Roasted Spiced Cauliflower with Chickpeas

Toasting Spices

Roasted Cauliflower and Chick Peas

Roasted Cauliflower Chickpeas Onion Spices

I’ve been eating a lot of broccoli and cauliflower lately, and now that the weather has turned, I’ve been looking for new ways of making each that have a bit of a heartier touch. This cauliflower dish does just the trick and it has such a savoury, nutty flavour that it has easily become one of my favourite side dishes in recent weeks. Enjoy!

Cauliflower with Chickpeas
(serves 4-6)

1 tbsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. chili pepper
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 whole cauliflower, divided into florets
1 19 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed well and drained
1/2 small red onion, sliced
fresh cilantro

Use a small, dry pan to toast all of the spices over high heat until fragrant, about two minutes. Add spices, along with the coconut oil, ginger, cauliflower florets, chickpeas and onion into a large mixing bowl and toss well until everything is coated evenly.

Season with salt and pepper before placing in a large baking dish. Roast at 400°F until the cauliflower is tender and lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.


Adapted from Guy Fieri for the Food Network.

End-of-Summer Lemoncello

Meyer Lemons Lemoncello

Meyer Lemon Zest Lemoncello

Homemade Meyer Lemoncello

Homemade Meyer Lemon Lemocello

The final days of summer came and went so quickly and I felt like I barely had time to catch my breath. So, this last “unofficial” weekend of summer, I decided to preserve some of  the season’s flavours with a batch of lemoncello. It’s an easy-to-drink liqueur that’s especially popular in southern Italy, in places like Amalfi and Capri. Enjoy it in a shot glass (pop them in the freezer first) or added to Prosecco along side a charcuterie plate, or after dinner as a digestif.

It’s very easy to make– you just need about a week and a bunch of nice quality lemons. I used Meyer lemons, which add a golden colour and a sweeter flavour, but if you can’t find those, stick to organic lemons since you’ll only be using the zest.

Lemoncello
(makes about 1.75 litres)

8 Meyer or standard organic lemons
750 ml vodka
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups water

Scrub all of your lemons with a small brush so they are clean and smooth. Once dry, use a microplane to very carefully remove the first layer of skin from each lemon. Keep in mind that you want to avoid any white pith on your zest, as it will make your liqueur very bitter. You’ll also have to be extra careful when using Meyer lemons, as their skin is very thin. Use the microplane to lightly zest the lemon in solid stripes all around the fruit, being careful not to go over the same spot twice.

Place the zest in a large, sealable jar and cover with vodka. Give the jar a good shake once a day and let the vodka steep for at least one week. If you have time, you can experiment with longer steeping periods – the longer you wait, the more flavourful the liqueur will become!

Make a simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a pot over medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved (do not let it boil) remove the pot from the heat and let it cool completely. Once cool, add the syrup to the vodka and let sit for about 12 hours, or overnight.

Strain the liquid with a fine sieve to remove the zest, and pour into bottles. Chill well before drinking. Enjoy!

Roast Pork Rub

pork roast Pork Roast RubPork Roast Rub with Mustard, Horseradish, Herbs

As I’ve said before, I love a good roast for its ease, time efficiency and wealth of leftovers. However, I often find with pork roasts that they can easily taste dry and/or flavourless. In the effort of spiking this one up a bit, I whipped up this rub and the results were excellent. If you have time, you would also do well to leave it on for up to an hour before roasting to really jack up the flavour.

Roast Pork Rub

1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper
Low sodium chicken stock

Place the pork roast on a baking sheet. Use a small, sharp knife to poke holes all-over the top of the roast. Combine all of the ingredients together and massage over top, making sure to use extra mix around the knife holes. Fill the bottom of the baking pan with a half inch of chicken stock. Roast at 400°F for about 45 minutes, until cooked through. Let cool for about ten minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Drunken Tequila Shrimp

Tequila Shrimp Flambe

Tequila Shrimp Cream Sauce

Tequila Shrimp 2

After having a whack of shrimp left over from a previous dinner, I was looking to experiment with a new dish and stumbled upon this recipe. I liked that it had few ingredients and was short on prep time, but was a little concerned about never having actually attempted to flambé anything before.

Armed with extra-long matches and my sturdiest cast iron pan, I gave it a go and it turned out great. The tequila adds a lot of interesting flavour, but avoids tasting like you marinated your shrimp in a summer cocktail. Don’t be alarmed at how long the liquor takes to burn off (or how high the flames are), just stand back and carefully shake the pan from time to time wearing a good quality oven glove.

Tequila Shrimp

1.5 lbs. large shrimp (think about 20 per pound), peeled and deveined
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 cup tequila
1/2 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
1 bunch green onions, chopped on the diagonal
fresh cilantro
kosher salt and pepper

Toss shrimp with salt and pepper and set aside. Place coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted, add shrimp and sauté until they’re pink and opaque, about five minutes.

Turn heat down low and slowly pour the tequila into the pan. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and use a long match to set fire to the tequila. Careful here – flames may be big and shoot up high. Stand back and carefully shake the pan as the flames die down.

Once the fire has subsided, remove the pan from the heat and add in cream. Mix well and sprinkle with green onions and chopped cilantro. Serve over brown rice and/or quinoa and enjoy!

Figgy Tarts

Fig Oregano Tart Ingredients

 

Fig Tarts with Puff Pastry

Fig Tarts with Honey Puff Pastry and Oregano

Easy Fig Tarts

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how hard of a time I had finding fresh figs for this salad I was making. Well now, of course, they’re everywhere. In fact, I bought a whole tray of green figs at the market the other day for less than $3! I’ve been enjoying them with honey in Greek yoghurt, with my morning granola, in salads, etc., but I also wanted to incorporate them into an easy warm-weather dessert.

Enter, these tarts. Since I made them with pre-fab puff pastry, they were super-easy and fast to put together, but their presentation is still lovely. The herb leaves add a savoury twist to the flavour, which also makes them ideal for a cocktail party appetizer or even any bridal or baby showers you have coming up this summer. Plus, you can change up the look depending on the shape of cookie-cutter and types of herbs you use.

Easy Fig and Herb Tarts
(makes about 10)

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon honey
fresh oregano (or other herbs, such as tarragon or thyme)
3 fresh figs
5 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
water

Combine the vanilla and sugar in a small bowl and mix together until crumbly, then set aside. Mix the honey with a small amount of warm water in another small bowl (start with about a teaspoon of water) and stir until it’s well combined with a watery texture and set aside. Gently wash and dry each fig then slice each into eight wedges.

Unroll your puff pastry and place with its parchment paper onto a large baking sheet. Lightly dust it with flour and use a medium-sized cookie cutter also dusted in flour (mine was about 2″x 3″) to cut out each tart. Carefully peel away the excess dough and place the baking sheet in the freezer for about ten minutes.

Use a spatula to evenly space the pastries on your baking sheet. One by one, use a pastry brush to paint each piece with the honey mixture before decorating with one to two fig slices. Carefully remove the herb leaves from their sprigs and arrange on the tart. Once in position, paint the leaves down with the honey mixture. Choosing leaves that look “flat” on the sprig will help them stay in place, and you can also push them gently into the pastry to help them stay put.

Once you’ve decorated each tart, sprinkle each with the vanilla sugar. Bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes until just lightly golden. Enjoy!

Petits Fours

Antique Gold TelephoneYou rang? An antique telephone for my office makes taking calls a lot more interesting.

Marble and Gold Salt Cellars Indigo

Loving these marble salt cellars spotted at the Indigo holiday preview – I’ll be first in line to scoop them up when they land in stores in the Fall.

Fat Pasha Toronto Latka Platter

Indulged in an amazing meal at Toronto’s Fat Pasha restaurant this week, including these to-die-for latkas.

Picnic basket C Wonder

Summers are for picnics! Enjoying time in the park with my favourite picnic basket from C. Wonder.

 

Summer Dinner Party

Easy White Balloon Garland

Add a fun twist to any room with a quick balloon garland. I hung a gold ribbon across the dining room ceiling then tied white balloons to it at different lengths to create a tent-like feeling.

Summer Party Place SettingsPink peonies, sky blue napkins, fun, conversation starter place cards and my new favourite crystal goblets (snatched up at an antique market) make a colourful, summery table setting.

Winston Hamish Frenchie NecklaceWinston Hamish in his party best.

Tempt 9 Cider

While rosé and white wine were on ice for dinner, I always like to have some cocktail options on standby for when people walk in the door. Aside from serving these, this cider also caught my eye for its pretty packaging, so I made a batch of it in a pitcher along with mint and sliced strawberries and limes for quick and easy refills.

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

A classic Caprese salad is always one of my favourites for fresh, easy, summer dining. A high quality balsamic vinegar is a must – or you can take whatever you have up a notch by making a reduction. Just bring two parts vinegar and one part honey to a boil in a small saucepan, then reduce to a simmer until it thickens into a syrup-like sauce (about 15 minutes).

Halloumi Cheese wrapped in Grape Leaves

Halloumi baked in grape leaves is another excellent summer starter that doesn’t take much effort. Place thick slices of halloumi cheese on a rinsed and dried grape leaf (find them in a jar in most grocery stores), drizzle with olive oil, fresh, chopped garlic, basil and pepper. Wrap the leaf completely around the cheese and bake for about ten minutes at 400°F. Make a lot because your guests will love ‘em.

Ottolenghi Cucumber Salad with Chili and Poppyseeds

Ottolenghi’s Cucumber Salad with Chili and Poppyseeds is made with the tastier, smaller cucumbers and is another dish you can whip up ahead of time to keep your menu light and refreshing. Simply slice six to eight mini cucumbers on the diagonal and combine with all of the ingredients listed here.

Summer Salad with Green Figs Strawberries Goat Cheese Honey

This salad just looks like summer on a plate. Admittedly, I had a hard time finding fresh figs at this time of year (even at the farmer’s market) but I finally stumbled upon some great green ones in my neighborhood and they really made the dish. Combine arugula with a handful of chopped basil leaves, small strawberries, goat cheese, and a drizzle of honey and olive oil.

Chicken with Mint Lemon and Almonds

This roasted chicken from Donna Hay’s Seasons is another easy addition. I picked up two chickens just over a couple of pounds each and had the butcher butterfly them for me. Roasting them flat cuts your cooking time in half. Once out of the oven, top with a zesty sauce of mint, chopped almonds, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.

Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream Cake

What could be more fun (or summery) than ice cream cake? Bring this childhood throwback into an adult setting by skipping the frosting, whipped cream and sprinkles in favour of better flavours (Bordeaux cherry and classic vanilla) and a topping of fresh berries and mint leaves.

Havana Special

Havana Special CocktailLuxardo Maraschino Liqeur

While I had my fair share of mojitos and Cuba Libres while in Cuba a couple of weeks ago, I also discovered a new favourite cocktail perfect for the summer months–the Havana Special. The special ingredient is maraschino liqueur, which is made from sour Marasca cherries and their pits, which give it a very dry and subtle almond flavour (nothing like those syrupy-sweet maraschino cherries in the baking aisle).

The maraschino cherries we think of today did get their name from the original Marasca cherries, which are mostly found around the Dalmatian coast,  and were often preserved in maraschino liqueur and consumed as quite a rare delicacy. Since they were not readily available, and consequently very expensive, imitation “maraschino” cherries were soon being produced with other varieties of cherries and the help of food colouring and sweeteners.

You can serve this liqueur over ice cream, drink it alone over ice after dinner or use it to add complexity to many cocktails. I suggest you start with the below:

Havana Special

1 oz. light rum
1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur
pineapple juice (fresh, if possible)

Shake all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and serve in a coupe glass, or simply serve on the rocks in an old fashioned glass. Enjoy!

 

Petits Fours

Sofia Rose Wine Francis CoppolaSummer of Rosé – my new favourite, Francis Coppola Sofia, looks just as gorgeous as it tastes, making it a perfect hostess gift for one of your summer barbecues.

Remedios Cuba

Stopping for Cubatas (a Cuba Libre with dark rum) in the town square of Remedios during our recent summer break in Cuba.

Wimbledon Strawberries and Cream

Strawberries and cream for breakfast at Wimbledon early Sunday morning.

Nadege Tatin and Macarons

Late afternoon break at Nadège, complete with a coconut pineapple tatin (and macarons, of course).

Peaches Roasted in Honey with Rosemary and Lavender

Honey, Lemon and Rosemary

Roasted Peaches with Honey and Rosemary

Now that summer long weekends are in full effect, easy recipes that keep time in the kitchen to a minimum are key. These peaches fit the bill since they can be roasted ahead of time and kept on warm during dinner. They’re a simple approach to entertaining, but look summery and appetizing all the same.

Roasted Peaches with Honey, Rosemary and Lavender
(serves 8)

4 peaches
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp. butter
salt
cardamom
sprigs of fresh rosemary and lavender
mascarpone cheese
vanilla ice cream

Half each peach and remove the pit. Place each peach in a large baking dish, cut side up. Combine lemon zest, honey, water and pinches of salt and cardamom together and pour over the peaches, into the dish. Place a large dot of butter over each peach and sprinkle with herbs.

Bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes, using the liquid to baste the peaches a couple of times as they roast. Serve each warm peach with a small scoop of mascarpone cheese and vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of liquid from the pan. Enjoy!