I find that hot mulled apple cider is a great alternative to alcoholic beverages at a holiday party. It also adds a delectable aroma to the air. It’s no fuss and definitely irresistible. I’ve provided two options – traditional stovetop and Instant Pot or slow cooker. I prefer unsweetened apple juice. The spices more than compensate for the additional sugar.
You may ask why would I make this in the Instant Pot if it takes over 30 minutes longer? The answer is, less liquid tends to evaporate using the lockable lid, and I don’t have to watch the stove to see if the heat needs to be adjusted. I can also plug the IP into the room downstairs where I am hosting the party rather than leaving it on the stovetop in the kitchen.
Also note that for the Instant Pot, the slow cooker function is being used, not the pressure cooking function. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, it works well in a standard slow cooker too.
Continuing my search for unique food in Banff, I stumbled upon Nourish, which serves vegetarian food. I ordered the nourishment bowl, which was packed with textures and flavours. It was surprisingly substantial.
I tried their vegan cheesecake for dessert. It was pretty good, made with coconut milk. A warning though, the dessert is a bit on the expensive side. If you like good quality vegetarian food, Nourish is for you.
Living in Calgary (Cowtown), I haven’t really learned to appreciate really good vegetarian food in restaurants, other than in Indian restaurants. Until I tried Fresh, on a recommendation from a friend. I had the Energy bowl, which had a coconut curry sauce with vegetables on top of soba noodles. It also came with marinated tofu, which had a rich flavour, with undertones of vinegar. It was quite large and substantial. The flavours were rich and satisfying. I would highly recommend it, even for non vegetarians.
I’ve never had Indo Chinese food until I went to a South Indian restaurant last week. It is fascinating to me; Indian food using Chinese cooking techniques. Much of this kind of cuisine is deep fried, with gravy, like this recipe. It tastes like Chinese food, but with undertones of Indian spices and heat. Manchurian style is a sauce that is flavoured with soy and a spicy kick. There is also chow mein and fried rice.
I used the recipe from 365 Days of Eating Blog, but I needed to make adjustments to the recipe as the veggie balls were too watery and the gravy too thin. The original recipe called for corn flour, so I used corn meal. In hindsight, I suspected it should have been corn starch.
For the Manchurian balls
2 cups finely chopped cabbage
2 cups very finely chopped mix of carrots, cauliflower, parsley or whatever you have
4 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (may need more if too liquid)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
Dash chilli sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Oil to fry
For the gravy
2 cups water
4 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 cup chopped green onions with stalks
6-7 cloves garlic
1 inch knob of ginger grated
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
2-3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon red chili sauce
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon oil
In a bowl mix all the ingredients to form the manchurian balls. It should be a little damp to touch and should form a ball when pressed in hand. Take a fistful and bind tightly to shape the mixture into 1 inch balls. If the mixture is too dry to bind, add an additional teaspoon of water. If the mixture falls apart, add more corn starch or flour and squeeze out some moisture as balls are made.
Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the balls on low- medium heat till they are golden brown. These balls can be eaten as a snack with a side of ketchup or sweet and sour sauce.
In another wok, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add the onions (keep aside some greens for garnish), garlic and ginger and sauté on high heat. Add the spices, sauces and water and bring to a boil. Check for salt and add as necessary as the soy sauce will also add salt to the dish.
Just before serving, take out ¼ cup of the liquid, cool slightly and dissolve the corn starch in it. Add to the gravy and bring to a boil while stirring. Heat till the gravy has a shine to it.
Then add the balls to to the gravy and garnish with the onion greens.
Serve hot with Chinese Fried Rice or steamed rice.
To make a dry manchurian, reduce the quantity of water to ¾ cup, corn flour to ½ tablespoon and then proceed as above.
I was hoping for some fennel in my CSA delivery this week, but it was not to be. I really like fennel frond pesto. I’ve just about decimated my basil plant so I decided to make pesto with something else. I did get some arugula to go along with the bunch of cilantro that I bought earlier this week.
1 bunch fresh cilantro (or a little more if you really like cilantro)
1/2 c. pine nuts
1/2 c. olive oil
2 T. lemon juice
2 t. minced garlic
1 t. Fleur de sel (or sea salt)
up to 1 t. freshly-grated pepper
1/2 C grated parmesan cheese, more to taste
For the pesto:
Combine arugula, cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper into a blender or food processor. In a pan, toast the pine nuts for a minute or two and add to the blender. Pulse the blender until all pesto is thick and creamy and a bright, beautiful green- pausing to scrape unblended ingredients from the sides if you need to. Have a quick taste and adjust salt if necessary. Use a rubber spatula to scrape every bit of the pesto from the blender and enjoy!
I mixed it with some penne pasta and for a gluten free version, buckwheat groats.
I had some chard to use up. Also some figs that I had frozen and were saving for pizza. Perfect. I trolled the web for pizza, figs and chard. A little stinky cheese, and we are all set.
Balsamic chard, fig and gorgonzola pizza
1 large bunch chard
1 tbs olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
A pinch of salt and lots of pepper
Roll the whole bunch of chard together tightly (leave the stems on – they’re delicious!) and slice into 1/2-inch ribbons. Heat olive oil on medium flame and fry the garlic until fragrant, then add the chard. Cook until completely wilted and dark green, then toss with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
1 C Gorgonzola or blue cheese, crumbled
12 -15 Fresh figs, sliced
2 tbs olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly made or prepared pizza crust, enough for 2 crusts
Preheat oven to 500F. Brush crust with olive oil. Grind black pepper over crust. Layer cheese, chard and figs. Bake until cheese melts and crust starts to brown.
I was on a search for something healthy to tide me over between lunch and dinner. Voila, I found the Green Leaf Salad Bar. This little place serves a variety of Mediterranean food. The salad bar looked fresh and tasty. I helped myself to a good sized portion of mixed greens, peas, chickpeas, pineapple, strawberries, orange, kiwi, red cabbage, beets, mixed vegetables, raspberry vinaigrette, and olive oil. The prices are good value too, $1.59/100g. Sometimes, simple is the best.