Tuesday, May 18, 2010

With sunshine and summer come smoothies

During the dreary time between October and April, making healthy fruit smoothies or eating fruit at all is about as familiar to me as the Antarctic. However, as soon as the sun starts shining and it is warm again in May, I want salads, smoothies, fresh food, and lots of it all.

My mum bought me a fantastic blender for Christmas and man has it been getting a workout the last week. I'm loving my fruit smoothies! It feels so good on the stomach, it's quick, it's healthy, and it keeps me regular. (Apologies for some major TMI there.)

I use milk, yogurt, frozen fruit, and ground flaxseed in my smoothies. There are, of course, endless options for smoothies: maybe you're more of a crushed ice person, or a banana lover, or maybe you add sugar (please don't do the latter for the love of God).

Here are the basic rules, quantities, and ingredients I follow per serving:

1 cup milk
1/2 cup thick Greek-style vanilla yogurt
1 cup frozen fruit
2 tbsp ground flaxseed

That's it! So get that Magic Bullet out and get blending. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Roasted Yam Cream Soup

Roasted Yam Cream Soup


Sour cream (1/2 cup/125 ml)
Ground cardamom (1/2 tsp/2 ml)


Unpeeled yam cut into 1/2 inch slices (1 lb./454 g)
Carrots cut into 1/2 inch slices (1/2 lb./225 g)
Unpeeled garlic cloves (4)
Olive oil (1 tbsp/15 ml)

Olive oil (1 tsp/5ml)
Chopped leek (white part only) (1 cup/250 ml)
Finely grated gingerroot (1 tsp/5 ml)

Chicken (or vegetable) stock (5 cups/1.25 L)
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Half-and-half cream (1/2 cup/125 ml)

1. Combine sour cream and cardamom in small bowl until smooth. Chill until ready to serve.
2. Pre-heat oven to 425 F/220 C.
3. Put yam, carrots, and garlic cloves into large bowl. Drizzle with first amount of olive oil (1 tbsp). Toss until coated. Spread evenly on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes until yam and carrot are tender-crisp. Cool. Transfer yam and garlic to cutting board. Discard yam and garlic peels. Set aside.
4. Heat second amount of olive oil (1 tsp) in large saucepan on medium. Add leek and ginger. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until leek is softened.
5. Add stock, salt, and pepper and the roasted yam, carrots, and garlic. Stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Carefully process with hand blender or in blender until smooth.
6. Add half-and-half cream. Heat and stir for about 2 minutes until heated through.
7. Spoon chilled cardamom cream on individual servings.
8. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 6.

I halved this recipe exactly and it worked out beautifully. It is a truly delicious soup, and while it may seem slightly laborious, it's not that bad and totally worth the effort. Easy to make in bulk, healthy, and unique. Just be extra careful if you use a blender to process it. Make sure the top of your blender is secure and cover it with a cloth while you are blending to be safe.  I had no problems, but avoiding burns and catastrophic splatters is important. Don't rush this part. Enjoy it! Seeing the soup go from a chunky vegetable broth to a smooth and silky delight is quite rewarding.

Also of note: I forgot to roast and thus include the garlic in the recipe, and I didn't discard the yam peels. The soup was still delicious and autumn-like, so if you suffer from memory loss and laziness like me, don't fret. You'll still make the greatest soup ever.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Portland Series: Tonalli's Doughnuts & Cream

This is the third and long-time-coming review in my Portland Food Series, and we again find ourselves in the Alberta Arts District. You will notice that quite a few of the reviews are in that area and in the respect of full disclosure, I stayed just a few blocks off of Alberta Street while I was in town.

Tonalli's Doughnuts & Cream is located on NE Alberta Street at NE 28th. We went there for a post-breakfast snack and I was truly blown away by the sheer number and types of doughnuts on display and for sale. Cake doughnuts, fluffy doughnuts, sprinkled, chocolate, coconut, iced, with filling, glazed. You name it, Tonalli's has it. Yeah, it's pretty bare bones inside and qualifies as a hole-in-the-wall, but those prove to me time and time again to often be the best places out there.

I got a Coconut doughnut, which was a cake doughnut with white icing and flaky, sweet coconut piled on top. I also got a coffee as well. Both were fresh and complimented each other well. Unlike with the coconut cupcakes at Cupcakes here in BC, I did not feel sick afterwards, but rather delighted. It didn't come to more than $4 and was fresher and tastier than your average Timmy Ho fare.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm not dissing Timmy Ho joe and their double chocolate doughnuts. But, Tonalli's has a got a few important things on Timmy's: variety, quantity, freshness, and an actual neighbourhood feel (Tonalli's is not a chain).

If you want to compare Tonalli's to Voodoo, I don't think it's worth it because all they have in common is that they both sell doughnuts. Tonalli's does ice cream, cold drinks, coffee, espresso drinks, and the like, and has space to sit down. And while they may not have doughnuts with cereal on top or pieces of bacon, they do have a huge variety of your basics and your slightly fancy ones too.

If you're in the Alberta Arts District, you've got to stop by with a friend and be a cop for a day, coffee in one hand and doughnut in the other.

Tonallis Doughnuts & Cream on Urbanspoon