There are all kinds of love. Around Valentine’s Day we tend to think of romantic love but when it comes to cooking and the cook who is preparing food, if they do so with a loving spirit, the food has magical, restorative powers. Many of you cooks out there know personally how good it feels when you cook with joy and how difficult or next to impossible it is to prepare food well when your heart is not up to the project.
Recently, I have been the fortunate recipient of a number of carefully prepared dishes. Each and every one has been delicious, flavoured specially with that certain something, call it love for want of a better word and true enough – they have healing powers. Here is a sampling of these caring foods – thank you dear friends.
Claire’s Cauliflower Soup
There is nothing as comforting as a bowl of piping hot homemade soup. Claire Kindellen knew this when she prepared this potage packed with nutrition and flavour to chase away aches and pains and make one feel as vital as possible on a blustery day. Claire says this is how she makes all her vegetable soups, varying them with the veggies she has on hand. When you serve the soup with a generous sprinkle of grated cheddar or other favourite cheese and a hunk of whole grain bread, you immediately feel more powerful!
2 tbsp (25 mL) butter
1 onion, diced
1 head cauliflower, washed and broken into florets
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 potatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
4 – 6 cups (1 – 1 1/2 L) chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper
1/4 – 1/2 tsp (1-2 mL) freshly grated nutmeg (to taste)
In large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium high heat. Cook onion covered until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in cauliflower, carrots and potatoes. Cook a few minutes until slightly softened. Cover with stock; bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer; cover and cook covered until vegetables are very tender about 20 – 25 minutes. The time varies depending on how large veggies are cut. Add salt and pepper.
Using a hand blender or blender, puree soup until smooth. Taste. Add more salt and pepper if necessary (depends on how salty the stock is). Stir in nutmeg and more stock to reach desired consistency. May be made ahead and frozen for up to 3 months. Date and label container. Makes 4 – 6 servings.
Lily’s Good Morning Granola
This is the best granola I have ever tasted! I was so happy to see a jar tucked into the bag of yummy food Lily Levitt-Kesler had so thoughtfully prepared for me. She has adapted the original recipe from Eleven Madison Park Granola which calls for coconut. Lily says you can adapt the recipe with ingredients you particularly enjoy. Not only does sprinkle of the granola perk up a bowl of oatmeal porridge, it is also tasty tossed into salads, not to mention nibbled on for snacks.
3 cups (750 mL) rolled oats
1 cup (250 mL) natural almonds or mixture of almonds and pecans
1/3 cup (75 mL) pumpkin seeds
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1/2 cup (125 ml) brown sugar
1/3 cup (75 mL) maple syrup
1/3 cup (75 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup (175 mL) dried sour cherries
Preheat oven to 300 F (160 C). In large bowl, stir together oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds and salt. Set aside.
In small saucepan over low heat, warm sugar, maple syrup and oil until the sugar has dissolved. Pour liquid over oatmeal mixture and fold in to coat all ingredients.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle mixture evenly over pan. Bake in pre-heated oven 35 – 40 minutes or until a golden brown stirring occasionally. Stir in cherries and allow to cool to room temperature then store in storage container. Makes about 6 cups.