Leftovers Cuisine: Second-Day Beef Stew with Quinoa and Beans

IMGP2033 What’s your leftovers attitude?

Mine is: leftovers are terrific opportunities to create a new, different, interesting, exciting dishes! Really. (Or, at the very least, no cooking the next night.)

For example, early this week, we returned from a week-long vacation in Jamaica (Sun! Sea! Sand! Piña Coladas!), and the spouse decided to make beef stew our first night home. It was basic: beef, potatoes, carrots, onions. After one dinner, we had about 1½ cups left—a slightly thick broth, dotted with a few pieces of beef, etc.

To be honest, it did look uninspiring, BUT…

Those Jamaican chefs had inspired me. They had raised leftovers + vegetables + mix-and-match beans to an art form. One night we had turkey as the main meat, the next day at lunch we had a tasty turkey stew with vegetables and two types of beans. Surely, I reasoned, this type of creation was in my cuisine skill set.

Their cooking also had a second appeal for me because it fit the flexible use-what-you-have-in-the-kitchen approach. My recipe uses tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa. Why? Yup, you guessed it.

The result was delicious and filling, plus the spouse liked it! And he doesn’t always go for my mixtures—unfortunately, his mother cooked basic (meat, potato, veg) and served basic (no mixing) and this has had a lingering effect.

If you try this recipe, please use it as a template rather than a fixed-in-stone culinary creation. Feel free to change ingredients, vary quantities, and use your favourite spices. Continue reading

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese

IMGP2025

Confession: I’m on a soft-goat-cheese + soup kick.

It started with my Skin-and-All Creamy Tomato Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese when I decided to use goat cheese to make the soup creamy. In the past, I’d been adding milk or yogurt to vegetable soups (see Creamy Cauliflower Soup). Then I found that herbed goat cheese is richer and the herbs add a lovely flavour. True, it’s also caloric but, when you’re making a quart or more of soup, the amount per 1 cup serving (roughly 20 calories) isn’t going bust your diet.

And this soup has two great pluses:

  1. It’s delicious hot or cold so I also use it as a drink at dinner rather than water. More vegetable intake and refreshing!
  2. It yields 2-3 cups of homemade chicken-vegetable stock that can be used in other recipes. Yum!

P.S. The soup in the photo also included a zucchini and leek because they were hanging around in my vegetable bin, but just cauliflower and regular onion would be just fine.

Continue reading

Grape/Cherry Tomato Salad with Soy Sauce Dressing

Tomatoes star in this salad.

Tomatoes star in this salad.

Here’s a scrumptious salad with an unusual (to me), delicious, and easy-to-make dressing.

The credit for this recipe  goes to Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything: his idea, his dressing. My only contribution was to expand the recipe ingredients. I added six sprigs of cooked asparagus because I had them. And I would have added a few green onions if I had them.

The point is that, unlike regular salads in which tomatoes are bit players, this salad makes them the stars. And, as Bittman says, you can get these tomatoes fresh all winter so when you get a craving for something not canned and have a little extra $$ in your pocket…well, you get the idea.

Kimlan's multi-grain soy sauce

Kimlan’s multi-grain soy sauce

Oh, and by the way, if you can tolerate a small amount of gluten soy sauce as I can, you might consider trying other brands beside those in your grocery store.

Our Asian market carries about 20 different varieties, and they don’t all taste the same. One I particularly like is Multi-Grain Soy Sauce, and it has a more mellow flavour than regular soy sauce.

P.S. Sorry for the photo; I took it on a dark day.

Continue reading

Skin-and-All Creamy Tomato Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese

Have you ever wanted to make tomato soup from scratch? But then did without the pleasures of fresh tomatoes because you didn’t feel like skinning them? If you have, count me in and please read on. This recipe might be perfect for you.

Delicious and filling--hot and cold!

Delicious and filling–hot and cold!

Okay, here’s the story. I came away from the fruit-and-vegetable store with nine large, discounted tomatoes ($1.49). Two were hardly blemished so they’ll be used in a salad, but seven squishy sad sacks definitely qualified for a soup.

Now skinning tomatoes isn’t hard, but if I’m going to go to the trouble of boiling a large pot of water, etc., etc., etc., I’ll do it for 18 tomatoes but not a measly seven.

A Hand Blender Sorta Like Mine

A Hand Blender Sorta Like Mine

Questions came to mind:

  • What if I didn’t skin them?
  • What if I just removed the tough stem sections at the top of the tomatoes, cut them in quarters, cooked them to death with that leftover, half-onion, added some soft, herbed goat cheese, and then applied my hand-blender to them?
  • Would I be supping at my soup and find myself chewing on pieces of tomato skin?

The Goddess of Cuisine smiled down on me. The hand-blender chomped the skins into tiny pieces. (See red spots in the photo.) And the results are yummy.  The goat cheese made the soup creamy and took the tartness out of the tomatoes. The herbs added a light, savoury flavor. And the shirataki noodles provided more bulk.

A great recipe when you want fast and easy-peasy!

Continue reading

Tucson Tale #5

This is my final Tucson Tale. I tried to publish this before leaving Tucson, but my blog app went on strike. So we’re back in Ottawa and I’ll soon be returning to my primary subject—food.  Dealing with the tiny kitchen in the casita has taught me interesting strategies and compelled me to create some interesting dishes.

For this final tale, I want to pull together the loose ends of the southwest hiking experience. Therefore, I will answer a question that I know has been niggling, if not at the front of your minds, then way at the back:

Continue reading

Tucson Tale #4

As some readers may recall, the last letter described my first major hike which left me 1) feeling like over-boiled legumes, 2) looking like a beet, and 3) considering the benefits of spouse-icide.

Well, today I have a very different story to tell—one of triumph over body, spirit, and hiking poles. It all began on a not-so-ambitious hike in Sabino Canyon. A little bit up and onto a cliff, a little bit of a zig-zag down to the road—maybe 2 miles in all.

Continue reading

Goin’ West and South

The bird feeder in our backyard.

The bird feeder in our backyard.

Dear Readers from around the World,

In the past two weeks, we’ve gotten about three feet of snow: heavy “heart-attack-while-shovelling” snow; light, airy snow; blowing hard snow; flurries snow; you-name-it-Canadian-snow.

I am NOT a snow person. My idea of heaven? No hats, no mitts, no boots, no shovelling, no slipping and sliding, no scraping ice off windshields, etc.

This is why the spouse and I are returning to Tucson, Arizona, for January and February. Tucson isn’t particularly hot at this time of year, but (blessed be) it has no snow.

Plus, we’ll be able to hike in the mountains.

Continue reading