Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Good Day To Be Inside

Even though it's raining outside, I don't mind staying inside (sometimes). It gives me a chance to get into the kitchen and come up with a few new ideas and also try some old ones. It's a good thing to constantly refresh your own personal menu, even tweek it a little bit.

We make all kinds of things for O to eat whether it's nice outside or not. Can't take the chance on running out of food now, can we? There are always peaches to blanch and skin, blueberries to freeze and carrots to chop up. She is a very lucky little girl to have these things to eat everyday. I wish I could say the same thing about it when I was her age. It's a lot a effort which we believe will be worth it as time goes by. Yesterday she had a cube each of sweet potato, zucchini and carrots. Added into the mix was EVOO, rosemary, Italian parsley, thyme and chives. I think I will either ease off the chives or go with none at all next time as she kept giving me the "what the hell???" look. Pretty comical, but she's the boss when it comes to what she wants to eat or not to eat. I will oblige. For dessert, she ate one cube each of apple and blueberries. If you don't know what I mean by cubes, we freeze her food in ice cube trays after processing it by either steaming or boiling it.

The past few days haven't all been too nice. Even the nice days weren't overly warm. Nevertheless, we made sure to get outside and enjoy the sun as it may be awhile before we get to run around outside with a pair of shorts on. Normally on chilly days, I make chicken stock or lasagna. I already made them both earlier, so I decided to change things up a little. We haven't had Kopanisti or Hummus in quite a while. Now, I know what you're thinking, "Hey, that's not hearty". I agree, but they are both healthy and good foods to snack on anytime or even before you eat the hearty foods.

There are various types of this Greek dish, made mainly with feta cheese. I first tried this a couple of years ago when we were in Halifax visiting family. It was at a restaurant named Opa Greek Taverna (http://www.opataverna.com/) on Blowers and Argyle. Decent place, nice atmosphere. It was absolutely pouring that night as well, so staying inside a restaurant trying to figure out what the ingredients were in our dishes was good with me.

When I make Kopanisti, I use roasted red peppers. So this is Roasted Red Pepper Kopanisti. Go figure. Usually I use feta made with sheep's milk as it tastes creamier than goats or cows milk feta to me. You can use whichever type you wish. When I make it, I go by the rule of 2 red, two white, meaning roasted red peppers and red chilies with feta cheese and goats cheese. The sweet pepper balances the salty feta. Don't cut corners on the quality of your feta - it's the biggest part of the flavour. Use a nice EVOO as well to add a nice background flavor. If you don't want to use the goat cheese, don't worry. It still tastes great without it.

Kopanisti

2 red peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded. You could also use a jar of pre-roasted peppers if you wish
250 g good-quality feta (½ lb. ), crumbled
1 small red chili, finely chopped, or red pepper flakes to taste
1 log (113g, 4 oz) plain goats cheese. Chevre could be used as well
60 ml extra virgin olive oil (¼ cup )

Directions:

In a food processor, purée peppers. Add feta and pulse a few times. Add chili and pulse until just mixed. Add goat cheese (if using) and pulse a few more times. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in olive oil until blended. Serve with grilled pita or bread.


Hummus is a great companion for Kopanisti. They offset each other nicely and are both very flavorful. We have Little O eating both of these now with no problem. Red peppers have a lot of things going for them healthwise (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=50), but are one of the top 12 foods to avoid due to the amount of pesticides found in them. Buy organic if you can.

Hummus


2 cans (540 mL, 19 fl oz. each) of chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup of cold water
2 cloves of garlic
1 or 2 lemons, juice
4 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of tahini (ground sesame seed paste)
1/4 tsp of ground cumin
dash of fresh ground pepper
sea salt to taste
1 large pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:

1. Combine all of the ingredients in the food processor except the oil and cayenne. Process until smooth. Add oil and pulse again

Add salt to taste, but be careful as the canned chickpeas are already a little salty. Some people like their hummus quite lemony, so if you don't, I would start with the juice of 1 lemon and go from there. If you like your hummus even creamier, simply add more oil. Try to use the good stuff here as well. Sprinkle the cayenne over the top, if using.



Chickpeas are high in protein, fibre and a few other important things we need (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=58) to ingest everyday. They are a good substitute for meat protein if you are a vegetarian or are just choosing not to eat any meat at that time.


Don't waste time on rainy days. Your good health doesn't need you to take a day off. If you can't go outside, then make staying inside worthwhile.

Today's quote:

I don't like food that's too carefully arranged; it makes me think that the chef is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking. If I wanted a picture I'd buy a painting.


Andy Rooney

He's a picky guy, huh?

Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

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