Thursday, 7 November 2013

Cast-Iron Skillet Cooking {Pear & Roasted Garlic Riesling Pork Chops for Two}

This past weekend, I had a great time with a close friend, heading just out of the city to Almonte for a little antique shop perusing and to check out the Handmade Harvest Craft Show. We were not disappointed with the array of awesome handmade crafts at the show - so much great local talents! And there were also some great antique finds! We even popped into the Tin Barn Market, Hello Yellow and Superior Diner for some good old fashioned, diner poutine and a pop to fuel up!

On the way back to Ottawa, we stopped in at my friend's beautiful parent's house for a moment! We were greeted a warmly by her family doing some kitchen floor renovations. We sat for a minute and talked with her mom about our day and antiques and dessert recipes. I mentioned I had been looking for a new cast-iron pan. On our way out of the house, her mom handed me a cast-iron pan and a loaf of raisin bread (probably the best raisin bread I have ever had! It was seriously amazing!). I promised her mom that the next recipe on the blog, I would use the cast-iron skillet. So, without further ado...

Pear & Roasted Garlic Riesling Pork Chops for Two


2 large, thick pork chops (ensure that there is fat on the chops, around the edge for maximum carmelization and deliciousness)
3 cloves garlic, halved
1 medium pear, sliced
1 shallot, quartered
1 teaspoon dried savoury
1/3 cup riesling (I used Cave Spring 2011 Riesling)
Freshly cracked black pepper & sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Cast-iron skillet


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a shallow baking dish season the pork chops well with salt and pepper, savoury and about half of the riesling.

Heat the cast iron skillet on the stove with extra virgin olive oil, just until you see a fee strands of smoke come up from the pan. You want the skillet to be very hot to sear the outside of the meat. Add the pork chops to the pan. Sear until golden brown and delicious crust forms on each side. Add the 1/3 cup of riesling.

Take the pan off the heat, arrange the garlic, pear, shallot in the pan with the chops. Place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the pears, garlic and shallot become caramelized.

Serve the prok chops in the pan as they are at the table. This is the perfect Sunday dish for two. Remember to buy some nice crusty bread to soak up all the yummy pork juices!


-Tina (Turnip)

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Autumn Pumpkin Spice Series III {Pumpkin Hummus & Spiced Pita Chips}

It is Halloween! I hope all you ghouls and goblins are preparing to scare up a storm this evening and gather pillow cases worth of candy! I remember very fondly, how excited my sister and I would get dressing up in wacky costumes and getting out in our neighborhood to knock on those doors and in unison declare, "Trick-or-Treat!" at the top of our lungs, grab our loot and run away! The good houses gave away full chocolate bars or cans of pop (my parents were known for that) and the bad houses gave healthy snacks (Ew, gross!). But by the end of the evening after running around the block and gorging on candy, chocolate and chips, we often ended up with sore bellies.
As the final post in the Autumn Pumpkin Recipe Series, I wanted to do a snack that was healthy to have perhaps, before going out for Halloween, or for the day after, when those treat-filled bellies needed a little pick-me-up!

This is a very easy recipe but is really satisfying. I brought this into work a few weeks ago and everyone loved it, so it is co-worker approved!

Pumpkin Hummus & Spiced Pita Chips

Pumpkin Hummus

1 can of chickpeas, plus 1/4 cup of liquid from the can
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin
2 tablespoons tahini
3 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, add all of the ingredients together. Blend together until the mixture becomes a very smooth and almost fluffly like texture. You may need to add a bit of water to loosen the mixture in the food processor.

Serve in a nice bowl, with a drizzle of olive oil on top and a sprinkle of paprika. I also topped mine with some great salty pumpkin seeds that I made.

Spiced Pita Chips

Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prepare your pitas by brushing them with olive oil. I used whole wheat pitas for this recipe. I also used locally made pitas from a Middle Eastern bakery. Once brushed with olive oil, sprinkle the pitas with salt and pepper, paprika and cumin. If you would like a more spicy flavour you can also add cayenne pepper on top.

Stack the prepared pitas on top of each other and cut into eighths. Arrange them on a baking sheet and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden and cripsy. I didn't use an exact recipe for this snack because you can make as little or as many pitas as you want, using this method. In my experience, its best to make more, because they get eaten up pretty darn quick (just ask my beau!).

Serve these pita chips with the pumpkin hummus. These chips are delicious and even good as a snack on their own.

Happy Halloween!


-Tina (Turnip)

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Autumn Pumpkin Recipe Series II {Cardamom Spiced Maple Roasted Pumpkin Pie}

Recipe number two in the Turnip & Bean Autumn Pumpkin Recipe Series, is a classic: pumpkin pie.

I have eaten a lot of pumpkin pie in my day. Some of the best have come from the Grandmas, Nanas and Mothers in my family and of other friends. While I wanted to channel the classic pumpkin pie flavours, I also wanted something a bit different. I decided to use cardamom and freshly grated ginger in this recipe to add a unique twist. I also roasted the pumpkin, as you might recall from the first post, with maple syrup. I continued using maple syrup as a sweetener throughout this recipe.

Cardamom Spiced Maple Roasted Pumpkin Pie




For the pie crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup, plus 2 teaspoons of cold salted butter
1/4 cup cold or iced water
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or brown sugar)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a large mixing bowl measure out the flour. Cut in the cold butter and work it with your fingers until the mixture resembles a course meal, with pea-sized pieces of butter still visible. Add the cold water and maple syrup. Combine the meal and the wet ingredients until it comes together forming a solid mass of dough. Do not work the dough too much. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for about 25 minutes.

Roll out the pie crust to fit pie shell. The pie plate I used was a deep dish, so this made the bottom of the crust and there was enough extra for decoration along the crust. A braided crust or leaves looks particularly nice. Bake the pie shell in the preheated oven for 4 minutes, until the crust has a matte (not glossy) look to it. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before adding the pie filling.
For the filling:

2 1/2 cups maple roasted pumpkin
4 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup milk or cream (you could also substitute this for almond or soy milk)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground all-spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 425ºF. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients with a whisk. At this point the mixture will likely be a bit lumpy. I used my immersion blender to make a smooth pie filling mixture.

Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. After this time, turn the oven down to 350ºF and bake for another 45 to 60 minutes until the crust is golden and the pie filling has set in the middle. Let the pie cool.

I enjoyed this pie without any topping, but whipped cream or vanilla ice cream would be heavenly with a slice.


-Tina (Turnip)

Friday, 25 October 2013

Autumn Pumpkin Recipe Series I {Pumpkin Apple Sage Soup aka. Thanksgiving Soup}

Finally, I am sitting down to write the first of a series of blog posts about that wonderful fall ingredient: PUMPKIN! 

I made all of these recipes using two medium sized Pie Pumpkins from a local Ottawa grower. To start off all of these recipes, the pumpkins were cut in half, the seeds and pumpkin insides (guts, really) were taken out, and they were then smothered in olive oil. One pumpkin (two halves) were covered in salt and pepper for the savory recipes and the other pumpkin was brushed with some local maple syrup. I roasted them in an oven preheated to 375ºF, for about 60 minutes. Once roasted until the flesh was golden and soft, I scooped out the pumpkin and transferred it into tupperware containers for future use. The seeds were separated from the pumpkin insides, washed, dried and also stored in an airtight container. Finally, the rest of the pumpkin insides I stored in a ziploc bag for a special treat for a certain four-legged friend (stay tuned for that recipe coming up). When embarking on this little pumpkin recipe binge, I decided I wanted to use the entire pumpkin; and I almost did. The only thing I ended up discarding was the skin.

For the first recipe of the series, lets talk soup! I love squash soup and I figured, hey! pumpkin is like squash, so let's whip up a nice, hearty, soul-warming soup! And I did! This recipe might just be one of the best soups, I have ever made. It tastes like a whole Thanksgiving dinner in one bite. Definitely the perfect lunch or light dinner, now that the days are getting colder and heading in to winter.

Pumpkin Apple Sage Soup aka. Thanksgiving Soup




2 1/2 cups roasted pumpkin
2 medium apples, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, chopped
5 sage leaves, bruised (with the back of a knife)
4 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup of apple cider
1 teaspoon dried savoury
1 teaspoon dried, ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
Salt & Pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil


In a large pot, over medium heat add some olive oil and add the onions, apples, carrots and garlic. Cook until soft. Add the sage leaves, the savoury, fennel seed, celery salt and stir the mixture. Add in the roasted pumpkin, mix well with the onion, apple and spice mixture. Add the vegetable stock and the apple cider. Stir and cook the mixture for about 20 minutes over a medium heat.

Once simmered, turn off the heat and let cool down slightly. You can use a standard blender or an immersion blender to purée the soup until it is nice and smooth. Put back in the pot and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Serve this soup with some pumpkin seeds on top (recipe to come), some bacon, or top with some chopped sage. This soup is ideal with some warm, crusty bread and butter on the side.

This recipe makes two large mason jars of soup - also great way to store it in the fridge and take to work!


-Tina (Turnip)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Food Crawl {A 50th Birthday Surprise}

Surprises, particularly birthday surprises are wonderful. I like to be caught off guard with special gifts, but planning the unexpected is really where I get my kicks! Birthdays, holidays, Tuesdays; I really enjoy celebrating the big and small life events with surprises.

On September 27th, 2013 my mom turned 50! Half a century old, is not just a little feat! For months, my dad and I had been scheming to plan something special for her. We concocted a gift that would encompass all of her favorite things: adventure, new experiences, food and drinks. We decided on a food crawl!

Essentially, I was tasked my by dad to choose 3-5 restaurants that I thought she would like and we would go to each and order a drink and a couple plates to share. And since it was a 50th birthday present, money in this case, would be no object! I was in my glory!

The restaurants were chosen, my parents were in Ottawa, the weather was perfect. We were ready to go. I even prepared an Ottawa Foodie Passport for my mom - a small booklet, where she could record the restaurants visited and what was ordered - which she loved!

My wonderful mum with her Ottawa Foodie Passport, sitting at the bar
at Town enjoying her drink, in front of the iconic octopus painting. I hope I look this amazing at 50!

We ended up going to 4 restaurants, but not necessarily the ones I had originally chosen. The problem (although not really a problem) was that it was a gorgeous Friday night and we didn't make reservations since we wanted to leisurely go from location to location.

Here are the restaurants that we did go to, and what we ordered:


Our first stop was Town. The restaurant was bustling, but still inviting with a warm atmosphere and a buzz of Friday night conversations between couples and friends. I was greeted at the door with a smile and was informed that they were completely booked up for the evening, but there was room at the bar to sit. We jumped on the opportunity!

As a first stop on what would be a rather gluttonous evening, we decided on something lighter. We each ordered a drink:

  • Vanilla porter
  • Helmut
  • Grapefruit fizz

The drinks were lovingly crafted right in front of us and when we asked any questions, the bar tender was happy to give some insight!

For food we ordered the 3 cheese plate and had:

  • Grey Owl from Quebec
  • Highland Blue from Ontario
  • Taleggio from Italy 

Being cheese lovers, all 3 were excellent cheeses and the accoutrements served with the cheeses including apple chutney, local honey, bread crisps and spiced nuts were outstanding. The favorite cheese of the three, however, by far, was the High Blue - creamy, velvety, tart.

Oz Cafe

We arrived at Oz Cafe, off to the side of Elgin St, down the stairs, and were saw what looked to be a full restaurant. Luckily, it was such a beautiful night, the patio was open and available to sit at. The cheese plate was fabulous at Town, but by this time with some walking and a drink under our belts we were developing an appetite. We decided on ordering something more substantial to share. Since the food at Oz Cafe has a Asian inspiration to it, we decided to drink a Sapporo - light, crisp and satisfying. For food we ordered:

  • Smoked trout sashimi
  • Edamame
  • Corn on the cob

When we ordered the food, the waiter told us that it might be a little bit of a wait because the kitchen was so busy. But we ordered and were served within about 20 minutes, so no complaints there! The smoked trout was light, delicate and had the perfect hint of jalapeno kick. The edamame were the best I have ever had; buttery, salty and totally addictive. Finally, the corn. For my family, corn on the cob holds a special place in our hearts as being a summer barbecue essential, fresh picked from my grandparents garden. The corn at Oz Cafe is something extraordinary. As my dad put it, "It tastes like steak!". The char grilled taste and salty, spicy peanut crumble on top, made it the favorite dish of the whole evening!

Johnny Farina's

This is the part in the evening that took a bit of a turn. We had planned to pop across the street from Oz Cafe over to El Camino for some tacos and tequila (my mom's favorite). Unfortunately, on our arrival, and because of the nature of our food crawl not allowing us to make reservations, we were confronted with a one and half hour wait. We have heard such amazing reviews, we were disappointed, but it will be a place to try another time! Thinking ahead, we called to the next restaurant and made a reservation. It was still another hour away, so we strolled down Elgin St. and popped into Johnny Farina's for a drink and an appetizer.

Johnny's (as my former co-workers loving called it) is a decent restaurant, with good food, great service (in my experience) and even a lunch counter (to get good food on the go)! It is a place where I used to have lunch about once per week and holds a special place in my busy former life.

We ordered a few beers and a dry gin martini (with an olive) for my mom. We also ordered the calamari to snack on while we enjoyed our drinks and caught some baseball highlights on television. Cannot say enough about their calamari. Super delicious and huge portion for the price! Definitely the perfect accompaniment for a tall, cold glass of Kichessippi beer!

 Union 613

Our last stop of the evening was Union 613. Admittedly, I had only been once before, to their basement speakeasy and was just dying to try their southern inspired food. The restaurant for 11:00 pm was at a low rumbled of people laughing and talking over their delicious smelling food and drinks. The dark and dim atmosphere is so inviting. We all especially loved the lighting in the restaurant. I have to get some of those recycle bottle chandeliers!

We were seated at one of the common tables in the back of the restaurant near the kitchen. My dad sat on the end and was fascinated the whole time, peaking into the plating station, watching all of the food go from kitchen to tables. We discussed our food and drink options at length while gorging ourselves on the briny, boiled peanuts served (which, by the way, are just beyond addictive). The service from start to finish was impeccable! To drink we ordered:

  • Bourbon lemonade
  • Apple pie
  • 2 bourbons to taste (after dinner)

The lemonade was really great and super refreshing, but the apple pie drink was, in my opinion, one of the best drinks I have tasted. There isn't much to it, and there isn't much to say except that it tastes like apple pie, but it is heaven served in a little mason jar! My parents, after dinner, also tasted two bourbons recommended by our very knowledgeable waiter. Both were enjoyed!

For food we decided to order three things off their late night menu:

  • Yard bird
  • Fried green tomatoes
  • Shrimp and grits

We cannot say enough about how great the food was. The fried green tomatoes were perfect; fresh, salty, cheesy and spicy. The fried chicken was so moist and satisfying. And the shrimp and grits was just perfection. The grits actually tastes like mac and cheese, which is pretty darn yummy in my books!

After Union 613 our bellies were so full, we almost couldn't move. The food crawl birthday present was a resounding success!


This is a great idea to do with a bunch of friends and allows you to try a bunch of different dishes at a number of restaurants without breaking the bank! Sharing is key here and it makes the evening even more fun! I am already planning my next food crawl adventure!

Happy 50th birthday to my mom! I hope you have 50+ years more of adventures!

-Tina (Turnip)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Wunderbar! {Four Oktoberfest Celebrations in Ottawa}

October is almost upon us and there are some great beer and food festivals happening all over Ottawa! Alex and I, along with some other wonderful friends will be attending Beau’s Oktoberfest and are so excited! The array of food and drink to be had, seems endless!

Check out some of the other Oktoberfest celebrations going on in our fair city!

Prost! (Cheers!)

-Tina (Turnip)


1. Oktoberfest Ottawa 2013

Date: September 27th – 29th, 2013
Location: Clark Fields Park in Barrhaven
Tickets: $20.00 for a Single-Day pass. Beer, wine and cider tokens are sold separately.
Motto: “Food, Fun, Froth, Frauliens Und Fantastich Musik!”

Oktoberfest Ottawa 2013 is touted as Ottawa’s premier Oktoberfest celebration and music festival. This year, the festival will host many local and Canadian performers such as Good2Go, Amanda Rheaume and Hollerado. In addition to the music, the festival will include 3 heated Bavarian beer-haus style tents, with sausage and pretzel eating contests, and of course some great Bavarian food and beer from local breweries including, Broadhead Brewing Company, Hogbacks Brewing Company and Big Rig Brewery.

2. Octoberfest on Sparks Street

Date: September 27th – 29th, 2013
Location: Sparks Street Promenade
Tickets: $5.00 button purchased at the entrance gate. $1.00 of each purchased button will be donated in support of the Ottawa Food Bank.
Motto: “The sausage, the beer, the lederhosen… must be Octoberfest on Sparks!”

Octoberfest on Sparks Street will be held on the patios along the promenade. There will be a main beer hall as well as micro-brew tents to fill up on your favourite beers. Food will include traditional Bavarian fare. There will also be Oompah music, games, contests and prizes. Not only a great celebration of food and drink, this festival does some good in the community with a portion of the entrance fee proceeds heading straight to the Ottawa Food Bank.

Update: Sparks Street will also be celebrating RibtoberFest October 3rd - 6th. There will be 17 different rib vendors spread over 5 blocks on the Sparks Street promenade.  This festival will also include beer, live music, games and prizes. 

3. Beau’s Oktoberfest 2013

Date: October 4th – 5th, 2013
Location: VanKleek Hill
Tickets: $22.00 with no transportation or tokens, $37.00 with transportation to and from Ottawa, $52.00 with transportation to and from Ottawa and 3 beer tokens. NOTE: Tickets for Saturday October 5th are sold out. Tickets are still available for Friday October 4th.
Motto: “Food, Music, Beer and Fun for the Whole Family!”

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company puts on an annual Oktoberfest celebration like no other. This year musical acts include some Canadian music by great talents such as Kathleen Edwards, The Sadies, Young Rival, The Balconies, Sloan, Rich Aucoin and The Mahones. Of course, no Oktoberfest is complete without fabulous food and drink and Beau’s festival delivers the best Ottawa has to offer, with food coming from such restaurants as, the Arrow & Loon, the Barley Mow, The Branch, Bridgehead, Brothers Beer Bistro, Hintonburg Public House, Pascale's All Natural Ice Cream, The Piggy Market, two six {ate}, The Smoque Shack, Union613, Whalesbone Catering and The Works.

Beau’s featured beers will include, Lug-Tread Lagered Ale, Night-Märzen Oktoberfest Lager, The Tom Green Beer (Milk Stout), Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale (B-Side Brewing Label), Smokin' Banana Peels (Rauch Weissbier), Two Weeks Notice (German Porter), Mr. Hyde (Roggenbier), Oktobock (Bock) and Dampf Punk (Dampfbier).

Oktoberfest is Beau's signature fundraising event. This year funds are being raised for Canadian Canoe Foundation, United Way Ottawa, Kiva, Just Food, Rethink Breast Cancer and the VKH Agricultural Society.

4. Oktoberfest in the Byward Market

Date: October 18th – 20th, 2013
Location: Byward Market Square
Tickets: Free
Motto: “Ottawa's only FREE Oktoberfest!”

The Byward market Oktoberfest will feature family programming all weekend long and great live entertainment on Friday and Saturday night. There will also be barrel races, free wagon rides, games, the quintessential sausages and pretzels and of course, beer.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Finally, fall! {Warm & Cozy Vegetarian Samosa Stuffed Peppers}

Although Alex and I love the summer months - the hot, sunny weather, the blue skies, the lazy, popsicle filled days - we spent much of the month of August dreaming of fall.

The dreams of cool mornings, knitted scarves, warm sweaters, riding boots, warm spiced lattés, and cozy comfort foods that filled our heads, are finally coming true these past few days. The leaves are turning a burnt orange, a vibrant red or a golden yellow. Walking to work in the morning you can see your breathe in the crisp air and feel the crunch of leaves under your feet. You have those warm, fuzzy thoughts of cuddling up with someone special under a blanket.

Finally, fall!

To celebrate the start of this time of year, I was very excited to do some comfort cooking. My recipes are often cooked up, due to necessity or what is in my fridge or pantry at the time.This recipe is no exception. I was inspired by Indian spices that just seem to scream fall, with their warmth and intense colours and flavours.

This recipe is vegetarian and is relatively easy, and will definitely warm you up on those cool fall evenings.

Vegetarian Samosa Stuffed Peppers

*This recipe makes 6 portions (or three peppers, halved)


4 medium potatoes, boiled and diced
1/2 cup red pepper, finely diced
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup frozen or fresh green peas
2 tablespoons madras curry powder (fresh ground if possible)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1/2 cup water
1 cup homemade tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste


3 medium sized peppers
1 1/2 cups homemade tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon madras curry power
Halloumi or mozzarella cheese (optional)


In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add the finely diced onion. Cook the onion until there is some caramel and golden colour. Add in the finely diced red pepper and cook until soft. Add in the garlic and the madras curry powder, paprika, cumin and fennel. Toast the spices in the pan for a minute or so - the smell of spices should waft through the air. Add in the cooked potatoes and peas and mix well with the onion, pepper, spice mixture. Add the water and tomato sauce, and salt and pepper to your taste. Cook, covered over a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, mashing the potatoes and peas together slightly, until it becomes a coherent mixture.

Preheat your oven to 375°C. Halve and clean the three medium peppers and set aside. I used green and red peppers for this recipe, I can't decide which I like better as both were delicious, but use your preferred colour of pepper. Mix the tomato sauce and madras curry powder in a bowl and set aside as well.  Prepare a deep dish baking pan, by lining it with tin foil (for easy clean up). Grate the cheese and set aside (optional).

To assemble the stuffed peppers, inside each of the pepper halves, add a tablespoon or so of the spiced tomato sauce. Scoop a heaping spoon of the potato and pea (samosa filling) mixture into each of the stuffed peppers. In the baking dish, place a thin layer of tomato sauce. Place each of the filled stuffed peppers into the tray. Top the peppers with the remaining tomato sauce. Then top the stuffed peppers with cheese of your choice. Salty halloumi or mozzarella is best; this is an optional addition.

Bake in the over for 1 hour, or until the peppers are soft and the warm spicy smell envelops your kitchen. These can be eaten straight out of the oven or you can let them cool and pack them in airtight containers for weeknight dinners. They can also be put in the freezer and reheated at a later date.

Welcome fall into your kitchen with this warm and cozy recipe!


-Turnip (Tina)