Za’atar Grissini with Warm Harissa Tomato Sauce

Za'atar Grissini with Warm Harissa Tomato Sauce

Pizza night is a fairly regular thing around here. It’s quick to make if you plan properly and can be made with literally anything we have in the kitchen and be guaranteed to be delicious. From a pie topped with sauteed greens and a few fried eggs to a slice with hot peppers and pineapple (a personal fave – don’t even get me started on pineapple haters!), there is pretty much always a way to make pizza work in a crunch. When I opened my PC Black Label Black Box this month to find some 00 Farina Fine Wheat Flour and a jar of Pizza Sauce I knew pizza was in the works. But in the spirit of the #PlayWithYourFood campaign, I felt that pizza was a little too common and predictable. This campaign is all about getting creative and experimenting.

Za'atar Grissini with Warm Harissa Tomato Sauce
If I’m making a batch of pizza dough, I try to make enough for two portions. This way, I can freeze one or save it to turn into some sort of cracker or flatbread but recently I’ve been thinking a lot (a lot) about Grissini, those skinny and impossibly crisp bread sticks you may have seen served on a cheeseboard or wrapped with a salty slice of prosciutto.

After this week’s pizza night (which we topped with hot Genoa, olives and mushrooms – daaaaayum it was good), I put my second batch in the fridge and made a test batch of Grissini in the morning. Warm from the oven they were crisp, salty and fragrant – how could any of those things not make for a home run? My only worry is that I may have awoken a monster. I also came to the conclusion that they desperately needed something warm and spicy to dunk into.

I’ve done a few more experiments with Grissini over the last weeks and found a recipe that I feel works really well and tastes light and crisp – the Italian 00 flour makes a big difference here due to it’s extremely finely milled grain. It provides a silky smooth and light/crisp dough every dang time.

Za'atar Grissini with Warm Harissa Tomato Sauce
Here I’ve served them with a generous spattering of za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend made with savory herbs like marjoram or thyme as well as earthy cumin and coriander and some added sesame seeds, salt and tangy sumac, both in the dough and on the outside of it for double-the-flavour. The amounts and varieties of herbs and ingredients in Za’atar vary from region to region, but I’ve never met one that I didn’t enjoy thoroughly – especially when crisp warm bread is involved.  When cooked into the crisp Grissini, the spices become super fragrant and warm. Once dipped in a harissa-spiked pizza sauce, flecked with basil and oregano, you’ve got a snack worthy of just about any occasion. Make the dough the night before and place covered in the fridge and you can simply roll out the next day when company arrives or when you’re feeling a little peckish. Admittedly I ate most of these myself, crunching away while I worked at my computer. Before I knew it, I’d downed about 6 of them (no apologies here, though).

Za'atar Grissini with Warm Harissa Tomato Sauce

Za'atar Grissini with Harissa Tomato Sauce
Serves: 30-35 sticks
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE GRISSINI
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (from a ¼-ounce package)
  • 1 cup warm water (105-115°F)
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 1¼ cups semolina flour
  • 1½ cups PC Black Label Italian "00" flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup Za'atar spice blend, Divided (1 tbsp IN dough, 3 tbsp ON dough)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • 1 cup PC Black Label Italian "00" Flour, for roling out/dusting counter tops
  • .
  • FOR THE HARISSA TOMATO SAUCE
  • 1 jar (350ml) PC Black Label Pizza Sauce
  • 2-4 tbsp PC Black Label Harissa Spice Blend, depending on spice tolerance
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
Instructions
  1. FOR THE DOUGH:
  2. Mix the warm water, yeast and honey and let stand until frothy, 5-6 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt and 1 tbsp of the za'atar blend. Make a well in the center.
  4. Pour in the warm water/honey/yeast mixture into the well in the flour and start mixting everything together until a ball starts to come together. It will be a bit sticky. Dump onto a floured surface and knead a few times until you've got a smooth ball of dough.
  5. Grease a large clean bowl with olive oil and place the dough ball in it. Toss it about so it's coated in a bit of oil, we don't want it to dry out. Cover with a clean towel.
  6. Let it rest until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 400.
  8. Once it's doubled in size, place on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a large, round rectangle about ½" in thickness. Brush the whole thing with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining Za'atar blend. Cut long, finger width strips from the rectangle and twist/pull until you've got a long, thin bread stick (my strips were about ½" in thickness, but it's not a big deal if yours are thicker - they will still be delicious!)
  9. Place on a parchment or silicone mat lined baked sheet and bake, turning pan halfway through, for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
  10. FOR THE SAUCE
  11. Bring a small pot with the sauce, pepper and Harissa blend to a simmer. Taste and add more Harissa, if desired.


DisclaimerI am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by Presidents Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

Roasted Mushroom and Aged Cheddar Scones

Roasted Mushroom and Aged Cheddar Scones
From the second my eyes pop open in the morning, my stomach is growling, ready to book it to the kitchen and fuel up. But, with a 2 year old to think about first, I often miss my hunger window and then settle for barely room temperature coffee and table scraps from said 2 year old (spoiler alert: sad mushed bananas and soggy toast with the PB licked off).  I needed to add an in-between that would just fill me up enough until I had a few minutes to make a smoothie or a bowl of yogurt/granola.

Now, before you tell me that crispy butter-rich, cheese swirled scones aren’t a suitable substitution for a healthy breakfast, I know.  Lord help me, I KNOW.  But waking up and popping one of these super-savory scones in the oven for a few minutes and then, hold on to your horses, slicking it with just a bit more hot butter makes waking up a TREAT.  I know I’ll be able to pack vegetables and grains into the rest of my day, so I’m here for morning indulgence if it means heading into the day with a happy belly.

Roasted Mushroom and Aged Cheddar Scones
Literally exploding with chopped roasted mushrooms nd oozy cheese, these scones packed a hit of salty umami that savory-lovers like me will fall hard for. I much prefer a savory baked good in the morning to a sweet one, so I’ve been reaching for these without tire since making them 4 days ago. In the afternoons, I love cutting them in half and toasting them with some tomatoes and greens in the middle.

While I’m calling these scones, they’re sort of a hybrid between that and a flaky biscuit. I didn’t think that Biscone had a great ring to it so here we are. Call them what you want, but promise me you’ll make them. And then, if you’re feeling particularly badass, make them into breakfast sandwiches.

Roasted Mushroom and Aged Cheddar Scones

Roasted Mushroom and Aged Cheddar Scones
Author: 
Recipe type: Baked Goods
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Ingredients
  • SCONES
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher/sea salt
  • ½ cup COLD butter,
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk
  • ⅔ cup grated aged cheddar
  • 1 cup chopped roasted mushrooms, recipe follows
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly, to brush tops of scones
  • .
  • ROASTED MUSHROOMS
  • 450g whole cremini, wiped clean and stems removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
Instructions
  1. FOR THE SCONES
  2. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives until you've got a crumbly mixture with butter pieces no larger than peas.
  4. I like to put the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes here to make sure everything is as cold as possible. If you skip this step, no problem.
  5. Add the lightly beaten eggs and buttermilk and stir to combine. It will be wet and sticky.
  6. Add in the cheddar and cooled chopped mushrooms and knead the dough, folding it over on itself 5-6 times to incorporate the mushrooms and cheese.
  7. Again, I like to pop it in the freezer at this point for another 10 minutes.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, turn the sticky dough out and knead lightly a few more times. Roll the dough ¾ inch thick. Cut out 3 inch squares, then cut diagonally to make triangles. You should have about 10 scones.
  9. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with a little beaten egg and a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper if you'd like.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. FOR THE MUSHROOMS
  12. Preheat oven to 425.
  13. Toss whole mushrooms in the oil, salt and pepper.
  14. Spread on a baking sheet and roast, stirring a few times, until tender and browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely before chopping up and adding to scone mixture. If you have leftovers, save them for an omlette in the morning.
Notes
I've used Cremini mushrooms here, but you feel free to use what you like best.

As for cheese, I used a cheddar aged for 3 years but again whatever you like will be great. Something sharp and tangy works really well.

Bacony Baked Beans with The Works

Bacony Baked Beans with the Works

If you’ve ever read the blog Smitten Kitchen, you’re familiar with Deb Perelman’s particular style of effortless but soul-satisfying recipes, and they don’t come without a healthy dose of humour either. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to come out from whatever rock you’ve been living under and get with the program, man.

Over the years I’ve come to trust her recipes the same way you might a well-loved family cookbook passed down through generations. They’ve weaved themselves into our every day, providing warm comfort on cold days (baked potatoes with wild mushroom ragù), inspiration when you’ve shot yourself in the foot by promising a wedding cake (hazelnut brown butter cake), or a salad that goes the distance in 30 degree heat (skirt steak salad with blue cheese). Reading her entries on the blog feel akin to sitting down for coffee with an old friend.

BACONY BAKED BEANS WITH THE WORKS

So when Appetite by Random House asked if I’d be interested in taking a look at and cooking something from Smitten Kitchen Every Day, I relished the idea of catching up with an old friend (in my head, of course) via a new book full of charming stories and accessible dishes that put some excitement back into every day cooking.

I spent a good day pouring over the recipes with a pot of tea by my side. Dog-earing pages and making lists of what ingredients I needed to pick up to make the jam-bellied bran scones on page 8, the broccoli melts on page 94, the halloumi roast with eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes on page 116 and the kale dusted pecorino popcorn on page 291.  The recipes will have you tossing together a healthy meal for your family in as much time as it takes to order a greasy pizza (which we have nothing against – but sometimes you just want something real and satisfying). Unfussy enough for hectic weeknight meals, but posh enough to impress on a date night at home or a Sunday dinner with friends.

BACONY BAKED BEANS WITH THE WORKSBACONY BAKED BEANS WITH THE WORKS

I made the Bacony Pintos with The Works on page 197-198 and have been slowly devouring them through the week, the toppings always changing slightly to suit what we have on hand. Beans are like tiny flavour sponges and to waste an opportunity to cook them in the presence of BIG flavour is an even bigger waste. Thankfully Deb knows what’s up and developed a recipe that provides pillowy soft beans packed with fragrant spices and zippy heat. Add to that a roster of acidic, salty, crunchy, fatty and luscious toppings and you’ve got a meal that works for just about everyone in the family. They hint to a comforting bowl of baked beans, without the cloyingly sweet additions of ketchup or molasses, that have been kissed with TexMex flavour and punch. I am ALL ABOUT them and I think you should be too!

Bacony Baked Beans with The Works
Author: 
Recipe type: from Smitten Kitchen Every Day
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE BEANS
  • 1 lb dried pinto or light kidney beans, soaked overnight in cold water that covers the beans by 1"
  • ¼ lb bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne or a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (if using salted, reduce the amount of salt you add to the mix)
  • .
  • FOR THE FIXINS
  • Soft Flour or Corn Tortillas (estimate 2 per person)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • ½ Medium White Onion, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice from ½ lime
  • 1 large avocado, diced or sliced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • sour cream/Mexican crema/plain yogurt
Instructions
  1. FOR THE BEANS
  2. Preheat the oven to 375.
  3. In a large skillet, cook your bacon pieces over med-high heat until crisp. Set aside on a towel-lined plate to absorb acess fat.
  4. Remove all but 2 tbsp of the bacon fat and turn heat down to medium.
  5. Add the diced onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until just starting to turn golden. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  6. Add in the tomato paste, spices and cayenne/hot sauce and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  7. Add the salt and your presoaked beans. Cook for 60 minutes, checking in after 45 to see if they are cooked through or if they need a bit more liquid to finish cooking. If after 45 minutes they aren't cooked but are looking dry, add in ½ cup of stock and keep cooking until they are tender.
  8. FOR THE TORTILLAS
  9. About 30 minutes before your beans are done, cut your tortillas into wedges and brush with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Spread them out snug on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until crisp and starting to get some golden colour (if you can't fit in your oven at the same time as the beans, bake them after the beans are out while they cool a bit).
  10. FOR THE RELISH
  11. Combine the onion, jalapeno and cilantro with the olive oil and lime juice. Season with salt to taste. If you want to tweak by adding more or less of any ingredient, go for it.
  12. TO SERVE
  13. Serve the beans in the skillet they were cooked in, adding the crumbled bacon over the top and serve with the fixins on the side. Let everyone build their perfect plate of fully-loaded baked beans.
Notes
For the life of me I couldn't find a bag of dried pinto beans at any of my local shops so I settled for dried light kidney beans. They held up well to the cooking time and stayed perfectly tender with just a little bite. Feel free to use either bean, whatever is available to you.

I also had a few tomatoes to use up so I added them to the relish, making it more of a salsa. I'll share the recipe as written though, and if you feel obliged to toss some diced tomato into your relish - brilliant! If not, these will probably still be the best beans you'll ever eat.

 


Excerpted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites. Text and photographs copyright © 2017 Deb
Perelman. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie
I am a big fan of contrasting flavours, finding that perfect balance between salty and sweet, vinegar and salt, fat and acid. When you bite into somthing that hits that harmony, all the tastes aligned, it’s heaven. If something is just sweet, I generally decline. But if it’s sweet with some acid or salt, I’m definitely going in for a bite.

I made these Crostini with that in mind. Creamy, lucious brie drapped over a salted crostini and topped with sweet & herbal honey/thyme roasted pears, fatty pine nuts and the ingredient that truly brings it all home, the Borettane Onions.

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie

Borettane onions (from Boretto, Italy) are similar to a pearl onion and known for their flat, saucer-like shape. Often pickled in aged balsamic, they are juicy with an incredible sweet/sour flavour that -pop- when added to cheese boards, sandwiches, charcuterie or pizza.  They make a killer topping or addition to a host of fatty/creamy dishes, cutting through the richness with their tangy sweetness and would be hella good with grilled beef or portabello dishes. When I opened the jar, my mouth started watering immediately. They smelled savory and rich at first, but on first bite they are sweet/sour heaven.

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie

I received these Borettane onions from President’s Choice Black Label Collection as a part of their #PlayWithYourFood campaign. For the next few months they’ll be sending me two fun ingredients to play with each month and I’m tasked with experimenting and coming up with a fun recipe to share with you all. This month I recieved both the onions and the Hot Cherry Peppers. Both would make an enticing addition to a cheese board, but these peppers have plans for a pasta dish with lots of lemon, pepper, basil and Parmesan.

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie
Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie
serves 6-8 as an appetizer

2 large pears, sliced in half & cored
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 small baguette, sliced thin (about 15-20 pieces)
olive oil
sea salt
1 200g wheel brie
6-8 President’s Choice Black Label Borettane Onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
honey, for garnish
fresh thyme, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.
In a small dish whisk together the olive oil, honey, salt/pepper and thyme leaves. Whisk well to combine. Rub down the pear halves with the honey-thyme mixture. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until browned and soft.  Let them cool until yoou can comfortably handle them, then slice into 1/2″ strips lengthwise.

Once pears come out, place baguette slices on a clean cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until golden and crisp. Watch closely so you don’t burn the bread.

Top crostini with a slice of the brie and follow with 1-2 pear slices, a few thin onions and a sprinkle of pine nuts. If you like, a drizzle of honey and some fresh thyme on top make them extra special. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.


DisclaimerI am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by Presidents Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

 

Chocolate Banana and Pecan Cookies

from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh

Chocolate Banana and Pecan Cookies
There is a reason you don’t see a whole lotta baking on The Gouda Life. Sure, maybe a yeasted bun here or a galette there, but for me baking requires great concentration and even greater restraint. Two skills I am sorely lacking in.

Recently a blog I helped co-found in 2014 with 4 other Canadian food bloggers, BAKED, has relaunched with an updated crew of contributors and a mess of new and drool-worthy recipes. Taking part in BAKED has always proven challenging for me as a non-baker, but each new recipe pushes me to learn more, work harder and reach new goals in the kitchen. Though the recipes on the blog are savory and sweet, I like to try and challenge myself with the latter as it’s something I shy away from if left to my own devices.

Sweet by Ottolenghi & Helen Goh
If you catch me getting down with a cookie or a slice of cake, it is likely a very good cookie or slice of cake. And if I happened to, by the grace of someone holy, bake it myself, I probably followed along with a cookbook or blog that gave clear and concise instructions. Otherwise you would probably find me in a dark corner holding on to my block of cheese and shaker of salt, crying like a scared child.

This is why I am perfectly smitten with Sweet, the latest cookbook from famed Ottolenghi & longtime friend and contributor Helen Goh.  Sweet features simple treats such as Chocolate Banana and Pecan cookies and Rosemary Olive Oil Orange Cake, alongside recipes for showstopping sweet treats like Cinnamon Pavlova with Praline Cream and Fresh Figs and Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with Coffee, Walnut, and Rosewater. The exotic flavour profiles that Ottolenghi has become celebrated for are present still, but this time with a sweet twist that transforms them into something alltogether new. I appreciate that it has a little bit of something for every type of baker, those who burn toast and those who build magnificent structures out of sugar. Aside from that fact, it is quite simply a stunning piece of work to have in your collection of coffee table/cookbooks. I’m so looking forward to cooking my way through some of the more advanced recipes to challenge myself (deep breaths).

Chocolate, Banana, and Pecan cookies

I wanted to start somewhere simple so I decided to go with the decadent and gooey Chocolate Banana and Pecan Cookies from the book. The cocoa and dark chocolate chips provide a hit of bitterness against the sugar that’s both in the cookie batter and hugging the cookies themselves (giving them a thin crispy sugar coating. yuuuu-hum!).

Truly, I love this recipe; when the cookies are baked properly they are just barely set in the centre so still a bit oozy when fresh from the oven – begging for a hot cuppa something to wash them down with.  The banana and nutty pecans that toast lightly during baking scented the air like banana bread and daaaang, I wish I could have bottled it up for a rainy cold day and spritzed it all over myself. All in all, these cookies are W I N N E R S and I’ll be making them again and again and again.

Chocolate, Banana, and Pecan cookies

Sweet by Ottolenghi & Helen Goh

Chocolate Banana and Pecan Cookies
makes approx. 2 dozen

8 tbsp room temperature butter (unsalted)
1/2 cup + 2 tsp granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 1/2 tbsp Dutch-processed Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips or 3 1/2oz dark chocolate, chopped
2oz (1/2 small) ripe banana
1 1/3 cups pecan halves, finely chopped
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachement (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer). beat on medium speed until the butter and sugar and light and fluffy. Add the gently beaten egg little-by-little until incorporated.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt and then add to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on low speed for 15 seconds. Beat in the chocolate chips and banana and then place the bowl in the fridge to firm up for at least 2 hours (I left mine overnight).

When it’s firm, use your hands to roll the mixture into 1″ balls. You may have to wash your hands a few times during this process as some of the chocolate will stick to them and start to build up. Place the finely chopped pecans in a small bowl and roll the dough balls in them, pressing so the pecans stick into the dough. They should be completely coated in pecans.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the dough balls on there, no need to space out, before placing in the fridge for an hour. They can stay like this until you’re ready to bake (for up to 2 days in fridge, 3 months in freezer).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 and line two baking sheets with parchment.  Place the confectioners sugar in a small bowl and roll the cookie balls in the sugar, rolling around and pressing gently so it sticks.  Place on your lined cookie sheet 1″ apart. Flatted the cookie balls to 1/3″ and bake for 10 minutes in your preheated oven. Gently transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool, they will be soft to the touch and are best eaten warm so dive in after they’ve had a few minutes to cool down.

 



Copyright ©2017 by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. Photographs copyright ©Peden+Munk. All rights reserved. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Random House LCC.

Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip
Since having our daughter, we spend  a whole lot more time at home. Friends and family, gratiously so, almost exclusively come to us and the days of “hmmm…let’s just go out to eat and see a movie” are not as simple as they used to be.

We’re lucky that we love to host and luckier that our friends and family don’t mind schlepping out here to come to us. When they do, we try to greet them with a good time and even better food. Homemade snacks and cocktails and a pile of good board games usually does it.

Caramelized Onion Dip

The snacks I tend towards for game nights are often a tip-of-the-hat to the chemically-based, boxed and powdered delicacies of my youth. Something about a bowl of gelatinous, gritty, sour-creamy french onion dip comforts me in a way only nostaligic food can. But as a home cook and someone very aware of  that fact that real ingredients make far superior dishes, I know that we can do better than that box of sodium-laden soup mix to pump up a tangy, creamy base full of flavour. The secret lies in all those delicious sugars that come out when you caramelize a humble onion.

While not what I would call healthy per se, it is pure comfort and nostalgia while remaining simple enough to throw together at any given time. Whether you’re hosting game night or just looking for a smooth and creamy dip to serve with a bag of chips or crostini, give this updated Caramelized Onion Dip a whirl. I dare you to tell me it doesn’t take you back to the 80s/90s living room table with a bag of Ruffles.

Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip
serves 8-10 as a snack

Notes:
-I opted to slice the onions thin as I like a big bite of onion in each bite. If you have little ones or someone that doesn’t LOVE onions, I would suggest dicing them small prior to caramelizing. It will create a more uniform dip consistency.

-You want a really creamy base for this dip so don’t skimp on the fat in the sour cream. I used Gay Lea’s 14%mf version because it’s got a great tanginess and creaminess to it. 

2 tbsp olive oil
3 small (2 large) red onions, sliced thin or diced
1 1/2 cups Gay Lea Original sour cream
1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
kettle chips, to serve*

In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, start to sweat the onions down with a few piches of salt and pepper. Stir every 5 minutes or so, giving them a few really good turns so the ones on top make it to the bottom. Don’t stir them too often, you want them to get lots of colour without burning. If you notice them starting to char or get too brown too quickly, turn the heat down. Cook the onions until they have significantly, almost 50%, reduced in volume and are deep golden brown and sweet, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Reserve 1/4 of the onions for garnish if you like.

Fold together the cream cheese and sour cream in a large bowl until smooth. Add the garlic powder and 3/4 of the onion mixture and fold together. Spoon into a large serving dish and smooth out. Top with remaining onion mixture.

Serve with chips or baguette.

*I like to pour the bag of chips onto a baking sheet and cook at 300 for 5-6 minutes until they are warmed. It’s not a necessary step, it just takes things up a notch with the warmed chips.


PTPA & Gay Lea Pie Face
Giveaway


Disclaimer: I am part of the #BornOnTheFarm Campaign sponsored by Gaylea Food Coop & PTPA Media and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

Lemony Quinoa & Tuna Patties

Tuna & Quinoa Patties

I came here to write an eloquent, meaningful post about trying to be everything (mother/freelancer/wife/whole human) and having that turn into doing nothing because the pressure is just so intense and overwhelming….but it has been such a hard week at home with our 2yr old that I can’t quite seem to grasp on to the words dangling behind my eyes.

So instead, let’s talk about these White Tuna and Quinoa Patties that have been keeping us afloat in our sea of toddler emotions. I knew by 7am on Monday morning that this week had potential to be a doozy so I started rummaging through the cupboards to see what grains, proteins and other high-vibe ingredients we had to make these satiating patties that come together quickly, reheat exceptionally well, and really provide both flavour and nutrition when your on the go-go-go. I love the way the cooked quinoa gets crispy when fried so you get these tiny crunchy POPs in your mouth. The lemon helps keep them light and fragrant while the oats bulk them up and keep everything bound.

I like to fry them in a little neutral oil and serve either with some greens, tomatoes, avocado and a drizzle of oil/vinegar, or topped with a fried/poached egg and served over greens. Now, if that even feels like too much it is absolutely OK to eat them cold from the fridge in your underwear as you mentally prepare for the day ahead. Get that fuel in your body however you can, you’re gonna need it.

Lemony Quinoa & Tuna Patties

Lemony Quinoa & Tuna Patties
makes 8-10 patties

1 170ml can tuna*, drained well and squeeze of excess liquid
1 cup oats (not quick cooking)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped kale (curly or lacinato)
1 cup cooked quinoa (red, white or black), squeezed of any excess liquid
4 eggs
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
coconut or vegetable oil, for fryingMix all ingredients in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes for the oats to soften and absorb some liquid. If they are too wet to bind, add more oats 1 tbsp at a time. The mixture will feel sticky but should hold together when formed.Heat a few glugs of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Form 1 tbsp of the mixture into a test patty, place in the oil and fry for about 1 minute on each side until cooked through. Let cool slightly and taste for seasoning, add more salt or lemon juice to taste. When you’re happy with the seasoning, scoop 1/4 cup of the mixture into your hands and form into patties. Fry on each side, making sure not to overcrowd the pan, until deep golden brown and crisp. Serve on their own as a quick snack, hot over salad greens with chopped vegetables or with a fried egg.
*Not all tuna is created equal. Avoid purchasing species that are over-fished, like Bluefin, and instead opt for Skipjack (best choice) or Albacore (OK alternative). If you’re ever unsure of which species you should avoid, check The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

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Charred Harissa Carrots with Goats Milk Labneh & Pistachios

Charred Harissa Carrots with Goats Milk Labneh & Pistachios
If there’s one plus to summer winding down, it’s the market shelves spilling over with a veritable rainbow of fruits and vegetables ripe for the harvesting.  From apples to zucchinis and everything in between, it’s a cook’s paradise and allows the imagination to run wild with ways in which to prepare and serve these gifts from sun and soil. Around this time of year there is plenty of produce unfamiliar to us to experiment with at the market, but something we love to do is choose a more commonplace ingredient and come up with a dish that allows the mundane to become extraordinary.

Farmer's Market Carrots

The humble carrot, a root familiar to just about anybody you’d come across, often gets forgotten in the shadows of a recipe, tossed in with the onions, celery and garlic (who can also shine on their own when prepared with a little love) lost and seldom celebrated for the sweet, herbaceous flavour they possess all on their own. Carrots can become a stand-out main ingredient if you give them some extra attention, and pull out those big flavours they have hiding within.

Charred Harissa Carrtos with Goats Milk Labneh & Pistachios

Here we’ve coated the carrots in a sweet and spicy mix of Harissa and Honey, bringing out the humble roots’ naturally-occurring flavours, and we’ve topped them with some salty pistachios and a super creamy & luxurious Goat’s Milk Labneh, which is a strained yogurt cheese we’ve made with with Hewitt’s Dairy Goat Yogurt. It has a texture similar to cream cheese but is tangier and richer and just all-around better. We were loving the spicy charred bits of the roasted carrot, slightly bitter and caramelized, dragged through the smooth, zippy labneh. When you get some of the salt and crunch from the pistachios, it’s like a perfectly orchestrated symphony in your mouth; sweet and savory, salty and smooth, bitter and crunchy. Everything singing together in harmony.

Charred Harissa Carrots with Goats Milk Labneh & Pistachios

Charred Harissa Carrots with Goats Milk Labneh & Pistachios

serves 4 as an appetizer

I use salted pistachios here as I like that strong sweet-salty flavour, but feel free to use unsalted if you prefer or are watching your sodium. If you want to peel your carrots, feel free. When they are small, I don’t mind leaving the tender skins on as long as they are scrubbed well.

If you want to serve this as a main course, cook up some of  your favourite grains and serve the carrots over the grains with a few dollops of the labneh and a sprinkle of pistachios. I love either brown rice or bulgur here.

15-20 small carrots (not baby carrots), scrubbed and tops trimmed
1 tbsp Harissa paste

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp
2 tbsp roasted/salted pistachios, rough chopped

Preheat oven to 400.

In a small dish mix together the Harissa, olive oil, honey, and salt. Generously brush your carrots with the mixture. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until fork-tender and charred at the edges, about 10-2 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve on a plate sprinkled with pistachios your Goat’s Milk Labneh.

Goat’s Milk Labneh
makes approx. 1 cup

1 1/2 cups Hewitt Dairy Goat Yogurt
1/2 tsp sea salt

Place a few layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter into sieve that’s been place over a bowl. Make sure the sieve doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl as you need room for the liquid to drain. Stir your 1 1/2 cups of Hewitt’s Dairy Goat Milk Yogurt with the salt and pour into the lined-sieve. Allow to drain overnight in the fridge covered loosely with some towels or plastic wrap. It should be thick and creamy but still spreadable. Keep in the fridge until you serve with your carrots. Any remaining Labneh can be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container for 3-4 days.

 


Disclaimer: I am part of the #BornOnTheFarm Campaign sponsored by Gaylea Food Coop & PTPA Media and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

 

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Herby Sriracha Lime Chicken Wraps with Crunchy Peanut Sauce

Herby Sriracha Lime Chicken Wraps with Peanut Sauce

It must have been a decade ago now that we were at a cottage with friends for the weekend when my girlfriend, who was always a kitchen inspiration and skilled home cook, prepared us all a dish that I was really looking forward to, but that I was sure my picky boyfriend would hate. I had been trying, unsuccessfully of course, to incorporate some Thai and Vietnamese flavours and recipes into our dinner rotation as the meat and potato snorefest I was living in was seriously harshing my cooking buzz.  I wanted those perfect layers of flavours, zingy and bright lime and savory fish sauce, crunchy herbs and warm, mouth-buzzing Sichuan oil. Making them for myself was an option, but it’s never as enjoyable cooking for one.

Herby Sriracha Lime Chicken Wraps with Peanut Sauce

In hindsight, my certainty that he would dislike the meal was purely base on jealously that someone else could actually get him to try, even like, a dish with all these things I’d be trying to incorporate into our meals for so long. The dish, which my friend had found in Food & Drink Magazine, was titled Bang Bang Chicken Noodle Salad. Though I can’t seem to find it in their online archives, I recall that it was a far cry from authentic Bang Bang Chicken which gets it’s name from the sound the mallet makes when beating chicken breasts into submission and cooking them with a Sichuan peppercorn, garlic, sesame seed, Chinkiang vinegar (rice-based black vinegar widely used in Chinese cuisine) and roasted chili oil sauce. This dish was better likened to a Grilled Chicken Salad with a heavy spattering of fragrant herbs, crunchy carrots and cucumbers atop some vermicelli noodles and served with a Peanut-Satay Sauce. Either way, it was delicious and a proper dish to subtly introduce the Asian-inspired flavours to my (then) bland-and-proud man’s palate.

It’s worth noting that nowadays he will generally try and like most things I make. I think a certain amount of trust has to be present when cooking for those who have issues with textures, I don’t make him eat oysters or mussels or expect him to devour a tray of sushi like I can, but push him to try spices and recipes that incorporate already-liked (safe) ingredients or dishes in new ways. If I tell him he’ll like it, 90% of the time he doesn’t hesitate to try it …and the other 10% I’m probably lying. What was that about trust?

We have made this dish in many numbers of ways, as the original salad without the noodles, with a variety of vegetables substitutions depending what’s in-season, with chicken thighs and wings, with spicy Sichuan oil added (for me) and with different varieties of natural peanut butter, almond butter and sesame butter. Each one delicious in it’s own subtle ways, but our favourite is chicken breast chunks marinated in lime, fish sauce and sriracha, skewered and grilled and served in a lettuce wrap filled with herbs and a chunky peanut sauce on the side for dipping or drizzling. It’s got those layers of flavours, the lime and fish sauce together get me every time, and offers a satisfying crunch.

Herby Sriracha Lime Chicken Wraps with Peanut Sauce
makes 4-6 servings

Of course I was out of propane the day I decided to make these so we broiled the meat instead. If you prefer to grill, that is a great option too!

CHICKEN
2 large chicken breasts, approximately 2lbs, cut into 1″ chunks
1/2 tsp lime zest
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp sriracha sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce

PEANUT SAUCE
¾ cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ cup water
⅓ cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp white sugar
1  1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 medium clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 tbsp rough chopped unsalted roasted peanuts (optional)

FOR SERVING
8 lettuce leaves (butter/iceberg/romain, whatever has nice sturdy leaves at the market)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, rough chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, rough chopped
1/4 cup thai basil leaves, rough chopped
4 scallions, sliced thin
4 baby cucumbers, sliced thin
Lime wedges
Sriracha Sauce

EXTRAS
8 skewers for chicken (if using wooden, soak for 30 minutes in water before using)

FOR THE CHICKEN
Set oven to broil and move your tray to the top third of the oven. In a bowl or container, toss the chicken with the marinade ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes in the fridge. Take out 10 minutes before you’re ready to cook. Skewer all your chicken – we used 8 skewers that were half-filled. You’ll need 4-8 total.

Hang the skewers over a baking dish so they don’t touch the bottom – we used a square brownie tray so that skewers reached each side without making contact with the bottom dish. This helps them cook more evenly. If you prefer to just place on a baking tray, be sure to check a large piece of chicken for doneness before serving. Broil for 5-6 minutes on each side until meat is cooked through and charred in spots.

FOR THE PEANUT SAUCE
Using a mortar and pestle, combine all the ingredients except for crushed peanuts and smash, rub, pound until the sauce is creamy with some chunks. Add the crushed peanuts and stir to combine. Let sit, covered, at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

TO SERVE
Organize a large serving tray with the skewers, piled lettuce leaves and some dishes for herbs and cucumbers out and let everyone assemble their wraps the way they like them. Serve with extra lime and sriracha sauce.

 

 

Raspberry Smoothie Freezer Bark with Cereal & Granola

Rainbow Raspberry Smoothie Bark

I wish I could say my kid was the sugary-cereal fiend in our house but that would be a bold faced lie. My husband has a thing for cereal. He has since he was a kid and I don’t think he’ll outgrow it anytime soon. I can only guess that my daughter will also have a deeply rooted cereal-obsession… but who wouldn’t want their kid to look back and relish those mornings in front of the TV, shoveling candy into her gob for breakfast with her Dada. I’m all for that…but what if we could introduce cereal in a way that gave her what she wanted, something colourful, crunchy and sweet, and left me at ease knowing she got a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, fibre and protein with each crunch?

Raspberry Smoothie Protein Bark

Though she is still years from taking part in that most-wonderful-time-of-the-year known as Back-To-School, it still serves as a reminder that it’s time to get back to the table and re-focus on what we’re putting in our bodies so we can get the most out of them during busy days.  Breakfast is the best place to start, it sets the tone for the day and helps our little people fuel all the shenanigans they get into ALL DAY LONG… though often I wonder if all those shenanigans really need fueling.

Like most kids, my daughter loves anything colourful and crunchy (hence, cereal). So this Raspberry Dark Chocolate Smoothie Bark spattered with chocolate and cereal grabbed her attention right away and she dove into it thinking it was dessert. Mama – 1, Ruthie – 1 (because she benefits, we both win…I guess). But for me, this bark is ALL about pumping up her protein and fibre for the day without having to cram a meal she has no interest in in her face.  Because at 7am, who in their right mind wants to deal with a screaming, hungry kid that won’t eat a damn thing? FORGET THAT.

Raspberry Smoothie Protein Bark

Let’s talk shop for a second. The base of this bark is a rasperry-puree swirled Smooth Cottage Cheese from Nordica; one serving (1/2 cup) contains 15g of protein and 20% of your daily calcium intake. It’s creamy, tangy and rich like Greek yogurt so for anyone that claims they don’t like cottage cheese, you won’t even know! Add to that hemp seeds (a mere 2 tbsp contains almost 7g of protein, the same amount in 2 egg whites as well as 116 mg of magnesium that helps regulate blood sugar), chia seeds (one tablespoon contains 5 grams of fibre as well as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to raise “good” HDL cholesterol) and ground flax (a rich source of micronutrients, dietary fiber, manganese, vitamin B1, and Omega-3 fatty acids) and you’ve got a cocktail for super health that looks like one of those freakin unicorn beverages all the kids (and some weird adults) are drinking these days. For extra crunch and sweetness, I added some of our favourite granola, some chopped dark chocolate and a spattering of sugary cereal as the pièce de résistance and, let’s get real, the only reason our kid is into this.

It’s cold and refreshing, makes a perfectly adult-appropriate breakfast when served with a piece of grainy toast (so long as you don’t mind getting a little messy). Grab a chunk from the freezer anytime you need a little boost.

Rainbow Raspberry Smoothie Bark
Raspberry Smoothie Protein Bark

makes 10-12 servings

I used the Plain Smooth cottage cheese here because I like to be able to control the sugar. If you think you or your kids would prefer something less tangy and more sweet, try the individually portioned Lemon or Vanilla Bean Smooth Cottage Cheese in place of the plain.

I’ve left the granola and cereal types up to you – use what you like/what your kids like.

For the Smoothie Base
4 cups (from 2 tubs) Nordica Plain Smooth Cottage Cheese
1 ripe banana
1/2 ripe avocado
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp hemp seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp ground flax seeds

For the Puree:
1 pint raspberries
2 tbsp sugar

For the Toppings:
1/4 cup 70% dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup granola clusters
1/2 cup cereal

Cover a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.

Toss the berries with the sugar and let sit for 5 minutes. Mash with a fork until smooth. Set aside.

Place all smoothie ingredients in the blender and puree until smooth. Dump onto the cookie sheet and spread out with a rubber spatula until it’s about 1/4″-1/2″ thick. Spoon the macerated raspberries over the smoothie and swirl around with a fork or toothpick so it’s well spread out. Sprinkle the chocolate, granola and cereal evenly over the bark. Freeze for 4 hours or until frozen through.

Peel the parchment paper away from the bark, and break into small portions. Serve frozen. Keep in sealed container in freezer for 1 week.


Gay Lea Ninja Supra Kitchen
System Giveaway – August 2017


Disclaimer: I am part of the #BornOnTheFarm Campaign sponsored by Gaylea Food Coop & PTPA Media and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

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