Roasted Heirloom Carrot and Parsnips Salad- a Great Holiday Side Dish

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Oh the holidays!

How do you like to spend your time during the holiday season?

I love to spend a couple of hours curled up on the sofa with a hot drink watching holiday movies.

This afternoon I watched one of my all time favourite movies, Serendipity. I love this heartwarming love story of how John Cusak and Kate Bekinsale try to find each other to see if their love was meant to be. Did you know that this movie was filmed in New York City and Toronto? Those are my 2 favourite cities.

Another movie that I love to watch is The Holiday starring Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet , Jack Black and Eli Wallach, another love story that takes place over the holidays.

What other movies do you like to watch over the holidays?

While growing up we would always watch White Christmas. My sister and I would sing along with Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellan while they did their sister act. I would always get choked up at the end when it started to snow and the whole cast sang White Christmas.

Another less known classic holiday movie is the Bishop’s Wife, starring Loretta Young and Cary Grant who plays an angel who was sent to help her find her way.

Whether you enjoy Home Alone and Christmas Vacation or you are moved by old classics like It’s a Wonderful Life, it is a great way to spend quality time with family.

I have been planning menus for the holiday dinners and found this interesting take on roasted carrots and parsnips. It will make a delicious side dish with some braised short ribs for one of our family dinners.

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Roasted Heirloom Carrot and Parsnip Salad
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
3 heirloom carrots, peeled and quartered
3 parsnips, peeled and quartered
2 tbsp. oil
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. honey
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
½ cup bocconcini cheese, sliced into ¼ inch slices
½ cup roasted hazelnuts, halved

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the carrots and parsnips in a baking dish. In a small bowl combine the oil, cumin and honey and pour half of the mixture over the carrots and parsnips.
Cover and cook for 15 minutes, then uncover and cook until the vegetable are tender, 10-15 minutes.
Place the vegetables on serving plates or on a serving platter. Sprinkle with cilantro and hazelnuts and bocconcini cheese. Drizzle the remaining honey mixture over the plate and serve.

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay’s Fast, Fresh and Simple Cookbook

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Cookin up Some Slow Cooker Love and Beef Stew

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What a great week this has been! I was published in Resource Magazine’s Fall 2014 edition in an article that my friend, Skip Cohen, wrote about me. If you get a chance to read that edition you might enjoy it. The theme for the Fall 2014 edition is food photography. In addition to working on that article, I have been building up my lifestyle portfolio and shooting regularly. I am really grateful that I get to spend time doing something that I love; photography.

I don’t know about you, but another thing that makes me happy is cooking up some comfort food on a cold day. Sometimes I am like a big old bear. As soon as the weather turns cold, I a find myself craving old favourites like stew, chili, or homemade pasta. You would think I am preparing for a long winter of hibernation. With the skating season just beginning I will not be hibernating, but out getting my exercise doing something else that I love. Life is good!

While you are out and about preparing for the holidays, take some time to stop and enjoy a meal with your loved ones. We all get so busy that we lose sight of those around us but those simple times together are the moments that they will remember for years to come.

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Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

3lb.stewing beef
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 yellow waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
2 parsnips, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cups beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

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Directions:

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Place in slow cooker. Add the Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onion, garlic, mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf.

Whisk together the beef broth, wine, tomato paste and Worchestershire sauce. Stir the wet mixture into the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours, until beef is tender and vegetables are cooked through. Skim off fat.

Whisk flour in 1/4 cup water until smooth, stir into the slow cooker. Turn the heat to high, cover and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20-30 minutes.

Remove Bay leaf and thyme sprigs and serve.

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Parsnip, Aged Cheddar and Chard Frittata

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“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
― John Lennon

I was looking at some material online and I came across this quote. It reminded me of this past few weeks and made me smile.

I have been having hard time, lately, and a few of my close friends and family have rallied around to help me through and make sure that I am okay. The great thing about friendship is that a good day with a close friend can have great healing powers.

I spent yesterday with a girlfriend helping her choose a dress for her son’s upcoming wedding. We wandered for hours from shop to shop looking for the exact style and colour. We found a wonderful gown for her to wear and then celebrated over a long lunch on a patio while watching the world go by.

My friend did not need me to help her find the perfect dress, but instead, she knew that having a project would stop me from feeling sorry for myself. I started my day with a mission of helping her. By focusing on someone else’s needs, I forgot my own troubles and had a fun day. It was about the friendship, not the shopping.

I know that keeping busy is good therapy. Whenever I am stressed, I throw myself into a project and the next thing I know is that I am content, again. Maybe it is that sense of accomplishment when you create something that you enjoy.

I also know that good friends are for a lifetime.

I cannot see all of my friends as often as I would like so I am hoping that each of them will make this recipe for their families and friends so we can all celebrate life together. I hope to hear the stories about how you chose to make it and how you enjoyed the flavours.

I am including all of my online friends in this invitation as well. The makes a wonderful brunch for a lazy Sunday either at home or at the cottage.

I hope you enjoy it!

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Parsnip, Aged Cheddar and Chard Frittata

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped ham
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1 bunch of rainbow chard, drained well, leaves removed from stems and chopped
1 red pepper, finely diced
8 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) 18% cooking cream
2 tbsp. (30 mL) Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. (30 mL) fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup (175 mL) Canadian Aged Cheddar, grated

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
In an oven-safe, non-stick pan over medium heat, sauté onion in olive oil until softened.
Add the ham, garlic and parsnips, and cook until parsnips soften.
Add the chopped chard leaves and red pepper. Stir to evenly combine and set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs, cream, Dijon mustard and fresh herbs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Lower the heat, pour egg mixture over vegetables and cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle Cheddar over the top and keep cooking on low heat until edges are just set.

Transfer to oven and cook until centre is set, about 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, invert onto serving platter and serve.

Cooks Note: You can omit the ham and make this a delicious vegetarian frittata.

Recipe adapted from http://www.dairygoodness.ca

Soup Bowls for the Arts-Roasted Parsnip and Apple Soup

Every November we attend a wonderful luncheon at the Burlington Arts Centre in Burlington, Ontario. It is their annual Soup Bowl event.

Dozens of potters work countless hours throughout the year to produce beautiful hand-made bowls. For one weekend in November 1,000 of those bowls are sold off to raise money for the arts centre. Each person buys a ticket and is allowed to choose one bowl as they enter the dining hall.

Once you have chosen your bowl you take it to one of the restaurant stations where they fill it with delicious soup and provide you with a side salad to go with it. After you finish your lunch volunteers take away your bowl, wash it and bring it back to you all wrapped and ready to take home.

There were four local restaurants who donated soup and salads for the patrons. This year the generous donors were Socrates, Pepperwood Bistro, Canyon Creek and Emma’s Backporch. I chose the Lemon, Chicken and Rice soup that Socrates had provided. It was light and lemony and delectable.

I was invited to this event by my sister who is one of the potters at the centre. She made 50 bowls for the event on her own. It is a great way to start off the holiday season and to support the arts. It is also a great place to find local works of art for holiday gift giving. She has invited me a few times over the past few years and now we consider the day a tradition. It is a great way to get together with family and friends over a sumptuous lunch.

As a tribute to this event I am featuring a wonderful fall soup that I found in my new cookbook Small Plates and Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga. This beautiful cookbook is a work of art on its own. I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I did.

Roasted Parsnip and Apple Soup with Mustard Croutons

Makes: 6 to 8 Servings

Ingredients:

1 lb. parsnips, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for garnish
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery stalk, diced 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
5 c. chicken stock
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
3 slices sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Grated Gruyère cheese, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Toss the diced parsnips, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, turning the parsnips halfway through the cooking process.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and celery. Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender but not browned.

Add the roasted parsnips, apples, potatoes, chicken stock, coriander, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, remaining olive oil, and thyme leaves. Add the diced bread cubes and toss them in the dressing. Lay the croutons on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until golden and crispy.

Puree the soup in a blender in batches or with a hand blender in the pot.

Top each serving with the croutons, and Gruyère cheese.

The soup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or it can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Recipe from Small Plates and Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga

Carrot and Parsnip Soup- A Winter Warm Up

I find during this time of year I like to remind myself what I like about winter. It helps me to get through the last few weeks until spring.

I like walking in the snow at night while large fluffy flakes are falling and catching the light from street lamps as they fall. The world seems so quiet and so magical.

I like cuddling up with a cup of tea and a blanket and watching classic movies or reading a good book on a cold Sunday afternoon.

I like how cute and cuddly small children look in their snowsuits. They look like little snow people as they waddle about.

I like making snow angels.

I like watching dog owners try to coax their pets to walk a little further over the snow.

I like wearing sweaters.

I like sitting in front of a roaring fire with a great glass of wine and good friends.

I like going to the gym and looking out the window at the snow while I exercise.

I like the crunching sound my tires make as they drive over the snow.

I like cooking up a pot of soup for lunch that warms you from the inside out.

I like eating roasted root vegetables and hearty stews.

What do you like about winter?

Here is a hearty winter soup to warm you from the inside out:

Carrot and Parsnip Soup

Make 6 servings

Ingredients

1 ½ tbsp. unsalted butter
1 onion chopped
4 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
5 large carrots, peeled and chopped
6 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
2 tsp. Maple syrup
1 tsp. fresh thyme
½ cup plain yogurt
1 ½ tbsp. chopped Italian parsley

Directions

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add onions and cook until softened, stirring occasionally.

Turn heat up. Add the stock, water, carrots and parsnips and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and cook until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Use a hand blender to puree the soup until smooth. Add thyme and maple syrup and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer soup for another 5 minutes.

Ladle soup into bowls, top with 1 tsp. of yogurt and garnish with parsley.