Halloumi, Arugula and Dried Strawberry Salad

one plate I wouldn’t characterize myself as a greedy person, but something takes over me when I drive by a farm stand or visit a farmers market. I always buy way more than I can possibly eat. It happened to me last week with local summer strawberries. Winter strawberries trick you into thinking they will be good, but when you cut into them, the white centres are so disappointing. These local ones were deep crimson, inside and out!Baskets of strawberries_1Bowl of strawberries_1I needed to use these up fast before they spoiled. No to pie, cobbler, crisp, galette and jam. Been there, done that. I wanted to make something new. And then this recipe for oven dried strawberries popped up in my inbox. Unlike dehydrated strawberries, which are quite dry  and leathery, these oven dried strawberries are chewy, with a plump, juicy consistency. The roasting really concentrates the berry flavours.

Halved strawberries are mixed with a bit of sugar and allowed to macerate for about 30 minutes. Spread them out on a non-stick silicone baking mat and cook at 200°F for about 3-4 hours, until dried at the edges, but still juicy in the center. Once dried, they will keep in the fridge for about a week.strawberries ready for roastingstrawberries roastedThese berries made their way into a seriously delicious salad. The sweet strawberries play beautifully with the bitter arugula and salty halloumi. Toasted hazelnuts bring the crunch.Salad on r and w stripe clothFried halloumi is one of the cheese world’s greatest inventions. If you’ve never tried it,  you’re in for a treat. It’s kind of hard to describe. Salty and squeaky/firm on the outside and creamy and melty in the center.

 

Mike's Hot HoneyThe finishing touch was a drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey over the fried halloumi. Sheer perfection. I met creator Mike Kurtz about 4 years ago on a NYC pizza tour. He pulled a bottle out of his bag on our third stop and offered us all a little squirt on our pizza. I was hooked! Sweet heat with cheese is fantastic. I buy mine online here in Canada from The Vanilla Food Company.

Click here to print recipe for Halloumi, Arugula and Strawberry Salad.

half eaten

 

 

Malted Milk Cookies with Milk Chocolate and Pecans

Malted Milk Cookies on chocolateI have a big jar of Hoosier Hill Farm malted milk powder in my pantry. Pastry wizard Stella Parks, told me to buy it. She promised me I’d find all kinds of uses for it.Malted Milk Cookies stackedI adore the flavour of malted milk. I made malted milk drumstick ice cream cones a few years ago. For the uninitiated, a little primer on malted milk powder. All malt products come from barley. The grain is sprouted, then dried and ground. During this procedure, starches are converted to sugar and the end result is a sweet, dried grain powder. This is the base for much of the beer that is produced today.

The ground powder is  also combined with wheat flour, milk powder, salt and sometimes sugar to create malted milk powder. Some brands, like Ovaltine also add cocoa powder to the mix. Malted milk powder has caramel, toasty, roasted notes. The addition of milk powder to the blend adds a creamy rich dairy note. It enhances most baked goods, complementing both vanilla and chocolate flavoured goods.hoosier and ovaltineI decided to add some to cookies. I started with a recipe for Chewy Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies from Yvonne Ruperti over at Serious Eats.mise en placeI added some toasted pecans and switched out the honey for Barley Malt Syrup, to really boost the malt flavour. Honey or malt syrup help keep these cookies chewy. I also added a tiny sprinkle of flaked sea salt on top before baking. I’m considering mixing in some chopped Malteasers next time I bake these.

Instead of milk chocolate chips, I chopped up some Lindt milk chocolate bars. I really like the big chunks of milk chocolate studded throughout these cookies. A mix of milk and white chocolate would also be good. I think dark chocolate might be too overpowering. adding milk chocolateUsing a portion scoop ensures that you get uniform cookies that are all baked at the same rate. I used a 1.5 ounce (3 tablespoons) sized scoop.scoopingGently flatten the cookies with the palm of your hand. I added a tiny sprinkle of flaked sea salt to the top of each cookie. It balances all the sweetness perfectly.

These are a hefty, chewy, delicious cookie. Hints of caramel and a unique toasty roasted flavour keep them from being too cloyingly sweet. They are quite fantastic frozen, as my family can attest to. broken cookies

Click here to print recipe for Malted Milk Cookies with Milk Chocolate and Pecans.

milk and cookies

 

Jammy Eggs

for breakfast 2There are some that believe #putaneggonit is a fad on its way out. I disagree. Topping anything with an egg makes it more delicious and I plan to keep on doing it, trendy or not.Egg sliced 3I was topping latkes, breakfast sandwichesturkey hash, and turkey burgers, with a fried egg, but lately I’m into jammy soft boiled eggs. The whites are set but the yolks are still slightly runny and almost the consistency of “jam”. So yummy.for breakfast 3The method is simple

Once you start, you’ll be topping everything with jammy eggs.

I started with a salad. There is no recipe for this one. Just use what you have and like. If you’re like my friend Sandy, you may need more specific details! Here’s what to do:

Start with a whole raw chicken. Liberally sprinkle it with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and paprika. Roast it in a 375°F oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Once it’s cooled slightly, take all the meat off the bones and dice it up. Or, even easier, just buy a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket.

Make Pickled Red Onions.  Cut a few ears of corn off the cob and sauté corn in olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Slice up some celery, radishes and green onion. Slice a ripe avocado and squeeze some lime juice over it. Sprinkle with salt and a tiny pinch of red pepper flakes.

Wash some lettuce. I used romaine, radicchio and Belgian endive. Arugula would be excellent too.

Make a vinaigrette: in a glass jar, add 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar. Put lid on jar and shake well. Add 1/2 cup olive oil, and shake well to emulsify.

I plated each salad individually, but feel free to put it all on a large platter. Put the eggs on unbroken and let each person cut it open to watch the custardy golden yolk appear.unbroken egg

Egg sliced 1

Click here to print recipe for Jammy soft boiled eggs.

 

 

 

 

Broccoli, Raisin and Olive Salad with Pine Nuts

with all the mix insfront of mugThis is my favourite mug. The weight and shape of it feel just right in my hand. It is part of my comforting morning ritual. If  you’re wondering, the mug is from Anthropologie,. Sadly, they don’t make them anymore. I bought a bunch of them with the initials of favourite family members and friends so they would feel welcome when visiting. Now I can’t make any new friends, unless their names start with certain letters that I already have on the shelf. Such a dilemma! It would be awkward to serve my new friend Xavier a latte in a letter M mug.back of mugHere is my mug from the rear view. With the small chip in the base it’s not quite as attractive as the front view. (Most of us look better coming rather than going) Despite this flaw, the mug is still quite functional, so I refuse to replace it. I am also flawed but functional, so my mug is a perfect analogy for me.

This broccoli salad was created the week before we moved. I had been trying not to shop for any groceries and use up what was in the house, so that we would have less stuff to haul. A lonely bag of pine nuts escaped the freezer purge earlier in the week, so they were added for crunch. A jar of raisins survived the pantry purge, so in they went for sweetness. The top shelf of the fridge held a few Kalamata olives and some leftover pickled shallots. don't throw out the stemsPlease don’t chop the florets off your broccoli and discard the stems. Once you peel the outer woody skin, the inside is quite tender.

I had some help in styling this salad from the talent behind the fabulous Instagram account   @bowlsand beats (where health and hiphop collide). Full disclosure, she’s my daughter and she was home visiting for the weekend.

This was my first try at styling the salad. I wasn’t thrilled with the composition so I called her in to help.salad on white oval plate 1She immediately grouped all the little elements together for greater impact. bowls and beats stylessalad on white oval plate 2Better but not quite satisfied, she suggested we try a round bowl instead. styled by bowls and beats 2Perfect. We shot it with my iPhone for her Instagram page and then we ate!Instagram it

Click here to print recipe for Broccoli, Raisin and Olive Salad with Pine Nuts.

 

The Best Thing I Ate All Day in Israel: Part 1

A few years ago, on a trip to Umbria, I started playing a little travel game in my mind. Each day I  kept track of all the things I ate. At the end of the night, I decided which bite reigned supreme. I had the opportunity to play last month when I visited Israel to attend my nephew’s induction ceremony into the Israeli army.Richard Flag and RileyThis was my 13th trip to Israel. Each time I visit, I marvel at how much there is to do and see in this tiny country. If you have never been, or it’s been a while since you last visited, you will be amazed by how modern and sophisticated the culinary scene has become. It’s not all hummus and falafel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.sabichfalafel at at miznonTo understand how the new Israeli cuisine evolved, you need to take a look in the rear-view mirror to examine the roots of the people of this nation.  One of the most multi-ethnic countries in the world, Chef Rozanne Gold said that “I can’t think of another group of people with a spoon in so many pots.” Immigrants from Eastern Europe, Germany, France, England, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Syria, to name a few, have all influenced Israeli cuisine. Add to that the proclivity of Israeli youth to travel the world once their mandatory military service is over, bringing back with them ingredient and techniques of a multitude of cuisines, and the result is a new Israeli cuisine that is boldly flavourful, unabashedly joyous and wildly innovative. 

The best bite of our third day was at OCD, in Tel Aviv. This restaurant is the brainchild of Chef Raz Rahav. At only 25 years old, he is creating some of the most exciting food in Tel Aviv in a stunning setting.Raz Rahav forbesI don’t think that industrial-barn falls under any design style I have ever heard of but it describes the interior perfectly.seatingAs the name suggests, Chef Rahav is obsessed with precision and complex artistic plating. But flavour does not take a back seat.plating duckThere are 2 seatings every night, each accommodating 18 guests around a u-shaped bar with an open kitchen in the center. Watching the chefs plate each course, you get the sense that this is more theatre than restaurant. There is no written menu. As each course is set before you, the chef gives a verbal explanation, either in English or Hebrew.

The day before our dinner, the restaurant emailed us to find out if we had any dietary restrictions. They will tailor the meal for you if there are certain things you do not eat, but, they ask you to come with an open mind. On their website they promise that there are no insects on the menu!

Often restaurants offering tasting menus can be a little formal and stuffy. Not OCD! You know that any meal that begins with a donut is going to be a fun night. Just a heads up here, we shot  with my daughter’s iPhone and the lighting was not the greatest for food photography. Luckily Elliott S over at trip advisor had many of the same courses and got way better shots than we did. I have tagged his photos appropriately. Thanks Elliott! I also used some of Chef Rahav’s  photos from his instagram account @razi_barvazi

We were greeted with a Sufganiya (hebrew for donut). A tiny little bite, about the size of a Timbit, filled with smoked labneh, sherry vinegar, and a rosemary and olive tapenade. A little flavour bomb. 001. SufganiyaWatching them plate the dishes was almost as much fun as eating the delicious results.plating Israeli dounutsThe first course was a Red Snapper Tartare. It was served with a Whipped Tomato Bavarois, Seaweed and a Poppy Seed Parker House Roll. What surprised us was that the tomato component was white—because it was made only from the water in which the tomato was simmered.  The tartare was fresh and delicate, but it was the Parker House Roll that stole my heart. Chef Rahav respects textural contrasts. The crunch of the wafer thin fried seaweed garnish and those poppy seeds made me very happy.002. Red Snapper TartareThe second course was a Trout Sashimi with Smoked Cucumbers, Melon, Sorrel Flowers and Nigella Seeds Crackers.03. Trout SashimiThe tartare was followed up with an amuse bouche of Fried Mochi with Shallot Cream, Pickled Shallots and Cured Sardines. Our server suggested we eat it in one bite. We obliged and were rewarded with a flavour explosion in the mouth.004. MochiThird course was Beef Tartare with Smoked Ratte Potato and Red Sorrel.

Our fourth course was Steamed European Seabass with Oats, Cashew and Pumpkin-Curry Crab Bisque. That crispy thing you see on top is an oat tuile! Chef Rahav is a master at contrasting textures. 006. Steamed European Seabass 2The fifth course was a love letter to the humble parsnip. The parsnips were roasted to coax out their natural sweetness. Salted pecans provided the crunch and a bone marrow maple jus added the perfect sweet-savory balance. instagram ParsnipsCourse number six was Duck Breast with Turnips, Brandy and Bone Marrow Crumble.duck-breast by elliott SThe careful attention to detail extended even to the bathrooms where the hand towels are lined up like little soldiers.towels in bathroomWhen dinner begins with a donut and ends with three desserts, it’s a good night in my world.

Course seven was the best bite of the day! Aerated Honey Parfait, (dusted with carrot powder)  Candied Walnuts, Goat Cheese and Raisins. The texture of the aerated parfait was like chiffon. It just dissolved in my mouth. It reminded us of carrot cake, but a very sophisticated one!honey-parfait by ElliottScarrot powderThe honey parfait was followed up with the most unusual palate cleanser I have ever eaten. It was a G&T Granita with Sour Cream, Pears, Parsnips and Pine Nuts. Not being a gin lover, it was the only dish I did not finish.g-t-granita by elliott sThe second dessert was called, Buckwheat Textures, which featured pickled cherries and salted caramel. Enough said!011. Buckwheat texturesOur final course of the night was a Sweet Pea Ice Cream Bar. A perfect end to a very special evening.012a. Sweet pea Ice cream Bar