Lemony Quinoa & Tuna Patties

Tuna & Quinoa Patties

I came here to write an eloquent, meaningful post about trying to be everything (mother/freelancer/wife/whole human) and having that turn into doing nothing because the pressure is just so intense and overwhelming….but it has been such a hard week at home with our 2yr old that I can’t quite seem to grasp on to the words dangling behind my eyes.

So instead, let’s talk about these White Tuna and Quinoa Patties that have been keeping us afloat in our sea of toddler emotions. I knew by 7am on Monday morning that this week had potential to be a doozy so I started rummaging through the cupboards to see what grains, proteins and other high-vibe ingredients we had to make these satiating patties that come together quickly, reheat exceptionally well, and really provide both flavour and nutrition when your on the go-go-go. I love the way the cooked quinoa gets crispy when fried so you get these tiny crunchy POPs in your mouth. The lemon helps keep them light and fragrant while the oats bulk them up and keep everything bound.

I like to fry them in a little neutral oil and serve either with some greens, tomatoes, avocado and a drizzle of oil/vinegar, or topped with a fried/poached egg and served over greens. Now, if that even feels like too much it is absolutely OK to eat them cold from the fridge in your underwear as you mentally prepare for the day ahead. Get that fuel in your body however you can, you’re gonna need it.

Lemony Quinoa & Tuna Patties

Lemony Quinoa & Tuna Patties
makes 8-10 patties

1 170ml can tuna*, drained well and squeeze of excess liquid
1 cup oats (not quick cooking)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped kale (curly or lacinato)
1 cup cooked quinoa (red, white or black), squeezed of any excess liquid
4 eggs
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
coconut or vegetable oil, for fryingMix all ingredients in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes for the oats to soften and absorb some liquid. If they are too wet to bind, add more oats 1 tbsp at a time. The mixture will feel sticky but should hold together when formed.Heat a few glugs of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Form 1 tbsp of the mixture into a test patty, place in the oil and fry for about 1 minute on each side until cooked through. Let cool slightly and taste for seasoning, add more salt or lemon juice to taste. When you’re happy with the seasoning, scoop 1/4 cup of the mixture into your hands and form into patties. Fry on each side, making sure not to overcrowd the pan, until deep golden brown and crisp. Serve on their own as a quick snack, hot over salad greens with chopped vegetables or with a fried egg.
*Not all tuna is created equal. Avoid purchasing species that are over-fished, like Bluefin, and instead opt for Skipjack (best choice) or Albacore (OK alternative). If you’re ever unsure of which species you should avoid, check The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

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Charred Harissa Carrots with Goats Milk Labneh & Pistachios

Charred Harissa Carrots with Goats Milk Labneh & Pistachios
If there’s one plus to summer winding down, it’s the market shelves spilling over with a veritable rainbow of fruits and vegetables ripe for the harvesting.  From apples to zucchinis and everything in between, it’s a cook’s paradise and allows the imagination to run wild with ways in which to prepare and serve these gifts from sun and soil. Around this time of year there is plenty of produce unfamiliar to us to experiment with at the market, but something we love to do is choose a more commonplace ingredient and come up with a dish that allows the mundane to become extraordinary.

Farmer's Market Carrots

The humble carrot, a root familiar to just about anybody you’d come across, often gets forgotten in the shadows of a recipe, tossed in with the onions, celery and garlic (who can also shine on their own when prepared with a little love) lost and seldom celebrated for the sweet, herbaceous flavour they possess all on their own. Carrots can become a stand-out main ingredient if you give them some extra attention, and pull out those big flavours they have hiding within.

Charred Harissa Carrtos with Goats Milk Labneh & Pistachios

Here we’ve coated the carrots in a sweet and spicy mix of Harissa and Honey, bringing out the humble roots’ naturally-occurring flavours, and we’ve topped them with some salty pistachios and a super creamy & luxurious Goat’s Milk Labneh, which is a strained yogurt cheese we’ve made with with Hewitt’s Dairy Goat Yogurt. It has a texture similar to cream cheese but is tangier and richer and just all-around better. We were loving the spicy charred bits of the roasted carrot, slightly bitter and caramelized, dragged through the smooth, zippy labneh. When you get some of the salt and crunch from the pistachios, it’s like a perfectly orchestrated symphony in your mouth; sweet and savory, salty and smooth, bitter and crunchy. Everything singing together in harmony.

Charred Harissa Carrots with Goats Milk Labneh & Pistachios

Charred Harissa Carrots with Goats Milk Labneh & Pistachios

serves 4 as an appetizer

I use salted pistachios here as I like that strong sweet-salty flavour, but feel free to use unsalted if you prefer or are watching your sodium. If you want to peel your carrots, feel free. When they are small, I don’t mind leaving the tender skins on as long as they are scrubbed well.

If you want to serve this as a main course, cook up some of  your favourite grains and serve the carrots over the grains with a few dollops of the labneh and a sprinkle of pistachios. I love either brown rice or bulgur here.

15-20 small carrots (not baby carrots), scrubbed and tops trimmed
1 tbsp Harissa paste

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp
2 tbsp roasted/salted pistachios, rough chopped

Preheat oven to 400.

In a small dish mix together the Harissa, olive oil, honey, and salt. Generously brush your carrots with the mixture. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until fork-tender and charred at the edges, about 10-2 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve on a plate sprinkled with pistachios your Goat’s Milk Labneh.

Goat’s Milk Labneh
makes approx. 1 cup

1 1/2 cups Hewitt Dairy Goat Yogurt
1/2 tsp sea salt

Place a few layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter into sieve that’s been place over a bowl. Make sure the sieve doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl as you need room for the liquid to drain. Stir your 1 1/2 cups of Hewitt’s Dairy Goat Milk Yogurt with the salt and pour into the lined-sieve. Allow to drain overnight in the fridge covered loosely with some towels or plastic wrap. It should be thick and creamy but still spreadable. Keep in the fridge until you serve with your carrots. Any remaining Labneh can be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container for 3-4 days.

 


Disclaimer: I am part of the #BornOnTheFarm Campaign sponsored by Gaylea Food Coop & PTPA Media and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

 

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Herby Sriracha Lime Chicken Wraps with Crunchy Peanut Sauce

Herby Sriracha Lime Chicken Wraps with Peanut Sauce

It must have been a decade ago now that we were at a cottage with friends for the weekend when my girlfriend, who was always a kitchen inspiration and skilled home cook, prepared us all a dish that I was really looking forward to, but that I was sure my picky boyfriend would hate. I had been trying, unsuccessfully of course, to incorporate some Thai and Vietnamese flavours and recipes into our dinner rotation as the meat and potato snorefest I was living in was seriously harshing my cooking buzz.  I wanted those perfect layers of flavours, zingy and bright lime and savory fish sauce, crunchy herbs and warm, mouth-buzzing Sichuan oil. Making them for myself was an option, but it’s never as enjoyable cooking for one.

Herby Sriracha Lime Chicken Wraps with Peanut Sauce

In hindsight, my certainty that he would dislike the meal was purely base on jealously that someone else could actually get him to try, even like, a dish with all these things I’d be trying to incorporate into our meals for so long. The dish, which my friend had found in Food & Drink Magazine, was titled Bang Bang Chicken Noodle Salad. Though I can’t seem to find it in their online archives, I recall that it was a far cry from authentic Bang Bang Chicken which gets it’s name from the sound the mallet makes when beating chicken breasts into submission and cooking them with a Sichuan peppercorn, garlic, sesame seed, Chinkiang vinegar (rice-based black vinegar widely used in Chinese cuisine) and roasted chili oil sauce. This dish was better likened to a Grilled Chicken Salad with a heavy spattering of fragrant herbs, crunchy carrots and cucumbers atop some vermicelli noodles and served with a Peanut-Satay Sauce. Either way, it was delicious and a proper dish to subtly introduce the Asian-inspired flavours to my (then) bland-and-proud man’s palate.

It’s worth noting that nowadays he will generally try and like most things I make. I think a certain amount of trust has to be present when cooking for those who have issues with textures, I don’t make him eat oysters or mussels or expect him to devour a tray of sushi like I can, but push him to try spices and recipes that incorporate already-liked (safe) ingredients or dishes in new ways. If I tell him he’ll like it, 90% of the time he doesn’t hesitate to try it …and the other 10% I’m probably lying. What was that about trust?

We have made this dish in many numbers of ways, as the original salad without the noodles, with a variety of vegetables substitutions depending what’s in-season, with chicken thighs and wings, with spicy Sichuan oil added (for me) and with different varieties of natural peanut butter, almond butter and sesame butter. Each one delicious in it’s own subtle ways, but our favourite is chicken breast chunks marinated in lime, fish sauce and sriracha, skewered and grilled and served in a lettuce wrap filled with herbs and a chunky peanut sauce on the side for dipping or drizzling. It’s got those layers of flavours, the lime and fish sauce together get me every time, and offers a satisfying crunch.

Herby Sriracha Lime Chicken Wraps with Peanut Sauce
makes 4-6 servings

Of course I was out of propane the day I decided to make these so we broiled the meat instead. If you prefer to grill, that is a great option too!

CHICKEN
2 large chicken breasts, approximately 2lbs, cut into 1″ chunks
1/2 tsp lime zest
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp sriracha sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce

PEANUT SAUCE
¾ cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ cup water
⅓ cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp white sugar
1  1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 medium clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 tbsp rough chopped unsalted roasted peanuts (optional)

FOR SERVING
8 lettuce leaves (butter/iceberg/romain, whatever has nice sturdy leaves at the market)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, rough chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, rough chopped
1/4 cup thai basil leaves, rough chopped
4 scallions, sliced thin
4 baby cucumbers, sliced thin
Lime wedges
Sriracha Sauce

EXTRAS
8 skewers for chicken (if using wooden, soak for 30 minutes in water before using)

FOR THE CHICKEN
Set oven to broil and move your tray to the top third of the oven. In a bowl or container, toss the chicken with the marinade ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes in the fridge. Take out 10 minutes before you’re ready to cook. Skewer all your chicken – we used 8 skewers that were half-filled. You’ll need 4-8 total.

Hang the skewers over a baking dish so they don’t touch the bottom – we used a square brownie tray so that skewers reached each side without making contact with the bottom dish. This helps them cook more evenly. If you prefer to just place on a baking tray, be sure to check a large piece of chicken for doneness before serving. Broil for 5-6 minutes on each side until meat is cooked through and charred in spots.

FOR THE PEANUT SAUCE
Using a mortar and pestle, combine all the ingredients except for crushed peanuts and smash, rub, pound until the sauce is creamy with some chunks. Add the crushed peanuts and stir to combine. Let sit, covered, at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

TO SERVE
Organize a large serving tray with the skewers, piled lettuce leaves and some dishes for herbs and cucumbers out and let everyone assemble their wraps the way they like them. Serve with extra lime and sriracha sauce.

 

 

Raspberry Smoothie Freezer Bark with Cereal & Granola

Rainbow Raspberry Smoothie Bark

I wish I could say my kid was the sugary-cereal fiend in our house but that would be a bold faced lie. My husband has a thing for cereal. He has since he was a kid and I don’t think he’ll outgrow it anytime soon. I can only guess that my daughter will also have a deeply rooted cereal-obsession… but who wouldn’t want their kid to look back and relish those mornings in front of the TV, shoveling candy into her gob for breakfast with her Dada. I’m all for that…but what if we could introduce cereal in a way that gave her what she wanted, something colourful, crunchy and sweet, and left me at ease knowing she got a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, fibre and protein with each crunch?

Raspberry Smoothie Protein Bark

Though she is still years from taking part in that most-wonderful-time-of-the-year known as Back-To-School, it still serves as a reminder that it’s time to get back to the table and re-focus on what we’re putting in our bodies so we can get the most out of them during busy days.  Breakfast is the best place to start, it sets the tone for the day and helps our little people fuel all the shenanigans they get into ALL DAY LONG… though often I wonder if all those shenanigans really need fueling.

Like most kids, my daughter loves anything colourful and crunchy (hence, cereal). So this Raspberry Dark Chocolate Smoothie Bark spattered with chocolate and cereal grabbed her attention right away and she dove into it thinking it was dessert. Mama – 1, Ruthie – 1 (because she benefits, we both win…I guess). But for me, this bark is ALL about pumping up her protein and fibre for the day without having to cram a meal she has no interest in in her face.  Because at 7am, who in their right mind wants to deal with a screaming, hungry kid that won’t eat a damn thing? FORGET THAT.

Raspberry Smoothie Protein Bark

Let’s talk shop for a second. The base of this bark is a rasperry-puree swirled Smooth Cottage Cheese from Nordica; one serving (1/2 cup) contains 15g of protein and 20% of your daily calcium intake. It’s creamy, tangy and rich like Greek yogurt so for anyone that claims they don’t like cottage cheese, you won’t even know! Add to that hemp seeds (a mere 2 tbsp contains almost 7g of protein, the same amount in 2 egg whites as well as 116 mg of magnesium that helps regulate blood sugar), chia seeds (one tablespoon contains 5 grams of fibre as well as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to raise “good” HDL cholesterol) and ground flax (a rich source of micronutrients, dietary fiber, manganese, vitamin B1, and Omega-3 fatty acids) and you’ve got a cocktail for super health that looks like one of those freakin unicorn beverages all the kids (and some weird adults) are drinking these days. For extra crunch and sweetness, I added some of our favourite granola, some chopped dark chocolate and a spattering of sugary cereal as the pièce de résistance and, let’s get real, the only reason our kid is into this.

It’s cold and refreshing, makes a perfectly adult-appropriate breakfast when served with a piece of grainy toast (so long as you don’t mind getting a little messy). Grab a chunk from the freezer anytime you need a little boost.

Rainbow Raspberry Smoothie Bark
Raspberry Smoothie Protein Bark

makes 10-12 servings

I used the Plain Smooth cottage cheese here because I like to be able to control the sugar. If you think you or your kids would prefer something less tangy and more sweet, try the individually portioned Lemon or Vanilla Bean Smooth Cottage Cheese in place of the plain.

I’ve left the granola and cereal types up to you – use what you like/what your kids like.

For the Smoothie Base
4 cups (from 2 tubs) Nordica Plain Smooth Cottage Cheese
1 ripe banana
1/2 ripe avocado
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp hemp seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp ground flax seeds

For the Puree:
1 pint raspberries
2 tbsp sugar

For the Toppings:
1/4 cup 70% dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup granola clusters
1/2 cup cereal

Cover a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.

Toss the berries with the sugar and let sit for 5 minutes. Mash with a fork until smooth. Set aside.

Place all smoothie ingredients in the blender and puree until smooth. Dump onto the cookie sheet and spread out with a rubber spatula until it’s about 1/4″-1/2″ thick. Spoon the macerated raspberries over the smoothie and swirl around with a fork or toothpick so it’s well spread out. Sprinkle the chocolate, granola and cereal evenly over the bark. Freeze for 4 hours or until frozen through.

Peel the parchment paper away from the bark, and break into small portions. Serve frozen. Keep in sealed container in freezer for 1 week.


Gay Lea Ninja Supra Kitchen
System Giveaway – August 2017


Disclaimer: I am part of the #BornOnTheFarm Campaign sponsored by Gaylea Food Coop & PTPA Media and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

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Shrimp Rolls with Truffled Lemon Tarragon Aioli

 Shrimp Rolls with Truffled Lemon Tarragon Aioli

Exactly 3 years ago, I was in PEI for the first time celebrating our good friend Grant and his lovely girlfriend (now wife, of course) Jill’s nuptials.  I had been dying to go for years and years but as a contractor who only makes money when they’re working, I had never found myself in a position to leave work over the summer, or with the money to do so. The stars aligned, which in hindsight they often did when we didn’t have a small child, and we loaded up the car and drove the 14 hours for the beaches, celebrations, seafood and friends that gathered in Prince Edward Island.

The second day we were there, we went out as a group to a seafood restaurant on the water. It was there that I first tasted a Lobster roll, and subsequently a Shrimp Roll. My world was blown open. So simple, it’s crisp buttery rolls that resembled little more than a hot dog bun (I later found out it was a hotdog bun), it’s filling barely able to stay in the bun without spilling over onto the table, my lap, all over my hands. The dressing on the roll, which I had always imagined to be heavy and somewhat macaroni-salad-like in terms of mayo, was light and bright and flecked with herbs. I must have mowed through another 4-5 in my 6 days on the Island. I left knowing nothing would ever compare, because time and place and company were all just right.

Shrimp Rolls with Truffled Lemon Tarragon Aioli

A gourmet take-out food shop near our home, The Red Apron, started serving Lobster/Shrimp rolls for lunch recently, and my cravings went full force, SPLAT against the wall, GOTTA HAVE IT NOW OR I’LL DIE. In the interest of saving money and learning how to make one just as I remembered, I decided I would take a shot at making my own.  And since my PC Black Label Collection partner had sent a delicious Truffle Aioli in this month’s Black Box, I figured I was well on my way to something amazing. Also in the box was a Bacon Marmalade that we’ve been adding to just about everything these days; scones, corn salads, on toast with peanut butter (channeling Elvis)….

I bought lobster and shrimp to start experimenting and shockingly, I decided the shrimp roll was the real winner. The sweet succulent meat coated lightly in lemony tarragon-flecked aioli was simply put, THE SH*T.  I must have eaten all four of them, plus all the lobster experiments all by my lonesome (my husband isn’t into shellfish… WHAT!? I know. Weird.). I’m not even sick of eating them yet…. and I’m worried that might be an indicator of a problem. However, a lobster/shrimp roll dependency is something I don’t feel too badly about. Let’s get to cooking, shall we?
 Shrimp Rolls with Truffled Lemon Tarragon Aioli

 Shrimp Rolls with Truffled Lemon Tarragon Aioli

Shrimp Rolls with Truffled Lemon Tarragon Aioli
makes 4 large rolls

I used the Truffle Aioli in this recipe because I love that funky flavour it brings to the sauce. If you’re not a fan, try the Classic Aioli from PC Black Label. It’s creamy and not too heavy making it a nice alternative to mayonnaise.

If you buy shrimp with the peels on, as I do, I like to save them and boil them in well-salted water for 45 minutes before I cook the shrimp. This gives your poaching liquid SO MUCH FLAVOUR and it will in turn give your shrimp much more flavour.

Truffled Lemon Tarragon Aioli
1/2 cup PC Black Label Collection Truffle Aioli
2 tbsp chopped tarragon
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
generous pinch salt
generous pinch pepper

Shrimp Rolls
2lbs raw wild shrimp, peeled and de-veined
kosher salt
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tbsp minced chives + more for garnish
Truffled Tarragon Aioli
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
fresh ground pepper
4 top-split hot dog buns*


For the Aioli:

Mix all ingredients in a small dish and taste for seasoning. Add more salt or pepper if needed and if you like it tangier, add more lemon.

For the Rolls:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and let cook for 5-6 minutes. Strain and rinse under cold water. Cut into 1-2″ chunks and toss with 1/4 cup of the aioli. Taste for lemon and salt and adjust if needed.Spread the remaining aioli on the sides and top of the buns. Place a large skillet on the stove over medium heat. Toast each aioli-coated bun on both sides AND top/bottom to ensure they won’t get soggy when filled with the shrimp. Let cool slightly so you can handle.  Fill each bun with 1/4 of the shrimp mixture. Top with extra chives and a squeeze of lemon, if desire. Serve immediately. Leftover shrimp can keep in the fridge for 2 days.

*If you can’t find the top-split buns, buy regular hot dog buns and carefully cut off the sides of the bun to expose the tender crumb. This way, you can coat those open crumbs with the aioli and toast up to a buttery golden brown.

Shrimp Rolls with Truffled Lemon Tarragon Aioli

 


Disclaimer: I am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by Presidents Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

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Baharat Lamb Flatbreads with Goat Milk Yogurt and Mint

Baharat Lamb with Goat Yogurt and Mint

I used to wonder why people found weeknight meals so taxing – just cook something!

Then I had a kid. Sorry, parents. Dinner, like many other aspects of parenting, has been a total cluster…. you know. Learning how to manage a newborn baby who needs to be attached to you while you cook, an infant that needs you to be clapping or singing to them while you prep ingredients, or a toddler who basically needs every ounce of your attention while you’re trying to grocery shop, unload, organize, prep and cook a meal that will fuel all their insanity and still be delicious to you and your partner is…well, a challenge.

Something that I find extremely helpful is having a few homemade spice blends on hand to jazz up even the most mundane of ingredients. I make Ras El Hanout, Za’atar, Garam Masala, cajun seasoning, Chinese five spice and Turkish-style Baharat regularly so when all I have is potatoes and veggies, at least I know they’ll be DAMN GOOD potatoes and veggies. They make everything better – from boring brown rice to a pound of lamb you found hanging in the back of the freezer.

Baharat Lamb Flatbreads with Goat Milk Yogurt and Mint

Today I wanted to talk about Baharat, which translates to “spice” in Arabic. There are many varieties of Baharat, but today we’re talking about the Turkish style blend, which is differentiated by the addition of dried mint (which I think makes it SO MUCH BETTER). It’s warm and fragrant and makes simple fish or chicken into an experience. Sprinkle it over roasted potatoes, stir into yogurt and top with some spicy oil to dunk crackers or toasted flatbread into, sprinkle over roasted chickpeas or or toss with your vegetables before roasting. The uses are endless and you’ll always end up with a meal greater than the sum of it’s parts.

These Baharat Lamb Flatbreads with Goat Milk Yogurt and Mint come together in a little over 30 minutes. The lamb cooks up quick and is juicy, savory and buttery and the super creamy Goat Milk Yogurt from Hewitt’s Dairy cuts through all the spice and cools the mouth while the mint, fennel fronds and crunchy cucumber brighten everything up. It’s the perfect dish for those who like to add a little of this, a little of that when they’re eating.

Baharat Lamb with Goat Yogurt and Mint

Baharat Lamb Flatbreads with Goat Milk Yogurt and Mint

Baharat Lamb Flatbreads with Goat Milk Yogurt and Mint
makes 4 flatbreads

1 lb lean ground lamb
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp Baharat spice blend, recipe follows
sea salt, to taste
4 small or 1 large flatbread (naan, lavash, pizza dough)
olive oil
1 cup Hewitt’s Dairy Goat Milk Yogurt
fennel fronds, to garnish (optional)
fresh mint leaves, to garnish
red pepper flake, to garnish
Lebanese cucumbers, to garnish

Heat a few glugs of olive oil in a heavy skillet over med-high heat. Add the lamb and cook, breaking up the pieces with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula, until no longer pink, approximately 5 minutes. Add the diced onion, garlic, baharat and a few pinches of salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Remove from heat and set aside.

If you have one, put a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 450. If you don’t have one, preheat the oven to 450 and you can place the flatbreads right on the rack. Lay out your flatbreads and rub with a little olive oil and baharat. Divide the lamb mixture evenly among the flatbreads and top each with a few spoonfuls of goat yogurt. Place on the pizza stone or directly on the rack for about 5 minutes or until everything is golden and sizzling. Remove from oven and top with mint, fennel fronds (if using), red pepper flake to taste and a few sliced cucumbers to cool everything down. Serve as a light appetizer for a crowd or with a simple salad to make this a meal.

Baharat Spice Blend

Baharat Blend
makes 1/2 cup

2 tbsp peppercorns
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp green cardamom pods*
1 tsp whole cloves
2 tbsp dried mint
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp (hot or sweet) paprika
pinch cinnamon

*I leave the papery pods on when I make this mix. It doesn’t change the flavour or texture. If you prefer not, just smash the pods, remove the shells and fish out the seeds for your spice blend.

 


Disclaimer: I am part of the #BornOnTheFarm Campaign sponsored by Gaylea Food Coop & PTPA Media and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

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Lacto-Fermented Passion Fruit Soda

+ recipe for Passion Fruit & Mint Beer Shandy

Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy

Since having a kid 2 years ago (2 years ago? whaaaat!), I’ve noticed that the amount of waste we make has, as it does with children, gone up. Some of this is unavoidable, but some of it has just become bad habit. Namely, the garbage situation in our home.

Before Ruthie, I had things organized a bit better and we had a bigger kitchen, so it was easier to find places for our waste in the blue/black/green/compost bins. Lately, it seems our garbage bin is piling high and our green bin just sits there, barely close to half full. Something had to change. The more I understand the impact of that wastefulness, as well as realizing the amount of waste that comes from having a toddler, the more guilty I feel. As a result, I’ve been trying harder and harder to get more life out of the food we buy, because we all know that food isn’t cheap and we may as well be dumping our wallets into the garbage when we waste it. So we’ve been working hard to change our bad habits and make smarter choices when it comes to our waste.

Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy

A few things we’ve discovered through this are:

1. Kale Stems make a zingy, crunchy topping for tacos and other dishes when pickled (more on that soon)
2. Strawberry tops, once washed, can be tossed into your water bottle or soda water to gently flavour it and make it more exciting than regular old water
3. Carrot tops make a delicious addition to tabbouleh
4. When straining yogurt, the byproduct, acid whey, can be used to make gut-friendly sodas full of good bacteria and enzymes
5. Expiring fresh herbs can be put into ice cube trays and topped with water for beautiful ice cubes or olive oil as a starter for recipes or dressings

It’s been a gratifying experience and we’re noticing our garbage and green bins haven’t been filling up as quickly which only reassures us we’re moving in a better direction than we were.

Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy

This is my second month working with President’s Choice Black Label‘s #PlayWithYourFood campaign and I’ve been introduced to four innovative products that I’ve been able to play with in the kitchen and come up with some fun new recipes with. Last month I made a Antipasto & Strained Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Plate where we strained some sheep’s milk yogurt to create a thick, creamy base for our antipasto. The liquid we were left with when you strain yogurt is called Acid (or Sour) Whey. In keeping with my promise to myself to waste less, I wondered what I could do with this by-product rather than toss it down the drain.

To lacto-ferment something, in simple terms, means to use friendly bacteria, Lactobacillus, to ferment something. Lactobacillus has various strains and is present on the surface of all plants and are also common to the gastrointestinal tracts, mouths, and vaginas of humans and other animal species. These bacteria have the ability to convert sugars into lactic acid, which is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria as well as preserving the vitamins, enzymes and digestibility of fermented foods. Many of your favourite pickled foods are traditionally lacto-fermented. Dill pickles, saeurkraut and kimchi all get their tangy, distinct flavours from lacto-fermentation.

Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy

Here, I’ve used those beneficial bacteria to create a tangy, tropical natural soda using PC Black Label Passion Fruit Condiment. The sweet/sour condiment is made with real passion fruit juice as well as white wine vinegar, so the resulting soda tastes vaguely similar to a shrub, with the tangy vinegar flavour just barely coming through in the finished product. It reminds me a little of a sour beer, with some obvious funk and earthiness to it, too. On it’s own, it shines. Added to sparkling water, sangria, or like we did here, a shandy, it adds a sunny zing that plain old juice or soda alone wouldn’t. The added bonus is that it’s full of gut-friendly bacteria and enzymes that help you digest foods more effectively and absorb more nutrients from the food you eat. The shandy I’ve made with the soda is, again, very similar to the flavours you’d expect from a sour beer. It’s light and crisp, clean in the mouth, funky and sour and just lightly carbonated. It begs to be sipped on a warm summer evening over some salty snacks.

Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy

Since I’ve been having such a great time with the #PlayWithYourFood campaign with products from President’s Choice, I thought one of you might enjoy your very own to experiment with! Details on how to enter to win your own #PCBlackLabel Black Box below. The Winner will be announced on Friday June 30that 12pm.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::: THIS CONTEST IS NOW OVER – THANK YOU FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION :::::::::::::::::::::

::: GIVEAWAY :::

1. Tell me in the comments below how you would use one (or both) of the items in this month’s box >> Passion Fruit Condiment OR Toasted Sesame Caramel (which is HEAVENLY over charred pineapple and vanilla bean ice cream or added to your chicken wing sauce)
2. Be sure to name the product and use the hashtag #PlayWithYourFood and #PCBlackLabel in your comment
3. Tweet about the contest (1 extra entry per tweet) with “I’ve entered to win a #PCBlackLabel Black Box from @thegoudalife. Check it out: http://bit.ly/2t5Zir9 #PlayWithYourFood” and add an extra comment telling me you’ve tweeted. Passionfruit & Mint Soda ShandyPassionfruit Whey Soda
makes 2 tall glasses, 4 Shandy1 cup acid whey*
1/2 cup PC Black Label Passion Fruit Condiment
1.5 liters filtered waterAdd all ingredients to 2L sealable jar and stir to combine. Cover the top loosely with a clean towel/cheesecloth and secure with an elastic band. Let ferment for 1-4 days, checking for visible signs of fermentation, like bubbles, each day. The longer it ferments, the less sweet it will be so taste after 2 days and see how you like it. I like mine a tad sour so I left if to ferment for 5 days in our very warm kitchen. If your kitchen is cool, you may need to ferment for longer to get some decent fizz. Just keep tasting until you’re happy with the flavour. Pour into an airtight bottle and refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice. Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy
makes 4 servings
4 sprigs fresh mint
crushed or cubed ice
4 cups Passionfruit Whey Soda
2 tall cans pale ale
Roll the sprigs of mint around in your hands with a bit of force to release some of the oils (bonus: minty fresh hands!). Distribute evenly among the 4 glasses along with some ice. Pour 1 cup of your soda into each glass and top each with beer. Serve immediately.

*In order to get 1 cup of acid whey, you’ll have to strain a plain, unsweetened 750ml yogurt container. In order to do so, place a few layers of cheesecloth into a colander set over a deep bowl. Spoon the yogurt into the cheese cloth, cover loosely and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours. The liquid collected in the bowl is acid whey and can be used to make soda full of good bacteria and enzymes.

 


Disclaimer: I am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by Presidents Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

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Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini with Herbed White Bean Puree

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini

Usually around this time of year I’m huffing and puffing about the heat and the sweat and the inability to get anything done as a direct result of the heat and the sweat. The only solution is to live off iced tea and popsicles… hardly an option with a toddler who is as interested in Popsicles as I am in eating cheerios off the floor.

But this summer? Get outta here. It’s perfect! We’ve had a few sticky heatwaves that caused us to hide inside huddled around our one window AC unit (obviously in R’s room since her comfort reigns supreme and we are but mere slugs) but for the most part it’s been my kind of summer; breezy 23ish with sunshine and cool evenings. Weather you can make dinner in, move about in and generally relish in without worrying that your boob sweat will make your friends uncomfortable.

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini with Herbed White Bean Puree

Since it’s not quite time for local tomatoes yet, I’ve been buying greenhouse varieties grown in this area. They are tasty, but not nearly as good as the heirlooms I’m waiting on in the garden, the ones that have just a touch of give to their flesh and are still hot from the sun.

To make the greenhouse tomatoes a bit sweeter and juicier, we’ve been roasting them with a toss of salt and pepper and a few cloves or garlic. Once their skins have split and the innards are starting to slump out of them, you’re ready to rock and roll. They sit pretty atop anything from mac and cheese to grilled fish. Tacos to noodle bowls. Full of umami flavour, they can brighten a grain salad or lift a regular old slice of grilled bread to new levels of yummmm.

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini with Herbed White Bean Puree
Here I’ve roasted some cocktail tomatoes on the vine with lots of garlic and chili, snuggled them into a creamy white bean puree with herbs from our garden smeared on grilled sesame bread. A drizzle of olive oil and balsamic and you’ve got a quick and impressive lunch when guests pop by for lunch. This makes a stellar dinner for one, two, or 10 with a hearty salad on the side.

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini with Herbed White Bean Puree
makes 4 toasts

12 cocktail tomatoes (approx), on the vine or not
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp (pinch) red pepper flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
4 slices crusty bread
good quality balsamic vinegar, for serving
extra virgin olive oil, for serving
Herbed White Bean Puree, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 375.

Place tomatoes and garlic cloves in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle the salt, pepper and chili flakes. Drizzle with olive oil and gently shake the pan around to coat the tomatoes and garlic. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until tomato skins has split and the flesh is oozing out. The garlic should be very fragrant and golden to deep golden brown.

Turn oven up to 400. Remove tomatoes from the oven, brush your slices of bread with some of the oil left in the bottom of the tomato pan and smoosh the roasted garlic cloves over the bread. Toast until it’s done to your liking, I like mine golden so about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and smear with a generous portion of the white bean puree and top with 4 tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic and eat while still warm (but mind the tomatoes – they can burn if they explode in your mouth while hot!)

Herbed White Bean Pureé
makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup soaked/canned white beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh herbs*

Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon or salt if needed.

*I used what we had in our garden which happened to be arugula, basil, parsley.

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Strawberry Sour Cream Froyo Pops with Bee Pollen Honey

Strawberry Sour Cream Froyo Pops with Bee Pollen Honey

When I was little my parent’s both played on recreational baseball teams. My sister and I used to attend the early games so we could play with the other kids in the nearby parks. Each week someone from the team would host an after party with lots of snacks and inappropriate jokes we always felt privileged to listen in on. And a pool if we were lucky.

Strawberry Sour Cream Froyo Pops with Bee Pollen Honey

The snacks were, of course, always my favourite part. One in particular I will always remember, and it was simple as all get-out but sometimes the best things are, was Strawberries with Sour Cream and Brown Sugar. The juicy tart berries skimmed across the bowl of rich sour cream and plopped into the pile of brown sugar were one of my first tastes of layering flavours, balancing the sweets and sours and creamy fats.

strawberry sour cream froyo pops with bee pollen honey

These pops play off those flavours, but with a big floral honey with bee pollen in place of the brown sugar. I wanted an extra layer of sweet succulence but didn’t want that molasses flavour in there or they might be too heavy. I used Ontario strawberries I found at my local market (yay! finally!) and full fat Hewitt’s Dairy Sour Cream to make them extra creamy and almost cheesecake-like when mixed with a thick, sweetened plain Greek yogurt. Whether you put them on sticks like I did here, into ice cube trays for a tiny treat here and there or in a dish to serve in scoops, you’ll be glad to have them when the temperature spikes over the summer. They are bright, poppy in flavour and so smooth and creamy.

Strawberry Sour Cream Froyo Pops with Bee Pollen Honey
Strawberry Sour Cream Froyo Pops with Bee Pollen Honey

Strawberry Sour Cream Froyo Pops with Bee Pollen Honey
makes 4-6 pops

If you can’t find local strawberries, any local berry or pitted fruit would be great. As well, if you don’t have popsicle molds, you can spread this into a loaf pan with a spatula and freeze overnight or for at least 6 hours.

1 cup Hewitt Dairy 14% Sour Cream
1 1/2 cups Plain Sweetened Greek Yogurt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp vodka*
1 1/2 cups diced Ontario strawberries
3 tbsp honey with bee pollen**
 
 

In a large bowl, mix the sour cream, yogurt and vanilla until combined. Fold in the berries.

Heat the honey slightly so it’s a bit looser, you can do this in the microwave or by placing the jar in a vessel of hot water for a few minutes. Swirl the honey into the mixture but don’t mix completely. You want to see some streaks of honey – they make the bars extra tasty to eat!

Spoon into your ice pop mold right to the top and insert a popsicle stick or the cap/stick that came with the mold. Tap it on the counter a few times to make sure it’s compressed into the mold without any air bubbles. Freeze for at least 4 hours up to 1 week. When ready to eat, place the mold in a dish of warm water for 1 minute and slowly wiggle the ice pop from the mold. Eat immediately.
*Vodka helps to keep the mixture from getting too hard and icy while it freezes. You may omit if you’d like.

**If you can’t find honey with Bee Pollen at your natural food store,  use a local honey you enjoy.

CONTEST ALERT
Milk Your Nordi-cow runs from Monday, May 29th, 2017 until Friday, July 7th, 2017.  Pick  a cow personality,  name it, get fun facts and win prizes! Interactive across various social media sites. Click the photo below for contest details and how to play.

Disclaimer: I am part of the #BornOnTheFarm Campaign sponsored by Gaylea Food Coop & PTPA Media and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

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Antipasto & Strained Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Plate

PC Black Label #PlayWithYourFood Campaign

Antipasto & Strained Sheep's Milk Yogurt Plate

I have been thinking of making this Antipasto & Strained Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Plate for what feels like months. Putting together the ingredients in my head  – would it lean in a whatever-I-had-on-hand direction or towards a more thought-out list of toppings, highlighting ingredients from a specific region? All I knew for sure is that a creamy, chili-oil streaked strained yogurt would form the base for a slew of toppings.

I recently partnered with PC Black Label  on a year long campaign to #PlayWithYourFood, using some of their gourmet ingredients. Of course, I am thrilled to be working with a brand I use often at home already, but more than that this campaign is exciting because it’s fun to have someone else pick out the ingredients for you so you can push your kitchen comfort zone a little.

Antipasto & Strained Sheep's Milk Yogurt Plate

I’ve long been a fan of Labneh, the strained yogurt enjoyed in sandwiches and mezze in the Middle East, and make it at home often. Usually we roll a batch into small balls, place in a jar with herbs/chilies, top with olive oil and use it to add a zing to pasta or soups, to spread on grilled bread, in sandwiches and salads. It’s super versatile and it’s tangy, creamy flavour is especially welcomed in a spicy dish as it cools the heat.

The ingredients I received this month from President’s Choice Black Label were an Eggplant Caponata, a tangy sweet/sour stew of eggplant, celery and capers and a Peperoncini, Italian imported spicy chili peppers in oil. After spooning half of each the jars into my gob, taking a few minutes to put out the fire in my throat from the Peperonici (it’s so delicious I couldn’t stop – something about self control here…) I had so many ideas for them but wanted to honor their Italian roots and create something fresh, light, and unique.  Sheep’s milk ricotta would have been a more authentic Sicilian base for the dip, but I couldn’t get the idea of a sheep’s milk strained yogurt out of my mind so I settled on that.

Antipasto & Strained Sheep's Milk Yogurt Plate

This dish is amazing for it’s balance of flavours, textures and colours. In one bite you get the creamy strained yogurt that cools the heat from the peperoncini, the crunch from the pine nuts and chickpeas, the sweet and tangy caponata, the briney capers and the warm, aromatic fresh oregano. It’s my favourite style of eating; Adaptable to your tastes and how hungry (or not) you are, a little taste of everything, best enjoyed with a glass of Nero d’Avola while you revel in good company, concerned only if the bread sticks run out. The strained yogurt can be made in advance and kept in a sealed container the fridge for up to 1 week as well, so you needn’t think too hard to put it together when your guests arrive.

You can find these PC Black Label Products online or in store – you don’t even have to go to Italy (but you should anyway). How’s that for convenience? If you’re experimenting with your President’s Choice Black Label products and share a photo, tag your inspiration it with #PlayWithYourFood to join in!

Antipasto & Strained Sheep's Milk Yogurt Plate

Antipasto & Strained Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Plate
serves 4-6 as an appetizer/antipasto

If you don’t like specific ingredients in this, like olives, feel free to swap it out for something more to your liking. Quick spicy pickled cucumbers or another pickled or fermented ingredient would help keep things balanced, but as long as you’re enjoying whatever you’re eating, you do you.

1 container (750ml) Sheep’s Milk Yogurt*
2 tsp PC Black Label Peperoncini oil
1 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup PC Black Label Eggplant Caponata
1/2 cup mixed olives, whatever you like best
1/2 cup crispy chickpeas**
1/2 cup sliced cherry or grape tomatoes
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp fresh oregano, rough chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp chopped fennel fronds, optional
extra peperoncini oil, for garnish
toasted baguette, crackers or bread sticks, to serve

MAKE AHEAD: Place a large coffee filter into a mesh strainer set over a bowl and add your yogurt, chili oil and salt. Give it a gentle stir and place in the fridge over night or at least 4-5 hours. You can save the leftover whey for other uses in the kitchen.

When ready to make your dip, and it should be made the same day you plan to eat it, scoop the strained yogurt onto a large serving dish and spread around with the back of a spoon. Make 4 small wells in the dip and to each add: the olives, the chickpeas, the caponata and the tomatoes. Sprinkle the capers, oregano and pine nuts over the whole thing and drizzle with extra peperoncini oil or olive oil. Drag your scooper of choice through the dip and get a little bit of everything in each bite. Best eaten the same day it’s made.

*You can usually find this at well stocked grocery stores, but otherwise check at your local health food store or your farmer’s market. I like to use full fat yogurt as it gives the dip a decadent creaminess. The lower the fat, the less creamy it will be so keep that in mind when choosing your yogurt.

**for crispy chickpeas, toss a strained and rinsed can of chickpeas with 2 tbsp olive oil, a few pinches of salt and pepper (and any other spices you might like – I usually play with curry spices or zaatar) and bake in an oven preheated to 375 for 20-30 minutes, checking and shaking the pan every so often, until dried out and crunchy. These make great toppers for salads, cottage cheese, stews and soup etc etc.

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Disclaimer: I am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by President’s Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

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