this is a going to be a short but sweet post, something i can just throw together quickly, kind of like these croutons.
i make these croutons all the time because 1) they’re dead simple 2) they require only 3 ingredients, 3) they taste way better than any croutons you can buy 4) i usually end up with a stale baguette lying around and this is a great use for it, 5) they make your house smell amazing, and 6) they are great for salads and soups, and they really jazz up the meal with very little effort.
that’s a lot of good reasons. so what are you waiting for? next time you have some stale baguette lying around, take 10 minutes to really kick your soups and salads up a notch with these parmesan croutons.
fresh parmesan croutons
stale baguette, 1/2 inch cubes (note: its best to cut your baguette up into cubes before it is very stale or it will be like cutting your cement)
couple of tbsp spoons olive oil
couple of table spoons shaker parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
preheat oven to 375 F, but the temperature isn’t that important if you are also cooking something else.
toss the croutons in olive oil, cheese, and salt and pepper and spread them out on a lined baking sheet.
pop them in the over for 6-8 minutes or until nicely browned and toasted, tossing them a few times throughout.
serve them as a garnish on your next soup or throw them in a salad. and bam, it’s that simple to give a kickstart to your meal.
(note: served here with home-made tomato soup, and grilled cheese with mushrooms and carmelized onions. recipes coming soon!)
this is another post that has been sitting at the bottom of the drafts page for far too long. over a year now in fact. it dates back to last year when i had my parents over to my place for some dinner. i wanted to cook something interesting and different, but at first i wasn’t sure what to make.
thankfully i found my answer in the latest edition of the lcbo magazine at the time. i have said it before and i will say it again, i can’t say enough good things about this free magazine distributed by the lcbo 5 times per year. the magazine has incredible recipes (a lot are already featured on this blog) with stunning photos and handy wine and drink pairings. they are a great way to really foster a deeper interest in cooking, eating, and drinking. not something to be missed.
b’stilla - moroccan chicken and date pie
a b’stilla is a moroccan chicken and date pie. savoury pulled chicken overloaded with moroccan spices and flavour, balanced with the sweet dates and wrapped up in phyllo pastry really can’t be beat.
dates are something i never used to eat, but all it took was this dish for me to realize what i was missing. they can be used to sweeten dishes and can provide infinitely more depth and flavour enhancement compared to simply adding sugar. when you cook them their flavour enhances even more and really can take a meal to the next level. that’s certainly the case for this dish.
4 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on
4 cups onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 cup chicken stock
3 large eggs
1 cup dates, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
8 sheets phyllo pastry
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
icing sugar and ground cinnamon for garnish
start by preheating oven to 375 F. heat vegetable oil in a large dutch oven or high-walled frying pan over medium-high heat. saute the chicken breasts until golden brown on both sides, remove from pot. (they won’t be fully cooked at this point, but that’s ok).
in the same pot add onions and cook until golden, about 10 min. add garlic, cumin, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, chili flakes, and turmeric. stir for 30 seconds to a minute.
place chicken back into the pot with the onion mixture and add chicken stock and season with salt. cover with lid, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
remove chicken from mixture and let it cool. once cool enough to handle, shred the meat and return to the pot. at this point add the eggs, dates, raisins, cilantro, and almonds. combine well and season to taste.
at this point your filling is ready and you can start assembling your phyllo pie. phyllo can be temperamental to work with, but be patient the result if definitely worth it.
lay one sheet of phyllo on your work surface and brush with butter. it doesn’t have to be fully coated. place a second sheet on top of this sideways forming a plus-sign. repeat this process alternating directions and brushing with butter in between until all 8 sheets are assembled. the last sheet doesn’t need to be buttered.
place all the sheets in a greased 9-inch baking pan or a springform pan. the edges of the phyllo will hang over the edges of the pan and these will close overtop once you add the filling.
fill the pastry with the chicken mixture and spread evenly and then fold the excess overhanging pastry over the top to cover up the chicken. brush the top with any remaining butter.
bake pie for 40 min or until the pastry is crispy and golden and chicken mixture is heated through.
garnish with icing sugar and cinnamon. i served with hot with spicy cocoa-roasted carrots and parsnips, but you can also serve this pie the next day cold for lunch with a quick salad.
enjoy this north african date pie for dinner or lunch. it’s a bit of work, but its a real treat for your taste buds.
i used to think there are two kinds of people in the world: those who liked garlic and those who didn’t. i used to feel bad for those people who didn’t because they were missing out on a lot. garlic can be added to almost any main to enhance the flavour, and it’s simple and cheap to do.
luckily for those anyone who isn’t a garlic fan i have a solution for you to try: roasting your garlic. roasting garlic removes a lot of the punch of the garlic and sweetens and intensifies the flavour. what you’re left with is something i literally will eat just spread on a cracker, or if i’m feeling particularly civilized with my hands plain like candy.
however you want to enjoy it, roasting garlic is a nice way to alter the garlic flavour for those who aren’t big garlic fans and to intensify the things you love about garlic if you’re a garlic fan like me.
roasting garlic is simple and can add amazing layers of flavour depth to a dish. i often will roast a couple heads up when i’m using the oven for something else and then simply save them in the fridge for pastas, sandwiches, pizzas, you name it. always a nice things to have on hand.
2-3 heads of garlic
salt and pepper
preheat oven to 400 F (but really whatever temp your oven is at for other things should work) and get your garlic out. now there are two general ways you can go about roasting the garlic. i tried both this time and they both produced similar results, so whatever your preference is should work.
either break apart the head but leave the skin on and roast, or slice the top off to expose the garlic cloves. whatever you chose, throw the garlic on a lined baking sheet and dose in some olive oil, salt and pepper.
pop the garlic into the oven and roast for 30 min or until the garlic feels soft when squished. remove from oven and allow to cool.
when the head of garlic has cooled enough to touch carefully squeeze the cloves out of the skin and either eat as is or reserve and mash to use for further cooking.
enjoy this simple, healthy and cheap flavour addition to almost any meal even if you aren’t usually a big garlic fan.
when i make something and photograph it to go on the blog, i usually also add a draft post with just the name of the dish that i’ve made. the post then sits where i can access it and finish the post later. essentially this helps me keep track of what photos i need to edit and what posts need to be written. of course this means that some posts sit there empty for a long time. this is a case and point.
this was a meal that the entire shrp knvs crew made over a year ago when nich came to visit dylan and i last january. we took a lot of photos over that weekend of a lot of different things we cooked, and i added four different posts to the drafts section. two of them have already been posted - french onion soup and key lime pie - but two others (this included one included) have been sitting empty in the drafts section for far too long. so i decided finally to make that change.
making sushi is an art. it’s not one of those things you try doing because it’s cheaper or easier than going out to eat it, and it probably won’t taste better either. making sushi is an experience that i’d only recommend if you enjoy the process. the end result is a bit of a bonus since you can probably go out and buy sushi that’s just as good if not better for a similar price.
all that being said, making sushi is a really fun way to spend an afternoon with a friend and could also make for a creative date. it isn’t easy to do, but it also isn’t beyond the skill set of most people in kitchen. it would definitely be something i’d suggest everyone tries at some point, and hey, maybe you will find you’re the next sushi-making superstar.
we made crab sushi here, but experiment here and make whatever kind of sushi you want. if you are using raw fish though, opt for the best quality you can get. you don’t want to be eating raw fish that isn’t incredibly fresh.
2 cups sushi rice (available in most large grocers, this rice is stickier which is important to allow the sushi to hold together.
seaweed (sold in dried sheets)
2-3 fresh crab legs
1 large cucumber
1 large avocado
handful of sesame seeds
2 tbsp mayonaise
2-3 tbsp white wine vinegar
wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce for serving
sushi mat for rolling sushi
begin by preparing the sushi rice according to the directions on the packaging. once the rice is cooked spread it out to dry a little and toss with the white wine vinegar.
next is to prepare the filling for the sushi. start by steaming the crab legs for 5-7 minutes or until they turn bright red and you begin to smell their aroma. to steam them simply place them in a strainer over a pot of boiling water with a lid on. crack open the hard outer shell and scrap out the fleshy crab meat. set aside.
carefully peel and slice cucumber into long narrow strips, and do the same with the avocado. these will go along with crab meat to fill the sushi.
now it’s time to begin building your sushi. this is the part that’s a bit of an art. we decided to make a double layered rice sushi which is slightly more technically challenging.
lay out the sushi mat and lay a piece of saran wrap over top. place a sheet of seaweed on top. spread a layer of mayonaise on top of the seaweed and then a layer of rice. pack the rice down with your fingers so that it will hold together.
once the entire sheet of sushi is covered carefully flip the seaweed sheet over. this step requires being delicate, but the rice holds together better than you would expect.
repeat the mayo and rice layering on the other side of the seaweed and then top with layers of the filling. how much you pack in at this point will determine the thickness of the final sushi so plan accordingly. ours ended up being a little larger than ideal.
now your sushi is ready to be rolled. this part is a little tricky and will come with time. use the sushi mat to carefully roll the sushi making sure to pull the saran wrap out as you go. use some pressure to keep the sushi entirely stuck together.
once your sushi is rolled you will be left with a log of sushi waiting to be cut into nice sushi pieces. before you do this sprinkle the log with your sesame seeds for an added flavour boost.
to cut the sushi cleanly make sure you have a very sharp knife and get it wet with a little warm water. this will help the knife slice cleanly through the sushi rather than getting stuck. you can cut your log in half and then slice both halves together to try and keep your pieces a more even size.
once all your sushi pieces are cut and ready they can be plated with soy sauce, fresh ginger, and wasabi. we plated our sushi on a block of himalayan pink salt dylan had given to me as a christmas gift.
and there you have it: home-made sushi. like i said above this recipe is a great thing to take on as a project with some friends or a date over an afternoon and feel free to experiment. learning how to make sushi is just the beginning.
if there was a way to patent sandwiches, this would be the one i would patent. i made it serendipitously with some ingredients i had left over and i had no idea how good it would taste since the ingredients aren’t a normal combination for sandwiches.
early this week i wrote about how in the fall i fell in love with butternut squash and started regularly buying and roasting it. whenever i did this i always ended up with tons of leftover squash. putting it on sandwiches seemed like a good way to eat all this squash lying around and now i’m hooked. sometimes i buy and roast squash not even to eat for dinner, purely to save it and use the squash for sandwiches.
i had a bunch of squash leftover in a tupperware, and some hot soppressata salami from loblaws and so i knew they had to be combined. i also had some roasted red peppers left over and i figured why not. of course whenever i eat roasted red peppers i want something creamy from a cheese to go with it; i figured brie would work nicely and was lying around.
at this point i was unsure of how this sandwich would turn out. i mean the ingredient list seemed somewhat random, and was a far stretch from a classic meat, lettuce, tomato, and cheese sandwich. that’s the beauty of the sandwich though, you don’t really have to know what you’re doing. you can guess and experiment and if it doesn’t work who cares.
luckily for me this one worked out (there are many others that didn’t, but you probably won’t read about them here).
so far of all the random sandwiches i’ve made, this one takes the cake and i may have to name it the shrp knvs special. the salty and spicy soppressata salami with the rich, sweet squash and the creamy brie cheese is a real winner.
grilled cheese with roasted butternut squash and spicy soppressata salami
squash is an amazing component to a lot of sandwiches because it is sweet and soft. it adds a rich flavour and an almost creaminess, much like an avocado would, to the sandwich. i think squash pairs unbelievably with all kinds of sandwiches and i’ve yet to find a combo i don’t like.
1 butternut squash, roasted
several slices hot soppressata salami
roasted red peppers
heat a frying pan with a little olive oil or butter over medium-high heat. assemble sandwich with your fresh bread. when the oil is hot it should begin to shimmer. carefully add your sandwich to the pan.
cook the sandwich until it is nicely browned and then cautiously flip. if you’re having trouble flipping your grilled cheese without losing all the contents then try using a plate. simply put a plate over your sandwich and invert the entire frying pan holding under the plate. the sandwich will fall off and onto the plate and then you can simply slide it back into the pan to brown the other side.
once your sandwich is heated through and the bread is nicely toasted, allow to cool for a minute and all the ingredients to set and then enjoy. this is a sandwich you definitely need to try because it’s a flavour combination blast that’s unlike anything you’ve ever had before.
this fall i fell in love with the butternut squash. well a bunch of squashes actually, but the butternut in particular. it has an amazing creamy taste and texture, that is really superior to a potato in a lot of ways. they are amazing as a side with some meat and asparagus, but a little tip: save a bunch of leftover and throw it on your sandwich. you won’t be disappointed (recipe coming later this week).
squash is right up there with pumpkin and apples for symbolizing fall foods. there is something about them that is earthy and warm. it just invites you into the house for some delicious food on a cold fall day.
ok so i know what you’re saying - it’s the spring already. you missed your fall window. you’re right. but, i have been majorly behind in my blogging on shrp knvs (something that won’t happen again for a while, i promise) and i never got around to editing and posting the copious amounts of squash recipes i made. i’m literally debating doing a squash week. will have to play it by ear.
plus the butternut squash is a masterpiece of food that should be eaten all year round (i know i do).
so here you go, i present the butternut squash - a very fall vegetable that thankfully is available all year round.
roasted butternut squash
1 butternut squash
ground coriander seed
this is one of the easiest sides you can make. the only mildly difficult part is peeling and cubing the squash. once that’s done though you simply toss the squash in the oil and with the spices and bake at 425 F for 50 min or so.
i’ve found the easiest way to peel a squash is to separate it into the stem and the bulb with a cut.
once this is done also cut the top off and you will be left with a cylinder. now simply run your knife down the edges to remove the peel. i find this infinitely simpler and cleaner than peeling the squash with a potato peeler.
once your cylinder is peeled, slice it into pieces and then chop into inch cubes. i usually cut mine into 9 pieces.
next is to peel and chop up the bulb. this part is more annoying, and if i’m feeling lazy sometimes i will just discard the bulb since there is a lot of squash in the stem anyways. but if you’re keen on getting the most out of the squash then cut the bulb into quarters.
scoop out all the seeds with a spoon, and cut off the stock at the bottom. carefully peel the skin off with a knife or peeler and cut the squash into chunks roughly the same size as those from the stem.
once all your pieces are cut throw them in a large bowl and coat with oil and spices. don’t worry about the measurements of the spices just estimate and play around with it. toss the whole mixture and make sure all the pieces of squash get coated.
transfer to a baking lined with parchment paper and bake in preheated oven at 425 F. you can bake them for 45-50 min at 425 F, or what i usually like to do is cook them at 425 for 25 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 375 F and cook for another 35 min or so.
this squash tastes amazing as a side, but i almost prefer to save it and use it for sandwiches, so make sure you save some for leftovers.
alright so i wanna start off by saying its been long, far too long since the last post on shrp knvs. this won’t happen again. it was a major lapse on our part and it’s stopping today.
i debated for a while what should be the first post to go onto the blog after such a long and unnecessary hiatus. given the current week of bodily abuse and poor diet with our trip to the dominican this only seemed appropriate.
so leftover cold pizza a constant problem that i run into, as i’m sure many other university students do also. i used to throw the pizza in the microwave is i was feeling lazy but it always ended up soggy. of course you can reheat it in the oven, but let’s be serious, that’s way too much work and time for a lazy weekend afternoon.
when i first came across this idea for reheating pizza i knew i needed to try it. i loved it. a little tinkering with the exact specifics and you have warm and crispy pizza even several days later. it really changes the leftover pizza game entirely.
the key to reheating pizza is to use the stove top. simply put the pizza into a dry and cold frying pan. theres no need for oil since the pizza dough will release it as it cooks.
turn the heat to medium or medium high. as the pan heats up it will start to crisp the bottom and slowly heat up and through to the top. this works wonderfully to keep the bottom nice and crispy while allowing the cheese to warm through.
the instructions said to just leave it like this until the top is warmed up. when i tried this though i found adding a lid to the pan made the process work a lot better.
i finished this boring pepperoni pizza with some fresh basil and a drizzle of a balsamic reduction. it really brings the pizza to a whole new level.
i hope everyone enjoys this post, and wait for the many other posts that will be coming in the next few weeks as i procrastinate doing school work.
this post took too long to make and put up. it isn’t appropriate for the season. it isn’t something most people are going to make. it isn’t even something i just made; in fact it’s nine months old, all the way back when nich came to visit last winter. it has a lot of things going against it. so why exactly am i taking the time to post it now? because i’m dreaming of florida.
in 17 days dylan and i are lucky enough to be heading down to florida and i’m excited. normally i love vacations that are action-packed. i want to be doing things and experiencing because that’s what excites me about travelling. sometimes though it’s nice to take a vacation as a vacation rather than an experience. for me florida is a place to unwind and take a physical and mental break. something i’m longing to do.
so how did i get from dreaming of florida to a pie i made almost a year ago? well i happened to also be browsing some old pictures and came across these photos just after i’d gotten off the phone with my parents talking about florida and our christmas plans. right away i knew i wanted to put up this post.
key lime pie is one of those foods that are so strongly associated with a particular place that even mentioning the name conjures up images of that place. it goes so far as to even have taken its name from the florida keys. you always serve key lime pie cold, which is perfect for those hot nights.
key limes are tarter than the regular limes you find in the supermarket, and they are also much smaller. their juice is more of a yellow colour and that with the egg yolks makes the pie more yellow than green. key limes aren’t super easy to find in toronto, but they have them most days at the large loblaw’s and other specialty grocers. traditionally key lime pie is supposed to have a meringue on top, but i can’t imagine it with anything other than whip cream. it’s just a much better fit in my mind.
key lime pie
key lime filling -
4 tbsp key lime zest
4 egg yolks
1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice
whisk together the lime zest and egg yolks in a medium bowl for a minute of two. whisk in the sweetened condensed milk, and then the lime juice. set aside while you make the crust.
graham cracker crust -
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 10 crackers pulsed in blender)
2 tbsp granulated sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
preheat oven to 325 F.
stir together graham cracker crumbs (should be pulsed to a fine consistency in a blender or food processor) with sugar in a medium-sized bowl. while still slowly add the melted butter. once all mixed you should have a wet sand-like mixture.
grease your 9-inch pie pan and then push your graham cracker paste into the edges. make sure you spread the mixture evenly and firmly press it in place. bake the pie crust until it just begins to brown, about 15-18 minutes. allow crust to cool slightly.
once cooled, fill the crust with your filling and return to oven until the centre sets. this should take 15 minutes or a little more. transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool to room temp. refrigerate until chilled (at least 3 hours).
when you’re ready to serve your pie simply garnish with some key lime slices and of course you have to add some whipped cream. if you are dedicated you can pipe the whipped cream to make for a nice presentation.
grab a knife and carefully cut and transfer onto plates. you must be delicate during this process as the pie easily falls apart. then grab a fork and dig in.
so no matter what you’re doing this christmas break (even if it’s nothing), take the time to make some key lime pie and maybe you can dream of florida and warm beaches, even if only for an afternoon.
it’s funny how sometimes inspiration for certain things comes from unexpected sources. in this case i was at an interprofessional lunch (a requirement for my program) and they offered lunch. normally i would never get a vegetarian sandwich since i like meat in my sandwiches and usually the veggie sandwiches are cold and kind of disgusting. these sandwiches looked a bit different though, and plus they were the only option.
man am i glad now there was no other option because if there was i may never tried that delicious sandwich and then i certainly would have never made this scrumptious sandwich. in fact i probably wouldn’t have even roasted peppers, and i certainly wouldn’t have been buying portobello mushrooms anytime recently. instead i’m buying them and roasting them both weekly as seen in the most recent tip of the week. it’s funny how and where inspiration can come from and how quickly it can impact everyday things like grocery shopping.
this sandwich is awesome because of the balance of flavours and the balance of textures. the meaty and earthy portobello goes so well with the tart red pepper, mellowed ever so slightly by roasting. all of this is pulled perfectly together by the creamy goat cheese and topped up with a little kick of spice from the basil and arugula. there are some sandwiches where one ingredient is the main player, and then there are others like this one where every ingredients pulls its weight. this is sandwich heaven and something you need to run out and try asap.
roasted red pepper and portobello mushroom sandwich
roasted red peppers and roasted portobello mushroom (see tip of the week)
sandwich bread, i used some nice slices of rye, but some nice crusty bread would take this sandwich to another level
arugula and fresh basil
toast of warm the bread if desired. this will depend a lot on what kind of bread you’re using. if you have fresh baguette, just eat it as for or, even better, slightly warmed in the oven. yum.
spread the bread with some honey mustard and a layer of goat cheese. then layer the portobello and red pepper, and finally top it all off with your arugula and fresh basil. close your sandwich up and enjoy this flavour combination made in heaven.
i served mine here with some leftover roasted sweet potatoes, and i had a lunch fit for royalty - all without breaking a sweat.
who ever said sandwiches need meat.
really there’s no reason to roast red peppers and portobello mushrooms at the same time. they cook completely differently and it’s a little bit complicated to juggle them both if you aren’t paying attention. for some reason though i always end up roasting them both at the same.
i shouldn’t seem some clueless since i know why i always make them together. the truth is that while the cooking isn’t exactly the same, the flavours blend perfectly into each other. the meaty and earthy portobello pairs wonderfully with the tartness of the red pepper. all of this can only be bested by adding something creamy like goat cheese into the mix. hmm … i think i’m getting a sandwich in mind for later this week.
in the meantime enjoy this quick teaching about how to roast both red peppers and portobello mushrooms. you can make them one at a time or all together.
how to roast red peppers and portobello mushrooms
roasted red peppers -
bbq or oven
salt and pepper
you can either cook the red peppers on the bbq as i did last summer (with this old pic below), or roast them in the oven. if roasting on the bbq simply heat them over very hot until the skins are charred and black.
with the cold weather coming cooking them in the oven is making more and more sense. if cooking them in the oven, it takes slightly longer, but its very low maintenance. simply cut the peppers in half, preheat the oven to 400 F and brush them with some oil, salt and pepper. roast for 40-50 min or until the skin begins to brown and curl up.
whatever method you used you now need to sweat the peppers. this will help you to easily peel them. toss them piping hot into your bowl and seal it up with the seran wrap so no moisture can escape. let them sweat for 15-20 min.
once cooled, peel them and remove all the seeds. this should be easy at this point. roughly chop them and store them in mason jars with a little oil and some white wine vinegar until ready to eat. (if you sterilize the jars you can preserve these peppers for months).
what you need:
portobello mushrooms, washed and destemmed
salt and pepper
either on a bbq or on a oven-ready frying pan sear the mushrooms over high heat. season with salt and pepper and pour some balsamic vinegar right into the top of the mushroom to add flavour.
when the bottom has some colour, transfer to the oven (the temperature isn’t important - i usually cook them at the same time as the peppers) and cook for 15 min or so. remove from oven and give it a rough slice.
enjoy these two roasted and healthy treats and keep looking for a bunch of recipes coming in the near future using both roasted red peppers and roasted portobello mushrooms.