Thursday, 26 July 2012

Tomato-basil soup

Tomato –Basil Soup
Adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver
Serves 6-8

Equipment: You will need an immersion (stick) blender, food processor or a regular blender to puree the soup. 

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 3/4 litres vegetable broth
  • olive oil
  • 796 ml /28 ounce can plum tomatoes
  • 6 large ripe tomatoes
  • Small bunch of fresh basil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)

Peel and roughly slice the carrots, slice the celery, peel and roughly chop the onions and peel and slice the garlic. 

Put the broth in a large saucepan and heat until boiling. Lightly score the bottom of each tomato in an X. Immerse into the broth and leave for 30 seconds. Remove and place into a large bowl of ice water. When tomato has cooled, cut the skin around “the equator”. Skin should peel right off. Set aside.

Put a large saucepan on medium heat and add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped ingredients and mix together. Add about 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook for around 10 minutes with the lid askew until the carrots have softened but are all still holding their shape, and the onion starts to turn color.

Add the boiling broth to the pan with your canned and fresh tomatoes, including the green stalks that may still be attached (provides additional flavor). Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.

Remove the pan from the heat, and season with salt and pepper (you can also add in some crushed red pepper flakes if you'd like) and add the basil leaves. Using an immersion blender, pulse the soup until smooth. Season again before dividing between serving bowls.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Vegetable stock or broth

This is a mildly flavoured stock. Essentially, it is an onion-garlic broth. It is used as the base for soups and other dishes throughout the week. It makes about 3 litres in my 7 litre pressure cooker. I don’t add strong tasting vegetables at this point because I want to retain the versatility of the mild flavour. Broccoli or anything from the cabbage family, asparagus, turnip, beets are avoided at this stage. Potatoes or their peels will make it cloudy. When I make a soup, all those vegetables (and more) can be added. This is also why we never add salt at this stage – salt is added to the final dish and this is just the starter.

Stock is a blessedly imprecise experience. Use what you have on hand. Feel free to add or delete depending on what is in your fridge at the moment. I usually make my vegetable stock in a pressure cooker but I’ve included directions for the stove top in an open stock pot for those who prefer those appliances.


4-5 large yellow onions, cut in quarters, yellow skin left on
1 head of garlic, cut in half through the cloves
2-3 carrots, scrubbed but not peeled
3-4 stalks of celery – some leaves left on but not too many (bitter)
Dark green trimmings from leeks if they are on hand
2 bay leaves
A jalepeno pepper – remove the seeds and inner membranes if you’re not a “heat” fan
Several sprigs of thyme (or use some dried thyme)
1 large sprig of rosemary (or dried rosemary)
6 dried shitake mushrooms (available from any of the Oriental grocery stores)
Several sprigs of parsley if I have it on hand

Pressure cooker: add water to the maximum fill line, close up the vessel. Heat until it comes to pressure and cook for 30-40 minutes. Allow the cooker to lose heat/pressure naturally. When contents are cool enough to handle, strain out the vegetables and discard them!! (All the taste was just cooked out of them and they’re mush. Compost it – fresh veggies for the soup).

Stock pot on the stove:  depending on the size of your pot, you may want to reduce the quantities by half. Add enough water to fill your pot at least 2/3’s full and not more than 3/4s full. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about an hour. Remove the lid and let it simmer another 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat. Once cool, strain the vegetables from it and like the previous version, toss those soggy now-tasteless vegetables.

Variation: Toss your vegetables in a bit of olive oil and roast in the oven at 400o oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Remove the roasted vegetables to pressure cooker or stock pot and proceed from there.

Tip – if you have more than your family will use in a week, freeze some in ice cube trays. Pop them out when frozen into a Ziploc bag for use in other dishes. Since there are no preservatives in this, it can go sour in the fridge. Take it out every second day and bring to a rolling boil for 3 minutes to keep it fresh. What isn’t used inside a week should be discarded.

Easy Wrap Chickpea Sandwich Filling


9 oz – 540 ml can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
½ onion chopped fine
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried dill weed or 1 Tablespoon fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas 

2. Put the chickpeas in a medium sized bowl and mash with a fork. We found using a pastry cutter at the start was helpful. 

3. Add celery, onion, mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill and mix well.

4. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Serving suggestions: we use this in tortilla wrap sandwiches with a little lettuce and some shredded cucumber or carrot for colour and crunch. 

Tip: You might wish to substitute tzatziki (Greek yoghurt dip) for the mayonnaise for a slightly different flavour. 

Clam or Seafood or Fish Chowder

1-2 medium onions
4 medium to large potatoes – 2 grated; 2 diced
1 Tablespoon of oil/ fat (vegetable oil, butter, margarine, bacon fat, Crisco)
1 teaspoon of salt
Black pepper, ground
2 cans of clams (we used minced and whole baby clams)
½ c of powdered milk

Optional ingredients:
1 large peeled carrot, diced
½ red or green sweet pepper, finely diced
2 ribs of celery , finely diced
2 slices of bacon, fried crisply and crumbled
½ lb of white fish
¼ teaspoon thyme


1.    Chop the onions into a medium dice (1/2” pieces). If using celery, carrots or pepper,  dice them, keeping each ingredient separate.
2.       Grate two of the potatoes into a small bowl and cover with water.
3.       Dice the other potatoes into about 1 inch dice.
4.       Mix ½ cup of the milk powder with 2 cups of cold water. 


1.       Heat oil in large flat bottom pot over medium-high heat.
2.       Add chopped onion and celery (if using). Cook until onion is soft  -- about 3 minutes.
3.       Add grated potatoes (and carrots if using). Add just enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring mixture to a boil, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
4.       Add the cubed potatoes and make sure there is enough water to just cover the vegetables.
5.       Cover the pot and let it boil for about 8 minutes or until the cubed potatoes are fork tender. The broth will be slightly thickened at this point because the starch from the potatoes will have cooked out into the liquid.
6.       Add any optional vegetables you are using. If adding fish, put the fish on top of the potatoes and let steam for 2 minutes
7.       Add the 2 cups of milk and lower heat to medium. Stir occasionally until the soup heats up. Do not let it boil.
8.       When it is hot, add both cans of clams to the pot, including the juice. Stir and turn the heat off.   The clams are already cooked and if they are cooked too much, they will get rubbery and tough.  
9.       Let the flavours mingle for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Too Hot to Cook Chilled Cucumber Soup

Equipment you will need: blender or food processor. The blender makes for a smoother soup.


5 cucumbers, peeled, quartered lengthwise and seeds removed.
1 clove garlic, chopped
5 green onions, chopped.
2 Tablespoon of chopped fresh Dill or 2-½  teaspoons of dried dill weed
¼ cup bottled lemon juice or the juice from 3 freshly squeezed lemons
1 litre (4 cups) buttermilk
1 cup Greek style plain yoghurt
1 ½ teaspoons Salt – not optional – this recipe really needs the salt
1 tsp prepared horseradish (optional)
A few drops of Tabasco or Franks Red Hot sauce (optional)


  1. Slice one of the cucumbers into very thin slices and set aside.
  2. Roughly chop the remaining cucumbers and place into a blender with garlic, green onions, yoghurt, lemon juice, dill weed, horseradish and salt. Add enough of the buttermilk to make the mixture “blendable”.
  3. Blend on a puree setting until the cucumbers are very finely chopped. Stir in the remaining buttermilk and the sliced cucumbers from step 1.
  4. Chill for a minimum of 2 hours before serving. If the soup separates while chilling, just stir gently before serving in chilled bowls

Serving suggestions: serve with a tossed salad and a sandwich for a light summertime meal.  

Rice: The 411.

Plain steamed rice is the perfect backdrop for literally thousands of different flavoured “toppings”. It is the most widely eaten staple food in the world. In fact, rice provides more than one-fifth of all the world’s consumed calories. It is widely available in local grocery stores and because it has a very mild flavour, it is very versatile in cooking. Rice is naturally gluten-free which makes it digestible for people with celiac disease and other gluten sensitivities. Rice’s accessibility and versatility makes it a favourite grain here in Our Greener Kitchen.

White rice versus brown rice? Basmati? Jasmine? Converted, parboiled and instant? Long grain, short grain? It can get a little bewildering in the grocery store, so here’s the basics on rice. Cooking instructions for the various rice types are found here. 

White rice: all the bran from the grain has been removed. The downside is that it has less fibre and less nutrients than brown rice. The benefits is that it stores longer, cooks quicker and its milder taste can make it a great background for other things. 

Brown rice: this has only the hull, the toughest part of the rice seed, removed. The bran remains, providing some very important nutrients and fibre. It takes approximately twice as long to cook as white rice. 

Long-grain versus short grain? Short or medium grain rice absorbs water very easily. The cooked product is soft and somewhat sticky – an advantage when eating with chopsticks!! Long-grained rice tends to cook up more firmly with each grain separate from its neighbour. Which is better? It all depends on what you are using it for but generally, for plain steamed or boiled rice, one would choose a long grained rice. 

Arborio: this is a short grained rice that is very starchy. It’s quite sticky when it cooks up which is why it is used for dishes like risotto or rice puddings. It’s the released starch that gives those dishes their creaminess or mouth appeal. 

Basmati rice: This is one of the longest grained rice and is very common to Indian cooking. When cooked properly, the grains rarely stick to one another making for a light, fluffy rice with a beautiful aroma to it.  Generally, it is a more expensive rice, so the Kitchen Pixies tend to reserve this for making steamed rice. 

Converted or Parboiled? This is rice that is partially cooked in its husk  before being dried and packaged. The parboiling process helps drive some of the nutrients deep into the rice grain, making converted rice more nutritious than plain white rice (other than the Vitamin B content) and has about 80% of the nutritional content of brown rice. One of the best known brands of converted or parboiled rice in North America is Uncle Ben’s. A great advantage to converted or parboiled rice is that it holds up better in long cooking processes. It’s a good choice for making fried rice dishes, using in a slow cooker or a casserole. It also keeps its shape better when frozen. 

Instant rice:  This is rice that was cooked at the factory, dehyrated and packaged. All that's left if to rehydrate it with hot water. It's the stuff that's "ready in 5 minutes". It's also very expensive, tastes horrible, has a lousy texture and doesn't have much nutrition left in it. It is NOT a Kitchen Pixie recommended product.

Wild rice: technically this isn’t a rice at all. It’s a completely different plant; however, it cooks up like rice and is often used as a rice. It is very expensive and for this reason, the Kitchen Pixie use it as a flavouring agent and mix it with brown rice for a tasty and visually appealing dish.

Cooking techniques: Rice -- boiled or steamed.

There are two basic ways to prepare rice: steamed and boiled. Each has their own advantages. The boiled rice method is nice because what you chose for the cooking liquid changes the taste of the rice. The steamed rice method made for a very light and fluffy rice.  It is also the best method to use for unprocessed white rice  (not Uncle Ben’s). 

Generally speaking, ¼ cup of raw rice (3/4 cups of cooked rice) is considered a normal serving. One cup of raw rice will cook up to 3 cups of cooked rice, which brings us to the 

1-2-3 Rice Cooking Rule for Boiled Rice.
1 cup of uncooked long grain white rice plus
2 cups of liquid (water, stock, broth, apple, orange or tomato juice) will equal
3 cups of cooked rice.
½ teaspoon of salt (optional) 

Bring the 2 cups of liquid to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan with a tight fitting lid
  1.  Stir in 1 cup of rice.
  2. Cover and lower the heat to a simmer (just barely boiling)
  3. Simmer for 20 minutes (no peeking!!)
  4.  Remove the pan from the heat and let it steam for 2-3 minutes with the lid on (still no peeking!!!)
  5. You now have 3 cups of rice, take the lid off and fluff the grains with a fork. If there is still a bit of liquid, put the cover back on and let it sit for 2-3 more minutes.

Brown rice: This needs to cook longer so you will let it cook for 50 minutes (no peeking or taking the lid off to stir). Let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes before fluffing the grains with a fork. 

Steamed Rice method: 

This is the best method to use for plain, regular long-grained rice. It also lends itself well to quantity cooking. 

You will need:
A flat bottomed sauce pan with a tight fitting lit
Mesh strainer. 

  1.   The first step is to wash the starch from the rice. Place your rice in the pot and gently run cold tap water over it. Use your fingers to swish the rice around. When the water becomes a murky white, gentle pour off the water (without letting the rice go down the sink!). The white is the starch that makes our rice dishes sticky. Fill the pot up again and repeat washing until the water is almost clear. You will go through the process at least 4-5 times
  2. The next step is to soak the rice. Fill the pot up again with cold water and let the rice and water sit for 20-30 minutes. This softens the rice grain and helps loosen any remaining starch that makes the rice sticky.
  3.  Drain off the water and refill the pot on last time. You don’t have to worry about quantity of water – we just want lots of it because we are going to boil the rice.
  4.  Bring the rice and water to a boil, without covering the pot. It will cook for approximately 8-9 minutes. You can check the doneness of it by biting into a grain of rice. If there is a little firmness just at the centre of the grain, it is done.
  5.  Using the mesh strainer, completely drain the rice. Allow as much of the water as possible to drain off.
  6.   Return the rice to the pot, add ½ cup of water and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Heat the pot until the water you added turns to steam. Reduce the heat and let the rice steam for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and let sit for a few minutes. Uncover and fluff the grains with a fork or chopstick. 

For Quantity cooking: This is a great method for keeping rice handy in the fridge for 3-4 days. Boil up (steps 1-5) enough rice for several meals and transfer to an airtight container for the fridge. Reheating the rice is step 6 – “Instant” rice that still has its nutrition and taste in it. It’s a great timesaver for busy cooks.                

Monday, 23 July 2012

Corn Chowder

 This was the recipe we used to kick-off Our Greener Kitchen's edible community outreach. It's simple, it's delicious and it's fast. 


1- 2 medium sized onions, chopped 
4 medium to large potatoes -- 2 grated; 2 diced 
1 Tablespoon of oil or fat (vegetable oil, butter, margarie, bacon fat, Crisco)
1 teaspoon of salt 
Black pepper to taste 
Water or stock (chicken or vegetable) 
1 can corn niblets
1 can creamed corn 
1/2 cup of powdered milk OR 2 cups of regular milk

Optional ingredients

1 large peeled carrot, diced 
1/2 reg or green sweet pepper, finely diced 
2 ribs of celery, finely diced
3/4 cup of fronzen corn niblets
2 slices of bacon, fried crisply and crumbled
1/4 teaspoon of thyme

  1. Chop the onions in a medium dice (1/2" pieces). If using celery, carrots or pepper, dice them as well, keeping each ingredient separate.
  2. Grate two of the potatoes into a small bowl and cover with water.
  3. Dice the other potatoes into about 1 inch dice.
  4. Mix ½ cup of the milk powder with 2 cups of cold water. 
    1.  Heat oil in large flat bottom pot over medium-high heat.
    2.  Add chopped onion and celery (if using). Cook until onion is soft  -- about 3 minutes.
    3.  Add grated potatoes (and carrots if using). Add just enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring mixture to a boil, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
    4.  Add the cubed potatoes and make sure there is enough water to just cover the vegetables.
    5.  Cover the pot and let it boil for about 8 minutes or until the cubed potatoes are fork tender. The broth will be slightly thickened at this point because the starch from the potatoes will have cooked out into the liquid.
    6. Add any optional vegetables you are using.
    7. Add the 2 cups of milk and lower heat to medium. Stir occasionally until the soup heats up. Do not let it boil.
    8. When it is hot, add both cans of corn to the pot, including the juice. Stir and turn the heat off.
    9. Let the flavours mingle for 2-3 minutes before serving.

New! Improved!!! Now more delicious!!!

As many people know, the Fredericton Food Bank has changed locations. We’re no longer on Grandame St but have moved to much more spacious surroundings on Riverside Dr, at the old Green Village nursery location.

New space makes room for new ideas and Our Greener Kitchen is one of them. Clients tell us that they are interested in feeding their families healthy, nutritionally sound meals while sticking to a budget. There’s a myth out there that people have to chose between eating good food that nourishes their families and inexpensive food. We are here to put an end to that myth. Good food IS affordable. In fact, it’s highly processed foods that raise the grocery bill through the ceiling.

So what keeps people from eating inexpensive meals? Part of the problem is lack of knowledge. Over the past few decades, the skills our grandmothers took for granted have been lost. One of our goals at Our Greener Kitchen is to bring that knowledge back to our own kitchens. This is where our teaching kitchen project will come into play. If you wanted to learn about canning, preserving, or different cuisines, such as vegetarian, Indian or Asian, we’ll be offering classes in some of these areas in the future.

Right now,  we’re at work developing and testing recipes, new and old, to give to our clients. At various times throughout the year, we’ll be handing out samples at the Food Bank on hamper day. Our Greener Kitchen recipes will be posted here and will be available at the Food Bank. Often, the featured recipe will be an Choice Pack option for food bank clients.

We’re passionate about good food for everyone, so watch this space for the tasty ideas percolating in Our Greener Kitchen. 

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