Category: Uncategorized

Sweet Potato & Fennel Stuffed Shells

I’ve always been a fan of the Traveling Wilburys, as far back as I can remember, playing their record over and over again throughout my childhood. Recently, I’ve re-discovered the albums, and have been listening to them on a loop. For those of you who don’t know, the Wilburys are actually a supergroup (in which nobody is actually named Wilbury) consisting of Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison and Jeff Lynn. A supergroup is what occurs when multiple successful solo artists come together to form something that can only be described as super. 

These stuffed shells are the supergroup of the food world: a combination of already amazing foods that become exponentially more delicious when they’re put together.  Pasta. Sweet Potatoes. Fennel. Kale. Pesto. Mascarpone. (Writing this, I’m already wishing that I had made more.) I mean, just look at the photos. And then, when you find out that it’s spiced with an unusually delicious combination of cinnamon, sage, allspice and nutmeg, you’ll want to eat this all autumn long.

Homemade Bread

Do you have 15 minutes, some dry active yeast, and a kitchen scale?

If so, you, my friend, can make bread – right this instant. 
No experience required. No fancy ingredients. This bread is easy-peasy – and absolutely delicious. 
The secret ingredient is beer – yes, the kind you drink. Any beer will do, but I like to experiment and change it up each time I make it. So far, my favourite breads have been made with white beers or wheat ales. I have yet to try with a stout – but please, let me know if you venture that way! Now, lets get on with it, and get baking!
Easy Vegan Beer Bread

ingredients
500g (approx 2 cups) all purpose flour
8 g (about 1tsp) salt
16g dry active yeast
4 tbsp warm water
2 tsp sugar
30 ml olive oil
371 ml (1 bottle) of your favourite beer
5 cloves of garlic, grated (optional)
3 scallions, chopped (optional)
method
Combine yeast, sugar and warm water in medium bowl. Stir with a fork until yeast is dissolved. Set aside 10 minutes until frothy. 
Stir oil and beer into yeast mixture. Add garlic and scallions if using.
Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and slowly pour in the liquid ingredients. Using a spatula, or your hand, combine everything together until a sticky dough forms. Work the dough in the bowl until all of the flour is combined, and it comes together smoothly, about 2 minutes. 
Cover the bowl with aluminium foil, allow to rise for 1.5hrs.
Once the dough has risen, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle with flour. Invert dough onto floured parchment and gather it into a round shape. (It will be gluey – very normal!)
Sprinkle the top with some more flour, and allow to rise for another 30 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 425F. Make diagonal slits in the bread (as seen in the photo) JUST before putting it into the oven. 
Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool before slicing. 

Tempting Tempeh

Inspired by a recipe for Sambal Goreng (Indonesian spiced tempeh) found in an old issue of Saveur Magazine, this unexpectedly delicious dish will have you wondering why you haven’t been eating tempeh forever. For those of you who are unfamiliar, tempeh is what happens when soybeans undergo controlled fermentation and fuse together to form a firm patty with a meaty texture. I know it doesn’t sound super appealing, but trust me, it can be, when prepared correctly! The taste is less neutral and more nutty than tofu, but can usually be used in similar applications. As it originates from Indonesia, I believe that the best way to try it for the first time, or to rediscover it, is by cooking it Indonesian style: with a whole lot of garlic and spice!

Indonesian Style Tempeh with Black Garlic

Ingredients
1 slab tempeh, cut into rectangular cubes
1/2 cup olive oil + 1/4 cup for frying
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tomatoes, peeled, small dice
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chili, minced
1 habanero pepper, minced
pinch turmeric
2 tsp paprika
3 cloves black garlic, minced
NOTE: if you cannot find black garlic, add an extra tbsp of soy sauce.

2 cups rice, cooked (for serving)

Method / Instructions
Heat 1/4 cup oil in large skillet or saucepan. Over medium heat, fry tempeh until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain and set aside.

Combine olive oil, tomato paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar together in a medium saucepan Whisk until combined. Add garlic, tomatoes, peppers & spices.  Whisk in a few tbsp water if mixture seems to thick (some brands of tomato paste are thicker than others!). Heat over medium, careful not to boil. Add tempeh & black garlic to pot. Simmer together for 15 minutes, lightly stirring.

Serve over rice.

5-ingredient Coconut Lime Marinade

This multipurpose marinade is excellent for tofu, chickpeas, and rice. If you swing with the meat crowd, it’s also a great sauce for chicken breasts or thighs. I want to call this a curry sauce, but I also don’t want to scare any of you away. Don’t be fooled by the yellow colour – it does not taste anything like Indian food!

What’s really great about this marinade is how fast it comes together. Open up a can of coconut milk, squirt in some sriracha, zest and squeeze your limes, add a couple of dashes of seasoning and bam! Marinade is made. 
Thai Style Chickpeas and Rice
with Coconut Lime Marinade
an original recipe by allison sklar

for the marinade:
1 can full-fat coconut milk*
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp sriracha sauce (or more, to taste)
zest and juice from two limes
for the chickpeas and rice:
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup basmati rice
1 cup water
a few pinches salt
Make the marinade: combine all ingredients and whisk together until homogenous. 
Add chickpeas to marinade and pour into heated saucepan. Heat until bubbly. 
Reduce heat and let simmer, uncovered, until sauce reduces and thickens, about 15 minutes. 
Meanwhile, start the rice. Combine rice and water in wide bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Pour rice into chickpea mixture and stir. Salt to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro if desired. 
*Tip: Choose coconut milk in a can with a high fat content. The “drinking” coconut milk that’s found in the refrigerated section won’t do as it is lacking cream, which is important for the consistency. 

Stock Up! (Vegan Soup Stock / Broth)

After a strange, elongated dance with flu this winter, I craved nothing but soup broth for days. Maybe it was instinctual – my body associates broth with healing, as I was brought up to believe that my Bubbie’s chicken soup was THE Jewish penicillin.

A little embarrassed to admit, these days, I’ve been a broth-in-a-box kind of girl. I know, I know! Making soup broth is so easy! The problem is, I’ve always found homemade broths to be expensive, and quite wasteful, throwing all of the strained, overly mushy vegetables straight into the trash. However, my thoughts on this subject changed dramatically when I recently discovered that broth can actually be a great way to use up otherwise unusable produce! 
I had been stockpiling a few vegetable odds and ends in my freezer over the last little while (too-soft celery, wilted mushrooms, broccoli stems), and I decided that this would be a great time to use them all up. I added in some garlic and onions (for some super flavour and amazing healing properties) along with a few of the herbs that I dried last summer, some tamarind, and some salt, and a beautiful, versatile broth was born!

The base of your broth should be made up of garlic, onions, celery and carrots. Mushrooms, if you have them on hand, add a lot of flavour as well. The rest is up to you! Here are a few things that I always include:
  • Prunes – to create rich colour and add subtle sweetness. Thank you Ottolenghi for this suggestion. I never go without it!
  • Tamarind – to add a bit of tanginess. You can adjust the amount to your taste preference (a little goes a long way!)
  • Dill – if I don’t have fresh dill on hand, I’ll add a generous sprinkling of dill seeds to get a nice burst of earthy flavour. This is reminiscent of the dill-icious matzah ball soups that I ate as a child. 
  • Black pepper & chilli flakes – for a little bit of bite. 
  • Salt – but only at the end! Salt your broth only once it has simmered away for a long time,  so you know it’s reached it’s maximum flavour potential. This is a great way to avoid over-salting. 
Whole Vegetable Cooking: Healing Vegan Broth
(Basic vegetable soup stock / vegan soup stock)
Ingredients
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled & roughly chopped
1 entire bulb of garlic, peeled & roughly chopped or minced
4 stalks celery with the leaves (if available), roughly chopped
3 carrots & greens (if available), roughly chopped
4L water
4 prunes
1 tsp tamarind paste (or more, to taste)
2-3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 bunch fresh tarragon (or 2 tbsp dried)
1/2 cup chopped dill (or 1 tbsp dill seeds)
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp chilli flakes
salt, to taste
+ any leftover veggies / odds / ends you have laying around!
Method
Heat oil in large pot for about 1 minute. Over medium heat, add onions, sauté until translucent. Add garlic, celery & carrots. Sauté for 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften. Add “leftover” veg, if using, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Add tamarind, prunes, spices and herbs. Cover, and simmer over low heat, 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Use fine mesh sieve to strain soup into clean pot. Taste & add salt as needed. Can be stored up to 2 weeks in refrigerator or 6 months in freezer. 



Best Ever Kale Chips

“Best Ever.” I see this phrase, and variations of it, used liberally all over the internet. Everything seems to be the “best ever.” A quick Google search for “best cookies ever,” will land you with millions of results, but not necessarily what you’re looking for. In Vancouver, a friend of mine once counted 6 “world’s best pizza,” signs within a 1km radius of each other. I have eaten the “best food in the city,” at countless locations, all in the same city. Recently, my boyfriend and I embarked on a (fattening) quest to discover the best pizza in our area. What we’ve learned: we both have *very* different criteria when it comes to pizza. (I like thin crust, lots of sauce, little cheese – he likes the complete opposite. Clearly, our opinions differ greatly on which pizza is the best.) So how is it that so many places claim to be the “best ever?” I’ll chalk this phenomenon up to two things: first, many people truly believe that they have the best *insert food name here* ever, based entirely on their own personal preferences. The second reason is that curiosity sells. People want to know – is it really the best ever? The thing is, it’s a win/win situation: if it is the best ever, a-w-e-s-o-m-e! I just got to eat it! If it’s not the best ever, I can ridicule those who think that it is, and I can fill the internet with my angry opinion!

Because #trolling.

All that being said, I’m here to tell you that these kale chips really are the best that *I* have ever had. They are crispy, umami, and not too salty. That’s all a kale chip really needs in life, and that’s what I’m here to share with you today.

Things to note before making this recipe
1. If you do not have a dehydrator, you *can* make these in the oven, as long as it’s on the lowest setting. My oven goes down to 170F, which is only 10F higher than my dehydrator, and it works very well. If your oven only goes down to 200F or so, you’ll have to check on them regularly, and continue flipping to make sure that they don’t burn. If they start to brown, get out of town! (And by that, I mean take them out of the oven. They’re done.)
2. Nutritional yeast has no substitute. Buy the flaked kind, not the powder. You can find it at most bulk stores, or at specialty health food stores. As it’s rising in popularity, you can sometimes even find it in chain grocers in the “organic/health food” section.

So without further adieu, the humble, tasty, umami filled, nooch speckled, crispy, tangy, delicious kale chip.

The Best Ever Kale Chips 
a.k.a. Nutritional Yeast Kale Chips
a.k.a. Umami Kale Chips
a.k.a. Cheezy Vegan Kale Chips

ingredients

2 bunches of kale
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

method

Remove all stems from kale. All of them. Get them off of there! They have no place in the life of kale chips. Toss leaves in a large bowl with sesame oil and soy sauce. Massage into kale until all leaves are coated. Toss with nutritional yeast.

Place on dehydrator sheets (or on parchment-lined baking sheet) and dehydrate at 160F for 3 to 4 hours, or until they are crispy. If they are in the oven, put your oven to it’s lowest setting, and bake, turning about once every 30 minutes, about 2 to 3 hours, or until crisp.

Note: Smaller pieces will crisp up faster – feel free to remove them earlier to snack on while you’re waiting. I highly encourage this.


Mediterranean Eggplant & Tomato Relish

Ajvar! Caponata! Pindjur! If you’re of North American descent, chances are, you’ve never heard any of these words. They’re in fact three different condiments from various parts of the world, whose ingredients differ regionally. What they often share is a beautiful base of eggplant and tomato.

Ah, the eggplant-tomato combo. Where have you been all my life? A few years ago, I realized that I actually enjoy eggplant. More recently, I discovered that I enjoy it even more when it marries with tomato to become a sweet and tangy sauce. Today, I present to you my version of an eggplant-tomato sauce. No, it’s not a babaganoush. And it’s not quite a ratatouille. It’s it’s own thing, really, so I’ll just refer to this as a “condiment” for now. I do wish I could eventually come up with a jazzier name, because this saucy spread really jazzes up whatever it touches.

This “condiment” is great served hot, or cold, and is a wonderful topping for fresh bread or crackers. I also like to eat it on top of polenta (similar to a recipe in Ottolenghi’s “Jerusalem”), or as a dip with pita chips. Enjoy this dish on it’s own, or watch it transform into something new when mixed with thick yogurt. Toss in chickpeas to make it into a meal, and adjust the heat to your liking. It is truly a versatile food!

Eggplant & Tomato Relish
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut into 1″ cubes
4 – 5 medium canned plum tomatoes
1 cup tomato juice
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp each: chopped oregano, cilantro & parsley
1 tbsp sambal olek chili sauce, or more to taste

method
Heat oil in large pan or wok. Cook eggplant over medium-high heat, until reduced in size and browned. Oil will first be absorbed, then will separate. Drain eggplant and return to pan with tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato paste. Add sugar, salt, lemon juice. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until eggplant and tomatoes begin to homogenize. Add herbs and chili sauce and cook for 2 more minutes. Serve warm or cold.