This easy and delicious dip makes a great alternative to hummus, and is equally as versatile. Spread it on your favourite crackers, toast, or use it as dip for veggies and chips.
- 2 x 14oz can butter beans
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 4-5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 5-6 cloves of roasted garlic
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1 small handful of parsley
- salt & pepper to taste
- Drain butter beans reserving the can liquid.
- Rinse & drain them well.
- In a food processor, whizz butter beans, olive oil, lemon juice, roasted garlic, paprika, and parsley with 2 tbsp of reserved butter beans liquid until smooth. Adjust salt and pepper to taste
- Transfer to a dipping bowl, drizzle with a few extra drops of olive oil and garnish with chopped parsley.
This recipe came about after a necessary pantry clean-out to get rid of out whatever was approaching its expiry date. I had a few cloves of roasted garlic from a previous dish and decided to whip up something. The end result was a creamy, garlicky dip with a welcoming hint of lemony zing.
- Roasted garlic is one of my favourite ingredients. Roasting mellows the sharp bite of raw garlic, intensifies the natural sweetness and nuttiness. I usually roast a few heads of garlic whenever I am baking so I can conserve on energy.
- To roast, slice a thin layer off the top of each head of garlic just enough to expose the cloves. Place the heads on a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil. I usually sprinkle a bit of salt to help tenderize during the roasting process. Seal the foil and roast until cloves are lightly brown and tender, about 40 minutes.
Looking for a delicious and super nutritious dish that’s easy to prepare and won’t leave you feeling hungry? My kale and garbanzo salad with portabellini mushrooms and grape tomatoes will surely please the palate and satisfy the stomach.
- 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained
- 3 large portabellini mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 8-10 grape tomatoes
- 4-5 cups kale (chopped fresh)
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, dices
- ½ cup chopped basil leaves
- ½ tsp. paprika
- Olive oil to saute
- Salt & pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, sauté onion & garlic in olive oil over medium heat for five minutes or until onions soften.
- Add kale, mushrooms, and garbanzo beans along with paprika, salt and pepper, and sauté for an additional five minutes.
- Add grape tomatoes, white wine and lemon juice and deglaze the pan, allowing ingredients to simmer and liquid to be fully absorbed.
- Scatter chopped basil leaves, lemon zest, and adjust salt & pepper if necessary.
- Enjoy warm.
The creamy protein and fibre rich garbanzo beans work well with hearty, meat-like chunks of portabellini mushrooms to provide a satisfying bite. Add a few leaves of the world’s most nutrient-dense food on earth (read more about this here) with a few grape tomatoes for colour and taste and you’ve got a killer combo. The finishing touch of lemon juice and zest brightens the dish, increasing the intensity of flavours, and add a necessary tang to round out all the goodness colliding in this one salad. Your body and taste buds will thank you for it.
There are quite a few things happening here, and I am not too sure how to process it all. First, I am still on a high from the delicious success of this off the cuff recipe. But probably more unsettling is that I am confused, happy, and a tad uncomfortable with how much I ended up liking celery after years of shunning the vegetable.
This recipe idea came about for two main reasons: I bought a pack of celery stalks with the hopes of beginning the journey to acquire the taste for it; and secondly I had just roasted a whole chicken and wanted to repurpose it and create a fun recipe. The end result? A chicken, chickpea and celery salad, with a refreshingly zesty lemon vinaigrette.
What you’ll need
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 14oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups of cooked chicken breast chunks (or your fave part)
- Juice of one lemon (about ¼ cup)
- Zest of one lemon (about ½ tsp)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
(See my note on zesting a lemon in a previous post).
- Add butter to a skillet over medium heat and sautee chicken chunks until heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Season chickpeas with salt, pepper and cumin.
- In the meanwhile, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Adjust salt and pepper accordingly.
- Combine sauteed chicken breast, celery and seasoned chickpeas in a mixing bowl. Pour vinaigrette and fold to combine.
- Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least one hour.
- Serve chilled.
- I deboned a chicken breast from the Chinese five spice whole roasted chicken I made earlier that day. Any roasted chicken will do, and you can even use poached chicken breast or your favourite part.
- I reheated the chicken breast by sautéing the chunks in a tsp of butter. This allows the chicken to be rehydrated and makes the dish a little heartier.
- Because they tend to be bland, it’s best to season the chickpeas before combining with the rest of the ingredients. You can use regular S&P or some seasoning salt to give it an extra kick. I added cumin for another depth of flavour.
- Allow the dish to sit at least an hour in the fridge after adding the lemon vinaigrette. The ingredients will have time to soak up that lemony goodness and the flavours will come together better.
I must admit, for someone who was warming up their tastebuds to the aggressive and sharp bite of celery this was a pretty daring move diving head on into a dish with raw celery as a main component. Cooked celery isn’t as strong.
The beauty of the palate is that it’s constantly changing and adapting to new tastes. But sometimes we grow so comfortable in the usual fare that we refuse our palates the right to grow and explore a much bigger, more exciting world of taste. Don’t be that guy.
When life (read: a co-worker) gives you lemons, you make lemon-cake-with-coconut-vodka-cream-cheese-frosting, duh. I mean, what else?
Now, if you’re a keen ROF follower, you’ll notice that there aren’t any dessert-related posts on the blog. I am really not a big fan of sweets, nor do they fit into my healthy lifestyle regime. (Or, quite possibly it’s because my baking skills aren’t at a level where they can be shared with the world.) But I surprised myself over the weekend when I attempted to make this cake from my recently-acquired lemons. One of my favourite desserts hands down is a good plain cake, and this come pretty close.
With total inexperience – (this is my second attempt at making a cake from scratch; the first was a banana cake some years ago, and it was pretty average) – I had to do a little research for the basic proportions of a plain pound cake. After I grasped that concept I decided to make the recipe my own. This is what I came up with:
- 1½ cups AP flour
- 1¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 4 whole eggs, room temperature
- 2½ tsp vanilla extract
- 6 tbsp (⅜ cup) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously coat a Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, sift flour along with baking powder and salt.
- In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and continue creaming until sugar crystals are fully dissolved into butter and mixture doesn’t feel grainy. With the mixture at a low speed, add eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate. Add the vanilla.
- Alternating dry and wet ingredients add the flour mixture and lemon juice and zest in small batches and mix until smooth. (You may have to scrape the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula to fully incorporate flour).
- Pour mixture in to greased Bundt pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes. Gentle shake pan until all sides are loosened. Place on a desired serving platter and invert pan to remove cake.
We’re not done yet. Even though the cake is delicious as is, there’s always room for a little booze. And cream cheese. Here’s what you’ll need.
Coconut-Vodka Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 4oz (½ block) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- ⅓ cup coconut-flavoured vodka
- ¼ cup water, to be used as a thinner as necessary
And here’s how to make the magic happen:
- Over medium heat, melt butter. Add cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice and zest, and whisk to incorporate. Add sugar and mix thoroughly.
- Add vodka and mix thoroughly. Mixture should be the consistency of a thin porridge. Use water to thin mixture as necessary. If mixture is too thin, continue stirring over medium-low heat until desired consistency is achieved.
- Spoon hot frosting over cake and allow to cool at room temperature.
- Slice cake and enjoy.
Yes, it does taste as awesome as it sounds. And it really doesn’t get much simpler than this.
- Sifting the flour along with the rest of the dry ingredients does two main things: it allows lumps and other unwanted particles to be removed, while aerating the flour allowing for a lighter cake in the end. Sifting also allows for the rest of the dry ingredients (in this case, the salt and baking powder) to be properly incorporated into the flour before it’s mixed into the rest of the batter.
- Using lemon zest really makes the cake that more lemony as opposed to using just the juice. The zest contains essential oils packed with lemon flavour. To zest a lemon, you can rub the lemon along a fine grater, rotating each time, ensuring only to grate the top layer of yellow skin. Avoid pressing too hard and grating the white pith, which is extremely bitter and will spoil the taste of your cake. You can also use a zester and gently scrape the holes of the zester along the surface of the lemon from top to bottom, also rotating as you go along. You’ll end up with longer ribbons of zest, which u can then chop into finer pieces.
- Ingredient temperature is an important factor in baking. If a recipe calls for something chilled, best you chill it. Just as important is allowing ingredients to be at room temperature before incorporating them. For example, room temperature eggs will disperse more easily through the batter and allow for a fluffier cake. Cold butter does not beat well. Cold milk (or water) will coagulate and create clumps in the batter, requiring extra beating time to mix the ingredients. The easiest way to get your baking ingredients to room temperature is to simply allow them to sit at – room temperature.
Zesting a lemon [photocredits: thekitchn.com]
P.S. Thanks to my handy little helper, Corve, who thoroughly enjoyed the process and end result. Also, apologies for the crappy photos; my camera (phone) is out of commission for now.
Recently my workplace celebrated its 25th anniversary, and boy was it fancy! The lobby that usually welcomes eager staff members and corporate heavyweights alike, along with the adjoining business auditorium that hosted many an event were now transformed into Kingston’s newest nightclub. Well, at least that’s what it felt like.
Anywho, I somehow got involved in the planning process. It started when I was consulted on the alcohol line-up for the night’s proceedings. And no, I am not an alcoholic, but I was pretty adamant that there needed to be a bar, with a seating area, and white rum, and red wine. Again, I am NOT an alcoholic. In all of the excitement, the idea for a cheese station transcended my thoughts and landed on the ears of the planning committee. Suddenly it became a thing – my thing. Thanks Bev! I found myself negotiating cheese prices with a distributor, setting foot in strangers’ (yes, more than one) houses to source cheeseboards and fancy crockery, and coming up with a lavish but practical way to present all that was happening in my head.
In addition to a cheese plate (I ended up using white cheddar, pepperjack and muenster) I had an idea for a cheese dip of sorts. I’ve never attempted this before but I figured it couldn’t be that hard. And thankfully it wasn’t. Here’s how I did it.
- Three 8oz blocks of cream cheese
- Two 4oz packs of smoked marlin
- 4oz sour cream
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- juice from 2 limes
- handful of fresh parsley (flat leaf), stems removed, roughly chopped
- fresh dill, roughly chopped, about 2 tbsp
- salt & pepper to taste
- Accompaniments: pepper jelly, pesto, (flavoured) honey
- Ensure cream cheese and smoked marlin have come to room temperature so it’s easier to work with.
- In a food processor, add room temperature cream cheese, sour cream, onion, garlic, lime juice, parsley and dill and process well.
- Add smoked marlin and pulse to combine. Ensure not to over process.
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer to a serving dish and allow to chill for at least 8 hours in order for flavours to develop.
This will yield quite an amount, so you can adjust the portions accordingly. I find this goes best with plain crackers, and the suggested accompaniments (pepper jelly, pesto and flavoured honey) make a good pairing. The spread improves on taste over time, so make it a day ahead. You can substitute your favourite fresh herbs, but the dill really elevated this recipe.
This recipe was a huge hit and makes for an impressive appetizer for any occasion! I’m still receiving compliments and recipe requests.
Oh yea, we had a GREAT time. Let’s leave that there.
For most people in the Caribbean, Christmas isn’t the same without a glass of sorrel, chilled to perfection, especially when made with a shot or two of “festivity” (read: rum). But these exotic, crimson red sepals can also be enjoyed in other forms. Here’s a simple but divine recipe for my all-natural, no-preservative-added sorrel drink and jam with cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and pimento. (This recipe puts nothing to waste since the jam is made from the leftover pulp after the juice has been extracted to make the drink).
Sorrel drink – what you’ll need:
- 2 lbs fresh sorrel (washed)
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 6 whole cloves
- 6-8 slices of fresh ginger
- 12-15 pimento seeds (allspice)
- 5-6 cardamom seeds
- 5 cups brown sugar
- 10-12 cups water (about 3 quarts)
- Pour water into pot and add cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, pimento and cardamom and allow to come to a boil.
- Add sorrel to boiling water and continue boiling the mixture for about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let steep for at least 8 hours. Overnight is best.
- Using a strainer, separate the liquid from the pulp. Discard the cinnamon sticks and set pulp aside.
- In a large jug, stir in sugar to sweeten. Adjust sweetness if necessary.
- Store in bottles and refrigerate. (The mixture is best when left to refrigerate overnight so the flavours can further develop).
Sorrel Jam – What you’ll need:
- pulp from 2 lbs sorrel (No need for additional spices as the pulp would have retained the pimento seeds, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and the flavour from the cinnamon sticks. However, I’d suggest removing most of the ginger as it tends to make the end product a little fibrous.)
- juice of one lime
- 4 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- 4 oz Appleton rum (or your favourite rum) – optional
- In a blender, purée sorrel pulp until a smooth consistency is achieved. (You may need to add water accordingly)
- Add puréed mixture to a large pot over high heat and stir in water, sugar, rum, and lime juice.
- Allow mixture to come to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
- Adjust sweetness as desired.
- After mixture is reduced to jam-like consistency, remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Pour in sterilized glass jars and store in refrigerator.
You can enjoy your jam with crackers, on bread, with peanut butter, or one of my faves; with cream cheese spread on warm bagel. You’ll never buy another jar of jam again.
Following the success of the recipe in my previous post, I was determined to find yet another that starred my beloved gorgonzola cheese. Between my ADHD and uncanny ability to wake up just in the nick of time, I am always looking for quick recipes that don’t sacrifice taste and quality. And I didn’t have to search far.
For my version of this time-tested recipe, I used whole wheat bread, gorgonzola cheese crumbled straight from the block, and HoneyKist’s Blue Mountain Coffee Honey. (see my previous post on this line of gourmet flavoured honey here)
- 4 slices whole wheat bread, cut in half diagonally
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces gorgonzola, sliced/crumbled
- 2 tablespoons HoneyKist’s Blue Mountain Coffee Flavoured Honey
- Brush bread slices with olive oil.
- Toast in a toaster oven for 6-8 minutes or until bread is golden and crisp.
- Remove bread and top with gorgonzola slices/crumbles, return to toaster oven, and bake until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.
- Drizzle the toasts with honey. Enjoy immediately
This was supposed to be two servings but I couldn’t stop myself. If you’re a lover of sharp cheeses then you’ll definitely fall for this recipe. The first bite instantly awakens your tastebuds to the pungency and saltiness of the gorgonzola, then just as immediately comes the flowery sweetness of the honey. Oh wait, what’s that?? That, my friend, would be subtle, almost unidentifiable notes of coffee. Just, wow.
Go try it. Thank me later.