Special Dish for the Week: Bigos

At this chily yet festive time of the year, I seek comfort in one of my favourite Polish dishes, which I plan to share with some friends, and I make this great cabbage, sauerkraut, mushrooms and meats sensation for this Special Dish for the Week:

Bigos

Bigos

Bigos

Also known as the Polish Hunter’s Stew, bigos is a warming and filling dish from the old country. I try to get as close to the basics of unprocessed foods of the olden days as I can manage in modern day Canada, and even only at the 2nd day of cooking, the flavours have already intermingled and the meats have softened.

The following ingredients, with a few “Maggifications”, make up this hearty traditional dish:

  • chopped and sautéed onion* and mushrooms*
    • Onions, mushrooms and cabbage, with their surlfuric compounds, are some of the main anti-cancer foods.
  • coconut oil, for sautéeing (a little more if using lean meats)
  • stewed bison meat cubes (or shoulder pork), cut into bite size pieces
  • sausage, cubed into bite size pieces (free of nitrites and other preservatives)
  • small white cabbage*, thinly sliced in 4 cm long pieces
  • at least 1 kg saurkraut, unpasteurised and fermented with salt (no vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp plum butter, or 2 plums (optional)
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • black pepper, to taste
  • few small chunks of kelp, cut into thin small pieces (optional)
Bigos Dish

Bigos Dish

This dish can very well be made in a single large pot on the stove, or the onions together with mushrooms and the bison or pork meats can be sautéed separately, and added to the large pot once their flavours have intensified during sautéeing. The slightly softened sautéed meat, when cooled, is also easier to cut into smaller bite sizes.

The key to its success, however, is patience. It needs to stew over low heat for several days, adding water from time to time to maintain the stewy consistency (and prevent burning). It can be mixed with a large wooden spoon from time to time.

Once made, portions can be frozen and/or shared! It can be served on its own, with bread, or with mushed potatoes.

Spinach Salmon Quiche

Spinach Salmon Quiche

On this occasion, I serve it as a first course of a Christmas dinner party with a couple of friends. The main course is a delicious and interesting spinach quiche with a corn tortilla as the base in place of a typical quiche crust—my friend’s wheat-free invention. For dessert, which was so tasty that it was enjoyed before a picture could be taken, we served my friend’s apple and rhubarb crisp.

 

Special Dish for the Week: Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad

I make a surprisingly delicious discovery at this year’s downtown farmers market, which has been supplying my beet, greens, sprout, egg, and sauerkraut needs over the summer—I find red sauerkraut, made with 1/2 white and 1/2 red cabbage—and it is delicious and ever so colourful in this salad that I “cook up”:

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad 

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad Ingredients

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad Ingredients

Simply delicious, nutritious, and delightful in colour and texture, into this salad I mix the following ingredients:

  • red sauerkraut (it works just as well with typical white sauerkraut)
    • Sauerkraut is not to contain vinegar, only salt—and possibly herbs—for the cabbage to ferment in its own microbes rather than to pickle in vinegar
  • carrot, finely chopped or grated
  • cilantro, finely chopped
  • basil, shredded
  • olive oil
  • herbes de Provence or other herbs
  • black pepper

I mix by hand all these ingredients, and enjoy the salad on its own as a snack, or as a side-dish to a meal, or as an ingredient for a super salad. A small glass of rosé wine pairs very well with this salad.

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad Dish

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad Dish

Special Dish for the Week: Cabbage Roll Casserole

This week, I venture into the “Food and Love” personally made recipe book that I recently received from some good friends, and as my Special Dish for the Week, I “Maggify” my version of their:

Cabbage Roll Casserole

Cabbage Roll Casserole

Cabbage Roll Casserole

The original recipe calls for ground beef, which I turn vegetarian by substituting chopped up shiitake mushrooms.

Spicing up the dish with generous amount of grated ginger, garlic and black pepper, like my friends, I enjoy the final meal immensely.

The ingredients that I use to orchestrate this dish comprise:

  • 1 cup brown rice, prepared in a rice maker increasing its volume
  • 1/2 medium green cabbage, finely chopped
  • 20 shiitake mushrooms, some coarsely and some finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • thumbsize amount of ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 3 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 6 shiitake mushroom caps, for garnish
  • cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • cayenne pepper, for garnish
Cabbage Roll Casserole Serving

Cabbage Roll Casserole Serving

I lightly pre-cook the mushrooms, onions, ginger and garlic, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. Combine all the ingredients (saving the garnishes) in a large bowl, I transfer them to a glass dish. The shiitake mushroom caps decorate the top. I bake it covered for 1 hr at 350oF, and another 1/2 hr uncovered. I do not stir the dish at the 1 hr mark although the original recipe suggests it—I might stir it, were it not decorated!

Cabbage Roll Casserole DIsh

Cabbage Roll Casserole DIsh

Serving carefully on a plate, so as to preserve its precarious integrity, I garnish the plate with sprinkling of cayenne pepper and cilantro leaves. I pair this cruciferous delight with a glass of homemade fermented beet juice in place of the usual glass of wine. it truly is delightful to the taste buds, and warming to the soul, with the knowledge that the dish was lovingly suggested by good friends, now from afar.

Meal ideas & recipes from the “Food and Love” book from some good friends.

Special Dish for the Week: Beet Apple Charoset Salad

With the downtown farmers market in full bloom this summer, and beets of various varieties and colours—red, orange / yellow, and white even—I embark on a search for additional  beet recipes to the cooked beet ones that I well know and love from my childhood, and I am rewarded with this delicious gem, with RAW beets no less:

Beet Apple Charoset Salad

Tri-coloured Beets for Charoset

Tri-coloured Beets for Charoset

This beet and apple charoset salad turns out to be most delicious, particularly for one with a sweet tooth! It really does not need the honey for more sweetness, although the additional nutrition from the honey is always welcome.

Later in the summer, I discover another, similar version of this salad—one that uses raw red cabbage instead of the apple. Most surprisingly, it is nearly as sweet with the red cabbage as with the apple, and likely even more nutritious.

Ingredients of the Charoset

Ingredients of the Charoset

The first time that I make this salad, I spend the time and get a pretty good arm workout grating the beets by hand. Also surprisingly, the beets are not as difficult to grate raw as it would seem. On following iterations, I use a small electric chopper, and it goes a bit quicker. I chop the first 4 ingredients in the chopper, and add the other ingredients upon transferring the chopped ones into a large bowl. Then I hand-mix all the ingredients.

This salad freezes very well, so I make it in large batches and freeze small portions in glass jars for snacks, at home or on the go.

Beet and Apple Charoset Salad

Beet and Apple Charoset Salad

The ingredients for this salad comprise:

  • 3 medium beets: red, yellow and white, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 1 medium Fuji apple*, peeled (*1 small or 1/2 medium red cabbage, finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped green* onion (*sweet, red or white onion)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts* (*pecans, cashews)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup squeezed grapefruit* juice (*orange, lime or lemon)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil* (*coconut oil, heated in the jar by warm water to liquefy it)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg or cumin
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

I serve the salad over arugula and garnish with cilantro, or sometimes have even a little more fun with and get my food to make some funny faces at me from my plate.

Beet and Apple Charoset Funny Face

Beet and Apple Charoset Funny Face

Meal ideas & recipes from Whole Foods Market and from “The Wahls Protocol” book.

Special Dish for the Week: Pan-fried Eggplant, Oyster Mushrooms and Bok Choy with Grapes

This rather sporadic combination of fresh downtown farmers market veggies, pan-fried for lunch, makes a delicious and cheerful Special Dish for the Week:

Pan-fried Eggplant, Oyster Mushrooms and Bok Choy with Grapes

Pan-fried Eggplant, Oyster Mushrooms and Bok Choy with Grapes

Pan-fried Eggplant, Oyster Mushrooms and Bok Choy with Grapes

Slightly labour-intensive for clean-up, as I use 3 separate pans to prepare the various components, this delightful dish is quite delicious – and most exciting, as many of the ingredients are sourced at the first of the 2014 season downtown farmers market!

The stars of the dish are the delicate yet meaty and flavourful oyster mushrooms (from the market), which I coarsely chop and sautée in a little olive oil with chopped onions, minced garlic, sea salt and black pepper.

In another pan, to soften and release their flavour, I lightly heat some pealed and sliced eggplant (from the grocer) in tiny amounts of virgin coconut oil with a little turmeric, black pepper and sea salt.

Pan-fried Eggplant, Oyster Mushrooms and Bok Choy with Grapes Dish

Pan-fried Eggplant, Oyster Mushrooms and Bok Choy with Grapes Dish

In the third, I sautée in some olive oil the more meaty stems of bok choy cabbages (from the market) with some chopped cilantro stems and a little bit of chopped onion. Before adding coarsely chopped leaves of bok choy, I season this part of the dish with a dash of fish sauce.

Feeling giddy from the excitement of dining on my first market treasures, I enjoy carefully layering the eggplant, boy choy and oyster mushroom ingredients, garnishing them with cilantro leaves, black sesame seeds, and completing the plate with organic* red grapes (from the grocer).

*I wonder how “organic” my *seedless* grapes really are — thinking that if the fruit has no seeds, well, firstly, is it really still fruit? and wouldn’t organic fruit naturally have seeds, so did I just get sold some “empty boxes”? It turns out that through selective breeding — which is not the same as genetical modification (GMO) — and subsequent grafting, it is possible to propagate grapes that have small seeds but which do not grow the hard outer shell — effectively producing organic seedless grapes!

Special Dish for the Week: Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans

For the last few weeks, I have been inspired for my Special Dish for the Week by the recipes from InspireHealth, such as this:

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans

Naturally, it is an adaptation of the actual recipe, I do not find the Japonica black rice, and besides, the overnight soaking is sometimes a bit much even for me to organise. So, I go with one of my favourite staples: brown jasmine rice. But I add some saffron for added colour and nutrients such as: Manganese, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Iron, Potassium, and Vitamin B6; as well as dried thyme for added flavour and nutrients such as: Vitamin E, Magnesium, Zinc and Copper, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, Iron, and Manganese. I have often heard that herbs contain a lot of nutrients, but I don’t often look up exactly which herbs contain what nutrients. Very interesting to do this once in a while, particularly to potentially help explain why I sometimes crave certain herbs—apparently it might not be just for their flavours! It could be that when I feel deficient in some nutrients, I may reach for more or less herbs.

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans Dish

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans Dish

With the rice well under control, I sautée some finely sliced onions and finely sliced red cabbage in a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil. When translucent and softened, I add the slightly dethawed edamame, along with the cannend organic black beans. I further flavour this part of the dish with grated garlic and ginger, as well as chopped cilantro roots. I keep sautéeing these at low heat for a little longer, but I am careful not to burn or overcook them.

In another bowl, I prepare the raw veggies: grated carrots, finely sliced red pepper, some raw organic pumpkin seeds, chopped cilantro leaves, and some torn basil leaves. I wait till I make the dressing to stir these ingredients.

The dressing is also an adaptation of the original recipe—and it is oh, so yummy! I mix the dressing with my handheld smoothie blender:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Bragg soy sauce
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup unrefined, untoasted sesame oil
  • a little less than 1/4 cup unrefined, toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper

Again, heeding the lesson I learned about keeping my kitchen walls, outside of the fridge, and container of utensils on my counter dressing-free, I use a large glass jar, hold it firmly with one hand, while it sits low in the kitchen sink, and blend the heck out the dressing ingredients. The end result is a deliciously creamy, sweet and spicy dressing. Yum! The dressing I add to the raw component of the salad, and only then do I mix those ingredients, together with the dressing.

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans Dish Lunches

Rice Salad with Edamame and Black Beans Dish Lunches

For my Sunday dinner, I serve each of the salad components separately on my plate, garnished with basil and cilantro leaves, and the yellow and fragrant rice I sprinkle with some black sesame seeds. For my lunches for the week, I mingle the rice, warmed beans, and raw veggies with dressing together, and store in glass containers for easy packing in the mornings. My dinner is accompanied with a small glass of organic Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, served in my lovingly delivered Santé, machine à manger wine glass.

Meal ideas & recipes from http://www.inspirehealth.ca/recipes/2014/01/asian-japonica-rice-salad-with-edamame

Special Dish for the Week: Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa

Not feeling like eating much lately (which I know is hardly believable, but true), I was happy to have my appetite revived by seeing some awesome super salads at a healthy restaurant I recently snacked at, and by a friend’s suggested recipe for this week’s Special Dish for the Week:

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Ingredients

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Ingredients

The rainbow salad is really quite life evoking! Loving my black for my clothing, in my food I do love my colour, and this dish certainly provides plenty. My 2-hour preparation adventure begins with laying out the fabulous ingredients.

I also make the dressing for this salad in advance. Using generous amounts of grated garlic and ginger, three types of mustard (organic Canadian Dijon, authentic spicy French Dijon, and semi-authentic French dark mustard from London’s Saintsbury’s), authentic French herbes de Provence, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and two types of oil: cold pressed virgin olive oil and unrefined toasted sesame oil, I manage to whip the dressing without making too much of mess of my kitchen this time! I am learning to do the whipping of oil and herb containing dressing with my electric whisk inside my sink, and to hold tight onto the container (after a couple of previous kitchen disasters).

Rinsing and putting on some tri-coloured quinoa in my rice cooker, I begin chopping my veggies. I commence with chopping some onion and cilantro stems, which I sautée together in some virgin coconut oil, adding a little salt and black pepper. I also thinly slice some red cabbage in preparation for a few minutes of steaming, as I am not too fond of entirely raw cabbage.

I julienne my four colours of peppers: green, yellow, orange, and red. I shred some carrots, for more orange, and because I love carrots! In the meantime, I roast in my toaster oven some raw green pumpkin seeds. I continue chopping more cilantro, and slicing half an avocado. I open an organic can of chickpeas, for some more protein, and prepare a handful of alfalfa sprouts.

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa

I assemble these, in turn, on my plate, in a rainbow arrangement of colours, with the quinoa as the base at the centre. Counter-clockwise, the assortment presents: whitish green alfalfa sprouts; green peppers; yellow peppers; orange peppers; red peppers; purple cabbage; beige chickpeas. White onion and green cilantro stems bring in the full outer circle to the whitish green alfalfa sprouts. The top layer continues with mostly greenness from the cilantro; green pumpkin seeds; avocado; and the pièce de résistance carrots. These are all generously sprinkled with the sweet and sour garlicky-gingery-maple-syrupy dressing.

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Dish

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Dish

I thoroughly enjoy this diverse sensation of textures and flavours. At last, after some days / weeks (?), it is a dish I feel like eating! A French Longue-Dog red wine enhances further the superbly flavourful dish, and once more I rejoice at the feeling of company that my Santé, machine à manger wine glass brings me. While I savour these flavours and the memories that the glass inspires, I listen to oldies but goodies from the “Songs for Maggie – Luvafair Favourites” CD. I am feeling quite alive!

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Melange

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Melange

For the left overs, I make a rainbow mélange of the veggies and dressing. The bowl does not allow for mixing in the left over quinoa, so I mix in some of the dressing in separately with the quinoa. These will make for some awesome lunches and dinners throughout the week. I am already looking forward to tomorrow’s lunch: it is so pretty! Joy and life bundled in pyrex, sprinkled with black sesame seeds.

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Lunch

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Lunch

Tonight, though, my meal ends with a cup of Pau d’Arco Tea that I unearthed on the weekend, and half a slice of French apple tart (a little too sweet for the body, but decadent for the soul!).

French Apple Tart and Pau d'Arco Tea Dessert

French Apple Tart and Pau d’Arco Tea Dessert

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Encore

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Encore

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Encore

Within about a month, I crave this colourful and tasty salad again. I am also curious about how much time and effort I can save by using my electric chopper (blender) for some of the veggies. I use the chopper for my carrots and onions, but get stomped on the cilantro—it seems to mangle it but not reduce it in size, so I now need to chop the mangled cilantro by hand. Perhaps it needs to be dry to chop? The carrots turn quite to mush, so I return to hand chopping of the cabbage, the peppers, and avocado.

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Encore Dish

Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa Encore Dish

I slightly vary the ingredients from the original salad: I omit the alfalfa sprouts and reduce the number of colours in my peppers. I also mix the veggie ingredients together and add the dressing to the veggie mélange before serving over the  tri-coloured quinoa. Otherwise, I follow the original salad recipe, and marvel in its deliciousness once more for another week. A cheerful yellow gerbera accompanies my meal, beeswax candlelight, and a glass of red wine (naturally).