In Vancouver, where there's a Starbucks on every corner, it's good to know the cheapest thing they sell - the Island Oat Bar, a simple but delicious and filling bar. In Calgary it's simply the "Oat Bar", and everywhere else I've been it doesn't exist.
March is a difficult month in which to know how to cook. One day it is sunny and gorgeous, the next day it is snowing or hailing. For me, as for many it seems, this past month has been incredibly busy. And so it is wonderful to have an easy, comforting soup to make when the weather turns cold.
That is why I love Heidi's "Lively Up Yourself" lentil soup recipe over at 101cookbooks. I've made it a couple times now, and both times have been good. It's a very simple soup but somehow is perfect on a cold evening.
I added generous sprinkles of paprika, cumin, and salt, and didn't bother with the yoghurt topping (although I'm sure it is good too!)
Risotto. The very name evokes something delicious, and probably something a bit fancier than usual fare. I am venturing in to learning to make good risotto. This is, I believe, my second time, and while it was delicious I don't think I've really achieved true risotto goodness. Here are a few photos from when I made it last week, plus the recipe (slightly modified from my newest addition to my cookbook library). You may notice I didn't use the right kind of rice. I bought the right kind and will try that next time. Things to look forward to!
2 T olive oil
8 oz chicken breast, skinned and cut into 1-inch cubes (or however much you have and want to eat)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed/ chopped
2 1/4 c risotto rice, preferably arborio
1/2 c dry white wine
7 1/2 c simmering chicken stock
2 T butter (optional)
1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
Heat the oil and begin to cook the chicken cubes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft.
Stir in the rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring constantly
Add the wine and bring to a boil. Simmer gently until almost all the wine is absorbed (yes, I did actually buy cooking wine for this!)
Ad the simmering stock, a ladleful at a time, and cook, stirring continuously, until the rice is just tender and the risotto creamy. Let each ladleful of stock be almost completely absorbed before you add the next. Be patient.
Add the butter and Parmesan cheese. Season with anything else you desire. Don't go overboard, since one of the nice parts of this risotto is its mild goodness :)
I was happy to receive not only a new cookbook, but also a Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pan for Christmas this year! (thanks!) I tried out the loaf pan this morning by making banana bread, and it turned out well. I looked through the cookbook yesterday and I'm sure I'll be sharing some new chicken recipes soon!
I hope you're as excited as I am about a new year of cooking and baking possibilities!
Here's a quote I just found. I think it is representative of the way I cook. Plus, she looks like she was an interesting person - a Canadian, too! :)
I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation. ~Madam Benoit