Peach, Chevre and Caramelized Onion Flatbread Pizza

Dinner, Starters | July 4, 2016 | By

Cooking dinner for a friend yesterday, I realized how much I genuinely enjoy preparing meals for other people. It never feels like work or a hassle, I am always motivated and happy to plan, shop for and prepare meals. And what better thing to make for others than pizza, having to be the most universally enjoyed food. Although I set out with the intention of making a flatbread with this recipe, they look more like pizzas. But the great thing about dough is that it can be made into so many things, and regardless it turned out to be a great dinner. And best of all is the satisfaction that comes from putting a dish in front of someone with something you’ve created. Foodie or not, the joy of cooking for others is a pretty great feeling.

Ingredients:

Pizza dough (I used this recipe)

Olive oil

1 cup chèvre cheese (or any goat cheese)

1 peach

1/2 cup kale

1/4 cup fresh basil 

Salt

Pepper

2 tbsp butter

2 white onions

1 tbsp brown sugar 

Chilli flakes 

Balsamic vinegar 

  1. Preheat your BBQ to high heat or about 450 degrees
  2. Make the dough and roll out onto oiled pizza pans. I split the mixture in half but you could do one big flatbread – if you have a big enough pan!
Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

3. Drizzle the dough with oil, then crumble the cheese and sprinkle on top too

4. Chop the peach, kale and basil and place on the dough as well

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on the grill with the lid down. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the breads have puffed up and are golden brown. (Check often to make sure they aren’t burning on the bottom!)

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

6. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan and slice the onions. Add to to the pan along with brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often until they are golden brown.

7. When the pizzas are done, take them off the grill and place on a wire rack to cook. Top with caramelized onions and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Roasted Beet Caprese

My dad is notorious for eating whatever is put in front of him at the dinner table and unfailingly complimenting it – whether deserved or not. But father’s day called for a special meal, something that he would genuinely enjoy and cover all the bases of his favourite foods. While my mum grilled steak – a father’s day must – I was in charge of the sides. I love caprese’s because they act as a rich, savory side disguised as a vegetable dish. And defying the norm by being the raw-tomato-hater that I am, I swapped in roasted beets (fitting the usual colour scheme and adding a sweetness to the dish). It was the perfect way to round out our dinner and end a warm weekend.  (a condensed version of this recipe – without pictures – will be at the end of the post for easier printing)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 large beets

3 tbsp olive oil

Kosher salt

1 tbsp dried rosemary

Mozzarella (I used a 340g package)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Handful of fresh basil

Black pepper

 1. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F

2. Thinly slice the beets (I just rinse them and leave the skin on) and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paperDSC00248 3. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and the rosemary. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until beets are tender and slightly crispy at the edges. DSC00249
DSC00267 4. While the beets are cooking, slice the cheese into thin rounds as well. DSC00258 5. Roughly chop the basil and mix together with the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, the balsamic, a pinch of salt and some black pepper. DSC00265 6. To assemble, cut the beet and cheese rounds in half. Layer on a serving platter, then drizzle with the balsamic mixture. Enjoy!
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Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 large beets

3 tbsp olive oil

Kosher salt

1 tbsp dried rosemary

Mozzarella (I used a 340g package)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Handful of fresh basil

Black pepper

 1. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F

2. Thinly slice the beets (I just rinse them and leave the skin on) and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper

3. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and the rosemary. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until beets are tender and slightly crispy at the edges. 

4. While the beets are cooking, slice the cheese into thin rounds as well.

5. Roughly chop the basil and mix together with the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, the balsamic, a pinch of salt and some black pepper. 

6. To assemble, cut the beet and cheese rounds in half. Layer on a serving platter, then drizzle with the balsamic mixture. Enjoy!

 

Avocado and Mango Salsa Crostini

For the month of June, I am eating a strictly vegan diet. I’m doing it as a sort of trial run, to see how challenging it is and how I feel along the way. So far, it seems as though the emphasis has been on things I have to avoid – my sister’s graduation cake and the ice cream truck to name a few. But I’ve realized that with just a few alterations, many of the meals I love can be made vegan friendly. For Sunday dinner I wanted to make something that would be satisfying and indulgent; something that wouldn’t make me feel like I was missing out. These crostini brighten an otherwise unexciting time of the week, with Monday morning looming. A flavourful and recognizable appetizer, they’ll appeal to vegans and meat eaters alike; an environmentally, ethically and health conscious start to your meal. 

Serves 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

1 ripe mango

2 tbsp chopped red onion

1 green onion

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

Black pepper

Honey

1 mini baguette or 1/2 a full baguette

Olive oil

1 ripe avocado

Juice of 1 lime

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Peel and cut the mango into small pieces. Place in a medium sized bowl.

DSC00206 2. Wash and finely chop the red onion, green onion and parsley, then add to the bowl as well. DSC00211 3. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, pepper and honey and mix well to combine. DSC00214 4. Meanwhile, slice the baguette and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Drizzle with oil and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the bread is golden and crunchy. Keep your eye on these!DSC00222 5. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the juice of 1 lime and a pinch of salt. 
DSC00225 6. Assemble your crostini by generously spreading each toast with avocado and topping with the salsa. Enjoy!!DSC00231 DSC00236 DSC00244

Grilled Peach and Pineapple Salsa

Dinner, Starters | August 16, 2015 | By

When she was born, my sister was known as the “cocktail food baby” – some of the only food she would eat consisted of marinated artichoke hearts, blue cheese and olives. Looking back on it now, I think that was a pretty clever tactic on her part: avoiding baby food and going straight for the quality stuff. Although I was an easier eater as a baby, I love that kind of food now and could make a whole meal out of hors d’oeuvres. I made this salsa to go with a cheese plate on Friday night; juicy and fresh, it was the perfect addition. A fun recipe to start the weekend, I’d pick it over baby food any day.

Ingredients:

3 peaches
1 cup of pineapple
3 plum tomatoes
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp basil
1/4 tsp salt
Cayenne
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/3 cup of pistachios
Bread or crackers of your choosing

1. Preheat your BBQ to medium-high heat

2. Slice peaches and cut pineapple into large chunks. Drizzle with a bit of honeyDSC_04453. Place on grill for 5-7 minutes per side or until charred and softenedDSC_04474. Roughly chop up the fruit into small pieces and place in a medium bowl

5. Chop the tomatoes in a small dice and add to the bowl as wellDSC_04506. Finely chop the basil and add to the bowl as well, along with the honey, salt, a dash of cayenne and lime juice.

7. Roughly chop the pistachios and place in a small bowl. Place some salsa on top of crackers or bread and top with pistachios (or eat it however you want). It is also good with cheese. Enjoy!
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Shrimp Spring Rolls with Mango Lime Dipping Sauce

Starters | June 24, 2015 | By

I could spend hours in the grocery store. Loblaws or Pusateri’s, I love walking down every aisle and just looking at everything, thinking up new things to cook. I don’t understand why most people race in and out of the store, spending as little time there as possible. It’s especially interesting in other parts of the world and often, a supermarket becomes an item on our sightseeing itinerary. Going to T&T in Toronto really feels like grocery shopping in Asia – they have about 2000 types of rice, fresh sushi and interesting vegetables. None of the labels there are in English, so it’s a bit of a gamble but a fun way to experiment with new food; I found these rice paper wrappers there last weekend and decided to give them a go. A little hard to work with at first, they are best after being softened in cold water and can be filled with really anything. Another success from T&T, I think I’ll have to go back for more. And wander up and down every aisle just while I’m there of course…

Makes 8 spring rolls

Ingredients:
1/2 a ripe mango, cut into large chunks
8-10 mint leaves
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili flakes
12 large tiger shrimp, peeled
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 grated carrots
8 sheets rice paper

1. In a food processor or blender, pulse mango, mint, sugar and salt until smooth. Set aside in a small bowl.DSC_04112. In a medium frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook for a few minutes, stirring often. 
3. Add the shrimp and lemon juice and cook for about 3 minutes per side, until pink and firm.
DSC_04214. If using rice paper, run under cold water to soften them. You could also use butter lettuce leaves or wonton wrappers for these spring rolls. DSC_04165. Place a wrapper on a flat surface. Pile on some spinach, carrot and shrimp, along with some oil from the shrimp pan. Fold in the sides and roll up.DSC_04226. Serve with the mango lime dipping sauce and enjoy!DSC_0425DSC_0426

Edamame Hummus with Lemon and Mint

Starters | June 17, 2015 | By

Every Thursday night we go out to eat, usually to a restaurant that we’ve never been to before. Our dinner at Fat Pasha (a middle eastern restaurant in Toronto) last summer, was definitely one of the best. I had my wisdom teeth out the day after we went there, so maybe it was the fact that all I ate for the next week was apple sauce and ice cream, but I remember that whole meal – and the hummus in particular – being pretty amazing. We’ve tried a lot of hummus recipes, even going so far as to de-shell all the chickpeas to make it smoother, and have come pretty close to re-creating Fat Pasha’s. I usually make plain hummus but the edamame and mint in this recipe make it really fresh and flavourful. Warmed up with a little oil and paprika drizzled on top, it’s one of my favourite snacks – and made even better without surgery the next day.

Ingredients:
3 cloves garlic
1 19oz can chickpeas
1 cup edamame beans (frozen or fresh)
1/3 cup tahini
Zest & juice of one lemon
Tabasco
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Handful of mint leaves (about 10)

1. Peel the garlic and place into a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until it is roughly chopped.
2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas, then add to the processor.DSC_0410 3. Defrost edamame (if using frozen) and add to the bowl as well along with the tahini, lemon zest and juice, a few shakes of tabasco and salt. Mix on high to combine.DSC_0414 DSC_04134. With the machine still running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is smooth. Feel free to add a bit more or less to make your desired consistency. Throw in the mint leaves and pulse to combine. (You may have to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula from time to time)
DSC_0417 5. Pour into a bowl and enjoy! If serving right away, this hummus is great if warmed up in the microwave and drizzled with olive oil and paprika. DSC_0421 DSC_0424

Chevre Toasts with Strawberries and Basil

Starters | May 10, 2015 | By

My friend Alexa and I are big fans of “snacking meals”, or having a bunch of little things for dinner instead of one large course. Before she came over for dinner on Thursday night, I was brainstorming interesting hors d’oeuvres to make; a change from the standard crudities and hummus. Bruschetta came to my mind, but as I’m not a big fan of tomatoes, I thought to replace them with strawberries. In season now, they are at their best and the balsamic and orange in this recipe highlight their sweetness. This recipe made 10 toasts and we finished them all between the two of us. Paired with a glass of rose and a backyard patio, these were definitely a success.

Serves 2 – 3 people

Ingredients:

1 baguette (I used a half – sized one as I was only cooking for 2)
Chevre
10 strawberries (Eyeball this based on the size of your berries and the amount of toasts you want to make)
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
Zest of one orange

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Thinly slice strawberries lengthwise and place into a small bowl. Add the sugar, balsamic and orange zest and mix.

3. Slice baguette into 1/2 inch thick slices and line on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Place into oven for approximately 5 minutes, or until golden brown.

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4. After the toasts have cooled for a few minutes, spread with chevre and top with some basil.

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5. Place strawberries on top and sprinkle remaining basil on top. Enjoy!DSC_0403

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