Herbed Cheese-Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

herbed cheese stuffed mini peppers - trustinkim

These beauties made a tasty little appetizer. Super easy too.

The type of cheese and herbs you use is up to you and your taste preferences, or what you’ve got on hand. I used a combination of Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese” along with some goat cheese, and mixed in some basil and parsley.

These can be made vegan by using cream cheese and parmesan non-dairy substitutes.

What you need:

  • mini bell peppers
  • cheese of your choice: goat cheese, cream cheese, Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese,” or a combination of cheeses
  • chopped fresh herbs (your choice: basil, oregano, or dill, or…) Green onions are another option
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • parmesan cheese

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Save one pepper to chop up for a garnish. Roast the peppers in the oven for about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the herbs, soft cheese, salt and pepper, then spread it into the cavity of the peppers. Top them with a bit of parmesan cheese, then pop them in the oven just long enough to heat them up, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Garnish with chopped pepper and a few herbs. Enjoy!

Black Bean and Corn Salad

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Now that the warmer weather is here I’m starting to think about what to make for patio and picnic time. This salad is super tasty, and really healthy too. For me it’s a great quick meal salad, and since it keeps in the fridge for a few days I can just dig in whenever I need a little something to eat. You can also mix and match at you see fit, for example if you don’t like peppers you can substitute a bit of jicama or apple or whatever you’d like.

If you use canned beans and corn, all you have to do is make the dressing and add in whatever veg and herbs you like – super easy! Then let it all sit for about half an hour before you dig in.

I found the recipe here, and I just downsized the amounts. I used canned corn instead of frozen because I find frozen corn a bit rubbery, and peaches and cream corn is the best. I also added some freshly chopped tomato to the top of each salad, and a bit of extra bell pepper.

Avocado makes a great addition to the top of each salad serving. Sadly, I could not find a ripe avocado in the five stores I checked. They could charge double for the ripe ones… I’d pay double for a perfectly ripe avocado – would you?

What you need for the salad:

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • I can peaches and cream corn, along with the liquid
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, de-seeded and diced (amount dependent on your heat preferences)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion

What you need for the dressing:

  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper

What you do:

  1. Mix up all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. In a larger bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. Stir the dressing into the salad.
  3. Let the salad sit in the fridge with a cover over it for half an hour, or a few hours.

 

Fudge Brownies (Rebar’s recipe)

rebar's vegan brownies - trustinkim

The recipe for these cakey brownies comes from Rebar Restaurant’s vegan fudge brownie recipe. In my version I used butter and real chocolate, instead of vegan margarine and carob chips. I’m printing the recipe up as a non-vegan one, so if you need it to be vegan you can use the ingredients in brackets. I’ve had this recipe both ways, and both are delicious.

The cake part of this is great, but it’s the glaze on top, and the chocolate chips in the cake, that make this for me.

You can also add some toasted walnuts to the batter if you wish.

What you need for the brownie:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 & 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup coffee, cooled
  • 3/4 cup milk (soy, rice, or your fave alternative milk)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (carob chips)

What you need for the glaze:

  • 210 grams (7 oz) dark chocolate
  • 2/3 cup butter (vegan margarine)

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 9″ by 9″ pan with butter and then line it with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder, then add the brown sugar and salt. Add the coffee, milk and oil, then stir until it is all combined.
  3. Pour the batter into the pan and then sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
  4. Bake for about 25 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick, which should come out clean.
  5. Allow the cake to cool.
  6. To prepare the glaze use either a double boiler, or a bowl on top of a pot of lightly boiling water. Melt the chocolate and butter and whisk it together until it is smooth. Pour the glaze over the cake and spread it so there is an even layer.
  7. Place the pan in the fridge to set. To slice, remove the cake from the fridge to warm a little before slicing. This will prevent the chocolate from cracking, and make your brownies prettier.

Homemade Croutons

homemade croutons - trustinkim

A photo cannot portray how addictive these croutons are. So here’s what happens  –  I make a batch, and most of them get snacked on before they even make it as far as a salad topping. Inevitably I save a few for a salad, and every time it is the Best Salad Ever because these things are just so delicious.

I think the best part is the hint of lemon in them. They’ve also got a little garlic (I use a clove of garlic instead of the powder that the recipe calls for), some thyme and paprika.

The recipe comes from Thug Kitchen. I use a lower baking temperature than the 400 degrees that the cookbook calls for, because I find they get a bit too blackened at the high temperature. I also add a little more lemon juice. Today I made them and (gasp!) I was out of olive oil, so I substituted butter – big thumbs up on that one!

My favourite salad to serve these on at the moment is a caesar salad with a lighter dressing made with yogurt.

You can keep these for a while in an airtight container.

What you need:

  • 1/2 loaf day-old bread (about 5 cups of cubes) (I like Olivier’s French Whole Wheat)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons or more of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

What you do:

  1. Heat the oven to 300F.
  2. Cut the bread into cubes.
  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix it up.
  4. Add the bread and toss it right away so all the pieces of bread get coated.
  5. Pour the bread onto a baking pan and shake it out so it is distributed around the pan evenly in one layer.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring a few times throughout the baking so it doesn’t burn.
  7. Enjoy!

 

17th Century Italian Cucumber Salad

cucumber salad - trustinkim

I stumbled upon this recipe while searching for recipes to use the cucumbers that are growing in my garden. This blogger has a love for old recipes, and published this one, which is her version of a 17th century dish. She says it is “An interpretation of a dish described in Salvatore Massonio’s Archidipno overo dell’insalata e dell’vso di essa, published in Venice in 1627.”

It’s a really simple recipe, as are many of the best vegetable recipes. It should be prepared an hour or two before you plan to eat it.

I substituted sweet onion for regular, as I often do, and I peeled my cucumber because the peel on this variety is a little too bitter for me. In the original recipe the basil is added before refrigerating, but I like to add it at the end so that it retains its green colour. My version of the recipe is for two, and the measurements are approximate.

Please, please, please, don’t use dried basil for this recipe. It’s just not right. It really doesn’t taste like fresh basil. If you have no fresh basil, I’d opt to leave it out. You can freeze basil, so it retains the fresh flavour; if you use previously frozen basil in this salad it will be darker than fresh basil, but will still taste good.

After eating the salad I used the remaining dressing to pickle some cucamelons – these adorable little cucumbers that resemble a miniature watermelon. It was this summer’s garden experiment. The verdict? Cute, but I prefer a regular cucumber. The peel to inside ratio is a little high on the peel side.

cucamelon salad - trustinkim

What you need for two people:

  • 1 small cucumber or 1/2 an English cuke
  • a small chunk of an Onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • a few pinches of salt
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped

What you do:

  1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl or large jar.
  2. Cut the cucumber in half, then slice it lengthwise. Slice as thinly as you can, using a mandoline if you have one. Cut the onion in half and slice it as thinly as you can. Place the cucumber and onion in the container with the dressing and toss it well so it’s all coated.
  3. Refrigerate for an hour or two.
  4. Before serving chop the basil finely and stir it in.

Enjoy!

No-Knead Rye Bread

no-knead rye bread - trustinkim

Yes, this crusty beauty was soooo delicious! It’s a slight variation on my usual recipe; I’m always trying to replicate my Oma’s Russian Black Bread, but I can never get it quite right. All the experimenting certainly is delicious, though!

So for this version I used part dark rye flour, and used a coating of oil on the outside of the bread for that really crusty finish – awesome results! The bread has just the right density, with a bit of chewiness to it, and the crust is pretty thick with a crisp outer layer. Excellent with or without butter! A little salted butter is magic, though!

If you’re not familiar with the no-knead concept, here’s the gist of it.

A) It’s delicious. Like the bread you pay $6 for at the Farmer’s Market. Or the stuff you eat when you’re on holiday in Europe, and you wonder: why eat any other kind of bread? I know, I wonder the same thing.

B) It’s really cheap

C) It’s so easy. Yes, you have to plan ahead by mixing the dough (2 minutes) then wait (12-18 hours), then wait (an hour or two), then bake (under an hour), then eat (worth it all!). So the actual hands-on time is minimal; you just have to be home to do a few of the steps.

D) It’s SOOOO delicious!

Here are a few ideas for bread toppings: creamy homemade hummus, tzatziki, grilled Japanese eggplant, sun-dried tomato and basil cream cheese spread, or sopping up the sauce in these delicious ouzo prawns. Please share your favourite bread toppings! I’d love to hear from you.

What you need:

  • 1 cup dark rye flour
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 & 1/2 cups water (I use slightly warm water in winter)
  • canola oil for coating the bread

What you do:

  1. Combine the flours, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add the water and mix; add more water if needed until you have a wet, sticky dough.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid (not airtight), and let sit for 12-18 hours in a warm-ish place, and out of direct sunlight. The dough should double in size and become dotted with bubbles. If your house is a little on the cool side you will likely need the longer rising time. I put mine on top of the freezer, which gives off a bit of heat.
  3. Cut a large piece of parchment paper and place it inside a large bowl, roughly forming it to the bottom of the bowl. Coat the top of the dough in oil using your hands, then turn it out into the parchment paper-lined bowl. Coat the new dough surface dough with oil. Cover loosely with a lid or with some plastic wrap, tucking it in loosely around the edges. Let the dough sit for 1-2 hours, until it has doubled in volume.
  4. About 1/2 hour before you want to put the bread in the oven, set the temperature to 475 F  and place your baking pot on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Let the pot heat up, and when the oven has reached 475 F, remove the pot from the oven. Remove the lid from the dough and pick up the dough by gathering together the corners of the parchment paper. Carefully (remember the pot is smoking hot!) place the dough in the parchment paper into the pot.
  5. Put the cover on the pot and bake for 30 minutes while the bread forms its nice thick crust. Remove the lid from the pot and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes more.  The bread should become a deep brown when it is done, and if you tap on it, it should sound hollow.  Remove the pot from the oven, lift the bread out of the pot, remove the parchment paper, and place it on a rack to cool. It needs to cool for about 1/2 an hour before slicing.
  6. This bread has no preservatives, so if you don’t use it up of the second day, it should be frozen.

Japanese Grilled Eggplant

Japanese Roasted Eggplant - trustinkim

I’m always looking for new ways to prepare vegetables, and with barbecue season finally arriving, this seemed like a great dish to try out. It’s got a slightly sweet sauce that glazes the soft eggplant. I will definitely be making this one again.

I found the recipe on this site, where they suggest serving the eggplant in an udon noodle dish. We ate it on its own as an appetizer, but I think it might also be good on small slices of bread, used like a spread.

What you need:

  • 3 japanese eggplants (the long skinny ones)
  • 2 tablespoons red miso
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (or a sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • vegetable oil for griling
What you do:
  1. Whisk the miso, mirin, tamari and sugar together in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook briefly, just until it has thickened. Set aside to cool.
  2. Trim the stems from the eggplants and halve them lengthwise. Cut slits into the flesh of the eggplants, cutting almost through to the skin, but being careful not to slice all the way through it.
  3. Preheat the grill. Brush the fleshy side of each eggplant lightly with oil. When the grill is hot, place the eggplant cut-side down, on the grill. Cook for about 3 minutes; the eggplant should have grill marks on the fleshly side, and be somewhat softened.
  4. Turn the eggplants skin-side down, and spread the sauce over the fleshy side, all the way to the edges. Cook for about 3 more minutes. The eggplant should be very tender, and the sauce bubbling up.
  5. Enjoy!

japanese grilled eggplant - trustinkim