Carrot, Beet, and Greens Juice

When I first purchased the juicer, I had many conversations with my friend J about what kinds of juices to try (she’s been juicing for a while now). I was getting a bit bored of making the same juice every day, so she suggested a beet and carrot juice.

I immediately declined to try it. I don’t like carrot juice.

I am so glad that J encouraged me to give it another try with a few other yummy ingredients! I could barely taste the carrot juice and still got all the fantastic benefits of drinking carrot juice! The apple give it some nice sweetness. And I loved the suggestion to finish it off with some fresh ginger!

YUM! I think this is my new favourite juice!

Carrot, Beet, and Greens Juice

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots – approximate cost $0.30
  • 2 beets – approximate cost $0.30
  • 2 handfuls spinach – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 handful (about 5 leaves) romaine lettuce – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 Macintosh apple – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 knob ginger – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Add the ingredients to the juicer one at a time, starting with the softest ingredients and moving to the most dense:
    1. Spinach
    2. Romaine lettuce
    3. Macintosh apple
    4. Carrots
    5. Beets
    6. Ginger
  2. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 1 serving (approximate cost: $1.85 per serving).

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Piparkakut (Finnish Gingerbread) Cookies

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are hearts and flours. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, I’m sharing a gingerbread cookie recipe I got from my friend Kas (with slight modifications).

  • The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon ground cardamom in addition to the other spices. However, I left this out because I didn’t have the ingredient readily available in my pantry (and it was Family Day, so I couldn’t go to the store to buy some).
  • I used fancy molasses instead of unsulphured molasses.
  • I baked the cookies for 8 1/2 minutes (which made for crunchy cookies, but I would have preferred they turned out soft like Kas’s cookies).
  • I used lactose-free milk instead of regular milk.
  • I used cane sugar instead of white sugar.
  • I used sea salt instead of table salt.

Kas’s Piparkakut cookies are amazing. She tends to make them around Christmas and, if you’re lucky, you get a pack of cookies as a gift. this year, I had the privileged of making a double-batch of cookies with her during a visit. I’m not great at baking, so it was nice to go through the process with a pro (it is her family’s recipe after all!). The ones we made over the holiday were decorated with sprinkles and divided between the two of us. I gave a few away, but Bryan and I kept most of that batch for ourselves.

So, after getting the stand mixer a few weeks back, I decided it was about time that I try making these cookies at home. So on Family Day (this past Monday), I enlisted Bryan’s help with some cookie making. One thing I must point out is that the cookie dough is just as delicious as the cookies themselves. As we were rolling out the cookies, Bryan and I enjoyed many tastes of the dough before it even made it into the oven! We just got our first set of cookie cutters and made several shapes: hearts (as per the Improv Challenge), stars, multi-pointed stars and a shape we cannot agree on (I think it’s candy — Bryan thinks it’s a bone). At the end of the night, we’d sampled so much dough that we were too full to sample the finished cookies! I may have had cookies for breakfast on Tuesday morning, just to make sure they tasted ok.

A single batch, we found, was wayyyyy too many cookies for the two of us. So I’ve given a few to friends as taste testers of my first batch.

Kas and her partner got half a dozen. I was upfront with her about the changes I’d made. Their verdict? Not bad for the first batch! And they didn’t miss the cardamom too much, They only complaint was that I’d left them in the oven a touch too long and they were a bit crispier than they should be. I was already aware of this.

Another half dozen went to my childhood best friend and her sister. Our visit was unplanned, but I was glad to have a few cookies to share with them. They had also tasted a few that I had made with Kas over the holiday and had a point of comparison. They too thought the cookies were pretty good!

Finally, I gave another half dozen to my friend and her four-year old son when I went to babysit last night. She, as far as I know, hasn’t tried a cookie yet, but they also seem to be kid-approved! I allowed him to have one cookie during my visit last night and he savored it over about half an hour.

Hooray for a successful batch of cookies!

Piparkakut (Finnish Gingerbread) Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1 ¼ cups cane sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • ¼ cup fancy molasses – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 large egg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons lactose-free milk – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (and a bit extra for rolling the cookies) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger – approximate cost $0.10
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.05
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.03

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together the butter, sugar, and molasses until well mixed and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and lactose-free milk and stir until well mixed.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, sea salt and pepper in a separate large mixing bowl.
  5. Slowly add the flour and spice mixture (1/2 cup at a time) into the butter and molasses mixture, mixing constantly until the two are well-combined.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface (the dough should be about 1cm thick).
  7. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies.
  8. Gently peel away the unused dough.
  9. Work the unused dough into a ball.
  10. Place cookies on a cookie sheet.
  11. Bake cookies for 7 1/2 minutes (until golden brown but still soft).
  12. Remove cookies to a wire rack.
  13. Repeat steps 6-12 until you use up all of the dough.
  14. Cool cookies completely before packaging or enjoy warm.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie-cutter shapes (approximate cost: $0.15 per cookie).



Cookbook Review Kitchenability 101: The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy and Delicious Food, by Nisa Burns

Today, I’m sharing with you my first ever cookbook review! for my first review, I chose a cookbook that reflects my goals for this blog. The cookbook shares easy to make, affordable, and nutritious foods and is directed towards university/college-level students who are living on their own for the first time.

Kitchenability 101:

The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy and Delicious Food

By Nisa Burns

ISBN: 0985643005

List price: $17.95

Synopsis

Kitchenability 101 is a book after my own heart. Author Nisa Burns, recently a student herself, writes about healthy, affordable, and easy to make recipes for students (both who are experienced or new to cooking)

Overview

The book is divided into seven chapters that help the reader choose the right food for the right occasion:

  • Orientation
  • Wake-Up Call
  • Grab and Go
  • Choose Your Major
  • Amazing Grazing
  • Cram Sessions and Study Groups
  • Party!

The orientation section is especially helpful for beginner cooks. It lists the equipment you will need (indicating whether it is appropriate for a kitchen or a dorm room), cooking techniques you will use for the recipes in this book, and other very helpful information. It reminded me that I really need to buy a whisk!

The recipe sections are very well thought out to accommodate the student lifestyle. The Wake-Up Call section is filled with quick, easy, and healthy breakfasts, the Grab and Go section features easy to make food that you can take to class, meetings, etc. The Choose Your Major and Amazing Grazing sections feature main course meals (likely intended for dinner, but great whenever you have time to make them). The Cram Sessions and Study Groups and Party! sections feature foods that you would make in large batches and is easy to share.

Because this book has a strong focus on sharing food with others and is directed towards new cooks, I would have liked to see a bit more about common food-related allergies or intolerances. This sort of information could help the reader identify which foods are or are not acceptable for a particular occasion.

Writing style

I love the way that Nisa introduces each recipe. That is, each one is introduced with a short personal narrative about the context in which she prepared and served the recipe. For example, the Pumpkin Muffins, which I’ve tested and will share with you later in this post, she tells the reader about a Halloween party she attended with her boyfriend, the costumes they wore, and the food they contributed. This story is very relatable for the reader because of the common scenario and her casual writing style. Her casual approach to writing helps make the recipes seem feasible for the readers. In fact, I chose to bake the pumpkin muffins first because I find baking challenging, and second because Nisa made them sound so easy to prepare, I figured that even I could make these and it would turn out alright.

Recipes

I love the way that Nisa has thoughtfully organized each recipe. Most recipes have a three-page layout. The first page (on the left side of the book) is a list of ingredients, the second page is a vibrant and gorgeous photo of the final product, and the third page is the directions. Why do I like this setup? Because it makes it easy to have the book in the kitchen with you while you’re cooking. With the essential information on the left side of the book, you can place an object on the right side of the book to hold it open while you work, making easy to refer back to the ingredients and instructions pages.

In addition, the instructions are clear and easy to follow. The cooking techniques are common and written in plain language. And the ingredients are all common, easy to find items that a student could likely afford to purchase at their local grocery store.

Testing a Recipe

Now for the fun part of the review… I tested the Pumpkin Muffin recipe!

As I’ve mentioned many times before, baking is not my specialty. I tend to stick to cooking meals and will avoid making a dessert or breakfast that involves ingredients such as flour, baking powder, sugar, etc, in combination.

So why, then, did I choose to make these muffins? Because it was a challenge, because I consider myself a beginner in this category, and because I wanted to see whether Nisa’s recipe and directions could help me become a better baker.

I stuck to the exact recipe. I had most of the ingredients readily available in my pantry or fridge. I did have to add cream cheese to my grocery list for the week because it’s something I normally don’t keep on hand.

I made the muffins first thing in the morning before a day full of classes and left them on the counter to cool all day. The cat knows not to get on the counters, so I wasn’t worried that she would be interested and sneak a taste. Instead, when I got home, Bryan greeted me at the door telling me how wonderful the pumpkin muffins were. Oops! I had forgotten to mention to him that they were not ready for sampling. No worries though, it was just one.

How could I be upset? I was already ecstatic that they had turned out! They were perfectly cooked through, moist, and no lumps of flour. Hooray!

I made the frosting that evening and frosted the muffins (leaving a few unfrosted just in case) and then put the muffins to the test!

One for myself, one for Bryan, and I packed one up to share with a classmate.

I thought the frosting was too sweet (and I was a bit worried about the possible negative effects of the dairy with my lactose sensitivity). However, the unfrosted muffins were amazing and I enjoyed them very much. Bryan enjoyed the muffins either way. He liked them without the frosting as a breakfast food and with the frosting for a snack or dessert. My classmate tried the frosted muffin and loved it! She even asked if I could share the recipe with her. I assured her it would be making an appearance on the blog.

My overall impression of the recipe?

  • Easy to make
  • Ingredients I would (mostly) have on hand and are readily available at the store
  • Delicious (and moist) snack for breakfast or dessert
  • Recipe is clear and easy to follow
  • Smells delicious when baking and it was nice to come home to the smell permeating my apartment
  • Looked very pretty without too much effort (remember, I’m not great at baking, so I don’t have much experience decorating baked goods)

And, at long last, here is the recipe!

Pumpkin Muffins

Recipe is posted with permission from PR by the Book – Austin

What You Need

To make the muffins

  • 3 1/3 cups flour – approximate cost $1.75
  • 2 tsp baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil – approximate cost $1.00
  • 4 eggs – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 tsp cinnamon – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tsp nutmeg – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger or a dash or dried – approximate cost $0.10

To make the frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese – approximate cost $2.50
  • Splash of milk – approximate cost $0.05
  • 3 or 4 cups powdered sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tsp vanilla – approximate cost $0.50

What You Do

As with any cake batter, you mix the dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients. Then you mix the dry and wet ingredients together by slowly adding the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Don’t try to mix them all together at one or your batter will be lumpy with bubbles of unmixed ingredients. Believe me, a bit of baking soda or salt is gross!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Slowly add the sugar to the wet mixture, along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
  4. Once all is mixed well, add the dry ingredients by half-cupfuls to the wet ingredients. Use an electric mixer on low to make sure the batter is completely mixed.
  5. Place paper cupcake holders in a muffin tin, then pour the batter into the muffin holders. Each should be about two-thirds full.
  6. Bake the muffins for 15 to 20 minutes, until they have risen. Use a knife to check the center; if it pulls out clean, they are done.
  7. While the muffins are in the oven, make the frosting. Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and add a splash of milk for a smoother consistency. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer.
  8. Once the cream cheese mixture is smooth, slowly add the powdered sugar and mix.
  9. Add the vanilla, and mix again until smooth.
  10. When the frosting is at a spreadable consistency, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.
  11. Once the muffins are done, let them cool for approximately 40 minutes. Do not frost the muffins right away, or the heat will melt the frosting.
  12. Frost each muffin.

Makes one dozen muffins (approximate cost: $0.95 per serving).

Maybe I have a smaller thank average muffin tin, because this made 18 muffins (approximate cost: $0.63 per serving)!

Summary

But the big questions are: Would I recommend this cookbook? Would I make these muffins again?

Yes, I would, to both. This book is a great introduction to home cooking for students. It tells you what you need to start out depending on your living situation, features easy to make recipes, and readily available ingredients. Perhaps not as intentional, the recipes are affordable for students. While the recipes are mostly directed towards students who are learning to cook, there is much to offer for those who already know how to cook but are looking for recipes that are healthy, affordable, or just new to the reader. In addition, the book is affordable for its intended audience. It’s something a student could afford on their own or ask a family member to purchase for them at the next upcoming occasion.

As Nisa suggests, her Pumpkin Muffins are a great party food. I would make a double batch of the muffins to share with others (half frosted, half not to suit a variety of tastes). I would make them just for Bryan and I to pack with our lunches or as a quick breakfast before catching the bus to school.

Overall Rating

4.5/5

Want more?

Check out Nisa’s websiteFacebook PageTwitter Profile and YouTube Channel

From my cookbook collection: Chicken Jalfrezi

Happy Birthday Bryan (The Official Taste Tester here at The Cook’s Sister)! Today, I’m going to celebrate his birthday by sharing links back to some of his favourite foods that I’ve blogged about and share a new recipe that he was very fond of. Check out some of Bryan’s favourites:

As you can probably tell, he really likes Southwest inspired foods and flavours. But… today I’m going to share a recipe from an Indian food cook book that I received as a birthday gift from my best friend a few years ago.

The book is Cooking School: Indian (ISBN 978-1-4075-6263-6 from Parragon Books). Why do I love this book? All of the recipes are formatted to fit on one page. There are beautiful pictures of the dish on the 2-page fold. The directions are broken down to be simple and clear. And best of all, everything I’ve made from this book has bee delicious, tasting just as good as the Indian food at our local restaurants (sometimes the recipes are a variation of what we’re used to, but always fantastic). I’ve made the Tandoori chicken, butter chicken, and now, the chicken jalfrezi.

This book has sat on my shelf for a while. I’ve read through and bookmarked recipes of my favourite dishes at restaurants when I first got it. I’ve thought about giving a few things a try, always dismissing it for one reason or another. It looks too time consuming, I don’t have time to marinate the meat, or I don’t want the apartment to smell like curry for a week were a few of my excuses. So, about a month ago, I finally cracked the cookbook, leafed through the recipes I had bookmarked, and decided on one that I would make.

Afterwards, I contacted the publisher to see if I could share the recipe with you (and, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, they said yes!). And so the cooking began. I’m not very familiar with cooking Indian food, so I made a  trip to the grocery store and stuck mostly to the original recipe. I added some yellow pepper for colour and used fresh grape tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes. The result? A yummy chicken jalfrezi!

This recipe is about a medium-spicy dish. If you want to turn up the heat,  add more tumeric, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and garam masala. Similarly, use less of these ingredients if you want the dish to be more mild.

Do you stick to a recipe when making new dishes? Or do you feel comfortable making substitutions?

Chicken Jalfrezi

Recipe from Cooking School: Indian (ISBN 978-1-4075-6263-6, http://www.parragon.com), posted with permission from the publisher

Ingredients

  • 1 pound /9 ounces /500 grams skinless, boneless chicken thighs (or breasts) – approximate cost $4.50
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons garlic paste – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons ginger paste – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon chili powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • 5 1/2 ounces / 150 grams canned chopped tomatoes – approximate cost $1.10
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 small or 1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch / 2.5 centimeter pieces – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 small or 1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch / 2.5 centimeter pieces – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala – approximate cost $0.10
  • Indian (naan) bread or cooked basmati rice to serve – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Cut the chicken into  1-inch / 2.5 centimeter cubes and put in a nonmetallic bowl. Add the lemon juice and half the salt and rub well into the chicken. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 8-9 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the garlic paste and ginger paste and cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add the tumeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the oil seperates from the spice paste.
  3. Add the marinated chicken, increase the heat slightly, and cook, stirring, until it changes colour. Add the warm water and bring to a boil, Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in a small saucepan or skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Add the bell peppers, increase the heat to medium, and stir-fry for 2 minutes, the, stir in the garam masala. Fold the bell pepper mixture into the curry. Remove from the heat, and serve immediately with Indian bread or cooked basmati rice.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $2.80 per serving).

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Steamed Mussels in Coconut Milk from Relish Cooking Studio

As promised, This week (and probably next week), I’ll be sharing recipes with you from a class that I attended at Relish Cooking Studio in Waterloo.   I attended their Sustainable Seafood class back in March, only one week after attending the Tour of Thailand class. Why did I wait so long to tell you about this class? Mostly, I wanted to change up the blog posts for a bit. We learn to prepare so many dishes in each of the classes, I wanted a few weeks to post my own recipes before diving back into a collection. However, I did briefly write about this class earlier when writing about how to choose and buy a fish.

While I enjoyed both of the classes very much, this one has had a bit more influence on the food I cook at home. The ingredients for Thai food are further away at a specialty grocery store, whereas I can get most of the ingredients for these recipes closer to home.

Today’s recipe for steamed mussels was probably my favourite one from the bunch. Maybe this is because I was very hungry when I arrived. I think it’s because it was so different from my usual way of enjoying mussels (I’ve enjoyed them with a tomato and wine broth or with a black bean sauce prior to the class). Also, the mussels were cooked to perfection. They were tender and flavourful. Not rubbery in the slightest. I’m working on not over-cooking mussels when preparing them at home.

What is your favourite way to enjoy mussels? I think this is mine!

Steamed Mussels in Coconut Milk

Recipe by (and posted with permission from) Chef Mark Brown, demonstration at Relish Cooking Studio

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons canola oil – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 tablespoon coriander – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon sliced red chili – approximate cost $0.15
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.08
  • 2 cups canned coconut milk – approximate cost $4.00
  • 3 pounds mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded – approximate cost $12.00
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 cup water

Method

  1. Pour the oil into a large pot and bring to medium-high heat.
  2. Toss in the onion slices and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned.
  3. Add the ginger and cook for 1 minute, stirring often.
  4. Add the coriander, kaffir lime leaves, and chili, and again cook for 1 minute while stirring often.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk and 1 cup of water.
  6. Bring to a boil.
  7. Add the mussels and salt.
  8. Stir until mussels are well coated with the sauce.
  9. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce heat to medium.
  10. Cook for about 7 minutes (or until the mussels have opened).
  11. Discard any mussels that do not open (these are not safe to eat).
  12. Remove the pot from heat and add the lemon juice and cilantro.
  13. Spoon the mussels and sauce into bowls.
  14. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $4.58 per serving).

Homemade Ginger Ale

A few week’s ago at a classmate’s birthday party, I was served homemade ginger ale. Normally I would turn down ginger ale. It reminds me of days that I was sick and had to stay home from school. (I loved going to school every day, keeping busy, staying home in bed was boring!) But when I was told the ginger ale was homemade, I had to give it a try! It was delicious! What made it different from canned ginger ale? It was much less sweet, there was much more ginger flavour, and there was less carbonation. I asked my classmate to send me the link to the recipe so I could try it our myself. Not only did I get the link, but also some suggestions for preparing it. Thank you!

This is my first attempt at making homemade ginger ale and it won’t be my last. It was very good, but there’s room for improvement. For starters, don’t skimp on the ginger. If you get through peeling the ginger and find you’re half a cup short of the desired amount in the recipe, don’t move forward anyway. Make a quick trip to the grocery store for more ginger, you’ll be glad you  did!

Homemade Ginger Ale

Adapted from the recipe at Simply So Good with suggestions from my classmate

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups fresh ginger, peeled and chopped – approximate cost $1.00
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 liter Club Soda – approximate cost $2.00
  • 4 limes, juiced – approximate cost $1.50
Optional:
  • Mint leaves for garnish

Method

  • Prepare the ginger syrup
    • Bring the water to a simmer in a medium-sized pot.
    • Add the cane sugar and stir until dissolved.
    • Add the ginger and cook for 5 minutes.
    • Remove from heat.
    • Cover the pot with a lid and let stand for 1 hour.
    • Refrigerate until cooled (keeps for a few days if you aren’t making the ginger ale right away).
  • Put it together in a large juice pitcher!
    • Combine the ginger syrup, Club Soda, and lime juice.
    • Stir well.
    • Add ice cubes.
    • Stir again.
    • Serve (with optional mint leaves for garnish).
  • Or, serve it by the glass.
    • Combine 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/2 cup ginger syrup, and3/4 cup Club Soda.
    • Stir well.
    • Add ice cubes.
    • Stir again.
    • Serve (with optional mint leaves for garnish).

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.38 per serving).

Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Soup) from Relish Cooking Studio

I was a bit surprised to find that, when I arrived at the class, I was the only attendee who came alone. I felt a bit out of place at first, but quickly made friends and immersed myself in the surrounding discussions. The set-up of the studio welcomes chatting. There are a few private tables, but the majority of the class sat around the demonstration area. I got a great spot where I could see everything being prepared and could avoid bumping elbows with others (being left-handed can be challenging at dinners).

There was even a super nice group who offered to share their wine with me. Thank you random group of super nice people who talked with me and shared their things!

I think this tom yum soup was my favourite dish of the evening. It’s something I can see myself making again at home. It was delicious. The ingredients are fairly easy to find. It was on the verge of being too spicy for me. Yet it was so good that I continued to eat. I think Bryan is going to like this soup just as much as the curried squash and coconut cream soup I made the other week.

Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Soup)

Recipe by Akeela Rabley from Relish Cooking Studio

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of prawns (or shrimp), peeled and deveined, shells reserved to make the stock – approximate cost $10.00
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 stalks of lemon grass, bruised and finely sliced – approximate cost $1.00
  • 3 slices of galangal ginger – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red onion (or shallot), finely chopped – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1-3 small red chilies – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 1/2 – 3 tablespoons of nam prik pao chili jam (enough to turn the soup base red) – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves torn (stems discarded) – approximate cost $0.50
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved – approximate cost $1.00
  • 3 1/2 ounces button mushrooms, halved – approximate cost $1.00
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Preheat a large pot with the vegetable oil in it over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook the prawn/shrimp shells until they turn pink (3-5 minutes).
  3. Add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Note: If you do not have the shells, make the brother using 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth and 2 1/2 cups of water.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes to infuse the flavour from the shells into the broth.
  5. Remove the shells from the broth and discard.
  6. Add lemon grass, galangal ginger, onion/shallot, chilies, chili jam, and kaffir lime leaves to the stock and bring to a boil.
  7. Continue to boil for 5 minutes then reduce heat to a simmer.
  8. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  9. Add the prawns/shrimp and cook until they turn pink (approximately 3-5 minutes)
  10. Remove from heat and stir in the fish sauce and lime juice.
  11. Serve hot!

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $4.43 per serving).

Beef Liver with Indian Spices

When I purchaned Jennifer McLagan’s book Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal the other week, I could hardly wait to sift through it and try out a few recipes. I rarely buy brand new cook books. I like browsing the used book store for cook books that look like they’ve been loved by their previous owner, hoping to find some fantastic recipes. I made an exception in this case because B and I often enjoy what McLagan refers to as the “odd bits.” The prices are reasonable, they are tasty, and they tend to be easy to cook. While I frequently prepare these cuts of meat, I looked to McLagan’s book as a way of making the odd bits interesting to cook because of often rely on cooking methods I know we’ve enjoyed in the past.

This book is fantastic! McLagan not only provides delicious looking recipes, but prefaces each section with stories and interesting facts describing the various foods about which she writes. My favourite anecdote is about food trade between China and the United States. McLagan write “Well, China has now threatened the United State with chicken feet.” When I first read this statement, I imagined Chinese and American Soldiers on a battlefield, with the Chinese soldiers waving chicken feet and shouting angrily. A bizarre image indeed! You’ll need to read the book for yourself to know the actual context of this statement (or don’t and continue to imagine soldiers angrily waving chicken feet).

I’ve read through the book a couple of times now and decided the first dish I would try to prepare was the Sautéed Liver with Indian Spices. Why did I choose this particular recipe? Because I had a package of liver in the freezer and this particular recipe seemed interesting. I had to make quite a few modifications because, as I was cooking, I found that I was out of or didn’t own some of the spices called for in the original recipe. I remember buying turmeric recently and putting it in a jar… but where did I put that jar, because it’s not in my spice cupboard!

beef liver

Beef Liver with Indian Spices

(adapted from Jennifer McLagan’s cookbook Odd Bits)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of beef liver – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1 onion, chopped – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger (I bought a prepared jar from the grocery store) – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 teaspoon cumin – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried chili flakes (more or less depending on the desired spiciness) – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons butter – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon of beef bouillon – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon of dried cilantro – approximate cost $0.10

beef liver

Method

  1. Finely chop the onion and garlic.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, chili flakes, curry powder and 3 tablespoons of water until the mixture forms a paste-like consistency.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan or pot.
  4. Once the oil is hot, add the beef liver and cook until browned on each side.
  5. Melt the butter.
  6. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes.
  7. Add the beef bouillon and water, then simmer until the liquid thickens to a sauce-like consistency and the liver slices are cooked through.
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Add the lemon juice.
  10. Sprinkle with the cilantro.

Serve over Basmati rice.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.29 per serving).

The Dessert: Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

Pumpkin pie is one of my favourites. It rivals my grandmother’s apple pie and nana’s lemon-meringue pie. I think I generally enjoy these pies because they’re not very sweet.Because Thanksgiving is a special occasion, it requires that I prepare a dessert. This is an infrequent task on my part. I usually don’t want sweets and am reluctant to make a pastry. It never seems to turn out quite right. I’m sure I’d get better with practice, or if I followed the directions a bit more closely. Or, I can opt for a recipe, such as the one I found on Oh She Glows, which omits the pastry altogether and uses a pecan-based crust.

I liked this pie and crust recipe because it was flexible. It allowed me to substitute ingredients I had on hand instead of buying something I would use just this once (e.g. honey instead of brown rice syrup). On top of that, it’s very easy to put together because both the crust and the filling are prepared in the food processor.

B and I enjoyed the pie so much that we ended up eating it for breakfast the next day.

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

Adapted from Oh She Glows (Note: The original recipe is vegan. This recipe is not.)

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 1 cup oats – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 cups raw pecans – approximate cost $4.00
  • 2 tablespoon sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 tablespoon ground flax – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/4 cup honey – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil – approximate cost $0.75

For the filling

  • 1 large can of puréed pure pumpkin – approximate cost $1.75
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup – approximate cost $0.75
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.75

Method

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the crust.
    1. Place the oats in the food processor and process until they become a powder/flour.
    2. Add the pecans, sugar, flax, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and process until the pecans are chopped into fine pieces.
    3. Add the honey and the coconut oil. Process until the entire mixture is sticky and begins to form a ball.
    4. Divide mixture into two and press firmly into two 10 inch pie baking pans.
    5. Bake crust for about 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare the filling.
    1. Combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, coconut cream, coconut oil, maple syrup, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in the food processor and process until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Putting it together.
    1. Divide the filling into half and pour the mixture over the prepared crusts.
    2. Bake for 30-45 minutes (the top should start to brown slightly).

The original recipe suggests refrigerating the pie for at least 3 hours. We enjoyed the pie fresh out of the oven topped with whipped cream and it was fantastic. It was also great when served cold the next day.

Makes 2 pies, about 16 slices (approximate cost: $1.16 per slice).

Not Quite Authentic Pho

We love Pho. There’s a restaurant close to our regular Laundromat that serves it at very reasonable price, so we haven’t (until now) tried making this at home. At $7-$8 per bowl that is filled with plenty of noodles and beef, we weren’t sure we could make our own for less.

But I just had to know… how long does it take to make myself and how much do the servings cost? Is it actually practical to eat out every time I want Pho?

I started with a recipe from a Vietnamese cookbook that I received as a gift from a friend a few years ago. Honestly, it looked like a lot of work. There were more ingredients than I had anticipated. I felt a bit discouraged and set the recipe aside for a month or so before I again thought “I really should try making this at home.”

When I got to the store, I encountered more hurdles. I couldn’t find beef bones to make my own stock and had to settle for a prepared beef broth. Where are the noodles? There was lots of pasta to choose from, but nothing in the way of a rice noodle. I had somen, wheat noodles, at home and it would have to do this time. Star anise was nowhere to be found. So I decided to skip that too. At this point, I was becoming skeptical that my soup would taste like Pho at all.

However, after I got home and made the soup with what was available to me, it turned out ok. One the first bite, I was very disappointed. It was flavourless. So I added some hoisin sauce to the bowl, which is just what it needed. It wasn’t exactly like the soup at the restaurant, but it was tasty good.

Here’s my very much modified recipe for homemade Pho (and a breakdown of the cost to compare it with eating out).

Not Quite Authentic Pho

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dD0SQmE6Gqw/TmzIKSqZYtI/AAAAAAAAC90/EVfmwF2CLLw/DSC_0835.jpg

Ingredients

  • 1 box of prepared beef stock (approximately 2 ½ cups) – approximate cost $2.75
  • 200 grams of thin beef slices – approximate cost $3.50
  • 400 grams of tripe (sliced into strips if it doesn’t come pre-sliced) – approximate cost $5.50
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger – approximate cost $0.10
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 bunches of somen noodles (about ½ of a package) – approximate cost $0.60
  • Hoisin sauce – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 ½ cups of water

Method

  1. In a large pot, cook the tripe and ginger at medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add beef stock and water on high heat until it comes to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, cover pot with a lid, and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add somen noodles and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  5. Add beef slices and cilantro and continue to cook for 1 more minute.
  6. Serve in large soup bowls with a side of hoisin sauce.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $3.35 per serving)

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised at the cost to make this myself. I’ll try this recipe again when I can find the ingredients for which I needed to make substitutions, including those for the broth myself and rice noodles.

Have you made Pho at home? If so, how do you prepare it?

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