A lot has happened here in the last 2 weeks. I apologize to all, because I skipped out a week on posts! It’s just one of those weeks you know? The main thing that happened was that Bermuda experienced their first hurricane of the year. Hurricane Joaquim (a category 3 hurricane) stormed past just shy of Bermuda on October 4th. Many would think that if a hurricane was making it’s way towards a tiny tropical island, everyone would be panicking; however, Bermuda is always extremely well prepared in dire weather situations like this. Just last year the island survived not one, but two hurricanes in one week!
Thankfully this time around there was no damage to the property we live on. We were the lucky ones and didn’t lose our power and had our Internet running smooth the entire night! It ended up being a lovely night in of pizza and Netflix, even little Ollie barely even noticed the wind blowing outside the door.
Besides the hurricane, Dan and I both celebrated our birthdays and my dear friend Desiree also got hitched! It was a packed two weeks of cake and a lot of champagne to say the least. I have to admit that I’ve been indulging more than normal lately (I partially blame Dan for his constant need for waffle cones and ice cream after dinner). As Bermuda is dipping into the end of hurricane season, the nights here have considerable cooled down. We can finally wear jeans at night! One of my favourite fall recipes that I always have friends asking for is a curried red lentil and kale stew. It’s my go-to recipe that I make a big batch of when I’m feeling like I need to eat clean for a few days. It’s a perfect meal to start off the week healthy with the protein packed lentils and super food kale. I like to eat it with a big dollop of yogurt on top and a dash of Valentina hot sauce. And if there happens to be a storm brewing outside your door, this soup will definitely keep you warm and cozy.
Curried Red Lentil and Kale Stew
a bunch of Kale tough stems removed and roughly chopped
1 cup of dried red lentils rinsed and drained
2 medium carrots diced
2 stalks of celery diced
1 large onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 28oz can of whole or diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
4 cups chicken or veg stock or more to taste
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (if you like some extra heat)
salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent about 5 minutes and then add the carrots and celery and continue to cook for a few minutes more.
Add the bay leaf and spices and cook until fragrant.
Stir in the can of tomatoes and break them up with a spoon if whole. Add the chicken stock, lentils, and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the lentils are cooked and fluffy about 20-25 min.
Add in the kale and continue to simmer until the kale is cooked. Add more stock or spices to taste. If you wish to have the soup a bit more of a soup consistency, use a hand blender to blend until your liking. Remove bay leaf before serving.
I’ve always dreamed of being able to grow a beautiful garden full of vegetables and herbs that I can pick at my leisure. Being in Bermuda I definitely have the advantage of growing plants year round. Last year I headed to Brighton Nursery and picked out all the seedlings I wanted to grow: 4 types of lettuces, arugula, tomatoes, peppers, and all the herbs you would need in a kitchen. I was determined to nurture these babies into healthy plants! At first the jalapeño’s were doing great, I had harvested my first crop of cute little green peppers but the slugs eventually got to them and the happy peppers looked quite sad. The lettuces always tasted bitter and my tomato plants never grew past 2 feet. All the herbs however, great into healthy aromatic bushes! I knew I didn’t have a black thumb…it was more like a brown one!
So this year, I thought I would up my gardening game and try growing some herbs from seeds. It was like a little science experiment in my kitchen window. I was so excited when I saw the little green spouts emerge from the soil. And because I was 50% sure that this project would survive I sowed way more basil than I really needed to grow. My brown thumb had succeeded again! So currently outside our doorstop in our little Bermuda apartment are giant bushes of healthy green basil plants.
Pesto is the obvious choice to me for what to make when you have an abundance of basil. For a while I didn’t even think about making the simple sauce because of Dan’s nut allergy and I just didn’t think it tasted the same without pine nuts. But toasted sunflower seeds turned out to be the perfect alternative. The last few times we’ve had company for dinner I made this easy pesto appetizer and it’s always a hit. The creamy lemony ricotta pairs perfectly with the zesty pesto and the touch of sweetness from the honey ties it all together.
Nut Free Pesto and Lemon Ricotta Crostini
2 cups of packed basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of grated parmesan
2 cups of whole milk ricotta
drizzle of honey
zest of one lemon
Lightly toast sunflower seeds in a pan until golden. Combine basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil and seeds in a bowl of a food processor and pulse until a smooth. Season with sea salt to taste.
Mix ricotta with lemon zest and set aside.
Cut baguette into thin slices and toast lightly. Spoon ricotta onto crostini, top with a dollop of pesto and drizzle the honey over to serve.
For most of my childhood the only relationship I had with cauliflower was at holiday meals with my family and it was always served sautéed with an entire can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. It probably was actually a recipe for an easy casserole found on the can label, but somehow got lost in translation with my Chinese mother. So the result was the two ingredients simply heated up and mixed together. Don’t get me wrong, this dish is comfort food for me, it reminds me of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners of roast turkey and with sides of BBQ pork and rice.
These days one my favourite way to prepare cauliflower is simply roasting the florets that have been tossed in olive oil and spices. A nod to a restaurant in Vancouver called Nuba, their version called Najib’s Special is deep fried until light and crispy, an appetizer I adored when I frequented their Kitsilano location. My go-to starter for those that are vegetarian/vegan/GF, it’s not overly filling, but is certainly satisfying when shared with friends.
PS: I think the French word for cauliflower sounds beautiful, it’s chou-fleur!
Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon harissa paste
2-3 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
a squeeze of lemon juice
Whisk all ingredients together until a smooth consistency in a small bowl.
1 large cauliflower head
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
a squeeze of lemon juice
parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 424 degrees. Cut cauliflower into large florets and toss with a few glugs of olive oil, spices, sea salt and pepper. Space the florets evenly on roasting pan. Roast for approximately 20-30 minutes until tender, set under broiler for another few minutes to brown. Squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle with parsley to serve. Drizzle tahini-harissa dressing over cauliflower reserving extra for dipping.