feature image for peasy salad

Easy Peasy Pea Salad

First of all, I’m going to credit myself for this punny salad name. Pun was (very much) intended here. Secondly, I apologize for being the terrible person that I am; the last time I posted a recipe was probably 1000 years ago. Now the formalities have been established, and we can move on.

IMG_1299

Currently, I am enjoying the beautiful Vancouver sunset on my patio while basking in a cool summer breeze. Honestly, I had come up with this recipe back in the spring when peas were all the rage. When peas just become in-season during the spring time, practically every restaurant menu has a dish featuring peas on it. I swear on my life. That being said, here in the Pacific Northwest peas are in season from May until August. That means, you can make this salad with the freshest peas available to you (if you’re in my region) during these months. Seasonality of produce depends on the climate of the region you are in, so I’d encourage you to Google it if you’re interested in learning more. And for those of you wondering, seasonality is just a fancy word to say when produce tastes the best during a certain time of year. This depends on what kind of weather and climate the produce grows best in. Enough about seasonality! Let’s talk salad.

IMG_1302

IMG_1308

This salad is the perfect mix of textures and flavours: some crunch there, a little tang here, topped off with a touch of sweetness. My favourite part about the dressing is getting the most out of the grapefruit. After you cut the grapefruit segments, you simply squeeze the juice in the jar and mix with some honey, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Shake, shake, shake! And ta-da you have a dressing! The contrast in textures between the supple grapefruit segments, crunchy fennel, and crisp peas and pea shoots really kickstarts a party in your mouth. So without further ado….

IMG_1305

Easy Peasy Pea Salad
Yields 2 Servings

Ingredients

Salad

1/2 grapefruit, peeled and segmented 
1 1/4 cup snap peas, chopped
2 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
10-15 sprigs of pea shoots, chopped
Handful of fennel fronds, chopped
Extra cilantro and fennel fronds, for garnish

Dressing

Juice from segmented grapefruit half
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
S&P, to taste

Method

Chop snap peas, cilantro, fennel fronds, and pea shoots. Thinly slice fennel bulb and segment grapefruit. Combine salad ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside remaining grapefruit.

Squeeze grapefruit juice into small jar. Add Dijon, honey, and extra virgin olive oil into jar. Shake until dressing is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more honey or Dijon if needed.

Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss. (Remember, you do not need to use all the dressing! You can always add, but you can’t take away). Let the salad sit in the fridge for 5-10 minutes so ingredients can marinate. This resting allows the fennel to soften slightly and it also flavours the peas.

Serve on a chilled plate (if you’re feeling extra fancy). Garnish with cilantro and fennel fronds. Enjoy!

IMG_1042

Sea Salted Double Chocolate Cookie

Phew. I never thought this day would come. But I finally finished all my university applications. For the past few months my life has been nothing but essays and deadlines. What better way to celebrate than with a cookie?

IMG_1043Have you ever tried a cookie so cloyingly sweet that you wanted to put it down? I know I have. But I finish the cookie anyway, because a cookie is a cookie. I wanted to make a chocolate chip cookie with white and bittersweet chocolate, but damn would that be sweet. Then it hit me. Sea salt! I don’t know how I haven’t thought of this earlier. My favourite part is when unsuspecting friends try this cookie and are pleasantly surprised by the pop of salt. Their faces usually turn from a look of surprise, to an oh-I-see-what-you-did-there face.

Processed with VSCOcam

I used bittersweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chunks, and coarse sea salt. It makes for three times the fun! Bonus points if you like a chewy cookie. Salty, sweet, chewy. It’s all there. I hope you try it and like it!

This recipe is adapted from the Zesty Cook. (Unfortunately there site is under maintenance right now.)

Sea Salted Double Chocolate Cookie
Yields approx. 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 and 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup white chocolate chunks
coarse sea salt, as needed for garnish

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, sea salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until just combined. Over mixing will cause too much cookie spreading! Add eggs one at a time to creamed mixture, beating after each addition. Add vanilla. Mix until just combined.

Add flour to the butter mixture. Gently stir in bittersweet chocolate chips.

Using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop, arrange cookie dough on baking sheets. Press white chocolate chunks into each cookie. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Bake for about 12 minutes, or until golden. Let cool on the sheet for five minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Little girl tip: If you like a thicker, and chewier cookie try portioning your cookie dough then freezing them for 10 minutes. Bake for approx. 15 minutes, or until golden. 

Back in 5: gone schooling

Two months, I know it has been awhile since I’ve checked in. I can almost feel the virtual cobwebs collecting on my blog. Eeck! First off, Happy New Year! (Better late than never is what I tell myself.) The past few months have been a stressful time. I’m in my final year of high school and it’s a juggling act to balance school work, extra-curriculars, and post-secondary applications. I will post some recipes real soon though; at least I continue to tell myself that.

In other news, I will be talking to local food writer, Tim Pawsey this weekend about his career. Exciting stuff! He is quite a seasoned food writer, and I look forward to receiving some advice from him. You can find him over at Hired Belly. Hopefully I’ll learn a thing or two about running this blog a little better.

I’ll leave you here with a photo of tonight’s dinner: Kale and Ricotta Pasta. Just spaghetti tossed in ricotta with sauteed garlic, kale, lemon zest, red chili flakes and olive oil. You can’t go wrong –I mean it’s garlic and cheese, people! I was inspired by the lovely folks over at Bon Appetit who talk about making some easy, kick-ass pasta recipes without a recipe. If I got anything out of that article:

1. Always toss your pasta with olive oil and pasta water.
2. 3 ingredients can make a wonderful pasta dish.
3. Garlic and Parmesan make (almost) any pasta oh-so-irresistible.

That’s all for now! Until next thyme! Get it?

kale and ricotta pasta

IMG_1039

The Perfect Breakfast: Avocado Toast

Hello world! I know I’ve been AWOL for a while now. I swear I had a recipe coming up for a vegetable lentil stew, but by the time I had written the recipe all my photos (somehow) disappeared. The only photo left was one of a cutting board filled with vegetables. I will post the recipe anyway though. I’m sure you can guess why I’ve been gone for so long. Did you guess school? You got it! Ding ding ding! I hope my sarcasm translates well through the internet.

IMG_1031

I’ve never been a fan of avocado as a kid. I always thought, “What kind of fruit is this? Wait a minute, is this a vegetable? Why is it so creamy? Is this green butter?! Gross.” [10 years later…] I have come to love the humble avocado, especially on toast. When you think about it, it’s like having a whole serving of guacamole to yourself for breakfast. Avocado toast isn’t just the perfect breakfast though; it’s the perfect breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Call me obsessed, because you’re probably right.

IMG_1036

The soft-boiled egg is a no-brainer. You don’t know boiled eggs until you’ve had a soft boiled egg. The yolk oozes over the blanket of avocado and you sop up all that goodness with some toasty toast. ‘Nuff said. Avocado, egg, Dijon mayo –all of this together is quite rich, but the lemon juice is your savior. Feel free to try variations of the avocado toast listed below. Enjoy! I hope you’ll become as obsessed with avocado toast as I am.

Avocado Toast with Dijon Mayo
Serves 2

Ingredients

For the avocado:
1 large avocado, pitted
juice of lemon wedge
pinch of salt and pepper

For the Dijon mayo:
1 tbsp mayo
1 tsp Dijon mustard
pinch of salt and pepper

For the egg:
2 eggs
2 cups boiling water

2 slices of bread, toasted
sprigs of cilantro, for garnish
salt and pepper

Method

In a small sauce pan, bring water to a boil. Add eggs to water, and turn down to a simmer. Set a timer for exactly 4 minutes to achieve a soft-boiled egg. Once cooked, remove from heat and rinse with cold water.Carefully peel eggs in water and set aside peeled eggs on a paper towel to dry.

Toast bread. While the bread is toasting, scoop the avocado in a bowl. Toss avocado with lemon juice, salt and pepper. To make the Dijon mayo, mix the mayo and Dijon mustard in a small bowl.

Spread the Dijon mayo on toast, spoon the avocado mix onto the toast and mash with a spoon or fork. Garnish with the egg, cilantro, and plenty of cracked black. Enjoy!

Variations:

Classic: Toss avocado with juice of a lemon wedge, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Mash onto toast and garnish with crushed red chili flakes.

Sweet and salty: Toss avocado with juice of a lemon wedge, salt and pepper. Mash onto toast, garnish with flaky sea salt and a drizzle of honey.

BATT: Bacon Avocado Tomato Toast; Mix avocado with 2 tbsp chopped tomato, salt and pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. Mash onto toast and top with two slices of cooked bacon, and cracked black.

IMG_0943

Vegan Chocodate Milk

Phew, I was expecting to cook less once school rolled around, but not this sparse. I wouldn’t be surprised if you assumed I was carried away on a cloud into culinary heaven. Unfortunately, I’m still here…about to start on my calculus homework. This recipe is reflective of the hectic school life I’ve been experiencing this past month. It’s literally takes 2 minutes to prepare and it’s a perfect start to any morning.

IMG_0932

IMG_1011

I’ve been a fan of unsweetened almond milk for awhile now. The smooth and nutty taste of almond milk is a must for cereals, smoothies, and straight-outta-the-carton. Yes, plain almond milk is lovely and all, but how can I make it better? The only and correct answer to that question is: chocolate milk. Let’s be honest with ourselves, we are all guilty of adding loads of chocolate syrup whenever we make chocolate milk. However, I’m a responsible high school senior now –I take care of myself and I eat healthy (most of the time). I wanted to recreate a healthy and vegan version of chocolate milk reminiscent of the ones I’ve had in my toddler days.  Immediately I thought to add cocoa powder to the milk, but it’d be too bitter on it’s own. To my surprise, adding a couple of Medjool dates and a splash of vanilla was just what the recipe needed. Hence the name “chocodate” milk. Get it? Chocolate — chocodate? I thought it was clever, but Isaiah just rolled his eyes and laughed at the sound of it. This is also coming from the guy who thinks this is a milkshake. That’s what I get for trying to get my boyfriend excited about almond milk with cocoa and dates blended into it.

IMG_1007

I like the little bits of date left in the milk, but if you’re feeling fancy you can strain it through sieve or cheesecloth. If you do try it, tell me how you like it. Is it just like the chocolate milk you grew up on? Or is my recipe a wannabe? I want to know!

IMG_0942

Vegan Chocodate Milk
Serves 2 (yields 4 cups)

If you like a more intense chocolate flavour in your milk, use more cocoa powder. The recipe calls for 1-2 teaspoons of cocoa, however this is just a guideline. Use as much as you like, to taste.

Ingredients

8 Medjool dates, pitted
4 cups unsweetened almond milk
1-2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
granola, garnish

Method

Add all ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth and dates can no longer be seen. Add more dates or cocoa powder to taste if you like it sweeter or chocolatey-er.

Strain, if desired. Chill or serve immediately topped with your favourite granola. Start the day off right!

IMG_0918

Breakfast Fried Rice

For every average BC student, school still hasn’t begun. Being the average teen that I am, I have more than enough free time every morning now. Therefore, in my books, an elaborate breakfast is 100% necessary. I’m not going to delve into a tiresome rant about the whole strike — that’s for a different kind of blog — so I present to you: breakfast fried rice.

IMG_0898

If you’re anything like me, you’ll always have a tower of takeout boxes filled with leftovers in your fridge. I could easily heat up some day-old rice with leftovers but that’s not very exciting or tasty. My mother once told me always told me that day old rice is the only rice you should use for fried rice. If I even dared to use fresh rice, I would receive a scornful tsk-tsk from the omnipotent mum. Moral of the story: use day-old rice!

IMG_0901

There isn’t a main protein in this recipe, so I really focused on using a variety of aromatics and flavourings to create a super savoury flavour profile. I mean, who doesn’t love shallots, garlic, and basil? In addition, I used a whole boat load of ingredients that reminded me of the flavours I grew up on: XO sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce.

IMG_0924

IMG_0911

The egg is the key to this breakfast dish, so make sure you use the freshest of eggs. (It’s a little hypocritical of me to say, since the yolk from my old eggs kept breaking on me. Don’t be like me!) Nevertheless, the best part is smashing the yolk — the way the velvety smooth sauce spills and coats the fried rice is pretty darn sexy.  I guess it’s safe to add that it’s not excessive to hide a beautiful fried egg under all the goodness and top it with another egg, right? Right. And who could forget the oh-so-essential squiggle of sriracha on top? Not this girl!

IMG_0914

IMG_0917

Kudos to me for the one-handed shot *applause*

IMG_0915

Breakfast Fried Rice
Serves 1

This recipe is adapted from the lovely folks at Food52. XO sauce is a Chinese condiment usually made with dried scallop, chilies, Chinese ham, dried shrimp, and garlic preserved in a devilish amount of oil. It’s sold at most specialty markets or Chinese supermarkets, but if you can’t find it, crushed chili flakes are a great substitute to add that extra kick.

Ingredients

1 heaping cup day-old rice
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp butter
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp XO sauce
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 eggs
sriracha hot sauce, for garnish
chopped basil, for garnish

Method

Heat sesame oil and 1 tsp butter in a large frying pan over med. low heat. Add shallots and saute until they’re slightly soften and golden. Add garlic and turn heat down to low. Continue to saute until shallots and garlic and caramelized, approx. 3 minutes.

Add rice vinegar to deglaze the pan. (Be careful of the vinegary fumes!)  Stir to catch all the tasty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add XO sauce and stir to coat the shallot garlic mixture. Immediately add the rice, and turn heat to med. low. Work out any clumps in the rice, then add soy sauce. Stir to warm everything through, approx. 5 minutes. Add basil and remove the pan from the heat.

In a small pan, heat remaining butter on med. heat. Add eggs and fry until edges are crisp and the white is just set, approx. 3 minutes. Layer the egg, then rice, and another egg on top in a bowl. Garnish with a sriracha squiggle and chopped basil. Smash the yolk and enjoy your morning!

IMG_0894

Curried Carrot Apple Soup

It’s been a week since I’ve returned from my lovely trip to Toronto, ON. My cousin, Flo, was nothing short of the perfect tour guide. I’m proud to say I ate (or tried to eat) my way around Toronto. After all the delicious, but heavy, food I gluttonized, I felt the need for some vegetables in my diet. All that remained in my fridge, after the trip, were some limp carrots, onions, and apples.

IMG_0878

IMG_0879

I really enjoyed this surprising combination of carrot and apple. The soup is packed full of spices to tie all the flavours together.  I would like to note this is my first savoury recipe on the blog AND it’s vegan. [Insert gratifying self high five here.]

IMG_0882

IMG_0883

I’m still experimenting with the use of coconut oil in my kitchen, but I enjoyed it particularly in this soup. The coconut oil imparts the fragrant flavour of coconut without adding the inherent richness associated with coconut milk. The result is a light, yet flavourful soup fit for any weather (especially the fall and winter months). This recipe is super simple, and I can guarantee you’ll whip up a batch in no time!

IMG_0893

Curried Carrot Apple Soup
Serves 2

Ingredients

1 tbsp coconut oil/ olive oil
180 g (approx. 2 small) apple, peeled and cored, medium dice
180 g (approx. 12 small) carrot, peeled and trimmed, medium dice
240 g (approx. 1/2 large) onion, small dice
10 g (thumb size piece) fresh ginger, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
salt and pepper, to taste
croutons, garnish (optional)

Method

Heat oil in a large saucepan over med. low heat. Add apples, carrots, onions, and ginger to saucepan. Sweat vegetables until onions are translucent, approx.  7 minutes. (If you hear your vegetables sweating, the heat is too high!)

Once the vegetables are slightly softened, add spices and a pinch of salt. Heat the spices until they become fragrant, approx. 3 minutes. Add bay leaf and water. Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer on low heat for approx. 15 minutes or until carrots and apples are tender.

Remove the soup from the heat, and let cool slightly. Remove bay leaf. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour the pureed vegetables back into the saucepan along with the cooking liquid. Heat through and season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the consistency with water if needed. Serve hot, and garnish with croutons (recipe here). Enjoy!

apple pie smoothie shake

Apple Pie Smoothie-Shake

It’s my birthday today! Yipee! What better way to celebrate than a slice of apple pie for breakfast – in drink form. I’m not a firm believer in parties, so I decided to have a little celebration with Josh and Mel yesterday. We had an apple pie bake off. What more could a girl ask for? I used what remained of the beautiful lattice top apple pie for breakfast. Just in case you were wondering, why would you make a pie, just to blend it up?!

apples and more apples

The buttery crust, and sweet apples are the perfect marriage of fruity and rich flavours. I called it a smoothie-shake because it has fruit and yogurt, but it’s not quite healthy enough to be called a smoothie. And you could easily substitute the Greek yogurt for ice cream – making it a milkshake. (I probably would’ve used ice cream in this smoothie-shake if I didn’t eat it all with the pie.)

The beautiful pie sunbathing on a lovely day

The beautiful pie sunbathing on a lovely day

IMG_0566

This smoothie is whimsical and delicious. Great as a dessert or for breakfast. It is very rich, so if you want to up the apple flavour and cut through the buttery-ness, feel free to add the apple juice. I left the juice out because I enjoy the richness. You’ll find this recipe creates a more watery consistency than a regular shake, but after it chills in the fridge, it’ll become the perfect consistency.

What remains of the pie the morning after

What remains of the pie the morning after

IMG_0573

What more can I say? Apple pie in shake form. It doesn’t get better than that.

Apple Pie Smoothie-Shake
Serves 1

The recipe I used for apple pie from Bon Appetit, is a classic recipe. If you have a favourite pie recipe, use that one!

Ingredients

150 g apple pie + extra crumbs for garnish
60 g (4 tbsp) Greek yogurt/ vanilla ice cream
200 ml soy milk/ milk
15 ml (1 tbsp) apple juice (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Chill for 15 minutes, or until completely cold. Garnish with pie crumbs and drink up.

Longan Basil Tea Pops

Longan Basil Tea Pops

 

Ah, longan – also known as dragon eyes. You may be wondering, what on earth is that? Perhaps you know exactly what it is. Longan evokes memories of my childhood when my mum used to peel every single longan for me to eat. Oh, how I relished the moment when I popped the juicy morsel in my mouth. Then, I would devour my way around the pit, and spit the pit (try saying that five times fast!) back out with a sense of satisfaction every time. In short, longan is an exotic Chinese fruit which looks like a peeled grape and tastes like a milder lychee. Did I mention they are chock-full of nutrients too? You can buy fresh longan from some specialty Chinese markets, but feel free to used canned longan if you can’t find fresh.

peeling away

It is always too warm to drink tea during the summertime. And the lack of ice in my household takes iced tea out of the roster. Now I’m asking myself, “Isn’t it easier to make ice cubes, than tea pops?” Probably, but tea pops are so much fun to make!

look at the pretty chiffonade

Stirring tea for tea pops

 

These tea pops are super simple to make: Brew tea. Sweeten with infused simple syrup. Add chopped fruit. I used Murchie’s Mango Green Tea in this recipe. However, you can substitute in any of your favourite teas. Make sure you use double the amount of tea you normally would in order to achieve the best flavour. And remember, always adjust your mixture to be a tad sweeter than usual because the cold dulls the sweetness on your tongue. Experiment, and do tell me how your tea pops turn out!

tea glorious tea

Longan Basil Tea Pops
Makes 6 popsicles 

This recipe will yield 400 ml of sweetened tea. I used 72 ml popsicle moulds, so I got six popsicles.

Ingredients

Tea

330 ml freshly boiled water
4 tsp Murchie’s Mango Green tea

Longan Basil Simple Syrup 

1/2 cup (125ml) water
1/2 cup sugar (I used cane sugar)
2 fresh basil stems
6 fresh basil leaves
5 longan, peeled and pitted

Garnish

12 longan, peeled, pitted, and quartered
3 basil leaves, chiffonade 

 

Method

In a small saucepan, bring 330 ml of water to a boil. Add freshly boiled water to tea in a liquid measuring cup. Brew tea for 3-4 minutes, depending on the type of leaf and desired strength. Strain and set aside.

For the syrup, in a small sauce pan, bring water to a gentle simmer. Add sugar, and stir until dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, add basil and longan. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Remove syrup from heat, and cool slightly before straining.

Sweeten tea with simple syrup, to taste. (I used 70 ml of syrup, but you can adjust it to your taste). Add longan and basil to popsicle moulds, and pour in tea. Stir each mould to evenly distribute garnish. Add popsicle sticks.

Freeze for approximately one hour, then stir to ensure tea and sweetener does not concentrate at the tips. Continue to freeze for 3 hours, or until completely frozen. Hold the popsicles under running warm water to unmould. Enjoy!

 

Strawberries 'n' Cream Popsicles

The first adventure: Strawberries ‘n’ Cream Popsicles

Summer is unarguably my favourite season. Not only is homework non-existent, but the delicious summer berries are also at their peak.

Yesterday, my mum woke me at the crack of dawn and left me $50 for groceries. Originally I was headed to the neighborhood supermarket , but I made my way to the Granville Island Public market instead. (Boy, was that a worthwhile decision.) Talk about a lengthy commute though!  While I was there, I picked up some lovely local strawberries. Although they were a little pricey, it was definitely worth every penny nickel.

blending away

swirly wirly

After a grueling day of grocery shopping, Nicole and I savoured a break by the water while we munched on all the strawberries. They’re nothing like the ones you get from the supermarket: delicate, fragrant and oh-so-sweet. Speaking of delicate, the strawberries started to become very soft and ripe the day after. What better way to use them up than to whip up a batch of homemade popsicles!

I made everything a little bit sweeter than usual because the frozen-ness of the popsicles tend to dull your palette. In other words, the cold makes everything taste less sweet. If your mixture tastes a tad too sweet, than your popsicles will be perfect (maybe). I also ran out of sour cream, so I added a touch of Greek yogurt to top up. But if you’re watching your waistline, in which case I’m never, feel free to substitute the sour cream for a thick Greek yogurt.

I was inspired by this recipe; I also used it to reassure myself that adding sour cream to popsicles does not make me insane. I only found five of my popsicle sticks, so I apologize for the awkward yield of this recipe.

Strawberries ‘n’ Cream Popsicles
Makes 5 popsicles 

Ingredients

200 g strawberries, trimmed and halved
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 lemon wedges, juiced
100 ml sour cream/ Greek yogurt
35 ml milk (I used 2%)

Method

Reserve 3-4 strawberries and cut into irregularly shaped pieces for garnish. Set aside. Combine remaining strawberries with 2 tbsp maple syrup and juice of a lemon wedge. Using a blender or food processor, blend until smooth. Set aside.

Whisk to combine sour cream, milk, juice of a lemon wedge, and 2 tbsp maple syrup.

To assemble the popsicles: Spoon the sour cream mixture evenly among the popsicle moulds. Add the chopped strawberries into each mould. Pour the strawberry puree into each mould. Using a small teaspoon or chopstick, stir the contents of each mould to create a swirl effect. Make sure you stir with an up and down motion.

Insert sticks and freeze for approximately 4 hours, or until completely frozen. Hold the popsicles under warm running water to unmould. Enjoy!

I couldn't wait to take a bite before the photo!

I couldn’t wait to take a bite before the photo!