Friendly Food Snobs

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.

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, 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 at Pure + Simple and love this vitamin C serum I picked up there. Super moisturizing and the smell is divine.

Soups 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 supper. This chickpea coconut curry is my current favourite and my kids eat it over rice.

Use a can of organic chickpeas if you can. The taste and buttery texture is much better than non-organic. Truth: most canned goods I 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.

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.

I like most things in life a little undone, so no wonder I adore galettes.

Serve 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 streaming 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. 

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

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 40-45 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 near 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.

No spelt flour? Just use regular white flour or gluten free cup for cup flour. The recipe below calls for one cup + 3/4 cup spelt flour. Feel free to substitute flour for the one cup, and oats or almond flour for the 3/4 cup. I have done this before and it works well.

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

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. Then add any nuts or add ins.

Grease your muffin tin with non stick spray or liners. 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.

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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