I love a good dessert, but like to savour them once, rather than have a pie hanging around all week calling my name. Enter the individual trifle. Serve in rock glasses, mason jars or whatever you have on hand. A couple weeks ago Bonne Maman asked me to play with one of their products. Their strawberry jam on toast is my Saturday morning indulgence combined with a coffee and no alarm clock, so I jumped at the chance. Great products with zero additives or preservatives. The dulce de leche caramel spread cried out to me, and this little trifle was born. The crispy cookie crumbs mimic a graham cracker crust and contrast so well with the cream, banana and dulce de leche. Assemble a few hours ahead, store in the fridge and enjoy within 24 hours. I don’t think they will last that much longer without being devoured…oh recipe serves 4 and is best eaten straight from the fridge. Enjoy!
dulce de leche banana cream trifle
20 Nila crackers smashed into small chunks and crumbs (try a plastic bag and a rolling pin)
3 tablespoons butter melted
Pinch of salt
2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons of white sugar (or to taste)
1/4 tsp vanilla
2-3 bananas thinly sliced (depending on size)
1/3 of a jar Bonne Maman dulche de leche spread
Combine the cookies, salt and butter and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Use beaters to whip the cream for 5 minutes or until fluffy, then add the vanilla and sugar. Once the cookie bits have cooled, layer cookie, banana, dulce de leche, cream and repeat, ending with whipped cream on top and some reserves of the cookie crumbles.
Vegan, nutrient dense and as good as my favourite Indian take out, I serve this sweet potato dhal with a side of whole wheat roti or over basmati rice. I love it near the end of winter as a break from all the meat I crave during the colder months. To fancy it up a bit garnish with toasted sliced almonds, fresh cilantro, a dollop of plain balkan yogurt or a crumble of feta. Like soup, every dhal is a little different and freezes amazingly well. I plan to stock my freezer with a batch before our little one arrives this spring. Enjoy!
sweet potato red lentil dhal
olive oil to coat the bottom of a soup pot
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
pinch red pepper flakes
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp butter (use coconut oil if vegan)
5 cups water
1 large (or 2 medium) sweet potato peeled and roughly cubed
1 cup dried red lentils rinsed and drained
1 cup packed greens like spinach, swiss chard (optional if you have it handy)
Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot and saute the onion and carrots for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, curry, cumin, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and butter and stir. Cook spices for a few minutes until fragrant. Pour in the water and sweet potato chunks. Simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat. Stir in the red lentils, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Gently stir all the way to the bottom so the lentils don’t stick every 10 minutes or so. If you’re adding greens (and I only do if I have them hanging out in the fridge and needing to be used) toss them in to wilt in the last 3-5 minutes of cooking.
Can 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.
I’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
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.
What is more Canadian than barbecuing in the winter?
Last week Neil and I were lucky to get invited to a Weber Grill Academy event. The recently open academy made us feel like we were on Top Chef Canada in the shiny kitchen stations! We mastered smoking chicken wings, cedar plank salmon, grilled potatoes (maybe my favourite vegetable) and more. We’ve owned a Weber for years and it’s the best barbecue out there. I was inspired last weekend to forge into the snowy backyard make a comforting favourite on the barbecue. Flank steak served sliced with chimichurri sauce, a pureed sauce of fresh herbs, lemon and garlic that’s tastes amazing on grilled meats. The recipe serves four and I always plate it with a simple salad and roasted potatoes or rice so the meat and sauce can shine. Big love for Latin American flavours when it is -30 and blistery here in Toronto. Enjoy!
flank steak + chimichurri sauce
1 cup packed flat leaf parsley and cilantro (half of each)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon hot sauce (vinegary, like Frank’s)
1 shallot chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
5-8 ounces of flank steak per person
Blitz all sauce ingredients until smooth. Let stand for minimum of two hours before serving so flavours can marry. Allow steak to come to room temperature. Lightly coat meat with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on direct heat grill or hot cast iron pan on barbecue for four minutes a side for medium rare. Let rest for ten minutes before serving. Slice against the grain and check the sauce for seasoning before you serve. We may have also used the sauce to dip our roasted potatoes too…