There Are Bagels At Hand [Montreal-Style Bagels]

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…with cream cheese and lox. 
…with fresh butter and kosher salt.
…with avocado, lime and manchego. 
…with a fried egg and arugula.
…with melted cheddar and a few drops of Worcestershire…

…but that’s just me. What do you take on your bagel? I sooner ask that than what type of bagel you prefer to maw on since that’s a conversation that could turn allies into foes and leave families across the continent irreparably broken. This may sound a touch dramatic to you, but for so many people I’ve come across, specifically those who live or have lived in Montreal, there are only two answers to this question. Fairmont or St Viateur. And the rivalry runs deep. Residents of Montreal take immeasurable pride in their bagels. So what could make one so different than the other, you might be thinking. The difference, really, is that the Fairmont bagel (or bay-gal, if you’d like to say it in the mother tongue), is a touch sweeter, making the rivalry sound like much ado about nothing. What it really comes down to is loyalty. Both locations are but a few blocks from each other so going to one rather than the other is less out of convenience, more out of devotion. 

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Admittedly, I’ve never had a Montreal bay-gal fresh from the wood oven. {I’ll wait for the collective gasps to die down}. I have, however, enjoyed them at our local Montreal-style bagel shop, Kettleman’s. I know the ecstasy only a piping hot, freshly baked bagel covered in toasty sesame seeds can bring. And thus, I decided it was time to learn. To go where many (wo)men have gone before, but a place that scared the bejesus out of me. Which is funny now that I’ve made 3 batches and am shocked at the ease with which these beauties can be made. You’re a measly 2 hours away from homemade bagels. MONTREAL-STYLE BAGELS! Let’s not even bother wasting more time talking. There are bagels at hand. 

Montreal Style Bagels
adapted from My Second Breakfast & NYTimes {MARCY GOLDMAN-POSLUNS}
makes 18 bagels

Ok, so obviously I don’t have a wood oven in my rental apartment. I’m sure you’re shocked. Though these won’t ever be exactly the same without that deep, smoky flavour…this is as good as it gets for a home-bagel. Unless you decide to use a barbecue or have a wood oven. In which case, you’re pretty awesome. 

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp (8oz, 1 packet) dry active yeast
1 tsp white sugar
2 tsp salt
3 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
4 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, divided

for boiling:
1/3 cup honey

1 cup sesame seeds 

Stir the warm water and yeast together in a small bowl. Let sit until frothy, 5-7 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, salt, oil, and honey and egg + yolk. Stir 1 cup of flour in until full incorporated. Add another 3 cups and stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. Dump bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding up to another 1/2 cup of flour if needed, for no less than 10 minutes. The dough should be extremely supple and smooth. Cover with an inverted bowl and let rise for 20 minutes. 

Divide dough into 18 equal portions. Stretch or gently roll, using finger tips, each portion of dough into an 8 inch rope and bring the ends together to form a circle. Pinch the ends together and then roll gently with the heal of your hand to seal. It’s important the ends are well secured otherwise they’ll open when boiling. Place bagels on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets and cover with a clean towel for 20 minutes. 

Pour the sesame seeds into a large shallow dish. 

While the bagels rise, bring 16 cups of water to a boil in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the baking soda and honey and turn down to a simmer. When ready, add the bagels 2 at a time to the simmering water. Let cook for 1 minute on each side. Remove with a deep-fryer spoon or slotted spatula/spoon, drag through the sesame seeds on both sides and place back on the baking sheet. Repeat with all bagels. 

Preheat oven to 500. Place 1 sheet of bagels in for 10-12 minutes or until starting to brown on the bottom. Flip bagels and cook for another 5-8 minutes, watching closely after 5 minutes so they don’t over cook. They should be golden brown. Serve warm with cream cheese, lox, tomatoes & bacon, or anything else your heart desires. 

Keep in airtight container in the fridge for 1 week. 

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Moving On [Kale and Romano Ricotta Waffles with Cayenne Honey]


Today, I am celebrating. A fresh start, a new career, a life more focused on the things I love. It’s exciting and terrifying and makes me fell alive like only the threat of failing can. 

Monday was my last day sitting at a desk. No more taking meetings, compiling reports and invoices, wearing itchy tights and uncomfortable shoes, feeling down and out about what the hell I’m doing with my life (note: I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing with my life…but I don’t feel down or out about it). It’s time to move on, time to switch it up. And I do so with utter relief and confidence that it was the right move for me, for right now. 

I’ll be working full time at Seed to Sausage, a small-scale, family-run artisan cured meat shop of which I’ve been a loyal customer for years. I’ve written about them before, but to keep this quick and spare you the fan-girl gushing, Seed to Sausage makes incredible cured, fresh and fermented meats. From the sopressata that I go out of my way to find each week, to the jalapeno-cheese curd smokies, the 80 day dry-aged beef to the chorizo that tingles the sides of your tongue with numbing heat. If they make it, people will come… by the throngs I’ve noticed. Something that immediately struck me about this company was their determination to maintain a transparency in their business. This
 determination seems to have forged a stronger trust between business and consumer - something undeniably lacking from many food retailers these days. I’m elated to be working for them, to learn from them and to hopefully form a better understanding of this industry. If you’re in the Ottawa area, come and see me and let’s bond over sausage, ok? Amazing. 

This coming Saturday is my birthday and since it’s so close to this big life change, I wanted to treat myself to a little something that said “damn girl, good for you” (I actually said that to myself as I lowered the lid on my first batch of waffles). A waffle maker! WAFFLES! I LOVE WAFFLES OH MY GOD HOLY SHIT I LOVE WAFFLES. So yea, I bought myself one. And in the 24 hours that I’ve owned this waffle maker, I’ve turned out over 2 dozen of the fluffy little buggers. The first, an earthy Yeasted Rye and Seed Waffle with plenty of sweet, slighty medicinal cardamom and the second, these Winners with a capital W. Unhealthy obsession begins now. I’m already planning dark chocolate waffles, sweet potato waffles, preztel waffles. I’m literally shaking thinking of all the possibilities to cram between those non-stick panels. Don’t be alarmed if the next 10 posts are all waffles. WAFFLES. Let’s say it one more time for good measure. WAFFLES! 

Kale and Romano Ricotta Waffles with Cayenne Honey
adapted from Food Network
makes 6-8 waffles

You may feel a bit weirded out at the idea of putting honey over these savory waffles, but you must. I promise you won’t be disappointed. The sweet/savory balance is out of this world. I also feel like it really brings out the nutmeg flavour, but maybe I’m just mad from too many hours standing in front of a waffle maker. Either way, cayenne honey. You must do it. 

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
few generous pinches cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg (small pinch)

1 cup extra smooth ricotta
2 large eggs
1 1/2 - 2 cups milk
4 tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup finely diced pecorino Romano

Cayenne Honey
1/2 cup honey
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on spice tolerance)
pinch salt

To serve:

Scallions
Butter

Whisk together the flour, baking powder + soda, salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the ricotta and eggs until smooth and shiny. Add the milk and butter and stir to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until no flour remains. Fold in the kale and romano. 

For my waffle maker, I spooned about 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp of batter per waffle and cooked for about 7 minutes. Read your waffle maker instructions to be sure this is the correct method for yours. 

While the waffles baker, warm the honey and cayenne in a small sauce-pot over low heat. It shouldn’t boil or simmer, you just want to warm it through. 

Serve waffles hot with butter, a sprinkle of scallions and a drizzle of warm cayenne honey. 

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My Ally [Chocolate Chip Brownie Pancakes]

I can be difficult. Frequently moody, sour and callous. I can be anti-social (read: crusty), nit-picky, sharp-tongued and straight up cold at times. I would have to think twice about dating myself, let’s be clear on that. 

Despite those flaws, I managed to find a man who loves me. He is the sunniest part of my day, continuing to smile when I have nothing but a frown to offer. He let’s me be. Allows me to sit in the silence I hunger for so often while he sits, silent, by my side. I can ask him for anything at any time, a
nything, knowing he won’t sigh or roll his eyes at the idiocy of my requests. He simply smiles and says, "of course". When I feel dark, he’s the light. In every sadness, he’s my joy. His love is everything and I’m so lucky to know him, to have the gift of his friendship, and to call him mine. Olive you, my Ally. 

I realize It’s not Valentines Day yet, but I wanted to get these out sooner than later so you could whip them up for the person(s) you love most.

Chocolate Chip Brownie Pancakes
adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie
makes 6-8 mini pancakes

These are decadent, rich and delicious. Pass up the box of chocolates and head for a plate of these instead - I promise your valentine will be thrilled with your brilliance and adeptness in the kitchen and you might even get to steal a bite.

Use spelt flour in place of AP flour to make these gluten free. 

1/2 cup whole wheat or AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cane or brown sugar
4 tbsp cocoa powder (I use Camino Natural Cocoa Powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp vegetable oil or melted butter
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp milk of your choice
handful dark or semisweet chocolate chips
vegetable oil, for frying

to serve: 

maple syrup
cocoa powder

Whisk all dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry, add the chocolate chips and whisk just to combine, it’s OK if there are some lumps. Pour a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil into a non-stick skillet and bring to medium-high heat. Pour about 2 heaping tablespoons into the pan and cook until bubbles start appearing towards the center of the pancake. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Repeat until no batter remains. Makes approximately 6-8 pancakes. 

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You Need a Snack [Chewy Seed & Nut Granola Clusters]

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I really love a snack. Mid-morning, mid-afternoon, midnight. The time matters little, I’m always fixed for a bite or two. 

Having a couple of nutritious options around the house helps me make better decisions and get the most from my pecking, since it is so frequent. I spotted the recipe for these bars in the current (January 2014) Bon Appetit Magazine and was certain they would make for a killer snack on their own, with granola or milk, an afternoon coffee or on the run any time of the day. Especially if I packed them with a few extra items (cashews! flax! chia seeds!). Unfortunately, likely due to my impatience and using a different sized pan than called for, they were less bars, more clusters. And whoaaaa-so-good no matter the shape they happen to take. 

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These clusters have everything you want. Including a healthy (or not so) amount of sticky maple syrup blended with sweet, plump Mejool dates and tart cranberries, crunchy amaranth (excellent source of protein, calcium/iron/magnesium), chia seeds (fiber, Omega3s, Phosphorus, stabilizes blood sugar), flax seeds (Lignans, fiber, Omega3s), a mixture of crunchy nuts (Vitamin A+E+B, selenium, cholesterol reduction) and a couple other tasty morsels thrown in for crunch and flavour. 

If you tend to get a bit peckish or find yourself fighting through afternoon energy lulls or hunger pangs, these are the perfect snack to get you back on track while still feeling satisfied. They are just sweet enough to feel like a treat. 

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Seed and Nut Granola Clusters
Adapted from Bon Appetit
makes approx. 6 cups of clusters

If you cook these for longer and let them cool COMPLETELY, you might have better luck than I did slicing bars. I left the recipe I used as-is because I actually like them in clusters instead of bars. Either way is delicious. 

6-8 Mejool dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 stick cinnamon
1/2 cup cranberries
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil/virgin coconut oil

2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp amaranth
1 tbsp flax seeds (ground or otherwise)
1/2 cup raw pepitas
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup mixed nuts (I used pecans, almonds, cashews)
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the chopped dates, cranberries, cinnamon stick and syrup in a small pot over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let the mixture bubble away for 8-10 minutes. But then, you should be able to use the back of a fork or spoon to mush it all together. It should be similar in texture to applesauce with some extra liquid from the syrup seeping out. Remove from heat and let cool. 

In a large bowl, mix together all the other ingredients and stir to combine. Pour the slightly cooled syrup mixture over the dry ingredients and stir everything together with a spatula until all the oats/seeds/nuts are covered in the syrup. Turn 1/2 the into a large, high-sided cake pan (I used a 15” x 10” x 2” rectangular baking dish) and pack the mixture down as hard and evenly as you can. Add the rest of the oat mixture and press into the pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove and cool for 20 minutes. 

Break up the mixture into large clusters and place back in the pan. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes for crispy-edged clusters. 

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Worth the Heat [Individual Coconut Saskatoon Berry Baked Oatmeal]

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We’ve been battling the heat like mad the past few weeks. Minimal movements, a lot of moaning and groaning and rolling around on the cold tile floors, a lot of sparkling water with crushed ice and lemon, and only a teensy amount of cooking. We’ve more or less been living on chop salads, hummus bowls (obviously), BBQ pizza, and Greek chicken with tzatziki from the Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook (go out and buy this immediately. It’s rocking my world!). 

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As I was browsing my instagram feed last week, I saw a photo of a big, beautiful Saskatoon berry (Lindenberry/Serviceberry) bush on Scott Perrie’s feed. I immediately felt envious and wished it was me plucking those berries from the bush and popping them into my mouth like sweet, juicy candy. I left a note saying I’d love to find somewhere local that sells the berries and within minutes, I had a note from Perrie explaining that he would be dropping some off to a restaurant near us and wondered if I’d like to have a pint to play with. WELL HELL YES I DO! Isn’t that the sweetest? This isn’t the first time Perrie has offered his hand-foraged goods for the sake of this blog. If you recall the Porcini Fettuccine from a while back, those mushrooms were also from Scott. He’s always generous with his finds and I am forever grateful to be able to enjoy the fruits of our local land thanks to all his toiling.

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I decided to use the berries in this Baked Oatmeal adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Everyday cookbook and i
t was every single bit worth turning the oven on and heating the kitchen up for. It’s fuss-free, comes together quickly and is as good fresh from the oven as it is from the fridge a day or two later (which makes it extra appealing since it makes a whole batch of grab-and-go breakfasts for the week!) I loved how easily adaptable the recipe was depending what you had on hand. For my version, I used the almonds as called for, but decided to jazz it up a bit with toasted coconut and pepitas and a substitution of coconut milk for regular whole milk. I could barely wait for it to cool before I was cramming it in my gob, hands burning from the hot jars and tongue on fire from the oozy, lava-like berries. A giant dollop of yogurt on top and you’re off to the races… or to wherever it is you need to go with a fully tummy. 

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Individual Coconut Saskatoon Berry Baked Oatmeal

Adapted from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson via
Lottie +Doof.
serves 6

If you can’t find Saskatoon berries, feel free to use blueberries or any berry you love.


2 cups Saskatoon Berries, plus extra for garnish

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup toasted, unsweetened coconut
½ cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

2 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 tbsp melted butter
1/3 - 1/2 Cup maple syrup, depending on taste
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 Cup raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 375’. 

Divide the berries between six mason jars (small), or a medium sized baking dish if you prefer to do one big batch.

Mix the oats, coconut, pepitas, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Divide the dry mix between the jars or pour over the berries if using a baking dish, lightly layering on top of the berries, about 1/3 cup if using jars.

Mix the coconut milk, butter, maple and vanilla together. Pour a little under 1/2 cup on top of the oats (or all if using a baking dish), letting it soak through to the bottom. Place all the jars in a baking dish, sprinkle a few fresh berries and a generous pinch of sugar on top, and bake on the middle rack for about 30 minutes until the liquid is absorbed, tops are just browned but the oats are still moist. 

Sprinkle the tops with the toasted almonds and a pinch of  sugar and serve warm or cold. 

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2013 Season - Farmers Feast 01 [Ramp, Green Garlic & Asparagus Frittata with Mennonite Sausage]

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At the start of the 2012 season at the Ottawa Farmers Market, I embarked on a fun project with them that we titled the “Farmers Feast”, in which I would receive a mystery basket of ingredients, chosen by Tara Simpson - their events coordinator, each month to create a recipe with and share with you all. It started as a bit of an experiment to see if we all enjoyed the outcome of the project and as you can imagine, we did! It was such a treat receiving a different bundle of ingredients, some I had to take a second look at as I wasn’t sure what they were, and develop a recipe using as many of them as I could. We did a full season  and were thrilled to start again this year. Needless to say, we couldn’t share the farmers feast if it weren’t for all the hard working farms, artisans and producers who dedicate themselves to growing, feeding and sharing with our city. Maybe you can give them a quiet, two-finger round of applause! 

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A few weeks back, I went and grabbed my basket from the market. It was literally errupting with great stalks of rhubarb, leafy, emerald green garlic and ramps, thick, meaty asparagus, curly, tangled pea shoots, eggs and a big hunk of mennonite sausage (which could be my new favourite addition to a cheese plate). All of these wonderful things were tucked into a stunning hand-carved bucket with a rope handle from Les Seaux Gadi. I highly recommend checking Claude’s wares out, their uses are endless and they would look so lovely in any home. 

imageThe kind, hard-working farmers who donated goods for this first-of-the-season Farmers Feast are: 

Avonmore Berry Farm - Ramps
Acorn Creek Garden Farm - Green Garlic
Bearbrook Game Meats - Mennonite Sausage
Just Farms - Asparagus
O’Grady Farms - Pea Sprouts
Needhams Garden Market - Rhubarb
Reinink Farms - Eggs
Glengarry Cheese - Big Brother cheese
Les Seaux Gadi - Bucket

The wonderful thing about spring/summer produce is that you don’t need to mess with it a lot. I decided to throw together a very rustic frittata filled with just about everything from the basket (the rhubarb I saved for something else coming soon!) and it turned out wonderfully. The pungent green garlic and ramps with the earthy asparagus and savoury sausage - everything married so well and came together with the addition of the creamy cheese. I highly suggest using these products, but understand that you’re not all located in Ottawa. So if you’re not in these neck of the woods, I hope you’ll at least take a trip to your local farmers market and seek out something similar. 

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This season, we’ve decided to give away some market bucks to one lucky guy or gal. Details on how to enter are below, and if your name is chosen, you’ll get to pick out one ingredient/product from one of the vendors who donated goods to this month’s basket (excluding Les Seaux Gadi). 

To enter: 
1. Leave a comment below telling me what you would do with one (or all) of the ingredients above. 

For extra entries (leave a new comment for each)
1. “Like” Ottawa Farmers Market on Facebook (1 extra entry)
2. Follow @OttawaFarmMkt on Twitter (1 extra entry)

We will pick a winner at random this coming Saturday, May 25th. And now, for the recipe. 

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Ramp, Green Garlic & Asparagus Frittata with Mennonite Sausage
serves 4-6, depending on appetite

2 good glugs olive or canola oil
1 cup chopped ramps (green and white parts)
2 tbsp chopped green garlic

1 1/2 cups chopped asparagus spears
1/2 cup mennonite sausage, diced 
1/2 tbsp lemon zest, optional
8 large eggs
1 cup Glengarry Big Brother cheese, 1/2” cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Lemony Pea Shoots
2 cups pea shoots
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Turn the oven on to broil. 

Drizzle a good 2-second pour of canola or olive oil in a pan. Turn the heat on to medium and add the chopped ramps, leeks, asparagus and sausage. Sauté until starting to soften, 5-6 minutes. While that cooks, crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk gently until combined. Add the cheese to the egg mixture. Pour the eggs into the vegetable mixture and fold gently to combine. Let cook until almost set (the top and center will be runny still), about 4-5 minutes. Place in the oven and let broil until golden brown and puffed up, 3-4 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, slice and serve topped with the Lemony Pea Shoots (recipe below). 

For the Lemony Pea Shoots
Toss the shoots with the olive oil and lemon and top the frittata with them for some added crunch and a way to cut the richness. 

[photo provided by Les Seaux Gadi]image

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Disclaimer:
 Farmers Feast is a partnership with the Ottawa Farmers Market. I am not compensated beyond the ingredients given from the market. Opinions expressed are mine.
 

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Not Settling for Sawdust [Coconut Red Quinoa Muffins with Sour Cherries and Pecans]

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I love breakfast. Love it like I love a glass of wine at the end of a long day (and that says a lot) and can’t bear the thought of getting out of bed without knowing there is something scrumptious waiting for me when I do. The thought of waking to the same bowl of plain old oatmeal or natural peanut butter on whole wheat toast every day makes my heart sink. I’m not getting up for that – I refuse to! I want something that tastes good, something that tames my ravenous morning hunger and nourishes my body as it does. 

I’ve been in the bad habit of grabbing a bagel or croissant sandwich (from Bread and Sons in Ottawa. Its a show-stopper. Go there immediately!) lately and it needs to end. So I decided to whip up a batch of breakfast muffins. Who says a muffin can’t be delicious as well as nutrient-packed, hunger-staving, and fibre-filled? Not me. I don’t say that, guys. It’s not true and I’m tired of hearing it. Muffins are not the bad guys – it’s the people who are loading them up with butter (tasty, tasty butter) and unrefined sugars who should bare the blame for their bad rap. If you trust me (I think we’ve been hanging out long enough to warrant a small to medium amount of trust between us, no?) then you’ll believe me when I tell you that these muffins are healthy (they have some brown sugar… but it’s brown so it’s ok…right?) and so full of flavour that you won’t even miss that whats-it-called muffin you’ve been spending your hard earned coins on each morning. Filled with wheat bran, flax seeds, toasted pecans and coconut, dried cherries and cinnamon and just enough brown sugar to keep things interesting, they are good enough to get me up in the morning and filling enough to tame that noisy beast that makes home in my gut from 7-8am each day. Don’t settle for saw-dusty bran muffins that taste like cardboard or butter-filled muffins that may as well be breakfast-hamburgers; these are better and will make your mornings bright and sun-shiny and happy (probably).  If you’re interested, I’ve calculated the nutritional information here

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Coconut Red Quinoa Muffins with Sour Cherries and Pecans
adapted from Martha Stewart
makes 12 muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/3 toasted pecans, crushed
1/4 cup flax, freshly ground
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup dried cherries, rough-chopped
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup applesauce 
3/4 cup milk (I like 2% best)

Preheat oven to 350. 

In a dry skillet, toast the shredded coconut, wheat bran and crushed pecans over medium heat until golden and fragrant, 5 minutes. 

In a large bowl, mix the flour, cooked quinoa, toasted coconut/bran/pecans, cherries, ground flax, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine. 

In a smaller bowl, whisk the egg, applesauce and milk until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until combined. Divide among a lined-muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool and enjoy! 

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Little Puggish Nuts [Cocoa Hazelnut Granola with Sour Cherries]

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I’ve always thought hazelnuts to be lavish and exotic. We never really ate them or had them laying around as kids, aside from the holidays when we’d receive boxes and boxes of gold foil-wrapped Ferraro Rocher chocolates with one smooth, crunchy hazelnut entombed in milk chocolate and dipped into more chocolate studded with chopped hazelnuts. Peeling away the little crimped cup and foil always made me feel so fancy - far more so than tearing the plastic (pfft…please!) from a snickers bar. 

I find myself tucking my beloved hazelnuts into everything these days - pestos, salads, homemade nut butters, ground into smoothies or mixed with breadcrumbs for a crispy coating. When toasted lightly, their flavour is so distinct, rich and unlike any other nut available. They don’t hide behind the flavours you mix them with, they always stand out dominantly, refusing to melt into the background. I love that about them. 

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This granola, like my dear puggish hazelnuts, is bold and beautiful. It’s full of texture and flavour and comes together so brilliantly, you’d wonder why they don’t sell a pre-made version of it already (answer: because it’s never as good as homemade!). I’ve been crunching away at it for the past few days and I’m fairly certain it just kicked the fanny of my favourite almond granola. Because I wanted the flavour of the main ingredients to really shine, I didn’t add too many other flavourings. You’re welcome to play around with spices in it, but I suggest trying it on it’s own first. It’s simple and doesn’t need much fuss about it. 

Cocoa Hazelnut Granola with Sour Cherries
adapted from Food in Jars

I used coconut oil because I love it, primarily, but it’s also a very healthy oil (which is up for debate with some people, I realize, but I feel good about it), you can feel free to use whatever neutral oil (sunflower, vegetable etc) you like or have on hand.

1 cup toasted hazelnuts, rough chopped
1/2 cup flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
3 cups rolled oats
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted 
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup dried sour cherries, rough chopped

 Preheat oven to 325. 

In a large bowl, mix the nuts, coconut, rolled oats and cocoa powder. Give it a good mix to make sure the cocoa powder is evenly distributed. 

Mix the honey and the melted coconut oil until well combined. Add the wet ingredients and salt to the oat mixture and mix until everything is well combined. 

Spread evenly on a foil lined baking sheet and pop into the oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to make sure the edges don’t burn. When it’s golden brown and crunchy, it’s all ready. Let it cool completely (this helps those big, wonderful ‘clumps’ of granola form) and then stir in the sour cherries. Keeps for a few weeks in a sealed glass jar or ziplock bag. 

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Serve with milk or on top of yogurt, by itself or with fresh fruit.

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Ode to the Egg [Sauteed Purple Kale with Charred Shallots & Fried Egg]

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There are few things I wouldn’t do for an egg in the morning. 

I wake up thinking of them, trying to recall what veg I have in the crisper, if I’ve any bread or cheese, onions or garlic, and deciding whether it’ll be fried in olive oil or scrambled low and slow until velvety and smooth. Something about an egg, so simple and pedestrian, really tugs at my heart. I adore them. And almost as much as I adore eating them, I get eager at the thought of shooting them. When the light catches a sunny yolk, it’s polished surface gleaming and flecked with pepper and salt, I can’t help but get all up in their business with a camera.

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Today I bring you a very simple, incredibly nourishing breakfast (or lunch or dinner if you’re into that sort of thing - I bet you are!) that will satisfy and fill your tummy with goodness. Garlicky sauteed kale topped with sweet and slightly bitter charred shallots and a perfectly fried egg. If you added some crisp bacon or pancetta, it would be that much better.  

Garlicky Purple Kale with Charred Shallots and a Fried Egg
serves 2

Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large handfuls (around 4-5 cups) curly kale
6 small shallots (4 large), sliced in half & peeled
2 eggs
salt and pepper

Clean and dry the kale and chop into bite-sized pieces. Heat a good few glugs of olive oil in a large pot over med-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the kale and a pinch or two of salt. Toss until cooked through, about 5 minutes. It should be green and still a touch crunchy. Taste for seasoning and remove from heat. 

While kale cooks, heat a skillet (dry) over high heat until hot-hot! Add the shallots, cut side down, and let them cook until blackened on the bottom, 5-6 minutes. Turn shallots and remove from heat. 

In another skillet (or the same, just remove the shallots and wipe it off) over med-high heat, add a thin layer of olive oil and let it get hot. Crack the eggs into the pan (they should immediately sizzle and sputter) and cover it lightly with a plate or pot-lid. Let cook until whites are set but yolks are runny, 3 minutes. 

Pile the kale onto plates and top with shallots and fried egg. Sprinkle with some flaky salt and fresh ground pepper. 

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It Happened. [Spiced Coconut Barley with Pistachios and Maple]

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It happened. 

After years and years of taunting the stomach flu by eating every single questionable, 40 seconds over the 5 second rule, maybe-sort-of-moldy and definitely expired ingredient in my house, I paid. A nasty old stomach flu that struck me like boot in the face. All kinds of nastiness ensued and my appetite hid warily behind the angry mob that overtook my guts. 

All I wanted was something warm and smooth, creamy and satisfying, to ease my stomach into accepting a meal of real, solid food. A few days prior, my friend Chantal had cooked about 50 jars worth of spiced, coconutty rice pudding topped with a sweet, floral strawberry and rosewater jam. It was the only thing I saw when I closed my eyes and shivered in my 40 layers of cotton. I needed it. 

After a quick inspection of the cupboards, I realized it was unlikely that I would soon be spooning that cozy little treat into my mouth. I did, however, find a few things to make something similar but different. A creamy barley pudding prepared  almost like a risotto, that felt warm and comforting as it snuggled into my aching belly. I followed Chantal’s recipe for rice pudding as a guideline, but used pearled barley in place of basmati rice and added some maple and nuts instead of jam. You can use whichever you please, but the rice pudding would be cooked by using all the liquids at once rather than in small, spaced out additions. 

Feel free to play around with the spices, add whatever nuts you please, or even top with some strawberry-rosewater jam. It’s lovely every way you please. I put Chantal’s rice pudding recipe at the bottom of the page too - it is absolutely delicious and you’re missing out if you don’t try it! 

Spiced
 Coconut Barley with Pistachios and Maple
adapted from Chantal’s recipe (recipe below) 

Feel free to swap out the cows milk for almond or soy, whatever you’re able to use.

1 ¼ cups pearled barley, rinsed well
1 cup milk
½ cup water
2 cups coconut milk
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamom pods
2 tbsp maple syrup + more for garnish
¼ unsweetened coconut, toasted
¼ cup unsalted pistachios, crushed

Place barley in a pot with the milk, water, cinnamon and cardamom. Bring to a boil and let simmer until almost all the liquid has been absorbed by the barley. Add ¼ cup of the coconut milk at a time, letting it absorb for a few minutes in between additions. This process is similar to a risotto so you’ll have to keep an eye on it and stir often.

When almost all the coconut milk is absorbed, the barley should be cooked through but still have a bit of a bite so it’s not mushy. If you like it softer, add a bit more coconut milk (or reg. milk/water) and cook until desired doneness.

Add the maple syrup and toasted coconut and stir. Spoon into bowls and top with crush pistachios and maple syrup.

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Chantal’s Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding
2 cups coconut milk
3 cups 2% milk
8 cardamom pods, crushed
3 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla beans (slit open)
1 cups sugar
1 cups basmati rice
 
Steep cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla in liquid.  Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low for 15 min.  then add rice and sugar, bring to light boil, then immediately reduce to simmer on low for 45 minutes or until you obtain a loose porridge consistency.  You will need to stir often.  Top with fresh strawberry jam.
 
Strawberry Jam
2 cups strawberries, sliced in half
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp good vanilla
1 tbsp rose water
 
Combine all ingredient in sauce pan and bring to a slow simmer, reduce heat to low for 15 minutes.  Strain liquid and puree fruit.

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