Recently, I had the privilege to photograph for an article in a local foodie magazine, Edible Vancouver. I feel grateful to see my photos and name in print, as this was something that I had dreamed about even before I started my blog, which is already 3 years old.
When I was still planning the blog, I remember expressing my longing to be published in my thick notebook along with a hundred other goals/dreams. From “Eat Belon (type of oyster) in Bretagne,” and “Learn how to shoot like Jonathan Lovekin,” to “Take my family who lives in Japan to a decent fine dining establishment in Vancouver” and “Have eternal peace within me,” I made sure to document my aspirations so that none would be left by the wayside.
For those who have read my blog from the beginning and followed my endeavors, this just goes to show that no matter how small one’s dream may be, achieving a goal gives us the strength to take another step forward. Because, I believe, after all, that life is the accumulation of these tiny achievements!
Pick up a copy if you are local or go online and check out Ms. Barnstable’s great story “From Fear and Loathing to Love of Spinach,” take a look at my accompanying photographs, and get busy in your kitchen!
I love this time of year when the leaves on my Japanese maple trees turn various shades of red, burgundy and buttery yellow, contrasting with the feathery, copper-coloured heads of Miscanthus grass nearby. One interesting neighbor is the crab apple tree, which produces plump red fruits for what will eventually become a birds’ feast. The pathway is lined with silvery lavender plants. Garlic is already in the ground for another year of harvesting, and the ground is blanketed with the frost; the garden is slowly going into resting mode, stocking up seeds for sprouting. Oh, this is my most favourite season! All I have left to do is fall clean-up: yikes!
Today I thought I would share the photos from our trip to Denman Island to celebrate the beauty of British Columbia along with the heart-warming soup recipe that I created and photographed for a local pasta company, Duso’s. Stay warm, everyone!
Potato Leek Soup with Roasted Garlic Chicken Tortelloni
Serves 4 to 6
4 strips bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1½ tablespoons garlic, sprout removed and finely chopped
2 leeks, white stems only, rinsed well and cut into ¼ inch rounds
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced into ½ inch cubes
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced into ½ inch cubes
4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 heaping cup crimini mushrooms, rinsed and cut into ¼ inch slices
1 cup whole milk
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup baby spinach, rinsed and pat dried
1 pack (350g) Duso’s Roasted Garlic Chicken Tortelloni
Place the bacon in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté until crispy, then add the butter, garlic, leek, potatoes and carrot, and continue to cook for about 10 minutes.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Remove the scum as necessary. Add the bay leaf and mushrooms. Bring the heat down and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes start to lose shape, for about 25 minutes.
In the meantime, cook Duso’s Roasted Garlic Chicken Tortelloni according to the package instructions. Drain well and set aside.
Add the milk to the soup, adjust with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the cream and cook for a few minutes. Then, add the spinach and cooked pasta, and continue to simmer until spinach is wilted.
Serve hot in individual bowls, adding salt and pepper to taste.
I initially planned to post this biscotti recipe in the fall two years ago but things got sidetracked and thoughts drifted away. Although the original recipe came from my Italian chef twin sister years ago, I had been adding, subtracting and once again adding unique ingredients along the way. Eventually the final result of these experimentations settled on a few pieces of paper featuring the below ingredients, left nestled in between pages of my recipe journal for quite some time.
Warm heat from the ginger and the distinctive flavour from the buckwheat together with anise make the biscotti a welcome addition to chilly autumn afternoons. All you need is to make sure you keep your pantry well-stocked, as this recipe is quick and easy for unexpected baking cravings. For a more wintery presentation, I sometimes add dry cranberries.
Ginger Chocolate Buckwheat Biscotti
Makes about 15 pieces
1 cup unbleached white flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
½ cup blanched almond meal
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons anise seed, ground
1/3 cup salted butter, room temperature *if you are using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon cane sugar
2 free range eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, cut into ¼ inch pieces
1/3 cup dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup pecans, chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Place the flour, almond meal, baking powder, cardamom and anise seed in a bowl, and whisk well. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy and add the sugar a small amount at a time. Beat well and scrape the side of the bowl as necessary to ensure all the ingredients are well combined.
Add the eggs one at a time, and beat to combine.
Add 1/3 of the dry mixture and stir on medium speed. Continue to stir and add the other 1/3. Reduce the speed, add the rest of the mixture and continue until well mixed.
Stir in the ginger, chocolate, pecans and coconut. Mix thoroughly until combined.
On a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper, spread the dough into a rectangle shape, about ¾ inch thickness.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes. Take the baked dough out of the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.
Set the oven to 300F.
Then gently cut the dough into strips, about ¾ inch each, using a serrated knife. Bake cut side down for 30 minutes, flipping half way through.
Let cool completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container.