Homemade yoghurt

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It’s been awhile since my last post. I’m sorry about that. It’s been a wild year – between a lengthy healing time for a concussion that forced me off all my devices, a busy pregnancy, and now new babe, poor Foodiologie has been long neglected.

Since my last set of posts, I’ve been experimenting with a lot of DIY and making my own cleaners, baby gear, and household items. I’m still undecided on whether I’ll post about those somewhere for those interested – case in point, look how badly I’m keeping up with just my food blog – but if I do, I’ll let you know here.

All that said, at my mother’s suggestion and armed with her great recipe, I did try my hand at making our own yoghurt. It came out splendidly and I’m loving how simple it is – no yoghurt kit, expensive equipment, or laborious process needed. And it tastes great.

What you’ll need:

  • 2L of 2% or Homogenized milk. The higher the fat content, the creamier your yoghurt. I don’t suggest using less than 2% as it will be quite runny – but if you like your yoghurt runny, by all means, try it! As a note, avoid lactose-free milk products as you’ll need the lactose in the milk for the bacteria to feed on to make the yoghurt.
  • 250mL of existing organic, probiotic, plain yoghurt. Nothing with added flavours as that will interfere with the process
  • A large pan with a lid – something like a Dutch oven is best

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Ratatouille: a simple classic

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With holiday entertaining just around the corner, I love this ratatouille for its simplicity, presentation and better yet, low maintenance. All you need to do is slice, stack, and bake. The majority of the time spent for this dish is in the baking, which frees you up to do other things – like preparing other parts of your feast or getting ready to look your best! Either way, it’s a win win.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 1 Japanese eggplant (you can use regular eggplant too, I like the Japanese eggplants as they’re bigger in girth, which works better for stacking)
  • 4 medium tomatos
  • 1 large zucchini or 2-3 small ones
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, or fresh if you have it
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

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Kimchi made easy

kimcheeI have to confess – I’ve always been intimidated by kimchi. Not by eating it, oh no, I’ll gladly eat plenty. No, my intimidation is in making it. Kimchi has held a long-standing reputation for me as something that is both quite difficult to make and something to be revered. Friends have shared that kimchi can be a rite of passage for some, and for many, can represent a lifetime pursuit in perfecting their personal recipe and making it truly their own. I think that’s what has always intimidated me… the gravitas of it all. Kimchi deserves respect. So recently, I decided to respectfully try my hand at it and since then, I’ve been making it non-stop. So much so that I’m probably at risk of becoming the subject matter in Portlandia’s infamous “We can pickle that” skit. I digress.

The great news is that kimchi is actually simpler to make than you may think. The most important step is really the fermentation and for that, the good bacteria does all the work. (We just need to make sure we do everything to help create the right kind of environment for it to do its job.) Still, I can see how a person can spend a lifetime perfecting their recipe. The one I’m including here is a basic one that’s good to start with, which you can add to as you make more. There are plenty of more robust and complex kimchi recipes out there that include things like rice flour and an assortment of herbs and vegetables to add different flavours, but I’m going to keep it simple – since that’s what worked for me.

What will make it unique to you are the ingredients and quantity of ingredients you choose to put into it, along with how long you choose to ferment it for. The longer the time you let the kimchi ferment, the softer the cabbage and more sour the flavour. The moment you finish “dressing” the cabbage, you can already eat it fresh.

One last thing to note before we get started. Kimchi takes a long time to make not because it’s complicated, but because of the brining that needs to take place initially. What I recommend is salting the cabbage the night before you want to make the kimchee. This way, the actual process of making it will only take around 30-90 minutes (based on how fast you are at chopping everything up). Brining takes a minimum of 4 hours – but like I said, it’s best if you leave it overnight.

Ingredients: (makes about 3-4 L of kimchi depending on size of cabbage)

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  • Initial salt soak
    • 1 nappa cabbage (the larger the cabbage, the more kimchi you’ll have)
    • 1/2 cup of sea salt
    • water (approximately 3 litres) Continue reading

Buttercup squash soup to chase the howling winds away

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Winnie the Pooh: Happy “Winds-day”, Piglet.
Piglet: [being blown away] Well… it isn’t… very happy… f-for me.
Winnie the Pooh: Where are you going, Piglet?
Piglet: That’s what I’m asking myself, where? [he is lifted into the air by a gust of wind]
Piglet: W-Whoops! P-P-P-Pooh!
Winnie the Pooh: [grabbing Piglet’s scarf] And what do you think you will answer yourself?

If Pooh and Piglet were here in Toronto today, they would agree that today is most definitely a blustery day. With the gusts of wind howling around buildings and off roaring over rooftops – maybe taking a thing or two off with them – it’s a perfect day for a hearty soup. More specifically, buttercup squash soup. Buttercup squashes are a variety of winter squash with a sweet, savoury, nutty flavour to it. They taste more like sweet potatoes than pumpkin, and are perfect for roasting, and taste fantastic in a soup.

Ingredients: (serves 4-5)

  • 750mL of beef stock (you can substitute with chicken stock for a lighter flavour or vegetable stock if you’re vegetarian or vegan)
  • 2 buttercup squashes, chopped
  • 5 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 ear of corn, halved
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger, chopped (optional)
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or dried, if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon of oil (your choice, I used hazelnut oil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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Sushi rice in under 5 minutes?

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To follow-up on my post yesterday about home-made sushi rice, this one is about an interesting product I was recently introduced to by the kind folks at Bento & Co. Although many of our posts are generally focused on dishes that are made from scratch with ingredients that are as fresh as possible, I felt compelled to share this: Wooke’s instant microwave sushi rice. (Note, this is not a product endorsement on behalf of Bento & Co or Wooke, I just really liked this product.)

The ingredients themselves are the same things that you would normally cook sushi rice with, only it’s pre-cooked, pre-mixed, then dehydrated:

  • Koshihikari rice, dehydrated
  • Vinegar, dehydrated
  • Dextrin (in the vinegar) – which is a simple carbohydrate and a gluten
  • Sugar
  • Salt

Preparation of the rice is a simple two step process:

1. Take the rice packet from the package, peel open the marked corner to the line (they have it marked), and place it in the microwave for about two minutes.

2. Once your rice is ready, open the sweetened dehydrated vinegar package and sprinkle the powder evenly over the rice. Mix the powder in similar to how you would mix in the vinegar for your homemade sushi rice with a rice paddle or spatula.

And that’s it. All done.

What’s more is the rice is surprisingly good. All in under five minutes. Maybe this is not something to eat everyday, as ultimately, I do believe that whole, homemade foods are always better for us, but this instant rice is a good option once in a while if you’re on the run.

My father’s daughter: A heart for sushi rice

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I acquired an early love and appreciation for sushi from my father when I was growing up. At the heart of sushi making, the most important aspect of it is the rice. Luckily, if you know how to make steamed rice, sushi rice is very simple and easy to make. The trick is to use a little less water, so it’s less moist, and to mix the sweetened vinegar mixture into the rice as soon as the rice is cooked and is still hot. (More on this below.) The recipe I use is the same one that my father used whenever he would make sushi for us. Do note that the yield is quite a lot, so if you’re preparing sushi for fewer people, you can use the second ingredients list.

Ingredients: (makes 6 cups of rice, good for 4-6 people)

  • 3 cups Japanese sushi rice
  • 3-1/4 cups of water (note, you may need to adjust the water levels depending on your rice cooker)
  • 1/3 cup of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Optional: 3 tablespoons of sake

Smaller serving to make 2 cups of cooked sushi rice (good for 1-2 people): 

  • 1 cup of Japanese sushi rice
  • 1-1/4 cups of water (note, you may need to adjust the water levels depending on your rice cooker)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon of salt
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons of sake

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Arugula + summer fruit salad

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The first days of summer always seem to smell the sweetest. The sun burns a little brighter and no one seems to notice. But even the best seasons have their off-days and summer is no exception. You know the ones – where the air is thick, thunderstorms are in the air, and so hot that you would hide away in the fridge if you could.

For those hard dog days of summer where lifting a finger threatens to bring on another shower, this salad is a quick chop and toss (thankfully mostly toss!) away to remind you of summer’s best. If you’re in a pinch, add 3 tablespoons of rhubarb compote to dress your salad and forget the oil. After all, it’s summer and you make the rules.

  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup pea tendrils (optional)
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup strawberries, quartered
  • 1 peach, sliced
  • 1 cup Rainier cherries
  • 2 sprigs mint, julienned
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

Gently toss together the ingredients and dress at the last minute. Serves 2-4.