The Weekly Soup: Tomato Dill December 23, 2009

I went a little over zealous last week at the grocers with a sale of cherry tomatoes.  I am a sucker for a sale and when these little gems were 2 pints for $3 I just had to get some (okay more than some).  I then found myself with too many little red rubies staring at me every time I hit the kitchen. There was only so many Greek Salads I could eat in a week, so I decided to soup it.  I forgot how nicely dill and tomato go together.  This is a fresh style soup – and it can be served smooth or rustic – your choice.  Good for any time of year!!  I loved this with super crusty bread and tasted incredible the next day too.  I assume it would freeze pretty well, but mine didn’t make it that far. 



1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 TBSP canola or olive oil

1 tsp butter

2 medium tomatoes, sliced (or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes)

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

Pepper to taste

1/3 cup tomato paste

2 TBSP (all-purpose) flour

1 1/4 cups cold water, divided

1/3 cup cream

1 tsp minced fresh dill (or 1/2 tsp dried)



1) In a small saucepan, cook onion and garlic in oil and/or butter over low heat until translucent.

2) Add tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, then remove from heat then stir in tomato paste.

3) In a separate small bowl, combine flour and 1/2 cup of water until smooth, stir into tomato mixture, then gradually stir in remaining water until smooth (you can add more water if you want a thinner consistency).

4) Return saucepan to heat and bring to a boil, then continue to cook and stir for 2-3 minutes longer.

5) Place a sieve over a large bowl, pour soup into sieve, and press with the back of a large spoon to remove tomato seeds and skin.  NOTE – you can skip this step if you want a more rustic or chunky soup.

6) Return puree to pan and add cream and dill, and cook over low heat just until heated through (do not boil!!!!!!!).

7) Serve HOT!


The Weekly Soup: All alone-ey Minestrone December 16, 2009

I found myself with a night of me me me, so what do I do?  Cook.  It was cold, wet, damp and miserable enough out that I was desperate for comfort food that would not infringe on my upcoming Christmas binging.  The result was another soup – one that was sooooo good it only lasted a day (no freezing possibilities were even a glimmer in anyone’s eye).  The best thing about this soup is its versatility.  Add or remove whatever you want or have or feel like – maybe double the batch so at least there’s a chance it may last for more than a day.



1 TBSP olive or canola oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 tsp coarse salt

2 cups mushrooms, chopped

1 medium zucchini, chopped

1 pepper, chopped (red, yellow, orange will do)

1/2 can of sweet corn

1 celery stalk, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced)

4 cups good quality broth

1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz )

1 can mixed beans (19 oz)

2 TBSP tomato paste

2 tsps each of dried basil and dried parsley

1 tsp dried thyme

fresh pepper to taste

3-4 cups water

1 cup dried macaroni or shells



1. Heat oil in a large stove-top pot at med-high, add chopped onion and sauté until translucent.

2. Add all remaining vegetables to the pot and sauté until well cooked and softened (about 10 min).

3. Gradually add stock, tomatoes, mixed beans, tomato paste, spices, and water (add as much as you like until you get your desired consistency – I used 3 cups).

4. Cover with lid and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes – stirring occasionally.

5. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil for macaroni or shells then add pasta to boiling water, and cook until al dente (just under the recommended time)

6. Add al dente pasta to soup and simmer for another 5 minutes.

7. Remove soup from heat, and serve sprinkled with fresh Parmesan and crusty bread.


Black Bean Burgers with Fried Eggs and Avocado-creme June 18, 2009

Brunch just got better … here’s a Tex-Mex-influenced addition to your breakfast table (or dinner table for that matter).  You can even make everything a day in advance and just reheat (well, except for the fried eggs), assemble, and serve!  Don’t forget to put out the hot sauce too, for an extra kick.



Black bean cakes:
1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
4 tsp hot sauce
4 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil (canola or vegetable work best)

1 avocado, cut in half lengthwise, peel and pit removed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
2 TBSP lime juice

6 fried eggs





Black bean cakes:

1. Heat oven to 300°F and arrange rack in the middle, then place cornmeal in a shallow dish and set aside

2. Place beans, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, cilantro, onion, hot sauce, and salt in food processor, pulse about 15 times until incorporated and beans are broken down (but some whole beans remain).

3. Form 6 patties and dust each patty on both sides with cornmeal, and
place on baking sheet or plate.

4. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, then place 3 patties in pan and fry until golden (about 3 to 5 minutes per side – but watch out they don’t burn!).

5. Transfer fried patties on baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm (and then repeat with remaining patties).


* Place all ingredients into food processor and process until smooth, then season with salt.


Put it all together:
* Place bean cakes on serving plates and top each with a fried egg and 2 TBSP of avocado-creme!!



Lentil-Quinoa Salad February 10, 2009

I eat alotta beans … alotta quinoa … alotta salad … so a tri-combo is what my tummy is used to, but it’s quite a savory treat for my tastebuds!  Plus, I’m on a bit of a lentil kick these days.  Did I mention this is so very kind on your wallet too?  Oh, and don’t bother sitting down to wait for the cooking to be complete … it’ll be done before you even set the table!

1 cup lentils, uncooked (or 1 cup canned – skip step 1 if using canned)
1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/3 cup scallions, chopped
Fresh coriander (optional)

Lime-curry vinaigrette
1/8 cup canola oil
6 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp ginger, freshly grated
1 tsp ground coriander


1) Cook the lentils until tender, about 20 minutes – drain and allow to cool.
2) Cook the quinoa until translucent and tender (2 parts boiling water
or stock, 1 part quinoa, simmered until all water has evaporated) –
allow to cool.
3) Chop scallions; and add along with lentils and quinoa to a large
serving bowl.
4) Place all ingredients for vinaigrette in a separate bowl and stir
thoroughly (you can adjust spices to suit your taste).
5) Add vinaigrette to mixture and combine thoroughly.
6) Garnish with fresh coriander if desired, and serve at room temperature.



Glass Noodle Salad January 24, 2008

Last year I discovered yam noodles (also known as shirataki or konnyaku) – cheap, delicious, and are virtually fat/carb/calorie free! They take on any flavour, and have a great smooth texture to them. You can find these in any Asian supermarket.

2 ounces yam noodles (dried or packed in water and drained)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup snow peas, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
4 large button mushrooms, sliced (shitake mushrooms work well too)
3 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp each canola and sesame oil
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp soy sauce substitute (or regular soy sauce if you can want)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1-2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Fresh cilantro or basil


1) Fill a large saucepan 2/3 full with water, add salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.

2) Add dried yam noodles into boiling water, and keeping the water at a gentle boil, cook for about 10 minutes (noodles should be transparent and soft). Skip this step if using water-packed yam noodles.

3) Drain noodles in a colander, cut with a knife or scissors into 2-3 inch lengths, and toss pieces into a large mixing bowl.

4) Add remaining ingredients, except sesame seeds and cilantro, and toss well to blend the flavors.

5) Transfer salad to a serving bowl and garnish with toasted sesame seeds and fresh herbs (to taste).

Try some additions/variations for this salad – bean sprouts, extra-firm stir-fried tofu, cashews.


Zucchini Loaf

Slightly spicy and super scrumptious, this loaf will have people begging for the recipe. Seriously. I give these away as gifts every Christmas and they are always well received. Tastes great toasted too, with a wee bit of butter. Not so figure friendly, but with the zucchini comes vitamin C and with all the nuts comes omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

3 zucchinis, skins on grated (about 3 cups)
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups sifted flour (unbleached all-purpose, whole wheat, rice, etc)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated is a nice touch)
3 eggs, beaten (or egg substitute for the vegans out there)
1 1/3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup oil (vegetable, canola, olive)
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup golden raisins


1. Soak raisins in warm water for 20-30 minutes, and then drain thoroughly; set aside.

2. Clean zucchini and trim off ends – do not peel – and grate with a medium sized shredder.

3. Preheat oven to 350F and grease/flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans and set aside (you can use 4 small loaf pans, but bake for less time).

4. Set aside 2 tbsp of the flour. Sift together remaining flour, soda, spices, and salt.

5. In a separate medium bowl, beat eggs vigorously for about 2-3 minutes.

6. Alternately add the sugar and oil, a little at a time, and continue beating for another 3-5 minutes (mixture should be light in color and thick).

7. Add the vanilla to the egg mixture, stir, and then add in the zucchini.

8. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, a little at a time and mix just until the dry ingredients are mixed in. Do not overmix!

9. In a small bowl combine the remaining 2 tablespoons flour, nuts, and drained raisins, and mix together to coat. Fold into the batter. Pour into the prepared pans.

10. Bake for about 60 min (or until a toothpick comes out clean).

11. Remove to a rack to cool for at least 10 minutes.


Cauliflower Dahl January 20, 2008

Indian food is often a treat, as it’s mainly perceived as being super high in fats/carbs/sodium. So excuse me for being super excited about a really low fat and highly tasty version of cauliflower dal (PS: dal = red lentils). Most supermarkets now adays have many of the spices you’ll need, however if not you may need to make a trip to your local Indian grocer or Little India, if you’re lucky like me. It may seem like a lot of steps involved, but it’s actually quite easy to make, with minimal ingredients.

1 1/2 cups masoor dahl or red lentils
4 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp canola oil (or cooking spray)
1 tbsp panch phoran
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ginger paste (or 1 tsp minced ginger)
16 ounces diced tomatoes (or 1 can)
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/2 cup water

1. Pick over and rinse the lentils and add them to a pot with the water and turmeric.
2. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.
3. Simmer until the dal is tender, about 20 to 35 minutes.
4. When done, add salt and set aside.
5. While the dal is cooking, chop and cook the vegetables – heat a large, deep skillet, and add the canola oil and shake it to spread it around.
6. Add panch phoran and stir.
7. When seeds begin to pop, add the onion, garlic, pepper flakes, and ginger paste (stir and cook until the onion softens, about 2-3 minutes).
8. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower, and water, and stir.
9. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes.
11. When the dal and cauliflower are both done, add the dal to the cauliflower mixture and stir well (you might want to take a quick taste to see if the seasoning is sufficient; add more salt if needed).
12. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
13. Serve hot (with or over basmatti rice is best).