Friendly Food Snobs

lentil soup with greens

I love a good vegetable lentil soup in the winter. Serve with bread or crackers and cheese to make supper. Or freeze it for meal prep. This soup is simple to make but totally delicious. The trick is to saute the veggies until they are starting to brown and smell fragrant, then stir in the tomato paste and let it cook for a few minutes to build a big base of flavour.

I recommend using yellow split peas for this recipe. They hold their shape and are packed with protein and have a lovely bite. They take about 20-30 minutes to cook. If you are using red lentils they cook much quicker, just 5-7 minutes, any longer and will turn mushy. Look for yellow split peas in the bulk section of the grocery store or your local health food store.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cooking onion chopped
  • 1 head thinly sliced swiss chard or baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 tbsp thyme

Coat the bottom of a large soup pot with the 5 tbsp olive oil. Saute the onion, celery and carrot with a generous shake of salt and pepper over medium heat for ten minutes. Add the chopped garlic and tomato paste and stir as the paste browns and starts to caramelize for another few minutes.

Add the 6 cups of water and bouillon cube and bring to a boil. Toss in the split peas and bay leaf and simmer for 30-40 minutes until split peas are tender. If using red lentil the cooking time is less, just 5-7 minutes.

Once the lentils are done turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves and stir in the swiss chard. The residual heat from the soup will wilt it perfectly. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. This soups taste even better after a day in the fridge and freezes well too. Highly recommend serving it with some fresh bread with butter and a hard cheese.

Need inspiration for more soups and stews for winter? Check out this easy chickpea curry, coconut milk butternut squash soup, slow cooker beef tostadas and butter chicken.

dark chocolate mendiants

Dark chocolate mendiants are little chocolate treats topped with whatever you desire – I love flaky salt, nuts and dried fruit. It’s about two weeks until Christmas here in Toronto and I am just starting my Christmas dessert making. I love one or two of these mendiants in the afternoon with tea when I get a mini break from my boys.

They are super simple to make. Melt the chocolate and spoon it onto waiting parchment paper to form little discs and then top.

A few topping ideas:

  • dried fruit like cranberries, blueberries, apricots, raisins or figs
  • goji berries
  • pistachios, walnuts, cashews, peanuts or hazelnuts
  • coconut
  • candied ginger
  • smashed candy canes
  • pretzels
  • flaky salt

Mendiants hail from the French – and the history of the treat represents a coin, and the toppings the four monastic orders. They are traditionally made in Europe at Christmas time. They are so pretty on a dessert tray or as a holiday gift tied up in a clear bag with ribbon. The recipe below makes 20-24 small mendiants. To make 10-12 mendiants, just use one chocolate bar.

Ingredients:

  • 2 x 100 gram dark chocolate bars (70% or 80% cacao)
  • prepped toppings ready to sprinkle

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Have the toppings ready. For example, chop the nuts or slice the candied ginger. You have about ten minutes to top before the chocolate firms up. Melt the dark chocolate either in a double boiler or in the microwave.

To use the double boiler method: bring a pot of water to a low boil. Place a heat safe bowl on top of the pot. Break up the chocolate bars and stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate melts.

To use microwave: break up the chocolate bars in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave in 20 second intervals stirring after each one. Once the chocolate is almost entirely melted just keep stiring and the heat from the bowl will melt the rest.

Use a teaspoon to spoon 20-24 chocolate discs on the parchment paper. Use the back of the spoon to help spread the chocolate into circles.

Top with whatever you like. Let set in the fridge or on counter until chocolate hardens.

Need holiday cooking inspiration? Check out these chewy ginger cookies and my savory thyme cheddar shortbread. And this is the holiday salad – with arugula, pear, walnut, Parmesan and pomegranate seeds I make every year.

the best gluten free waffles

My ideal waffle has to be crispy on the outside and fluffy inside, and these hit the mark. Early in the quarantine, in those dark months of working and parenting at home, I bought a waffle maker online. It was about $60 and my kids went crazy for fresh waffles. It’s the little joys right? This recipe is simple and the almond flour gives the waffles more protein and a yummy crispy texture. It’s a great way to break through the weekday haze and start the weekend with waffles for breakfast.

Gay Lea recently sent me some of their new Farmhouse premium butter and we’ve been topping our waffles with this incredible butter, blueberries and maple syrup. The butter has a creamy sweet taste, and is a wonderful treat on homemade baked goods. I cannot think of a better way to start the weekend. Recipes makes 4-5 waffles

The best gluten free waffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour (I love Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/4 cup packed almond flour
  • 1 cup milk (dairy or nut milk work)
  • 1/2 TSP cinnamon
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • 3 TBSP canola oil
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Combine dry ingredients and mix well. Pour over the wet ingredients, stir and let batter sit for a few minutes while waffle maker heats up. Spoon in approximately 1/4 of the batter and close lid. My waffle maker has 5 settings and I like a crispy waffle so cook mine on setting #4 or #5.

Enjoy topped with whatever you love. Almond butter, peanut butter, yogurt, banana and honey or chocolate chips are all kid approved toppings around here. These reheat well the next day in the toaster too. Hope you enjoy!

miso garlic butter mushrooms

This summer has flown by. We just returned from a week at a cozy cottage on Buckhorn Lake. There’s something so restorative waking up beside the water to the sunrise. I’ve been cooking a tonne of vegetables this August, so much beautiful veg coming from our local farmers. Along with fresh tomatoes and zucchini, mushrooms are one of my favourites. They’re flavour packed and cook quickly.

In this recipe the mushrooms are the star. The miso paste, garlic and butter bring lots of wonderful umami flavours too. Here are my tricks for crispy, not soggy mushrooms.

  • dry the mushrooms well with paper towel, no need to wash them with water
  • leave them to get crispy and brown for a few minutes on the frying pan without flipping them
  • fresh mushrooms are key – use within five days of purchasing.

What is umami? It’s the Japanese word for pleasant savory taste. Miso is packed with it, as well as broths, shelfish, Parmesan cheese, soy sauce and mushrooms. If you don’t have miso paste at home, no worries, these mushrooms are wonderful without it too.

Ingredients:

  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 cups sliced brown or cremini mushrooms (about 220 grams)
  • 1 TSP miso paste
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 TBSP toasted sesame seeds

Dry the mushrooms with paper towel and wipe off any dirt. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and toss in the mushrooms and salt and pepper generously. Let them crisp up on one side for about three minutes before stirring.

Cook for an additional five minutes until browned. Add the butter, miso paste and garlic and stir well to combine. Once the garlic and butter is fragrant (about a minute) pour into a shallow serving dish and top with toasted sesame seeds. Happy last weeks of summer, friends!

oatmeal coconut cookies (gluten free)

Has this social distancing changed how you cook? For me working and parenting simultaneously means leftovers are mandatory for any meal I make. And every week I bake a batch of cookies or muffins to have a healthy treat when a sweet craving hits. (Usually me at around 3pm!) These cookies are chewy, oaty and coconuty and just the right amount sweet. I love having one with tea after lunch. Sometimes if the boys are hungry they only last a day or two before all 24 cookies (that’s how many this recipe makes) are gone.

Sweetened with banana, and a bit of maple syrup, there will be no sugar crash like a store-bought cookie. You can make them with what you have in your pantry. I give a few options in the recipe. Chocolate chips and pepita seeds are excellent. That is what is in these photos. Currently my favourite combo is chopped dried apricots or raisins, and chopped almonds or walnuts. They taste like comfort food and that is all I’m craving right now cooking in a time of quarantine.

oatmeal coconut cookies (gluten free)

Ingredients:

Notes: Recipe makes 24 small cookies. Feel free to use regular flour if you don’t have gluten free.

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup flour (I love Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 2 ripe bananas mashed
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips or raisins/chopped dates/apricots
  • 1/3 cup chopped nut (like walnuts or almonds)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all wet ingredients in one bowl. Mix all dry ingredients in another bowl. Combine wet and dry and stir until just mixed. Scoop golf ball size balls of dough onto a baking sheet. Gently press down to flatten with your palm. Bake 13-15 minutes until cookies set and bottoms are lightly brown. Enjoy!

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