Delicious food without the fuss!

The word “smart” has been thrown around a great deal in recent years: smart phones, Smart cars, and even smart toilets. And then there are the more traditional smarts, usually attached to the other end: book-smarts, street-smarts. But what about kitchen-smarts?

It might sound trivial, but being smart in the kitchen is all about saving time and money, and not many would pass up on more of those. There are the tips that I’ve picked up from my mom (buy produce that can be used in various ways throughout the week); those I’ve learned from living alone (only buy packaged foods when they’re on special); and those I’ve gained through the weekly routine of cooking for two (buying and eating less meat means more money for DQ Blizzards).

Kidding aside, being kitchen smart simply comes down to determination. By implementing new systems and habits into your routine, and exposing yourself to new ideas, you’ll find that you’re optimizing your cooking experiences, and eating delicious food, too.

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Australian food editor Valli Little offers an abundance of good habits in her latest cookbook Quick Smart Cook, which is full of enticing and unique recipes not just for busy families and bachelors, but anyone in search of a fast, delicious meal. Recipes like Rib-eye with Espresso and Mushroom Sauce and Instant Fondue with Roast Vegetables sound super swanky, but Little’s writing is clear, concise and simple—suitable for beginners and seasoned home-cooks alike.

Best of all, it lives up to its Smart title. Spaghetti with Roasted Garlic and Quail Eggs might suggest a lengthy prep time and unusual ingredients, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I easily found quail eggs at the first place I looked—my local Asian grocer’s. And the recipe instructions are designed to minimize both cooking time and washing up: bread is toasted in the oven along with a whole head of garlic, and tiny speckled quail eggs are boiled at the tail end of the pasta’s cooking time. After a little wait and a whiz in the food processor, all you have to do is toss and serve.

And in case you needed another incentive to check out Quick Smart Cook, the beautifully-styled, full-page photos should do the trick.

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Spaghetti with quail eggs and roasted garlic

Serves 4

1 whole garlic bulb

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1 slice rustic-style wood fired bread

2 tbsp grated parmesan

2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves

250g creme fraiche

400g spaghetti

12 quail eggs*

100g baby arugula

 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Drizzle the garlic with 1 tablespoon of oil, wrap tightly in foil and place on a baking tray. Drizzle the bread on both sides with extra oil and place on the same tray. Bake, turning the bread once, for 15 minutes until the bread is golden. Remove the bread, then roast the garlic for a further 30 minutes until soft.

Meanwhile, pulse the bread, parmesan and parsley in a food processor to form coarse drums. Set aside.

Unwrap the roasted garlic. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves from their skins into the creme fraiche. Mash together well and set aside.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water according to packet instructions. Add the quail eggs for the last 3-4 minutes of cooking time, then drain. Remove the eggs and set aside. Toss the pasta in a little extra oil, then toss with the deme fraiche mixture and arugula. Season and divide among 4 bowls.

Peel the eggs (it helps to roll them on the counter first to ease off the shell), then halve and place on the pasta. Serve scattered with the parmesan crumbs.

*For Vancouverites, I found them at Kim’s Mart on East Broadway, but they’re also available at T&T Supermarkets. Substitute 4 small chicken eggs, hard-boiled and quartered.

delicious. quick smart cook book by Valli Little available in store

 Review and Photography by Melanie Kwan © 2015

Our Favorite Vancouver Salad Bars

We don’t need to tell you that it’s blisteringly hot outside! When it’s this hot outside, cooking a hot meal is usually the least thing on our minds. We want something tasty, filling, and doesn’t require firing up the stove or oven. Therefore, summertime is the time for salads to shine!

Salads are easy to make – add greens, veggies, protein, dressing, and whatever else you like, then mix it all together! While it’s easy to prepare a salad, there are also those who take salad making seriously and elevate it to artful deliciousness.

These are the places we go in Vancouver for a cool, crisp salad on a hot day!

Culver City Salad Food truck and delivery service – check website for more info.

http://www.culvercitysalads.com

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Photo by Stephen Hui

Culver City Salads are leading the way in Vancouver for creating healthy, fresh, and delicious meals. Owned by a pair of sisters, Culver City Salads features a rotating men of salads based on what the local produce of the day is. We’ve had a salad that featured kale, rice noodles, a bevy of organic veggies and their house-made chipotle dressing! Culver City Salads can deliver to you with a minimum order or catch their food truck around! The Juice Truck brick and mortar store in Mt. Pleasant also carries a featured salad from Culver City everyday.

Chef Claires 3610 Main St.

http://www.chefclaires.com

chefclaires

Photo from Chef Claires

Located about two streets down from Front & Co, Chef Claires is one of our go-to places for lunchtime! Chef Claires is a catering business that also does the meanest paninis and salad for lunch time. Everyday is different, but you will be sure to find a sandwich and salad you like at Chef Claires. One of our favorite rotating salads include the curried roasted cauliflower!

Harvest Community Foods 243 Union St.

http://harvestunion.ca

harvest

Photo from Noam Dehan

Equal parts artisan grocery store and Japanese-inspired kitchen, Harvest Community Foods serves up delicious food that you can have inside or outside the store. They carry many of our favorite local brands such as Earnest Ice Cream, Sugo Sauce, and greens from Sole Foods, but it’s the kitchen that shines. The Japanese-inspired menu does a rotating menu of ramen that changes with the ingredients. In the summertime, the menu changes to include refreshing soba salads that are perfect to combat the hot weather!

Whole Foods Multiple Locations

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com

whole foods

Photo from C’est La Vie

Whole Foods is fantastic in a pinch when we are craving a salad we can customize. The salad bar has a huge assortment of greens, toppings, and dressing that you can load up and call your own! The olive bar is enormous and the hot food section is fantastic as well – add a meatball or two if you feel like beefing up your salad!

Where do you go to get a crisp salad on a hot day? Drop us a line and lettuce know!