Another Stir Fry

I use the word 'love' too much I think. My first boyfriend once told me that he loved me. I was shocked, we hadn't been dating long and it seemed ridiculous that someone could say that so quickly. I asked him to explain and he told me 'I love chocolate chip cookies. I love football. How can I just say that I 'like' you?' Well, he explained it but it wasn't exactly a satisfying answer, let's just say, we didn't end up together. Beautifully illustrates my point though. I told you all that I loved risotto. I love chocolate cake. I love ice cream... whatever. I really 'like' stir-fry.

Perhaps its a summer thing. Lighter fare. Not long on the stove. Nutritious, seasonal ingredients... and maybe I'm just going through a phase. My fam isn't having trouble indulging my phase though. Let's face it, spicy peanut sauce or (in this case) black bean sauce are both hard to resist.

It's been a great day so far. Weather is perfect summer fare for toronto. Sunny skies, lovely breeze 27 degrees. Perfect. I went for a run this morning and kid #1 rode her bike with me while I ran. I came back ready to eat and threw this together for a hearty, healthy lunch. I won't tell you how much I ate but it was entirely and thoroughly satisfying and I was totally content.
Black Bean sauce has a nice bit but it's by no means spicy. Something just tasty and warm about it. You don't have to do a lot fooling around with adding other stuff when you use this sauce. I can find it easily at a larger grocery store. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in an asian market you'll be tripping over it. Once again, this was inspired by a recipe in BBC's Good Food magazine. It's my new Gourmet *sigh* I think. My husbands cousin is due to make her annual and much anticipated trip to Toronto from London (with her two lovely kiddies) and I'm going to ask her to pick some mag's up at the airport for me on the way. I can't wait!!!

Black Bean Sauce Stir Fry (adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine)
serves 4

6 cups of sliced vegetables (keep the sizes approx. same. I used bok choy, onion, green bean, peppers, carrots and zucchini)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lb thinly sliced beef (optional)
sesame oil/olive oil combo
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup black bean sauce

In a heated wok add the oil and coat the wok. Throw in the veggies and toss for about 4 minutes. Add in the beef and garlic and continue to toss another 5 minutes. Add in the hoisin, soy and black bean sauce. Mix well. Check the tastes and let the flavours cook together for a few minutes.
Serve over rice and sprinkle with chili flakes if you so desire.

Carrot Cake Muffins

Oh man, I can't tell you how long I've had my eye on this recipe. It's yet another recipe from my new favourite BBC Good Food Magazine. I feel so thankful to have found a replacement for Gourmet *sigh* but I can understand that you all might be getting bored with my BBC Good F... rambling. I'm going to try to contain myself.
But right now... I'm just totally stoked because it's the first time that I've used this...

My new kitchen scale. I know, looks totally simple doesn't it? What it means though is that I can finally bake some of these fantastic looking recipes. In the UK they don't measure with cups and all that. It's ml. or oz. or gr. What can I do if I don't have a scale. I know that 250 g is approximately one cup but it can be totally different with different ingredients. Flour and butter just measure one cup differently - ya know...

It's all behind me now though because of this awesome sick kitchen scale. Tell you what... I also made my own self rising flour - another UK thing apparently. Seriously though, 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 1/4 tsp baking powder, dash of salt. I make about 3 cups or so of it and mix it together. Tidy. I'll just keep it aside for when I need self rising.

Cupcake was yum but actually got better the next day. Worth making a day ahead - it was that much better. Texture was really nice and light. It's a keeper.

Carrot and Cream Cheese Cupcakes
BBC Good Food Magazine
made about 18 medium sized cupcakes

350 g/12 oz brown sugar
200 g/8 oz whole wheat self rising flour (made mine)
200g/8 oz self rising flour (made it)
2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp mixed spice (I used a combo of allspice, clove, nutmeg and cardamom)
zest 2 oranges
4 eggs
300 ml sunflower oil (I think I use canola)
about 5 carrots grated (let's say 300 g or so)


1 package (8 oz) cream cheese at room temp.
1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temp.
3/4 cup icing sugar sifted

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line your muffin tin. Mix the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, spices and orange zest in a large bowl. Separately mix together the eggs and oil. Once mixed add to the flour mixture and mix well. Add in the carrots (throw in a few raisins if you like ;-). Fill the muffin tins just to the top and bake for about 20 - 22 min. until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before icing.

Icing: In a large bowl mix together the cream cheese and butter until well blended. Add in the icing sugar and fully incorporate. Make sure it's the right thickness (add a little more icing sugar if needed). Ice cooled cupcakes.

Fruit Crisp

I don't usually go in for this stuff. I had way too many apple crisps in the 80's and I really thought that I was done with it. However, things change.

This year, so far, has been a year about rethinking my way around the food industry. I've come to realise that I'm slowly trying to extricate myself from it as a consumer... the industry that is. Our eating in the last 6 months has completely changed. We've switched to almost all organic - and that includes our meat (although I think that in future we can revamp that still by creating some relationships with Ontario farmers) - and local as much as possible. Organic meat is more expensive but it means that when we eat meat (which we don't do as often) then it's meaningful and VERY tasty. I've been rethinking how we consume our food and how we waste our food. My goal each week is to have nothing left over from the food box and as little as possible in our compost bin. We usually almost make it and some weeks we actually get there - so that I'm antsy for the food box to arrive on Monday.

With that in mind, I had this fruit that was going to go to waste. The apples were dying, the blueberries were past their prime and the plums were wilting fast. What could I do. Well, I could throw some sugary flour and oats and butter crap on them and bake them. For the kids, they get it with ice cream. If it's just for me, I pour a little bit of heavy cream over it (maybe flavoured with some good vanilla - just a touch) and it's pure heaven. I did use oats in the topping but instead of throwing them in whole I whizzed them for a bit in the blender. It came out quite floury (I'm already thinking about this in a cookie recipe!). That way there was no uncomfortable discussions with kid #2 about what that 'oat' thing was.
So, I guess when it's too blame hot to can the stuff (really though, I've got to get on that more.) and I don't want to stick any more stuff in the freezer then this kind of thing is the way to go. Sure it doesn't contain chocolate but it's summer and this stuff is plentiful and beautiful (imagine this with blackberries - yum) and did I already mention cream??????

Any fruit crisp
serves 4 hungry people or 6 not so hungry

4 - 5 cups of fruit (I would stay away from Bananas, kiwi, citrus, melon - you get the idea)
a little brown sugar (scant 1/2 cup)
a little melted butter


1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup oats (you can whiz yours if you like)
dash of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg
1/4 cup nuts (I didn't have but hazelnuts or walnuts would work well - whizzed if you like ;-)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a square 8X8 baking dish put the fruit (sliced if plums, nectarines, peaches, apples) and mix with brown sugar and sprinkle with some melted butter.
In a bowl mix all the topping ingredients except the butter. Once the dry ingredients are mixed then add the butter and mix until it's looking crumbly and the butter is well incorporated. Pour over the fruit.
Bake for about 40 - 45 min or until the fruit looks bubbly underneath the golden crust.
Let it set for a few minutes before dishing up (if you can wait)
Serve with ice cream or cream or devon cream or nothing at all.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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About Me

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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