Friendly Food Snobs

supper

summer chimichurri

Summer weather is in full swing here in Toronto. Trips to the island, the beach and long, gorgeous days. My herb garden is blooming and chimichurri this is the perfect dip to make with fresh basil and cilantro.

Okay truth, I am terrible at growing cilantro, so that is store bought! But my basil growing skills are on point.

Bright green, aromatic and delicious, my family loves this chimichurri drizzled over roasted potatoes, oven fries, grilled steak or chicken as well as eggs. It’s also delicious blended with a bit of mayonnaise and used as a sandwich spread.

The chimichurri is simple to make. Just toss everything in the blender, let is sit in the fridge for an hour or so to left the flavours blend and enjoy. Be sure to use both the stems and leaves from the herbs, as it all get blended up.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey/maple syrup
  • pinch chili flakes
  • 1 tsp dried mint/dried oregano

Pour the oil and vinegar in your blender. Add remaining ingredients, and blitz until almost smooth. Freezes well too. Can be kept in the fridge for up to five days.

Spanish inspired chicken thighs

Summer is beginning to peak through here in Toronto. Birds chirping in the morning and longer sunny days. These chicken thighs are easy to throw together for a weeknight supper that feels special. My husband and kids devour these, even my youngest son Dashel who can be picky!

The spices are simple – paprika, thyme and oregano, and one red onion and one red pepper that caramelize in a hot oven with the juicy boneless chicken thighs.

I serve this for dinner with rice or a simple salad. The next day, I chop up the leftovers and scoop them into warm corn tortillas with avocado and lime for lunch.

Don’t skip the addition of the red wine vinegar (balsamic would work too) in the last bit of cooking, it really adds a lot of flavour and helps you flip the chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 red pepper chopped into large chunks
  • 1 red onion peeled and quartered
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Use a paper towel to pat the chicken thighs dry. Mix the salt and pepper and spices in small bowl. Pour the olive oil into an oven safe dish – I love to use a cast iron pan. Layer the chicken thighs in the pan and sprinkle half of the seasoning. Flip the chicken over and sprinkle the remaining seasoning. Tuck the red onion and pepper around the chicken. Bake for 40 minutes, remove from oven and drizzle the red wine vinegar over the chicken. Flip the chicken thighs over and return to oven for another 10-15 minutes until brown and crispy. Enjoy!

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 dry 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 dry red lentils they cook much quicker, just 5 minutes. Look for yellow split peas in the bulk section of the grocery store or your local health food store. Or make it quick and use a can of lentils!

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 dry yellow split peas (see notes above for lentil substitutions)
  • 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 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.

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.

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