Guacamole

This was one of the best bowls of guacamole I’ve ever made / eaten. I would have taken a picture of the guac, had Andrew and I not devoured it. And I really mean devoured.

I’ve always made a pretty good bowl of guacamole, if I do say so myself. Lots of people think cilantro is the key, but I’m not a big fan of the flavour it adds to my version of guacamole. I use soy sauce instead of salt and serrano chili paste to spice things up a little. A few weeks ago, my newly Canadian friend Damla and I went to my favourite grocery store and I bought way too much feta. Andrew and I have been putting it on and in everything. It’s made a delicious addition to Anew’s sandwiches and I’ve been eating lots of tasty tomato salads. All this to say, I finally thought to add feta to a bowl of guacamole!  How did this not come to me sooner!?

This was so delicious, I had to run out and get more avocados for our BBQ! This time I took some pictures, before we dug in! This massive bowl was also devoured.

Devon’s Epic Guacamole (the party size)

5 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and mashed to desired smoothness
juice from 2 limes
2 tbsp. serrano chili paste (more if you like the heat)
4 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 medium red onion, diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup crumbled feta
Salt and Pepper

Mash together the lime, chili paste, garlic and onions.  Mix in the tomatoes and feta, add salt and pepper to taste!  Voila!  Enjoy!

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Sweet sweet potato salad

I had a bad day and I wanted to eat it away.  I came home and declared: “I want French fries!”, to which Andrew replied: “Really?  Even after eating out for the past few days?”  Sad, he was right, we needed something healthy and light, but we had no groceries.  I searched through the fridge and found green onions and a couple sweet potatoes in the pantry.  Now what?  A little google search and a skim through 6 recipes, this is what I came up with:

Sweet Sweet Potato Salad

You have to try this dish!  It was fresh and light and surprisingly satisfactory in the comfort food department.

Sweet Sweet Potato Salad (a mix of recipes from a few places)

Dressing
¼ cup avocado oil (or light oil)
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. grated ginger (fresh of course)
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ cup chopped green onions

Salad
3 sweet potatoes (1 pound-ish), peeled and cut into bite-size cubes
½ cup dried cherries or cranberries
2 tbsp. crystallized ginger, finely chopped
(I’m sure pecans would be delicious too, if you can eat that kind of thing)

Mix all the dressing ingredients and set aside.  Steam the sweet potatoes until tender (not too soft or you will be eating mashed sweet potato salad).  Rinse in cold water and ice cubes (some people call this blanching), drain.

Mix everything together.  Enjoy!

The fountain and chicpea curry

Munich is full of beautiful fountains, I think.  At this time of year, they are all covered and carefully protected from the winter.  On one of my walks around Munich I came upon a fountain that had not been covered and on closer inspection, was left on!  Everyday I walk past this mysterious fountain and each day it reveals a little more of itself.  In a sense, this is how I feel about Germany, everyday I see a little bit more, I talk a little bit more, I explore a little bit more, I find something more to love about being here.

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Aside from my walks and fountain hunting, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking.  I’ve never been a fan of leftovers, I’m very picky about what I will eat for days in a row, so I’ve been racking my brain for things I can make and eat over and over again.  One recipe that came to mind was Chicpea Curry.  Andrew gets an itchy throat when he eats legumes, so I don’t eat chicpeas very often when I’m home.  My cousin Briana taught me this recipe several years ago during one of her Montreal visits.  It’s perfect for warming up and it gets a little spicier everyday!

Chicpea Curry with goats cheese

Chicpea curry 
What you’ll need:
1 medium diced onion, olive oil, chopped garlic, 2 or 3 tomatoes cut into chunks, one can of chicpeas, curry powder, S&P

Cook the onions in olive oil, add 3-4 tbsp. of curry powder and garlic, stir until fragrant.  Add tomatoes and a bit of water.  Stir allowing the tomatoes to break down a bit, then add the chicpeas.  Bring to a boil, the sauce should not be too liquidy, add S&P to taste.  Enjoy over rice or quinoa.  I added goats cheese because I had some and it was very spicy!  Enjoy!

This recipe is so fast and simple!  Great for travel and a small kitchen 😉

GF Lasagna! 2 ways

I had a craving: Lasagna with noodles, spinach and ricotta, mozzarella and tomato sauce and meat — the works.  I was all ready to make adjustments to the recipe my sister had introduced me to and substitute noodles for spaghetti squash.  Then I remembered I had noodles!  I found DeBoles lasagna noodles the last time I was in Clifton Park!  But then I had the sweet taste of spaghetti squash and tomato sauce in my head.  What a dilemma!   So I made both.  With my upcoming trip to Germany I figured it wouldn’t hurt Andrew to have a few things in the freezer 😉

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

There are two things I love about this recipe.  One I mentioned above (tomato and squash = sweet perfection), the other is that it always reminds me of my sister.  She made this recipe for me a while back and it was one of those moments that made me reflect on how lucky I am to have her and my brothers.  (I think I would have made a terrible only child)  Christine’s move to Toronto brought us closer together and when I was diagnosed with Celiac disease her positive attitude and humor were a constant source of relief.  She also inadvertently found my favorite pancake mix when she prepared a pack of gf finds from Ontario (which is VERY different from Quebec, QC is finally catching up though).

Here is a link to the recipe at allrecipes.com:
Baked Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

I am not a fan of olives, so I add zucchini to the tomato sauce and I never re-stuff the squash shells, just use a glass baking dish.  I often double the recipe so that I can make one to freeze.

The two I made (pictured above) are smaller because I also made a third mega lasagna and I needed the sauce.  Don’t get me wrong, this dish is delicious (I wouldn’t share if I didn’t love it), but spaghetti squash lasagna is “light” in comparison to the one I craved, I would even go so far as to call this a summer lasagna.  It’s winter, I want carbs, cheese and comfort foody goodness!  Now that I have those noodles in my hot little hands…Watch out!  This is what I came up with:

Devon’s all in lasagna

Spinach and Ricotta Layer
3(ish) cups ricotta –I had 2 containers, I used them both because I did not foresee using 4 spoonfuls in another dish
2 ½ cups (20 oz) frozen spinach, thawed, drained and broken up
½ medium yellow onion, chopped up
S&P

Mix together, set aside

Meat Sauce Layer
½ medium onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups tomato sauce (I usually just throw together a small onion, a large can of whole tomatoes and some tomato paste)
S&P

Sauté the onions for 4-5 minutes, add the beef and brown.  Remove some of the excess liquid, then add the garlic and tomato sauce.  Salt & Pepper to taste.

Cheese Layer
Mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano, Provolone…. It’s all good, it’s all cheese.  Use as much or as little as you like.  The important cheese layer, in my opinion, is the top layer, if you want to use less cheese, I would skimp (not skip) in the middle layers.

Lasagna Layering

In a deep 9×13” baking dish make as many layers as you can! Yum!
I start with a thin layer of tomato-meat sauce, then:
Noodles (uncooked)
Spinach and Ricotta mix
Cheese
Sauce
Repeat until full!  End with CHEESE!

Bake covered with foil for 1 hour at 350˚.  I like to put a foil covered cookie sheet under my baking dish, because I always over fill and the sauce always bubbles over.  After an hour, remove foil from the lasagna and bake until the cheese on top browns.  Remove from oven and let it sit for about 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

Devon's all in lasagna

I would like to dedicate this post to my friend Chris, who I accused of not reading my blog because I thought I had posted about my lasagna craving, when really I had just drafted it.  Oops. 😉


Mind my roots

In the last weeks of our veggie basket we received many, many root vegetables and gourds.  Perfect Fall food!  We had a mix of familiar veggies and mystery veggies and this is what we came up with:

Butternut Squash Risotto with Garlic Butter
What you’ll need:
Head of garlic, olive oil, about a cup of butter, 1 butternut squash cubed, sliced mushrooms, 1 quart of chicken or veggie broth, 1 cup chopped shallots or onion, 1/2 c. vermouth or white wine, 1 cup Arborio rice, S&P
Knife and cutting board, spoon and deep pan
Chop off the top of the garlic and drizzle a little olive oil on top, wrap the head in foil and roast at 400you’ll smell when it’s ready.  Squish the cloves into a 1/2 c. of butter and chill.
Melt 2 tbsp. butter, add the butternut squash and cook on medium heat until the squash is cooked through and starts to brown a little.  Set aside in a bowl.  In the same pan, sauté the shallots in 1 tbps. of butter, add the Arborio rice and vermouth.  Mix occasionally, once the rice absorbs the vermouth or wine, start adding the broth about a cup at a time until the rice is cooked.  If you need more liquid, you can add more broth, if you have it, water or more wine 😉  When you think the rice is almost cooked you can add the mushrooms with the cup of broth so they have a bit of liquid to cook in.  Finally add the butternut squash and a little of the garlic butter, mix.
Serve with a grated parmesan and dollop of garlic butter on top.  Enjoy!

This was my second helping.


Roasted Root Vegetables
This one is kind of self explanatory, I cut up all my veggies so they are about the same size, toss in some olive oil, S&P and roast at 400〫in the oven.  I just wanted to show you all the goodies we included in this!  Carrots, parsnips, turnips, kohlrabi, sunchokes, potatoes and garlic!  Have you ever had sunchokes?  (AKA Jerusalem artichokes or in French Topinambour) Or kohlrabi?  Sunchchokes are from the sunflower family (cousins, I believe) and look a bit like ginger root.  You don’t need to peel them, just scrub them like a potato and bake them.  Andrew thinks they taste like artichoke hearts.  I want to keep playing with them, but they added an interesting texture to our root mix and they brown very nicely, caramelizing just a little.  The kohlrabi tastes like the stem part of a broccoli (my favorite part).  My only complaint about the whole thing is that the parsnips aren’t quite as tasty as the ones I had in Germany last April.


Spicy Pumpkin Soup
What you’ll need:
Pumpkin purée (I used 2 small sweet pumpkins that I picked up while apple picking, about 5 cups, but you can use cans of pumpkin too), small can of coconut milk, 1 quart of broth (I used chicken again), 1 medium onion chopped up, 2 or 3 garlic cloves also chopped, 2 teaspoons curry powder, pinch of ground coriander and cayenne, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, 1 cup milk
Immersion blender (or food processor or blender), soup pot, spoon
Sauté onions and garlic, once they start to brown mix in the curry, coriander and cayenne, add pumpkin and broth, bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and blend until smooth (careful it spits, so go slow).  Put the pot back on the burner and add the coconut milk, cream, milk and brown sugar.  Reheat, add S&P to taste, if you want more kick add more curry and cayenne.  So tasty!  I added some of my sweet and spicy pumpkin seeds too.

I like pumpkins stuffed and souped

Roots Anna- I found this recipe on Martha Stewart, here is the shorter version:

What you’ll need:
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled, olive oil, 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, 1 rutabaga, 6 tbsp. butter, S&P, fresh thyme leaves
Mandoline, 10 inch ovenproof skillet (I used my gorgeous, teal, cast iron pan because it has a lid)
Drizzle a little olive oil on top of the garlic, wrap in foil and roast at 400(again, you’ll smell when it’s ready).  Increase heat to 425 degrees.
Meanwhile, peel potatoes, and slice them as thinly as possible with the mandoline; place them in a bowl, and put damp paper towel on top to keep them from turning brown. Peel rutabaga, and cut in four, slice as thinly as possible, and cover with a damp paper towel.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the skillet, swirling pan to coat bottom and sides. Remove from heat. Starting at the sides of the pan, arrange about half of the rutabaga slices in overlapping concentric circles, covering bottom of pan. Sprinkle rutabaga with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and a third of the roasted garlic; dot with 1 tablespoon butter.
Arrange the potato slices in tight concentric circles over the rutabaga, and press down. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and another third of the garlic; dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Arrange remaining rutabaga on top, and season again with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and remaining garlic; dot with 1 tablespoon butter.
Bake covered with lid of foil until vegetables are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 50 to 60 minutes.

In the making...

This was my first experience with cooking rutabaga and I am in love with this root.  This dish is delicious and I know you’ll want to make it over and over!

Baked rutabaga goodness

A very interesting side note (it’s not that interesting, I’m about to be sad about my hair), my fabulous hair dresser is on maternity leave (SOO excited for her), but my hair is a mess and I need to get my roots fixed!  I haven’t let anyone but Alyson touch my hair since 2001?  The end of this post felt like a good outlet for my hair frustration.  Mind your roots!

Pushap

This restaurant does not call for a fancy post title.  I only need to say: Pushap.  If you have been to this place, you will know what I mean.  If you have not made your trip out to Namur Metro for a Thali at Pushap, then you have not lived the real Montreal experience.

This restaurant has so much character!  From the colorful display case of sweets to the year round Christmas lights, multi-colored walls and light up Taj Mahal to the family of staff and cooks with friendly faces and sneaky smiles.  The food is delicious.  Always.

Hears a taste:

Pushap.

The first time I ate at Pushap (B.C.) was with Krista (a great singer & great friend).  I have no idea how she found out about this little restaurant and sweet shop off the Decarie highway, but I’m so glad I followed her on this adventure!  This restaurant offers mouth-watering and authentic vegetarian Indian cuisine at a very low price.  We used to gather groups of friends, fill our cars and make our way out for dinner or lunch weekly.  The Thali is $5.75!  Who could resist?!

I have ordered food from Pushap to cater my birthday party and I have ordered meals to freeze and take to my friends across the border.  Pushap is the place I always take my visitors to and whenever Krista or Kelly or Megan or Aimee (my Pushap pack o’friends) come back to town, it is high on the list of food priorities!

Andrew eats here too!  He is allergic to nuts and peanuts and lots of legumes make his throat itch.  There are no peanuts in this restaurant, but the sweets do have nuts (pistachio, cashew and almond) and there are peas in several of the vegetable dishes.  Fortunately for Andrew, I have been going there long enough that I know what is in each dish and the servers are always happy to let us design our own Thali.  I should also mention that Andrew’s pretty safe around nuts, peanuts are his big problem)

What I eat:
Pakora – deep fried spiced chickpea flour with onions and potato and spinach
*B.C. I enjoyed the Samosa and Pakora combo.  For those of you who can eat gluten: try the samosa, thank me later.
Thali with lentils (or chickpeas) and NO bread – includes 2 daily selections of veggies (my favorite are Alu-Gobhi and Shahi-Paneer) and rice
Ladoo (picture) – chickpea flour sweets

What Andrew eats:
Samosa
Special Thali (nut and legume free version) – we order Alu-Gobhi (cauliflower and potatoes), Palak-Panneer (spinach and cheese) and if he is not in the mood for the slight itch caused by chickpeas, we will order a third veggie like Zucchini
Gulab Jamun – honey ball sweets

A fair warning:
I have never been sick from the food at Pushap, but if you are there in peak hours (12pm-1pm & 6pm-7ish), the possibility of contamination is higher.  The kitchen is very small and they move fast, someone might forget that you said no bread and throw a piece on top of your food BUT the one time this happened they understood that I needed a new plate with all new rice and veggies.  Be clear with your allergies and you will be fine!

Website:
Click me!

A little reminiscing: The sweets are delectable and even if it were no longer safe for me to eat here, I would still recommend it to everyone and I would still call it one of Montreal’s hidden treasures.  The owners are always asking about my friends and when they can expect to see us again and I love them.

 

I can still eat these!

I’ll be at Lola’s

I’m in Montreal all summer, so be prepared for lots of Montreal posts!  I have some serious catching up to do on my favorite city in the world (thus far).

This particular post is all about Lola Rosa Café.  This little vegetarian bistro is one of my favorite places to eat and fortunately for me, they have started to cater to gf diets!

The Faculty of Music at McGill is right downtown, but somehow it is in kind of a strange ‘restaurant black hole’…it’s not quite on the McGill campus, so the cafeterias aren’t super convenient and the one in the building grossed me out.  When I started studying there, the only quick and inexpensive place to run for good food was a natural food market across the street.  Over the years a variety of restaurants and food options have appeared; there is now a Tim Hortons, which helped me notice the Basha tucked away below it,  a Java U (mmm…french fries), a Thai Express/Cultures and Starbucks all within a block.  Fast food is great for students on the go, but when you are at McGill all the time (working and studying), you want access to some real cooking too.  Lola Rosa’s is that place.

I still remember my first time:  My friend Andrea was acting a wee bit crazy, (she lived across the street from Lola’s) but she convinced me to come to her house after work where she blindfolded me, spun me in circles and walked me across the street for my half birthday lunch; I thought she was taking me to the Dépanneur (french for convenient store), so Lola’s was a very happy surprise.  We had Lola’s nachos and I was sold.  This is the place for me and it became my go to place for a real meal.  They even delivered to my little box office window!

When I was diagnosed with the celiacs, I was worried that my options there would become more limited, but they were kind enough to go through the change with me. 😉  Their menu is not 100% gluten free (like me), but GF options are indicated on the menu.  Couscous can easily be replaced with rice and I’m trying to convince them to make the change to corn tortilla (that taste so much better than flour).

Hears a taste:

Lola Rosa Café.

What I eat (pretty much every time I am there):
Lola’s nachos
Chickpea Curry with raita
or
Ratatouille Polenta

Website:
Click me!

I’ve been eating at Lola’s for several years and I enjoy myself and my food every time.  The staff is always happy and the owners are so passionate about their restaurant, it makes it hard to resist.  Although this restaurant is completely meat free, I (the born and bred meat eating Alberta girl) never think of this place as strictly “vegetarian” because I always leave with a full stomach and contented taste buds.  If you still have room for desert, they have a ginger-basil crème brûlée on the menu that is gf and big enough to share!