Lemon Zested Bacon Wrapped Asparagus + Finals Week Triumph

Well well well… here we are. It’s happened. I’m in finals week. I made it. My first term of culinary school has just been knocked out and doesn’t know what hit it.

 Lemon zested bacon wrapped aparagus bite

It was a tough winter. I battled with the loneliness of moving to a new place, the challenge(s) of returning to school, a heavy workload, MATH, financial struggles, transportation issues and so on. Our good friend life.

My math grade is teetering on an A- and after my final, may be a B, but in every other one of my required courses (psychology, writing, computer skills and college skills) my grade is an A or A+. I worked my arse off this term and earned the shit out of those A’s.

 Lemon zested bacon wrapped asparagus

I feel like a force to be reckoned with… Like a building wind on the plane that finally grew into a tornado. This tornado tore through town and left rubble. I can do whatever I want and no one can stop me. And that’s that.

So, now that I’ve gone on my narcissistic rant, here is a simple, yet brilliant, recipe.

 green asparagus

Now that we are in full swing of Spring, my good friend Asparagus officinalis has been making some exciting appearances. Slim, dressed in green and always showing off a stunning and full head of hair, asparagus has the world mesmerized by its delicate flavour and crisp (when young) texture.

Asparagus doesn’t need much preparation: roasted, baked, pan-fried, seared or steamed, asparagus releases flavour for every technique.

  bacon wrapped asparagus

Asparagus charms the pants off all seafood and meats. Asparagus compliments everything. Shrimp blushes when asparagus walks by, ribeye cannot stop giggling and bacon… well, bacon can’t stop wrapping asparagus in its arms. In this particular recipe, asparagus and bacon recklessly eloped, leaving their families to start a better life anew. Their romance was full of dangerous passion and lust, which in the end destroyed them (in my mouth).

This recipe is so easy, yet it is very fancy. These little bundles of soft, meaty-green goodness are perfect as an hor d’oeuvres or as a side. Or, as always, just by itself.

Lemon zested bacon wrapped asparagus plate

Lemon Zested Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

 

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces (1-2 bunches) thin, green asparagus
  • 1 12-ounce pack of bacon
  • ½ a lemon’s zest
  • pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400ºF/200ºC/Gas mark 6.

Rinse asparagus and shake until mostly dry. Cut off the last inch of the bottom of them stems to avoid the stringy bits. Section them into groups – about quarter-sized circumferences.

Tightly wrap each section with a slice of bacon starting at the bottom, or thickest point and going towards the top, or thinnest point.

Lay your meaty, green bundles in a casserole pan side-by-side. Alternate their direction to fit more in the pan and to make sure the tops get enough grease.

Sprinkle zest and salt over the whole pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes then broil on high for 3-4 minutes. Doing this will prevent the need for turning them over.

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Vegan Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Potage With Chili and Cocoa Powder For Winter

 Slow cooker butternut squash potage with chili and cocoa powder

Being a student, I am often too busy to spend much time cooking for myself. As a culinary student, I find this a little upsetting because that means less time to experiment with ingredients and techniques. Luckily, the slow cooker is here to save the day.

slow cooker butternut squash potage with chili and cocoa powder 2

Winter is the best time to pull out the slow cooker and infuse your kitchen with the rising aroma of a warm, home cooked meal. This simple recipe cooks on low for ten hours, rendering each ingredient incapable of holding any form. A potage is a smooth, uniformly blended soup. The best way to make a potage is low heat for several hours. Using a slow cooker means you can just toss the ingredients in the crock, set the temperature and forget about it until it is done.

slow cooker butternut squash potage with chili and cocoa powder 3

It is commonly known that chili and cocoa pair well together. This combination can be found in many desserts, from spicy hot chocolate to chili chocolate tarts. Sauces like black mole and chocolate chili barbecue sauce are excellent to compliment flavours in poultry and meats. Even chili chocolate beer exists. I thought it was time to combine chili and cocoa powder with butternut squash. The deep, density of cocoa brings out the earthy qualities to butternut squash and chili always adds an incredible kick. Those combined with the nutty coconut milk makes a perfect, hearty winter meal. This recipe got me through a week’s worth of lunches (and few dinners on really busy days). 

slow cooker butternut squash potage with chili and cocoa powder 4

Butternut Squash Potage With Chili and Cocoa Powder

Ingredients

 

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ¾-1 teaspoon salt

Directions

 

Remove the skin from the squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut the squash into large chunks.

Place all ingredients in a large 6.5-quart cooker and cook on low for 10 hours. I usually start my before I go to bed and forget about it until morning.

 

When your soup is finished cooking, it is time to turn it into a potage. Using an immersion blender, blend ingredients together until completely smooth.

 

Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with feta or goat cheese, paprika and cracked pepper.

 

There will be a lot of soup, so you may want to portion some into containers and freeze for later.

 

Makes 6 quarts

 

 

 

Roasted Beetroot and The Bridge to Nowhere

Beet Patterns

Habits. Habits are everywhere. You and I are hopelessly bound to them. We cannot resist them. We take comfort in the ritual of them. We admonish the addiction of them. It’s a love/hate sort of relationship we have with habits.

Year after year, time and time again we do the same things over and over. If someone showed me a chart of my life (they’d be revealing their creepy hobby of charting other people’s lives) I’d be pretty horrified to see which activities I spend most of my time doing (cute animals + YouTube = irresistible). Even still, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into change and growth, or at least, I think I have. It feels important to me to not get stuck in life. Actually, it scares the pants off me to look back on my life and feel like nothing’s changed.

B&W beets

Now, I think most would agree when I say that habits and behavior related to family are the worst. No matter how much I think I’ve grown up and changed, I always turn into the misunderstood bratty teenager around my family. I sit and watch myself go from (relatively) logical to utterly irrational. Fully aware of what is happening, I’m somehow incapable of preventing my transformation to She-Hulk.

Bridge to Nowhere

Last weekend, my brother, sister-in-law and a few family friends came to celebrate my new nephew’s naming ceremony. Baby Amos Ramana was, in part, named after my late father who passed tragically just last year.  I was moved to tears when my father’s memory was honored during the ceremony, which was short and sweet, but the festivities that followed were full of celebratory vibes. The weekend itself was stressful. So many family members falling into their old patterns and habits created enough anxiety for all to share. The next day, we all walked up Mount Lebanon to the retreat area. Our destination was The Bridge to Nowhere, a short, suspended bridge that leads….well, to nowhere. It ends abruptly in mid air and the walker is forced to a shaky stop. The idea behind the bridge is reflective. “You can go no further. Either stop, or find another way” is what goes on in my head when I am on that bridge. And so, I must find another way.

bridge feet

Taking family for granted is a bad habit of mine. I have come to realize that I cannot afford to do that anymore. Things don’t always end up the way I think they will and my family won’t always be around for me to finally work out my issues. So, I’ve gotta just suck it up and find another way around my habits. Change my patterns.

Roasted beets

Beets are the inspiration behind this post. They are very plentiful right now, so I’ve spent a lot of time looking at and preparing them. Their patterns are insightful. I am trying to let the wisdom of beets guide me through this challenging journey. I made some very simple and simply delicious roasted beetroots. Do enjoy.

roasted beets up close

Roasted Beetroot Fries

Ingredients

  • 3-4 of your favorite sort of beets
  • Cooking oil
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven at 400ºF/200ºC/Gas mark 6. Cut the ends off the beets and peel them. Slice the beets into chunky wedges and place in a large bowl.
  • Add cooking oil and all the spices.
  • Mix with your hands (it works best) making sure that the oil and spices are evenly distributed.
  • Spread the wedges on baking sheets or pans. TIP: If you want your fries to get crispy (recommended!), give them plenty of space. If beets are too crowded they will release juices and start to get soggy. This may require the use of several pans.
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes (convection ovens will take less time).
  • When they are crispy on the edges and soft to the touch take them out.