July 31, 2013

Cream of Lambsquarter Soup

Weeds weeds weeds. Our garden is overrun with them right now and we've been busy hoeing and pulling (mostly pulling since things have gotten beyond hoeing), and generally trying to get things under control to give our poor crops a bit of breathing space. But while weeds can seem like our worst enemies at times, it's good to remember they can be some of the tastiest and most nutritious plants in the garden. 

You may remember my passion for eating weeds from this post about the most annoying weed of them all. But I haven't yet written about the queen of weeds yet: lambsquarter.

I've been eating this weed since I was a little girl because my mom was extremely fond of it. It's called chou gras in French, which I used to confuse with foie gras. Not quite the same... but both delicious. I've always preferred it over spinach and other cultivated greens. It has a naturally creamy texture, a rich 'green' taste, and steamed or sautéed with a little butter, it's simply lovely. But not only does it taste great, lambsquarter's nutritional profile is outstanding. It contains more nutrients than spinach and recent studies have even shown it to be capable of blocking the growth of breast cancer cells.

If you also have got more lambsquarter than you know what to do with, try making this delicious cream of lambsquarter soup. 

I promise it will put you on friendlier terms with at least one of your garden weeds. You can find my recipe here on PBS Food. Bon appétit and happy weeding!

July 24, 2013

Cherry Tomato Galette

Cherry Tomato Galette from Kitchen Vignettes on Vimeo.

Every now and again, it's good to come face-to-face with a reminder of the skills, determination, and hard work it takes to be an organic farmer in this world. I wrote a post about this last summer, after a particularly grueling day on my organic farming apprenticeship. 

I recently spent some days volunteering my time at Wysmykal Farm, working alongside owners Jessy and Charles who kindly provided the exquisite cherry tomatoes for today's recipe.

From the few days I spent on their farm, I was blown-away by the productive CSA that they run and the tremendous knowledge and skills that they have gathered in their relatively short time as first-generation farmers.

It gave me hope for my own farming aspirations, and in a bigger sense, for the future of our food supply. And hope is what we need in a system where our governments give subsidies to farmers who spray chemicals and grow GMOs, while organic farmers are forced to pay fees to get certified. Shouldn't it be the other way around?? 

If I can recommend you do one thing this summer : spend some time on an organic farm. Offer to spend a day or two pitching in with the weeding (you will most likely be greeted with open arms). Aside from a great work-out, listening to the birds and breathing fresh air all day, the hard work will give you a new appreciation for what it means to grow food in a way that doesn't harm the planet and all the critters and living things around us. Because in a time where our food supply is in crisis due to massive honeybee die-offs, chemical residues tainting our food, and the spread of GMO crops which are causing a massive spike in pesticide use, it really is a good practice to regularly remind ourselves that by supporting organic farming, we're not only feeding ourselves healthier food, but we're also contributing to a better world. One in which the people who work day in and day out, growing food in ways that don't harm the world, can make a livelihood. In my mind, there is no better way to invest in the future.

I hope you'll make this delicious cherry tomato galette. It's the best thing I've made this summer (well, aside from semifreddo which I'm currently obsessed with... stay tuned for a recipe). Get the cherry tomato galette recipe over here on PBS Food. Bon appétit mes amis!

July 20, 2013

The Antioxidant Express : Broccoli Fennel and Goji Berry Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

Need an antioxidant boost? This is a very quick post about a spontaneous salad I just made and had to share with you. I believe it may impart superhero powers. (Be careful). Well. I can't climb walls quite yet but it did give a distinct bounce to my step.

This salad is super simple: broccoli, fennel, and dried goji berries - all three jam-packed with antioxidants and vitamins. But you can sub dried cranberries or other dried fruit if you don't have goji berries on hand. Also feel free to use your own favourite vinaigrette on it. This blueberry vinaigrette is one I made up because I had a bit of juice from some frozen blueberries that I strained for another recipe (for an upcoming post!).

In my last post, I mentioned Jo Robinson's book Eating on The Wild Side which is such a fascinating read. And I apologize in advance because the fact that I'm so enthralled by this book at the moment means I'll be geeking-out on you for the next little while, and spewing out all kinds of little nutrition tidbits I'm learning about. So here's what I just learned about broccoli which I did not know before. The powerful cancer-fighting properties and overall super-nutritiousness of broccoli, I already knew about, but what I didn't know is that broccoli loses all those wonderful nutrients extremely fast. Sadly, by the time it has gone through storage and transport and ends up on your supermarket shelf (usually about 10 days), it has lost 80% of its glucosinolates, 75% of its flavonoids, and 50% of its vitamin C. Aka, the good stuff. So it's very important to buy broccoli directly at a farmer's market, where you can ask the farmer when it was harvested (usually the previous day!). Or even better, grow it yourself! Jo Robinson recommends you immediately put the broccoli in the fridge when you get home, and make sure to eat it within 2 to 3 days.

Enjoy your salad and have a fabulous and healthful weekend! xxx


1 medium head of broccoli
1 medium fennel (with leaves still on it if possible)
1 tbps. chopped fennel leaves (optional)
1/4 cup goji berries

Blueberry Juice Vinaigrette
2 tbsp. unsweetened blueberry juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 finely chopped clove of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Separate the broccoli head into small florets. In a medium saucepan filled with about an inch of water, steam the broccoli florets in a steaming basket for about 1 minute, 2 at the most. Remove quickly to maintain crunch, colour, and beneficial nutrients. You can also skip the steaming altogether (On the one hand, it's been said that eating raw broccoli gives you a whopping 20 times more sulforaphane than standard cooked broccoli but there are also studies showing its nutrients are more digestible when lightly steamed -  I like to give mine this light steaming first, mostly as a matter of personal taste, it makes the green greener and is more tender to crunch on).

Thinly slice the fennel bulb. Place the broccoli florets and fennel in a salad bowl, and add the chopped fennel leaves and goji berries. Mix your vinaigrette (I just put everything in a mason jar and then shake for a minute), pour over salad. Toss and serve.

July 18, 2013

Lentils with Roasted Beets and Carrots

Did any of you out there know that beets and carrots are more nutritious when cooked?? It was news to me!

I'm reading an amazing book right now called Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson.  This woman deserves an award. She looked at over 6000 studies to write this book and in the process, totally busts our traditionally-held beliefs about nutrition. It's blowing my mind a little bit. Fellow nutrition-geeks of the world, get your hands on this one. 

Learning about the nutritional value of cooking carrots and beets is what inspired me to make this week's dish. Most of my life, I've been grating raw carrots and beets thinking that's the most nutritious way to eat them. I'm not going to stop because grated root veggie salads are such a delightful explosion of freshness and flavour. Plus there are some nutrients that are best eaten raw (like Vitamin C and folate which are partially destroyed when exposed to heat). But Jo Robinson's research shows that overall, when cooked whole and with their skins on, carrots and beets are more nutritious for us. She outlines four simple steps to maximize the nutritional value of carrots: 
  1. Choose whole carrots over the store-bought "baby carrots" (baby carrots are simply big carrots that have been whittled down, removing their most nutritious part: the skin and outer layer)
  2. Cook them whole (chop them after they are cooked instead)
  3. Steam or sauté them rather than boil them (since roasting basically does the same as sautéing, I'm assuming it has the thumbs up as well)
  4. Serve them with oil or fat of some kind (beta-carotene is fat-soluble)
Combining these methods will give you 8 times more beta-carotene than if you munched on raw baby carrots. Cool eh?! 

So that's why this week's recipe stars roasted beets and carrots. Served on French lentils with feta and an easy eggless aioli (invented by my brilliant sister), they are pure deliciousness. I've also included a half cup of fresh chopped carrot tops in this recipe because they lend such a great carrot-ey zing to the dish. So be sure to get market-fresh carrots with their tops still on for this one. And don't throw out those beet greens! According to Jo Robinson, they're one of the most nutritious leafy greens around. Steam them, add a little butter or olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper = very yum.

For the recipe, please visit my post on PBS Food. Bon appétit!

July 10, 2013

Homemade Green Pasta: Nettle Fettuccine Alfredo

What happens when you put techno music, nettles, homemade pasta, and my kitty together? Why this latest video recipe, of course.

I had tons of fun making this video, thanks to the gorgeous track by the one and only Christian Löffler whose ethereal music I featured before in my Rye Berry Salad video.

As for the recipe. Well, you've got to be having fun when your food ends up turning this shade of green!!

To read about how I became known as the kid who ate the weirdest food on the block, and realized you don't need a pasta maker to make homemade pasta, and to get my nettle fettuccine alfredo recipe, come visit me over here on PBS Food.

PS: You can use spinach instead of nettles.

July 03, 2013

Garlic Scape Pancakes

Do you love scapes as much as I do? 

I'm so crazy about those curly wonders that I wrote my first ever post on this blog about them, 2 years ago! I can never decide if I prefer gazing at them and photographing them for hours on end... or eating them. It's a close tie. I recently decided to try one of my favourite recipes, classic Chinese scallion pancakes, subbing garlic scapes for the scallions. It was delicious and I highly recommend it!

I was going to make a video of this recipe, but it turns out the ultimate Scallion Pancake recipe video already exists! And I cannot possibly top this one. It's one of my all-time favourite cooking videos, produced by Saveur Magazine and featuring the one and the only Martin Yan!! Please watch, learn, and enjoy from the master.

For the full recipe and write-up on garlic scape pancakes, please visit my post on PBS Food.

July 01, 2013

Coconut Rose Semifreddo and my July giveaway!

How I've gone through my entire life (4 months of which were spent in Italy for crying out loud) without ever tasting a semifreddo, I do not know. What I do know is that now that I've experienced it, there's no going back. And as someone who doesn't own an ice cream maker, the fact that all you need to make one is a whisk and a saucepan means there are going to be a lot of semifreddos in my life from now on. Oh yes.

But before we get to the roses and the semifreddo, some housekeeping. I have a lucky winner for my June giveaway and her name is Lacey Organ. Congratulations Lacey! Enjoy your beautiful Madder Root organic linen produce bags! Please contact me so we can get you your gift. Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway, I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your responses. And thank you Madder Root for such a lovely giveaway! 

This month's giveaway is sponsored by Quirk Books. It's a wonderful new cookbook, hot off the presses, called Cooking With Flowers by Miche Bacher

This precious book is pure 100% delight. It will transport you to the magical world of flowers and the myriad ways you can cook with them. When I received my copy in the mail, I had to drop everything I was doing and I kind of went into this floral trance, completely lost in its pages. To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave me a comment below telling me why you'd like to win this book. The contest is open to residents of the US, Canada, and the UK. I'll announce the winner on August 1st.

Here are some of the recipes that I am dying to try: Oven-Baked Doughnuts with Lilac Cream Filling, Dandelion Fritters, Elderflower Marshmallows... and every single other recipe in the book! At the back of the book, Miche Bacher shows you how to make your own flower syrups, flower sugars, flower vinegars, etc...  so the sky's the limit and you can dream up your own fabulous recipes with your favourite edible flowers. Learning how easy it is to make flower syrups inspired me to make this rose petal and coconut semifreddo.

First thing, you need flowers. So my sister helped me pick some wild roses.

And then I also wanted some more vibrant-coloured roses, so my neighbour kindly allowed me to pick some from her garden. These ones were incredibly fragrant and have the softest petals. Smelling one is like sticking your nose into a little corner of paradise for a few delicious moments.

You can use any variety of roses to make a syrup, just be sure they have not been sprayed with any chemicals. Roses from the florists are generally treated with harmful chemicals so I would steer away from those.

To begin this recipe, I made a rose simple syrup. You simply boil 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar together. Once it's boiling, you remove it from the heat and pour it over 2 cups of the freshest most fragrant rose petals you can find (use only the petals). Cover and let this rest for about 12 hours before straining out the petals. That's a basic rose syrup, see? So easy! 

The rest of the recipe is all below.


1 1/2 cup cold heavy whipping cream (35%)
1/4 cup rose syrup (see above)
1 cup fresh chemical-free rose petals
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup coconut cream (skim the top of a 13.5 oz / 400 ml can of full-fat coconut milk)
3/4 cup unsulfured, unsweetened coconut

Crispy topping (optional)
1/2 cup roughly chopped pistachios
1/2 cup unsulfured, unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey

Line an 8 x 4 inch (1 litre) loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides. (I cut 2 strips according the length and width of the pan and then criss-crossed them over each other, to avoid crumpling the paper). 

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized metal bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water. Keep whisking constantly until the yolks turn pale yellow ribbony (this can take about 4 minutes). Transfer bowl to sit on top of a larger pan filled with ice cold water and whisk vigorously until the mixture is very thick and cooled down. Separate this mixture equally, placing half into another large bowl.

Whip the cream until peaks form. Add one third of the whipped cream to one of the bowls containing half of the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth. Add the remaining whipped cream and the rose syrup and fold gently. Add half of the fresh roses and fold in very gently. Put this aside. 

Remove the cream that rises to the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk. From a 13.5 oz / 400 ml can, you should be able to get 1 full cup of thick cream. Whip this until thick. Gradually incorporate it into the second half of the egg yolk mixture. Fold in the 3/4 cup dried coconut and mix well.

Pour the rose cream mixture into the loaf pan. Then scatter the remaining half of the rose petals on top of this. Pour the coconut cream mixture on top of the roses. Freeze this for 6 hours. 

If you wish to make a crispy topping for your semifreddo, in a large skillet, melt the 2 tbsp. butter and add the coconut and pistachios. Brown them in the butter until golden, then mix in the honey. Remove from heat and let this cool. Add this topping to the top of your frozen semifreddo and press it down well. Return to freezer for another hour or two. (Note: I struggled a bit with my topping because I did not freeze the semifreddo first so I couldn't press it down. As you can see from the photos, it was quite crumbly... I believe freezing the semifreddo first will remedy the problem.)

To serve your semifreddo, quickly dip your loaf pan in hot water and invert onto a serving platter. Dip a knife in hot water and wipe dry to slice the semifreddo. Enjoy!