On the 6th night of Chanukah, my true love asked me if I was trying to kill him with all that butter and sugar I’d been force feeding him. What??? Pecan Toffee Squares, Oat Pistachio Cookies, Macadamia Coconut White Chocolate Shortbread, Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookies and Chocolate Crunch too much? OK, point taken. Perhaps it’s time for some salad.I’ve been on a bit of a raw Brussels sprouts bender lately. But really, can you blame me? Would you be able to resist buying these Brussels sprouts? Who knew Brussels sprouts grow on a stalk? So cool. I think I actually squealed when I saw them. These giant bright green olives are Castelvetrano olives. I was introduced to them this summer, and was astounded at how different they are from the typical salty heavily brined green olives we normally buy. They have a crunchy bite and a mild buttery flavour. They somehow manage to be sweet and salty at the same time. Mild and not at all overpowering, they are the perfect olive for this salad. I found them at Whole Foods. I discovered this recipe in the November 2015 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. A food processor makes quick work of shredding the Brussels sprouts. As we crunched through this salad, my true love said he could feel his arteries unclogging. A fresh lemon vinaigrette dressing gets additional punch from a bit of anchovy paste. Rather than make the dressing taste fishy, it just adds a rich, savory background flavour. A generous shaving of Parmesan cheese, fresh corn and some chopped toasted almonds round out this addictive slaw.
Traditionally panzanella salads are made in the summer. Created in Italy, as a way to use up stale bread, toasted croutons are tossed with juicy ripe summer tomatoes, perhaps some cucumbers, onions, olive oil, and maybe some cheese. Everyone knows that a salad with bread is always better.
But an Autumn panzanella salad??? I know! The first time I heard of it , my mind was blown too. This salad was inspired by Chef Michael Symon. He made this one on The Chew a few weeks ago. This is my riff on it.
The most important rule of this salad, (yes, I have rules) is that you must use good quality bread. I used the multi-grain ciabatta from Ace Bakery. Tear the bread, don’t cut it. Douse in olive oil and liberally sprinkle with kosher salt. Toast in a hot oven until golden brown and crunchy. Craggy irregular shaped croutons are way more satisfying to eat. All those nooks and crannies to soak up the dressing.An autumn panzanella salad requires the quintessential fall vegetable, Brussels Sprouts. No roasting required. Just thinly slice. Add some Honeycrisp apples, toasted pecans and gruyere cheese.Juicy sweet-tart pomegranate seeds add a pop of colour and some great crunch.Toss it all together with an apple cider vinaigrette, and summer panzanella salads will be a distant memory.
Click here to print recipe for Autumn Panzanella Salad.
We’re not big on celebrating the “Hallmark Card Holidays” in our house. Valentines Day is just an excuse for me to bake, blog about and then gorge on photo shoot leftovers of gorgeous heart shaped cookies like these, or these or especially these!! Not that I really need a holiday excuse to bake cookies.
Mother’s and Father’s Day are customarily observed with the perfunctory card and a big hug. So imagine my surprise this year when each of my 3 children, totally independant of each other, presented me with gifts. Two days before, my youngest son gave me a delicate sterling silver chain bracelet. On Mother’s Day my oldest son handed me an impeccably wrapped and ribboned box that contained an elegant hand blown glass pitcher with a flavour infuser in the center. And then, 6 weeks after Mother’s Day, my middle child, (my daughter), left a fitbit on my desk.
My first thought was that my husband told the kids he was leaving me for a younger faster version and hadn’t gotten around to telling me yet. Then it occurred to me that perhaps I was dying and no one had the guts to break the news to me. But no, the husband vowed he was in it for the long haul and I felt perfectly healthy. Turns out, they just wanted to show me how much they love and appreciate me. Awww. Sweet!!
Guzzling mint-strawberry-cucumber flavoured water and wearing the fitbit make me believe I am healthier already. I decided to go with the flow and assembled this healthy, insanely delicious salad I discovered in the June 2014 issue of Chatelaine magazine.
Already armed with some gorgeous local zucchini, I was prepared. I sliced the fatter zucchini on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick planks. The little ones I just sliced in half, lengthwise. A package of Halloumi cheese gets sliced into 1/2 inch planks as well. I whisked together a dressing with white wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.Everything gets treated to a generous glug of good olive oil, some Kosher salt and pepper (no salt for the cheese!, it’s salty enough already.) The zucchini get grilled until deeply golden brown. I pan fried the halloumi since it can stick to the grill. A can of chickpeas and some fresh mint and parsley and lunch is ready. I think that eating raw zucchini is about as pleasant and flavourful as chewing a sponge. But bathe it in olive oil, salt and pepper and let it get grill kissed and something magical happens to the taste and texture. It becomes silky in texture and almost meaty in substance. And if you have never had fried halloumi cheese before, well, let’s just say you are in for a real treat. It is salty, slightly rubbery and squidgey. While that may not sound like the most appetizing description, trust me, it is delicious. It sort of squeaks between your teeth when you chew it and it is very addictive.
Click here to print recipe for Zucchini Halloumi Chickpea Salad.
While broccoli might not be the first vegetable you think of for a summer salad, let me be the one to convince you otherwise. With the addition of a warm garlic vinaigrette and a garnish of grated hard boiled eggs and crunchy salty rye bread croutons, it’s the perfect warm weather side dish.
Start with hard boiling the eggs. I am a hard boiled egg pro. No green or grey rim around the yolk ever! It was my responsibility to hard boil a gross (don’t see that word used very much anymore! ) of eggs every morning at my very first restaurant job. Here’s how to make perfect ones every time. Place eggs in a pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Put lid on pot and remove pot from the heat. Let sit, covered for 12 minutes. Drain, rinse eggs under cold water and peel as needed. Next, dissect the broccoli. Peel the stems and cut into diagonal coins. Cut the head of the broccoli into thick 1/2 inch planks. These broccoli planks remind me of the storybook character Flat Stanley. If you have never heard of him, check out this link. I have always wanted to possess this super power of making myself totally flat so that I could slide under locked doors and snoop where I shouldn’t! What super hero power do you wish you had?As you slice the planks, little bits of florets will fall off. Set them aside for boiling or steaming. They are too tiny and tender for roasting.
A few glugs of extra virgin olive oil, a liberal sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and the sliced stems and flat planks ready for roasting.Toast some rye bread croutons while the broccoli is roasting. Whisk together a warm garlic-mustard vinaigrette.Arrange the roasted and steamed broccoli on a platter. Drizzle with the tangy dressing and garnish with the egg and croutons. Each bite is a perfect combination of textures and flavours. The roasted broccoli brings a charred, smoky bite. The verdant steamed broccoli adds a bit of freshness. Hard boiled eggs add creaminess and the rye croutons add salt and crunch, always welcome at any party. The tangy Dijon garlic vinaigrette wakes up your taste buds.
Click here to print recipe for Warm Broccoli Salad.
I was visiting with my nephew and his girlfriend last month and she asked me a question that kind of shocked me and got me thinking. She has been following my blog for a while now and she wondered if I gave out the real recipes, or if I held back and left out an ingredient or a crucial step in the recipe. Huh??
I assured her that I always gave the legitimate recipe and included every step, plus probably a few extra (sometimes my recipes run long!), to ensure success. As we chatted a bit longer I understood where her question was coming from. She was born in Venezuela and the culture in her family was to guard their recipes very carefully. Perhaps the idea of secret family recipes stems from one generation wanting to pass something valuable down to the next. After all , many imigrant families came to North America with nothing of material value. All they had were these recipes from the “old country” to pass on to their children and grandchildren.
This secretive behaviour is the antithesis of how food bloggers operate. I have been blogging since 2009 and have come to discover that most of us approach food blogging with a generosity of spirit. We are a giving bunch, willing to share our knowledge and expertise. There is actually a code of ethics for food bloggers. Acknowledging sources and linking to others that provided inspiration is part of the modus operandi. We are a passionate bunch, but humble as well, fessing up to our flaws and our less than perfect results.
I have found my tribe and I feel blessed to be a part of this generous fraternity of food bloggers.
This salad was inspired by a similar recipe in the July 2014 issue of Bon Appetit.
While ripe, warm-from-the-vine summer tomatoes are still a few months away, roasting or grilling tomatoes can bring out the sweetness in any tomato. Begin by coating some grape or cherry tomatoes and corn with a few glugs of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. A few fresh rosemary sprigs will perfume the whole lot. Israeli couscous is 2-3 times larger than the traditional North African couscous. While both are made from semolina and wheat flour, Israeli couscous is toasted while the North African variety is simply dried. The toasting gives it a nutty taste and chewier texture. I like to give it an additional toasting in a bit of olive oil, before cooking it in water. I decided to serve it on a bed of mixed lettuces (arugula, belgian endive, radicchio and pea shoots), but you could also serve it without. Some toasted sliced almonds add great crunch and a few shavings of Parmesan cheese add a wonderful salty accent. I added some pickled shallots because I love the bright acidity that pickling brings to the party.
Click here to print recipe for Israeli Couscous Salad.
In the spirit of generosity, here are some of my favourite food bloggers!
Caroline of The Patterned Plate.
Steph of Raspberri Cupcakes.
Bobbi of Bob Vivant.
Hannah of Honey and Jam. (she has a new cookbook coming out very soon!)
Tara and Maria’s cookin’ and shootin’.
Kellie of Le Zoe Musings.
Wendy of The Monday Box.
Joy of Joy the Baker.
Ashley of Not without Salt. (Her beautiful new cookbook just came out!)
Lindsey of Dolly and Oatmeal.
Rosie of Sweetapolita. (Check out her gorgeous new cookbook.)
Belinda of The Moonblush Baker.
Phyllis of dash and bella.
Jessie of CakeSpy.
Thalia of butter and brioche.
Molly of My Name is Yeh.
Tara of Seven Spoons. (See her lovely new cookbook)