I 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)
Initial salt soak
1 nappa cabbage (the larger the cabbage, the more kimchi you’ll have)
With the first day of summer officially starting today, this Canadian heart skips a little. 17 hours of daylight paired with a bowl of rose-tinted liquid sunshine – what better way to celebrate?
Often passed over in favour of its flashier neighbours, rhubarb is the unsung hero of spring and early summer. Don’t let this humble-looking plant fool you. It’s tart with a lot of spunk and packs quite the punch especially when eaten raw. Dull or disappointing are not words that I would use to describe this hardy vegetable. Served warm or chilled, my favourite rhubarb fix comes in the form of a simple compote. Nothing says summer like a generous spoonful (or spoonfuls!) over yogourt, oatmeal, your morning smoothie or a little midnight ice cream. You can even sneak it in as a dressing in a mixed green salad (yes, it even tames the bitterest of greens!). So with this salute to one of my favourite plants, I give you my recipe for a summer solstice rhubarb compote:
Trim the ends of the rhubarb and cut into 1 1/4-inch rounds. Pour the water in a wide frying pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the rhubarb to the pan, sprinkle in the sugar, add the lemon thyme, lemon zest, and give the lemon a quick squeeze over the rhubarb. Stir to combine and heat the mixture for 10 minutes on medium-high heat or until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the rhubarb is tender. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before stirring in the vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract). Enjoy immediately or leave in the refrigerator to chill. Serves 4 or yields a healthy portion for one!
I fell in love with jicama in Mexico and have since looked for every opportunity to integrate it into a meal. Last night, we had baby back ribs for dinner and the refreshing, clean flavour of jicama was the perfect complement to the saucy, smokey flavour of the ribs.
Ingredients: (serves 4-5 people)
1/2 jicama, peeled and finely sliced into strips
1 regular cucumber (not English cucumber), peeled and finely sliced into strips
3 limes, juiced
2 stalks of cilantro (coriander), chopped
1 green mango (mango that isn’t quite ripe), peeled and finely sliced into strips
1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons of cracked pepper, or to taste
3/4 tablespoon of cracked salt, or to taste
Combine the sliced jicama, cucumber, and mango in a bowl and hand toss until everything is evenly distributed
Juice the limes over the salad and toss again
Add the olive oil, cilantro, salt and pepper. Toss yet again. Note, you’ll need a lot of salt and pepper to flavour the salad
As part of a vegan dinner we were hosting, I wanted to make a molten lava chocolate cake version of the vegan chocolate cake we’ve made before. I couldn’t find any vegan chocolate, so had to get creative and use a slightly modified vegan chocolate icing recipe I have. The result was great. The centre wasn’t quite as luscious as if I had used a dark chocolate, but still turned out well.
Ingredients: (makes 8 small ramekin servings)
1-1/2 cups flour (regular all-purpose flour is fine)
One of my favourite meals while my sister and I were in Mexico were the street tacos (Vine video at the bottom of this post). We had no idea what the different options were, and weren’t able to find out past “carne” (meat) or “pollo” (chicken) with the language barrier. So, we would point to one of the delicious looking options… and devour the result. Of these options, the one that surprised me the most was one that looked highly-textured that turned out to be potatoes and pineapple. I liked it so much that when we got home, my hubby and I tried to replicate it. This is his recipe.
Ingredients (serves 4):
4 medium sized red potatoes, chopped
half a pineapple, chopped (or one can of pineapple nibblets, mostly drained)
1 medium sized white onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon onion powder
1-1/2 teaspoon ground pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 a small can of tomato paste
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of vegan margarine (if you’re not vegan, you can use butter)
While visiting friends in Austin, Texas last week, I was introduced to queso. If you’re not familiar with queso, it’s a delicious cheesy sauce that often comes with your chips or that you can top up your tacos or other dishes with. I have to admit, it was a new discovery for me, and the verdict: delicious! The good news – it’s very easy to make. This recipe is one that is based on what was described to me by my friend’s hubby who is Mexican and grew up on his momma’s made-from-scratch Mexican meals. The great thing about queso is there are many variations – you can put what you want in it.
I made a vegan variation.
250g of cheddar cheese, sliced or grated. Other kinds of cheese can be used. Cheddar is what was recommended to me. Many recipes call for “Velveeta cheese”, which is a processed cheese that’s softer in nature. I try to avoid processed foods, so didn’t use it. For the vegan variation, I used Okanagan’s Soya Co. cheddar.
1/4 cup of cold water (for a non-vegan version, you can use 1/4 cup of half and half cream)
1 Jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (remove the seeds if you prefer mild heat)
1/2 sprig of green onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
1/4 of a medium sized white onion
1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
Start your queso by melting the cheese. You can do this directly in a saucepan or pot. I didn’t want to have to transfer the gooey cheese from pot to serving bowl, so I placed my sliced up cheese in the serving bowl directly and placed the bowl in a larger pot that had 2 inches of water in it. The heat from the pot and water melted the cheese directly in my serving bowl.
Once the cheese is melted, add the water (or cream for the non-vegan version of this recipe) and mix until smooth.
Add the peppers, onions, tomato, and salt.
If you prefer a runnier dip, you can add a little more water and mix until it’s at the consistency you like.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, what better time for a delicious, yet simple, chocolate cake that anyone can enjoy? Apart from being incredibly simple to make, what’s best about this cake is that the ingredients are probably things you already have in your pantry.