Here’s a tasty and simple way to spice up some pepitas/pumpkin seeds. It’s a nice little appetizer, or a snack with your favourite beverage. Vegan, gluten-free and all that!
It’s super simple:
- Squeeze some lime onto a bunch of pepitas in a baking dish.
- Sprinkle on some salt and Ancho chili powder, or any chili powder that you have on hand.
- Throw them in the oven at about 250F for 10-15 minutes, until they get a bit crispy. If you hear them popping you know it’s time to take them out. Just make sure you move them around in their baking dish once or twice through the process.
- Yum! Once they are cooled you can store them in an airtight jar for a few days – if they don’t get gobbled up right away!
Love falafel, but hate to deep fry? Then this one’s for you!
It’s got all the yummy and protein-y goodness of a falafel, minus the deep frying. It’s super easy to whip up if you’ve got a food processor. It is delicious. (this photo doesn’t do it justice; I’ve made this a number of times, and we end up eating it before I remember to take a photo. So finally I got this shot, not the best, but not nothing.)
I served it with a tomato and cucumber salad on the side, and my guest made it into a pita sandwich – both were delicious! In my opinion it must be served with this delicious tarator sauce, but maybe you have your own favourite.
This recipe came from the awesome cookbook called Taste of Beirut by Joumana Accad. I’ve taken it out of the library so many times and tried a whole bunch of recipes, and I think I finally need to buy this book!
The recipe says to serve at room temperature, but it was also good straight out of the oven. I didn’t change much with this recipe, just the order in which the ingredients are added to the food processor. The most recent batch I made I halved the recipe, using one egg. It was plenty for dinner for two plus leftovers – love leftovers!
What you need for the loaf:
- 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 3 large eggs
- 1/ 2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley
- 1 cup cilantro (I like to use the stems too)
- 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika or Aleppo pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
What you need for the tarator sauce:
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup water
- salt to taste
What you do for the loaf:
- Heat the oven to 375F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Add the chickpeas, eggs, bread crumbs, onions, parsley, cilantro and garlic to the bowl of the food processor and process until the mixture becomes doughy.
- Add the baking powder, seasonings and olive oil and process again until all the ingredients are combined.
- Spread the mixture into the lined loaf pan and even out the top surface a little.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, then check to see if it is done; mine needed more time. You will know when it is done if a knife inserted in the centre comes out pretty much clean.
- While the loaf is baking you can make the sauce.
What you do for the sauce:
- Mix the garlic in with the tahini.
- Add a little bit of lemon juice and mix well. Add lemon juice and water a little at at time until the sauce is creamy but not too runny.
- Add salt to taste.
This soup made the perfect meal on a cold winter evening, and paired well with Savoury Cheddar Muffins.
As with most soups, the broth you use is so important to bring a fullness of flavour. I had some homemade chicken broth in the freezer, but turkey broth would also be perfect here. If you don’t have a homemade broth it might be wise to splash out a bit on a better quality broth like the one made by Pacific.
I bought some raw turkey breasts for this recipe, but left-over roast turkey or chicken would also be great.
What you need:
- olive oil
- 1 leek, halved lengthwise and then sliced
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 3-4 carrots, sliced
- 1-2 turkey breasts (or leftover turkey or chicken meat)
- 4 cups chicken or turkey broth
- 1 bay leaf
- pinch of sage
- pinch of thyme
- 1/2 – 2/3 cup pot barley
- salt and pepper to taste
What you do:
- Chop the veggies.
- Heat a small glug of olive oil in a large pot. Add the veggies and cook, stirring from time to time, until they soften a bit.
- Push the veggies to the sides of the pot (or remove them from the pot if you want) and place the turkey breasts in the pot. (Unless you are using leftover meat which you will add with the broth). Cook the turkey breasts for a minute or two on each side; it doesn’t need to cook through yet, as it will continue to cook when you add the broth.
- Add the bay leaf, sage, thyme, broth and barley. Bring to a light boil and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the barley is cooked but not too soft.
- Remove the turkey breasts from the soup and shred them, using two forks or your hands. Put the turkey meat back in the pot.
- I like to keep the salt and pepper until the very last moment, as the flavours of the soup develop as it cooks, and you may over-season if you add it sooner. Also I think the salt makes the veggies a bit mushier. So add salt and pepper to taste just before serving.
Why have I never made an almond and cherry baked good before? My apartment smelled so wonderful after baking these; the almond smell is dreamy! These muffins are a bit more on the mini-cake side, meaning I don’t think they’re the healthiest muffins I’ve ever made. That’s not to say I didn’t have one for breakfast a few times . . . and they’re really good with tea!
We ate one of these while they were warm, which is when they are at their best, but they were also great the next day. I froze the rest as soon as they were cool, and they were still really good when thawed.
I found the recipe on this site: Pretty Simple Sweet. The original recipe uses sweet cherries, but I used sour cherries, and I think they pair really well with the almond flavour. I tend to like to balance sweetness with tartness.
The recipe calls for baking the muffins for a few minutes at a higher temperature, then lowering the temperature for the rest of the baking. My oven is really finicky; I have to set it for higher than the required temperature, but then I have to lower it once it is at the right temperature or it will get too hot. So for me this was quite challenging. The good news is, by checking for a light brownness, and then using a toothpick to check if they had baked through, they baked successfully. Yay!
What you need:
- 1 & 3/4 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 1 cup yogurt (I use 3.5% fat, my homemade recipe)
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 & 1/2 cups (300 grams) cherries, halved and pitted
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, plus extra to sprinkle on top
What you do:
Preheat oven to 425F/220C. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners; I also sprayed them with baking spray.
- Toast the 1/2 cup of almonds in a frying pan or in the oven.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
Mix the egg with the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and almond extracts in a medium bowl.
- Pit and cut the cherries in half. If they are really juicy or if you’re using frozen berries, you can toss them in just a bit of flour to prevent bleeding. Prepare the cherries right before you are going to add them to the batter so that your finished product will look pretty.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold the batter with a rubber spatula just until combined. Be careful to not over-mix, which would toughen the final product. We want nice light muffins. You can expect the batter to be thick and lumpy.
- Fold in the toasted almonds and cherries.
Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with a few un-toasted almonds.
- Bake for three minutes, then reduce the temperature of the oven to 375F/190C and bake for 12-17 minutes more. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick; the muffin should be tender but not wet.
- Cool the muffins still in the tins for about 10 minutes, then place the muffins on a wire rack to cool.
- Allow the muffins to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They can be stored on the counter for a day or two, or frozen for a few months.
The first time I tasted magret de canard was at Chez Janou in Paris. We had been invited to someone’s apartment one evening, and I thought we were there for dinner. Turns out it was just for drinks. By about ten pm it became clear that there would be no food served, so we headed over to Chez Janou where I ordered the magret de canard for the first time. It was served medium-rare with roasted potatoes, and a red wine pan sauce.
When I made it this time (I’ve made it several times before, but always forgot to take photos) I served it on greens, but what you don’t see in the photo is the potatoes roasted in duck fat, nor the pan juice I poured over the duck after I took the photo. I also served it with a baguette, which was perfect for mopping up extra juices.
In my opinion the duck breast in the photo is cooked to perfection. You might be thinking to yourself – isn’t that a little too red for poultry? Duck is a red meat, and the breast must not be cooked to well done or it will be dry. I was served a well-done duck breast on a subsequent visit to Chez Janou (they must have thought North Americans liked it this way) and it tasted like liver (ick). Some sources say that rare duck meat is unsafe, but most say it’s fine, and restaurants typically serve it even rarer than the one I have show here.
Here is a quick guide to testing for doneness so you don’t have to poke into the meat with a thermometer, using the feel of the meat compared to the feel of different parts of your face as a guide. When you prod the top of the breast with your finger, you are checking for the following:
- feels like when you prod your cheek = rare
- feels like when you prod your chin=medium rare
- feels like when you prod your forehead=well done
To make the pan sauce you will use the bits of meat that are stuck to the pan acter cooking the breast, along with some wine and a bit of butter. The stuff left in the bottom of the pan is called “fond,” (silent ‘d’) from the French word for bottom. It is concentrated flavour that you don’t want to waste, and makes a really easy and tasty sauce.
You don’t have to eat the skin (but it is crispy and delicious), but you need to cook the breast with the skin on or it will be very dry. And that would be such a shame.
What you need:
- duck breast
- red or white wine for the pan sauce
What you do:
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Remove the duck breast from the fridge at least half an hour before you plan to cook it. Score the fat using a very sharp knife, making sure you don’t cut all the way down to the meat. Salt the fat side quite a bit, then salt the other side a bit.
- Heat an ovenproof pan (I used cast iron) to high, then lower the heat to medium high. Add the duck breast skin side down and cook for 5 minutes – it should sizzle quite a bit. Flip the duck breast.
- Put the breast, still in the pan, in the oven for 4-8 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size of the breast and how well you like it done. When cooked to the desired doneness remove the breast from the oven and place it on a plate or cutting board to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- While the breast is resting, put the pan on the stove again and add a little wine to loosen up the fond. Let the wine cook down a little, then add a pat of butter to make a glossy sauce.
- I like to slice the breast before serving, and for a small meal the one breast can be shared between two people. After slicing pour some of the pan juice over the top.
Tomatoes, freshly picked from the vine – is there a better taste of summer? Bruschetta is a tasty way to serve up some of these treasures from the garden, or the garden of a friend, or a Farmer’s market. Best made only with fresh summer tomatoes, but in a pinch, cherry tomatoes are often a best bet in winter.
I haven’t given amounts for this recipe because it’s easy to make, and you can alter amounts according to your taste and how much you want to make. Each tomato tastes a bit different, so the seasonings will depend on how much flavour is in our tomatoes.
What you need:
- 1 clove garlic
- the freshest tomatoes you can get
- fresh basil
- sweet onion
- balsamic vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
What you do:
- Slice and lightly toast the bread. You can toast it in the oven, toaster, or on the BBQ. The BBQ is a good option if it’s really hot and you don’t want to turn on your oven.
- Slice the garlic in half and rub it on the toasted bread. Set the bread aside.
- Mince a little bit of the onion, then chop the tomatoes and toss them into a bowl. Tear up or chop the basil and add it to the tomatoes.
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the tomatoes, along with a pinch of salt – give it a toss. Taste and add more of each of these ingredients as you see fit.
- Just before serving, top each slice of bread with tomatoes. Alternatively, you can leave the tomatoes in a bowl and people can top their own.
I don’t often make meals that are as easy as this one, and when I do I usually don’t think of it as a recipe worth sharing. But this one is! It’s tasty, nutritious, and easy to make. Feel free to alter the ingredients as you see fit.
I don’t recommend this one as a make and take, since it would probably get soggy. But then, I’m a bit of a sandwich snob and I never like sandwiches that have been made ahead of time.
What you need:
What you do:
- The first step is optional, but I think it makes the sandwich extra tasty: slice the ciabatta in half, then heat a frying pan. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan, then place the bread cut-side down to grill it a little. Less than a minute is probably good.
- Add hummus to the bottom slice of the bun, and add whatever else you are putting on it (you know how to make a sandwich.) Salt and pepper the tomatoes a little.
- Put the top on and eat right away!