend as much time on my inner health as I do on my outside appearance.

Image: Skinny Ms.

So, I’m taking a little more time to prepare my own meals, using local and organic ingredients whenever possible. In order to do this, I have stocked my pantry with quality ingredients that can be prepared quickly and in many different ways.  At the top of my list is quinoa. Pronounced “KEEN-wah,” this little seed has been named International Food of 2013 by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

Mango Blueberry Quinoa Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing.  Image: Veggie Belly

I’m not surprised, since it is low-fat, cholesterol-free, and high in fiber. Its texture and nutty flavour is similar to whole grains like brown rice and barley but it is a complete protein, which makes it perfect for vegetarian meals. And it cooks quickly, in about 15 minutes!

Breakfast Quinoa Cereal. Image: 80 Breakfasts

Like whole grains, it takes some care to make sure it doesn’t turn out mushy. And the seeds need to be rinsed thoroughly before cooking or they will taste bitter. The Kitchn has excellent step-by-step cooking instructions that guarantee perfection. I always try to make a little extra at dinner so that I can use the leftovers to make porridge or a salad the next day.

Dairy Free Quinoa Cocoa Waffles.  Image: Kitchen Therapy

Quinoa is also gluten-free and quinoa flour can be used as a 1:1 substitute for all-purpose in baking recipes. While most supermarkets carry it, homemadeadventure shows how quinoa flour can be made at home in a food processor for a fraction of the cost.

Quinoa Sushi Rolls.  Image: Wholesome Cook

The seeds come in three colours: white, red, and black. There is no difference in their preparation or nutritional value, though some people swear that the red and black versions are nuttier and more flavourful. I have also seen tri-colour mixes, which I think gives great visual appeal to dishes like Wholesome Cook’s quinoa sushi rolls.

Roasted Shrimp and Quinoa Spring Rolls. Image: Damndelicious

I don’t have a rice cooker and I am really impatient, so I’m excited to try substituting quinoa as a base for my stir-frys and curries. Damndelicious even replaced vermicelli noodles with quinoa in fresh summer rolls. My brain is spinning with the possibilities!

Andean Bean Stew with Winter Squash and Quinoa. Image: New York Times

Because it isn’t as popular as other grains, quinoa can be a little pricey. However, it is still a great option for bulking up soups and stews and stretching your food budget. And because it is an excellent source of protein, you can cut back on the amount of meat you use, or leave it out altogether.

Orange Quinoa Bars. Image: Modern Taste

Most brands of quinoa are certified organic, so I feel even better about making it one of my main pantry staples. Why blow my money on packaged low-fat, chemical-laden snack bars when I can make Modern Taste’s version, filled with fruit and spicy goodness?

Blueberry-Quinoa Tart with Lemon Whipped Cream. Image: Kiss My Spatula

Quinoa has me excited to be back in the kitchen, providing a fresh take on old favourites and inspiring me to create a few new ones. I think this might be one resolution that lasts.


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Chowders to Take the Chill Away

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

I’m sick as a dog right now and the last thing I feel like doing is cooking. But I do feel like eating. I wish someone would bring me some homemade soup, something hearty like chowder. It’s just the thing to take the chills away.

creamy fish chowderCreamy Fish Chowder; Image: ifood.tv

Chowders have a long history in North America, though early recipes describe a stew layered with fish, biscuits, and other ingredients. According to Jasper White, author of 50 Chowders, this is the earliest published recipe, printed by the Boston Evening Post in 1751:

First lay some Onions to keep the Pork from burning
Because in Chouder there can be not turning;
Then lay some Pork in slices very thing,
Thus you in Chouder always must begin.
Next lay some Fish cut crossways very nice
Then season well with Pepper, Salt, and Spice;
Parsley, Sweet-Marjoram, Savory, and Thyme,
Then Biscuit next which must be soak’d some Time.
Thus your Foundation laid, you will be able
To raise a Chouder, high as Tower of Babel;
For by repeating o’er the Same again,
You may make a Chouder for a thousand men.
Last a Bottle of Claret, with Water eno; to smother ‘em,
You’ll have a Mess which some call Omnium gather ‘em
.

clam chowderClam Chowder; Image: Food Network

While it certainly is poetic, I don’t think it sounds as delicious as the clam chowder for which Boston is now famous. This is what I think of when I hear the term “chowder” but it can refer to any chunky soup thickened with milk or cream.

Manhattan Clam ChowderManhattan Clam Chowder, Image: Simply Recipes

The only exception is the anomaly that is Manhattan clam chowder, which has a tomato-based broth. Yummy but not really chowder in my book.

Smokey Corn ChowderSmoky Corn Chowder with Shrimp; Image: Bev Cooks

Another popular chowder features corn. I think this is best in the summer with fresh kernels straight from the cob but frozen corn can be substituted in winter. It makes a great vegetarian soup but the mild flavour also pairs well with chicken or shrimp for a satisfying main course.

three onion chowderThree Onion Chowder with Parsleyed Oyster Crackers; Image: thirschfeld via Food 52

Potatoes are added to most chowders and I have seen some recipes that make this the main ingredient. However, these versions can be a little bland. I prefer thirschfeld’s recipe which adds three types of onions as a flavour boost. And I love the idea of dressing up oyster crackers, which are a traditional chowder-topper, with parsley or other herbs.

cheesey vegetable chowderCheesy Vegetable Chowder; Image: Lulu the Baker

The great thing about chowder is that the mild, creamy base suits just about any vegetable, so it is a great way to use up leftovers. And they don’t need to simmer for hours to develop their flavour, so you can whip up a pot for a sick friend in under an hour (hint, hint)!


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Still Life

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

So today’s post is short and silly.  As you madly prepare for Thursday’s holiday, I thought a good dose of silly might be in order?  This was inspired by a post on Spoon and Tamago last week.  A post that featured this Daikon radish:

For more photos of this adventurous radish, visit Spoon and Tamago

It brightened my day, this sprinting root vegetable (and the hilarious narratives offered by each picture in the series).  That, and it led to an internet search for other strange gifts from the good earth.  Just in time for Thanksgiving, this is a harvest to be grateful for.  Such happy pause, these images give me.  It’s quite extraordinary what nature allows for, over and beyond these strangely cuddly produce.

I couldn’t eat this oh-so-sweet teddy bear potato.  Image via Design Swan

There really is something so tender about these carrots in embrace, image via Bee Healthy Honey

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that these strawberry boots come in a pair.  Image via Wellies Wheelbarrow

I’m not sure what this looks like to me, but it sure is special.  Image via Design Swan

And for my son, the Buzz Lightyear carrot.

To a moment of lightheartedness as you wildly prepare your Thanksgiving feast/marathon visiting/epic eating.  Happy Thanksgiving to our friends down south.  May there be much gratitude at your table this week.


Posted in Food | Tagged

Forget the Turkey, Let’s Talk Cranberries

Next week our American friends will be celebrating Thanksgiving and cooks across the country are busy planning a feast with all the fixin’s.  Unfortunately, for many this will include the monstrosity that is canned cranberry sauce.

cranberry sauce from a canImage: Zipongo

This processed product has ruined the concept of cranberries for many people, which is a shame because this tart fruit is the perfect counter for the rich, heavy foods that grace a Thanksgiving table.

homemade cranberry sauce by Smitten KitchenImage: Smitten Kitchen

Do yourself a favour and pick up a bag of fresh or frozen cranberries and make your own sauce this year. With a few simple ingredients and about 20 minutes you can make a dish your guests will really love. Smitten Kitchen has a great collection of recipes for the cranberry sauce novice.

cranberry cookiesImage: Ocean Spray

While you’re at it, pick up a few extra bags for treats to last through the holidays and beyond. These versatile gems work well in both savory and sweet recipes. If shortbread is part of your Christmas baking ritual, why not mix it up a little with a blue cheese and cranberry version?

baking with cranberriesImage: Wives with Knives

I’m a little addicted to Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps, especially the Cranberry Hazelnut ones. However, I can’t always find them where I live now so I was thrilled to find a copycat recipe posted by Wives with Knives.

cranberry, bacon, chestnut dressingImage: BBC Good Food

Why limit yourself to cranberry sauce at your holiday table? I often add apples to my stuffing but cranberries would work well too. BBC’s Good Food offers up a delectableChestnut, Bacon, and Cranberry Dressing that can be baked or rolled into balls and fried- fun!

Image: Healthy Happy Life

If vegetarians are joining you, Healthy Happy Life’s Cranberry-Soy Sauce Sticky Sweet Tofu Steaks make an excellent meat-free entrée.

liquor and cranberries

Image: The Endless Meal

Cranberries also work well in cocktails, though most people never venture past the standard Cosmopolitan. The Endless Meal shakes it up a little by replacing the vodka with bourbon in what they call The Best Bourbon Sour. I’m eager to see if they are correct!

cranberry coctailImage: The Corkscrew

If tequila is your tipple of choice, you should indulge with a Razzelberry Dressing Margarita, full of antioxidant goodness.

orange, clove and cranberry infused bourbonImage: My Recipes

I love making my own infused alcohols and Orange, Clove, and Cranberry Infused Bourbon sounds like the perfect antidote to winter’s chill. This is also the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for guy on your Christmas list.

cranberry sorbetImage: Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Sweet-tart cranberries can help you end your large meal with a pucker.  Fresh Cranberry Sorbet would be a great palate-cleanser or an indulgent addition to apple pie or pecan pie.

cranberry curd pavlovaImage: Supper in Stereo

If you really want to wow your guests, skip the pie and make Supper in Stereo’s Cranberry Curd Pavlova. I’m sure it is as delicious as it is stunning.

pino cranberry gemsImage: Food Shed

I love the idea of sending guests off with a little treat to enjoy when the food coma wears off and Food Shed’s Pino Cranberry Gems, a boozy take on traditional French pâte de fruit, is the a perfect way to say that you enjoyed their company.

cranberry heartImage: The Southern Vegan

No matter how you be spending the holidays, I hope that you will have lots to be thankful for!