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.

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

  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.
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)

  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

Friday, December 21, 2018

Roasted Maple Chilli Squash with Pumpkin Seeds

Every year time seems to fly a little faster, which means that Christmas always arrives at lighting, speed, prompting me to often ask aloud "wasn't it JUST Christmas?!" Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas dinner (adore it, even!), but with the hands of time spinning faster than a ballerina in the Nutcracker, it doesn't feel like Christmas dinner was all that long ago!

My family always does a big potluck for our Christmas dinner, which puts the opportunity for change in each of our hands. This year I decided to shake things up and make a Christmas side dish that's grounded in a classic Christmas flavour (roast squash), but given an exciting twist! While roast squash is a common vegetables found on the Christmas table, I roasted mine in a maple chilli glaze to give it a bit of a kick, and garnished it with roasted pumpkin seeds for a salty crunch; dried cranberries for their balance of sweet and tart, as well as chewiness; and finished the dish off with a light, cooling drizzle of a cumin-spiced yogurt.

I love the way this dish activates every taste bud, and think it will make a really exciting and delicious addition to my family Christmas table!

*You may roast the squash in advance, and reheat when ready to serve. Garnish just before serving.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish
1 acorn squash 
2 Tbsp Metro Irresistibles Amber Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 thai red chillies, sliced thin on a bias
1/4 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Metro Irresistibles 2% Plain Yogurt
1/4 tsp ground cumin (fresh ground is best!)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to season

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  2. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Cut squash into quarters and slice into 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch slices.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together maple syrup, butter, and chillies. In a large bowl toss together squash slices with maple syrup mixture and season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Lay squash in a single layer on a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 40-50 minutes or until tender when inserted with a fork.
  5. While squash is roasting, prepare the spiced yogurt. In a small bowl stir together yogurt with cumin and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Store in fridge until ready to use. 
  6. Place squash directly into a serving dish and garnish with pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and a drizzle of spiced yogurt. Serve Immediately.*

This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Christmas Time Is Here - Vince Guaraldi

Friday, December 14, 2018

Cranberry Orange Scones with Orange Honey Butter

Holiday baking isn't just about cookies over the holidays! I'm the kind of person who likes to find any excuse to eat treats all day long, so while I love dipping a cookie in some coffee, there's nothing like having dessert for breakfast! With that in mind, I took the classic flavour combination of orange and cranberry that I so often put in my holiday biscotti, and infused them into one of my favourite go-to scone recipes! I love this recipe because it's super easy to whip together, plus it's just as lovely to gift to a special someone as are cookies!

To take this recipe to the next level, I like to serve it with an Orange and Honey butter, to kick up that citrus flavour just a touch, while also adding another hint of sweetness, to otherwise not overly sweet scones.

Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting surface)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 heaping tsp orange zest
1 tsp Metro Irresistibles Pure Vanilla Extract
1 cup fresh cranberries
Egg Wash
1 egg
2 Tbsp water
Orange Honey Butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-2 heaping Tbsp orange zest (use more or less depending on how punchy you want it)
2 Tbsp Metro Irresistibles Organics Pure Honey

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk sugar baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour to combine.
  3. Add the cubes of butter to the dry mixture and toss to coat.
  4. Using your fingers or pastry blender, work the butter into the flour, breaking it down until only pea-sized pieces of butter remain.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, and add the beaten egg, cream, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Mix the wet ingredients with a fork, incorporating dry ingredients a little at a time, until a shaggy dough is formed. Gently fold in the cranberries. Lightly knead until dough comes together. Don't over-mix the dough! Don't worry if it looks a little dry. 
  6. Flour your table and turn dough onto surface. Pat into a 1-inch thick round, and cut into 8 even wedges. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. In a small bowl, make the egg wash by whisking together 1 egg and 2 Tbsp water.
  8. Using a pastry brush, brush tops of scones with egg wash mixture.
  9. Bake scones until golden-brown, 25-30 minutes.
Honey Butter
  1. In a medium bowl, or bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together softened butter with orange zest and honey until light and fluffy. Serve at room temperature with Cranberry Orange Scones. 
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Earl Sweatshirt - Cold Summers