Because almonds are water-sucking jerks.
Why is the health/foodie/wellness world obsessed with almonds? Marketing. Which is why they’re EVERYWHERE even though they are a water sucking, non-sustainable food source.
The same goes for walnuts and pistachios. These trees have shallow root systems which means they quite literally can’t “dig deep” in order to survive during times of drought. They have to be watered constantly, even when water is expensive and limited - which raises prices in the surrounding areas too. Not cool if a nearby, low-income family is just getting by.
On the other hand, hazelnuts have deep root systems and are considered drought resistant. They also can survive on all kinds of diverse land so they can be planted in areas that don’t have to be ripped apart and destroyed to make room for commercial growers. In addition, they also don’t require pesticides (which can severely affect much needed pollinators).
What’s key when it comes to buying hazelnuts though is noting where they come from.Turkey is the world’s largest producers and exporters of hazelnut, but there have been a lot of heartbreaking child labour issues surrounding the production of them. Unfortunately, these are the same hazelnuts used to make the very popular chocolate-hazelnut spread.Yes, the same spread we then feed to our kids - how depressing! However, Canadian and American grown hazelnuts don’t have this problem.
If Canadian or American hazelnuts are out of your price range, American peanuts are a pretty sustainable crop and well as pecans. Toast your nuts to bring out their crunch and flavour and use on anything from cheese plates, to main dishes to brunch bowls and desserts.
Pic: Hazelnut-Crunch Brunch Bowl
CAPRESE KNOWS NO BOUNDS
Can you imagine going your whole life thinking that you could only have Caprese one way? Because that's the way they did it in Italy back in the day and that's the way it should always be done? Because every Italian restaurant in your hometown still serves it that way so you just go along because kicking up a fuss will get in the way of you and that salad?
BUT, if you just simply asked for them to add something different too it. What if they also had some fresh nectarines or apricots in the back, maybe some blue cheese too, asked if they could throw some some nectarines and apricots, maybe even some blue cheese - Parmesan too! What if you left off Mozzarella altogether? Because heck, you've had a glass of wine! Also because it's literally the most popular cheese in the world and you can have it ANY other time you want. Pigeon holing something, anything, limits it and limits you in the process.
Imagine just trying to change your way of thinking about something, one small thing at a time and eventually, letting that lead you into a life that was full of limitless friendships, life experiences, places, foods, cultures and more. Imagine that? A life without boundaries. For you, for everyone.
BASIC BITCH HALIBUT TACOS
Because unlike our society, these ain't broke.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it - a saying I couldnt agree with more when it comes to simple and satisfying fresh fish tacos. If you have fresh, quality fish, some crunch and a good tortilla, you don't need anything else.
When it comes to your fish, ensuring it's sustainable is key. This in no way means it's more expensive, especially if a fish population is thriving. Why is it so important? Because how we catch our fish and who we support greatly affects our future on this earth. As people and as a planet. Education is key to living a more enriched, satusfying life. Ignorance looks good on no one.
To help you - here is a super easy to understand link on sustainable fish. And when in doubt, ask a monger you trust!
OLIVE OIL-HAZELNUT CAKE WITH LEMON & ROSEMARY
A decadent blend of olive oil and hazelnuts meets refreshing lemon and fragrant rosemary.
*Note: The flowers on the cake are plastic, from a vintage bouquet, for decorative purposes only. Please do not ingest any florals or foliage unless safe to do so.
This recipe for Olive Oil-Hazelnut Cake with Lemon & Rosemary is adapted from one previously published by Food52 (Luscious Lemon, Almond Flour and Olive Oil Cake).
I'm not usually finicky about the steps because, trust me, this cake will taste great no matter what. However, you do have to be careful about one thing: getting it out of the pan. Why? Because there's whipped eggs and sugar, which, when paired with heat, can make a meringue-like glue that will hold onto your cake pan for dear life. It's essential to use parchment paper to line your cake pan and to grease the absolute heck out of it too. Also, use either an 8" spring form cake pan or a baking tray (one which you'll later cut and serve the cake from).
4 large eggs
1/2 cup regular sugar
Zest of two lemons
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
1 cup ground hazelnuts (hazelnut meal)
1/2 cup AP or rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
powdered sugar (for dusting at the end)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Trace out the bottom of your 8" springform pan or tray pan onto parchment paper. Ensure when cut and placed to see if it fits, that it's trimmed enough so it lays flat.
Remove parchment, grease the pan, then lay the parchment back into the pan and grease it too (Just grease the whole damn thing, up, down and all around).
Whip the eggs and sugar, lemon zest and chopped rosemary until uber airy. Like, triple the size it once was (don't worry about over mixing, not possible!)
Then slowly stream in lemon juice, olive oil and vanilla extract while beating.
Add the ground hazelnut, flour, baking powder and baking soda. If using a gluten free flour, don't worry about over mixing. If you use AP flour, stir until ingredients are just incorporated (due to gluten in AP flour, overmixing can happen here).
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top no longer jiggles.
Remove from oven and let cool in pan. Just before serving, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar (shaken through sieve).
CRISPY FISH CAKES WITH TANGY CAPER AIOLI
Flaky halibut is mixed with a tangy home-made aioli and pan fried for crispy perfection.
Makes 10 appetizer-sized cakes
We're not going to be at the beach, eating fish and chips anytime soon (sadly), but instead of panic-buying a commercial fryer, try pan frying up some of these crispy fish cakes instead! You get the crispy coating, flaky halibut and tart and tang from the aioli that us West Coasters start craving as soon as summer hits. It's a fantastic stand-in until we can all stand in long, sun drenched lines, ocean wind in our hair, once again.
Note: You can do this recipe without a food processor too - just make sure the ingredients are finely chopped before mixing vigorously (for both the aioli and the cakes).
Can make up to 2 days ahead of time.
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Dijon mustard
2 (30 ml) tablespoons lemon juice
3 (45 ml) tablespoons capers
200 ml lightly flavoured vegetable oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Add all ingredients, except oil, into food processor.
Blend on high while slowly drizzling in all of oil.
Use for halibut cake recipe.
Crispy Fish Cakes:
1 pound (450 g) chopped halibut (or another kind of fresh, flaky white fish)
½ (125 ml) cup fresh dill sprigs
1/3 cup (80 ml) caper mayonnaise
2 tablespoons (30 ml) capers
2 tablespoons (30 ml) grainy mustard
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) cayenne
1 cup (250 ml) panko bread crumbs (plus more for breading)
Pre-heat oven to 400 F and
To food processor, add all ingredients for fish cakes and blend until well combined.
Add mixture to fridge for 15 minutes or more (patties are easier to form when slightly cool).
Once cooled, portion out 10 servings using 1/4 cup measure.
Press into patties before coating each with panko bread crumbs.
Once done, add back to fridge for at least 10 minutes.
When ready to cook, heat large frying pan to medium-high. Add a healthy pad of butter and some olive oil.
Allow to heat and bubble before adding 4-5 of the patties.
Fry for a minute on each side, or until golden before removing from pan and adding to baking tray.
Add more oil and butter to the pan, heat and fry remaining cakes. Repeat until all cakes have been browned.
Once all patties have been browned and added to tray, finish cooking in the oven for about 3 - 5 minutes.
Can keep warm in oven on low heat until ready to serve.
Serve with caper mayonnaise and fresh dill for garnish.
STICKY THAI-INSPIRED TOFU TRIANGLES
Coconut milk is caramelized with tons of garlic, ginger and fresh lime juice into a sticky, sweet and aromatic glaze.
This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to ensure you use up your can of coconut milk. It keeps well in the fridge or freezer too!
You can also add it to anything you want to grill, BBQ or bake. The trick though is ensuring that you've slightly caramelized it before-hand (see recipe below).
However, the recipe below works perfectly for saturating one brick of extra firm tofu.
1/2 cup (125 mL) coconut milk
1/8 cup (30 mL)Thai fish sauce (or soy sauce)
1/8 cup (30 mL) toasted sesame oil
1/8 cup (30 mL) lime juice
1/8 cup (30 ml) roughly chopped, peeled ginger
1/8 cup (30 mL) chopped garlic
1/8 cup (30 mL) brown sugar
1/8 cup (30 mL) liquid honey
1 teaspoon (5 mL) hot chili flakes
Add all ingredients together in blender and blend until smooth.
Add to large sauce pot on high heat.
Bring up to a strong simmer and let bubble and brown for about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally.
Remove from heat. Use for Tofu Triangle recipe below.
Preheat Grill to high and oven to 400
Cut one brick of extra firm tofu into 8 equal triangles.
Carefully coat well with olive oil, or melted coconut oil, salt and pepper.
Grill on both sides until tofu has firmed up and dark grill marks have appeared, ensuring to flip only once as tofu may still be delicate.
Using spatula, carefully lift tofu from grill and place into pot of glaze.
Spoon some glaze over the top of the tofu pieces.
Add to oven, uncovered, and let roast for 5-7 minutes.
Let broil on high for 1 minute or so.
Top with sesame seeds, green onions and red chillies before serving (optional, but pretty)!
Can be served warm or cooled.
SWEET 'N SAVOURY CARAMELIZED RHUBARB FLATBREAD
Caramelized rhubarb, browned goat's cheese, crunchy hazelnuts and fresh herbs help rhubarb escape the dessert table.
The more we liberate rhubarb, the more we'll get out of it. So have fun, enjoy the bounty around you and support local farmers and suppliers as they navigate this confusing time.
Sweet and Savoury Caramelized Rhubarb Flatbread
Caramelized rhubarb, browned goat's cheese, crunchy hazelnuts and fresh herbs help rhubarb escape the dessert table.
Finally, the fruitful pleasantries of spring have reared their reluctant heads! And it seems like trees exploded with fullness overnight, flowers blossomed before our eyes and my rhubarb plant re-appeared out of nowhere.
But unlike years passed, I'm no longer pigeon-holing rhubarb to the dessert table; the more uses I have for it, the more I can support our local growers during this weird time. So have fun and enjoy the bounty around you by still buying from them! They miss seeing you at the farmer’s markets just as much as you miss going.
Sweet and Savoury Caramelized Rhubarb Flatbread
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups chopped rhubarb stalks (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons sugar
One strip orange zest
Juice of one orange
In a medium pot, melt butter on high heat.
Add rhubarb and sugar.
Let bubble and stir for around 5 minutes, until the liquid has been drawn out of the chopped rhubarb and has pooled in the pot.
Add orange zest and juice and continue to cook and stir until mixture has become a thick, jam-like consistency, around 7-10 minutes (also make sure to mash down any stubborn pieces).
When mixture begins sticking to the bottom of the pot, remove from heat and let cool.
Remove orange zest.
1 to 1.5 cups of fresh pizza dough
1/2 cup (or so) crumbled or chopped goat’s cheese
1/4 cup chopped and roasted hazelnuts
fresh thyme leaves (or another hearty, fragrant herb)
Heat oven to 450 F
Cover baking sheet with parchment paper (or grease well with olive oil).
Add pizza dough to baking sheet and pull and shape until it is roughly the same size.
Spread with a layer of cooled, caramelized rhubarb (not too much as it can make the crust soggy - you will most likely have some leftover) and sprinkle with goat’s cheese.
Add to oven (middle rack) and bake until crust is cooked through and edges are deeply golden (around 15 minutes.)
Remove from oven, and immediately sprinkle with hazelnuts, fresh thyme leaves, sea salt and a generous drizzle of honey.
SPRING FRESH HERB AND LEMON RISOTTO
Fresh herbs and lemon can bring cold-weather comfort food back to life.
From here on, I want you to forget everything you’ve heard about making risotto. Simply this, if you can tie a shoelace you can make this dish. It just takes a little patience and elbow grease.
The best approach to this recipe is to have all of your ingredients prepped ahead of time so you can be where you need to be, right in front of the stove. No joke, you’re going to be there for a few good, muscle-building minutes.
This is because a luscious risotto needs constant stirring. Pampering will release the starch from the grain and give your dish a creamy, carbonara-like finish.
Also make sure to not overcook it. Risotto needs to be al dente, or “to the tooth.” You want it to be tender but not weak, with just a desirable hint of resistance. You should taste your risotto throughout the cooking process to make sure it’s just right.
Just some stirring and sampling throughout and you’re going to have a beautiful dish on your table, one that’s saturated with spring herbs and finished with bright lemon.
One that’s so versatile it can be a satisfying main or a thunder-stealing side. You can serve it on its own, top it with fresh grilled scallops, or even stir in some crispy pancetta.
Lemon and Herb Risotto
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) white onion, finely chopped
- 3 cups (750 mL) Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) dry white wine
- 8-9 cups vegetable or chicken stock, heated
- 4 tablespoons (60 mL) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 cups (750 mL) of heavily packed, mixed fresh herbs (like dill, basil, parsley, chives and arugula), finely chopped
- Zest of one lemon, finely grated
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
- Sea salt, to taste
Mise En Place (preparation):
Finely chop onion in a food processor. Remove and set aside.
In the same food processor add herbs, garlic, lemon juice, zest and pepper. Blend until well chopped. Set aside.
Heat stock in a medium pot until just simmering.
Grate 1/2 cup (125 mL) Parmigiano-Reggiano.
In a large saucepot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onions and stir for 3 minutes, making sure not to brown. Add rice and stir for 2 more minutes to toast grains. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Reduce heat to medium.
Add 1 cup heated stock and stir until fully absorbed and mixture begins to look thick and glossy.
Repeat adding 1 cup stock at a time and stirring until absorbed.
Do this until rice is slightly firm but tender all the way through (20 to 25 minutes).
To finish, stir in an extra 1/2-cup of stock, butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, herb mixture and a generous pinch of sea salt.
Happily feeds 4 as a main course
PINK GRAPEFRUIT PAVLOVA W/ HONEY AND PISTACHIOS
No fancy bakeries open this Easter weekend? No problem.
What if you could make a dessert from scratch that is just as impressive as any last course out there, without being difficult itself?
Thanks to an electric mixer, making a jaw dropping dessert like the Pavlova is easier than ever. Here are a couple things keep in mind:
When beating your egg whites, you need an ultra-clean bowl and utensils with no fat in or around them (this includes any egg yolk.) With any interference, the egg whites won’t be able to aerate leaving you with no volume or meringue-like consistency.
Also, don't be shocked by the added vinegar in the meringue portion of the recipe: you won't be able to taste it at all! It's needed though as this small amount of acid because strengthens the whipped-up egg whites and prevent the meringue from them from collapsing.
Pink Grapefruit Pavlova
Generously Serves 6
Meringue: (Can be made a day ahead of time, see below)
4 egg whites
3/4 cup (180 ml) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) white wine vinegar (you can use any kind of light coloured vinegar here)
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
1/2 cup (125 ml) full fat, plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp (30 ml) liquid honey (plus some extra for drizzling)
3-4 pink grapefruits, segmented
1/4 cup chopped and toasted pistachios
Pre-heat oven to 300 F.
Line baking tray with parchment paper.
In stand mixer (or large bowl with electric hand mixer), beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Begin to add sugar, two tablespoons at a time, beating for 30 seconds between additions.
Stop beating when all sugar is added and mixture is glossy and smooth.
Drizzle vanilla and vinegar over meringue mixture and gently fold in with silicone spatula.
Scoop big spoonfuls of meringue onto parchment lined baking tray to make one big mound.
Spread out evenly and smooth with back of spoon mixture is a large, 7-inch circle.
Still using back of spoon, indent the middle of the meringue mixture, making sure to leave a 1-inch border around the edge. Essentially, you're making a future nest in which the whipping cream and fruit twill sit.
Add baking tray to centre of oven and bake for 90 minutes.
Remove tray from oven and add to a spot where the meringue can cool completely.
**Meringue portion can be made a day ahead of time. Let cool on baking sheet, before wrapping sheet and meringue, and keep in a cool, dry place.
Beat whipping cream until stiff peaks.
Add yogurt and honey to whipped cream and beat again until combined.
When ready to serve Pavlova, spread all whipping cream mixture over the top of the cooled meringue.
Add grapefruit segments, chopped and toasted pistachios and a generous drizzle of honey.
Serve within an hour of assembling to avoid the meringue getting soggy.
STICKY BOOZY BUNS
This recipe is a labour of love, but what else are you doing right now? Also, these boozy buns are just as delicious without the glorious hard stuff.
Keeping some key points in mind when youre tackling a multi-step baking recipe (especially if you're experimenting) means you'll be more invested and inclined to wait that extra minute or tweak that little something-something so that in the end, you wind up with a delicious and most importantly, edible product.
Get to know your yeast: Active dry yeast is a granulated yeast that’s in a dormant state. In order to wake it up, it needs two things: a hot bath and breakfast. This process, also known as “blooming”, is done in a mixture of warm water and sugar. Ultimately, what you want to see is your yeast “bloom” into a frothy mixture. This means your yeast is now in an active state and is producing little bubbles of carbon dioxide. It’s these little gas bubbles that will then help to expand your bread dough and, in turn, cause it to rise. Long story short, if your yeast ain’t bloomin’, it ain’t workin’.
Knead to rise: The whole point of letting your bread dough mix and knead for several minutes is to create strong gluten bonds. The stronger the bonds, the more they can support the shape and structure of your soon-to-be big and beautiful loaf. By later allowing your dough to rise, you’re then letting all those gas bubbles from the yeast fill the loaf and give it that light texture it needs.
Moisturize: Aesthetics are important, and wrinkles in bread making are a no-no. When your bread is rising, the simple task of lightly greasing it or covering it with a damp paper towel will prevent the surface from drying and cracking. Like all beauty problems, these are easier to prevent than to fix later on.
Sweet Dough Recipe
Use this recipe anywhere you’d want or need a soft rich dough. From hot crossed to hamburger buns, you really can use it for anything!
¼ cup (60 mL) warm water
1 teaspoon (15 mL) sugar
1 x 8 gram pouch of active dry yeast (just a little under 2 teaspoons)
1 cup (250 mL) homogenized (3.25 per cent) milk
¼ cup (60 mL) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons (45 mL) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon (4 mL) salt
1 whole egg, plus 2 extra yolks
4 cups (1L) all purpose flour
In the large bowl of your stand mixer, stir together warm water and the first teaspoon of sugar before sprinkling yeast over top. Resist the urge to stir and leave to bubble up while preparing your other ingredients.
To a microwave-safe bowl, add milk, butter, the remaining sugar, vanilla and salt. Microwave for around one minute until butter is melted. Stir well to make sure everything is mixed. Set aside.
Once the yeast mixture is frothy and bubbly, add eggs and turn on mixer (with the hook attachment) at medium speed.
While the yeast and eggs are mixing, add the warm milk mixture a little bit at a time to start (this will avoid cooking the eggs). It should end up being a smooth, warm mixture.
Once all the liquid has been added, begin adding the flour one cup at a time. Allow to mix for 30 seconds before adding another cup. Repeat until all flour has been added.
Turn speed to medium-high and allow to mix for eight minutes. If dough is sticking to the sides of the sides of bowl, stop the mixer and scrape down before continuing mixing. Meanwhile, prepare a large oil-greased bowl.
Once done, the dough will be a little sticky, but it should be smooth and soft. Remove dough from mixing bowl and add to oil-greased bowl. Lightly grease the entire top of the dough as well.
Cover the dough loosely with large piece of plastic wrap and allow to rise in warm place until doubled in size (about an hour).
While dough is rising, prepare the pans, filling and glaze for baking. For the pans, grease one large or two medium sized baking pan or skillets. Set aside.
¼ cup (60 mL) butter (softened)
2 teaspoons (30 mL) cinnamon (or other spices you're keen on using, but be cautious with the amount as it may pack a punch, like nutmeg!)
1/3 cup (80 mL) packed brown sugar
½ cup (125 mL) butter
½ cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
½ cup (125 mL) honey
1/3 cup (80 mL) Grand Marnier (You can also use Jack Daniels, Scotch, Spiced Rum … any caramel-like liquor)
*Note: if you don't want to use liquor, you can always replace the liquid with cream or honey-sweetened water.
½ teaspoon (2 mL)
For the filling, mix together softened butter, cinnamon and brown sugar in a bowl. Set aside at room temperature so it’s easy to spread.
For the glaze, add butter, brown sugar, honey, Grand Marnier and salt to a saucepan. Melt together and bring to a simmer. Let simmer and bubble away for a couple minutes while whisking. Once it is a smooth, brown glaze, remove it from heat. Divide half of the glaze and put in the pans you’ll be using. Set the other half aside for later.
Once your dough has risen, push down to deflate. Remove from bowl and add to lightly floured surface. Also, sprinkle dough lightly with flour. Lightly pull and stretch dough into a rectangle shape.
Use a rolling pin to then work the dough into a large rectangle shape, roughly 16 inches (40 cm) by 12 inches (30 cm). You may need to alternate between rolling and stretching until you get a evenly thick rectangle.
Once your dough is rolled out, spread entire top side with all the filling. To begin rolling, start at one of the longer sides of your rectangle. Begin to softly roll the dough up, like you would a sleeping bag, until it is one big cylinder. Cut into 6-10 pieces and divide among pans. Lightly cover with damp paper towel before loosely covering with plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 350 deg. C and let buns rise for about an hour until doubled in size. Bake for 25-35 minutes in middle of oven until deep golden and centre swirl of bun softly springs back when pressed.
Once out of the oven, drizzle with remaining glaze before allowing to cool on rack. Enjoy immediately or wrap air-tight with plastic wrap and keep for a day or so.
Makes 6 large buns, or up to 10 smaller ones