Sunday, April 15, 2012

We've moved...

Hi there readers!

You can now find even more roving and tasting, with plenty more of The Digest at

Update your RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and like The Roving Taster on Facebook. I've updated the look, the feel, and the taste of the blog. So go check it out.

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Danielle, The Roving Taster

Friday, March 23, 2012

iced tea made easy!

This has certainly been an unseasonably warm spring. But in celebration of all things thawed, I give you: Lemon and Honey Sweetened Iced Green Tea (quite a mouthful, but gulp-tastic, I assure you)

Things you will need:
herbal or black tea
a teapot or large saucepan
a wooden spoon
two small bowls or ramekins
a pitcher

3 tea bags - green, earl grey, or orange pekoe are best
2 lemons, juiced
2 Tbsp honey
6 stalks of fresh mint

Boil water for a full pot of tea. Steep the tea with the top of the pot removed.

Measure out honey into a small bowl or ramekin. Pour some of the tea into the bowl, stirring to dissolve the honey.

Pour lemon juice into a small bowl, ensuring seeds are all removed.

Cut the bottoms off of the washed mint. Place the full stalks inside the pitcher, with the cut stalks at the bottom.

When the tea has cooled, squeeze the tea bags and remove them from the pot, setting them aside. Pour the tea into the pitcher, directly over the mint. Add the honey and lemon juice. Stir.

Meanwhile, prepare another pot of tea, reusing the teabags, to add to the pitcher as it chills.

Chill the whole shebang in the fridge and pour over ice to serve.

Other flavours to consider adding:
fresh berries
lime juice
seltzer water
or try other teas like jasmine, oolong, or chai (replacing lemon juice with milk and mint with cinnamon bark)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Prepare to be... Pink Slime-d

This just creeps me out. ABC News is reporting on the processed beef trimmings that are sprayed with ammonia and squeezed out into worm-like pellets and then mixed in with supermarket ground beef. The product is called Lean Textured Beef manufactured by Beef Products Inc. It's also known to many as pink slime.

There are so many things wrong with this story. Not in the telling of it so much as the truths uncovered by it. I am greatly disturbed, though I suppose not all that surprised, that this stuff used to be sold to dog food manufacturers.

As J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute argues in the ABC article, pink slime is actually great! It's sustainable, responsible meat making. I guess one could argue that it's using leftover parts from the already butchered cow so it's in some ways a twisted "waste not, want not" polemic.

However, the ABC story goes on to say that the "trimmings" used in pink slime actually come from an area of the animal that is highly prone to contamination - near the hide, where the meat is often in contact with fecal matter. The only reason why the USDA deems this an acceptable practice is because manufacturers spray ammonia gas over the trimmings before grinding them into a paste and reforming it to get mixed in with ground beef. *shudder*

When considering that the so-called meat that finds its way onto the conveyor belt headed over to be slimed was unfit to eat as actual steak of some kind, does it really seem okay to you to grind it up, bleach it, and mix it in with batches of soon-to-be frozen hamburger patties? It makes a little more sense now why the military-industrial hamburger complex demands that all burgers be cooked to between 150 and 160 degrees F.

Do not despair, dear readers, because there is change in the air, along with spring thaw. A new opt-out provision has been passed in Congress allowing schools in the National Lunch Program to choose slightly less lean beef patties as opposed to those made with the pink slime filler. We have champions standing up to Big Beef. Individuals like Jamie Oliver have mounted campaigns against the use of pink slime. His cause became so well known that last year McDonalds began making their patties without the filler.

If anyone is interested, here is the website set up by Beef Products Inc. (No joke, that's really what they called it.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dairy-free Ice Cream, say what????

So simple. I can't even take credit for this one. J found a recipe from another food blog and once I started looking around I found tons of recipes.
Alright, are you ready?

2 bananas
a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter
a teaspoon or so of cocoa powder
a quarter teaspoon of almond extract

cut bananas into chunks, place in rectangular plastic container, and freeze for at least 45 minutes

remove from freezer and combine with other ingredients in a food processor or blender

pulse until all chunks of banana are gone and goo has relatively uniform consistency

return to the same plastic container (careful with the processor blade)

freeze until the goo is ice creamy to the touch - about 20 more minutes.

scoop and serve!

The combinations really are endless here. The pureed frozen banana becomes creamy and makes a great base. Consider any of the following:
adding other frozen fruit or berries
crunching up cookies and adding them near the end
switching almond for vanilla or orange extract
lemon zest
fresh or toasted chopped walnuts or pecans
maple syrup

Sunday, February 12, 2012

blueberry buttermilk pancakes

I charged up the battery on my old d-slr this week. It's been a while since I played around with it. Last winter I upgraded my lens to a pretty snazzy macro for improved food photographs. All photos today were shot on my Nikon D40 with a AF-S Micro NIKKOR 85 mm. No flash.

After a wildly successful catering event
this week, I had a few ingredients left over. Including most of a litre of buttermilk. What do you do when life hands you buttermilk? You make buttermilk pancakes, of course.

This recipe was modified from the one found here at

2 C washed and dried fresh blueberries
1 1/3 C all purpose flour

3 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 C buttermilk
2 large eggs

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
dash of ground cinnamon
real maple syrup to serve

Prepare the blueberries and leave th
em out on a folded sheet of paper towel to dry on the counter.

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Cover a
baking sheet with a couple layers of paper towel to absorb excess oil. Put it in the oven and as each batch comes out of the pan, put it on the baking sheet and leave it in the oven to stay hot.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk wet ingredients.

Add wet to dry. Do not over-
beat. Small lumps are okay.

Heat about a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat.

I started with oil and then switched to
butter to keep the pan greased between batches. I like my pancakes to be a bit crispy around the edges, so I like lots of hot oil or butter in the pan. The first few pancakes are always a little wobbly, but once you get your heat right and the motion down, you kind of get a rhythm going.

Fold the blueberries into the batter with a spatula. I started coking the pancakes before I thought of adding the cinnamon, but now would have been a good time to do that.

Pour a heaping tablespoon of batter into the pan. Don't overcrowd. You need to have room to get in and flip.

You know the pancakes are reading to be flipped when little air bubbles begin appearing on the top.

A second spatula is often helpful in the flipping. Don't worry if you screw up the first few times. I've been flipping pancakes for years and I always start out a little rusty. To check that you've got it right, cut open a finished pancake to make sure the batter is fully cooked through.

Make sure you remove all the little mini pancake bits (bb's, my mom calls them
) and loose blueberries so that they don't burn over the course of cooking.

Serve hot with as much maple syrup as you like.

Other topping options:
sweet yogurt

whipped cream
fresh fruit
apple butter

creme liquer

If you're like me, and always make too much food, these pancakes can be covered and refrigerated. They will reheat beautifully in the toaster oven tomorrow morning. Or later tonight. More that likely, later tonight, as I don't think they are going to survive the J monster and his powerful pancake chomping action.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I always knew my skepticism would prove valid...

A news report from CBC is lending credence to what I've long suspected to be valid suspicion concerning the benefits of vitamin-enhanced drinks. The brightly coloured "water" is just as chock full of sugar as pop, and even even more so than a Kit-Kat bar, according to a report from The Daily Mail that was released online in February of last year. This chart, from The Daily Mail shows, quite clearly, just how healthy that vitamin drink is, considering the amount refined sugars in the mix.
The article on CBC reports that The Quebec Coalition on Weight-Related Problems are the ones leading the charge against the manufacturers of these drinks. They are calling on Health Canada to force drink manufacturers to stop selling the products as "natural products", as they are currently classified for labeling and sale.

How on earth this stuff was convincingly argued and then approved for sale as "natural" is beyond me. It makes me wonder what sort of criteria they are using over at Health Canada. Is their purpose to support and promote the consumption of products with misleading claims to health benefits? How silly of me to think that my well being was being protected by the institution entrusted with ensuring my health. There has been a clear disregard for the health of Canadian consumers. Indeed, these products are marketed and sold just as flagrantly in the US and Britain.

It is my hope that the Government of Canada wakes up to the fact that prevention is a key element in reducing rates of childhood obesity. It is their job to protect Canadians. I hope that clearer labeling indicating that the source of calories is sugar and not power brain juice extract will dissuade consumers from grabbing the vitamin drink in the first place. But somehow, I remain skeptical.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gnocchi in Toasted Walnut and Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

This is a great recipe to whip up with basics that you probably already have in your kitchen. It relies on one of the most basic and important sauces in anyone's arsenal: bechamel.

1 head of cauliflower
1 head of garlic
2 Tbsp, plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 package of dry gnocchi (or tortellini or even rotini)
1 Tbsp salted butter
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 shallot, finely chopped
4-6 Cups of milk
1/4 Cup crumbly blue cheese, Gorgonzola or Danish bleu
1/4 Cup chopped walnuts, toasted
dash of nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut cauliflower into florets, wash, and toss in a large bowl with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Spread on a foil covered cookie sheet. Cut top off garlic, exposing each clove. Place in the centre of a square of tinfoil and drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil. Pull the corners together and wrap up the garlic in a little parcel.

Put cauliflower on the top rack and the garlic below. Turn the cauliflower every 10-15 minutes for 30-40 minutes until the cauliflower is golden brown but not fully cooked.

In a large pot, set salted water on to boil for the gnocchi.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the shallots, stirring occasionally. Cook until browned. Add the flour and stir until all the butter and flour have combined to form a paste. Reduce heat and pour in 1 Cup of milk. Stir vigorously to remove lumps. Continue adding milk incrementally, always stirring to incorporate. Scrape the bottom of the pan to keep the sauce from burning. Eventually the sauce will begin to thicken. Monitor the thickness of your sauce. It can always be thinned out again by adding more milk.

Carefully drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, when the gnocchi are fluffy and floating. Remove from the heat, strain, and set aside. Toast the chopped walnuts until they begin to release their aroma. If you don't have or don't like walnuts, try pine nuts, pecans, or pistachios.

After about 15 minutes of simmer on low, the sauce should be a velvety texture. Add the toasted walnuts to the sauce, stirring to combine. Crumble in the blue cheese, adjusting for flavour as desired. Some people have trouble with the strong taste of blue cheese, others love it. If you really would rather, aged cheddar would also do lovely here.

When the cauliflower is mostly browned but still firm, it is ready. Remove the garlic from the oven, carefully open the foil, and let the garlic cool before squeezing out the cloves and stirring them into the sauce. Add the cauliflower and mix well. If by this point you are worried your sauce won't sufficiently cover the amount of gnocchi you've made, you can always splash in a little more milk and continue stirring.

Finally, pour the sauce over the cooked gnocchi, stir over medium heat for one more minute, and serve with grated Parmesan. No photos. Just delicious memories...