Homemade Chips & Salsa

 

If you are anything like me, a big bowl of chips and salsa can make the perfect dinner on occasion. I’m obsessed with fresh salsa, and usually can’t stop eating it until all the chips are gone. Salsa is surprisingly simple to make too. These homemade salsa and chips come together in minutes. Using fresh ingredients in the peak of summer is the key to a good salsa that is full of flavour. Juicy garden tomatoes, luscious cilantro, perfectly ripe bell peppers, spicy jalapeños and zesty lime will have you craving taco Tuesday on Monday through Sunday.

This post was made in partnership with PADERNO. The salsa quickly comes together using PADERNO’s 3-Cup Food Chopper and it’s Vortex Blade Technology to make chopping everything together perfectly. Tortilla chips are fried in the best deep fryer I think I’ve ever used. Seriously, I can’t get over how easy it is to clean. It has a 3.5 L oil capacity, perfect for family-sized meals and the auto-drain function drains the oil into a storage reservoir.

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Salsa

  • 2 Large ripe tomatoes

  • ¼ Red onion

  • ½ Red pepper

  • 1 Jalapeño

  • 1 Garlic cloves

  • 1 Tbs olive oil

  • 1 Tsp sugar

  • 1 Tsp salt

  • 1 Tsp garlic salt

  • ½ tsp onion powder

  • 3-4 Sprigs of fresh cilantro

  • Juice from ½ lime

TIPS:

– I like to add a little sugar in the salsa, which balances out the heat from the jalapeños and acid from the tomatoes. 

– Cut the white membrane and seeds from the jalapeño. The membrane can be quite bitter and removing the seeds will allow you to control the heat better.

Roughly chop the tomatoes, onion, red pepper and jalapeños. Add all the ingredients into a food chopper and pulse until desired consistency. Taste and adjust as needed to your taste buds (more lime/salt/jalapeños etc). Serve with fried tortilla chips. 

Tortilla Chips:

  • 8 fresh corn tortillas

  • Oil for frying

  • Salt, to taste

Preheat deep fryer to 350° F.

Cut tortillas into equal wedges. Fry tortilla wedges in small batches, turning occasionally, until lightly golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with salt while still warm.

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Chocolate Zucchini Sheet Cake

 
This is the sixth summer recipe in partnership with  Grey Arrow Farm’s CSA program .

This is the sixth summer recipe in partnership with Grey Arrow Farm’s CSA program.

Doesn’t it feel just a little bit better knowing that those garden vegetables are making their way into a chocolatey dessert!

This recipe is special to me, because chocolate zucchini cake will always remind me of my grandma. In fact, she was the one who told me about the tip on shredding zucchini by the cup and freezing it for later use in the winter. Every time I eat a chocolate zucchini cake, a memory of her always pops up.

Chocolate Zucchini Sheet Cake

  • ½ cup butter

  • ½ vegetable oil

  • 1 ¾ cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 cups of your favourite shredded courgettes (zucchini/patty pan squash)

  • ½ cup buttermilk

  • 4 tbs cocoa powder

  • 2 ½ cup flour

  • ½ tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp salt

  • Top with chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9” x 13” pan with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In another bowl, beat together sugar, butter and oil until smooth. Add eggs and beat until incorporated. Stir in buttermilk and flour mixture. Fold in shredded courgettes.

Pour into pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Bake for 45 minute to an hour, until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Cream of Celery Soup

 
This is the fifth summer recipe in partnership with  Grey Arrow Farm’s CSA program .

This is the fifth summer recipe in partnership with Grey Arrow Farm’s CSA program.

The first time I tasted Grey Arrow Farm’s celery last year was the first time I think I’ve ever truly tasted celery. Like vine ripen tomatoes, locally grown celery right from the garden is unlike anything you’ve had before. I wanted to create a recipe that truly celebrated the flavour of this humble, yet widely used, vegetable. Packed with onions, garlic, leeks and stock, this soup fills the soul on those cold rainy days. And we’ve certainly had a lot of them here in Edmonton this year.

Cream of Celery Soup

  • 6 stalks of celery, diced (keep a handful of leaves for garnish)

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

  • 3 tbs flour

  • 3 tbs butter

  • 2 small garden leeks, trimmed and diced

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 1 glove garlic, minced

  • ¼ cup crème fraiche or sour cream

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish ideas:

  • Celery leaves

  • Chives

  • Pea tendrils

  • Toasted slivered almonds

  • Edible flowers like nasturtium

  • Celery & herb oil (recipe below)

In a large pot, on medium heat, melt butter. Add celery, leeks, onion and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes until vegetables are translucent. Add flour and stir for another 2 minutes. Add broth a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Using a hand mixer, puree the soup until desired consistency. Stir in crème fraiche or sour cream and cook on low heat for another 2-5 minutes. Serve hot with garnishes of liking.

Celery Leaf & Herb Oil

  • 1 cup celery leaves

  • ½ cup parsley

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blanch leaves and herbs for 30 seconds and immediate place in an ice bath. Drain and pure in a blender with ½ cup olive oil and salt and pepper. Strain and store in the fridge for up to a week.

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Coconut Creamed Swiss Chard

 
This is the fourth summer recipe in partnership with  Grey Arrow Farm’s CSA program .

This is the fourth summer recipe in partnership with Grey Arrow Farm’s CSA program.

I like to think of Swiss chard as the fancy cousin to spinach with its beautiful and colourful stalks (I’m looking at your rainbow Swiss chard). Packed with vitamin K & A, it’s a superfood all of its own. Did you know it can be eaten raw or cooked? It’s not only quick to cook, but extremely versatile in the kitchen.

TIP - Swiss chard freezes well. Buy in season and store over the winter to have handy year round and make quick nutritious dishes like this coconut creamed Swiss chard.

Coconut Creamed Swiss Chard

  • 8 cups Swiss chard, with the stalks removed and leaves roughly chopped (save and freeze the stalks for stock)

  • 1 x 400ml can coconut milk

  • 1 tbs coconut oil 

  • 2 tbs butter

  • 2 tbs all purpose flour

  • 1 clove of garlic, mined

  • 1 tbs of shredded coconut  

  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

  • 1 shallot, diced small

  • 2 tsp curry powder (optional)

  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

  • A pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes

  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Add garlic, ginger, shallot, curry powder and smoked paprika and sauté until fragrant. Add Swiss chard and cook until wilted. Remove from pan and set aside. Add butter to the pan and then flour. Stir until the flour mixture (also known as a roux) is a light golden brown colour. Add the coconut milk and stir for 1-2 minutes until thicken. Add the Swiss chard back to the pan and sauté for another 2 minutes. 

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Steamed Fish + Pak Choi in Parchment Paper

 
This is the third summer recipe in partnership with  Grey Arrow Farm’s CSA program .

This is the third summer recipe in partnership with Grey Arrow Farm’s CSA program.

Dinner that comes together in minutes! Heck yes. Perfect for those busy weekday meals, but without sacrificing any flavour or wholesome vegetable goodness.

Cooking in parchment paper, or en papillote, is such a wonderful way to lock in flavour and moisture when cooking fish. Most white fish will work with this recipe and the bold flavours of chili, lime, soy and ginger.

Steamed fish, with ginger, soy, green onions and pak choi in parchment paper

Recipe is for one individual package. Multiple quantities depending on how many filets you are cooking.

  • 6 oz filet of cod or white fish

  • 4-6 stems of pak choi (baby bok choy)

  • 1 spring of green onions, cut into 3-4 inch strips

Dressing

  • ¼ tsp lime zest

  • 1 tsp lime juice

  • 1 tsp of fresh ginger, grated

  • 3 tsp soy sauce

  • ½ tsp sesame seed oil

  • 2 tsp olive oil

  • ½ tsp red chilli flakes or sliced birds eye chillies (optional)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix lime zest and juice, ginger, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, olive oil and red pepper flask in a small bowl. Whisk with a fork to combine.

Cut an 18-inch piece of parchment and fold in half lengthwise.

Place the pak choi and fillet along each folded crease. Season the fillet with salt and pepper. Dress both the fillet and pak choi with the dressing and springs of green onion.

Fold parchment over fish and crimp the sides of paper over itself like you are making a dumpling or perogy. Make sure the folds are tight to keep in the steam as it cooks.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cut the packets just before serving; be careful of any escaping steam.

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Chocolate Oat Waffles with Toasted Hazelnuts

 

These decadent chocolate oat waffles are perfect for that special breakfast occasion. The batter makes for the fluffiest of waffles on the inside, but with that classic crispy waffle crunch on the outside. Topped with the perfect pairing of toasted hazelnuts with a hint of sugar and vanilla. Finish with some whipped cream, fresh berries and a drizzle of syrup and you are in waffle heaven.

This post was made in partnership with PADERNO. Oh, what kitchen magic you can make with a few high-quality appliances. I’ve been working with them for almost a year now, and I can honestly say I’m in love with their products. Not only are they a Canadian company, but their new line of small appliances is also amazing. With the 3-Cup Food Chopper, you can make your oat flour at home. It’s compact and lightweight making it perfect for everyday use.

I also used the PADERNO 10-Speed Hand Mixer to beat the egg whites. This is the secret trick to fluffy waffles! The hand mixer has a digital timer that lets you easily track your mixing times too!

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Chocolate Oat Waffles with Toasted Hazelnuts

Oat Flour

  • 2 cups rolled oats (will yield 1 cup oat flour 1 cup coarse oatmeal).

Pulse oats in a food chopper until they become a fine powder or flour-like consistency. Sift the oat flour into a bowl to separate any larger pieces. I like to use the oatmeal for overnight oats and breakfast cereal. Store in an airtight container.

Toasted Hazelnuts  

  • 1 cups raw hazelnuts

  • 1 tbs coconut oil, melted

  • 1 tbs sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil and add hazelnuts, sugar, and vanilla. Toast until golden and fragrant, stirring frequently.  

Waffle Batter

  • 1 cup oat flour

  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour

  • ¼ cup cocoa powder

  • ¼ cup chocolate chips

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 2 eggs, separated

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1 tbs olive oil

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • Pinch of salt

Preheat your waffle iron.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (oat flour, whole-wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar and salt).

In a separate mixing bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (egg yolks, buttermilk, olive oil, and vanilla). Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. TIP– Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes to allow the oat flour to soak up the liquid.

In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites, on medium speed using a hand mixer, until they form soft peaks. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, just until combined.  

Oil your waffle iron and cook the waffles according to your waffle maker's instructions. Serve warm with hazelnut topping, maple syrup, fresh fruit and whipped cream!  

Serving a crowd? TIP - Keep your waffles warm by placing in a 200-degree oven until you are ready to serve. Be sure to keep them in a single layer so they don’t get soggy. If lying on a baking sheet, line with a wire cooling rack as well. This will prevent the bottoms from becoming soggy as well.

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Shaved Fennel & Citrus Salad with Burrata Cheese

 
This is the second summer recipe in partnership with  Grey Arrow Farm’s CSA program .

This is the second summer recipe in partnership with Grey Arrow Farm’s CSA program.

I absolutely love a fresh fennel salad on a hot summer day. Its anise (licorice) flavour is a perfect pairing for the bright notes of citrus, and the creaminess from the Burrata cheese.

You can find burrata at your local Italian market. Burrata, meaning "buttery" in Italian, is a fresh cheese made from a mix of mozzarella and cream. The cheese making process leaves the outer layer to form a thin soft shell (much like a buffalo mozzarella ball) which encapsulating a soft, creamy mixture of curd and fresh cream inside. An eating experience of its own!    

Shaved Fennel & Citrus Salad with Burrata Cheese

Salad:

  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly shaved (reserve the fronds for garnish)

  • 2-3 oranges, peeled and cut into thin slices (reserve any juice for dressing)

  • 2 cups arugula or beet greens

  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds

  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onions

  • 1-2 balls of burrata cheese

Dressing:

  • 2 tbs olive oil

  • 2 tbs lemon juice

  • 1 tbs honey

  • 1 tbs whole coriander, crushed

  • Reserved juice from orange segments

  • Salt and pepper to taste  

Prep the salad ingredients, and place in a large shallow bowl or salad bowl. Use a mandoline to thinly slice the fennel bulb if possible.

Make the dressing by placing all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisking until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste last.

Dressed the salad when ready serve. Garnish with fennel fronds and edible flowers like nasturtium petals, kale flowers, or pansies. Serve with 1-2 burrata cheese balls.  Alternatively, you can crumble goat cheese on top as a substitute for burrata.  

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Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic scape pesto

  • 5-6 garlic scapes, roughly chopped

  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves

  • 2 tbs fresh parsley

  • ¼ cup cashews

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 2 tbs lemon juice

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in a small food chopper, pulse until blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use the pesto on your favourite pasta, sandwich, grilled veggies, chicken, or pizza recipe!

Read More

Lilac Infused Sugar

 
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Lilac Infused Sugar

  • 1-2 cups Granulated sugar

  • ¾-1 cup Lilac blossoms

Pick the lilac blossoms when they are in their peak. I like to clip off the blossoms along with a little bit of the stems as lilacs need to be pruned once they are finished blooming. Once picked, I find it’s best to leave them outside for 10 minutes or so, just to let some of any unwanted bugs make their escape. Rinse the lilacs in cold water and shake any excess water off. Let dry for 1-2 hours. This will help keep the moisture to a minimum. The moisture will make the sugar hard as a rock as the sugar pulls the moisture from the blossoms as it dries.

Pick the blossoms off the stems of the plant, discarding all the stems and leaves. Place the blossoming in jar or bowl with a layer of sugar started. As you pick the lilacs, alternate with layers of sugar. Give it a good stir. Let the blossoms infuse for a week, stirring every day so the sugar stays loose. You can sifted off the flowers from the sugar if you like, however, I like to leave mine in for added lilac flavour. If the sugar has become too clumpy, I’ll often give it a quick buzz in a spice grinder as well.

How to use lilac sugar

Simply replace in one-for-one in any recipe whose flavour profile would pair well with lilac, such as:

  • Lilac and spruce tip bundt cake

  • Lilac dusted doughnuts filled with pistachio cream

  • Make a simple syrup for cocktails or summer drinks

  • Add to your favourite tea for a little something extra

  • Top a batch of sugar cookies with a little sugar sprinkle/candied flower

  • Lilac jelly

Inspirations are endless!

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Salmon Burgers with Crispy Onion & Fried Dill Pickles

 

I’ve partnered with PADERNO to bring you this simple and satisfying summertime recipe.     

These salmon burgers are perfect for backyard entertaining. Bonus! They also don’t require a BBQ. The recipe itself is also gluten-free to allow for flexible entertaining options. You could even swap out the bun for a summer salad. I like to use mayonnaise in this recipe instead of an egg as the binder. It makes for a moist burger, letting the fish shine! The tempura batter is super light and pairs perfectly with the fish for texture and crunch. You may need to make extra fried pickles as snacking before assembly may occur.

The patties come together super quick in the 3-Cup Food Chopper from PADERNO with its vortex blade technology specifically designed to circulate food while blending. And if you have a deep fryer like this one, with an automatic oil drainage system and storage, even frying the crispy toppings is no-fuss and makes cleaning a breeze! The new PADERNO Kitchen Appliances are designed with the precision control you need to deliver your best cooking moments.

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Salmon Burgers

Salmon Burgers with Crispy Onion & Fried Dill Pickles

Salmon Patties (makes four patties)

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless salmon, cubed

  • ½ cup panko style breadcrumbs (I like to use gluten-free breadcrumbs which allows for the burger to be flexible for guests with dietary restrictions.)

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise

  • 1 shallot, diced

  • 1 tbs fresh dill

  • 1 tbs fresh parsley

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • Zest from one lemon, plus 1 tbs juice

  • Pinch of ground black pepper

Tempura Batter

  • 1 onion, sliced thin

  • 3-4 pickles, sliced lengthwise and thin

  • 1 ½ cup tapioca flour, plus ½ cup for dusting

  • 2 tbs cornstarch

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • ½ tsp paprika

  • Pinch of white pepper

  • 1 cup soda water

  • Vegetable oil for frying 

Tip: Soak your onions in cold water for 10 minutes for super crispy onions. Dusting in additional flour before placing the onions and pickles in the tempura batter will help the batter adhere better.

Caper Dill Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 tbs lemon juice

  • 1 tbs capers, mined

  • ½ tbs fresh dill

  • 1 dill pickle, finely chopped

Directions

1. To make the burger patties, working in two batches, place the ingredients in a food chopper. Pulse until combined. Mix the two batches together in one bowl. Form into patties and let rest in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Cook on medium heat using a cast-iron pan for 3 minutes per side.

2. Preheat your deep fryer with vegetable oil to 350. For the tempura batter, combine the tapioca flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, paprika, white pepper and soda water in a medium bowl, whisking gently to combine. Dust the onion and pickle slices with extra flour, dip into the batter and fry in small batches until golden and crispy.

3. Make the caper dill sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl.

4. Assemble the burger by spreading the caper dill sauce on your favourite toasted bun. Garnish with garden lettuce and top with a stack of the crispy onions and fried pickles.

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Beer Can Chicken

 
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Excuse me while I drool a little.

Beer can chicken makes the most moistest chicken ever! Perfect for summer BBQs, or if you are just craving some good ol’ chicken.

Beer Can Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken, cleaned

  • 1 can of beer

  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, sliced

  • Seasoning salt (around 1-2 tbs)

  • Garlic salt (around 1-2 tbs)

  • A large bunch of fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, sage, and rosemary

  • 1 tbs olive oil

Pre-heat your grill on high heat for 10 minutes. It should reach 450 degrees.

Prep the beer can first by cracking open and pouring half in a glass. Enjoy! Use a pair of kitchen scissors and cut two slits along side the opening tab of the can. Carefully push the, now larger, tab down, creating an wider opening on the top of the can.

Add several cloves of garlic and half of the herbs into the can. Prep your been can chicken stand, if you have have one, with the can of beer filled with garlic and herbs. Alternatively, if you are feeling like balance is on your side, you can place the chicken on the can and balance the can directly on the grill (use the legs to sturdy to the bird on the grill).

Wash the chicken and pat dry. Season the chicken generously with garlic salt and seasoning salt. Using your finger, creating space between the skin of the chicken and meat. Add garlic slices and herbs under the skin. Fit the whole chicken on the stand. Any remaining herbs and garlic and be used to fill the cavity opening on the chicken above the can. Using two small pieces of tinfoil, wrap the wings. This will prevent them from burning. Drizzle the chicken with a little olive oil.

Cook the chicken over indirect heat for approximately 1h 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature registered 180 degrees at its thickest part. And as my mom always said “when the juices run clear” you know it’s done. You may need to adjust the heat of the grill surrounding the chicken so it doesn’t get too hot. Watch for any flares up. Every 15 minutes, baste the chicken and rotate one quarter turn each time. This will ensure the crispiest of skin. Remove from the grill, discard the been can, and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

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Cream of Chicken Soup

 
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Curl-up comfort food for those cold rainy days.

Cream of Chicken Soup

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken

  • 1 cup small soup noodles

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 2 tbs butter

  • 3 celery stalks, chopped

  • 3 carrots, chopped

  • 1 clove of garlic, mined

  • 1/2 zucchini, diced small

  • 1/2 onion, diced small

  • 1 tsp garlic salt

  • 1 tsp onion powder

  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pot, on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter. Add onions and garlic, saute until translucent. Add celery, carrots, zucchini, chicken, and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Saute for another 2-5 minutes. Add flour, stir often for another 5 minutes until flour coats everything well.

Add the chicken stock and stir. Add the soup noodles. Let simmer for 10 minutes before adding the milk and reduce heat to low. As the soup and noodles cook, the broth will thicken. Simmer on low for another 10-15 minutes.

If you find that your soup didn’t thicken to the consistency you want, you can cook off another 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour in a seperate sauce pan and add to the soup. If your soup is too thick, add a little more stock.

Season with salt and pepper to finish as needed. Garnish with fresh thyme and serve hot.

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Cookbook Review & Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart from Vegetables First

 
I recently received a free copy of Vegetables First: 120 Vibrant Vegetable - Forward Recipes by Ricardo Larrivée from  Appetite by Random House  to review.

I recently received a free copy of Vegetables First: 120 Vibrant Vegetable - Forward Recipes by Ricardo Larrivée from Appetite by Random House to review.

This cookbook warmed my heart for several reasons. First, as a Canadian, I absolutely loved watching Chef Ricardo on TV. His show, Ricardo & Friends, was one of my go-tos; rarely missing an episode. Such an inspiration as a budding foodie at the time!

Second, it is stated right up front that the book isn’t meant to be a vegetarian cookbook. Rather, it is about making vegetables the leading role and the meat or seafood (where included in some of the recipes) a supporting role. I love this idea so much. Since the start of last year, I’ve been trying to focus my cooking on incorporating more vegetables. More meatless meals, and more unique side dishes of veggies. I find this book such an inspiration for meal ideas! I also know many friends that in the same boat as me on this too and would definitely recommend this cookbook to start.

Lastly, Ricardo dedicates this cookbook to farmers. If you’ve been following my Instagram stories and posts you’ll also know that I’ve meeting more and more farmers since last summer. I’ve been learning about the farming practices of how our produce is grown and what it really takes for the vegetable to make to my plate. Farmers are the real hero! Supporting local agriculture is important to not only our health, but the health of our plant and everything that depends on it to thrive. Eating local can change the world.

This cookbook is beautiful and artful as the vegetables that inspired the book. Recipes are fully tested, straightforward and approachable—each listing the preparation and cooking time, as well as the servings and how well it freezes. I especially adore the additional sections on how to use even the wilted unused parts of the plants for making broths, soups or purees, as well as storages tips and shelf life of most veggies.

When flipping through the book, the asparagus tart stood out the most to me. At the time I had a handful of asparagus spears ready to eat in the garden. The first ever harvest too! It also let me practice my tart making skills. The recipe was so easy to follow and came together perfectly. I decided to make mine into three smaller tarts, topping with some slivered almonds and grated cured egg yolks I had on hand too.

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ASPARAGUS AND GOAT CHEESE TART

Excerpted from Vegetables First: 120 Vibrant Vegetable Forward Recipes by Ricardo Larrivée. Copyright © 2019 Ricardo Media. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

CRUST

  • 1/4 cup (35 g) toasted hazelnuts

  • 1/2 cup (75 g) unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup (75 g) whole wheat flour

  • 2 tsp thyme leaves

  • 1/8 tsp salt

  • 6 tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut

  • into cubes 2 tbsp (30 ml) 35% cream

FILLING

  • 4 oz  (115 g) fresh goat cheese

  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) 35% cream

  • 1 lb (450 g) mix of blanched vegetables (wild asparagus or thin asparagus cut in half lengthwise and sprouting broccoli) (see note)

  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) white wine vinegar

  • Chopped, toasted hazelnuts, for serving

CRUST
In a food processor, chop the hazelnuts with both flours. Add the thyme and salt. Mix to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is pea-sized. Add the cream and pulse until the dough comes together.

Place the dough in a tart mould 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter and with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly on the bottom and sides of the mould. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

FILLING
In a bowl, combine the goat cheese and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly across the bottom of the cooled tart shell.

 In another bowl, combine the vegetables with the oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the vegetables on top of the cheese. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and serve.

 NOTE Wild asparagus is not technically asparagus but is marketed under that name. You can find it in select grocery stores in the spring. Sprouting broccoli is also sold under the names broccolini. In this recipe, it can be replaced with rapini or broccoli.

PREPARATION 30 MIN
COOLING 1 H
COOKING 25 MIN

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Cookbook Review & Matcha Tea Cookies from Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen

 
I recently received a free copy of Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers from  Appetite by Random House  to review.

I recently received a free copy of Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers from Appetite by Random House to review.

Ask me what I want to eat when I’m not in the mood to cook and I’ll say ‘pho’.

Vietnamese cuisine holds a soft spot in my heart. Some of my closest friends are Vietnamese, and I’ve enjoyed countless evenings at their dinner table eating their family’s dishes.

I’m drawn to the simple, but complex flavours of Vietnamese cuisines. The sweet, the sour, the salty and a dash of love all come together to make a meal that brings people together.

In her cookbook, Kim Thuy, described how their family uses food as a tool for expressing their emotions. I can definitely relate. Since I can remember, food has been the centre of my family’s gatherings. As an adult, I don’t call my parents or siblings all that often. But give it a couple of weeks, and I’ll have the urge to have everyone over for dinner to share a meal and catch up.

I love how each chapter of this cookbook is dedicated to members of Kim’s family. Recipes are laid out a simply and are easy to follow. Starting with the fundamentals and leading into soups, bowls and stir-fries, vegetables, grilled and fried, slow cooking and desserts and snacks. At the end there’s a Vietnamese food and wine pairing recommendation as well as music pairing! I’ve never seen before in a cookbook and was very intrigued.

The book is beautifully photographed and elegant. As a food photographer, I’m drawn to cookbooks with photography that can tell a story. This cookbook hits that one every note. I can’t wait to cook my way through it.

The first recipe I wanted to try was Nathalie’s Matcha Tea Cookies. I think I was craving something sweet at the time. My go-to cookie is white chocolate & macadamia nuts. These matcha tea cookies are made with toasted pine nuts and white chocolate. I instantly knew I was going to be fan. They did not disappoint. I also love that the recipe can be frozen. I already have half a batch waiting for me when the next sweet craving hits!

Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers

Matcha Tea Cookies

NATHALIE’S MATCHA TEA COOKIES

Excerpted from Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers by Kim Thuy. Copyright © 2017 Editions Libre Expression. Translated from the French by Sheila Fischman. Recipes translated by Marie Asselin. Appetite by Random House edition published in 2019. Food Photography by Sarah Scott. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Makes about 48 cookies ~ Prep time 20 minutes + 2 hours resting ~ Cook time 9 to 12 minutes

  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp (5 g) baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp (2 g) baking soda

  • 2 Tbsp (6 g) matcha tea powder

  • 2/3 cup (150 g) salted butter, softened
    1 cup (220 g) brown sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup (70 g) toasted pine nuts

  • 7 oz (200 g) white chocolate, chopped

  • Wax paper or plastic wrap

1—Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and matcha tea powder together. Set aside.

2—Cream the butter using a hand mixer or a stand mixer.

3—Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

4—Add the eggs and beat to combine.

5—Mix in the flour mixture in three batches, beating well after each addition.

6—Add the pine nuts and chocolate and stir just to incorporate.

7—Divide the dough into four portions and set each portion on a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap.

8—Shape the dough into 2-inch (5 cm) diameter rolls. Wrap well in the wax paper or plastic wrap, twisting both ends to seal shut.

9—Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

10—Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).

11—Slice each roll into 10 to 12 cookies. Place the cookies on parchment paper–lined baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 12 minutes, depending on whether you like a softer cookie or a crisper one.

Using sushi mats to shape the dough into rolls will enable you to create perfectly round cookies.

 The cookie rolls will keep refrigerated for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 6 months. Thaw the rolls in the refrigerator for 24 hours before slicing.

Matcha Tea Cookies
Matcha Tea Cookies
Matcha Tea Cookies
Matcha Tea Cookies
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Matcha Tea Cookies
Matcha Tea Cookies
 

Everything & More Seasoning

 
Everything Seasoning

The seasoning mix that will change your life. Maybe not your life, but it will change your baking. Quickly mix this everything seasoning in a matter of seconds to top on bagels, crackers, sourdough, hamburger buns, biscuits and more!

Everything and More Seasoning

  • 1 tbs chia seeds

  • 1 tbs poppy seeds

  • 1 tbs black sesame seeds

  • 1 tbs white sesame seeds

  • 1 tbs dried onion flakes

  • 1 tbs dried garlic flakes

  • 1-2 tsp flaked sea salt

Everything seasoning
Everything Seasoning
Everything Seasoning
Everything Seasoning
 

Whole Wheat Cheddar Cheese Crackers

 
CheeseCracker

I know what your thinking, homemade crackers are hard. Trust me, all it takes is a few healthy ingredients, some delicious sharp Canadian Cheddar and a little spice mix and you’ll be the talk of the next charcuterie night.

A special thanks to Emily at GetJoyFull for collaborating on the recipe, and to Armstrong Cheese for their partnership.

This recipe uses extra old cheddar cheese, which provides that sharp taste, and pairs perfectly with the flavour punch of the everything & more seasoning. These homemade whole wheat cheddar cheese crackers are truly appetizer-worthy.

Whole Wheat Cheddar Cheese Crackers

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • ¼ cup cold butter, unsalted, cubed

  • 2 cups Armstrong Extra Old Cheddar Cheese, shredded fine

  • 3-4 tbs cold water

  • 1 tbs wheat germ

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp onion powder

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper

Click here for the Everything & More Seasoning Recipe

Pulse the butter, flour, wheat germ, onion powder, garlic salt, white pepper, and baking powder together using a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add the cheese, and 3 to 4 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and only enough so that the dough forms a ball. Remove, wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.

Working with half of the dough at a time. Roll out the dough on parchment paper to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut the crackers into desired size using a pastry cutter or sharp knife. Using a fork, prick holes in the dough. This will help the crackers stay flat when baking.

Sprinkle crackers with everything & more seasoning.   

Heat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Place crackers on prepared baking pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.

Store in an airtight container to preserve crispiness.

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Cheese
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Family Fish Crackers

 
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It was so much fun collaborating with my friend Emily Mardell from GetJoyFull, and her daughter Cela, on this recipe. A special thanks to our partner, Armstrong Cheese, for providing the delicious Canadian cheddar as well.

I’ve always been a sucker for goldfish crackers, and I will hands down venture to the kid's table to enjoy some if given the opportunity. Emily and I wanted to take that same treat children love (and adults), but add some healthy ingredients like whole wheat, wheat germ and real cheese to make this a truly family friendly cracker.

These crackers are strong on flavour, contain no preservatives and are honestly super simple to come together with only handful of ingredients and some spices. I can’t wait to make these cracker for my nephews when they visit!

I hope you enjoy making them for your family as well.

Emily & Cela

Emily & Cela

Homemade Whole Wheat Cheddar Cheese Fish Crackers

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • ¼ cup cold butter, unsalted, cubed

  • 2 cups Armstrong Medium, or Old Cheddar Cheese, shredded fine

  • 3-4 tbs cold water

  • 1 tbs wheat germ

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp onion powder

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper

Pulse the butter, flour, wheat germ, onion powder, garlic salt, white pepper, and baking powder together using a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add the cheese, and 3 to 4 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and only enough so that the dough forms a ball. Remove, wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.

Working with half of the dough at a time. Roll out the dough on parchment paper to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired animal shape. If making goldfish, use the tip of a toothpick to make the eye and press the toothpick lengthwise to make a smile.

Heat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Place crackers on prepared baking pans. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.

Store in an airtight container to preserve crispiness.

Goldfish Crackers
Goldfish Crackers
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Goldfish Crackers
Goldfish Crackers
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Goldfish Crackers
 

Grilled Cheese

 
GrilledCheese

I’m not sure if anyone really needs a grilled cheese recipe, but a couple of flavour inspirations can go all way to revamping the slice of processed cheese. Here are a few of my favourite “adult” grilled cheese combos. Happy grilling!

Truffle Lovers

  • Smoked prosciutto

  • Truffled cheese

  • Sliced truffles

  • Truffle honey

Perfect Beer Pairing (or wine)

  • Caramelized onions

  • Sliced pears

  • Irish stout cheddar

TIP: Grill the sandwich on each side before putting in a 350°F oven for a couple of minutes. This will ensure maximum gooeyness in the centre.

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Green Pea Fritters with Chickpea Flour

 
Green Pea Fritters

It’s hard to escape the lure of these vibrant green fritters. Fluffy, and cheesy, they are quintessential spring on a plate. Made with chickpea flour for a power-packed protein and fibre boost (and gluten free). Top with fresh ricotta cheese, or a poached egg for your St. Patrick’s brunch party.

It is also the perfect recipe for those little helping hands in the kitchen. Getting children involved in the process is a fun way to always getting them interested in what they eat, including green foods.

This recipe was made possible as part of a collaboration project with Get Joyfull and Alberta Pulse Growers.

Remi's green pea fritters

Green Pea Fritters with Chickpea Flour

  • 3 cups (750 mL) frozen green peas, divided

  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1 green onion, chopped

  • 3 large whole eggs

  • 1/3 cup (70 mL) ricotta cheese

  • ½ cup (125 mL) chickpea flour

  • ½ cup (125 mL) hemp hearts

  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder

  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) canola oil

Steam frozen peas for 3 minutes. Drain.

Add 1 ½ cups cooked peas, onion, and parsley to food processor, and pulse until smooth.

Transfer pureed pea mixture to medium mixing bowl. Add eggs, ricotta. Stir to combine.

Add baking powder, hemp hearts, and chickpea flour. Mix until batter forms.

Gently fold in remaining steamed peas for texture, and yumminess.

Heat pan to medium, and lightly coat with oil. Add dollop of batter into pan, and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until fritter is golden, and fluffy.

TIPS

  • Substitute with rolled oats if you don’t have hemp-hearts on-hand. 

  • Cook fritters in a cast-iron skillet for added iron, and a beautiful golden crust.

  • Garnish with extra ricotta, or a poached egg and fresh pea shoots.

 

Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake

 
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake

Spring is one of my favourite seasons to forage. There’s something of the change of season and renewed life that I just love immersing myself around. Spruce tips and lilac topping the list on items I love to bake with. Last spring, I made some infused lilac sugar, as well as, some infused spruce tip honey. That is how this cake happened. I went off searching to see if such a cake recipe existed. I’m not a natural baker so pulling together a cake batter from scratch was intimidating. I ended up coming across a lavender honey cake recipe by A Pretty Life in the Suburbs’ Lavender Honey Cake, which inspired me to develop with one.

This cake it ended up being a delicate and delightful celebration of spring. One in which I can’t wait to make again this spring!  

Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake

Cake Batter

  • 2 ½ cups flour

  • 1 cup lilac infused sugar

  • 2 tbs spruce tip honey

  • ¼ cup finely chopped spruce tips

  • ½ cup butter

  • ¾ cup plain yogurt

  • ¼ cup whipping cream

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ tsp vanilla

  • 4 tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp salt

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 2 tbs finely chopped spruce tips

  • 1 tbs milk or cream

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Using a pastry brush, grease a 10-cup Bundt pan with melted butter and dust with flour. Make sure to coat every little crevasse. Tap out any excess flour.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, chopped spruce tips, and salt. In another bowl, use a hand blender (on medium speed) to beat together butter and vanilla until creamy. Add the sugar and honey and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time until incorporated. Turn the blender down low and add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beat until combined, followed by the cream, another 1/3 flour, then the yogurt, and the final 1/3 of the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the pan. Tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles and smooth out the top.

Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. After 10 minutes, invert the cake on the rack to cool completely before icing.

To make the glaze, beat the sugar, spruce tips and milk on low speed. Add more sugar or milk to achieve your desired consistency.

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Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake