Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Celery saving tips

Freezer prepped ingredients or meals have saved my life and one of my favourites is this simple recipe that I like to call "soup starter" because it's so handy to just pull out of the freezer and throw a couple of beans and greens over and a little broth and you've got a meal!

Soup starter is basically a meripoix but without the onion (because my husband doesn't like onions but if it was just for me I would totally add them)

- 3 bunches of celery, use the stalks and save the tender hearts for snacking, and the bottoms are useful too for stock.
- 9 big carrots

Peel the carrots and dice. Clean the celery stalks and dice.

It's easier to do this in 2 pots so I got 2 big pots going on the stove with a little oil and then I add half of the celery and carrot to each and sautee away, the carrots will begin to soften and release a lot of colour into the oil. Season with salt or I use A.Vogel's veggie infused seasalt product which is super handy!

At this point you add a little stock or even water works, just a couple of tbsps (maybe 1/4 cup) and cover, simmer until carrots are just tender.

Once it's done remove from the heat and cool completely then you can bag it and freeze, try to break it up while it's freezing (kind of like you would do with a granita so you don't end up with a big ball of frozen veg that you can't portion)

I'm on my second batch and truly this is just such a handy mix to have around.

For the celery middles, sometimes I save them for snacking and as you see the bottoms go into a stock so every part of the vegetable is used.

Manti Revisited

I love how easy and elegant this dish is, and perfect for appetizers... not to mention EASY!  It's basically 2 ingredients, the meat and then your wrappers, we're using wonton wrappers.

Start with your filling, you could use beef or lamb mince (ground)


Wonton wrappers, about 1 package 

- 1 lb ground lamb
Salt & Black pepper to taste

Optional ingredients for filling: 
- Minced fresh mint, or a couple of flakes of dried mint

- onion or shallot, grated finely
- Garlic, minced
- Arabic Seven spice or a dash of allspice

Mix up your filling and then make tiny meatballs, a little bigger than the size of a malteser candy
It's easier if all your meatballs are made ahead and placed on a plate or your cutting board and then you begin filling.

Now grab a wonton wrapper and place a meatball in the middle then dip your finger in water and draw a line down both sides, fold in half sealing both ends and allowing the top to be open. The water keeps it sealed or you could make a slurry of water and flour as a sort of "Glue".  Hold both sides with thumbs and stand it up so that the opening is at the top and your meatball is kind of exposed.  Stand them all up in the pan as I've shown and then heat your oven to 400 and bake until tops and bottom are crispy. No oil is necessary as lamb is pretty oily in itself.
Once crispy remove from the oven and add about 1/2 cup broth to the pan and return to the oven, you want to soften up the wrappers a bit.

Serve on a place warm with the dip or topping of your choice. I go traditional with a whisked heated yogurt mixture and then a drizzle of warm garlicky olive oil with a dash of paprika and a handful of toasted pinenuts.

If you have any leftovers, just throw them in the fridge and the next day add to a pot of stock, they soften up nicely and you got a delicious wonton soup!