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Baba Ganoush

If you have never had it or you are wondering what Baba Ganoush is, it is really not as strange as it sounds.



Baba Ganoush is made from smoky roasted eggplant, Tahini (Sesame paste) lemon juice, garlic and a few herbs and spices. It is creamy and has a subtle smoky flavour that is greatly paired with crisp tortilla chips straight out of the oven or next to fresh-cut veggies. Though the traditional spread is not made with chickpeas, I add them in to add a bit of bulk and make it more of a complete meal, yet I don’t add enough to change the taste. So maybe this is more a Baba Ganoush style humus if you were really getting technical.

It had been quite a while since I had made it and I kept on forgetting until I found some eggplants in the discount section at the grocery store. A little bruised but perfect for roasting. Wilhelmina fell in love with it and ate it with tortilla chips the night I made it and then ate more for various snacks and even breakfast in the days after with carrot sticks and sliced red peppers. I bought more eggplants this weekend because she was asking for more once it was gone.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher or coarse Sea Salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • a half bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 can of Chickpeas (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika (or)
    • a few dashes of liquid smoke*

* The smoked paprika or the liquid smoke add an amazing depth to the Baba Ganoush. You don’t want to overdo either though, especially the liquid smoke, so use sparingly and adjust at the end as needed.

 

  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Prick each eggplant a few times, then broil in the oven until the skin blackens turning over a few times. Keep a close eye on them to not overdo it.
  • Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re completely soft. You will able to prick them easily without resistance.
  • Remove from oven and let cool.
  • Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp. Place the pulp in the blender or food processor with the other ingredients and process until smooth.
  • Taste, and adjust seasonings.
  • Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of chile powder or smoked paprika

For the Chips:

  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Combine a tsp of garlic powder, a tsp of chile powder, 1/4 tsp cumin and  1/2 tsp of salt to a few tbsp of olive oil.
  • Cut some tortillas into wedges and place on a baking sheet.
  • Brush the wedges with the seasoned oil and bake a few min until crisp. They will cook fast so keep an eye on them and take them out when golden.

General tso

When I was in university there was this little restaurant seconds away that I had to stop myself from eating at more often. It is called Nouilles Express and they made ( and still make) the perfect general tso.

The chicken is crispy, the sauce is a perfect balance and an order of fried noodles on the side completes the deal. Even now when we’re in Montreal we sometimes head there just for that.

A few years ago I shared a recipe for General Tso here on the blog. However, there was something about it that did exactly fit with the general tso I used to love. I don’t exactly remember how I found it, but I had this recipe in my recipe app for a little while and I finally decided to try it..

It is amazing!!

Though the other sauce is a great base for other stir-fry type dishes, if I am in the mood for General Tso… This will be my go to recipe from now on… I make it with with chicken or tofu depending on my mood.

For the chicken (or tofu):

  • 4 chicken breasts or 2 blocks of tofu (cut in bite size pieces)
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

In a bowl or ziplock, marinate meat or tofu in tamari, sesame oil and garlic and a few tsp of cornstarch for at least 30 min.

With enough oil to cover the pieces, fry the chicken or tofu then set aside.

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup stock (veggie, chicken or even water with a bit of Braggs.)
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp hoisin
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp tamari

Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl until sugar dissolves and set aside.

You also need:

  • 3 cups of broccoli cut into bit size pieces (optional)
  • 4-5 stalks of green onions cut into 1 inch pieces
  • About an inch of ginger, minced.
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Sesame oil

If you are making the broccoli, stir fry the brocolli until the colour changes but don’t over cook, and then set aside.

In your hot wok, add a bit of sesame oil and then stir fry the green onion, ginger and garlic. Add the sauce to the wok and let boil for a minute or two. The sauce will change colour and become thick and glazed.

Once the sauce is thick, add the chicken and the broccoli and toss in the sauce.

Serve with rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds for the final touch…

 

Chicken and Dumpling soup

I had never had, or heard of Chicken and Dumpling soup until a few years ago when I was watching a show on the food network that made it look so good. It looked exactly like comfort food even though I hated soup.

Yes, not very long ago, I hated all soups.

There is something about being able to drink my food that didn’t appeal to me and honestly most of the soups that I had in my memory were not the best. It is not that I wanted to hate soup, I actually wanted the opposite, I knew it was easy to make, inexpensive and that I could probably like the taste if I made it myself… so I started making a few…

This is one of the first soups I made and to this day it is still a favourite in the household, especially with the kids.

It all starts with a chicken…

Chicken and dumpling soup is always a second meal for me… what I mean by that is that I will roast a chicken and use about half of it for super the night before in something like club sandwiches. I then strip off the rest of the meat and put it aside, and then store the bones and the juices from the roast chicken until the next day. One chicken, two meals. I might look like a lot of work and a lot of step but it really isn’t… it is actually an easy meal to make and each of the steps takes just a few minutes to prepare and the result is well worth it!

In the morning I start on the stock…

No measuring needed…

  • Heat a bit of olive oil in a large pot.
  • Chop an onion in quarters (no need to peel them) and throw them in
  • Add a few green onions if you have them also
  • Cut a head of garlic into two pieces horizontally and throw it in (again no peeling needed)
  • Break a few stalk of celery in half and throw those in
  • Same thing with a few carrots
  • Sprinkle a bit of coarse salt, freshly ground pepper and a bit of poultry seasoning. (sage, thyme, marjoram)
  • Let the veggies cook and caramelize a bit. It adds depth to the stock.
Veggies for broth
Add the chicken bones and then about 16 cups of water… or enough to cover everything.

 

Making chicken Broth

Let simmer for a few hours until reduced by almost half.

You will end up with a flavourful and rich and flavourful stock. Strain, and set aside.
Rich homemade Chicken broth
About an hour before starting the soup, it is time to make the dumplings.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 green onions (chopped finely)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or milk with 1 tsp of lemon juice) *I use almond milk
  • 2 eggs
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and onions together in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the sour milk and eggs. Add the wet mixture to the dry and fold in slowly until just incorporated being very careful not to overmix. It will be lumpy and that is perfectly fine.

Place in the fridge for an hour.

 

To make the soup…

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Chopped roasted chicken (about 2 cups… or half  chicken)
  • chicken broth (recipe above)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
In a large pot, heat oil and butter. Add the veggies and cook until softened.
Carrots, celery and garlic cooking
Add the flour and let cook for a few minutes
added flour
Cup by cup add the broth. After about 5 cups are added, start waiting a bit between each next addition and add the garlic powder, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Add the rest of the broth and adjust the seasonings to taste. Add the chicken and let simmer for about 5 min.
The soup should be flavourful and slightly thick and creamy.
thick and creamy chicken soup
While the soup is simmering, take the dumpling batter  out of the fridge. It should resemble a thick pancake batter.
dumpling mix
Using two tablespoons (or an ice cream scoop) quickly add spoonfuls of the dumpling mix to the soup. (You want to go as fast as possible)
Then quickly cover and simmer for another 10-15 minutes… don’t uncover when cooking!
(the dumplings will rise to the top and will both boil and stream at the same time)
dumpling are done
(the result is a very light and fluffy dumpling)
light and fluffy
And that is it! it is ready to serve and be enjoyed…
 I have to say… It is so hard to take pictures of this soup.. it might not look that appealing on camera but it is the ultimate comfort food, full of flavour, full of goodness and the whole family loves it.
Chicken and Dumpling soup

Falafel with Taratoor sauce

I remember the first time I had Falafel. I was in high school and working at a veterinarian’s office for the summer and on my lunch break I would go to a little family run place called “Café Joe” that was a few blocks away. They made the most amazing Falafel from scratch and I remember just loving the texture and taste. It was crispy and fried but tasted fresh and light. When I stopped working there and went back to school I would go out of my way to visit at times until one day I went by and they had sold the restaurant. When I left my mom’s and headed into my own place, I would buy those dry mixes to make falafel at home but it was never the same. It tasted… well.. processed and from a box mix. However, a few years ago I found this recipe and have never looked back. This is the good stuff…  This is it.

This recipe calls for dried chickpeas… you really need to use dried chickpeas. Canned chickpeas just won’t work… the reason? not because it is snobbish,  but because the mix is actually made with uncooked soaked chickpeas. Cooking them (or using canned) will not result in the right texture or flavour. The down side to that is that you do have to think ahead.

So… for the Falafel…

  • 2 cups dried Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans  (soaked for 12-24 hours)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves
  • 2 -3 slices bread
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 1/3 red pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes *optional
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 125 ml water
  • vegetable oil ( for deep-frying)
When your chickpeas have soaked long enough, drain and put in the food processor. Add onion, garlic, bread, parsley, and red sweet pepper. and process until mealy. Move to a bowl (or use the pulse mode on processor) and Add spices, flour,  2 tsp baking powder and water and mix well.
In a small dish mix the remaining baking powder and water. Dip your hands in the water and form balls of the chickpea mixture the size of walnuts.
Falafel
Deep fry in oil at medium high heat until golden brown.
Frying the Falafel
Crispy on the outside and soft and fresh tasting on the inside
Falafel
Serve on warm pita bread with Taratoor sauce (recipe below) and any other toppings you might enjoy (parsley, tomato, pickled turnips etc)…

For the Taratoor Sauce

  • 3/4 cup tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Juice of 1 –  1 1/2 lemons
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
In a deep bowl beat the tahini with the crushed garlic and lemon juice until creamy. Add water bit by bit, beating well after each addition. If using blender / food processor put all the ingredients in and process until creamy. Add salt and parsley and stir. Taste and adjust. The sauce should have some tang to it not too lemony.
Yumm….
Falafel

Stuffed Buns…

I have always enjoyed dumplings, wontons and well pretty much any type of dough with something hidden inside… they are like little packages with a surprise…

I remember when I was young a friend of mine and I would go to China town in Montreal and buy these amazing steamed bbq buns and I loved them… and I bet I would still love them if they didn’t have a ton of red food colouring in them…

Last winter, I had a bit of pork left over from a batch of pulled pork I had made and after having eating leftovers, I decided to change things up a bit and added some hoisin and garlic black bean sauce and chinese five spice… it was such a delicious mix! I made my dough for buns and was about to make a normal batch of hamburger buns when I go the idea to stuff them with the mix…

What I ended up with was such a treat!!

These are absolutely amazing! They are easy and pretty quick to make, they are fun to eat and the kids love them and they are great to bring with you the next day for a lunch and can even be eaten cold..

 Stuffed Buns

First make the insides of the buns… this can be anything…  bbq pork? shredded chicken? the meat mixture from my meat and sweet potato pie? curried potatoes?

My favourite?

  • 1 lb of either ground pork or ground beef
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup hoisin
  • 3 tbsp garlic black bean paste
  • 1 tsp chinese five spice mix
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
Sauté the onions in a bit of oil and then add and brown the meat. Drain and then add the spices and the hoisin and bean paste. Adjust seasonings if needed. Set aside and let cool.

For the dough (I use the same dough for hamburgers and hotdog buns):

  • 1 1/4 cup of warm water + 1/4 cup of warm water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups of flour
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
First, proof the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water.
In a large bowl (can be by hand, on food processor or stand mixer), add the water, the brown sugar, the oil and the proofed yeast and mix. Add 3 1/2 cups of flour mixing in the salt with the flour at the same time and then start mixing. add flour until the dough comes together and then either knead by hand for 10 min, mix in the mixer for 5min or process for 45 sec.
Cut the dough into 16 equal pieces.
Flatten a piece of the dough and place it in the palm of your hand.
Place two spoonfuls of the mixture in the dough and then fold over and starting at one end start pinching the sides to close it.
Pinch it closed and turn over and place on a lined cookie sheet.
Making stuffed Buns
Start the oven and preheat to 350,  and let the buns rise for about 20 minutes.
Brush with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds…
Ready for the oven
Bake for 15-17 minutes…
Out of the oven
I hope you love these as much as we do!
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