Introducing: The Breakfast Guide

Hey team!

Today, I have a new guide for you and this one is all about breakfast! As with the Dinner Guide, the Breakfast Guide is an inventory of relevant posts that have appeared on FoodHappy. This one contains nearly 30 breakfast-friendly recipes from the archives, from simple stuff like seven easy ways to spice up a simple bowl of oats, to decadent things like an apple-studded baked pancake and savoury french toast. 

breakfast-guide.jpgYou’ll also find recipes for scones, muffins, quickbreads, an awesome egg sandwich, a speedy breakfast built around couscous and more! Each recipe comes with a quick description, and notes about how long it takes to prepare and how much it makes, to help you find what you’re looking for, faster.

Check out the Breakfast Guide here, or click the page title at the top of your screen. 

Happy exploring!


Experimental Indonesian-Australian Curry

When I left for Australia in July, my knowledge of the food culture there was limited. I’d heard that the restaurant and coffee scenes were pretty good. I’d tried a flat white and had taken a stab at making Lamingtons. I expected to see novel fruits and veggies, and beer served in tiny glasses. Everything else would be a surprise.

It turns out, what surprised me most – above finding that a custard apple looks mostly like a dinosaur egg and nothing like an apple, or that Australians order pasties and Devonshire tea without a hint of irony – was the curry. 

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People were throwing around unfamiliar words like rendang and laksa like they were no big deal. Grocery stores were stocked with premade pastes whose names I’d never seen. I’d thought I had a handle on curries, but in an instant I saw how broad (and somewhat meaningless) the term ‘curry’ really is, and how silly it was for me not to realize that Indonesia and Malaysia, being about as far from Australia as New Zealand is, would influence the country’s foodscape. 

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In the face of new food, what else do you do but dive in? So my travelling companion and I ate brothy laksas and, especially, coconutty rendangs. We sought out restaurants serving the stuff, and improvised simpler version while camping using prepared curry pastes. The results were spiced more warmly, and with more citrusy flavours (lemongrass! fresh lime leaves!), than the curries I’m used to. And they were just as addictive. A big pot of of complex, fragrant, spicy vegetable stew on a cold night, yes please!

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Recreating a rendang now that I’m home is proving to be a challenge. I failed to write down the ingredients’ list on the jar of rendang paste I came to love. And, having now Googled a fair few recipes, I’m finding that internet rendangs lack the nutmeg and cloves that I remember, and also instruct you to boil off the coconut milk rather than leave it as a tasty sauce.

So now, I’m on a mission to improvise my way back to the dish I remember, my saucy take on rendang. And today’s recipe, my first attempt, turns out to be…well, nothing at all like what I remember. 

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It’s hearty, spicy and citrusy – an excellent combination if you, like me, are surrounded by snow. But next time, I’ll up the coconut milk by half a cup and toss in some nutmeg and cloves. I’ll also swap the starchy potatoes for more rice-friendly veggies like snap peas and greens.

But it’s a start, and a tasty one at that. So while you wait for Rendang: Round Two, dig into a bowl of steaming, coconut-covered potatoes and think of adventure! 


Vegetarian Rendang
Adapted from Serious Eats, Raging Cravings, and the BBC (phew!)
Serves 4

Note: To try to replicate the flavour of the dish I first tried, I’ll add a few cloves and a bit of grated nutmeg at the same time as the veggies and coconut milk (which I’ll up by a half cup). You can also try swapping other veggies for the potatoes and cauliflower (peppers, carrots, snap peas and greens would all be tasty). Make sure to adjust the cooking time downwards so that your veggies don’t get soggy!  

Ingredients - Curry Paste*

1 small onion
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 stalks of lemongrass, woody layers discarded and remaining stalks bruised with the flat side of a knife
2 inch knob of ginger
2 tsp ground tumeric
2 tsp dried chile flakes
2 tsp ground coriander 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Water as needed

Ingredients - Everything Else!

2 tbsp oil (olive, coconut and vegetable will all work)
1lb baby potatoes, washed and halved (~3 cups)
1lb cauliflower, washed and quartered (~ 3 cups)
2 cups coconut milk
1 tbsp tamarind paste (or 1 tbsp lime juice)
1 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup unsweetened, grated coconut
juice of 1 lime

For serving: Fresh cilantro, lime wedges and (optional) cooked rice

Directions

Roughly chop your onion, garlic, lemongrass and ginger. Transfer the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and add the turmeric, chile flakes, coriander and cinnamon. Blend until you have a reasonably smooth paste, adding water a teaspoon at a time as needed to help the paste come together (I used 5 teaspoons total).**

In a wide saucepan set over medium heat, heat your oil until hot. Carefully add the paste to the pot and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the paste is super-aromatic and beginning to brown, stirring regularly. 

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Next, add your potatoes, cauliflower, coconut milk, tamarind paste, salt and lime zest to the pot, stirring until the potatoes and cauliflower are evenly coated in the sauce. 

Bring the pot to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook until the potatoes are nearly tender, 25-35 minutes, stirring regularly. Stir in the grated coconut and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Stir in the lime juice. 

Give it a taste, season as you see fit, and serve with cilantro, lime wedges and, if you’re up for carbs upon carbs, freshly cooked rice. I found the starch on starch to be a bit much, and would serve the dish without rice next time around.

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*In Edmonton, ingredients like tamarind paste and fresh lemongrass can be found at Superstore. You can also find lemongrass paste and, sometimes, fresh lemongrass at Save On Foods.

**If you don’t have a food processor, you can blend the ingredients together using a mortar and pestle. If you go this route, chop your ingredients a little finer to make the blending process easier.  

Tomorrow: Indonesian-inspired Curry from Australia!

Friends! Tune in tomorrow for a coconutty curry inspired by my travels in Australia, and photos from the trip too! 

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I hope you have a happy Monday!

Spicy Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Sunday in Edmonton marked a shift. For the first time this fall, the city woke to snow and decidedly subzero temperatures. And though things are looking better for the week ahead, that first snowfall seems to bring a change in mentality: Summer is over; winter is on its way. 

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And so: It’s time to bake cookies. Spicy, cinnamon- and cayenne-flecked chocolate snickerdoodles, if we’re being precise. Cookies rolled in cinnamon sugar, to give them a crunch and a sparkle that serve as a foil against a soggy, grey day. Coziness in edible form. 

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They’re easy enough to throw together – if you’ve got a reasonably stocked pantry, a bowl and a baking tray, you can start now and be eating your first cookie in 20 minutes. And they’re vegan, which is good news if, like me: 1) You never seem to have eggs, and; 2) You have dietarily-restricted family and friends (they need cookie love too!). 

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Make a test batch or two now so that you’re well-practiced for when the cold weather decides to stay. Then arm yourself with a cookie, a cup of hot chocolate and a heavy sweater, and you’ll be ready to brave sitting in a couch next to an un-weather-sealed window. 

Happy baking!


Spicy Chocolate Snickerdoodles
Adapted from the snazzy Post Punk Kitchen, where they were sourced from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar
Makes 24-30 cookies 

Ingredients

1 cup of granulated white sugar
1/2 cup neutral-tasting oil (like canola or vegetable)
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla extract

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
scant 1/2 tsp table salt 

1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two standard baking trays with parchment paper or a Silpat.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar (1 cup), oil, maple syrup and water until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir again until smooth. In a medium bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon (1/2 tsp), cayenne and salt until the ingredients are evenly dispersed and there are no lumpy bits of cocoa remaining. 

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until you have a uniform dough. The dough will be stiff – don’t be afraid to squish it together using your (clean) hands! 

On a flat plate, mix together the 1/4 cup of white sugar and the 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. 

Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls (a slightly rounded tablespoon works as a good measure). Flatten each ball in the palm of your hand, until it’s roughly 1.5 inches across. Dip one face of the flattened cookie into the cinnamon sugar and place it on the baking sheet, sugar side up. Leave 1-2 inches between cookies to give them room to spread. 

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges begin to firm up. Let the cookies cool on the tray for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool further. 

Cake, Cake and More Cake

When your nephew turns one, it calls for cake. And another cake. And another another cake. So lately, I’ve been baking.  

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Cake #1, made for Max’s proper birthday just over a week ago, was a simple thing: A whole wheat banana cake, cut into stackable little rounds, iced with semi-sweet chocolate, and rolled in shredded coconut. The chocolate shell gave Max’s new teeth a run for their money, but in the end he prevailed, gaining tasty cake and an important life lesson about the rewards of perseverance in the process. Just what a baby needs. 

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Cake #2, made for his birthday party this past weekend, had his mom and I taking a refresher course on the same lesson. When we first saw the cake online – a triple-layer sprinkle concoction topped with fluffy white icing and sprinkle-studded cookie bits – we thought, Hey, that looks easy…let’s triple it!

Oh-ho! We paid the price for our naivety, spending Friday afternoon and evening working through pounds of ingredients, fashioning a cake mould from plastic wrap and cardboard, assembling for hours, then transferring our 10-inch cardboard-wrapped cake to the freezer to sit for half a day. When we finished at 11PM, we had zero confidence in the cake. Or ourselves. 

But thank the heavenly cake gods, it worked! And oh man, a tiny slice went a long way towards happiness.  

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And Cake #3? Using the extras from Cake #2, we fashioned Max a mini version of the big cake, for his enjoyment and destruction. He was successful on both accounts. 

The past two days have been dedicated to party recovery, but soon I’ll share instructions for the teeny banana cake. In the mean time, if you want to give the sprinkle cake a go (and you definitely should, so long as you have a half-day to spare), you can find the recipe and full instructions over here.

Happy Tuesday to you, and again, happy first birthday to Max! 

How to Whip Cream Like a Luddite

In theory, the technique of turning whipping cream into whipped cream is simple: you whip it. 

But if you’ve ever untangled an electric cord, emptied a kitchen drawer in search of a missing beater, braved the sisyphean task of wielding a whisk, and scraped that hard-earned cream off of every last rung of your whipping instrument, you know better. 

In practice, whipping cream the traditional way is a pain. The traditional way.

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But say you pour some cream into a glass jar (and maybe some sugar and vanilla too). Then you screw a lid on nice and tight. And you shake it. 

At first, you’ll hear the cream sloshing around. After a minute, you’ll hear it thicken. And after just two or three minutes in total – minutes which feel about 800,000 times easier than minutes spent whisking – you won’t hear it at all, because it will have transformed. Into whipped cream, only shaken, easier, and all the more delicious for it.   

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Think of the possibilities: So long as you’ve got a jar and a place to keep your cream cool, whipped cream is mere minutes away; never again will you be derided for running your stand mixer at 6AM. No more hunting for tools, no more scraping cream off of beaters; your cream is transformed and stored in just one jar.   

Finally, something that should be simple is.



Whipped Cream, Made Easy!
Makes ~3/4 cup whipped cream (and doubles easily)

Note: You’re shaking a glass jar here, so be careful! And make sure to use a jar with an opening large enough that you can get the cream out after it’s been whipped. What a sad thought, to have freshly (shaken) whipped cream that’s just beyond your reach!

Ingredients
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp icing sugar (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
Pour your ingredients in a 500 ml glass jar*. Screw on a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously for 2-3 minutes, until you can no longer hear the cream moving around in the jar. Open the jar and check to see whether your cream holds soft peaks (where the cream forms little hills whose peaks fall over). If your cream is still a bit runny, screw the lid back on and shake again for another minute (be careful not to overdo your shaking, or your cream may separate and turn into butter!). Store in a chilly place (a fridge will do).  

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*A few things: 1) A cool jar is best, as it’ll keep the cream cold, but a room temperature jar will work too; 2) You can also give this a try in a plastic jar or thermos with a tight fitting lid; and 3) If you’re increasing the quantity of cream, keep in mind that you may need to increase the size of your shaking container.

Classic PEI-style Coleslaw

Friends! I still owe you stories and recipes from my summer adventures in wintery Australia, I know. 

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But today, I’m going to digress (again) and rewind back to my spring trip to Prince Edward Island, where I spent a month working on a photography project about lobster fishing and culinary practices. Last week, the results of our efforts – a website, a photo and recipe book and a behind-the-scenes eBook – went live, for the world to see. So today, in celebration of the occasion, and because it’s tasty, I want to share with you a recipe from the project.    

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So, coleslaw. Not the most celebratory of dishes. But let me say: this isn’t the sad, soggy, face-puckeringly sour coleslaws of barbecues gone by. This is coleslaw, refined, straight from Prince Edward Island itself. The veggies – just cabbage and carrots – are chopped rather than grated to keep the texture interesting and the salad visually appealing. And the simple dressing is bold but balanced: the vinegar, honey, sea salt and oil all add something substantial to the mix without overwhelming the other flavours.  

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Though coleslaw tends to be reserved for the summer months, it makes more sense to me to eat it now, when warm-weather veggies like peppers and zucchinis are disappearing and cabbage and carrots abound. And hey, being able to lean on a salad whose sweet-and-sour-and-salty crispness draws out happy memories of sunshine and patios may make the transition to the chillier months ahead a bit easier. So coleslaw it up in the cold, my friends, and think fondly of warmer times.

summer-trio.jpgOr head over to our project site, Lobster Island, and celebrate the season with roasted potatoes, chowder and warm blueberry pie. Whatever floats your (lobster) boat. 


Madly-delicious Coleslaw
Adapted from my Aunt Lynda’s madly-delicious recipe
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

For the salad
1/2 a large head of green cabbage
2 large carrots, peeled

For the dressing
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 tsp + 1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or other neutral oil)
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp celery seeds
1/8 tsp ground pepper

Directions
Slice your cabbage into thin, bite-sized strips. Grate the carrots or cut them into 2-inch matchsticks. You should have about 5 packed cups of sliced cabbage and 3/4 cup of carrots. If you’ve got a little more or less, adjust as necessary. Combine the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.

Combine all of your dressing ingredients into a small saucepan and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. Once the five minutes are up, remove the saucepan from the heat and let the dressing cool until it’s no longer hot to the touch.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage and carrots and toss until the veggies are evenly coated. Let the salad sit in the fridge for at least one hour before you serve, to allow the flavours to develop. 
 

Lobster Island: A Book, A Website, An Adventure!

Today: Something a little different and, I hope, a little exciting.

This summer, I spent a month on Prince Edward Island, a little province on the east coast of Canada. I was there in part to visit my parents and relatives, but also to spend time with the cool folks of Photography Concentrate to shoot a documentary project about lobster culture on the Island.

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We spent the month traveling around the Island with our cameras and notebooks, getting a sense of what lobster means to the people who live there. And it turns out, it means a lot. Fishing is a central part of Island identity. 

You can see its mark on the place when you look out on the water, which is dotted with little boats from 5AM to 12PM Monday through Saturday, rain or shine. You see it as you make your way along the coast, in the historic wooden lighthouses that Islanders fight to preserve long after they’ve gone out of use.  

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And you see it in the understated beauty of the wharfs where fishers park their boats, sell their catch, and store their gear. Time and again, we found these to be places that reflect the trust, tradition and pride that underpin the industry; storage shacks are left unlocked, wooden traps built in the traditional style are stacked in neat rows, and fishers are quick to say a friendly hello to those photographers from ‘out west’.  

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Over the course of the month, we gathered stories, images, videos and, of course, recipes that we hope do justice to lobster culture on the Island. An we’ve spent the past few months packaging them in a way that, we hope, will appeal to people both on and off of the Island. 

We’ve given the material a permanent home on a snazzy new website, which you can find at www.lobsterisland.co. We’ve also put a lot of love into building a fine art book that holds our favourite stories, images and recipes from our time on the Island. 

The project – the website, book and also a behind-the-scenes guide – all launched today (hurray!). Again, check out www.lobsterisland.co to get the lowdown. 

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And if you want to skip straight to the tasty stuff, head to the links below for a feast’s-worth of new, Island-inspired recipes (the seafood ones are brought to you by my shellfish-loving Lobster Island partners).

     Honeyed Coleslaw from Aunty Lynda
     Roasted Potato Salad with Lemon and Dill
     Uncle Pauls’ Eight-hour Seafood Chowder
     Mussels with White Wine
     Campfire Lobster
     Beth’s Award-winning Blueberry Pie 

I hope you have an awesome time exploring!

Introducing: The Dinner Guide!

Friends! To make FoodHappy a little more user-friendly, I’m in the process of putting together some new food-related resources. My hope is that they’ll help make it easier for you to track down whatever you’re looking for, be it a tasty breakfast, a healthy dessert, or something in between.

The first resource, which you can find to the left of the search bar at the top of your page, is the “Dinner Guide“. In essence, it’s an inventory of all of the dinner-able recipes that have appeared on FoodHappy over the years. Short on ideas for dinner? Head over to the guide, where you’ll find 22!

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Each dish in the guide comes with a photo, a quick description, some information about serving sizes and cooking times, and a link back to the original post where the recipe is housed. The recipes are organized by type – curries, pizzas, ricey things and so on – so that you can find what you want for dinner, faster. Hooray!

Check out the Dinner Guide here, or scroll up and click the page entitled “Dinner Guide”. And be sure to check back regularly, as I’ll be updating it whenever a new dinner-friendly recipe appears on the site. 

Happy dining!

An Australian Adventure Leads to Sandwiches

On our second day in Australia, my travelling companion and I spent the morning gathering food. We would be boarding a train that would leave Sydney at 11AM and wind its way north along the coast and through the hills, arriving at his parents’ place seven hours and two meals later. Snacks were necessary. 

So we loaded our bags up with almond pastries and produce – miniature bananas and knobbly custard apples – from Sydney’s China Town, making our final stop at a dark coffee shop next to the train station to pick up sandwiches. 

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My travelling companion, an Australian himself, went confidently off-menu, asking the man behind the counter for a “curried egg and salad” – Australian for “an egg salad sandwich with curry powder and vegetables”, he explained to me. 

The man nodded, mashing a boiled egg with curried mayonnaise and piling our sandwiches high with grated carrots and pickled beets. Unusual, I thought, but neither my travelling companion nor the man seemed phased. He then named his price – a slowly-calculated but seemingly arbitrary number that was twice as much as anything advertised on the sandwich board. Again, unusual, but again, both were unphased, and so I gave the sandwich little additional thought except to conclude that the pickled beets were indeed a tasty addition.     

owstralia (1 of 1).jpgA few days later, my travelling companion and I hopped in a car and headed on a trip around the southeast corner of the country. We followed the road over mountains and through valleys and, eventually, down the main street of country town after country town, where we would stop to stretch our legs and reward our sedentary morning in the car with lunch at the local bakery.  

bakery-duo.jpgAnd there, we found the sandwich. Sort of. We never saw it listed on the menu, but the independent offerings of just curried egg and just salad told us that it could be created. And when we asked, it was made, again without confusion and with a quietly calculated price. Always on soft bread baked in-house that day, and always with grated carrot and pickled beet alongside veggies I’m more accustomed to seeing on sandwiches, like lettuce and tomato. 

And so, by accident, one of the foods I’ve come to associate most strongly with Australia is the “curried egg and salad”. I made one yesterday, here in Edmonton, pickled beets and all. And with the first bite of beety sourness mingling with carrot and egg, I felt like I was on the other side of the world. Odd, yes. But tasty too. 

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Australian Egg & Salad Sandwich
Makes enough for 2 sandwiches

NOTE: This is simply a sandwich, so don’t get too hung up on following the instructions below. Your bread and veggies are likely to be different sizes than mine, your spices may be more or less intense, and so on. So let your tastebuds and your sandwich-making intuition take the front seat here and think of the instructions below simply as suggestions. 

Ingredients
3 eggs, preferably organic
1.5 tbsp plain yogurt
3/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated
half a tomato, sliced 1 cm thick
1-2 pickled beets, sliced 1 cm thick
6-8 slices of cucumber, sliced 1 cm thick
2-4 leaves of green lettuce

Direction

1. Hard boil your eggs: Place the eggs in a high-sided pot and fill with enough cold water to cover the eggs by one inch. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. As soon as it boils, remove the pot from the heat, cover and let sit for 12 minutes. Next, drain the pot and refill it with enough cold water to cover the eggs again. Now, using the blunt side of a knife, gently tap the sides of the eggs to break their shells. Let them cracked eggs sit in the cool water for 7 minutes before peeling. 

2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the yogurt, curry powder, salt and pepper. Add in your peeled eggs and mash them with a fork until they’ve crumbled into little cubes and are evenly coated with the curried yogurt.  

step-one.jpg3. Now assemble your tasty sandwiches: Butter two slices of bread, then divide your toppings – the egg mixture, grated carrot, tomato slices, beet slices, cucumber slices and lettuce leaves – evenly over each piece of buttered bread. Top each sandwich with another slice of bread (butter optional on this slice). Cut, eat, repeat. 

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