Friendly Food Snobs

chickpea curry with coconut milk

Hello January. Days are starting to feel a tiny bit lighter but the most of snowy winter is still ahead of us.

I feel like the best way to “get through” winter is to embrace the best of it. My mantra for the winter weekends is hibernate, moisturize and play in the snow. Lots of slowing down, making soup and curries, reading at home, watching movies, and arts and crafts. I am also a little obsessed with my nighttime winter skincare rituals. They signal for me it’s bedtime and my time at the end of the day. I recently went for a facial a Pure + Simple and love with this vitamin C serum I picked up there.

Soups, stews and curries like this one line my freezer. I make them on the weekend when I have more time and then whip them out for super quick weeknight suppers. This chickpea coconut curry is my current favourite. The curry flavours are mild enough that my kids eat it over rice.

Use an organic can of chickpeas if you can. The taste and buttery texture is much butter than non-organic. Truth: most canned goods I do buy are traditional, but I splurge for organic chickpeas for this recipe.

Serve over basmati rice or quinoa. Top with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro or green onions if you’re feeling fancy. Hope you love it!

chickpea curry with coconut milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooking onion chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 x 796 ml can whole tomatoes
  • 1 x 400 ml can coconut milk
  • 1 x 796 ml can organic chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Heat a soup pot or large deep frying pan with oil. Add the diced onion, salt generously and saute over medium heat five minutes.

Add the butter, ginger and garlic, then the turmeric, cumin and curry and stir creating a paste.

Cook the paste until fragrant, just a minute or so. Pour in the coconut milk and tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon. Turn heat to a simmer and stir for five minutes as sauce thickens, then add the chickpeas and brown sugar. Reduce heat to low/medium and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Stir in the handfuls of baby spinach. And taste for salt and pepper, adding as needed.

Oh, this freezes so well too. Stay warm, friends.

gluten free sweet potato muffins

Hi friends. Toronto is covered in snow as I type and cooking and baking is about coziness at home.

Enter these gluten free muffins made with sweet potato. Perfect for chilly mornings with a mug of something hot.  The texture is fluffy and you can’t even tell they’re gluten free.

I make these two ways by varying the add ins. The first version is stirring in pepita seeds and dark chocolate chips. And the other version is raisins and chopped walnuts. I wanted a little indulgence the day I made them so I drizzled a little honey over and served the muffins to the kids for dessert and they went crazy for them, calling them “honey cakes”. It’s the little things!

Recipe makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients:
1 cup baked sweet potato
3/4 cup all purpose flour or gluten-free flour (I love Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
1 egg

Add ins:

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips OR 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup pepita seeds OR 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Wash the sweet potato and poke a few holes in it with a fork. Wrap in foil and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool slightly and slice in half and scoop out one cup. (I ziploc the rest of the inside of the sweet potato and freeze it to add to a soup.)

Combine the oil, egg, milk and vanilla with the brown sugar. Combine remaining dry ingredients in a separate large bowl. Pour wet mixture over dry and stir until just combined. Spoon into lined or greased muffin tins. (I grease mine with coconut oil and a paper towel or non-stick spray.) Bake for 20 minutes.

Great with almond butter or regular butter for breakfast. Or drizzled with honey for dessert. 

If you like baking healthy muffins you may like these no-sugar banana muffins or this protein-packed super seedy banana bread.

peach galette

Can you believe we are in the last weeks of summer? Stone fruit is still in season here in Ontario to make this dreamy and simple dessert. Technically a galette is just a rustic pie. All you have to do is make a crust, roll it out into a messy circle, fill it with fruit and fold up the edges. It is so easy and looks beautiful. I like most things in life a little undone, so no wonder I have loved baking galettes this summer. Peach shown here in photos and a blueberry + blackberry combo were my faves.

Serve it with ice cream or fresh whipped cream. Or you can slice it up and let everyone pick it up and eat it like a pizza slice. That feels like summer to me. No utensils and eaten outside or in my dining room with early evening sun beams streaking in.

Berries or peaches are my preferred fruit but anything works (apple, plums, strawberries). I sort of cheat with the filling and use a few tablespoons of good quality jam, like the new Bonne Maman intense preserves . I recommend using wild blueberry jam for a berry galette and apricot jam for this peach galette.

I love the addition of a little spelt flour or almond flour to make a nuttier and healthier crust.

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 1 cup white all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour (or spelt flour or whole wheat)
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup cold tap water
  • 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • for topping the edge of the crust: 1 tbsp milk and 1 tbsp raw sugar (or regular white sugar)

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 3 cups sliced peaches
  • 2 heaping tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Put the stick of butter in the freezer to chill. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add vinegar to the cold tap water (leave to the side). Using a dinner knife chop up the cold butter in small chunks and sprinkle it over the flour. Add five tablespoons of the ice water + vinegar mixture to the bowl and start to mix the dough. I use a fork at first. Then I use a pastry cutter or my hands.

Rub the dough between your hands to get the dough similar to butter + flour pebbles. Don’t work the dough too much – about two minutes or less. I find it helpful to keep a bit of flour on my hands. Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on counter and scoop the dough onto it. Create a ball pressing as you wrap up the plastic wrap around the dough and put in fridge for 30 mins. 

While the dough chills, wash and slice the peaches. In a clean bowl mix the peaches with the jam and sugar.

Spread a piece of parchment paper on your counter. You’ll prep the dough on this and then bake the galette right on it. Sprinkle flour on the parchment. Unwrap the dough and place it on the floured parchment. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the dough.

I like to cover the dough with a fresh piece of plastic wrap and roll it out that way, keeps it smoother and less messy. Start to roll the dough from the centre out, taking on the rough shape of a circle. It’s rustic, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Dough should be about 1/8 inch thick when you’re done. Place fruit in the middle. Begin to fold the dough around the fruit, pinching at every fold to keep the fruit and juice in.

Brush the outside of the dough with tablespoon of milk using a pastry brush or your finger and sprinkle raw sugar over the spots where you wet the dough with the milk. Lift it up and set on a baking sheet.

Bake for 45 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and fruit bubbly. Let cool before slicing in. Enjoy and share it if you can! Happy last weeks of summer.

zucchini spelt muffins

It’s nearing the end of summer and local fruit and veg is abundant. I love to hit the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings this time of year. Grab some zucchini next time you go and make these muffins. They are moist, easy to make and the spelt flour gives them a fluffy texture and nutty flavour that I love.

I started playing around with more spelt flour recently and I am officially a convert. Why? Spelt flour is easier to digest than regular flour, it’s less processed, has more protein and fibre and gives a nutty flavour and fluffy texture.

I also am a HUGE fan of one bowl cookie and muffin recipes like this one. If you sprinkle the baking powder, soda and spices over the flour it works every time! And one less bowl to wash.

Ok back to the recipe. These zucchini muffins have a walnut and raw sugar crunchy topping that is divine. And I also list a couple different additions below, think raisins, chopped dates or chocolate chips. Not gonna lie the dark chocolate chip version is pretty incredible and my family gobbled them in less than two days. Recipe makes 12 muffins or one loaf. Hope you love it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 TSP cinnamon
  • 1/4 TSP nutmeg
  • 1 and 3/4 cups spelt flour (I love Bobs Red Mill)
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • crunchy topping = 2 TBSP chopped walnuts + 1 TBSP raw sugar for sprinkling on top before baking

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Combine coconut oil, eggs, milk and maple syrup in bowl along with the grated zucchini. (By the way, I never squeeze out the moisture in the zucchini, I know some recommend it, but why squeeze out all that goodness that will make your muffins moist!?) Mix all these wet ingredients well.

Sprinkle over top all the dry ingredients, doing the spelt flour first and then sprinkling the spices and baking soda and powder evenly as best you can.

Stir until just combined. I use a fork or spatula.

Grease your muffin tin with non stick spray or line the cups. Use a tablespoon to scoop the batter into the muffin cups and sprinkle the chopped walnuts and raw sugar over each muffin.

Bake 375 degree oven for 15 minutes until puffed up and golden brown.

Note: I have made this same muffin recipe with a few variations. You can add 1/2 cup of any of the following: raisins, chocolate chips or chopped dates.

Recipe also makes one loaf. Just bake at a lower temp, 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Check by inserting a knife in the middle. It should come out clean when done. Let bread cool in loaf pan for for an hour.

Enjoy the last weeks of summer friends!

flank steak with roasted potatoes and onions

I was in New York recently and ate a dish that inspired this one at Epistrophy. I knew I had to recreate it at home. It was my last meal in NY after three days of hanging with my best friend Laura, celebrating her birthday on a Brooklyn rooftop, shopping, working out and eating.

I like flank steak, hanger or striploin and like it cooked medium/medium rare and love how the potatoes soak up the juices. The addition of the caramelized onion and fresh thyme really make the dish.

I used steak from a meat delivery service called truLOCAL. Their meat is local, responsibly sourced and best of all it’s delivered to your door! My order was packed in dry ice and frozen even on a summer day by the time I unpacked it. Use the promo code RACHELBARBARO10 to save $10-$20 on your first order. (Full disclosure I received an influencer box of complimentary meat and it was all delicious. They sponsored this post.)

Okay back to the recipe. It serves two generously.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large Yukon gold potatoes chopped into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 approximately 13 ounce steak (I like flank/hanger steak or striploin)
  • 2-3 cooking onions
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh thyme

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash potatoes. Chop into 1-2 inch cubes. No need to peel them. Spread potatoes over parchment lined baking sheets. I used one large baking sheet but feel free to use two sheets. You want the potatoes to crisp up and they won’t if crowded. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and generously salt and pepper. It feels like a lot of oil but trust me. Roast in oven 30 minutes until golden brown and be sure to flip once during cooking so all sides get crispy and brown.

Remove the potatoes from the baking sheets onto two plates lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. I like to add a little sprinkle of salt here too while they are super hot. I taste one first to check if they need it.

Prep the onions by slicing them in half and then into half moons. Heat the 3 TBSP oil and butter in a non stick frying pan and add the onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook on low to medium heat until the onions start to caramelize and get fragrant. A little tip here I love caramelized onions and have burnt them more times that I care to admit. Low and slow is the best way to get them sweet and delicious.

There are two ways to cook the steak. You can grill it on the BBQ (medium to high heat) about six minutes a side. Or I often cook the steak in my cast iron pan, also medium to high heat about six minutes a side. If you want medium to well done cook for ten minutes a side. The prep for the steak is the same for BBQ or cast iron.

Make sure the steak is room temperature. Drizzle lightly with olive oil on each side and generously salt and pepper each side. Make sure cast iron or BBQ grills are hot. You want to hear that sizzle. After cooking the steak to desired doneness place on a cutting board and let rest for at least five minutes, then slice against the grain.

To plate on a platter place potatoes then top with steak slices, onions and a scattering of fresh thyme and dig in!

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