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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo (Buffalo Style Tofu with Homemade Ranch Dressing)


Fun fact: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo is a grammatically correct sentence in the English language. Wait! Before you go and fact-check that, make some of this deliciousness. This recipe is my vegetarian version of buffalo wings. You thought it couldn't be done? Well it can! And it's healthy. And it's delicious. And it's perfect. 

Vegetarians coming to your Superbowl party? PERFECT. 
Vegetarian yourself? PERFECT. 
Like spicy delicious meals? PERFECT. 

Everything about this meal is perfect. Even my super carnivorous boyfriend said, "you HAVE to make this again." Win all around! Also, it really doesn't take long to prepare, which is awesome if, you know, you're super hungry. Seriously, this meal hits the spot. A little spicy, a little creamy, a little sweet, a whole lot of flavour! 

Pairs well with cold beer and good company.

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Buffalo Tofu with Mushrooms
an original recipe by allison sklar
time needed: 15 to 20 minutes, plus marinating. 
serves 2. 

ingredients
1/2 package firm tofu, cut into strips (or 3cm cubes)
1 cup whole button mushrooms, or sliced white mushrooms
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Franks Red Hot Original
1 tsp white vinegar

1/4 cup mayonnaise**
1/4 cup plain yogourt**
1 tbsp blue cheese crumbles
pinch salt
1 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp soy milk
1 tsp granulated sugar 
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce 
generous amount cracked black pepper
dash hot sauce

2 cups mixed greens (radicchio, arugula, baby kale, spinach)
1/4 cup herbed goat cheese, crumbled

**VEGAN OPTION: Replace may & yogurt with Vegenaise Original, or another vegan mayo & omit cheese. 

how to do it
Marinate tofu for a few hours or overnight in a ziplock bag, air sealed, with ketchup, vinegar and Franks. Mix all dressing ingredients together and set aside. 

Heat a few tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop tofu into pan with juices. Pan fry about 5 minutes,  then add mushrooms. Continue to cook, turning tofu occasionally, until golden on all sides, about 15 minutes. Do not leave unattended. 

Arrange mixed greens in bowls, drizzle with half of the dressing. Place tofu mixture on top. Top with remaining dressing and cheese crumbles. Eat hot or cold.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Roasted Eggplant Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Sauce


Alright, so I have a confession to make. This dish actually started out as an italian-style meatless meatball dish. It was supposed to be covered in tomato sauce and smothered in cheese and served on top of a plate of spaghetti. But, with an ice storm a brewin' outside, I did not feel safe venturing out to get the handful of ingredients that I was missing. So, I decided to just make a few changes and use whatever I had on hand. Basil became cilantro. Beans became chickpeas. And then, somewhere along substitution road, my meatless meatballs in tomato sauce became meatless falafel in yogourt sauce. Let me tell you, whatever you want to call them, these little babies are 100% pure deliciousness.
  

Just a few things to note before you go off and make this. You MUST roast the eggplant the whole way through. No if's and's or but's, the roasted eggplant has a flavour and texture that is crucial to the texture of the final product.  Also, the chickpeas are what give it that distinct falafel taste, so if you decide to sub them for something else, you're going to have a very different little ball! Oh, and be sure to use greek yogourt (I prefer to use 2% as it's creamy but still low in fat, but you can use any % that you like.) Vegan? No fret! Omit the yogourt sauce and replace it with some red hot sauce instead. Alright, let's get ballin'!


Roasted Eggplant Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Sauce
An original recipe by Allison Sklar. Inspired by Meatless Meatballs, Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2015.

ingredients
(for the vegan falafel)

1 large eggplant, roasted
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chickpeas (rinsed & drained)
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup soy or nut milk
2 tbsp ground chia or flax seeds
1 tsp chili flakes
pinch salt & pepper

(for the yogurt sauce)
1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable juice
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp harissa paste 
handful chopped fresh cilantro

Begin by roasting your eggplant. Preheat oven to 375F. Place whole eggplant on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Prick eggplant with fork all over. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, or until it looks wilted on the outside and is soft enough to slice easily with a knife. Let eggplant cool, about 15 to 20 minutes, before using. 

Meanwhile, prepare the broth for the yogurt sauce. In a small saucepan, combine spices and harissa paste. Toast on medium low heat until fragrant (2 to 4 minutes), moving it all around with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add vegetable juice & cilantro and whisk. Continue whisking intermittently on low heat until mixture reduces, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. (You may transfer to fridge once it's cool enough!)

While the mixture is cooling, prepare your "chia egg." (This is your binding agent!) Combine milk with chia seeds and let sit for about 10 minutes, until mixture is slightly gelatinous. 

Now, it's time to make the falafel! Mash chickpeas very well with a fork. Mix together with breadcrumbs, cilantro and garlic. Once the eggplant is roasted and cooled, scoop out the inside, discarding the skin. Mash as well as you can, and incorporate it into the breadcrumb mixture. Add in the chia egg, and use your hands to bring it all together. 

Roll into balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden on the outside. 

Combine cooled broth with yogourt, mixing well. 

Serve hot falafel with cool yogourt sauce. Use more fresh cilantro to garnish if desired. 

NOTE: Short on time? No fret! Here are a couple of suggestions...
You can roast the eggplant the day before. 
You can skip the broth part of the yogurt sauce if you want to, and instead, just mix yogourt with a couple of tsp of harissa or sriracha! Instant spicy yogurt!








Monday, December 15, 2014

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014


photo credit: http://thebrunettebaker.blogspot.ca/

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us. That's right, it's time for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (#fbcookieswap) 2014! I can't believe it's already the 4th edition of this amazing Secret-Santa style trade. The tastiest, sweetest gift exchange I've ever been a part of, the fbcookieswap is this awesome idea where food bloggers send each other cookies through the mail. Organized and facilitated by the brains behind Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchn, the swap brings together over 500 talented foodies each year to share love and joy through cookies. Added bonus - it's all for charity! To learn more, visit www.fbcookieswap.com, or search the hashtag #fbcookieswap on twitter or instagram.

So, what did I make? Every year, I try to make something original, using flavours that go above and beyond the traditional. It being winter and all, I've been on a chai kick lately. Inspired by my favourite tea, I made some melt-in-your-mouth, sweet and salty and oh so perfectly spiced Cardamom and Anise shortbread thins. 

Hello, delicious!

I hope my recipients enjoyed them as much as I did, because let me tell you, I enjoyed them. Even my boyfriend, a self-proclaimed shortbread hater, liked them. (And that says a lot!) 


One of our teachers at Pastry school suggests that the rule of thumb for cookies is that they are made small. And I mean small! No more than 10 to 12 grams each. Why? His reasoning is that people like to get more for their money. (My reasoning is that it's more fun to eat something that's bite-sized!) It's important to note that shortbread has a tendency to be pasty in the mouth if you have too much at once, so make sure to keep these cookies thin, rolled out to less than a quarter of an inch high. I used a scalloped round 1" cutter to shape them, but feel free to get creative and use whatever cutters you have on hand. Remember to keep cookies of the same size together on the same baking tray, because smaller ones will cook faster!

Happy baking, and happy holidays!

Simple Shortbread with Cardamom and Anise
adapted from Châtelaine magazine, December 2014

ingredients
1.5 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
pinch salt
3 tsp ground anise seed
3 tsp ground cardamom

Salted cinnamon sugar: 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tbsp cinnamon & a pinch of salt, for dusting

method
Mix together dusting ingredients and set aside.
Using paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
Stop the mixer and add in flour, salt and spices.
Mix on low speed just until blended. (Do not overmix!)
Form dough into a ball and chill for 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Line a few baking trays with parchment paper.
Roll dough out onto floured surface and cut into desired shapes.
Sprinkle with salted cinnamon sugar.
Place cookies onto lined baking sheets and bake in preheated oven, 10 minutes or until very lightly golden. Let cookies cool on cooling rack before eating!

Enjoy!



Friday, November 7, 2014

Home Remedies (Sumac Lemonade)




Sumac! Fresh Sumac! You know, that zesty, unusual spice that gives Za'atar it's tang and adds a middle eastern flair to roasted veggies? Excitement poured over me when I found out that I was going to be receiving some fresh sumac in my Lufa produce basket last week. I've never even seen fresh sumac before. I had no idea that it would arrive as a fluffy, barby, vividly red cluster of... stuff. My first thought upon examining the bright bouquet: how do I use this? Unsure of which part of the fuzzy berries could be turned into the sweet, lemony herb that I've only ever seen dried and crushed, I turned to my trusty friend, the internet. Internet, o internet, inform me, o wise one! 

During my search, I learned that Sumac has been used in ancient herbal medicine for centuries, aiding in the prevention and treatment of various ailments, from chest congestion to stomach upsets. Well, this is just perfect timing, I thought, as I just happen to be suffering from what seems to be the world's longest bout of fever and joint aches. Also probably a good tonic to give the boy to sip on to prevent catching this dreadful flu. 

Influenza, be damned! I will sumac you right in the face!  

Now, let's get back to the "how?"

Having only eaten sumac in savoury dishes, I would never have thought to use the spice in a beverage of any kind. That is, until I stumbled upon a blog that suggested that I make Sumac-aide! (Also known as cold sumac tea, sumac lemonade, or sumacaide... depending on who you ask!) This lemony fresh tonic is super easy, and super tasty! How to do it? Soak fresh berries in cold water. Strain. And drink. That's it? That's it! How perfect is that? Add a squeeze of fresh lemon and a few slices of ginger for some extra immune-boosting power, and extra tasty flavour. 

Sumac Lemonade

4 cups cool water
2-3 clusters fresh red sumac berries
juice from 1 lemon (optional)
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger (optional)

Roughly break up sumac clusters. In a large bowl, combine water, sumac and ginger and let steep for 4 to 5 hours or overnight. Strain though very fine tea strainer or cheesecloth. Add freshly squeezed lemon and ice cubes just before serving. 




Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#PSL (Vegan Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte)


Well, folks. I did it. I went and made a homemade vegan Pumpkin Spice Latté.
Move over, coffee shops! Move over, Starbucks! This latté is the real deal.

No, but seriously. Real pumpkin. Real spices. Real coffee. It all makes for real good stuff!
I must mention that none of this would be possible without the great people over at Café Santo Domingo, who recently sent me some incredibly delicious coffee. It made for a wonderfully robust base for this delightfully satisfying little PSL. (Or maybe it should be a PSSL. Or a VPSSL?)


How cute is that mug? Joe from Café Santo Domingo sent me a set of them with matching saucers, along with some truly awesome beans and grounds. Seriously, you guys rock! The beans are SO tasty that I've gone ahead and made some dark-chocolate covered coffee beans with them to keep on hand as a quick snack, a great little afternoon pick-me-up. I would have included a photo, but the boy can't stop eating them all up!

A few other exciting things

For those of you following my story, I have almost completed my studies in Professional Pastry, and I am looking forward to many new adventures come January. I have started to offer custom cakes and sweets, and I am in the process of creating an online portfolio attached to this blog. I will soon cater sweets for birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, weddings, or any other occasion (like, say, a girls night in!) where you may desire some custom goodies. Oh, and yes, I do vegan desserts like a champ!

On an unrelated, but very exciting note, I am pleased to announce that I will once again be participating in the 4th annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (#fbcookieswap) hosted by The Little Kitchen and Love & Olive Oil. I can't wait to receive my matches and see what kind of incredible edibles will be delivered to my doorstep in the coming weeks! SO MUCH EXCITEMENT!

Oh, right, so I guess by now you're probably all like, "That's nice, but I WANT ME A PSL!" Alright, alright, don't get your legwarmers in a bunch. Here it is, without further adieu... The one, the only, the real, vegan pumpkin spice latte. Or, if you prefer, the Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte. Whatever you want to call it, just make it, then sit back and drink it!

Caution: this latte is extremely addictive!

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Rustic Apple Tarte Tatin


Even though the weather might say otherwise, apple season is in full bloom! Never having been a traditional apple pie kind of girl, I've always enjoyed showcasing my freshly picked apples in something slightly out-of-the-ordinary. Whether it is my go-to German apple cake, or cinnamon and spice apple sauce, apple desserts are the epitome of fall comfort food. When I saw that Canadian Living's October issue was going to feature the "Ultimate Tarte Tatin", I knew that I had to try it out!

This exquisite tart combines warm skillet apples with a buttery, salty caramel and a melt-in-your-mouth flaky pastry shell. Oh, even writing this description makes my mouth water! A word of warning: make sure to invite someone over when you make this, because you will eat the entire thing in one sitting.



Some tips from the pastry kitchen:

Do NOT overwork your dough. It will come together crumbly, and that's good! If you work it too much, you may end up making a dough that is tough and chewy, missing out on the flaky, delicate texture that it is meant to have.

DO chill your dough before rolling it out.

DO flour your work surface. And your rolling pin.

DO use granny smith apples as suggested. I made the mistake of using another variety and they nearly turned into apple sauce. While it will still be tasty, you won't end up with the prettiest of tarts.

DO make this recipe, and do enjoy yourself! Though it takes a little while to complete, it is very, very worth it.

Oh, and a nifty bonus: your kitchen will smell divine!
To get the full recipe, visit Canadian Living's website here.





Monday, August 11, 2014

Pretty in Pink Salad (Quinoa with Watermelon and Beets)


Being vegetarian for over 10 years, I often get asked "but where do you get your protein?"
There are so many plant-based significant sources of protein out there, many of which you're probably already eating. (Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, peas, spinach, broccoli, just to name a few.) Quinoa is among those plant-based sources, and it is a little powerhouse. Quinoa is even more versatile than rice, quick and easy to cook, and contains all of the essential amino acids that your body needs for growth and repair. You can eat it sweet like porridge, savoury like rice, or go somewhere in between, like this pretty pink salad.

Watermelon + Beets: a tantalizingly refreshing combo that looks as wonderful as it tastes. The earthiness of the beets balance the sweetness of the watermelon, and the textures compliment each other beautifully. I convinced the boy to hop on the pink salad bandwagon with me, and we were both hooked. Imagine my surprise when came home after work one afternoon, about to rush over to school, when I was greeted by the loveliest smile and a hands that were holding a watermelon and beet salad, ready to go. Only this time, it wasn't only watermelon and beets. No, my wonderful man took it up a notch, and invited quinoa and figs to join the party. With some avocado placed delicately on top, Josh had turned a side salad into a full blown vegan meal. I couldn't be prouder!

I'll keep this post short and sweet, so you can get right on to the market and pick yourself up a nice juicy watermelon to make this salad tonight. I'll share the recipe, you share the love!

Happy August!

Quinoa with Watermelon and Beets

2 cups watermelon, cubed
4 small beets, boiled until tender, cooled and cubed
1 cup cucumber, cubed
1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa
Handful of dried figs, chopped
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 avocado, sliced

Combine all ingredients, except avocado, and toss gently. Garnish with avocado slices. Sprinkle with pistachios or hemp seeds for an extra protein boost!







Monday, July 28, 2014

The Perfect Cheese Plate (and a product review!)


Pop quiz! What takes under 10 minutes to prep but looks and tastes like heaven? Answer: a cheese plate! Perfect for entertaining in the hot months, when you don't want to be slaving over the stove for hours, cheese plates make the perfect centerpiece at a gathering or a party. When done properly, with a little variety, a cheese plate can be a stand alone meal. The boy and I usually make a cheese plate by having one of each type of cheese: soft, semi soft, firm, goat and something crumbly like blue. We like to round it out by adding crudités, dried fruits and olives and serving alongside assorted bread and crackers. Recently, we were trying to figure out what else we could add that would be simple, quick and that would compliment the cheese but also fit on a cracker. That same evening, a special package arrived in the mail, and we knew exactly what we were having for dinner.


The awesome people over at Rio Mare sent us a few samples of their light tuna in olive oil. Arriving in it's iconic bright pink tin, I was excited to try it for the first time. We've always purchased generic tuna in water, thinking that oil might make it too rich, too greasy or too fatty. Lo and behold, we were wrong: olive oil makes tuna taste absolutely delicious! A product of Italy, Rio Mare uses only the good stuff. The ingredients list nothing but fish, olive oil and salt. No fillers, no preservatives, no bi-products. What a perfect addition to our cheese plate! I loved it so much that I went on a tuna binge for the next couple of days, making me realize just how versatile tuna can be. I stuffed an avocado with it. I had it in mac and cheese. I had it in a grilled cheese. I had a mac and cheese tuna grilled cheese... I even ate it straight out of the can as a nighttime snack. Along with the samples, I received a little recipe booklet with ideas such as warm farro salad with tuna, tuna and hardboiled egg salad, and a couple of tuna and pasta dishes. Tuna fan? You can find even more recipes and inspiration on Rio Mare's website here!

You're probably all like "Mac and Cheese Tuna Grilled Cheese? I want that!" Alright, pescetarians and omnivores, rejoice! I now present to you mind blowing. taste bud exploding, ooey gooey delicousness. Oh, by the way, I would have included a better photo, but with food this good, I was too excited to eat it that I didn't have a chance!



Mac & Cheese Grilled Cheese with Tuna 
and spicy avocado sauce
an original recipe by allison sklar

Serves 2

1/2 cup cooked macaroni
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/4 cup shredded gruyere
4 slices thick-sliced (country) bread
2 tbsp mayo
1 can Rio Mare Tuna in olive oil

dipping sauce:
1 avocado, mashed
1 tbsp Sriracha
1 tbsp mayo

Mash avocado, combine with sriracha and mayo. Set aside. Combine cheese with macaroni and tuna in small saucepan on low to medium heat. Spread mayo on one side of bread slices. Begin to heat bread, mayo side down, in skillet or frypan on low to medium heat. Once bread is heated and cheese begins to melt, transfer scoops of mac and cheese mixture inside bread and sandwich together, flipping intermittently. Serve with avocado dipping sauce.






Monday, July 14, 2014

Comforting Cobbler


When it comes to summertime desserts, I tend to opt for all things simple and refreshing. Fruits are often the star, especially when they're fresh and local. So, when I got my hands on a giant container of juicy blueberries last weekend, I knew that I had to make them into something special. In an act of perfect timing, I got the chance to sneak a peak at Canadian Living's August cover recipe - a deliciously comforting blueberry cobbler.


If blueberry pie and cornbread got together and had a baby, this dessert would be their offspring! When a crispy, crumbly topping sits on top of a mountain of sweet blueberries, it’s a challenge not to devour it straight out of the oven. Not only does this comfort food taste as incredible as it smells, but it’s super satisfying to crack through the cobbler crust with your spoon for that very first bite!

You can whip yourself up one of these babies at home in no time flat, just follow the link below to take you to the original recipe on Canadian Living's website.

Tip: top with a dollop of ice cream for an extra summery touch!









Saturday, July 5, 2014

Vegan Cheesy Stuffed Mushrooms


With summer in full swing, I find myself craving all things light and refreshing. All the most delicious local produce is in season right now, and I've been stocking up on berries, leafy greens and whatever else the market has to offer each week. Though I haven't used my stove at home in what seems like ages (for fear that it might add to the smouldering heat wave that is just now starting to dissipate), I decided to turn on my oven today to make something that I've been craving for a while - stuffed mushrooms. I wanted to serve something a little bit fancy pants to munch on while we sat and enjoyed my beau's homemade Bloody Caesars. (For all of you Non-Canadians, a Caesar is like a Bloody Mary, but with Clamato instead of Tomato, and with about 10x the flavour.)



Holy cow, did I ever impress myself tonight. Not that stuffed mushrooms are compliqué or anything. Completely the opposite actually, they're ultra simple. But I made a vegan version that is just ah-mah-zing. And, let me tell you, the boy wasn't even able to tell the difference!


I made two versions, so for those of you who are all like "but I need me some cheese!", I've got you covered. But I urge, urge, urge you to try the vegan ones. The creaminess, the flavour, the explosion of deliciousness in the mouth. Ok, ok, enough with my foodgasm, I'll get straight to the recipes.