Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sweet Potato Macaroni (Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese)


Sometimes, you have a carton of milk in the fridge, and you truly believe that that carton is full. You start making a recipe, then, when it's time to add the milk in, you realize that somebody put it back in the fridge with nothing left inside. Even if that somebody who left the one drop of milk in the carton is you... you now have a problem: what to substitute in your already started recipe? Buttermilk in a roux? BUTTERMILK. IN. A. ROUX. Why haven't I thought of this before? It's deliciously cheesy tasting and low-fat at the same time. Win-win.

This recipe started out with a couple of sweet potatoes that absolutely needed to be used up, and my discovery of a big jar of macaroni at the back of my cabinet. A little roux, some spices, a little bit of green onion, and we're in business. Sweet potato macaroni and cheese - what are you waiting for?!


Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese
recipe inspired by Nigella Lawson

ingredients
500g peeled and cubed sweet potato
1 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni
6 chopped green onions
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

buttermilk sauce ingredients
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp dehydrated onion
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp black pepper (or more, to taste)

Method
Bring a large pot of water to a boil with chopped sweet potato inside.
Cook for about 10 minutes, until tender enough to mash.
Drain & transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Roughly mash until broken down. It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth - lumps are fine!
Fill the pot back up with water and bring to another boil. Add pasta and cook about 6 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and toss with sweet potato.
While you wait for the pasta water to boil, begin the buttermilk sauce by melting butter over medium heat, then whisk in flour.
Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly.
Add dehydrated onion, paprika, smoked paprika, mustard & pepper.
Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking frequently.
Once the sauce has thickened, pour over sweet potato and macaroni mixture.
Stir in green onions.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Transfer to oven safe dish (or multiple small oven-safe dishes for single-serve possibilities!)
Top with shredded cheese and extra green onions.
Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, or until cheese on top has melted.
Serve hot!








Monday, February 20, 2017

Markouk, Chickpeas, & Mushrooms with Sumac Spiced Yogurt


Living in Montreal, we have the privilege of shopping at a variety of different markets from all over the world, all within a 60km radius. From Lebanon to China to the Caribbean to Russia, there is a little corner for everyone, and every food. It's truly heavenly for foodies like me - having a chance to discover new foods each time I go to the grocery store. This week, I discovered Markouk (Markook) bread - an unleavened wheaty delight. (Available at Adonis for all of you Montrealers!) It's perfect for wrapping sandwiches, or eaten on it's own with nothing but honey & labneh. Alternatively called Shrak, this flatbread is similar to an extremely thin whole wheat pita, and popular throughout the Middle East.

I rarely have labneh on hand, but I do always keep some Balkan yogurt around. Inspired by za'atar pitas (my favourite way to eat bread!), I decided to put together a sumac-laced yogurt spread. Tossed together some mushrooms and chickpeas, and within 20 minutes, I had myself a fantastic dinner bursting with colour and flavour.


Savoury Yogurt Spread with Sumac & Dill
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
1 cup greek or full-fat Balkan yogurt
1/2 tbsp sumac
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp dehydrated onion
1 tsp dill seed (or 3 tsp chopped fresh dill)

method
Mix all ingredients together and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes.
May be made in advance and stored in the fridge up to 5 days.

Flatbread (Markouk) Sandwiches with
Chickpeas, Mushrooms & Arugula
original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
454g (1lb) fresh white or cremini mushrooms
2 tsp dried tarragon (or 4 tsp fresh)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup baby arugula (rocket)
2 tbsp grapeseed, vegetable, or canola oil

1 large markouk bread, or two small pitas
Extra arugula, for garnish

method
Heat oil for one minute over medium high. Roughly chop mushrooms and toss into pan. They should sizzle when they hit it. Stir once, reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking, undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally, until mushrooms begin to shrink. Add chickpeas & spices. Stir. Continue cooking over medium heat until chickpeas start to have golden spots. Add arugula & cilantro and cook until wilted.

Cut markouk in half. Spread each folded half of markouk (or pitas) with yogurt mixture.
Top with chickpea mix & handfuls of fresh arugula.
Enjoy hot.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

4 Ingredient Babaganoush



If you've been following this blog for a while, you've likely noticed that I absolutely love cooking with eggplant. I've showed you how to make it into curry, how to roast it with za'atar & chickpeas, how to make eggplant relish and even how to bake some easy eggplant falafel. But, for some reason, I haven't shared my easiest eggplant recipe ever. And when I say easy, I mean it: Roast it, scoop it, spice it, blend it, and babaganoush, you're done!



Ah, babaganoush - fun to say, delicious to eat! This creamy aubergine concoction can be enjoyed as a dip, spread onto a sandwich, or eaten straight up with a spoon. A staple in most Jewish and/or Middle Eastern households, you'll often find Babs hanging out next to it's chickpea cousin, hummus. Serve it with pita (or pita chips!) and you'll wonder how it's possible that you ate a whole eggplant in one sitting (because, well, you will.)


4 Ingredient Babaganoush
Unlike traditional recipes, this babaganoush is made without tahini, but still yields a supremely creamy result when using a high-powered blender.

ingredients
One large eggplant
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp Bombetta or Sambal Olek 
2 tsp each sesame seeds & sumac

method
Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a baking tray with parchment. Cut eggplant in half and brush with oil. (Note: eggplant will act as a sponge, this is normal!)
Place flesh side down and roast for 40 minutes or until skin is wilted.
Allow to cool about 15 minutes, or until you're able to hold it in your hand.
Scoop out flesh into a blender or food processor.
Add chili sauce.
Pulse until smooth.
Transfer to a bowl and stir in sumac & sesame.
Serve warm or cold.
Enjoy!







Saturday, January 28, 2017

Poke Bowls - Two Ways! (Vegan Poke & Salmon Poke)



This week, Stokes Canada invited me to collaborate with them to create these vibrant poke bowls. The second they contacted me, I knew I wanted in. I mean, you're asking me to create a vegetable-packed, rainbow-coloured meal that just happens to be one of the hottest trend-setting foods of 2017. Of COURSE I will. I'll even make a vegan option - because that's just how I roll. Or, uh, unroll - 'cause poke is basically sushi maki in a bowl. Check out this beautiful marinated tofu though:


For those of you who've seen poke poking up everywhere from fancy restos to corner Sushi Shops, you've probably noticed that it usually involves a bowl, some rice, some fish, and an assortment of toppings. While it's trending around North America at the moment, the poke bowl is nothing new to the Hawaiians. They've been enjoying the raw-fish delicacy for decades, so we definitely have them to thank.

Poke generally consists of marinated raw fish, some rice, and whatever toppings you choose. Purists will tell you that it must be ahi-tuna, but I'll beg to differ. My salmon version is packed full of flavour (and omega-3s!) - but it's my tofu version that really hit the ball out of the park. We aren't huge tofu fans around here, but the texture and flavour of this marinated semi-firm silken variety definitely converted us. Feel free to get creative - change up your white rice for rice noodles, or for brown rice if you want a little extra fibre. Change your toppings up based on what you like, and what you have in your fridge.


Build-your-own Poke Bowl
Vegan Poke Bowl Recipe *and* Salmon Poke Bowl Recipe
(serves 2)

Ingredients
1 cup calrose rice, cooked *or*
1 cup rice noodles, cooked according to package directions

Marinade
1/3 cup tamari sauce
4 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp dehydrated onion
2 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp sea salt

Protein
300g silken tofu, cut into 1" cubes *or*
300g fresh, boneless, skinless salmon, cut into 1" cubes

Vegetables
1 medium cucumber, cut into thin ribbons (see instructions)
1 medium carrot, julienned (see instructions)
1 medium beet, julienned
1 avocado, cubed or sliced
1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage
1/3 cup shelled edamame

Toppings
1 sheet nori seaweed, finely chopped
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
pinch cayenne flakes

Instructions
In a medium bowl, whisk marinade ingredients together and toss with your chosen protein. Cover, refrigerate, and marinate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Meanwhile, cook your rice, or rice noodles, and set aside.
Then, steam your edamame: combine beans in a microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 cup water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Drain & set aside.
Next, cut up your veggies and get creative with the slicing! I love using my mandoline to create perfect little matchstick pieces, and my vegetable peeler to create lovely ribbons.
Once your poke is done marinating and your prep is finished, it's time to assemble!
Fill serving bowls about 3/4 high with rice or rice noodles. Spoon 6 tbsp of marinade over base. Top with vegetables, avocado,  edamame and poke. Sprinkle with sesame, chili flakes and nori.
Serve immediately & enjoy!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Thai Sweet Potato & Roasted Pepper Soup (Vegan)


Start with an earthy roasted sweet potato. Combine it with some charred roasted red pepper. Now, add in some rich thai flavours - coconut, lemongrass, ginger, lime, and miso. Purée the whole thing until smooth. You've just made yourself a bowl of warm hugs on a cold day. That's what this soup is - and, according to my toughest critic, it's also the "best soup (I've) ever made."


The Best Soup I've Ever Made, a.k.a.,
Thai Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Soup
vegan, gluten-free, damn delicious

ingredients
3 cups water
2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
1" cube fresh ginger, peeled
2 tbsp miso paste
3 tbsp tamari
juice from 1/2 lime
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
4 medium red peppers, roughly chopped, seeds & stems removed
1 tsp chilli flakes (more if desired)
fresh cilantro, for garnish

Line two baking sheets with parchment and preheat oven to 400F. Toss sweet potato with 1 tbsp oil and spread out on one baking sheet.  Toss peppers with remaining oil and spread out on remaining baking sheet. On alternate oven racks, roast both veggies until tender, rotating half way through, for a total of about 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, wrap chopped lemongrass in a piece of clean cheesecloth and secure with a knot. Bring water, miso, tamari, wrapped lemongrass & ginger to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are ready.

Uncover soup mixture. Remove lemongrass. Add coconut milk, lime juice, roasted potatoes & peppers. Cook for another 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender (or by transferring mixture to a Vitamix) blend soup until smooth.

Sprinkle with chilli & cilantro. Serve hot.