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spelt sourdough crackers with olive oil, fennel and pepper

sourdough spelt crackers with fennel and cracked pepper

Just a short post today! I had another one drafted but it was waaay too long, so I divided it into a two-part post for a veg-forward appetizer spread for the holidays, the second of which will be coming next week. Today I’m leaving you with a recipe for sourdough crackers that I barely adapted from the Zero Waste Chef blog. I hate food waste (and waste in general), so I’m trying to get better at finding uses for the bits of produce that end up in our fridge, using environmentally responsible packaging as often as I can (like Abeego or reusable glass containers), and minimizing our overall garbage. If you’re interested in cutting your waste or becoming more self-sustaining you should check out this blog.

One thing I’ve struggled with a lot in terms of waste is my sourdough starter. I keep it on the counter because I like being able to make a levain for bread, bagels or pizza dough at a moment’s notice. But on the days that I don’t do that, I end up composting the expired starter. I came across this blog and was thrilled to find a use for my extra starter. I’ve adjusted the amounts slightly and converted them to weight measurements because I hate measuring sourdough recipes by volume as it’s really hard to maintain consistency. You can mix up the spices in these crackers to your taste, I just wanted to pick something that would complement a variety of possible toppings (dips, cured meats, cheese, etc).

Keep an eye out next week for a trio of dip recipes to accompany your homemade sourdough crackers (there’s a preview below!).

spelt sourdough crackers with olive oil, fennel and pepper

spelt sourdough crackers with olive oil, fennel and pepper

spelt sourdough crackers with olive oil, fennel and pepper

spelt sourdough crackers with olive oil, fennel and pepper

sourdough spelt crackers with fennel and cracked pepper (barely adapted from here) (vegan)

makes about 2 baking trays

190 g starter
30 g / 45 ml olive oil
100 g whole spelt flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (plus more for topping)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon peppercorns

Add everything to a medium bowl except the spices. Grind the fennel seeds and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder, then add to the bowl. Mix everything until combined, then knead a few times by hand into a smooth ball. Cover and leave at room temperature for four hours.

Preheat the oven to 325F convection (350F regular). Divide the dough in half, and roll out one portion on a clean counter (I didn’t need to flour) to about 1/8 – 1/16 inch thick (aka pretty thin). Lift it up and transfer to a baking sheet, then use a rolling cutter to cut into pieces. Repeat with the second half of the dough on another baking sheet. Sprinkle some salt over top both trays, then bake for 14 – 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then break the crackers along the lines you cut.

If you like this recipe, you may also like:

no knead whole wheat bread
sourdough multigrain sandwich bread
sourdough rhubarb crumb cake

dairy free fudgy brownies

fudgy rye walnut brownies

I’ve had this idea of the perfect brownie floating around in my head for a while. I think it was prompted by my visits to The Elm Cafe where they have these incredible brownies right next to the cash, and every time I have this internal debate as to whether I need something to nibble on while I sip my London fog. This nudged me to get my butt in gear and make some brownies that would satisfy my need for chocolate.

Real talk: the urgency was high when I was testing these because I was PMSing hard and knew I would want need some chocolate over the following days.

In my opinion the perfect brownie is fudgy, chocolate-y, and with no icing in sight. A brownie should be rich enough to stand alone without gobs of super sweet icing taking it over the top. And please, none of those cake-y imposters. If you want cake by all means make a cake, but my brownie will be dense and chocolate-y.

My ideal brownie would also be dairy free so I could eat it with the peace of mind of not having a stomachache shortly after. Sometimes replacing butter in a recipe entirely with coconut oil works, but in this case I didn’t want them to taste like coconut oil brownies. I opted for half oil and half almond butter so it would still provide the fat and moisture, and the taste wouldn’t be overpowered by coconuts or almonds (besides there are chopped nuts in it anyway).

Most recipes for this amount of brownies call for one cup of sugar, but I decided in the name of ‘better baking’ to cut it down to 3/4 cup. If you use dark chocolate or want to go full-on decadent dessert mode, you could increase to a full cup of sugar.

dairy free fudgy brownies

dairy free fudgy brownies

dairy free fudgy brownies

dairy free fudgy brownies

dairy free fudgy brownies

dairy free fudgy brownies

fudgy rye walnut brownies (dairy free)

makes 16 x 2 inch squares

62 g / 1/3 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate/chips
56 g / 1/4 cup coconut oil
66 g / 1/4 cup almond butter
165 g / 3/4 cup sugar
2 large free-range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
90 g / 2/3 cup whole rye flour
45 g / 1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
51 g / 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 325F convection. Line an 8″ square pan with a small sheet of parchment, leaving some overhang so it’s easier to remove the brownies later. Melt the chocolate, coconut oil and almond butter in a medium bowl in a double boiler or in short bursts in the microwave. Stir until smooth, then whisk in the sugar until thoroughly combined. Add both of the eggs and whisk until combined, then add the vanilla.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl then add the salt, and stir gently with a spatula until mostly combined. Add the walnuts and stir through. Scrape the batter into the lined pan and smooth the top, then bake for 18-20 minutes until the top is set and a toothpick comes out mostly clean (if a few crumbs stick that’s fine, you don’t want to over bake them).

Notes:

Since there are no chemical leaveners (eg. baking soda) in this recipe, the brownies only get a lift from the eggs. The more vigorously you stir the eggs the more air you will incorporate, so keep that in mind when mixing.

I froze the extra brownies and they are perfectly chewy right out of the freezer. I suggest chopping one up and putting on a bowl of ice cream.

sourdough crepes with roasted squash and kale

sourdough crepes with roasted squash and kale

I never order crepes when we go out to eat because a) very few places in Kingston make them and, b) they definitely contain milk and I have a bad habit of leaving my lactaid at home. And for those of you thinking “Why don’t you just order pancakes (and remember your lactaid)?” The answer is: no thanks. I’m not really into a thick fluffy pancake, I prefer the slightly chewy texture and thin layers of a crêpe which provide a better ratio of backdrop to toppings/filling.

Nutella crepes in France

I was looking at my pictures from last year’s trip to Europe and came across this one of a classic French indulgence from Le Petit Jardin du Cévenol while on a short day trip to Anduze. And I did remember my lactaid that day thank god: a chocolatey, nutty filling that slowly melted in between layers of whisper-thin, eggy crepes, perfectly complemented by a dark espresso. Side note: I love that combo so much I also got a waffle smothered in that same chocolate hazelnut spread to go with my espresso when we were in Brussels (and yes, waffles are 10x better than pancakes #crispyedges).

Aaaaand yet after all that talk of decadently sweet breakfasts, I give you a savoury crepe recipe; I do have a generous sweet tooth but I’m not crazy about a sugary breakfast (except on vacation, apparently). Despite the fact that I work on recipes for the blog Luke actually does most of the cooking; I can never think of lunch or dinner ideas, so I felt compelled to make a dinner that was fairly easy and healthy (and it doesn’t get much healthier than kale people!). I’m also always on the lookout for recipes that use up sourdough starter because I compost a fair bit of it, so it was a perfect opportunity to satisfy my craving for crepes.

The ingredient list seems long because there are three parts to this recipe, but it’s totally manageable. Get all your veg prepped before you start cooking and you’ll be fine. As the squash is roasting you can quickly stir together the batter and set it aside, then start cooking the other veg. When there’s a free moment just shake together your dressing ingredients. When the veg is ready just set it aside to keep warm and make the crepes!

This was my first time ever making crepes, and it was easier than I thought. These delicate French pancakes require a bit of patience when it comes time to flip but after a few tries, you’ll be offering to make crepes for your family/friends/housemates/partner every weekend! And for the first crepe that doesn’t turn out quite right… sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar my friend and bon appétit!

sourdough crepes with roasted squash and kale

sourdough crepes with roasted squash and kale

sourdough crepes with roasted squash and kale

sourdough crepes with roasted squash and kale

sourdough crepes with roasted squash and kale

sourdough crepes with roasted squash and kale (vegetarian)

serves 2

crepes
108 g ripe starter (about 2/3 cup)
2 eggs
1/2 tablespoon melted coconut oil
1/4 – 1/3 cup non dairy milk
1/8 teaspoon salt

filling
1/2 small butternut squash, 1/2 cm slice (about 2 cups)
1/2 small onion, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
pinch teaspoon chili flakes
1 generous cup kale, sliced thinly
optional toppings: thinly sliced apple, handful toasted walnuts, pea shoots, chevre

apple cider dressing
3 tablespoons apple cider
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
pinch salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dijon

Crepes: Whisk the ingredients together in a medium bowl until smooth, then place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Heat a wide (9-10″) non stick frying pan over medium heat, then add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon (sorry I didn’t actually measure this) oil and swipe it around with a paper towel or pastry brush. Add 1/4 cup batter and quickly tilt the pan around to cover the entire bottom. After about 30 seconds it should be ready to flip. I used an offset spatula to go around the edges and make sure it was ready then used a spatula to flip it over. Let it cook for another 20 seconds or so, then remove to a plate. Repeat the process (it should make about 5 crepes).

Filling: Roast squash with a bit of oil, salt and pepper at 375F fan for 30 minutes, flipping halfway. Meanwhile cook the onions over medium low heat in a splash of oil. After 9-10 minutes add the garlic and salt and pepper. After 3 minutes add the kale and a tablespoon of apple cider then cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.

Dressing: While you’re waiting for the squash to finish, add all of the dressing ingredients to a jar and shake until combined (you will have extra dressing).

Notes:

When making the crepe batter, be aware of how your starter is looking and smelling at it should be at its peak (usually 8-12 hours after feeding). If it smells sour your crepes will taste somewhat sour, so just keep in mind what the cycle of your starter is like.

If you like this recipe, you may also like:

Savoury Miso Waffles
Socca with Scallions, Honeycomb and Pine Nuts
Spring-y Filo Quiche
Warm Winter Salad with Apple Cider Dressing

vegan apple turnip soup

apple turnip soup

Anybody else feeling like the world is spinning a little fast right now? I just got notified of a Facebook memory the other day of sharing a drink with my brother and sister-in-law at Pearson airport last Thanksgiving weekend. They were dropping me off and trying to calm my nerves with a little imbibing before I embarked on a trip to an organic farm in France. To be perfectly honest, it didn’t really help and I cried on the plane a bit because I was freaked about traveling solo. :/

Anyway, I saw the picture and was completely caught off guard; how was that already a year ago? Where does the freaking time go.

I feel like things have been moving especially fast since I’ve been back in school. I am absolutely loving my Public Relations program, from my instructors to my new pals to the course work (yes, seriously). It’s so refreshing to have a little less doubt in my mind and know that I’m moving in the right direction, even if I don’t know exactly which sector I want to work in. I don’t dread any of the assignments we have to do, and honestly the hours in class pass so quickly that I only just realized how much ground we have covered already. If you are curious about what I’m doing in school I post more school relevant stuff on Twitter than any other social platform, but also have another blog since we have to do writing assignments, which you can visit here.

The other reason I’ve become suddenly aware of the passage of time is the changes in our CSA bundles. We went from tomatoes, peppers, mammoth zucchini and melons to squash, pumpkins, and turnips. We’re actually still in this kind of perfect sweet spot where we are getting a combination of these things, and that makes my little veg-loving heart go pitter patter. I’m usually at a loss for what to do with turnips beside roast them, since their pungent cabbage-like aromas can be quite staggering when you first cut into one. With the cooler nighttime temps I’ve started easing back into #soupseason, and apples seemed like the perfect sweet complement to mellow out the bold turnip flavour.

This soup comes together really quickly for a speedy weeknight dinner, and is rounded out with a splash of non-dairy cream on top and a generous sprinkle of dukkah, a nut-seed-spice blend popular in Egyptian cooking. I love having it on hand to shower roasted vegetables or a batch of hummus and it’s actually really easy to make, but to tell you the truth Luke’s aunt gave us this particular batch (thanks Ginny!). It adds some nice texture here and the warming spices are a perfect match for this soup. And it case it wasn’t obvious, you should probably have some fresh bread on hand to swipe the bowl clean 😉

vegan apple turnip soup

vegan apple turnip soup

vegan apple turnip soup

vegan apple turnip soup

vegan apple turnip soup

apple turnip soup (vegan, vegetarian, gluten free)

serves 4

1 small onion (160 g), finely diced
2 small cloves garlic (10 g), minced
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 apples (310 g), peeled and diced
3 turnips (575 g), peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable broth (or a combination of broth and water)

(optional): non dairy cream, dukkah
not optional: BREAD

Heat a medium pot or dutch oven over medium low heat with a generous glug of olive oil (a few tablespoons). Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes or until slightly softened, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another two to three minutes. Crush the fennel and coriander with a mortar and pestle, then add all of the spices and sugar to the pot, along with a few grinds of pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for a few minutes until the spices are really fragrant.

Add the apple and turnip to the pot, stirring to coat in the onion/spice mixture. Add the broth/water, bring to a boil then immediately reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until the veg has softened. Blend with an immersion blender or add to a high speed blender in batches until smooth. Taste for salt (how much you need will depend on how salty your broth is), then serve it up with some non dairy cream, dukkah, and bread (duh).

five spice pumpkin pie with spelt crust

Thanksgiving, like many holidays, involves a grand feast that centres mostly around animal-based products. Even though I do eat eggs and a bit of dairy, I think it’s nice to lighten up this traditionally heavy meal with some plant-based additions. While I definitely prefer working with butter when making pastry my poor stomach prefers a non-dairy option, so I decided to go for a coconut oil pie crust. I follow the same method as my regular pie dough, which you can find full instructions for here. Removing dairy and eggs doesn’t mean you’re destined for boring, bland Thanksgiving desserts. I swear.

One of my goals for this winter (is it too early for me to say that??) is to work on my pastry game. I want to improve both my coconut oil and butter pie doughs, and just practice making pies and such more often so the whole process becomes second nature. I often second guess myself and just want to know ratios and cook times without looking at a recipe (basically I just want to be Tara Jensen/Erin McDowell/Martha Stewart). I know that summer is supposed to be high pie time and all with the bounty of fresh local fruit, but when it’s 30 degrees and humid no part of me wants to be stressing out about making a pie!

I’m also determined to get on the laminated dough train. I’m currently practicing a pretty straightforward croissant recipe, but I’d eventually like to move towards a more whole grain and sourdough version. Plus, once you nail the technique of laminating, there are a million ways to use it (danishes! cruffins! pain au chocolat! kouign amann!).

vegan pumpkin pie spelt crust

vegan pumpkin pie spelt crust

vegan pumpkin pie spelt crust

vegan pumpkin pie spelt crust

five spice pumpkin pie with spelt crust (vegan)

serves 8-10

2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 cup cashews + 1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons five spice (or just use cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, solid
3-4 tablespoons ice water

The night before: make your pie dough, and soak the cashews in cool water (you can follow the method for pie dough here).

Take the dough out of the fridge, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes (I find coconut oil dough is more prone to cracking than a butter dough if it’s too cold). Roll out to 1/8 inch thick, then gently place into a 9 inch pie plate. Place it back in the fridge for 10 minutes to relax. Take it out of the fridge, gently press the dough into the bottom of the pan, then trim the edges and tuck them under so it’s smooth all the way around. Crimp as you please! Dock the bottom with a fork a few times, then place in the freezer while the oven preheats.

Preheat oven to 425F. Line the crust with foil or parchment and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the pie weights and bake for another 2-3 minutes to dry out the bottom a bit. Reduce the oven to 350F, and allow the crust to cool while you prepare the filling.

Drain the cashews, then blend them with 1 cup of water in a high speed blender until smooth, then add the remaining ingredients and blend until really smooth. Pour into the crust and smooth out, and brush the crust with an egg wash if that’s your jam. Then place on the bottom rack and bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Allow to cool, then refrigerate overnight.

Notes:

I don’t own pie weights. I have a jar with about three cups of dried chickpeas/lentils and just re-use those anytime I need to blind-bake a pie, and they work just fine.

vegan multigrain sourdough bread

sourdough multigrain sandwich bread

I’ve been making some variation on this loaf for a couple of months now. Don’t get me wrong, I love the process of making the boules: the artistic touch with the lame before it goes into the oven, taking the lid off and seeing how much it has sprung, cutting it (after patiently waiting for it to cool) to look at the cross section. I love bringing them to friends and family and hearing their enjoyment of just tearing pieces off of a loaf, unable to resist a nibble each time they walk past. I love the crisp crust and the creamy interior, a perfect vessel for dips and spreads or simply some good olive oil. But really, sometimes you need a more practical shaped loaf. I’ve dripped a lot of peanut butter through the little air pockets! 

I started developing a loaf pan bread mostly because I was thinking ahead to school, and imagined I would be packing a lot of sandwiches. Since Luke bought me a stainless steel lunch container for my birthday last year, and I recently bought myself an insulated lunch bag, more often than not I just pack dinner leftovers. Turns out I’ve drawn a bit of attention to myself in class when lunch time rolls around, as every day my desk mate asks what I’ve brought for lunch and then stares at his sandwich with a bit less enthusiasm.

I find that I can get this bread started and finished on the same day if I wake up early enough to get the levain going, but if you go that route you’ll need to increase the percentage of starter in the levain so that it’s ready in about 4-5 hours. I love the flavours that develop from a cold overnight proof, but I do appreciate this method of mixing and baking in the same day because it means I get bread (relatively) quickly. I also do it this way because I bake my pan loaves in a cast iron loaf pan, and I’m not sure what the effects would be of a) leaving it in the fridge overnight, and b) moving it from the fridge to a very hot oven the next day.. If you have experience in cold proofing then baking using cast iron/glass loaf pans, give me some tips!

I like this particular bread because it has a good percentage of whole grain flours without tasting too strong to overpower your sandwich. If you aren’t into seeded bread, you can swap them for an equal weight of rolled oats, keeping the water the same. The addition of the soaker adds moisture, texture and flavour without tasting too oatmeal-y, and also contributes to a denser crumb, which is crucial for a sandwich bread in my opinion. I also took the opportunity to finally make a stencil, which is how I got that floury pattern on top. I’m always blown away by the beautiful ones created in Tara’s workshops, so I thought I should get my act together and make one already 🙂

vegan multigrain sourdough breadvegan multigrain sourdough bread

vegan multigrain sourdough bread

vegan multigrain sourdough bread

vegan multigrain sourdough bread     vegan multigrain sourdough bread

sourdough multigrain sandwich bread (vegan)

makes one standard loaf

levain
10 g starter
30 g water
30 g whole spelt flour

soaker
60 g rolled oats
40 g sunflower seeds
175 g boiling water

dough
all of levain
all of soaker
164 g whole spelt flour
36 g whole rye flour
114 g all purpose flour
186 g bread flour
276 g water (about 76-80F)
9 g salt

spray bottle with water

The night before, start the levain: mix together the starter, water, and whole spelt flour in a small bowl or container. With this percentage of inoculation, it should be ready in 8-10 hours (longer if your kitchen is cool). At the same time, prepare the soaker: pour the boiling water over the oats and seeds, cover then set aside.

The next morning (10-12 hours later): when your levain is getting close to being ripe, you can start the dough. Add the flours to a large bowl and stir, then add the water. Mix with your hands and try to get all of the flour-y bits. At this point the dough might seem a bit dry, but there is additional water in the levain and soaker. Let the flour autolyse for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add the levain and soaker, and squish them through with your fingers to incorporate them, then let the dough rest another 30 minutes. Add the salt, and squish it through to incorporate it really well. At this point the dough will seem quite sticky. I suggest doing slap and folds into the bowl (less messy), or give it turns for 3-4 minutes until it has a bit of strength. Cover and bulk proof for 3 1/2 – 4 hours, doing 2-3 turns at 30 minutes intervals (the first picture above is what the dough looks like after mixing).

After the dough has finished bulk fermentation (the second picture), turn it out onto a counter, pre-shape, then cover and let it rest for 20 minutes. Give it a final shape, then place into a lightly oiled loaf pan. Cover and let proof for about 1 hour and 45 minutes (depending on the temperature in your kitchen, it could be longer or shorter). About 30 minutes before the bread is done proofing, preheat the oven to 400F fan (425 regular). When the bread is ready, place it into the oven and carefully spray the walls of the oven with the water (don’t spray the glass, it could crack). After 5 minutes spray again, then let it bake for another 20. Reduce the heat to 375F fan (400) and continue baking for 20 minutes.

Notes: 

If you forget to make the soaker the night before, you can just do it the next day when you autolyse the flour.

squash and greens casserole gluten free

spaghetti squash and greens casserole

The notes app on my phone is very organized with a title for each note, which I don’t think is a surprise based on my personality. We recently did a ‘True Colours’ personality test in one of my classes, and the results indicated that I am undoubtedly a ‘gold’ with some ‘blue’ attributes. What this boils down to is that I’m thorough, detail-oriented, punctual, and a good planner, while also being compassionate and empathetic. There’s a lot more to it than that, but it’s a very enlightening test that helps you to see why you interact with people and situations a certain way. It also demonstrates how the strengths and weaknesses of each colour can complement one another, which is something helpful to keep in mind whether you’re at work, doing group projects, or baffled as to how your partner can leave their laundry in such disarray……

Anyway speaking of notes on my phone: one day out of nowhere I felt a sudden compulsion to make some kind of creamy, cheesy casserole, so I scrambled for my phone and made a note so I wouldn’t forget. I had been trying to think about what to do with this massive spaghetti squash from our CSA, besides the usual bake, scrape and plate. I had been looking at this note on my phone when I thought of a hash brown casserole dish that my aunt often makes for family functions (and I just found out recently it’s my Oma’s recipe, which makes it feel extra special). This squash and greens casserole feels very nostalgic to me because it is my ode to that casserole, but altered for my no-fun lactose intolerant needs.

My Oma’s recipe uses cream of celery soup, sour cream and butter to form the creamy sauce that envelops the hash browns. I figured some full fat goat’s milk yogurt would be a good replacement since it would add lots of body and creaminess. I like that it’s not too rich because we are having an incredibly warm September so far, and I don’t need anything too heavy at dinnertime just yet. Definitely a dish to keep in mind for Thanksgiving if you need a little change-up to your casserole game!

It might be more accurate to call this a squash and ‘pinks’ casserole because I used beet greens with the stems. I fully intended to go out to the garden and grab some rainbow chard, and then was so lazy (it’s truly remarkable) that I just grabbed the beet greens from the fridge instead. The consequence is that the casserole has big streaks of pink in it. Really, who cares? It’s still creamy and cheesy and satisfying, and honestly pretty wholesome as far as casseroles go. Anyway feel free to sub in any greens you’d like, but kale and chard would be good seasonal choices right now.

squash and greens casserole gluten free

squash and greens casserole gluten free

squash and greens casserole gluten free

squash and greens casserole gluten free

squash and greens casserole gluten free

squash and greens casserole gluten free

spaghetti squash and greens casserole (vegetarian, gluten free)

serves 4-6 as a side

860 g spaghetti squash (half of a large one)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
2 cups loosely packed greens, sliced
1 teaspoon minced each fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary
1 cup goat’s milk yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
more pepper
65 g goat cheddar, grated (about 1/2 cup)

Preheat the oven to 400F fan. Scrape the seeds out of the squash, drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until tender all the way through. Meanwhile, saute the onion with a splash of oil in a small pan over medium low heat. Cook until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook for another two minutes. Add the greens and cook until wilted. Add the herbs then remove from the heat. Scrape the squash with a fork until all of the flesh is in shreds, then scrape it into a small casserole dish. Add the onion-greens mixture, yogurt, salt and pepper, and half of the cheese. Stir until well combined, then top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbling.

Notes:

Feel free to use reuglar yogurt and cheese instead; I use the goat’s milk versions since they don’t seem to bother me the way cow’s milk does.

appeltaart (dutch apple pie)

appeltaart (dutch apple pie)

Around this time last year, I was frantically planning a last minute trip to Europe. I was WOOFing at a farm in the south of France for about a week, met up with Luke for a couple nights in Belgium, after which we made our way on the high speed rail to the Netherlands. Let me just say that I love it there, and if I wasn’t such a family-oriented homebody I would move there in a HEARTBEAT. I’m not exaggerating, I looked up apartments in Haarlem the other day and it is so incredibly charming.

Also: everyone was so tall in Amsterdam, I felt right at home 😉

I love how there is such a culture of cycling there (though we didn’t actually rent any bikes, Luke thought we’d get run over). They dominate the streets more than the cars do. Instead of parking garages for cars, there are parking garages for bikes. The streets are lined with locked up bikes; they really are a fixture of Dutch living. Despite not renting bikes, we managed to do a lot of sightseeing with a lot of scenic walks and occasional use of the very efficient public transit.

While we definitely had a list of places to see and visit, I also had list of things I wanted to eat. This included a fresh stroopwaffel (pure bliss, I tell you), appelbollen (an apple doughnut), poeffertjes (tiny pancakes), hagelslag (bought the sprinkles, didn’t find a sandwich there), gouda, croquettes.. I didn’t end up getting to try the patatje oorlog (french fries with mayo, raw onions, and Indonesian sate sauce), and as much as I tried to convince him, Luke was not interested in trying raw herring.

Another food I never crossed off the list was an appeltaart, a dessert that is like a pie-cake fusion. There were chalkboard signs outside almost every restaurant offering ‘appeltaart met slagroom’ for dessert (apple pie with whipped cream). Even though I didn’t get to try one, I felt determined to recreate this classic Dutch dessert. The crust, which feels somewhat like a wetter cookie dough, is pressed into a springform pan or pie plate, the filling is piled in just like a pie, and the remaining crust is laid on top (usually in a lattice). The dough is pretty tender and doesn’t handle like typical pie crust, lending itself to a dessert that looks a bit more rustic, which is the name of my game.

I opted for speculaas spices in the crust and filling, though cinnamon is actually the traditional choice for an appeltaart. Speculaas is a blend of warming spices (think: cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, etc) used in Dutch cookies of the same name; these cookies are stamped with fun images, and I love dunking them into my tea or coffee. I like the addition of the other spices in the pie, but if you don’t feel like mixing the blend together you can just stick with cinnamon.

appeltaart (dutch apple pie)

appeltaart (dutch apple pie)

appeltaart (dutch apple pie)

appeltaart (dutch apple pie)

appeltaart (dutch apple pie) (dairy free)

serves 8-10

125 g / 1 cup whole wheat flour (I used a local red fife)
125 g / 1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
102 g / 1/2 cup brown sugar
168 g / 3/4 cup coconut oil, soft but not melted
1 large free range organic egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon speculaas spices

880g apples, cored peeled + sliced (I used a combination of Lobo and Paula Red)
juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons speculaas spices
70 g / 1/2 cup raisins, soaked in hot water and drained
15 g / 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
67 g / 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
10 g / 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

coconut whip (optional)

one can coconut milk, chilled 24 hours
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350F fan (375 regular). Cream coconut oil and sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add egg and vanilla and beat for another minute. Add flour, salt, spices, and baking powder and mix by hand until a dough forms. Divide the dough into two thirds/one third. Take the bigger amount and press evenly across the bottom of the pan and the sides. Roll out the other 1/3 on a floured counter or flatten with your hand. Cut into strips or use a cookie cutter to make shapes.

Combine the apples, lemon juice, spices, raisins, flour, and brown sugar in a bowl. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the bottom crust. Spoon the filling in. Layer the strips of dough across the filling. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. The edges will get a bit more brown and crisp than the centre, but you’re looking for the crust to firm up all the way across.

While the tart is baking, you can make the coconut whip. Open the can of coconut milk, and scoop the cream from the top into a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer (you can save the water to drink or blend into a smoothie). Add the icing sugar and vanilla, then whip on high speed with a hand blender or in the mixer for 5-6 minutes. 

Notes:

This really is best the day it is made. It gets pretty soft in the days following (but still delicious), so I recommend placing it back in a 350F oven for 8-10 minutes to crisp up. Truthfully I don’t mind and have been eating it cold from the fridge all week.. 😉

The dough can be hard to work with when it comes to making the top of the pie, but don’t worry too much about it. Try to cover as much of the filling as possible, as apple fillings tend to dry out if exposed directly to the heat of the oven.

I’ve had a lot of coconut whipped cream not work out, so under the recommendation of Ashlae, I tried with the Aroy-D brand and it worked great.

vegan banana oat snack bars

one bowl banana oat bars

I’m really in the back to school spirit this year, and not just figuratively! I am actually a student, once again. I even bought a new backpack, an insulated lunch bag, a new notebook and pens (nerd alert). I was texting my mom throughout my shopping process to which she replied, “You always loved back to school stuff.” And then reminded me about the sweet Sailor Moon lunch bag I used to have. Some things never change!

Even the years I’ve been out of school, I still got an excited feeling every fall. In a way I still think of my year as going September-September. I think I feel about September how most people feel about January 1st: I’m amped to get back into weekly routines after the chaos of summer, I go through my closet and donate/recycle things, I get into a rhythm of baking bread every week and batch cooking. I think especially because there is so much change at this time of year (temps are dropping, different produce at the markets, leaves are slowly changing) September always feels like new to me.

I’ve definitely been feeling nervous after being out of school for a few years. I had a dream the other night that I’d skipped the first week of classes (very unlike me) and was therefore behind, and felt super panicky. I keep waking up before my alarm (which is set for 6:40 by the way!) because I’m afraid of sleeping through it. Hopefully I’ll get into a better sleeping routine soon. My lunch and snack prep routine is smooth however, since I often packed a lunch when I went to work.

I’m guessing these banana oat bars would last about 4-5 days in an airtight container on the counter, but honestly I cut them up as soon as they are cool and freeze them. I take one every day to school with me and thought they’d last me two weeks; however, I’ve been eating them on weekends too because they are a perfect snack to satisfy my hanger, so I’m pretty much making them every week hehe. I don’t even mind because a) I’ve always got ripe bananas kicking around or frozen ones (which also works!), and b) they come together super quickly! By the time the oven is preheated I’m usually pouring it into the pan. I’ve also been relaxed about the banana measurements when I’m in a rush and they always turn out fine, just a bit firmer or softer depending on how much or little you have. Also if you are packing these for your kiddos and you want extra hippie mom points, you could probably leave out the maple syrup and add a few more tablespoons of non dairy milk. 😉

ps I updated my ‘about’ page, which you can read here

vegan banana oat snack bars

vegan banana oat snack bars

vegan banana oat snack bars

one bowl banana oat bars (vegan)
makes 8-10 bars

185 g / 2 ripe bananas, mashed
28 g / 2 tablespoons coconut oil
32 g / 2 tablespoons nut butter
39 g / 3 tablespoons non dairy milk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
8 g / 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
34 g / 2 tablespoons maple syrup
178 g / 1 1/2 cups oats
37 g / 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
40 g / 1/4 cup hemp hearts
20 g / 1/4 cup shredded coconut
40 g / 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
34 g / 1/4 cup raisins
optional: 1-2 tablespoons (10 – 15 g) carob or cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 325F convection (350 regular). Line an 8″ square pan with parchment, leaving a bit of overhang. Mash the bananas really well in a large bowl, then add the remaining wet ingredients (coconut oil -> maple syrup). If the coconut oil solidifies due to the milk/maple syrup, you can microwave the bowl for 15-20 seconds until it liquefies. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir well until everything is evenly distributed. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top, then bake on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes, or until evenly golden brown and the top has firmed up. Let it cool for about 20 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. Cut into 8 bars.

tomato tart with balsamic roasted onions

tomato tart with balsamic roasted onions

This time of year, it take almost no time at all to compose a satisfying snack: a few slices of watermelon on the back deck, a juicy peach dribbling down my chin, a handful of blueberries on some homemade yogurt. On the savoury side of things, I’ve definitely been leaning heavily on thick slices of tomatoes from our CSA, a fat pinch of salt, some olive oil and balsamic, simple on some toasted sourdough. For breakfast or lunch I’ll add a poached egg, greens, avocado, goat cheese, maybe some grilled/sauteed veg if I’m feeling ambitious.

It doesn’t take much to translate this simple late-summer snack into a meal. I think it’s best to not let things get too complicated flavour-wise or by the number of ingredients. Tomatoes, herbs, and cheese are a timeless trio, especially served up on any kind of carb-y vessel. A little seasoning, some roasted onions, and labneh transform these individual ingredients into a greater whole which totally sings of summer.

I know it’s practically September, but there is still lots of summer’s bounty to enjoy before we give in to pumpkin spice everything. I’m not hating on fall; in fact, it’s probably my favourite season. I just feel like as soon as the calendar flips to September, every year people rush to fall flavours. The leaves aren’t even changing yet, so I want everyone to chill out with this tomato tart and a cool glass of wine, enjoyed on your deck/patio/front stoop/outside in any way, shape, or form.

tomato tart with balsamic roasted onions

tomato tart with balsamic roasted onions

tomato tart with balsamic roasted onions

tomato tart with balsamic roasted onions

tomato tart with balsamic roasted onions

tomato tart with balsamic roasted onions

tomato tart with balsamic roasted onions

tomato tart with balsamic roasted onions

tomato tart with balsamic roasted onions (vegetarian)

serves 2-3 as a main, 4-6 as a side

200g puff pastry
100 g /  1/2 cup labneh (see notes for how to make it)
70 g roasted balsamic onions (see below for recipe)
300 g mixed tomatoes, sliced
handful of basil
handful of pea shoots
3-4 tablespoons grated pecorino romano, divided

Preheat the oven to 425F (convection). Roll out the puff pastry into a 8-9″ square, then place on a large baking sheet. Use a knife to cut a 1 inch border all the way around (don’t cut all the way through, you’re just creating a perforated edge that will puff up into the crust). Spread the labneh up to the border. Scatter the balsamic onions around, then layer on the tomatoes. Sprinkle on half of the pecorino romano, then slide the tray into the oven for about 25 minutes, rotating halfway through if your oven heats unevenly.

Scatter the basil, pea shoots, and remaining pecorino on top. Drizzle on the leftover oil and vinegar from your roasted onions, and finish with a pinch of flakey salt.

balsamic roasted onions

1 large red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
generous pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350F fan (375 regular). Slice the stem end off of the onion and place in a small oven proof dish. Drizzle the oil and vinegars over the onion, season with salt and pepper, then turn it cut side down in the dish. Cover with a lid or foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid/foil and bake for another 25-30 minutes until liquid has reduced slightly and the onion has softened.

Notes:

Labneh: place a small strainer over a bowl and line it with a double layer of cheesecloth. Scoop 2/3 cup sheep’s milk yogurt into the cheesecloth, then leave to drain for 24 hours. If you don’t have time to make the labneh, feel free to use some ricotta or thinly sliced fresh mozzarella instead.

If you’re roasting one onion, you might as well do a couple since the oven’s on. Peel apart the extras and keep them around for sandwiches, quiche, to blend in a dip, or freeze for later use.