Sunday, June 14, 2015

Starsailor and Pavlova

"Get yourself out of town. There is no point hanging round. There is a passion inside since you've had since your youth..well, you write and you write and you work 9 to 5."
Starsailor "Neon Sky"

Last Thursday I had a date night with my husband which included a delicious dinner at La Palette, which must be the only restaurant in Toronto where you can eat French food, drink Polish vodka and hear music that radio does not play ;) We also went to see a concert, which was one of the best concerts ever.

Starsailor. Where do I even start. My favourite band in the whole world. It actually makes me happy they are not Coldplay kind of famous, because I feel as if I had a little more right to call them my band. It was my band, my find, my secret. I have not heard them on the radio. I have not found them by looking through my brother's CD collection. I have not seen their video on MTV first. Do you remember MTV and the fact that they actually used to play music videos?

I found them exactly when I needed them. It was some 14 years ago. I was in my second year of university and I decided to move out of the dorm and live on my own. I wanted to be alone to grow up, to feel independent, to face my demons, to discover who I really was and what I wanted. And of course I was hoping for love, salvation, someone who will make my life better and make all my problems go away. I started writing so much that it was almost scary. As soon as I was alone with thoughts and a pen and piece of paper, all these words started to come out, as if someone else was dictating them and it was not even a difficult process- they just appeared. They were touching the most difficult and vulnerable parts of my soul. They were taking me to scary places. Unfortunately I threw out most of them. Some of the poems were even predictions of what was to come and that scared me. The fact that I unleashed all the emotions and I was able to tell the future in some weird unexplained ways. I put it aside, I threw it out, these words were my demons I needed to lock up. And that is when I found Starsailor, whose words and music were the salvation I was looking for.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Blueberry Scone Perfection

"Problems that we face, soon will be replaced..."

It has been a long time since writing anything here, and I know I should not have any excuses, but I have been very busy with first of all going back to work from maternity leave and then going through an interview process and finally starting a new job. No, nothing to do with food. It definitely shook up my routine and I am not quite back to it yet. It has been my first few weeks at work, which can be overwhelming and it takes most of my focus, attention and preoccupies my thoughts.

Last Friday, however, I felt the much needed inspiration in the food world. First of all one of my recipies got some focus and thank you notes and secondly I went out to celebrate a friend's birthday in a new Spanish restaurant called Patria. 

We started with a beautiful bottle of Tempranillo, a light, fresh, slightly fruity red wine, which reminded me of a Merlow and that was exactly what we wanted. Then our order of tapas followed, which was not only eye catching but delicious. We ordered some squid with potatoes and smoked paprika infused oil, croquettes with Manchego cheese, crusty bread with garlic, tomatoes and anchovies, dates wrapped in bacon and a dish that impressed me the most- ramps with romesco sauce. 

I always hear about ramps this time of the year, but I have never tried them before. These were similar to baby green onions, grilled beautifully and resting on a bed of a red pepper sauce with almonds and mini croutons. They were decorated with mini chive flowers. How gorgeous and how delicious! All the flavours and textures were blending into a perfect mouthful. We were also eyeing a paella someone ordered but it called for at least 4 people with one or two appetizer before that.

We finished the meal off with a flaky pastry topped with turron ice cream and sprinkled with pieces of turron. A reallly great evening with inspiring food.

After stocking up my fridge last Saturday, I woke up with a need to cook something delicious. As it is time to eat anything asparagus I decided to grill some asparagus and make some Hollandaise sauce for eggs Benedict. I served it with some thick bacon and a baby kale salad.

And to top it off with something sweet I decided to make scones. I have made scones before and they were good. But this was the first time they were perfect and the way scones should be - fluffy, soft, buttery. A recipe of perfection. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Detox Soup And Healthy Banana Bread

After a weekend of indulgence and a few days of eating leftovers, it is time to take care of our bodies. Last weekend we celebrated the 4th birthday of our daughter Teresa and we made lots, lots and lots of food. Probably too much. We made Mexican chicken tinga with chorizo, served on tostadas with sour cream, guacamole, refried beans, salsa and lettuce. We snacked on pico de gallo, onion dip, hummus with veggies and all sorts of chips, as well as a Russian salad. There was also tres leches cake and Magnolia bakery vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese strawberry frosting. OH, yes, did I mention chocolate banana bread with Kahlua?

I have been having eggs for breakfast almost every single day this week, topping it with the gorgeous leftover smoky salsa. Followed by some toast, buttered of course, and more toast with jam. Time to get back on track with oatmeal and fruit, so today I had a grapefruit, with my coconut granola, natural yogurt and pomegranate.

Finally the leftovers are gone and I was craving something clean, fresh and low in calories. I decided to make a veggie soup, from the Oh She Glows cookbook, with cumin, ginger and a hint of cinnamon- healthy, cleansing and energizing. I was out of kale but I had cabbage, and I used that instead. I would recommend using one or the other, but not the two of them at the same time. Might be too much.

Eat Your Greens Detox Soup
Oh She Glows

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups sliced mushrooms, portobella or cremini
2 cups broccoli florets
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin
1/8 teaspoons cinnamon
6 cups vegetable broth
2 cups torn kale leaves, optional
fresh lemon juice, for serving

Start with 1 onion, which you fry in a little bit of olive oil. Add three cloves of garlic, chopped. Add about two large carrots, peeled and chopped as well and about two cups of shredded cabbage. Next, add two cups of chopped mushrooms, 2 cups of broccoli florets, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the ginger, turmenic, cumin, and cinnamon and saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the broth and stir to combine. Bring to boil and reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. You can stir in kale and a squeeze of lemon juice just before serving.

I served the soup with flour tortillas with avocado, roasted sweet potatoes, shredded lettuce, salsa and some yogurt on the side. You can also use coleslaw and regular or refried beans.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Czesia's Donuts

I cannot believe how fast this year has gone by. Only recently I have been preparing for the arrival of my daughter, sketching plans for the year off and all the possibilities and all the travel I was going to do. It went by so fast because I was at home not only with my newborn, but my three year old as well. She is about to turn four and start Kindergarten this September. How crazy is that? From the care-free 20 year old something, who thought the world was her oyster, suddenly I am a responsible mother of two, with a mortgage and bills to pay, too much post pregnancy weight and very little time to myself. Even at nights my little one still wakes up, so I am lucky to watch a 40 minute TV show without being interrupted.

However, no matter how crazy and busy my schedule is or will be, I will always find time to cook fresh and delicious meals for my family. At the dinner table is where we bond, we set rules for table appropriate manners and at the moment, we are doing more of nagging and putting fires off than relaxing. As crazy as it seems, the meal finds its way to the table, somehow. In the midst of one million questions from my 4 year old, which mostly are- "Can I have...?", every two minutes, and my little one crawling around, grabbing my legs because she wants to be with mommy, somehow I cook those meals most days. Some days it is just creative leftovers which we we eat straight out of containers. Once in a while we buy take-out ramen or schwarma. And then there are days of pure bliss, of meals cooked from scratch such as Mexican salsa, guacamole, chicken tinga or carnitas, shepherd's pie or beef stews. Days of coffee cake and muffins, waffles, pancakes. I hope one day we will sit with my girls at the same dinner table and we will be able to hold a conversation about everything and nothing, and remember the craziness of messy floor, spilled drinks, food on the floor, dancing in the kitchen, the laughter and the popcorn we eat late at night when some of us do not want to sleep, and that would not be the adults around here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Perfect Lemon Pound Cake

Perfect Coffee Cake? Move over and make some space for this wonderful pound cake. I am very happy about it as I tried making pound cake numerous times, but it never tasted as good as I wanted it to taste. It was either too sweet, too lemony or too fluffy. This was has the perfect texture and taste and I can say I found a perfect recipe.

It took me a while to write this post, as we were away in Mexico and as soon as we came back I could not get back on track to writing. Being busy getting back into my routines after vacationing. I know some of you will be very happy with this recipe. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lentil Chickpea Soup, Spinach Mushroom Crepes and Brownies

This it the worst part of winter. January is over and you are hopeful for warmer days, because the days are getting longer. But, hold on. We are far from the spring. We just got the biggest snowstorm of the season and more snow is on the way. So buried inside the best is to eat hearty meals and read books (an activity people used to enjoy before Facebook and Television). Do you remember being lost in a book?

We just recently came back from vacationing in Mexico, so this winter is even tougher to get through. Today I made chickpea and lentil soup with vegetables and mushroom and spinach crepes. For dessert dark chocolate brownies with toasted hazelnuts. Deliciousness awaits! And buried inside we warm ourselves up with memories of Mexico and delicious food.

Lentil Vegetable Soup
(Once Upon A Chef)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, diced
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika (smoked is in the original recipe)
3/4 teaspoon cumin
4 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup lentils (dried or canned, dried will initially cook longer)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (14 ounce) can of chickpeas
1 cup frozen or fresh vegetables such as peas and green beans

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Morning Oatmeal And Other Bubbles and Squeaks

The best way to start January mornings is with a steaming bowl of oatmeal. I love steel cut. Many people do not like it as it takes forever to cook it, however with just a simple little trick of soaking it overnight you can easily cook it in under 10 minutes. 

Simply place one cup of oatmeal in a medium sized pot with 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Cover with a lid and leave overnight. I usually like to prepare this on a Sunday night, cook it up on Monday and I have breakfast for most of the week. In the morning bring to boil and cook, stirring frequently until the water cooks of. 

Serve with a little bit of milk or yogurt, maple syrup, honey or agave syrup, cinnamon and some nuts or dried fruit. My favourite are dried cherries and roasted almond flakes. Nothing makes a morning better and more comforting especially when it is cold outside. Keep the leftover oatmeal in the fridge and heat it up in the microwave with a splash of milk in the morning. Add whatever you fancy.