Monday, June 3, 2019

Freshness Delivered To Your Door with Metro Ontario - Raw Shaved Asparagus Salad

Grocery Shopping is one of those polarizing tasks, either you love it or you hate it. I fall into the former category. Being someone who often works from home, I have the luxury of going to my grocery store on off-hours when it's nice and quiet, when I can stroll around the aisles, taking my time to look for new products and great sales. Not only that, it's often an excuse to take a very welcome break from my laptop screen.
"I'm that weirdo who takes a solid five-minutes to select a pineapple"
I generally enjoy the grocery shopping experience, giving myself the opportunity to get inspired for new recipes, but also to hand-select my produce so that my asparagus are not too thin and not too thick, with nice and tight flowers on the ends, my eggs are not broken, and my bananas are bright yellow with no bruising. I'm that weirdo who takes a solid five-minutes to select a pineapple, pressing the bottom of each one and aggressively sniffing to determine which one smells the sweetest (which is a great trick if you've never tried it!).

As much as I typically enjoy the grocery shopping experience, there's no doubt that some days it's a joy and some days it's a straight up chore. When life gets busy, I find myself wishing that I could teleport my produce and pantry items right to my door. My wish essentially came true this week, as Metro Ontario launched their new eCommerce platform in the GTA! Metro's new online grocery store promises to deliver freshness right to your door, with Metro's exclusive Tri-Zone delivery trucks that allow you to select the 2-hour time slot that works for you and your schedule, with the option for same-day delivery when ordered before 1:00 PM. With a lot on my metaphorical plate these days, there was no better time for me to test out the new platform!
As asparagus is just beginning to come into season in Canada, I was inspired to make one of my favourite Spring recipes, a Raw Shaved Asparagus Salad with fresh mint. This dish is beautiful and delicious on its own, but I love it all the more when topping crostini, spread with tangy goat cheese. I also figured that asparagus would be a good test for seeing how Metro's specially-trained personal shoppers would fare when selecting my produce.
"Our personal shoppers are as picky as you are"
Right on schedule, my groceries were delivered straight to my condo unit door (I didn't even have to go down to the lobby!) by a very friendly Metro employee (you always get extra points in my books for having a smile and being friendly!). With the claim that "our personal shoppers are as picky as you are," I dove into the grocery bag to scope out my asparagus. Indeed, I couldn't have asked for more beautiful asparagus! Just as I had hoped, they were not too thin, not too thick, with nice and tight florets on the end. They also passed the cracked egg test, with all dozen remaining intact.

I truly couldn't have asked for a more stress-free and smooth experience trying out the new platform. With any new launch, there's often kinks that need to be worked out, but I was pleasantly surprised at how successful my experience was. I trust Metro's personal shoppers to look, touch, smell, and press the produce just as I would, and can see myself taking advantage of their online grocery on a more regular basis.

Visit Metro.ca to test out the new platform and let me know what you think in the comments!
Note: The dressed asparagus salad keeps in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days! 

Ingredients:
2 lb thick asparagus spears, trimmed & peeled into ribbons
Salad Dressing
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp mint, cut into very fine ribbons
salt and pepper to taste
Salad
2 Tbsp. chopped pistachios, lightly toasted
shaved parmesan cheese, for garnish
Crostini
8-10 thin slices baguette, cut on a bias
olive oil
about 1/2 cup goats cheese
flakey salt for garnish

Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon, and mint, and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a medium bowl, add asparagus ribbons. Add 3/4 of dressing and toss. Taste, and add remaining dressing as needed. 
  3. Divide salad in half. Plate half garnished with pistachios and parmesan cheese shavings and serve as a salad.
  4. Use the remaining half of the salad for topping the crostini. Lightly brush baguette slices with olive oil and lightly toast or grill. Spread evenly with about 1-Tbsp. goats cheese each, and top evenly with remaining asparagus salad. Garnish the crostini and salad with flakey salt. Serve immediately (see note above on how long dressed salad keeps).
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:

Monday, March 18, 2019

Red Lentil Dahl

I've recently had a not so great realization that some of my favourite recipes, the ones that I've created myself and am the most proud of, often never make it to the blog. You would think I would be excited to share something that I'm proud of and want others to experience the joys of as well, but the fear of having my post not live up to the recipe that I am so proud of often stands in the way. 

Whether it's saying to myself "I'll post it next time when I get a better photo" or not feeling like I have the perfect story to tell before the recipe that will make the dish resonate with people, there's always road blocks that I put in my own way that prevent me from moving forward. 

There's something so much safer about putting a photo or a short story on my Instagram, for instance. On Instagram I have the option to let my photo expire after 24 hours, or put it in my grid, where it will inevitably get buried and be forgotten. Why does it feel safer sometimes to be forgotten? Why is there this constant push and pull within myself, between wanting to shine a light on my interests and passions and wanting to hide them away just for myself? It always comes down to fear; fear of not being good enough, fear of not living up to expectations that I have of myself or that others have of me, and fear of putting myself out there and trying and still maybe failing. 

Even though I was scared to sit down and write this today, I did it. Even though I was scared to write about fear in a post about Red Lentil Dahl, worried that people would wonder "what the hell does this have to do with dinner?" I did it anyway. Even though the photo I took was a quick, un-styled capture before I hungrily dove into my bowl, I posted it anyway. Even though I know that I can take a better photo or style a better bowl, I gave myself permission to not be perfect. Even though I'm worried that people may not think my recipe is authentic, I remind myself that I never claimed that it was, and it's delicious nonetheless. Even though I'm scared for people to read this and think that I'm weak for having these fears, I know the only way to move past them is to expose them and fight through them. I face my silly fears today because it will make them a little less powerful tomorrow. 

Red Lentil Dahl
This is one of my favourite go-to recipes for the mid-week rush! I love that this recipe is so quick and simple to prepare, and it also always results in leftovers for lunch the next day, as well as some to freeze for future emergency dinners! If you want this recipe to really go speedy, prep your mise-en-place in the morning, so everything is chopped, measured, and ready to go when it's time to get dinner on the table. 

Ingredients:
4 medium garlic cloves, small dice
1 Tbsp ginger, small dice
1-3 thai red chillies 
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp mustard seed
3/4 tsp whole cumin seed
2 small onions, small dice
pinch baking soda
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric 
1 tsp garam masala
1 can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 can (400 mL) coconut milk
1 cup red lentils

Directions:
  1. Bash the garlic cloves, ginger, red chillies, and lemon juice in a pestle and mortar until it forms a loose paste. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot set to medium heat, add vegetable oil, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds. Cook until spices begin to sizzle and pop.
  3. Add onion and pinch of baking soda. Cook, stirring frequently, deglazing with a splash of water every few minutes until mixture is deep brown and very fragrant, about 10-minutes. 
  4. Add the garlic and ginger paste and cook for 1-minute.
  5. Add tomatoes, coconut milk and lentils and stir to combine. Season with salt. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice. 
Listening To:
Maggie Rogers - Back in My Body

Monday, February 4, 2019

Za'atar Cauliflower Steaks with Creamy Tahini Sauce & Pomegranate

There's no denying it, the plant-based diet is no longer a trend, it's a movement! While I'm not interested in fully saying 'goodbye' to meat anytime soon, I am interested in reducing the amount of meat that I consume, as well as increasing the amount of vegetables that I put into my body. With so many of my friends becoming vegetarians over the past couple of years, I've had to get creative with coming up with new and exciting dishes that I can serve both as side dishes as well as main courses for these newly veggified friends.

Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable, with it's texture so easily manipulatable, and it's mild taste acting as such a fantastic base for other flavours. I don't like when people pretend to make vegetarian food taste like meat very often (sometimes I get it!), so this isn't going to be one of those recipes. This isn't a cauliflower wearing the mask of "steak," pretending to embody those flavours, and that's okay. This dish doesn't care to be steak, because it is unique and wonderful all in itself. To be honest with you, on most nights I think I would prefer to eat a cauliflower steak dressed in beautiful flavours and textures than a big hunk of meat. I still love you, steak, but if I had to have one over the other every night of the week, I'd pick my friend Cauli.
Cauliflower steaks hit the table in the same dramatic way an actual steak does (and that's just about where their similarities end), but due to that lovely blank canvas, we have so much room to play! I like to roast my cauliflower steaks in the oven at a high temp to get the inside nice and tender, and the outside charred and caramelized. If I can get a dip involved, I will, and this dip is creamy, tangy, and just a little smokey (hi, smoked paprika!). While I'm never going to turn down a spicy mayo like a chipotle mayo or sriracha mayo, I'm ready for a new flavour in my mayo these days, and tahini has been an ingredient that I've been turning to on the regular. Tahini and avocado go hand-in-hand in my books, and with the new Metro Irresistibles Avocado Oil Mayo in my fridge these days, the pairing was a no-brainer. I spooned a little pool of the creamy mayo onto each plate, giving the cauli steaks a place to hang out and soak up that flavour. A sprinkle of nutty and herbaceous za-atar, a hit of bright cilantro, and lastly, a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds for their pop of juicy, tangy flavour and texture round this dish out.

This dish is happy playing the star or supporting character, being both a great side dish and a main. When served as a main, I like to pair this with a protein like lentils or beans, or a hearty soup to make it a little more satiating.

* Za'atar seasoning can be made in advance and stores in an airtight container for about 2-months, but best used fresh.
** Creamy Tahini Drizzle can be made in advance and stores in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-week.

Ingredients:
Za'atar Seasoning*
2 Tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp sumac (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
Cauliflower Steaks
1 cauliflower head, stem trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
za'atar (see recipe above or use store-bought)
salt & pepper, to season
1 pomegranate, seeded
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Creamy Tahini Sauce**
1/4 cup Metro Irresistibles Avocado Oil Mayonnaise 
2 Tbsp Tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp cumin, freshly toasted & ground
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions:
  1. Prepare the za'atar seasoning. In a mortar and pestle grind together dried thyme, sumac (optional), and kosher salt. Stir in sesame seeds.*
  2. Preheat oven to 425ºF and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  3. Cut cauliflower down the centre and slice into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch steaks. The cauliflower on the side will naturally break off into florets and that's ok! You will be left with about 4 cauliflower steaks and some florets on the side. 
  4. Place steaks and florets on prepared baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with about 2-4 Tbsp za'atar and salt and pepper on both sides, and bake for 15-minutes. Flip steaks and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until browning and just beginning to char on both sides. 
  5. While cauliflower is baking, prepare the Creamy Tahini Sauce**. In a small bowl whisk together Metro Irresistibles Avocado Oil Mayonnaise, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, and salt.
  6. Serve cauliflower steaks immediately on a bed of the Creamy Tahini Sauce, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, and cilantro, with remaining Creamy Tahini Sauce drizzled on top. Serve immediately.


This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Arlo Parks - Cola

Individual Lemon Poppyseed Mixed Berry Cobblers & Lemon Poppyseed Scones

When I go out to a restaurant, chances are I'm going to want to share dessert with you by the end of it. While my stomach (unfortunately) fills up quite quickly, my eyes are always bigger than my tummy, and I can't help but always want to finish off the meal with a sweet note on the palate, no matter how full I may be feeling. It's in those instances that sharing is the way to go! Call me selfish, but on your average night-in at home, I have no interest in sharing. Lounging in my "comfy pants" with time between dinner and dessert to find my appetite again, I want to dig into something sweet that I can enjoy all to myself! While that may sound indulgent on the surface, what I also love about individual desserts is that your portion is already decided for you, so there's no temptation to go back for seconds. Not only that, the remaining portions of dessert can be easily gifted to family and friends to spread some of that dessert love around.

I don't always have desserts on hand at home on my average weeknight, but I do like to keep a few dessert-emergency ideas in my back pocket so that when the craving strikes, I have something to turn to. For those weeknight emergency desserts I never want anything labour intensive, nor anything too large that I have to worry about eating all of, or alternatively wasting. I also like my weeknight emergency desserts to not be too sweet, and hopefully can also act as a breakfast or snack the next day. With this in mind, I created a dessert that ticks off all of those boxes! Introducing the recipe that produces not only your dessert, but also your breakfast, Individual Lemon Poppyseed Mixed Berry Cobblers & Lemon Poppyseed Scones.
Thanks to the help of the newly released Metro Irresistibles Naturalia Frozen Mixed Berries, this recipe can be made all year round, while still allowing you to stick to your budget. The great thing about cobblers is there really is no need for fresh berries, as they're all going to be cooked down anyway. This is the perfect application for frozen fruit, and I love that these berries are both tested for pesticide spray, as well as frozen at their peak freshness to ensure the highest quality. With berries already that delicious, they really don't require much other work.

To switch up the traditional biscuit topping for my cobblers, I invited in one of my favourite sweet flavour combinations, lemon and poppyseed, to play off of the sweet and tangy dance happening inside of the mixed berry filling. To give myself some breakfast for the next day, I made just enough biscuit topping to gift me with four additional scones, baked off on their own! Without the sweet berry filling, they make an exceptional breakfast to enjoy with a coffee, or on the go. I was so happy with how this dessert turned out, and can't wait to whip it up again the next time I feel a dessert emergency coming on.
Ingredients:
Mixed Berry Filling
2 packages (equals about 6 cups total) Metro Irresistibles Naturalia Frozen Mixed Berriesthawed and drained (reserve juices for another use)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1-2 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Biscuit Topping
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp (well packed and heaping) lemon zest
1 1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (plus more for serving)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease 4 individual baking dishes or ramekins (my dishes could fit 250 mL) and set on a rimmed baking sheet. Prepare another baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  2. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients for the mixed berry filling starting with 1-Tbsp cornstarch (if berries are quite juicy, add more as needed). Taste, and adjust sugar as needed. Spoon evenly into baking dishes allowing filling to go up about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up the dish.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together flour with sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, and poppy seeds.
  4. Add cream to dry ingredients and stir together until just combined (dough will be very shaggy). 
  5. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, spoon approximately 2-3 Tbsp of biscuit mixture on top of fruit filling. Scoop any remaining biscuit dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 2-inches between each biscuit. 
  6. Brush the tops of all of the biscuits lightly with heavy cream. Bake cobblers for 35-40 minutes, or until golden. Enjoy immediately or set aside in fridge covered until ready to eat. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and a drizzle of the strained berry juices on top.
  7. Increase oven temperature to 425ºF and bake remaining biscuits for 10-12 minutes, or until golden. Enjoy immediately or set aside in an airtight container until ready to eat.
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Maggie Rogers - Light On

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

New Years Eve Mezze Board

New Years Eve is often a night full of unfulfilled expectations. The stakes are always set unnecessarily high for a night that really should be like any other. While I used to stress and fret about New Years plans when I was younger, for the last few years I've set expectations aside, and changed my mindset to think of it as just a late night with friends. While no, I don't like to have high expectations in terms of social plans on New Years, I still can't help but want to send the previous year off and ring in the new one on a delicious note!

Like so many holidays that I celebrate, New Years Eve often ends up being a potluck amongst my friends. I always enjoy putting together a beautiful cheese and charcuterie board for potlucks, but this year I had a different idea brewing. If you haven't yet heard, 2018 was the year of the Mezze Board, giving people an opportunity to get a little more creative with their boards, as well as welcoming the chance to offer some healthier choices into the mix. A mezze board is really what you make it, but think of it as a spread that includes veggies, dips, pita bread, pickles, salads, and sometimes even more, inspired by Middleterranean cuisine.
I love mezze boards for so many reasons! The best thing about a mezze board, in my opinion, is that it really allows you to put in whatever amount of time, effort, and money that you feel comfortable with. If you're short on time, you can literally purchase anything and everything you'll need to build a beautiful mezze board right at the grocery store! Because the holidays are such a busy time, I built the board shown in the photos above from pre-made shortcuts from my local Metro grocery store. I picked up my favourite olives from the olive bar, bought packages of hummus and couscous, pre-made falafels ready to heat-and-eat, and quickly cut up some veg. If I find that I have more time on my hands closer to New Years Eve, it's likely I'll make my own hummus and couscous, but will still turn to the pre-made falafels, and olives from the olive bar. I love knowing that I have that flexibility if my schedule should change!

I also love that mezze boards allow you to offer different options for friends who may have dietary restrictions. A number of my friends have become vegetarian recently, and you can always count on a few dairy-free and gluten-free guests in the mix. With a mezze board you can have all sorts of options and variety that can work for pretty much anyone! Play around with different dishes and ingredients that work for you and your friends tastes, but keep in mind that you want variety in textures and colours to keep things interesting.

Mezze Board Ideas:
  • Olives
  • Taboulé
  • Couscous
  • Hummus
  • Babaganoush 
  • Vegetable crudité 
  • Tzatziki
  • Pita bread
  • Falafel balls
  • Fresh herbs 
  • Marinated vegetables 
  • Grilled lemons
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Grape leaves
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Lola - The Raincoats