Archive | August, 2012

don’t we all have mixed feelings about Java House / chick pea + kale soup with cinnamon

22 Aug

If you’re from Toronto and are / have been at one point young and poor you’ve probably had the… not “pleasure”… the, experience of going to Java House.  I’ve been there a lot (not recently but that’s beside the point) and I have a tumultuous relationship with the place, as I believe many do.

There are some undeniably great features – it has a huge patio just off Queen West that’s always bursting at the seams yet always has room for you somewhere, even on the most patio friendly days of summer.  The beer is cheap, like 11$ for a pitcher of half decent beer cheap, and so is the food.  One must, however, consider that the place just feels like there are cockroaches running around the kitchen and under the kegs – I’ve never had a bad experience with that but I’ve heard enough stories to be wary – it’s fairly dingy.  The service is ok-ish but under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you try to get separate bills for your table.  Don’t. Do it.  Oh, and I mentioned that the food is cheap… it is, really really cheap.  It is not “good”.

With one exception!  There was (as I said, I haven’t been there recently so maybe it’s gone?) a tomato chick-pea soup that I believe cost about $3 a bowl.  It was not spectacular but it was really tasty.  It was especially good when, half way through an after-work session of “beer instead of dinner will be just fine”, I realize that no I need to eat at least once a day.  Probably more.

So I feel that an homage to that fine, fine soup is in order.  My soup is better.  In fact it’s unreasonably f***ing delicious, especially considering how simple it is.

makes 6 servings

chick pea + kale soup with cinnamon

ingredients

  • 6 c vegetable broth
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 400 ml can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch of kale
  • 1 500ml can chick peas, drained
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • olive oil
  • salt

preparation

Cut the spine out of each kale leaf.  Rinse the leaves, bunch them together and roughly chop them; you should have about 2 generous cups of chopped kale.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and sautee until they just begin to soften.  Add garlic, turmeric and oregano along with the chick peas.  Cook, stirring constantly, until onions are translucent.  Add kale one handful at a time, stirring until it wilts.  Add tomato, broth and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Remove cinnamon stick, add salt to taste and serve.

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plum + cherry yoghurt cake

12 Aug

So I made panna cotta from a recipe I had used before (successfully, I might add) but made the mistake of trying to transport it to a friend’s house before it was fully set.  It ended up being less of a dessert and more of a sloppy yoghurt and cream mess.  But was I discouraged?  Nay!  I soldiered on.  I brought that mess home with me and used it, along with the compote I had made to serve with it, to make a cake.

It turned out moist and yummy and not too sweet (so it makes a good breakfast?  yes.)

You see sometimes, when a genius gets impatient and makes a mess of things, it turns into a tasty cake…

plum + cherry yoghurt cake

ingredients

compote

  • 4-5 plums
  • 2 large handfuls fresh cherries (or 2-3 extra plums if cherries aren’t in season)
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract – real stuff not synthetic, it makes a big difference here)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise

cake

  • 4 tbsp butter, at room temp.
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c plain greek yoghurt (I particularly like Liberté Mediterranean)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 c flour

preparation

compote

Cut the plums in half, remove pits, and cut each half into 4-6 chunks.  Put plums along with pitted cherries in a large saucepan along with sugar, star anise and cinnamon and turn heat to medium.  Cut the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds into the saucepan then add the pod.

Once the fruit starts to bubble turn heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes or until the fruit is soft enough to mash easily with back of a spoon.

Let it cool and it can be refrigerated up to 3 days.  Any extra compote left after the cake is made is delicious on ice cream or yoghurt.

cake

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream butter and sugar.  Whisk in eggs and vanilla until smooth.  Whisk in baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Whisk in flour (in three parts) alternating with yoghurt (in two parts) until fully combined.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9″ cake pan.  Place about 1/4 cup of compote in the center of each quarter of the cake (about 1 cup total) and swirl it in and around the batter with a spoon so there are ribbons of fruit throughout but it’s not fully combined.

Bake for 35 – 45 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.