Monday, February 10, 2014

New Beginnings (Greek Style Pork & Vegetables)


Recently, I announced to my roommates that after two wonderful years here, I'll be leaving them very soon to go on and live new life adventures with the boy. The one request that I received: "Could you please cook up one last big meal... with meat?"

(Note: vegan recipe still included! Scroll to the last paragraph.)





I'm never one to say no to a kitchen request. However, it's been quite a while since I've cooked any sort of animal product, and I drew a complete blank when I tried to think of recipes that I could make for my little meat lovers. Conveniently, the March issue of Canadian Living features a simple greek-style pork tenderloin on the cover - so I was quite excited when I was asked to test out the recipe at home! 

Well, this meal definitely hit the spot: my perfectly plated servings were gobbled up in the blink of an eye. My favourite part of the meal - the dipping sauce - had me guiltily proudly licking my fingers at the table. A homemade tzaziki-style dip made with fat-free greek yogurt, I doubled the amount that I made and, still, no leftovers. (The boy loves his sauces!) A quick note to enhance the flavours: make your sauce ahead of time and let it marinate for a little while in the fridge. The garlic will infuse the yogurt for a more intense taste. I also added a little s&p just before serving.

Vegetarians and vegans: fret not! There is a delicious meal for you in here as well. Double the amount of veggies that the recipe calls for. Cook them in a separate pan, using vegetable broth in the place of chicken broth. Thanks to the starchy sweet potato, the vegetables on their own make a colourful, filling meal. As for the yogurt sauce, it is a-mah-zing on top of the veggies, so for vegans, I suggest that you make it with some unsweetened cultured soy. Round it all out by serving it on top of some of your favorite steamed rice.

Get the whole original recipe over at Canadian Living!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Semi-Guilty Pleasures (Baked Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar Glaze)

And so, it begins.
Pastry school, that is!




Courses began this week, and so far we've learned some introductory basics on health and safety measures, as well as basic sanitation practices. Many of the unsettling facts made me happy to be vegetarian - a life choice that made me feel almost safe, until I learned that one of the worst outbreaks of botulism came from an infected jar of mushrooms, of all things. Still, the majority of contaminated food items are ones of animal origin, (poultry, beef, dairy, eggs) so vegans, you're generally in the clear. I say generally, because there are still certain precautions that should be taken, especially when dealing with low-acidity canned foods, and unwashed fresh produce. I'll be posting more about good hygiene practices in the weeks to come, once I've obtained my MAPAQ certification. 

I'm quite excited for today, as we get to go into the Pastry Lab (the name itself excites me!) where we will be learning about basic ingredients, measurement and weight. Every ingredient in classic French pastry is measured by weight (grams and millilitres), instead of measured by volume (teaspoons and cups). This allows for the most accurate reproductions of recipes, as measurement by volume is often skewed due to air pockets. In the future, as I blog certain pastry recipes, I'll offer approximate conversions from volume to weight, for those of you who prefer one method over the other.





Alright, time for the sweet stuff... Drum roll please...
I introduce to you, the deliciously moist, sweet on the outside, fluffy on the inside, ultimate home baked donut! I won't go as far as to say that these little babies are healthy, because, well, they are coated in sugar and then rolled in even more of the powdery white delight, but they are healthier than your average donut shop donut, as they're baked instead of fried. They're also far tastier, more wholesome, and it doesn't get fresher than straight out of the oven! You can opt out of the sugar dusting part, though personally, I found that the sugar coating kept them fresher longer, and added a mighty fine taste to them.