Tag Archives: Strawberries

Breakfast Toast with Labneh, Roasted Strawberries and Hazelnuts

I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast everyday, for about 5 years, until I get bored of it (clearly I don’t get bored very easily!) While I haven’t totally given up on my Double Coconut Granola with yogurt and fruit, I am having a brief, but passionate, dalliance with labneh.

Labneh, also called “yogurt cheese”, originated in The Middle-East thousands of years ago. It continues to be a daily staple there, showing up for breakfast drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of za’atar to dip your pita into, as a spread for sandwiches at lunch and in mezze platters at cocktail hour. It is made by straining the whey off yogurt, past the point of even Greek yogurt. Thick and tangy, it is extremely smooth, delicious and very versatile. 

If you have a Middle-Eastern market near you, they often sell it. In Ottawa they make excellent labneh at Damas Supermarket. If you can’t find it, you can make it easily at home. Just mix a bit of salt and fresh lemon juice into plain yogurt. Place it in a strainer lined with cheesecloth, set over a large bowl, to catch the whey. Put it into the fridge to 24-48 hours. If you are planning to use it as a dip, 24 hours will be sufficient. If you want to use it as a spread, 48 hours will give you a thicker product. I have tried straining Greek yogurt as well as regular yogurt, and I prefer the final texture of plain regular yogurt. Just use full fat yogurt. It will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

I decided to pair my morning labneh with strawberries, toasted hazelnuts andf a drizzle of honey. Winter strawberries need a bit of help. I sliced them in half, mixed them with a spoonful of sugar and roasted them for 30 minutes. Leftover roasted berries will keep in the fridge for a week. Toast up your bread of choice. Something dense, and seedy to hold up to the weight of the labneh would be a good idea. Finish with a drizzle of your favourite honey and get ready to face the day.

Click here to print recipe for Breakfast Toast with Labneh, Roasted Strawberries and Hazelnuts.

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



Strawberry Raspberry Cobbler

Serving cobblerBaskets of local strawberries are overflowing at Farmers Markets all over Ontario this month. I usually exercise no restraint and buy way more than we can possibly eat. Then, I’m left with a fridge full of almost rotting fruit. I blame my mother for this. I grew up in a house where we had a storage room filled with bulging shelves because she never want to run out of anything. We had enough extra toilet paper, KD and canned white tuna (packed in water) to survive for a year without ever having to leave the house.
strawberries and raspberriesBut this week, I showed great self-control and deliberately bought just one quart, exactly what we need for our morning yogurt, berries and double coconut granola. However, my son’s room-mate Polly arrived for dinner on Friday night, with a 3-quart basket of plump local strawberries. So sweet! We ate strawberries with every meal that weekend, but still had a quart of soft berries left over on Sunday night.

I was about to freeze the extra berries when my husband asked, “why don’t you just bake me a fruit crisp instead?” Why not indeed? Since I have already blogged about my favourite crisp recipe, I wanted to try something new. Maybe a crumble, a pan-dowdy, a grunt, a slump, a buckle, a Betty, a sonker or a cobbler.

I decided to turn them into a cobbler. I had never made one before and it couldn’t be easier. While a crisp involves stopping of flour, butter, sugar, oats and sometimes nuts, a cobbler is basically a biscuit dough that gets dropped into clumps on top of the fruit and is then baked. Large cobblestone-like nuggets of crunchy dough to soak up all that warm sweet juicy fruit. Are you with me?

I decided on a mix of strawberries and raspberries. Mix the fruit with just a bit of sugar and some thickener. I like Minit Tapioca better than flour or cornstarch. Let the berries, sugar and tapioca sit for about 15 minutes so that the tapioca can dissolve. berries, sugar and tapiocaThe fruit gets a head start in the oven while you prepare the biscuit dough. The original recipe calls for buttermilk, but I never have buttermilk when I need it. I just mixed some milk with a bit of lemon juice to sour it and made my own buttermilk. Flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, melted butter and buttermilk are quickly mixed together for form a dough. The cornmeal adds a satisfying little crunch to the dough.
Ready to make cobbler doughDivide the dough into 8 pieces and drop the clumps onto the hot cobbler. Top with cinnamon sugar and bake for another 20 minutes.
topping fruit with cobbler doughShow some restraint and wait about 20 minutes before you dig in.Just baked 1No one will complain if you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some softly whipped cream on the side. Any leftover keeps very well for a second day. Keep cobbler uncovered on the counter so the biscuits stay crunchy. You can warm it up in a 350°F oven for a few minutes if you like.With whipped cream and tea 1 625 sq

Click here to print recipe for Strawberry Raspberry Cobbler.

half eaten

Strawberry, Banana, Coconut and Chia Bread

skiced 3 625 sqI am now an empty nester and over a week can go by without a word from my two oldest children. I have friends whose kids call them several times a day. When I ask them what their kids call about, they say it could be for help editing their essays, choosing a brand of canned tuna to buy or even just advice about laundry. Huh?

I waver between two alternative thoughts regarding how well I did raising my own children. Either:

1. I failed miserably in creating the bond or attachment that these other mothers have done so astonishingly well with. OR:

2. I have been wildly successful in raising my children to be independent thinkers and problem solvers.

Of course the truth, as always. lies somewhere in between these two ends of the spectrum.

When my first born moved out, we only heard from him when he needed money. Now he keeps in touch with us by Spot Connect, a GPS device that sends us a message showing us where he is and that he is ok. Sort of like “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.” To be fair, he is an outdoor educator and is often in remote spots without cell service. It gives us great peace of mind. And lately he has been calling just to say hi and catch up on the latest news.

When my second born moved out I would only hear from her if she was sick, needed money or some other horrible disaster had befallen her. However, in the past year she now calls me with cooking questions and texts me with links to great blogs, and photos of something delicious she has cooked or baked. It makes me so happy.

When the third born moved out, I moved in with him for the first week! But that’s a story for another time.

Last week my daughter called for advice on baking times. She had a recipe for a loaf that she was making as muffins instead. She needed to know how much to reduce the cooking time by. She excitedly burbled about this amazing recipe for Strawberry Banana Coconut Bread  created by the charming Monique of ambitiouskitchen.com. When she was done she texted this picture.J's muffinsWe texted back and forth about the muffins. She said they had chia seeds in them and wanted to know if I had ever heard about them. Have I heard about them?? Can you say “Ch-ch-ch-chia?” They were my very first pet!  I grew up growing my own chia seeds! If you are of a certain vintage, you will fondly remember this commercial:


Apparently, chia seeds are this year’s new “superfood”.  According to The Huffington Post there are 11 reasons to include Chia seeds in your diet. High in fibre, omega-3, calcium, manganese, phosphorous, iron and calcium, these little seeds help fight diabetes, belly fat and heart disease and are excellent at regulating your appetite.

Truthfully the strawberry banana combo didn’t really appeal to me. It is a duo found commonly in smoothies and I am not a huge smoothie fan. I would rather eat the fruit than drink it.  But her muffins and Monique’s loaf looked so pretty and I was curious to revisit Chia seeds!

chia seeds

strawberriesThe raw loaf just looks so pretty before it goes into the oven. I slightly adapted the original recipe. I substituted about 1/3 whole wheat flour for some of the all purpose flour. I also boosted the fat from 1 tablespoon coconut oil to 3 tablespoons coconut oil, as I found the first loaf I made a bit dry.ready for ovenIt bakes up high and golden brown.cooling

Click here to print the recipe for Strawberry Banana Coconut and Chia Bread.

sliced 2 625 sq