Monday, February 20, 2017

Markouk, Chickpeas, & Mushrooms with Sumac Spiced Yogurt

Living in Montreal, we have the privilege of shopping at a variety of different markets from all over the world, all within a 60km radius. From Lebanon to China to the Caribbean to Russia, there is a little corner for everyone, and every food. It's truly heavenly for foodies like me - having a chance to discover new foods each time I go to the grocery store. This week, I discovered Markouk (Markook) bread - an unleavened wheaty delight. (Available at Adonis for all of you Montrealers!) It's perfect for wrapping sandwiches, or eaten on it's own with nothing but honey & labneh. Alternatively called Shrak, this flatbread is similar to an extremely thin whole wheat pita, and popular throughout the Middle East.

I rarely have labneh on hand, but I do always keep some Balkan yogurt around. Inspired by za'atar pitas (my favourite way to eat bread!), I decided to put together a sumac-laced yogurt spread. Tossed together some mushrooms and chickpeas, and within 20 minutes, I had myself a fantastic dinner bursting with colour and flavour.

Savoury Yogurt Spread with Sumac & Dill
an original recipe by allison sklar

1 cup greek or full-fat Balkan yogurt
1/2 tbsp sumac
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp dehydrated onion
1 tsp dill seed (or 3 tsp chopped fresh dill)

Mix all ingredients together and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes.
May be made in advance and stored in the fridge up to 5 days.

Flatbread (Markouk) Sandwiches with
Chickpeas, Mushrooms & Arugula
original recipe by allison sklar

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
454g (1lb) fresh white or cremini mushrooms
2 tsp dried tarragon (or 4 tsp fresh)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup baby arugula (rocket)
2 tbsp grapeseed, vegetable, or canola oil

1 large markouk bread, or two small pitas
Extra arugula, for garnish

Heat oil for one minute over medium high. Roughly chop mushrooms and toss into pan. They should sizzle when they hit it. Stir once, reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking, undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally, until mushrooms begin to shrink. Add chickpeas & spices. Stir. Continue cooking over medium heat until chickpeas start to have golden spots. Add arugula & cilantro and cook until wilted.

Cut markouk in half. Spread each folded half of markouk (or pitas) with yogurt mixture.
Top with chickpea mix & handfuls of fresh arugula.
Enjoy hot.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

4 Ingredient Babaganoush

If you've been following this blog for a while, you've likely noticed that I absolutely love cooking with eggplant. I've showed you how to make it into curry, how to roast it with za'atar & chickpeas, how to make eggplant relish and even how to bake some easy eggplant falafel. But, for some reason, I haven't shared my easiest eggplant recipe ever. And when I say easy, I mean it: Roast it, scoop it, spice it, blend it, and babaganoush, you're done!

Ah, babaganoush - fun to say, delicious to eat! This creamy aubergine concoction can be enjoyed as a dip, spread onto a sandwich, or eaten straight up with a spoon. A staple in most Jewish and/or Middle Eastern households, you'll often find Babs hanging out next to it's chickpea cousin, hummus. Serve it with pita (or pita chips!) and you'll wonder how it's possible that you ate a whole eggplant in one sitting (because, well, you will.)

4 Ingredient Babaganoush
Unlike traditional recipes, this babaganoush is made without tahini, but still yields a supremely creamy result when using a high-powered blender.

One large eggplant
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp Bombetta or Sambal Olek 
2 tsp each sesame seeds & sumac

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a baking tray with parchment. Cut eggplant in half and brush with oil. (Note: eggplant will act as a sponge, this is normal!)
Place flesh side down and roast for 40 minutes or until skin is wilted.
Allow to cool about 15 minutes, or until you're able to hold it in your hand.
Scoop out flesh into a blender or food processor.
Add chili sauce.
Pulse until smooth.
Transfer to a bowl and stir in sumac & sesame.
Serve warm or cold.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Poke Bowls - Two Ways! (Vegan Poke & Salmon Poke)

This week, Stokes Canada invited me to collaborate with them to create these vibrant poke bowls. The second they contacted me, I knew I wanted in. I mean, you're asking me to create a vegetable-packed, rainbow-coloured meal that just happens to be one of the hottest trend-setting foods of 2017. Of COURSE I will. I'll even make a vegan option - because that's just how I roll. Or, uh, unroll - 'cause poke is basically sushi maki in a bowl. Check out this beautiful marinated tofu though:

For those of you who've seen poke poking up everywhere from fancy restos to corner Sushi Shops, you've probably noticed that it usually involves a bowl, some rice, some fish, and an assortment of toppings. While it's trending around North America at the moment, the poke bowl is nothing new to the Hawaiians. They've been enjoying the raw-fish delicacy for decades, so we definitely have them to thank.

Poke generally consists of marinated raw fish, some rice, and whatever toppings you choose. Purists will tell you that it must be ahi-tuna, but I'll beg to differ. My salmon version is packed full of flavour (and omega-3s!) - but it's my tofu version that really hit the ball out of the park. We aren't huge tofu fans around here, but the texture and flavour of this marinated semi-firm silken variety definitely converted us. Feel free to get creative - change up your white rice for rice noodles, or for brown rice if you want a little extra fibre. Change your toppings up based on what you like, and what you have in your fridge.

Build-your-own Poke Bowl
Vegan Poke Bowl Recipe *and* Salmon Poke Bowl Recipe
(serves 2)

1 cup calrose rice, cooked *or*
1 cup rice noodles, cooked according to package directions

1/3 cup tamari sauce
4 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp dehydrated onion
2 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp sea salt

300g silken tofu, cut into 1" cubes *or*
300g fresh, boneless, skinless salmon, cut into 1" cubes

1 medium cucumber, cut into thin ribbons (see instructions)
1 medium carrot, julienned (see instructions)
1 medium beet, julienned
1 avocado, cubed or sliced
1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage
1/3 cup shelled edamame

1 sheet nori seaweed, finely chopped
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
pinch cayenne flakes

In a medium bowl, whisk marinade ingredients together and toss with your chosen protein. Cover, refrigerate, and marinate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Meanwhile, cook your rice, or rice noodles, and set aside.
Then, steam your edamame: combine beans in a microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 cup water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Drain & set aside.
Next, cut up your veggies and get creative with the slicing! I love using my mandoline to create perfect little matchstick pieces, and my vegetable peeler to create lovely ribbons.
Once your poke is done marinating and your prep is finished, it's time to assemble!
Fill serving bowls about 3/4 high with rice or rice noodles. Spoon 6 tbsp of marinade over base. Top with vegetables, avocado,  edamame and poke. Sprinkle with sesame, chili flakes and nori.
Serve immediately & enjoy!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Thai Sweet Potato & Roasted Pepper Soup (Vegan)

Start with an earthy roasted sweet potato. Combine it with some charred roasted red pepper. Now, add in some rich thai flavours - coconut, lemongrass, ginger, lime, and miso. Purée the whole thing until smooth. You've just made yourself a bowl of warm hugs on a cold day. That's what this soup is - and, according to my toughest critic, it's also the "best soup (I've) ever made."

The Best Soup I've Ever Made, a.k.a.,
Thai Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Soup
vegan, gluten-free, damn delicious

3 cups water
2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
1" cube fresh ginger, peeled
2 tbsp miso paste
3 tbsp tamari
juice from 1/2 lime
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
4 medium red peppers, roughly chopped, seeds & stems removed
1 tsp chilli flakes (more if desired)
fresh cilantro, for garnish

Line two baking sheets with parchment and preheat oven to 400F. Toss sweet potato with 1 tbsp oil and spread out on one baking sheet.  Toss peppers with remaining oil and spread out on remaining baking sheet. On alternate oven racks, roast both veggies until tender, rotating half way through, for a total of about 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, wrap chopped lemongrass in a piece of clean cheesecloth and secure with a knot. Bring water, miso, tamari, wrapped lemongrass & ginger to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are ready.

Uncover soup mixture. Remove lemongrass. Add coconut milk, lime juice, roasted potatoes & peppers. Cook for another 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender (or by transferring mixture to a Vitamix) blend soup until smooth.

Sprinkle with chilli & cilantro. Serve hot.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

15 Minute Black Bean Soup

On busy weeknights, it's often really tempting to pop a frozen pizza into the oven and chow down. Easy, yes. Healthy? Sure, if you only eat one portion. Self-control, I do not have.

There are tons of nourishing meals that require minimal prep and that can be made just as quickly as frozen food. My weeknight bff? Canned goods. This particular pantry-meal is the lovechild of a can of beans and a can of tomato juice.

Minimal prep. Minimal mess. Maximal flavour.

This beauty in a bowl was inspired by Trois Fois Par Jour, where I came across Marilou's idea for black bean soup. I didn't have many of the listed ingredients on hand, so I did what chefs do best - I improvised! Similar to chilli, with a nice little kick, this 15 minute meal will have you wishing that you'd made more.

15 Minute Spicy Black Bean Soup
vegan, gluten-free, super delicious

2 tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
3 small white onions, chopped
1 can (540ml) tomato juice
1 can (540ml) black beans, rinsed and drained (I use low-sodium, PC Brand)
1 adobo chili pepper
2 tsp coriander seed (ground)
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin (ground)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
pinch salt

In dutch oven or large deep saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add onions (they should sizzle when they hit the pan.) Stir immediately and reduce heat to medium. Cook until slightly browned. Slowly add tomato juice and stir. Bring to a boil. Add beans, adobo pepper, coriander, paprika & cumin. Cover & simmer 10 minutes. Uncover and pulse several times with a hand blender (also known as my pshhht pshhht machine!) Stir in chopped cilantro and lime juice. Serve hot, with pita slices or tortilla chips.