Roasted Beets: So Simple, So Delicious!

It’s Sunday evening, Chris is at work, and I’m sitting here contemplating a) what to make myself for dinner, and b) what the heck I’m going to have for lunch tomorrow at work, when I realized that we have a massive bag of beets hanging out in the back of our fridge. Problem solved! One of my favourite things to eat in the whole world is roasted beet & goat cheese salad. Can you say YUM? So, needless to say, today’s post is about the wonderful world of roasting beets. I can’t believe that even I had no idea how simple this was!  Again, if I can do this… anyone can!

Choose your beetsFirst things first, choose your beets.  Make sure they’re firm and not mushy, & try and choose beets that are roughly the same size so they will cook evenly.  Preheat your oven to 375(F).

Beets2Okay so for the next step, liberally apply olive oil (my preference… use whichever oil you like!).  If you’re making the beets for a salad, I recommend using extra oil, straining it when everything is all said & done, and using the delicious beet-infused oil for dressing.  Yum.

Add saltThis step is optional for those watching their sodium intake, but if not, throw a bit of salt on there for an extra punch of flavour.

Roast 'em!Lastly, close the beets up in a tinfoil pouch (tip: take a long sheet of tinfoil, fold it over & pinch around the edges), and I recommend putting it in a roasting pan or something of the sort (I used a cake pan, lol).  You don’t want that oil spilling all over the inside of your oven if the foil doesn’t hold up.  Then, depending on your oven & the size of the beets, it could take anywhere between 25 minutes and an hour to roast.  You’ll know they’re done when they pierce easily with a fork.  When they cool down, you can either remove the outside with your fingers or use a paring knife.

Stay tuned for some yummy beet-inspired recipe ideas!  I’m on a kick, what can I say.

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Cast Iron Skillet

Help, I’m a Bit Rusty! (or, how to clean a cast iron skillet)

So I was doing the dishes tonight, scrubbing away, and I kind of laughed to myself when I thought about the time that I got Chris’ cast iron skillet all rusty.  He was not impressed.  I’m not great in the kitchen, I fully admit that, so I had no idea that you couldn’t soak cast iron for hours… whoops.  Anyway I realized Chris & I had been slacking a bit (he’s just picked up a job in a brand new restaurant, working crazy hours but loving every minute!) so I thought I’d post a quick blurb on how to keep those pesky cast iron skillets clean, since it’s actually super easy (if you know how)!

Cast Iron Skillet

What you need:

Cast iron skillet
Vegetable oil or shortening
Clean, dry cloth or paper towels
Stiff bristled brush or sponge
Kosher salt (optional)

Instructions:

1. Clean the skillet immediately after use, while it is still hot or warm. (Avoid soaking the pan at any cost, or you’ll end up with a rusty mess like I did!)

2. Wash the skillet by hand using hot water and a sponge or stiff brush. (Try to avoid steel wool, the dishwasher, and soap – they’ll strip the seasoning from your nicely-seasoned pan!)

3. To remove stuck-on food, scrub the pan with a paste of Kosher salt and water. Stubborn food residue may also be loosened by boiling water in the pan. (Again – no soap!  No soaking!)

4. Thoroughly towel dry the skillet or dry it on the stove over low heat.

5. Using a cloth or paper towel, apply a light coat of vegetable oil or melted shortening to the inside of the skillet. Some people also like to coat the outside.

6. Store the skillet in a dry place.

 

Is this how you clean your cast iron-ware?  Do you have any other ideas/suggestions?  We’d love to hear them!

Weekly Poll: Grocery Shopping & #Nutritional Concerns – what are yours?

Preservatives: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Let me first start off by apologizing for the lack of post(s) over the past week. Thanksgiving came & went, and we’ve been super busy!  Sometimes things just don’t work out how you plan them, no matter how often you try to squeeze “write blog” into your schedule.

So anyway, I have been meaning to write this post since starting the site.

Preservatives. We hear that word all the time, but how many of us actually take the time to think about what goes along with it?  If you are like most people in our society, you do things like grab a bottle of ketchup, grab a slice of bread, cut off a piece of cheese, and don’t even think twice about it.  Unfortunately, the majority of processed foods that we consume are riddled with artificial preservatives.  While not all artificial preservatives are bad, most of them are.  Oddly enough, the only ones which are considered safe are those of which are found in some form in nature.

So what are preservatives, then?  Preservatives are compounds used to keep food from going bad, or spoiling.  They can prevent growth of bacteria, mold & yeast and can prevent oxidation.  They can also preserve colour & flavour, keep foods fresh, and generally improve food’s appearance.

Some artificial preservatives (such as Benzoic Acid) have been linked to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children.  If you suspect that your child may have a sensitivity to food, contact your doctor.  You may also want to keep a food diary.

Additionally, most artificial preservatives have been shown to be toxic and can be carcinogenic (cancer-causing).  On top of this, artificial preservatives can weaken the immune system, and impact the nervous system which can lead to changes in behaviour.

All in all, Chris & I believe that everyone should have access to great food that is preservative free, which is pretty much why we started Coriander Lime in the first place.  We hope that the more people are educated about what it is that they’re ingesting, the more conscious they will be about the choices they make.  It’s as simple as following the golden ingredient rule:  if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it!

We’ve compiled a list of some of the more commonly-seen artificial preservatives, what they are used for & what effects they have on us.  But before we get to the bad, let’s get on with the good.

As mentioned previously, there are a few artificial preservatives which are considered to be good for the majority of the population.  They are as follows:

Ascorbic Acid & Ascorbates

  • Also known as our friend, Vitamin C!
  • Used commonly in pork sausages
  • Prevents formation of nitrosamines, which are carcinogens
  • May cause colds to be less severe

Citric Acid

  • Found in many fruit juices & fruit-containing products
  • Naturally occurring in many berries & citrus fruits

Lactic Acid

  • Used in salad dressings, cheese, ice cream, olives, and drinks.
  • Exists naturally in dairy products
  • Found naturally in almost all living things
  • Lactose intolerant people typically have trouble with lactic acid

Propionic Acid & Propionates

  • Used in bread, chocolate, pie, cake, and cheese.

Sorbic Acid & Sorbates

  • Found in cheese and flour confectionaries.
  • Many plants naturally contain sorbic acid.

Sodium Bicarbonate or Hydrogen Carbonate

…And now on with the Bad & the Ugly.  If you see any of the below listed on the food you’re about to eat, maybe take a second to re-think it!  In our opinion, these guys should be avoided if at all possible.

Nitrates

Sulphur Dioxide & Sulfites

  • Bleaches & antioxidants to prevent browning of food
  • Found in alcoholic drinks, fruit drinks & soft drinks; dried fruits & vegetables
  • Almost all wine contains sulfites (however some organic wineries now offer sulfite-free wines)
  • Sulfites destroy Vitamin B1 and are linked to hyperactivity
  • Can cause headaches
  • Overconsumption of sulfites can lead to anaphylactic shock

Benzoic Acid & Sodium Benzoate

  • Used in fish & oyster sauce, ketchup, fruit juices, margarine, salads, confections, baked goods, cheeses, jams & pickled products
  • Both can be carcinogenic
  • Have been linked to hyperactivity
  • May cause neurological disorders
  • Benzoic Acid is used as an active ingredient in cough syrup and ointments
  • Sodium Benzoate is an active ingredient in many medications

Tertiary Butylhydroquinone

  • Added to fats, oils & margarine
  • Found in foods high in the above, such as potato chips
  • Petroleum based (mmm!)
  • Can cause nausea & delirium
  • Refered to as the “mystery preservative,” as not much is known about it

Sodium Citrate

  • Sodium Citrate is chemically related to Citric Acid and is quite safe in relation to other synthesized preservatives
  • Used in meat & baby food
  • Also used in personal care products
  • Large amounts have been shown to cause bladder tumors

So there you have it, our Preservative Roundup.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to leave a comment below or shoot us an email!  We would love to hear your ideas or suggestions for eating preservative-free.

 

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

Food Find of the Week – 2nd Edition – Pickled Watermelon Rinds

So, I turned 28 this weekend.  Back in my University days, I loved a good birthday bash – the more people, booze and loud music the better.  Over the past few years I have become a bit more of a homebody; preferring to spend my birthday with my close family and treating it more as just another day.

Over the past few weeks, Chris has been acting slightly … suspicious.  Hiding his phone while he’s texting, amassing large amounts of food in our fridge, talking to my mom… so naturally, I started thinking something might be up.  On Saturday we were supposed to do the usual birthday dinner with the folks, however when we (Chris, his parents & myself) pulled up to my parents house… I quickly realized I wasn’t in for my typical quiet birthday night.  It turns out my incredible, thoughtful boyfriend Chris (@_photofoodie) threw me my first ever surprise party!  I walked in the door and was greeted by a large group of people I love & care about.  It was awesome.  After throwing a few surprise parties for other people, I finally understand how it feels to be on the receiving end; it was definitely eye-opening to see how many people cared enough to come out.  Thank you everyone who came – you’ve left me with some of the best memories of my 28th.

Now you might be wondering how my birthday really has anything to do with the Food Find of the Week.  Well, one of the people who came to the party was my friend from highschool, Anna-Marie.  She made the most incredible chocolate-coffee cupcakes (which as a side-note Anna, were all gobbled up.  Every, single, one of them!), but as a little cute gift she gave me some of the preserves she made with her mom.  One of the jars was my absolute favourite, pickled beets… however the other… now this was something I’d never heard of or seen, let alone even considered, or knew was even possible.  I guess this would be because I’m from Toronto and not the deep South… but hey.  Anyway, the 2nd jar was pickled watermelon rinds.  Have any of you had these before?  Oh my.  Talk about heaven in a jar.

Pickled Watermelon RindsWe opened the jar up tonight just to take a quick sniff (we were sooo curious about what to expect!) and oh man, talk about heaven.  A mix of cinnamon and cloves hits you first, but it’s backed up by the smell of vinegar and overall deliciousness.  We haven’t tried the rinds themselves yet but we did try the juice… YUM.

Pickled Watermelon RindsNow since I didn’t make these myself, I had to find a recipe online.  However, it looks as though The Bitten Word has done all the hard work, and adapted the recipe from National Center for Home Food Preservation.  So without further adieu, below is The Bitten Word’s fantastic recipe for these oh-so-delicious pickled watermelon rinds.  What a treat.

& Anna-Marie, thank you again for opening our eyes to this awesome find!!

Pickled Watermelon Rind
A Bitten Word recipe adapted from the National Center for Home Food Preservation

Ingredients

2 quarts watermelon rind (equal to one medium-sized melon)
3/4 cup salt
3 quarts water
5 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
1 tablespoon (about 48) whole cloves
6 cinnamon sticks, broken into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon Allspice
1 lemon, thinly sliced, with seeds removed

Trim the pink flesh and the green outer skin from the rind. Cut into small strips, about 1″ x 2″. Cover with brine made by combining 3 quarts water and 3/4 cup salt. Refrigerate for five hours or overnight.

Drain; rinse. Cover the watermelon with water and bring to a boil; continue cooking until fork-tender, about another 15 minutes. (Overcooking will cause the rinds to become rubbery.) Drain.

Combine sugar, vinegar, water and spice. Boil 5 minutes and then pour over watermelon; add lemon slices. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat watermelon in syrup to boiling; reduce heat to medium-high and for one hour. Pack the hot watermelon pickles loosely into clean, hot pint jars.Cover with boiling syrup, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal lids.

To seal: Submerge the full jars in boiling water (enough water so the jars are 1-2″ below the surface); boil for 15 minutes (or slightly longer at higher altitudes). Remove jars and let them sit undisturbed at room temperature for 24 hours. Check seals.

Bee's Universe Wildflower Honey - Closeup

Sweetening up the night with some locally-sourced honey from Bee’s Universe

On Monday, Chris and I headed up to the local Sorauren Farmer’s Market to check out the last of the summer’s bounty.  While we found no shortage of fresh produce to bring home (for one example, check out this week’s Food Find of the Week post on ground cherries), we found ourselves completely drawn to the Bee’s Universe honey stand.  When we approached, the owner, Irina Alecu, was doing a tasting with another customer.  She graciously asked us if we would like to join in, and we proceeded to taste her cinnamon, ginger, clove and wildflower honeys.  Irina took the time to explain all the blends & their associated health benefits (the main reoccurring benefits being that honey is a natural source of energy and boosts the immune system), however we decided to bring home a small jar of the wildflower; as soon as it hit my palette, I was overwhelmed by the taste of fresh summer flowers and I was hooked.

Bee's Universe Wildflower HoneyUpon talking with Irina some more, Chris & I learned that every ounce of this honey is sourced at various hive locations between Toronto & Innisfil, which is about a 90km range.  To have honey this delicious, with beekeepers who are so knowledgeable about every step of the process and the various health benefits associated with their product – be local and affordable – is amazing.

Honey

Bee's Universe Wildflower Honey - Closeup

Wildflower Honey

We will definitely be heading back to Bee’s Universe for some more of their delicious honey… though I think cinnamon may be next for me, or maybe the dark honey… too many choices, and it’s late, my head is spinning!

But anyway, please check out their website at beesuniverse.com and be sure to track them down at a farmer’s market near you!

Pancakes

There’s Nothing Like a Breakfast Dinner – Buttermilk Pancake Recipe & Photos

It’s nearing the end of September; let’s face it, fall is officially here.  Nights are starting to get cooler and sweaters are making daytime appearances.  Tonight, Chris & I were discussing what to eat and agreed that this kind of weather calls for one of our go-to comfort meals; breakfast dinner.

Tonight we decided on buttermilk pancakes and grabbed some awesome bacon from our local butcher shop.  What we didn’t anticipate was that we’d end up putting the bacon in the pancakes… and since we’d already brought out some chocolate chips, throwing some of those in as well.  Yes, we made chocolate-bacon pancakes.  Yes, they were delicious.  I personally would have still preferred my favourite, wild blueberry pancakes, however the last of the season were out for sale on our last visit to the market and I didn’t pick any up.  Oh fall, we have a love/hate thing.

The Spread

Delicious Buttermilk

We sauntered lazily around the kitchen and got all our ingredients together. I have to say that for me, good pancakes are all about the buttermilk!  It really is a dealbreaker.  In our house, they aren’t called pancakes if they don’t have buttermilk!  Unless they’re my blueberry flax pancakes… or… well, you get the point.

Sifting the Flour

One thing that I feel is often overlooked but is so necessary when making a great pancake is so simple… sifting the flour!  Sifting adds air which is needed for big fluffy pancakes.

If you want an extra bit of sass to your pancakes, throw a few tablespoons of melted butter into your mixture riiight at the end.  I’m talking just before you are about to pour some onto the griddle.  It adds another dimension to the pancakes that you will not be sorry for trying!

After this batch, we both agreed that breakfast dinner was a great idea and that we need to do it more often.  Next time we might have to do Toads in a Hole though, but my random breakfast obsessions are for another post entirely!

Bacon Pancake - Ready for Flipping

Pancakes

Buttermilk Pancake Recipe

Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter
Preparation

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, add the eggs, buttermilk and mix well. Add the wet ingredients together with the dry and whisk until well blended. This is where you would fold in blueberries, chocolate chips, bacon, or anything your heart desires.  Add melted butter and stir.

In a large nonstick skillet, melt some butter (a tbsp or so) over medium heat. Pour batter to form 3 to 5 inch circles.

Cook the pancakes until bubbles rise from the middle of each pancake.

Flip and cook for another 2 to 4 minutes. Take the pancakes you have cooked and put them in the oven to keep warm while you cook the rest.

Serve with maple syrup, fresh whipped cream or your favourite jams.

Serving Size

Makes about 16 to 20 pancakes.

 

Ground Cherries

Food Find of the Week – 1st Edition – Ground Cherries

Well, it’s Monday.  What better way to kick things off than to post our first ever Food Find of the Week!  We’ve decided that each week we will find something that we just think our awesome readers need to know about, which could be anything from an entire dish down to the smallest ingredient.

Ground Cherries

This Week’s Find: Ground Cherries

This week, Chris and I headed up to the Sorauren Farmer’s Market for one of our weekly doses of local yummy-ness.  We headed to the Augie’s Ice Pops stand, where Chris had an all-natural handmade apple pie mini-pop and I tried the lemon cream.  Apart from it being a bit of a chilly day for ice pops, they were incredible!

The real find of the day though came from a farmer’s stand.  Chris and I walked up to look over some of their amazing produce, when we noticed a lone bowl of these strange yellowish-orange fruits that had been set out for samples.  We stood there, mulling them over, debating between ourselves what they might be.  I suggested gooseberries; Chris agreed but said something still didn’t seem right.  The stand worker came over after unloading all her wares and told us they were ground cherries, part of the nightshade family, a relative of the tomatillo & Chinese lanterns.  She motioned to the bowl and told us to take a sample, saying that we might be pleasantly surprised.

We took one bite and both immediately ooh’ed and aah’ed.  We had both expected to taste tomato, but instead got a burst of pineapple!  There was definitely a tomato undertone, but the pineapple stood out like a sore thumb.  We were told they can also taste like kiwi or cherry as well, depending on the variety.  The nice thing about ground cherries is that they can grow in a wide variety of soils, we’re now thinking about trying to grow some in a pot on our balcony next summer!Ground Cherries

Ground CherriesWe found a few great sounding recipes using ground cherries – there is an old Mennonite ground cherry pie that sounds rather enticing.  What I’m curious to know is, for anyone reading, have you tried ground cherries before?  In what way did you have them?  What did you think?  I find them nice to eat on their own, but Chris & I would really like to make something with them and we love suggestions!

Thanks for checking out the first edition of Food Find of the Week.  Check back in next Monday for the next one!

La Fiesta

Adventures in Catering – La Fiesta

La Fiesta

Sleep deprived but adrenaline-fueled, Chris & I arrived at the McCutcheon house yesterday ready to rock our first official catering gig as Coriander Lime.  Upon our arrival, the hosts (Wayne & Shuk) were in the kitchen making mojitos (which I learned are actually not Mexican, but Cuban – you learn something new every day!) and preparing the mix for margaritas, so naturally we had to do a few taste tests.

Chris started getting himself settled into the kitchen while I wandered around taking photos, setting out our business cards, and otherwise keeping myself busy. My talents are best spent in “background work” like prep and such, not cooking, so Chris definitely takes the spotlight on game night – I just try to help where possible.

Salsa Fresca

Guacamole & Tortilla Chips

To start, we set out some of our salsa fresca & guacamole with an assortment of tortilla chips, which were easily some of the most complimented dishes of the night (as they were eaten with just about every course).  The jars we brought for sale were gone by the end of the night, making us wish we’d brought more!

By this time of the night, the Latin music was pumping out of the stereo, most people have had a few margaritas and the party was really kickin’.  We were working in an open-concept kitchen so people were flowing in from all sides; everyone was laughing, chatting, and most importantly, eating!

Chris at work

Chris making Quesadillas

While everyone was happily munching away, Chris was back at work prepping the quesadillas.  These were an unexpected hit of the night – we put out one batch and were asked to make another later!  With a combination of cheese, hand-pulled slow cooked chicken and our salsa fresca though, I suppose I can see why they wanted more… 😉

Queso Fresco

The next item on the menu was our stuffed Picadillo poblano peppers; the stuffing comprised of pork, orchard fruit, raisin, citron & more topped with a seared slice of queso fresco … they were flying off the plates as fast as we could put them out so I wasn’t able to get any good shots of the final product, but I did grab one of the cheese.  Mmm, queso fresco.

Fish Tacos

Next up, we brought out one of my personal favourites, fish tacos.  This was another instant crowd pleaser – two entire plates were gone before you could bat an eye.  One of the guests was impatiently waiting in the kitchen the entire time for his, so Chris whipped him up a special one; I knew it was a hit because it was gone before I could even ask how he liked it!  So simple, yet so delicious – battered cod, salsa fresca, cabbage, radish, drizzled with guacamole and creme fraiche, folded in a flour tortilla.

The night was going exceptionally well – the guests were having a great time, the food was being enjoyed by all, and the empty bottles of tequila were stacking up one by one.  There wasn’t a corner of the house that wasn’t filled with conversation and laughter (all the way up to the 3rd floor, where the little ones were sent to watch Karate Kid).

Tostadas

As a last feat, we brought out the chicken and pork tostadas.  These were something we really underestimated; we figured they would just be ‘filler’ as compared to the rest of the dishes… however, I quickly realized we were wrong when as I was carrying the first batch to the table, people had grabbed all but one off my plate before I could even make it there.

Whipped Cream

Now it goes without saying that Chris does the cooking, however, I do like to dabble at baking.  I made up some spiced chocolate mini cupcakes for dessert; Chris topped them off with some ancho chili whipped cream.

By this time of the night, the only thing Chris & I were running on was pure adrenaline (well, Chris may have had a Corona or two… and perhaps a tequila shot with the host).  We were fading away quickly.  The party was starting to wind down, we started to pack up, and finally, it was over.  We asked one of the guests to grab a quick snapshot of us while we still had an ounce of energy left.

Chris & Amanda

So our first major catering event as Coriander Lime was a smashing success.  We had a blast, the guests were happy, and it made our 5am nights so unbelievably worthwhile.  A big thank you to Shuk & Wayne McCutcheon for hosting such an awesome party and having us cater.  You guys are the best!

We welcome all inquiries for catering; we offer a wide menu and cater for any occasion.  Feel free to give us a shout at corianderlime@gmail.com for any further info!

the Grind House @ Kensington Market

Kensington Market on a September Morning.

Early this morning, Chris and I grabbed our bags and hopped on the streetcar heading to Kensington Market.  With our upcoming catering event on Saturday, we had to pick up a few odds and ends from some specific shops and hunt down a few other things (meaning: we had to ask about 5 different shopkeepers & got re-directed to several different places before we finally found what we were looking for).

Kensington Market in the fall is really quite nice.  The hustle and bustle of the market is still there, but it’s the laid-back atmosphere that goes hand-in-hand with fall that really makes a difference.  There’s just nothing like sitting out on the patio at the Grind House with a hot cup of coffee on a cool fall morning, kind of like what Chris & I did today.

the Grind House @ Kensington Market

After recharging ourselves, we headed out on a mission to track down the last few things on our list.  Wandering through the market is intoxicating, the smell of fried churros battling with Wanda’s Pie in the Sky for your nose (& stomach)’s attention.  It took everything that Chris & I had not to stop in for a two-person sour cherry pie “for here,” but somehow we did it.  I think I was personally distracted by all of the incredible produce we came across.

Today made both Chris & I wish that we lived closer to the market.  In hindsight I’m kind of glad that we don’t, however – the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence… and Parkdale is pretty great.  But for foodies like us, there’s something to be said for having such a vast array of fresh produce and specialty foods at your fingertips.  The options would be endless!