Friendly Food Snobs

appetizer

caramelized onion + date chutney grilled cheese

IMG_3198 IMG_3183 IMG_3222IMG_3257Can you tell I am embracing the end of winter and comfort food? Just a bit. I love how the addition of chutney and some regular cooking onions slowly caramelized takes this grilled cheese to a new level. It was a perfect easy Saturday night dinner. A few weeks ago the folks at McEwan’s approached me to have some fun with one of their date and raisin chutneys. I bopped up to the Don Mills location to have a grocery shop, one of my favourite past times. A fabulous store where I found the cheese, meat and fruit and veg to be outstanding. Since then this date and raisin chutney has proven itself a bit of a staple. Delicious on seared pork tenderloin as well as dipping samosas and Indian food. Back to the recipe, hope you like it as much as I did. Serves two.

caramelized onion + date chutney grilled cheese

Ingredients for caramelized onions:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cooking onions cut into half moons
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
fresh black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
Heat oil to low-medium in a heavy bottom skillet. Saute onions 25 mins stirring occasionally. Low and slow. Can’t rush these guys. After about 10 mins add the black pepper. At 25 minutes stir in the small amount of brown sugar and take off the heat. Taste for salt and pepper.

Ingredients for the grilled cheeses:
4 slices light rye or sourdough bread
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup grated aged white cheddar
2 heaping teaspoons McEwan’s date and raisin chutney
2 heaping teaspoons of the caramelized onions (use the leftover chutney and onions in an omelette, stuffed in a chicken breast, crostini or on a cheese board)

Heat a cast iron or heavy bottom pan. Butter the outside of the bread. Top each slice of bread with a heaping teaspoon of chutney, cheese and then onions. Press together both pieces and cook for 5 minutes a side or until golden brown. You can visit McEwan’s at Shops at Don Mills, 38 Karl Fraser Rd, Toronto, ON (647) 557-4853.

apple cider vinegar salad dressing

apple cider vinegar salad dressingI’ve been making salad dressing from scratch for years and finally started adding apple cider vinegar a few weeks ago. We suddenly started eating more salads. Maybe because it’s March and spring’s around the corner? But I think it’s this dressing. The perfect tangy and sweet dressing for massaging into kale or drizzling over romaine. It lends itself to almost anything like dressing a lentil or quinoa salad. Serves four hungry salad eaters.

apple cider vinegar salad dressing

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 and 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 finely chopped shallot or 1 clove garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients. Let sit for a few minutes before eating. Keeps for three days in a sealed glass container in the fridge.

refried bean and cheese quesadillas

 
IMG_3009Who knew refried beans are so easy to make at home? Just grab a can of pinto beans and off you go. Packed with protein, I love these quesadillas for a weeknight meatless meal. Make more than you think. We fought over the last one. Serves two with leftovers.

refried bean and cheese quesadillas

Ingredients:
1 can pinto beans
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper
pinch cumin and chili powder
juice of half a lime
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
4-6 corn or flour tortillas
1 cup grated monterey jack cheese
hot sauce, chopped cilantro, salsa, plain yogurt for garnish

Drain and rinse the beans. Chop the garlic and combine beans, spices and water in small pot. Simmer on low for 10 mins stirring often. Remove from the heat and mash. Stir in sugar and lime, and more salt and pepper if needed. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Assemble quesadillas by layering beans and then cheese on tortillas. Heat each side until warm and brown. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven until serving and slice into quarters with a pizza cutter. Great warm or cold for lunch the next day.

goat cheese eggplant dip + sea salt pita chips



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IMG_2459Sweet eggplant and roasted garlic mixed with goat cheese, scooped with homemade sea salt pita chips. Think baba ganoush but with an improved texture. The pita chips are better than store bought and I’ve taken to keeping a bag of them in the freezer for this exact recipe. Serves six with leftovers.

goat cheese eggplant dip + sea salt pita chips

Ingredients:
2 small or 1 large eggplant
4 peeled garlic cloves
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon cumin
150 gram packet goat cheese
4 tablespoons olive oil (divided into 1 each)
salt and pepper to taste
garnish with chopped Italian parsley or toasted sesame seeds

Using a fork, generously poke holes in eggplant and salt. Bake in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until soft and dark on both sides. Flip once. Add the garlic cloves to the pan in a foil pouch drizzled with one tablespoon olive oil and pinch salt in the last 10 minutes.

Remove roasted eggplant to stainless steel strainer. Set in sink, sprinkle salt and press down to remove as much liquid as possible. Cool and drain for 20 minutes. Use the stem to pick up the eggplant, scraping as much flesh as possible into a clean bowl. Some pieces of skin are okay and add a smoky flavour. Add remaining ingredients and combine by hand or using a hand blender. Reserve one tablespoon of olive oil to pour on at serving. Let “set” in fridge for an hour. Garnish with chopped parsley or toasted sesame seeds.

sea salt pita chips

Ingredients:
3-4 pitas
salt and black pepper to taste
coarse sea salt to garnish
50 ml olive oil

Using kitchen scissors cut the pita into wedges and place on a cookie sheet. Combine olive oil and salt and pepper in small bowl and brush onto the pita. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until crisp. Flip once. These burn easily so keep an eye out. Taste and top with additional sea salt if desired. Chips stay crisp in an air tight container for three days.

rosé sangria

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I know I don’t need to educate anyone on the benefits of pitcher cocktails. Too many to count really! More time with friends, less time prepping and making drinks is my rationale. The longer this sits, the better it gets. Perfect for late summer afternoons and dining al fresco. The sangria is close to the colour of rosé wine and so pretty in a glass pitcher. Enjoy!

rosé sangria

Ingredients:
1 bottle dry white wine
3/4 cup unsweetened pomegranate or cranberry juice
1 1/2 cups sparkling water/club soda
6 shakes angostura bitters
3 tablespoons grand marnier
1 tablespoon sugar
1 orange, lime and lemon

Slice orange into half moons. Drop into pitcher followed by grand mariner and sugar. Leave covered in refrigerator for two hours. Add remaining ingredients and juice of half a lemon. Serve in ice filled glasses garnished with lime wedges.

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