Friendly Food Snobs

appetizer

Cheddar Thyme Sea Salt Shortbread

cheddar shortbreadcheddar shortbread

Shortbread means a high amount of fat/butter. That’s what makes this recipe so delicious, addictive (you’ve been warned!) and perfect for the holidays.

I like to package these in bags with ribbon to give as a gift. They’re also lovely on a cheese platter with chutney, nuts and dried fruit. Or served alongside a warm bowl of soup for a winter lunch.

Recipe makes 24. I use a little trick to make the clean up easier. I form the dough between plastic wrap – a time saver because it keeps your kitchen counter from getting dirty. More details in the recipe below.

Ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp Keen’s dry mustard or Dijon
pinch black pepper
1 cup grated old white cheddar cheese (packed)
1 egg beaten
1 stick salted butter room temperature (half a cup)
flaky salt for sprinkling

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a spatula. Dough should be crumbly.  Knead 30 seconds and form a disc. Set out a large piece of cling wrap (plastic wrap). Transfer the dough to the cling wrap and shape it into a log with your hands. Roll the cling wrap around the log. Place log in fridge for one hour, or your freezer for ten minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Once dough is cold use a sharp knife to slice it into 1/2 thick rounds and place on parchment lined sheets. Bake for 20 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. My oven took exactly 20 minutes. Sprinkle a tiny pinch of flaky salt on each cookie when they come out warm from the oven. They already have salt from the butter and cheese, so a little pinch goes a long way. Let cool on the baking sheets. You can also store the log in the freezer for up to a month and bake just before company arrives. Enjoy!

Mexican style grilled corn

mexican style cornCorn on the cob (eaten outside) is a staple from my childhood. I have joyful memories of crunching down on freshly boiled and buttered cobs with my family and grandparents.

I was inspired to make this recipe after eating in the taco joints that have opened up in Toronto in recent years. It is so simple to make in the summer when local corn is fresh and delicious.

 The sweetness of the charred corn tastes incredible alongside the lime and slightly spicy sauce. Note: it is not too hot, I lightly sauced the cob I gave to my toddler and he gobbled it up.

Traditional recipes would call for the cheese to be cotija cheese. If you have time to get to a Latin grocery store you can find it there. Feta is an excellent substitute, and that’s what I used.

Ingredients:

4 cobs of corn
2 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 tsp chili powder
juice of half a lime (slice up the other half for garnish)
optional toppings: fresh cilantro and crumbled feta

Husk and wash corn. Boil the corn in salted water for five minutes. While the corn boils combine all the remaining ingredients for the sauce. Drain corn once done and heat barbecue to 400 degrees. Grill the corn for 10-15 minutes (turning often) until browned on all sides. Take the corn off the grill and top it with the sauce and a sprinkle of feta while it is still warm.

Serve with lime wedges, chopped cilantro and more feta. I had a little sauce leftover and used it in a chicken sandwich and it divine. So you can feel free to put it in the fridge and use for another dish, just give it a quick stir first.

This post was sponsored by Metro and all ingredients used in the recipe were purchased there. I only accept sponsorships and collaborations from brands and companies I love and trust, and I always share with my readers when a post is sponsored. In this case I was thrilled to work with Metro to purchase all these healthy summer ingredients and develop this recipe. Hope you enjoy it!

best kale salad

kale salad I brought kale into my life with this recipe! Two years of tinkering and I thought it time to share. The secret tricks to this being healthy and absolutely delicious are fresh lemon juice and a quick massage of the kale with the dressing. Unlike most salads, the kale leaves hold up to the dressing, and once tossed and dressed this salad tastes better an hour after mixing or a day later. It’s a great side dish for just about any protein, or stirred into quinoa for a quick quinoa salad. Hello leftover lunches.

best kale salad

Ingredients:
head of kale washed and chopped into 1 or 2 inch strips
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 and 1/2 tsp honey or maple syrup
1 and 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic chopped
pinch red pepper flake
3/4 cup grated parmesean cheese (half goes in dressing, half on top)
handful toasted slivered almonds
handful dried cranberries

I find it easiest to chop the kale, then wash it in a salad spinner. Another quick trick is to measure the olive oil and whisk the dressing together in the same glass measuring cup. Less clean up! Combine all ingredients for the dressing, reserving half of the grated parmesean. Pour the dressing over the kale in a large bowl. Massage the dressing into the kale (30 seconds max). Top with remaining cheese, nuts and cranberries and that’s it. I have made this dozens of times and find it tastes best after hanging out covered with cling wrap in the fridge for an hour before serving.

grilled halloumi caprese salad

grilled halloumi caprese saladRipe tomato slices play so well with grilled salty halloumi! A rethink of the traditional tomato and mozzarella caprese, and maybe even better.

It was a super busy weekend at our house Oscar turned two and we hosted a family BBQ and Sunday was Father’s Day. My quick-to-make-but-still-yummy Father’s Day dinner for Neil was BBQ flank steak and this salad.

I first tried halloumi about 15 years ago backpacking in Cyprus and we’d have it wrapped with grilled meats in a pita. This meal reminds me of all those flavours.

Quality ingredients are key here. I let my tomatoes ripen on the window sill for a few days, and just bought the halloumi from my local grocery store. You can get cow or sheep and both are great. The basil came from my garden, the olive oil from my mother-in-law’s recent trip to Italy and the balsamic reduction is store-bought. You can find balsamic reduction at any major grocer now. It’s reduced balsamic vinegar (make sure you read the ingredients) and so handy to drizzle over anything. I use it for salad dressing instead of honey often too.  

My boys gobbled this salad up and used fresh bread for the leftover olive oil on the plate.

So if you occasionally eat carbs like we do, serve up a little good bread for this recipe – worth the calories to sop up that good olive oil! Makes four side portions.

grilled halloumi caprese salad

Ingredients:

  • 250 gram package halloumi cheese
  • 2 large or 3 small ripe tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 whole basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic reduction

Cut the halloumi cheese into 1/4 inch pieces. I usually get 10-12 slices per package. Pat dry with paper towel. Heat a non stick pan or case iron skillet to medium heat. Grill cheese for 2 mins a side until golden brown. Use a rubber spatula to check it every minute or so. I do it in two batches to not crowd the pan.

Slice tomatoes in 1/4 inch slices and layer on serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Layer grilled halloumi on top of tomatoes. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and toss basil leaves over top. Eat right away or can sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so until serving.  Recipe can easily be doubled. Enjoy and happy summer eating!

coconut curry squash lentil soup

coconut milk butternut squash soupcoconut milk butternut squash soupcoconut milk butternut squash soup
The return to work is really the last sort of triumph is new motherhood isn’t it? Another change, another end and beginning. Pluses: the option to actually drink hot coffee, and wear accessories that have been collecting dust, and that renewed sense of self [or yes my brain does still work!]. The downside, I’ve learned so quickly is less time with your babe and less time actually at home. I am so lucky here in Toronto, Canada we have one year of maternity leave. I stayed home with Oscar for 14 months and it was the happiest and craziest time of my life.

For me this transition back to work happened in late summer. Since then it’s also marked me shifting into uncharted cooking territory: meal planning. I used to totally mock it, now I get it. Leftovers are my friend, and the freezer is my BEST friend. I’ve found joy and maybe even a little calmness in spending Sunday cooking big catches of food like roast chicken, quinoa, homemade granola and now that it’s January and freezing out – soups. Weeknights become easier with three or four prepped dishes in the fridge or freezer. Soups freeze so well for up to several months.

Which brings me friends to this awesome little soup. Red lentils for protein meet coconut milk, butternut squash and a hint of curry. It’s kid approved and recipe makes 6-8 servings. You could easily swap out the butternut squash for acorn too. I’ve also stirred in some leftover rice or quinoa I had to use up in the fridge before serving and it’s yummy with or without. We’ve been eating it lately topped with a few chia seeds, cilantro, feta, or a big dollop of plain yogurt. It’s yummy just by itself too.

coconut curry squash lentil soup

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash
1 onion chopped
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp yellow curry powder
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
one can full-fat coconut milk
1 cup dry red lentils
3 cups water
olive oil

Cut squash into four pieces leaving the skin on. Scoop out the seeds. I find it easiest to use a metal spoon. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. While the squash bakes, I take a minute to prep the remaining ingredients and rinse my lentils. I just swish the lentils in a large metal bowl of cool water. Then I use my hand to hold the lentils in and tilt the bowl over the sink to drain the water. It’s not a science so if you don’t get all the water or lose some lentils, it’s all good.

Coat the bottom on a large soup pot generously with olive oil and cook onion on medium heat with salt and pepper until fragrant. Add garlic, cumin, curry and red pepper flakes. Add a bit more oil if you need to and keep stirring, spices will become fragrant. Remove from heat and scoop the squash from its skin, adding to the pot. Add the coconut milk, water and lentils. Stir and bring to a light boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer on low for 30-40 minutes.

I use an immersion blender to quickly blitz this into a creamy consistency. A regular blender works well too. If you want a chunkier soup just mash with a plain old potato master. Tell me in the comments – do you meal prep too? Hope you love this soup as much as I do!

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