Spiced Lamb Meatball Pita Pockets

pitas on wooden cutting boardOne of my favourite sources of inspiration for what to blog about next is my friend Marla. She is always trying new recipes and has a real knack for finding delicious ones. She was the one that turned me on to these spiced lamb meatballs from the November 2016 issue of Bon Appetit. I decided to adapt the recipe to create pita pockets.

I started with making a romesco (nut and red pepper) sauce to spread on the pita, alongside some store-bought hummus. It takes some time to make, but I loved the tangy, spicy bright flavour it added to the sandwich. I used a combination of hazelnuts and almonds for the nuts portion of the sauce. For the peppers, I used both jarred roasted red sweet peppers and a dried whole chile pepper.Romesco sauce ingredientsThe nuts and bread get toasted. They are used to thicken the sauce.toasting nuts and breadA quick blitz in the blender or food processor finishes the romesco sauce. It can be made a few days ahead and kept in the fridge. It is also delicious on a chicken sandwich or mixed in with some hot pasta.finished romesco sauceThe meatballs come together quickly. Paprika and cumin and coriander seeds add a warm earthy note, while fresh cilantro and parsley add a vibrant freshness. meatball ingredientsfrying meatballs

Click here to print recipe for Spiced Lamb Meatball Pita Pockets.

one pita ready for dinner

 

Rustic Seeded Oat Crackers

butter 2I don’t really get the appeal of smoothies. Yes, I know they are jam-packed with tons of healthy foods, but honestly, they have no crunch. If I’m going to take in calories, I want to chew my food. (I make an exception for wine, because there are exceptions to every rule).with wine 3These crackers are ideal for when hunger strikes at 4:00 pm and I want to devour everything in sight. They satisfy my craving for salt and crunch. And, as a bonus, I know that they are densely packed with good- for-me ingredients.

The problem with most packaged crackers is that just a few never satisfy me. Plus, the list of ingredients almost always contains items I can’t pronounce, and probably shouldn’t be eating. The healthy packaged crackers, while packed with fibre, taste like cardboard.

These crackers are the creation of British food stylist and author Anna Jones. Her Instagram account is gorgeous. I just bought her new cookbook, A Modern Way to Cook, and I am so inspired to cook my way through it.

Oats are the main ingredient, the glue that holds all these seeds together. Feel free to play around with the seeds you add. I used pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy, nigella and fennel.assortment of seedsready to mixAdd water, a few teaspoons of vegetable oil and maple syrup, and let it sit for about 10 minutes so that the oats can soak up all the moisture.mixedDivide the batter into 2 and roll each half out between 2 sheets of parchment paper. rolled outready for bakingOnce baked, let them cool and break into crackers. You can make them any size you like. I was curious to know the nutrient info for these crackers, so I did the calculations. Each large piece (recipe makes 16 large crackers) contains 85 calories, 1.5 grams of fibre and 3 grams of protein.

They are delicious plain, with butter and salt or with some olive tapenade. My friend Sandy has a great tapenade recipe.crckers in bowl on marble platterbutter 1

Click here to print recipe for Rustic Seeded Oat Crackers.

with wine 2

Pickled Apple Slaw

3-bowls-of-slawHappy New Year! Hope everyone filled up on lots of cookies and family time over the holidays. Did anyone make any New Year’s resolutions? I must admit, resolutions kind of scare me. I always end up being so disappointed in myself. But, I’m going to go out on a limb here and make two resolutions.

1. I feel like I should probably give up my favourite potato chips for just a little while. (How’s that for a definitive statement?) WAIT! I take that back. Perhaps I should just take baby steps here. OK, I resolve to fill my little portion control bowl to the rim with chips, rather than to overflowing! A much more realistic and achievable goal.

2. I resolve to drink more Prosecco. Yes, I said more. Breaking news folks! Prosecco is actually good for you. 

If early January is too soon for you to start pickling your liver, how about pickling apples? I first read about pickling apples over on seriouseats.com. Daniel Gritzer featured a recipe for Beet and Wheat Berry Salad with Pickled Apples and Pecans. To date, I have only pickled onions, shallots, cucumbers and carrots. Pickled apples intrigued me. I love the addition of apples in slaw, but you need to cut them just before serving or they turn brown. Pickling solves that problem.

This slaw packs in a ton of vegetables, which, if you’re like me, I try to do every January to help cleanse my system after my December gluttony. This recipe does not feel like deprivation at all. The choice of vegetables is up to you. These are what looked good to me when I went to the market.

I started with a base of red and green cabbage.cutting-cabbgeI love the crunch and verdant freshness of sugar snap peas, so they went in next. sugar-snap-peasI thought that the flavour of celery would really complement the apples, so I bought some celeriac (also known as celery root). It’s the ugly knoby, hairy root you always see and wonder about. A few stalks of celery would be a good substitute if you can’t find celeriac.celeriacJust peel and slice it into a julienne. Put it in a bowl of water with a bit of lemon juice to keep it from turning brown before adding to the salad. celeriac-cutI decided to pickle shallots, along with the apples.apples-and-shallots Combine apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, salt and some mint sprigs in a small pot. Simmer until salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour hot pickling brine over apples and shallots and then place bowl in an ice bath to cool quickly. chilling-pickling-liquidA simple cider vinaigrette, with a touch of dijon and honey is the perfect dressing for this slaw. Finish with some diced or sliced jalapeños, fresh mint and some toasted pecans for crunch. Your digestive system will thank you.

Any leftovers will keep well for a day or two in the fridge. I added some diced hardboiled eggs and julienned gruyere cheese the next day for a lunch salad. It was bonkers good!composed-salad

Click here to print recipe for Pickled-Apple-Slaw.

slaw-in-black-bowl

 

 

Caramel Cake and Wishes for a Very Sweet New Year

with-champagne-1 Restraint can wait. Let’s usher out 2016 with decadence. This is a time-honoured Southern Caramel Cake. If anyone knows how to bake a Southern classic it is the Lee Brothers, Matt and Ted, from Charleston. This recipe hails from their book The Lee Brothers Charleston Kitchen.

Admittedly, this cake is a labour of love. But, if you can read and follow instructions, the Lee Brothers will take you by the hand and guide you, step by step, through this challenging but fun to make cake. The tricky part is the caramel icing. A candy thermometer and an instant read thermometer are critical to success.

The cake layers are rich and buttery, and come together quickly.cake-into-pansIt never ceases to amaze me how simple ingredients like milk, sugar and butter are transformed into a fluffy caramel frosting. spreading-caramelThe gossamer light caramel icing, dissolves almost instantly on your tongue. It has a perfect salty-sweet balance that keeps you coming back for bite after bite.adding-pearlsI found some leftover Callebaut Dark Chocolate Pearls in the cupboard and decided to decorate to top of the cake with them.

Wishing you all a sweet, happy and healthy new year.

Click here for recipe for Caramel-Cake.

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Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts Latkes

plated-1On the 6th night of Chanukah I made Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts Latkes. I could never make these on the first night of Chanukah. They would not be well received by my family. On the first night our family insists on traditional latkes. (I think it might actually written in Jewish Law somewhere!!). But feel free to let your freak flag fly and make these unorthodox latkes when Chanukah is almost over and everyone has had their fill of classic potato latkes.6th-nightThese latkes are based on a Japanese savory pancake called Okonomiyaki. I learned about them in the November 2016 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. As I read the recipe I was inspired to adapt it and create latkes using these ingredients.cutting-potatoesready-to-mixThe Brussels sprouts must be thinly sliced. The thin slicing blade of the food processor will do the job quickly. A sharp knife will also work. The sweet potatoes need to be cut into 1/8 inch thin matchstick pieces. A mandoline will do this quickly. If you don’t have one, cut the potatoes to fit the feed tube of the food processor and thinly slice potatoes first. Then stack them up and cut across with a sharp knife into matchsticks.

Eggs and flour act as the glue to hold everything together. mixed-and-ready-to-fryfrying-1Fry until deeply golden brown and crispy. frying-2Serve them with some chipotle mayo and a squeeze of lime or go traditional and top with applesauce. Savory, deeply crispy and very delicious, these latkes are sure to please even the most die-hard traditionalists.two-plates

Click here to print recipe for Sweet-Potato-and-Brussels-Sprouts-Latkes.