I’ve been meaning to make potato latkes since I saw a recipe posted before Hannukah. I’m not Jewish, I just like the look, and the idea of savoury “pancakes” for dinner. So tonight was the night!
The recipe took a bit of fiddling with, but I got it to work, and was most pleased with the results as they cooked – it was easy to do them in the oven.
The trick was, we were having fish with the latkes, so the usual applesauce accompaniement didn’t make sense. I adapted a Caribbean mango condiment to serve with it and voila! If I do say so myself, it was a delicious meal. I included some fresh spinach, my hubby made a sort of salmon slider – we both enjoyed it immensely.
Winter in most of Canada is cold, windy and white. Kids and animals are mostly okay with that, but most adults don’t seem to have much patience for wintery weather. I walk every morning with my chocolate Labrador, Ella, in a fruit orchard and pumpkin patch so I’m out there in the elements daily. I decided that I might as well enjoy it, and so I look to Ella for inspiration.
This year the snow has built up and it’s gotten harder to walk each day. There is no real path as we are the only regular walkers, except for the odd coyote or deer tracks we see. So in loose snow I felt as though I was making two steps forward and one step back. I already do a workout inside, so I didn’t want to be doing more. Then I noticed Ella’s pawprints in the snow – she spreads out her toes in deep snow, to make the best use of her webbed Labrador paws. Her usually tiny feet with their winter fur between the pads end up almost twice the size – like snowshoes! “Aha”, I thought – I can get on that bandwagon. This morning our little sojourn in the field was much more enjoyable with my snowshoes on. Ella was in a fine mood too, bounding off my track to leap in the deep snow like a baby deer.
We were lucky enough to have some blue sky and sunshine today, so I did my best to soak in the good vibe. Ella leads the way, and she is a great role model for enjoying the moment. She trots along, not afraid to stick her head deep in the snow to sniff out the tracks of another creature (even if it is a woozle). She bounds about, and if I stop to blow my nose, as often happens on a cold day, she will happily plunk down, her fuzzy bum in the snow (makes me cold just to see it happen!) She also loves to eat the snow.
So here’s my foodie epiphany for the day: take a moment to truly experience the weather. I scooped my mitten in the fluffy snow and took a tongueful. It tasted clean, it sparkled on my tongue the same way it sparkled in the sunlight. It was pure and fresh and gone too soon. I wanted more. After a few mouthfuls I was deep in the memory of days spent tobogganing and playing tag on sticky frozen monkey bars. My heart soared with the sheer joy of it all.
P.S. If you’re wondering what a woozle is, brush up on your Winnie the Pooh here.
When I travel I love to gather recipes and even just ideas for food combinations. When I lived in France, I gathered so many ideas I turned them into a cookbook, in large part inspired by a friend I had made who was from Lebanon. His Mediterranean recipes are still many of my favourites, and hommous tops the list.
You might be wondering why I would even bother to make something that is so readily available in plastic tubs in every deli section of every grocery store in North America. Well, I can tell you I’m old enough to remember a time when things like hommous were not as common as peanut butter, and I am also a devout fan of homemade versus store bought goods whenever possible. Hommous was inexpensive and simple to make, so it was a great place to start my ethnic cooking experiments.
Over the years simple hommous has become a trendy food, being made from all kinds of vegetables. It seemed to lose some of its cachet in the excitement, but now like many food trends hommous is returning to its Mediterranean roots for a more rustic presentation. The rendition I offer up here is one I tried recently in London with my good friend on a girls’ lunch date. We were at a place that serves dishes with harmony and grace – recipes with humble roots being taken to a new level while still retaining a beautiful simplicity. It’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Beak Street in Soho called Polpo. If you can get in, it’s worth the wait. If you aren’t planning to get to London anytime soon, their cookbook is most inspirational. I was fortunate enough to get a copy as a gift from my girlfriend. 🙂
Polpo serves everything on small plates, so you can share and sample as a group. Their rendition of hommous when we were there was a crostini, a delightful cacophony of crunch and smoothness that made my tastebuds wake up to the range of flavours available from only 6 ingredients. Paired with the house Prosecco it was truly a divine experience. I loved learning that the restaurant owners were devoted food lovers, and they opened a year after the crash of 2008. Their restaurant has been packed since day one, and deservedly so. I know my kitchen is always full of happy souls when I make hommous!
Anchovy & Chickpea Crostini (makes 10 pieces – spread will keep up to 1 week refrigerated. Bring to room temperature to serve.)
1 – 400 g tin chick peas
10 brown anchoy filets, plus some of their oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 handful of flat (Italian) parsley leaves, chopped
1 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
about 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 French baguette, sliced and lightly toasted
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and roughly chop the anchovies. Mix together with the lemon juice, parsley and tahini. Add 1/2 tsp of freshly ground pepper. Pulse in a food processor, with a little anchovy oil from the tin or bottle and enough olive oil to create a chunky paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning (there is no need for salt with the anchovies).
Toast baguette slices under a broiler or in a toaster oven just until golden. Spread paste roughly on the crostini and serve. (If you want a gluten-free version, serve the paste on cucumber slices or wedges of sweet pepper.)