Thursday, 28 August 2014

One of the nicest things about summer in Edmonton is the abundance of produce that shows up every year. These gorgeous jalapeño peppers (along with more beans) literally showed up on my doorstep last week. These are Andrea's, and were kindly dropped off at my door, late at night, by another friend, Addie. Yes, we live exciting lives around here. 

I've been meaning to make jalapeño pickles forever, and I love small batch preserving. But for whatever reason, I just never found enough time, or the fresh peppers. When Andrea asked if I wanted some of her fresh ones, I leapt at the chance. Thanks to fresh carrots from my own garden, I finally got the opportunity to make these escabeche style pickles I've been craving for so long.

Escabeche can refer to many different types of dishes, but the common thread holding all of them together is that they are usually marinated in an acidic mixture. These jalapeño pickles are a simple, classic take on this style of cooking. I played around with the flavours a little, as I didn't want to spend too much time on them - I mean, the sun is shining and I definitely don't want to spend more time indoors than I have to - so the recipe I used, from 'Preserving Made Easy' is one of the simplest I could find. 

I added a few of my own touches to the pickle, as I also wanted to use some of the baby carrots from Kay's garden. I skipped the onions and spices, as I figured the jalapeños and carrots -  all fresh and full of flavour - would hold their own in this pickle. I added a bruised garlic clove... because everything tastes better with garlic, of course. 

When making the vinegar base for this pickle, I usually salt it to taste. So if you do try this recipe out, start by adding the salt and sugar a little at a time, and keep tasting until the mixture tastes the way you want it to. I also don't bother sterilising my jars for this particular pickle (I do sterilise for other canning), preferring to wash them in hot, soapy water just before using, but feel free to follow your own style here. I also process my pickles for 15 minutes, as I live at quite a high altitude, but you can have a look here and calculate your processing times.

(Printable Recipe)
Makes 3 cups

1 lb fresh jalapeño peppers
2 small carrots
3 cloves garlic
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
2 teaspoons sugar (or to taste) 


Trim and slice the jalapeño peppers into slices. Wash and peel the carrots, then slice them into thin slices. 

Bruise the garlic cloves, keeping them whole. 

Wash three 250 ml canning jars in hot, soapy water and let dry. I don't normally do this for vinegar based canning, but you can also sterilise the jars by placing them in boiling water, until ready to use. Place the lids in hot (not boiling water) and keep rings aside.

Place the vinegars, salt and sugar in a non-reactive saucepan, and bring to the boil. Divide the peppers and carrots evenly between the three jars, and add a clove of garlic to each jar. 

Carefully pour over the boiling vinegars, until the peppers are covered, to within 1/4 inch of the rim. Using a lid lifter, place the lids on top, and screw rings on to fingertip tight. 

Place the jars in a boiling water canner and process for 15 minutes (processing time will vary by altitude above sea level) 

Carefully lift jars from boiling water, and place on an even surface for about 24 hours, until sealed and cool. Store in a cool, dark place. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

What do you do when your best friend shows up with a giant bag of fresh, crisp green beans from her garden? Well, first off, you give her a giant hug, cause everyone loves those beans. You then hand over the bag of beans to your mom and bat your eyelashes at her and ask her to make you the most delicious, super simple, vegetable comfort food of your childhood. I am lucky to have my mom visiting, and am aiming to make the best of having here here with me, even if it's for a short time.

Us Mangaloreans are not known for our love of vegetables. Every meal, however, does include a vegetable or two, usually as the sidekick to a main of meat or fish. More often than not, vegetables are an afterthought, designed strictly as filler food. Even though half of India is vegetarian, simple steamed veggies - like you find here at almost every meal - are a rarity. Veggies are jazzed up with spices and sauces, and cooked to within an inch of their lives. The results are usually tasty, but, hey, where is the distinctive flavour of the greens? 

It took me a long time to appreciate the actual flavour of vegetables, as opposed to just dousing them in spicy sauces. And while I appreciate vegetable curry as much as the nest Indian, I also love a simple stir fry like this one. This dish literally takes just a few minutes to prep and cook, but the punch of flavour is out of this world. What I like best about this dish is that it allows the sweet, crisp taste of the fresh beans to shine through.

The ingredients are super simple. A few mustard seeds, some garlic, a whisper of fried onions, some smoky curry leaves and the finishing touch, sweet, freshly grated coconut. This is a dish that evokes perfectly the coconut coast I grew up on, and every bite reminds me of home. 

(Printable Recipe)
Serves 4 as a side dish

2 tablespoons coconut oil (or any neutral cooking oil)
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves (10 - 12 leaves)
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon urad dal (cleaned black gram, optional)
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 hot green or red chili, finely chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
3 cups chopped, fresh green beans
Splash of water
1/4 cup fresh, grated coconut or dessicated unsweetened coconut
Salt to taste


Heat the oil in a large sauté pan, and add the curry leaves, mustard seeds, dal (if using) and garlic. Fry for a minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant. 

Add the onion and chili, and fry for a few more minutes, until the onion softens. Add the green beans, salt to taste and a splash of water. Cover and let the beans steam for a few minutes, until tender. 

Open the pan, stir everything together, taste, and adjust seasoning, if required. Stir in the grated coconut and serve with rice or roti. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Last month, Odysseo by Cavalia arrived in Edmonton. Along with fellow blogger Andrea, I was invited to create a very special backstage video, focusing on food, diet and all the logistics that go into putting together this masterpiece of a performance. The original video is featured below and I hope you enjoy it, as it features some unique aspects of the show that are not normally accessible to everyone.

A few more behind the scenes photographs are below.

By popular demand in Edmonton, Odysseo has been extended until the 31st of August, so you still have time to go and watch this beautiful extravaganza. You can buy your tickets here.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The recipe comes first here, of course. The Rocío (meaning 'dew') was the cocktail that welcomed us to the media launch at Rostizado. Me being me, of course, had to be a snoopy McSnoop, and I convinced the lovely bartender to hand over his recipe for this delicious aperol-tequila-camomile-vanilla-prosecco cocktail. A quick please-please-please-pretty-please to Dani, one of the owners of Rostizado, and I had permission to publish the recipe. As Dani reckons, all their restaurants are about sharing, anyway. So thanks to the team at Rostizado, for this lovely recipe and an excellent evening. Keep reading for some mouthwatering photographs. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

I always look forward to our camping trips in the summer, and this year was no exception. My mum has been visiting from India, and we were definitely looking forward to heading back into Jasper, and I wanted to make sure that mum's first ever camping trip was going to be a success.

There is always friendly competition between Jasper and Banff National Parks - I must admit, I am firmly in the Jasper camp (no pun, honest.) I love the weird shapes of the Jasper mountains, and we are almost always guaranteed to see some beautiful wildlife. This year we were lucky enough to see elk, marmots, bighorn sheep and the best of all, a beautiful mama bear with two cubs. Adz, mom and I were thrilled to bits.