Category Archives: Food for eating

Pass the pomodoro!


Ever since I started growing (and obsessing over) tomatoes on my back porch, few things make me as happy as the perfect tomato.  Doesn’t this one look amazing?

Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for this one, but it does provide me with some inspiration for my little plant.  My favorite thing about tomatoes is that there is so much you can do with them.  I picked these ones up at the market a few days ago and had so much fun roasting them in the oven.  They look so fresh!

In order to roast them, here’s what I did.  Cut them in half and line them up on a cookie pan (I used parchment paper) as shown above.  Drizzle some olive oil and add a few unpeeled garlic cloves (about 3-4) like so:

You then put them in the oven at 200 degrees F for 2.5 to 3 hours.

When you take them out, they should look like this:

From there, you can enjoy them on their own or throw them into your favorite pasta or onto your favorite pizza!  Here’s what I did with them:

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The little tomato tree that could


We made it through our first week back to reality! So far I am really liking my new job and loving working from home.  J also had a great time at orientation meeting new people and getting to do fun Halifax stuff like kayaking and partying on Citadel Hill.

A while back when we were still in Ottawa, I went out for a jog and on my way back I picked up a little tomato plant that one of the neighbours was giving away.  I’ve never really done much (read: any) gardening, but I thought that having a little tomato plant could be fun.  It would be even more fun if we actually got some tomatoes!  This is how she looked when I picked her up:

As she started to grow, I had to give her a bigger home because she was getting to big for the one she came in.  Here she is after the move to Halifax.  She’s a bit hunched over because the truck ride to Halifax was a bit rough on her.  In fact, people told me I should probably throw her out and give up, but I just couldn’t. I was told that in order to get tomatoes, one would have to start earlier in the spring (I only picked her up in June).  I still wanted to try though just to see what would happen.

Lo and behold, a few weeks after we got to Halifax I noticed a tomato! For someone who has no kids, this would probably be the closest thing to my pride and joy:

Each day I would go and examine my one little tomato to see if it had grown, and to my absolute delight, one day I discovered that not only had it grown, but that “it” was in fact “two”!

A few days later, I noticed 3 more beginning to bloom.  They are a little harder to see because they are still young and are sort of hidden by the leaves above them, but if you look closely, you can see them.  You can also see how much their older siblings have been growing.

Here are the two most recent pictures that I have. It is now past labour day so I am just hoping that there will be enough warmth left for these little guys to reach their full potential.   I’ll keep you posted, and if you have any tips, feel free to share them. Thanks for reading!


Last burger of the summer?


Happy Tuesday everyone!

Our summer vacation has officially ended and today J started law school and I started my new job.  For the next few months I’ll be working from home which I think will be a nice treat.  We’ve set up a little home office for me and I am really looking forward to spending my days at home and being able to take advantage of the flexibility that comes along with that.  I know that I’ll miss the people interaction but hopefully the convenience of the arrangement will outweigh that.

Remember when I told you about those pomegranate molasses I bought at the Middle East grocer and how I promised greatness? Well, I’ve concocted this recipe for pomegranate-feta burgers that I think you might like.  Hopefully you will have some time to squeeze in a few more bbq dinners before the fall officially hits.

Pomegranate-Feta Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup  crumbled feta cheese (ideally Macedonian feta)
  • 6 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat a grill for high heat.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, onion, cheese, soy sauce, pomegranate molasses, egg, onion soup mix, garlic, garlic powder, parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  3. Form into patties.
  4. Grill patties for 5 minutes per side on the hot grill, or until well done.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus


Happy Saturday! If you are looking for something fun and quick to put together for yourself or for some guests, here is one of my favorite appetizer recipes.  I got it a while back from the New York Times and have since made it a number of times.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1lb of fresh asparagus (about 20 stalks)

2tbs of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and Fresh ground peppers

10 thin slices of Prosciutto

Directions

1. Preheat the oven at 375 degrees.

2. Wash the asparagus and trim the bottom.

3. Lay out the asparagus on the baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Make sure that every single spear is evenly coated.


4. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

5. Place into the oven and let it roast for 15 approximately minutes.

6. Let the asparagus slightly cool until it’s easy to handle and individually wrap the spears with the prosciutto making sure to keep the tip of the asparagus is exposed.

7. The prosciutto will slightly melt and grab onto the warm asparagus.

Serve immediately or at room temperature.
(Serves 10-14)

Exploring Halifax


We’ve been able to get away from the boxes and the house work over the past little while and have gone out and to enjoy Halifax – we even took a road trip to Cape Breton to see the Cabot trail!

Last week-end we went to check out the Al Fresco Film Festo which is an outdoor film fest on the Halifax Seaport. It was so beautiful to be sitting outside with about a thousand other people watching “What about Bob?” (Did I mention that the theme of this year’s festival is “Bill Murray”? So random but amazing at the same time. They are screening a Bill Murray film every Friday!). We felt so Atlantic as we watched a few sailboats pull up next to the dock to watch along with us.

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The next morning we checked out the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market which we also absolutely loved. Lots of vendors selling fresh, organic veggies as well as a variety of things from home cooked ethnic foods to pies to jewellery. It was fun to be out early exploring the market and tasting the yummy pastries. Once the market started getting a bit too crowded for our liking, we headed to Point Pleasant park for some Yoga by the ocean. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know by now that I am all about the outdoor Yoga. Having loved “Yoga on the hill” this summer, I was pleased to see that I could now join up something just as beautiful here. To me, there is just something special about being outdoors and in community with others. Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed the class and will be going back for sure.  For such a small city, this place has a lot going on!

To make a great week-end even better, we checked out a local Pizza place called Salvatore’s that was recommended to us by a friend. We weren’t really in any particular mood for pizza, but it was the only place we could find that was open late so we decided to try it. I don’t even know where to start about this pizza. We got the “Pomodoro” – sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, feta cheese and fresh garlic. It was a perfect pizza. A ten out of ten. I’m not sure if I should be happy or concerned that we discovered this place at the beginning of our time here…


Cape Breton has been a big highlight for us too…I will have a post up about that trip soon!

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree


So we have been here for about a week – and I have already found a place to buy candied chickpeas!

Lucky for us, there is a Middle Eastern grocer about 5 minutes away from our home and, though it’s relatively small, it carries everything I would have wanted to find. Besides the candied chickpeas, I was hoping to find some Pomegranate molasses (and I did!). The Lebanese use this a lot in their cooking and I’ve been meaning to try it out because the few times that I have tried it, it was just so good. My mother in law makes particularly good use of this stuff and I’m hoping to follow in her footsteps. Once I’ve had a chance to try a few recipes with this little secret weapon, I will report back.  Expect greatness.

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J and I found ourselves feeling particularly at home in this shop and as a result we bought a lot of items simply because they were comfort foods, and not because we had any particular craving for them (though they will not be going to waste, I can tell you that). Its amazing how just having certain items in your fridge can make your little abode feel like that much more of a home. Here is a list of what we came back with:

  • Labneh: a soft Lebanese cheese made by straining yogurt
  • Pickled turnips (or in Arabic “lift”): you might have had these in a shawarma sandwich
  • Macedonian feta cheese: this is what my dad always has in the fridge at home.  J and I are hoping that the kind we bought will be just as good
  • Za’atar: a mixture made up of thyme, sesame seeds and sumac.  It can be used as a seasoning or can also be eaten with lebneh.
  • Mango juice: reminds me so much of my visits to Egypt
  • Halawa: a sweet crumbly spread usually eaten with bread at breakfast time but it can be eaten in a variety of ways any time of the day
  • Candied chickpeas: these were not freshly made in-store as they are in the roastery in Ottawa and as a result they are quite expensive here!

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The funniest part about this list is that the majority of these items are not ones we are accustomed to buying.  They are tastes and flavours which we are usually fed when visiting family, or which our parents will just pick up for us when they go to the Middle Eastern grocery store. In fact, save for the chick peas, this is probably the first time I have ever purchased any of these items for myself.

The outing was special to us though.  Though the Middle Eastern grocery store is not a regular stop for us in Ottawa, we naturally gravitated towards it here.  I think it might be because we both have an unspoken desire and need to preserve our cultures and  to integrate them into our new home.  When we live close to family, we really don’t need to put any effort into this.  Now that we are further away, it seems to have happened organically.

Fattoush!


So, in keeping with my ongoing fetish for Lebanese food and culture, I have recently developed a more specific fetish – for fattoush. Yes, that’s right, a fetish for fattoush.

What is fattoush you ask? It is a delicious salad made from greens and toasted or fried pita bread.  The special ingredient, which makes it taste different than other salads you may have had, is sumac – a spice used in the Middle East which adds a bit of a lemony taste. You will love it!

Since my little fetish has started to become an expensive one because I am constantly going to Lebanese restaurants for a quick fix, I recently decided that the time had come for me to make some homemade fattoush.   It is actually quite easy to make and the  only tip I have is to not overdo it with the sumac. Be  somewhat generous, just not overly generous. Contrary to what I had previously thought, it is possible to have too much sumac. 🙂

This recipe is adapted from one taken from one of my favorite Lebanese food blogs – Taste of Beirut.  Enjoy!

Fattoush:

  • a head of romaine lettuce chopped up
  • cucumbers
  • diced tomatoes
  • diced radishes
  • green onions, sliced
  • a handful of chopped Italian parsley and a handful of fresh mint
  • green pepper
  • 1 large pita

Dressing:

1. 2 small lemons, juiced

2. 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

3. 2  tablespoons of sumac

4.  2 or more cloves of garlic mashed in a dash of salt in a mortar

Method:

1.  Brush the pita bread with oil and sprinkle plenty of sumac on top

2.  Toast in a 325 F oven until the bread is crispy and golden – break into small pieces and set aside *Note – if you forget to brush with olive oil and sumac – you can just mix the bread in with the salad later and it will absorb the dressing and sumac*.

3.  Prepare all the salad ingredients; mix the dressing; when ready to serve, toss the salad with the dressing and mix in the pieces of pita bread.

Picture of the Week – Amato Pizza & Good Food in the T-dot


So I haven’t been that great with my blogging in the past couple of weeks – mostly due to a previously mentioned insane busy period at work. I am glad to report that that period is over! I am happy to be back to blogging and will have a few fun posts up this week – stay tuned for my first attempt at making fattoush!

I recently returned from a business + pleasure trip to Toronto and when I looked back at my pictures, I realised that a lot of them were of food.  Let’s face it, there’s some good food in Toronto.  This particular shot was taken at Amato Pizza, possibly one of the best pizza spots in the city.  Nothing fancy, just good pizza.

While we’re on the topic of food – another great spot that I visited during my trip was Fressen – definitely the best vegan restaurant that I have been to so far.  My cousin and I ordered this fabulous zucchini appetizer and I had the seitan and veggies for my main.  No regrets whatsoever.  For desert, we shared a chocolate avocado tartine.  Besides the food being delicious, we were both extremely impressed with the presentation of the food.

Two other blog-worthy restaurant visits in Toronto this week were Grazie and Tabule, both mid-town around Yonge and Eglinton.  Grazie has got to be my favorite Italian restaurant in TO.  I highly recommend the Penza (penne à la vodka).   Tabule is great if you are in the mood for really good Lebanese food.  I am glad this place opened up because Toronto doesn’t have a ton of Middle Eastern restaurants.  This one is definitely a good spot.

All in all, such an amazing and refreshing week in Toronto.  I am ready to be back home to J and to return to daily life in the O-town. Thanks for reading!

Picture of the Week – My trip to the Lebanese Roastery


Can you guess what these colorful balls of sweetness are?



When I first saw them I thought they were deformed gum balls.  If you look closely though you can see that they are actually candied chickpeas!

My mother in law gave us a bag of these pretty little chick peas a few weeks ago and ever since that day, I have wanted to go to the store to get some more.  They are so delicious.  I am not sure about their nutritional value – since the amount of sugar probably cancels out the fact that you are eating chickpeas – but they are so good.

So this week I took a trip to the Lebanese roastery, where the chickpeas are roasted and candied.  For those of you who don’t know, my husband is Lebanese.  Being of Egyptian background myself, I did not think I had too much to learn about Lebanese culture. But these candied chickpeas, or kdaameh, are a case in point to show that I was wrong.  Lebanese culture is so different from Egyptian culture in so many ways – language, food, people, history, traditions, pretty much everything. I am learning and discovering more about this culture on a daily basis.  I love being able to pick and choose what I like from both of our cultures, and leaving out the parts that I don’t like as much.  In any case, candied chickpeas  definitely made the cut.

So, back to my story: I took my first trip over to the Lebanese roastery and loved what I saw.  Bins of colourfoul chickpeas, almonds, coffee beans and seeds – all freshly roasted….mmmm.  Lots of fancy chocolate and teas all imported from Lebanon.  The store itself was not very fancy, and is located in a small plaza on a side street.  But I kid you not, while I was in there, I felt like I was in Lebanon.  Arabic music playing, only Lebanese people doing their shopping,  no English to be heard in the store – it was just wonderful and I loved being in there.  I plan on making regular trips to the roastery from now on.  Well, that is, until we move.  But hopefully I can find another one in Halifax.

And that is the story of the how the “deformed gum balls” came into my world.


What are some aspects of other cultures that you have invited into you life?

First Picture of the Week – Cake & Wine


Welcome to B&B’s very first picture of the week!

I will endeavour to do one of these posts each week.  I like to set goals that are simple and attainable. I also think that limiting myself to one picture will force me to cut the excess, and pick one picture that is actually special – as opposed to many mediocre ones.

My favorite picture from this week is one taken in commemoration of our one year wedding anniversary (eek – the year went by so fast!).  We celebrated with a tier of our wedding cake that was frozen and a bottle of wine that we bought on our honeymoon and saved for this occasion. Enjoy!