Grilled Zucchini with Za’atar Vinaigrette

grilled zucchini with za'aatar vinaigrette - trust in kim

 

I fell in love with Lebanese food the year I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Now I seek out Lebanese recipes to experiment with at home. I found this one on David Lebovitz’s awesome site.

Za’atar is a combination of sesame seeds, sumac, and some herbs. Mixed with some mustard, oil and vinegar it makes a lovely dressing for grilled veggies. I made zucchini for this post, but later used it on other veggies as well, and all were delicious.

I can hardly wait until the zucchini in my garden are ready, and I can make this again.

What you need:

  • 1 kg zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus some for the zucchini)
  • 4 teaspoons za’atar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sumac (optional)

What you do:

  1. Slice the zucchini to 1/4 inch, as evenly as possible so you don’t have parts that burn. Using a mandoline works well. Toss the slices in a some olive oil.
  2. Combine all the rest of the ingredients to make the vinaigrette.
  3. Heat the grill and brush it with some olive oil. Grill the zucchini slices until they are charred on each side.
  4. Arrange the zucchini on a platter and pour some dressing over the slices.

 

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Cream Cheese Spread

sun-dried tomato cream cheese spread - trust in kim

This cream cheese spread makes a great appetizer with a loaf of fresh bread or crackers. A friend of mine used to always buy this spread when we were having wine and appies, and another friend, Sarah, makes her own delicious version. This recipe is a combination of what I guessed to be the ingredients in the store-bought version, and some tips from Sarah.

The one difference with my recipe is that I made my own oven-dried cherry tomatoes. I make up a big batch, and they keep for a long time in the fridge.

Make this recipe at least an hour ahead of time so the flavours have a chance to mingle.

What you need:

  • 1 – 250 gram tub of spreadable cream cheese (or Tofutti non-dairy cream cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • a few sun-dried cherry tomatoes packed in  olive oil (or oven-roasted to make it even better)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • a few sprigs fresh basil, chopped
  • a little freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

  1. Combine the mayonnaise and cream cheese.
  2. Chop and add the cherry tomatoes, minced garlic, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Taste and adjust the amounts of anything you think you need more of.
  4. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
  5. Garnish with a sprig of basil, and serve with a loaf of freshly baked bread or crackers of your choice.

Red Wine Sangria

 

red wine sangria - trust in kim

I used to make this recipe a lot, and even made dozens of batches of it for a wedding once. It was always a recipe that I could count on the be stored safely in my brain; now I realize that might not be the best place to store something. So this brings me to last week, when I did my best to recreate that old faithful red sangria recipe. I think this pretty close to the original recipe…

In Vancouver there used to be a Spanish restaurant called La Bodega, where they served a delicious red wine sangria. A friend once told me the secret to their awesome sangria was, surprisingly, adding orange pop. And, yes, it does make a delicious drink!

What you need:

  • 1 bottle red wine, chilled (nothing fancy)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Triple Sec or Cointreau (or 1/4 cup triple sec and 1/4 cup brandy)
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange
  • a few strawberries (optional)
  • 1 can of orange pop
  • lemon or lime slices for garnish (optional)

What you do:

  1. Cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces. Combine the Triple Sec and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the fruit to this and let it sit for about 1/2 an hour, up to a few hours ahead of time.
  2. Combine the chilled wine, orange pop, and the fruit concoction. Add ice if you wish. If you are using the citrus fruit, cut into slices to place in the sangria.

Drink it while it’s cold!

fruit in glass jug - trust in kim

Egg & Avocado Open-Faced Sandwich

egg and avocado open-faced sandwich - trust in kim

This might look a little odd – like green eggs without the ham – but it’s pretty darn good. And a healthier alternative to using mayonnaise in a sandwich.

I developed this simple recipe out of necessity – I had a half an avocado that needed to be used up, and I was hungry and didn’t have much food in the house. So instead of the usual egg salad sandwich I made and enjoyed this:

What you need for one sandwich:

  • one large free-range egg
  • 1/4 to 1/2 a ripe avocado
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 slices bread of your choice

What you do:

  1. Place the egg in a small pot filled with water and put a lid on the pot. The water needs to cover the egg. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat off as soon as it begins to boil, and set a timer for 11 minutes, keeping the lid on the pot. This method of making a “boiled” egg without actually boiling it ensures that your egg will be tender – boiling can cause the egg to become rubbery.
  2. Drain the hot water off the egg and immerse it in cold water. I like to crack the egg while it is in the water because this helps to get the peel off easily.
  3. Mash the avocado in a bowl and add some salt and pepper. When the egg has cooled somewhat, cut it up and add it to the avocado. Mix the egg and avocado together.
  4. Toast your bread.
  5. Pile the egg mixture on top of the bread and eat it right away.

Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower and Cherry Tomatoes

roasted cauliflower and cherry tomatoes - trust in kim

Alright, here’s a super easy one. Just some veg, a little olive oil, throw it in the oven and you’ve got a nice little side dish. I haven’t given any amounts; just do what feels right depending on how many people you’re cooking for. For me, I’d use a small head of cauliflower and a big bunch of tomatoes for two people because I tend to make the vegetables the bigger part of my meal.

Here’s how we do it…

What you need:

  • cauliflower
  • cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • optional: freshly squeezed lemon juice

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to about 400F.
  2. Chop the cauliflower and place it on a baking pan. Drizzle a little olive oil on top, and add some lemon juice if you’re using it. Place in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes to the oven; I like to keep them on the vine, for presentation purposes. Drizzle on a little bit of olive oil. Let the tomatoes roast until the skin starts to split, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the vegetables from the oven and add some salt and pepper to taste. You can add an extra drizzle of olive oil if you wish.

Eat it while it’s hot! Maybe I’m strange, but i think this is an awesome appetizer!

African-Inspired Chicken and Vegetable Stew

African Chicken Stew

This soup is one of the reasons I am glad we have real winters in Vancouver. (Sorry to the rest of Canada, I know we don’t have Real Winters like you do, but it seems cold enough to me.) I’m happy eat soup year round, but I know some people like to keep it to the colder months, so here’s one more for you, while we have this intermittent warm and cold Spring weather.

I know it might seem odd to add almond butter to soup, but trust me, it is awesome! It adds a creaminess in a way you cannot imagine until you eat it; it is creamy without any dairy. Plus there’s a little extra protein in it.

This recipe comes from this website. One thing I changed was adding 1/3 cup almond butter instead of 1/2 cup. I also changed the order of the cooking; I like to brown the chicken first, and the recipe called for adding it later with the broth and tomato.

Enjoy, because this is so good!

What you need:

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups tomato purée
  • 2 & 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes  peeled and cut into 2-3cm pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • one minced fresh chili or 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup almond butter

What you do:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and allow them to brown on each side.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions, cooking for about 5 minutes, until softened. Now add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chill, then pour in the chicken stock and tomato purée. Cover the pot and bring it to a simmer; leaving it with the lid on for about 40 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  4. Add the red peppers; take the lid off and cook for about 10 more minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken pieces and take the meat off the bone. Use two forks pull the chicken apart, then put the chicken back into the soup.
  6. Just before serving, stir in the almond butter.
  7. Serve as is, or top it with a little cilantro.

Salted Caramel Pound Cake

salted caramel pound cake - trust in kim

If you like caramel or salted anything, or if you like a buttery pound cake, then this one’s for you!

The pound cake has cream in it, so it is quite moist, and not crumbly. The salted caramel – well, that just puts it over the top. Don’t be afraid of the two step recipe – bake the cake, then make the caramel. It’s quite foolproof, and the results are impressive.

I sent some of the loaf home with a friend, and we both found ourselves wanting to ration it, so the goodness could last for more days.

The recipe comes from the Lottie & Doof website, one of my favourite recipe blogs. He got the recipe from a Martha Stewart episode where she had a guest, Matt Lewis, who shared this recipe with her viewers. Thank you Matt Lewis!

What you need for the pound cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan 
  • 3/4 cup cake flour (or see the substitution using flour and cornstarch if you don’t have any)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan 
  • 1 & 1/4 cups granulated sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature 
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature 
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream 

What you need for the salty caramel glaze:

  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream 
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 & 3/4 teaspoons fleur de sel, divided 
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted 

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F with the rack in the centre of the oven.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Cut a long piece of parchment paper and place it in the bottom of the pan with the long end extending up the two long sides of the pan, with a little bit of overhang. Butter the parchment and dust it with flour.
  3. To make the cake flour: measure 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour, then remove 4 & 1/2 teaspoons of flour. Replace the flour with 4 & 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch. Sift the mixture 5 times.
  4. Whisk the flours, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  5. On high speed, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add the vanilla and beat it in.
  7. On medium-low speed beat in the eggs and yolks one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you are doing this.
  8. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  9. Pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  10. Place the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before removing it. (I forgot to do this and broke the corner of the cake.) Carefully run a small sharp knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the side of the pan, then remove it from the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper. Leave it to cool on the cooling rack.
  11. To make the salty caramel glaze, place the brown sugar, cream, and butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir over low heat until the butter is half melted, then increase the heat to medium-high, bringing it to a boil. Whisk constantly for 1 & 1/2 minutes of boiling time. Remove from the heat and whisk vigorously for 1 minutes to release some of the heat. Add 3/4 teaspoon of fleur de sel. Let it cool for 5 minutes.
  12. Sift 1/4 cup icing sugar and whisk into the sauce until combined. Continue adding sugar, just a little at a time, until the mixture is slightly thick and pourable. It will continue to thicken as it cools. You may not need to add all of the icing sugar.
  13. To prepare for glazing the cake with the caramel sauce, place a wire rack on top of a baking sheet, then place the cake on top of the baking sheet. Use a skewer to poke holes in the cake. Pour the warm caramel glaze over the cake, then sprinkle it with the remaining 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel.
  14. Let the cake cool 15-20 minutes before serving. I didn’t serve it for a few hours, so it was completely cooled, and tasted great. It was really good a few days later too, with a cup of tea.
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