italian mimosas

23 Sep

A less sweet, more boozy, better mimosa.

Because Champagne is for suckers.

Makes 1 cocktail

(The measurements are approximate, adjust them however best suits your tastes and your glass.)

Bottega is a perfectly nice Prosecco and it’s only $11.95 at the LCBO. Not bad at all.

italian mimosas

ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 2 oz orange juice, about half an orange
  • 5 to 6 oz Prosecco, chilled

preparation

Squeeze orange juice into a glass.  Add Prosecco.  Drink.

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black bean + butternut squash chili

19 Sep

It sure is getting chili outside.

GET IT?

Because it’s chilly because it’s fall but I wrote chili because i made chili but chili is a thing you want to eat when it’s chilly…

there are just so many layers.

You’re welcome.

Makes 12 servings

black bean + butternut squash chili

ingredients

  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, diced (about 3 cups)
  • 550ml can black beans, strained and rinsed
  • 1200ml canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro plus extra for garnish
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • sour cream

preparation

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook until it begins to soften, add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Turn heat to high and add beef.  Cook until beef is browned.

Add beef to a crock pot along with peppers, squash, beans, tomato, chipotle and spices.  Cook on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.  Taste the chili around the 3 hour mark and adjust spices to your taste; please note that I am a complete pansy when it comes to spice so if you follow my recipe to the letter you will have a chili with just a little bit of heat.  If you like it spicy add more chipotle and chili powder.

Garnish with cilantro, green onion and sour cream.

toasted tomato sandwich

5 Sep

Yeah, it’s just a toasted tomato sandwich.

When was the last time you had one?

I thought so.

Have a toasted tomato sandwich.

It’s a great thing.

(A special toasted tomato sandwich thank you goes out to John & Deb for fresh tomatoes and amazing spicy arugula from their garden.)

toasted tomato sandwich

ingredients

  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • mayonnaise
  • arugula and/or fresh basil
  • 2 slices of bread, toasted

preparation

Put all those things together, as a sandwich.

don’t we all have mixed feelings about Java House / chick pea + kale soup with cinnamon

22 Aug

If you’re from Toronto and are / have been at one point young and poor you’ve probably had the… not “pleasure”… the, experience of going to Java House.  I’ve been there a lot (not recently but that’s beside the point) and I have a tumultuous relationship with the place, as I believe many do.

There are some undeniably great features – it has a huge patio just off Queen West that’s always bursting at the seams yet always has room for you somewhere, even on the most patio friendly days of summer.  The beer is cheap, like 11$ for a pitcher of half decent beer cheap, and so is the food.  One must, however, consider that the place just feels like there are cockroaches running around the kitchen and under the kegs – I’ve never had a bad experience with that but I’ve heard enough stories to be wary – it’s fairly dingy.  The service is ok-ish but under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you try to get separate bills for your table.  Don’t. Do it.  Oh, and I mentioned that the food is cheap… it is, really really cheap.  It is not “good”.

With one exception!  There was (as I said, I haven’t been there recently so maybe it’s gone?) a tomato chick-pea soup that I believe cost about $3 a bowl.  It was not spectacular but it was really tasty.  It was especially good when, half way through an after-work session of “beer instead of dinner will be just fine”, I realize that no I need to eat at least once a day.  Probably more.

So I feel that an homage to that fine, fine soup is in order.  My soup is better.  In fact it’s unreasonably f***ing delicious, especially considering how simple it is.

makes 6 servings

chick pea + kale soup with cinnamon

ingredients

  • 6 c vegetable broth
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 400 ml can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch of kale
  • 1 500ml can chick peas, drained
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • olive oil
  • salt

preparation

Cut the spine out of each kale leaf.  Rinse the leaves, bunch them together and roughly chop them; you should have about 2 generous cups of chopped kale.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and sautee until they just begin to soften.  Add garlic, turmeric and oregano along with the chick peas.  Cook, stirring constantly, until onions are translucent.  Add kale one handful at a time, stirring until it wilts.  Add tomato, broth and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Remove cinnamon stick, add salt to taste and serve.

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plum + cherry yoghurt cake

12 Aug

So I made panna cotta from a recipe I had used before (successfully, I might add) but made the mistake of trying to transport it to a friend’s house before it was fully set.  It ended up being less of a dessert and more of a sloppy yoghurt and cream mess.  But was I discouraged?  Nay!  I soldiered on.  I brought that mess home with me and used it, along with the compote I had made to serve with it, to make a cake.

It turned out moist and yummy and not too sweet (so it makes a good breakfast?  yes.)

You see sometimes, when a genius gets impatient and makes a mess of things, it turns into a tasty cake…

plum + cherry yoghurt cake

ingredients

compote

  • 4-5 plums
  • 2 large handfuls fresh cherries (or 2-3 extra plums if cherries aren’t in season)
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract – real stuff not synthetic, it makes a big difference here)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise

cake

  • 4 tbsp butter, at room temp.
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c plain greek yoghurt (I particularly like Liberté Mediterranean)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 c flour

preparation

compote

Cut the plums in half, remove pits, and cut each half into 4-6 chunks.  Put plums along with pitted cherries in a large saucepan along with sugar, star anise and cinnamon and turn heat to medium.  Cut the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds into the saucepan then add the pod.

Once the fruit starts to bubble turn heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes or until the fruit is soft enough to mash easily with back of a spoon.

Let it cool and it can be refrigerated up to 3 days.  Any extra compote left after the cake is made is delicious on ice cream or yoghurt.

cake

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream butter and sugar.  Whisk in eggs and vanilla until smooth.  Whisk in baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Whisk in flour (in three parts) alternating with yoghurt (in two parts) until fully combined.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9″ cake pan.  Place about 1/4 cup of compote in the center of each quarter of the cake (about 1 cup total) and swirl it in and around the batter with a spoon so there are ribbons of fruit throughout but it’s not fully combined.

Bake for 35 – 45 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

basil, provolone + prosciutto stuffed chicken breasts

14 Jul

Chicken!  Prosciutto!  Basil!  Provolone!  Together at last!  On my barbecue!  And now maybe on your barbecue too!

It’s what’s for dinner.

Makes 2 servings

basil, provolone + prosciutto stuffed chicken breasts

ingredients

  • 2 small chicken breasts
  • 4 slices of prosciutto
  • 50 g provolone, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • cooking twine

preparation

Butterfly the chicken breasts.

Do you want to learn how to butterfly a chicken breast from someone with a charming French-Canadian accent?  Ok… here’s Ricardo.

Thanks Ricardo.

Lay the butterflied chicken breasts out so they’re ‘open’.  Place one slice of prosciutto, 3-4 basil leaves and half the provolone in each chicken breast and close them.  Wrap one slice of prosciutto around each breast, rub the outside with a bit of olive oil and tie with cooking twine.

Heat the grill to high heat and cook the chicken until it’s seared on the outside and the juices run clear (cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken breast).

Cut off the twine and serve.

lemon + mint grilled lamb chops

8 Jul

I live in a third story apartment above a shop in Chinatown / Kensington market.  I do not have air-conditioning.  This recent heat wave has left me sweating on my couch in my underwear thinking up devious plans to get into cool places.

The best idea I had so far was to go visit my parents.  Not that getting out of the heat was my only motive, I enjoy their company very much, but they DO have central air.  It was the best.

A by-product of visiting them is always wonderful meals.  My dad is a great cook and a lot of my recipes are based on things he’s made for me in the past.  This weekend was lamb chops in a simple marinade along with an orzo salad full of cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers and delicious caraffa olives.

That was yesterday, today I’m back sweating in the hot heat.  Tomorrow – water slides.

makes 2 servings

lemon + mint grilled lamb chops

ingredients

  • 6 lamb chops
  • 2 lemons
  • 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c olive oil

preparation

In a medium bowl juice the lemons, add mint, garlic and olive oil and whisk to combine.  Toss the lamb chops in the marinade and refrigerate, covered, for at least an hour.

Heat grill to high heat.  Pat the meat with some paper towel to remove excess liquid and sear the lamb chops for about 5 minutes on each side.

a bucket of sangria

1 Jul

Happy birthday Canada.  I made you sangria.  A bucket of it.

Just a little side note – you can use pretty cheap wine for this but don’t go for the bottom of the barrel, really bad wine makes really bad sangria.  I use the Mateus (pictured below).  It’s a perfectly drinkable Portugese wine and it’s only $8.95 at the LCBO.

bucket of sangria

ingredients

  • 1 handful of cherries, halved & pits removed
  • 3 small oranges, thickly sliced
  • 2 limes, thickly sliced
  • 3 small peaches / nectarines, thickly sliced
  • 2 handfuls of raspberries / strawberries / blueberries
  • 1 750ml bottle of red wine
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz Cointreau (or a similar orange liqueur)
  • 1 can San Pellegrino Aranciata (Orangina works too)
  • 1 can club soda (optional)
  • ice
  • a bucket

Preparation

Throw the cherries, peaches and berries in your bucket (NOTE – I use a large soup pot, if you have an actual punch bowl and want to be all classy about it go ahead but any big bowl-y thing will do).  Add the oranges and one of the limes, squeezing the slices as you add them to get some juice.

Add wine, gin & Cointreau and muddle with the fruit a bit so some of the berries break down and you get a bit more juice out of the citrus fruits.  Add Aranciata and stir.  Taste the sangria, if you find it too strong (you pansy) add a bit of club soda to taste.

Put a few ice cubes in a glass, scoop a bunch of fruit and sangria into that glass, garnish with remaining lime slices and drink it.

DRINK! IT!

strawberry + goat cheese galettes

22 Jun

My parents came to visit and brought along some beautiful fresh, local strawberries (thank you!).  I had this recipe idea kicking around in my head for a while so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

Turns out it’s very good.

For the pastry I used this recipe for pasta frolla (sweet pastry dough) but cut the recipe by a third so I’ve included the reduced measurements for convenience.

I’m thinking a balsamic glaze drizzled over top, or maybe some fresh basil mixed in with the strawberries would be really tasty… but I could be wrong.  Eventually I’ll revisit this and see but in the meantime if any of you, you beautiful sophisticated intelligent readers, try a variation that works let me know.

Makes 5 galettes.

strawberry + goat cheese galettes

ingredients

pastry – from Kitchen Window

  • 2 c flour
  • 2/3 c confectioner’s sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 2/3 c unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 large eggs

filling

  • 1 pint of fresh strawberries, sliced
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 150 g goat cheese

preparation

For pastry – Mix flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest in a large bowl.  Add butter and mix with a pastry cutter until small, pea sized clumps are formed.  Add one whole egg and the yolk of the second egg (set the white aside for later) and mix until just combined.

Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead briefly, form into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before using to make it pliable enough to work with.  Divide the dough into 5 chunks and roll each into a ball.  Roll each ball out on a well floured surface – they should be thin, rough edged circles – and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.

For filling – Combine strawberries, lemon zest and sugar.

Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle.

Top each rolled out pastry round with a heaping tablespoon of goat cheese and spread it, leaving a 2 inch border with no cheese.  Top the cheese area with a mound of strawberries and fold the pastry border up over the edges of the filling.  Repeat with each round.  Pile any leftover strawberry mixture in the middle of the pastries.

Remember that egg white we set aside?  If not that’s ok but if yes brush egg white over the pastry so it gets nice and crispy and shiny.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden-brown.

grilled corn salsa + chicken salad

13 Jun

Just a nice simple summer salad… Goes well with some beer and some being outside.

Makes 4 servings

grilled corn salsa + chicken salad

ingredients

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • pepper
  • salt
  • 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 4 ears of corn (in husks)
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalepeno, seeds removed and flesh finely diced
  • 6 roma tomatoes, seeds removed and flesh diced
  • 3 small or 2 large avocados, diced
  • 4-5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

preparation

Combine diced red onion, jalepeno, tomatoes, avocado, green onion, cilantro and garlic in a large bowl with juice of half a lime and 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Mix together and set aside.

Heat grill to medium high.

Place corn, in husks, on the grill and cook until husks are charred and corn is tender –  about 12 minutes.  Peel back the husks to let the corn cool.  Once they’re not too hot to handle, cut the kernels off the cob and mix into the salsa.

Meanwhile, squeeze juice from remaining half of the lime over chicken breasts along with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper.  Rub seasonings into both sides of breasts.

Place chicken on the grill and cook – about 5 minutes on each side… maybe more maybe less, it depends how busty your chicken is.

Slice the chicken, lay it on top of a heap of grilled corn salsa and serve with some sliced baguette or fresh corn tortillas.