Friday, February 18, 2011

beet and potato soup: too tough to quit


And so, just like that, it was the end. The end of what, you ask? The end of that granola? Well almost, but I'm making some more so next time A. comes she has something to scarf down. Or is it the end of the bowl of Hershey's Kisses? (They will be gone once V. comes back home, sorry). 

But no, I'm talking about the end of something else. It's the end of school and internships. I really can't believe a year has gone by since we started. It seems like just yesterday my classmates and I were just starting to learn about hygiene, safety and creme patissiere. And now it's all over! It's sort of bittersweet, though because on the one hand, I'm sad that I won't be seeing those faces everyday, but on the other hand, I'm ready to move on. I don't know exactly where I'm going to be even in a couple of months from now but I'm excited about this next step.

Just as I was excited about starting school last year and embarking on something completely new. I sometimes still can't believe this is happening but I must say that I'm quite proud of myself for sticking through it and at least making it this far. Let's hope I actually keep it up. But honestly, I don't really see myself doing anything else so I'm pretty sure I made the right decision. It's a big world out there, there must be some space for little ol' me. If not, I guess I'll have to make space.


I'm really sad about leaving my stage though. I absolutely loved working there and had such a great time with the team. They really made me feel welcome, like I was part of their little family. I'm so grateful for everything I learnt there and the opportunities it gave me. I'm really going to miss it but again, I'm excited about the near future. 

And I'm definitely excited about all the recipes I want to try. I wish I could post new things everyday but it's just not possible when I'm working most of the time. But don't worry little ones, I have lots of things planned for this baby blog of mine. (Can you believe it's almost one year old?!). You just have to be patient and trust that I will always do my best to bring you goodies. (Speaking of which, I really can't eat all this stuff on my own and even though V. will inhale anything I make, I'd love to get some more taste testers - volunteer yourselves!).

This time I'm posting a little something different. It may not be a dessert but beets are sweet so it totally counts. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, because it's ridiculously easy to make, healthy and delicious.


So that's the end of that. But with the end of school and stage, comes more awesome things. For now, to quote my favorite trilogy in five parts: "So long, and thanks for all the fish".

Beet-Carrot-Potato Soup

Yields 2 (large) or 4 (small) servings

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, diced
2 shallots, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 medium potatoes, cubed
2 medium beets, cubed
2 cups beef broth
Salt, pepper and spices to taste (such as curry, garlic powder and paprika)

Procedure

Heat oil in a large sauce pan and soften the onions slowly until translucent, about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add carrots, potatoes and beets. Add broth and season to taste. Bring to a boil and let simmer, covered 35-45 minutes until vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife. Puree the whole mixture in a blender a little bit at a time (so it doesn't explode in your face) until smooth. Eat with a nummy piece of crusty french bread. Voila!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

apricot raisin granola: getting lost in oats and cinnamon


Curse you tummy aches, why must you exist! Do you ever have those days where you're feeling perfectly fine and all of a sudden, bam! Stomach ache or headache or any other physical pain that has no business messing up your day? I had that the other day and I can't figure out why. I'll tell you though, it's annoying. I really hate it when things get in the way of me accomplishing other things (very nice English, I know). It completely disrupts my day. Or night. Or most likely both.

Alright, so maybe I shouldn't be jabbering about my physical ailments (I'm sure everyone cares so much). But I was just thinking that maybe it's a good thing that those things happen sometimes. I'm the kind of person who likes to organize and plan things out. But when unexpected situations arise and it disrupts all your planning, you should be able to find another solution without worrying. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I shouldn't plan so much so that I can let things sort themselves out from time to time. Like this granola for instance: I hadn't PLANNED on it being so damn delicious, but it just ended up being that way. Alright, so that's probably not the best example but seriously, this granola is too good.

I have to admit that I've always been more of a bagels and cream cheese kind of a girl. I'm talking every day. Like if I had to choose the only kind of thing I'd eat for the rest of my life, it would be bagels with cream cheese. (I'm not even kidding). But I thought it might be nice to branch out from time to time so I made some granola and it's like heaven in my mouth. It's definitely the easiest and most versatile thing you could ever make. I literally just opened my pantry and took out everything I had that I could use. You could substitute with any other kind of nut or peanut, any type of dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, mangoes, papaya,  bananas etc) or also adjust the oil, maple syrup and honey. It's completely up to you and should reflect your taste.

I suggest that everyone try a little something new ;)


Tastes-like-sweet-sweet-deliciousness granola

Yields about 3 1/2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp oil
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup raisins

Procedure

Preheat oven to 300F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. In a medium bowl mix together the oats, walnuts, sunflower seeds, coconut, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. In a small bowl combine the oil, honey, maple syrup and vanilla. Pour onto oat mixture and stir well to combine. Spread onto baking sheet and bake about 30-40 minutes. Add dried fruit and bake no more than 10-15 minutes just to absorb any extra moisture. It will still seem wet but as it cools it will dry up. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Eat with some milk or a dollop of plain or flavoured yoghurt. Yoghurt is my favorite.

Monday, February 7, 2011

vanilla marshmallows: i just thought you should know; I like you


I like doing things for other people. There's something satisfying about making a self-less gesture towards someone else. Even someone you might not really know that well, like a person you may have just met not too long ago and decided that it would be nice to offer something home-made for their birthday. Or give a gift to an old friend even though it's not their birthday. I know I would be appreciative if I received something without requiring to give something in return. It just lets the person know that you care about them.


I think it's important to do those kind of things once in a while because it can make friendships stronger and carve a deeper bond. It doesn't even have to be something expensive, just something meaningful. I really think those are the best kind of gifts. And when they come wrapped nicely it's even better. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a well-wrapped gift. I guess there's a reason why some of my friends from school call me Martha...

I just can't help it! Anything pretty (like this fabric I found in my parents' basement) puts a big smile on my face. And if that's all that it takes, then I guess I'm a pretty happy person. Let's hope that keeps up. For now, I'm going to stuff my face with these homemade marshmallows that I made for a coworker's birthday. They are fluffy cloud-like pieces of sugary goodness. They just melt in your mouth and are quite simple to make. It's essentially just a meringue with gelatine. The amount of icing sugar and cornstarch you need could vary. I think half a cup or a bit more of each is good. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

It doesn't take much to satisfy this girl.



Marshmallows

Yields about 60 fat marshmallows (depends on what size you cut them)
 
Ingredients

1/2 cup (or more) icing sugar
1/2 cup (or more) cornstarch 

4 tbsp gelatine powder
200 ml cold water
1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 egg whites (60 g)
150 ml water
1 tbsp corn syrup
2 cups sugar

Procedure

Sift together the icing sugar and cornstarch. Lightly grease a 9 x 13" baking pan and sprinkle about half the icing sugar mixture on the bottom. Alternatively, you could make them in a larger rimmed baking sheet to get smaller pieces. Set aside. Sprinkle the gelatine over the first water (200ml) and let soak about 5 minutes.

Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Combine the second water (150 ml), corn syrup and sugar in a sauce pan and cook until a candy thermometer reads 121 C. Once the sugar syrup is at around 113-114 C, start whisking the whites on medium-high speed until opaque and medium peaks (do not overbeat). Melt the gelatine over a bain-marie (water bath) and add vanilla. When the syrup is ready, pour it into the whites while beating. (At this point you should reduce the speed to low just before adding the syrup otherwise it will end up all on the sides of the bowl). Make sure to pour in a slow, steady stream between the side of the bowl and the whisk. Add the melted gelatine. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and smooth top. Dust with more icing sugar/cornstarch and let sit at room temperature a few hours. Cut into squares, rectangles or whatever shape you wish and toss pieces in more icing sugar mixture. 

Next step: hot chocolate :)

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