Friendly Food Snobs

appetizer

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!

mujadara: rice with lentils and crispy onions

Hello, from living in social isolation here in Toronto. I’ve been baking and cooking loads with all the extra time at home. This mujadara, also known as rice with lentils and crispy onions is homey comfort food at is best. The recipe was taught to me years ago by a Palestinian friend. It’s a recipe I have adjusted over the years and this version I am sharing is the simplest and easiest and still gets the comforting flavours and those dreamy, crispy sweet onions.

I use canned green lentils (drained and rinsed) and I also often make the rice the day before. I often make this on the weekend for my family or for guests to serve with roasted chicken or fish. It can also be a dish on its own. Just top with any cooked veg and a dollop of hummus or plain yogurt. Hope you enjoy the recipe and stay well. xo

Mujadara

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 yellow cooking onions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 x 540 ml can green lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • one cup dry basmati rice

Cook rice to package instructions. When done remove lid and leave to cool. While your rice is cooking slice the onions into half moons. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add your onions to the frying pan and toss in the teaspoon of salt.

Saute onions over medium heat until they start to brown and get sweet and caramelized. This takes about 30 minutes. Don’t rush them. The onions really are the best part of this dish! I will often load the dishwater or do some other food prep (chopped veg for lunches etc) in the kitchen and stop to stir the onions every few minutes.

Once the onions are brown and starting to get crispy, add the butter and cumin and stir well until butter becomes fragrant – just a moment or two. Add the rice and lentils and stir well. Check to see if needs more salt and pepper. Top with chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro before serving if you’re feeling fancy.

Mujadara keeps well in the fridge for close to a week, or freezes very well. I also think it tastes better the next day. Enjoy friends.

almond and citrus green salad

It’s a rainy April day here in Toronto. My tulips are peaking out from the soil by our front porch. Dash just turned one (!) Oscar is four years old in June. Life’s full and busy. Gosh I am tired most days and struggling to find just a moment or two for myself.

I am finding that eating well is sort of my superpowers. Lots of veggies/fruit, good protein and fats like nuts and avocados.I am finding my mood is directly linked to my diet. I feel calmer, sleep better and tummy feels better eating this way. I did a ten day Whole30, so um I guess that is a Whole10? And since then I have been feeling good with no white carby food or processed sugar.

My last remaining vices? Do you have any? Mine are cheese and dark chocolate. My love for them will never die. Always the best quality I can afford and just occassionally.

Okay back to this salad. I love to change up my salads to keep it interesting. The citrus and almond flavours are perfect together. I used mâche mixed greens, toasted slivered almonds and sliced kumquats. If you don’t have kumquats you can easily sub in clementine segments or pieces of a peeled and chopped fresh orange. Fun fact about kumquats – their skin is sweet and insides are that citrus-y sour flavour.

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the salad:

  • four handfus baby mixed greens (OR baby spinach)
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 5-6 kumquats thinly sliced (OR 2 clementines peeled and segmented OR 1 orange peeled and segmented)

To toast the nuts (which is a must, so flavourful) heat a non stick pan to low-medium heat and toasted for five minutes or until fragrant. Be sure to give the pan a shake every minute or so. Let the nuts cool in a bowl. (They will continue browning if you leave them in the pan.)

Grab your favourite salad bowl and toss all the salad ingredients in there. I like to use a glass measuring cup to make my salad dressing and whisk it well to combine it with a fork.

Pour as much dressing as you like over the salad, toss and serve. Extra salad dressing will keep well in the fridge for three days. Happy spring, friends!

sheet pan grilled cheese

Dunking a grilled cheese into a warm bowl of soup is my comfort food and reminds me of my childhood. (Tomato soup 100%!) I love making grilled cheese over March Break or a winter weekend. But I have growing boys and I cannot stand at the stove flipping for an hour. Enter the sheet pan grilled cheese! Hot oven for ten minutes and perfect grilled cheese every time.

I used Premiere Moisson bread available at Metro grocery stores and a combination of asiago, cheddar and mozzarella. But you can use any cheese combination you like. This Premiere Moisson bread is becoming a staple in my house because it’s natually fermented, made using slower traditional methods, and has no sugar or preservatives. I always keep a loaf in the freezer for toast or grilled cheese cravings. The whole wheat and country-style loaf are our faves. Try the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments or on Instagram! Makes four grilled cheese sandwiches.
Another tweak I love to do is layer roasted red peppers and zucchini inside with the cheese – a way to get more veggies and also tastes delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp salted butter room temperature
  • 2 cups of grated cheese (like an old cheddar + asiago + mozzarella combo)
  • 8 slices of good bread

Heat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Butter every slice of bread and place four slices (butter side down) on the baking sheet. Top bread with cheese mixture and place another slice of bread on top (butter side up). Place grilled cheese in oven for 10 minutes, flipping halfway. I use my kitchen timer and stay in the kitchen. The high heat makes the sandwich melted inside and crispy outside. Slice and eat while the cheese is still gooey. I love to change it up from ketchup and instead dip in hummus or sun-dried tomato pesto – yum! Hope you enjoy! 🙂

Thank you to Metro for supporting this post! I sometimes work with companies and sponsors, but only those I actually enjoy eating in my own kitchen, promise.

nuts and bolts – a christmas classic

nuts and bolts

Nuts and bolts are a Christmas classic at my parents house when I was growing up. This is my take on my own mom’s recipe. Her nuts and bolts were so infamous she would make two or three huge batches between November and January and it would get devoured. I make it these days to have a stash at home and also give it away to friends and family tied up in clear bags. I have to do this pretty quickly. (Before Neil and I eat bowls of it while watching a movie after the kids go to bed!) I love having a container of this kicking around the kitchen to put out if guests pop by over the holidays and Oscar absolutely loves it as an after nursery school snack on these cold wintery days we’ve been having here in Toronto. It is the perfect salty snack and so addictive. It is not my typical whole food healthy recipe, but is tastes like my childhood Christmas and being home and cozy and really what is better than that in November?

Ingredients:
5 cups shreddies
2 cups cheerios
2 cups cheese bits crackers
3 cups pretzels
2 cups mixed salted nuts
2 cups salted cashews
4 tablespoon butter (I use salted)
4 tablespoon olive oil
5 teaspoon worcestershire
2-3 teaspoon garlic powder (we like 3 but if you are not a huge garlic fan, try 2)
2 teaspoon onion powder
pinch chili powder

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. I use a large aluminum roasting pan (the disposable kind) from the grocery store. Combine all the cereal and crackers and nuts in the pan.  Melt the butter in the microwave and add the oil and spices. Pour over the nuts and bolts and I use a large wooden spoon to mix well. (You want that yummy coating on everything.) Bake for 90 minutes and stir every 20-30 minutes. Let cool completely before you package them. Keeps well in a sealed container for two weeks. But it never lasts that long in my house. If you need any more holiday inspiration check out my chewy ginger cookies  or arugula pomegranate salad or cheddar thyme shortbread. Happy Christmas cooking, friends!

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