Food is killing our “lower income” neighbourhoods, but its not all your fault.

Note this is a small rant.

 

So you’ve been trying to eat healthy? Oh wait, you live in a small suburb which has been labeled “low income” and find yourself stuck between a rock and about a gajillion fast food restaurants.

 

—-

So I’ve been trying to eat healthy — and yes I do go out for dinner a little more than I should; this is why when I cook, I make sure I try my best to not eat crappily.

 

Here’s the story: I live in Scarborough, Ontario and have spent the last year living in the gorgeous ByWard Market in Ottawa. I’m not a health nut, I’m overweight and diabetic– I felt sick at home in Scarborough for years, but after moving to Ottawa and being exposed to fresh ingredients, and healthy alternatives, I can say I feel great and a thousand times better.

When I moved back to Scarborough last Sunday, it was all parties and welcome back dinners, so I didn’t have a chance to cook. Today I went to the Great Canadian Superstore to get some groceries and start cooking some food to get back into the swing of things. All I can say is that I am absolutely disgusted with what I found.

Yes, this might sound pretentious, but to those people who are unaware of what the Superstore is — its supposed to be relatively healthy food for cheaper. Everything conveniently in one CLEAN (as most Scarborough grocery stores are not) store. I spent an hour in the store trying to find good ingredients and came to this conclusion: there are a ton of deals and sales — but its almost only on prepackaged ‘healthly’ (which they’re not) frozen meals, instant meals, preseasoned frozen meat and high sugar snacks. When I dug through to get eggs, turkey, pork, various vegetables the bill came to a whopping $50+ , the food I bought was barely enough for one person’s meals for a three day span. I was taken aback quite a bit — my bill was actually higher than what I was paying for groceries in the “expensive’ part of Ottawa. 

Driving from the grocery store back to my house I counted at least two dozen fast food restaurants that offered cheaper  dinner options with larger portions. I found myself wondering why the hell did i just pay almost triple the amount for food that I also have to spend hours to prep when I can buy delicious chicken fried rice on my way home from work. Its almost a no brainer if I had a family to feed too.

 

I makes me sad to think what is going to happen to our new generation of kids growing up in these kinds of areas.

 

Image

You’ve been cooking scrambled eggs wrong….

Video

Those who know me know that I can’t cook scrambled eggs… whenever I do, they become dry, clumpy and tasteless (and usually burned). This morning, whilst I was thinking about making myself some breakfast burritos, I felt that I would need to face my fear and make scrambled eggs to complete my burrito.

I came across this video by Gordon Ramsay (my favourite celeb chef!) and tried it his way…. it makes a WORLD of difference! Its a little more work but the end result is so delicious it makes you wonder why you ever cooked scrambled eggs the way you used to.

By the way, I skipped out on the creme fraiche since I didnt have any at home. It still turned out wonderful!

Mini Fruit Pie — The Market Edition

After a hard day at work, I decided to make myself a pie. However, I realized that

A) I don’t own a pie dish

B) I have equal amounts of apples, blackberries and cherries.

So realizing that those fruit don’t really go together, nor do I have a vessel to create such a fusion, I settled on mini pies.

MINI FRUIT PIES

Ingredients:

Frozen Rolled Puff Pastry Sheets — Yes, this is easier.

Apples

Blackberries + Cherries

Pumpkin Pie Seasoning / Syrup

Vanilla Sugar

Directions:

1. Chop up the fruit and add the apples (Gala apples in this case) to one small sauce pan and the blackberries and cherries in the other.

1b. For the apples, I immediately added t TBSP of vanilla sugar, a bit of pumpkin spice syrup and a TBSP of Pumpkin Spice Seasoning – This is mostly because apples tend to absorb flavours while cooking, and I wanted to maximize on that.

Image

2. Cook the fruit down on medium low heat until the juices start to flow. Add a bit of water to speed up the process. Add a bit of vanilla sugar to the blackberry mixture if desired.

Image        Image

3. While those are cooking, cut 4×4 inch squares from the sheet of puff pastry and begin to pull the edges together to create a cup like container. Kind of hard to explain, but here’s a picture.

ImageImage

4. Place the cups into a muffin tin, then fill them with the fruit reduction. If you are using berries, remember that more juice is going to come out of them so be warned.

ImageImage

5. Bake at 375F until the puff pastry is golden (I’ll be honest, I dont have a time — nor did i remember to time it. If it turns black, thats too long.

ENJOY!!!

Image

Red and White Miso Salad Dressing AKA that gritty orange dressing you get at Japanese Restaurants but can’t find in the grocery store.

After a short visit with some friends back home in Toronto, I found myself eating at tons of Japanese Restaurants (my personal favourite being AKINA in Markham — poor service, delicious food). One day, after a long day at work, I convinced my co-worker Jennifer (follow her on twitter—she’s awesome) to go for a late lunch. While we were talking she commented on the salad saying, “I have no idea what this is made of, but it’s delicious!”. To my surprise, I was intrigued as well… I mean I know it was a miso based dressing and a ton of my Korean friends have told me how to make it, but I have never really spent time thinking about making it with my own twist.

So here’s an experimental recipe made just for you, Jen.

Red and White Miso Salad Dressing

Image

INGREDIENTS:

Image

SHIRO + AKA MISO PASTE (Just a fancy way to say a mixture of red and white miso paste–white miso paste is milder while red has a much more pungent taste). This is probably the most difficult and most important ingredient to find. It is usually in the refridgerated section of most Asian supermarkets— but I have yet to see it in regular western supermarkets. Some health food and organic food stores may have it. The price ranges from $5 – $9 for a container that lasts forEVER. This can also be used to make miso soup and brighten up stirfry.

Image

MIRIN  This is a sweet seasoning that is essentially a rice wine type by product. It kind oftastes like a sweet sake. Typically you would use Rice Vinegar in this recipe, but I decided that Mirin with a bit of lime and lemon juice tastes a bit brighter than using the rice vinegar. This product has been more common in grocery stores and is usually found in the asian sauce isle…

Image

Pickled Ginger -  Need I say more? its that pink (or white) stuff that you get with sushi.

Oranges - Orange juice is key in this dressing to bring out the acidity and the sweetness in the ingredients.

Optional – Sesame oil — I find that this makes the dressing stronger and keeps a nutty / earthy taste with it. If you decide to use it, only use a little bit.

Here are the amounts that I’ve used–

1 Tablespoon of miso paste

3 tablespoons of orangejuice

1 tablespoon of mirin

1 tablespoon of lemon and lime juice

3 slices of ginger

1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil

DIRECTIONS: Mix everything together, then pour it over salad.

Image

Game of Thrones Feast (season premiere party)

Originally I wanted to make a Graham Cracker remake of Winterfell but I decided to keep that as a season finale project. Today instead, I will be making a Dragon Roast (beef shoulder roast) on a bed of Fossilized Dragon Eggs (Purple, white and red mini potatoes) wrapped in Boar Bacon (its actually Boar Bacon) with a Red Wine and Mead sauce / gravy. 

Here’s what I have so far:

Started out with some fresh and local ingredients from Ontario and Canada –

Veggies:

Purple, red and white potatoes Celery, thyme, crimini mushrooms, red onions, Purple, orange and white carrots.

Meat:

Double Smoked Bacon , Shoulder (chuck) Roast from Aubrey’s Meats [my favourite butcher in Ottawa]

IMG_4649

I made a simple mirepoix to start a great aromatic base for my roast to rest in while cooking.

IMG_4650

I then jazzed it up with some mushrooms, ground red, white and green peppercorns, and added salt, thyme and olive oil.

IMG_4652  

I used Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet and Modena Balsamic as Cooking Liquids along with a simple chicken broth.

IMG_4654

I then layered the bacon ontop of the roast (which I have cut into triangles for scales) in a ‘scale’ like fashion to add to the dragon theme — this can work out to be awesome, or it can look terrible after its cooked. I figured the bacon will curl and look pretty badass as it dries and crisps up… only time will tell.

IMG_4653

I am currently working on a drink called WildFire but that will be for next week.

Cheers!

Christiane.