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