Harissa Paste Recipe

Ready to spice up your kitchen? Move over boring salsa and ketchup! This red raven condiment is sure to make your taste buds pop. I usually make a batch and keep it in the fridge, although it never lasts longer than a few weeks.  I add it to my homemade hummus, roasted veggies, chicken, pork, rice dishes and everything in between.

This lovely Tunisan chili paste is so versatile. I came across a recipe about a year ago that called for it, and knowing that it wasn’t at my local grocery store, I knew I wanted to learn how to make it. Each paste will be different, some are made with roasted red peppers (like the one I made last year), some with tomatoes, some with chilies and some with a combo of all three. So you will get something a little different with each one you buy. Today I decided to make one with JUST chilies. We are having friends over for dinner tonight and I am making baked chicken with harissa chickpeas and leeks. I’ll use 1/4c of the harissa in the recipe, which will give it a little bit of a kick, but not blow off your lips hot :).

Image

Image

Ingredients
4 ounces dried chiles of your choice (see Recipe Notes)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for storing
Optional additions: fresh lemon juice, preserved lemon, fresh or dried mint, fresh cilantro, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, cayenne, paprika

Equipment
Heatproof bowl for soaking chiles
Skillet for toasting spices
Spice grinder, coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle for grinding spices
Food processor or mortar and pestle for mixing paste
Airtight jar for storage

Instructions

  1. Soften the chiles. Place the chiles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. You can usually de-seed and de-stem the chilies prior to putting them in the bowl. or the stems fall easily off after soaking. If there are seeds left in them, let them fall to the bottom of the bowl and just fish out the soaked chilie. No need to de-seed and de-vein the chilies if you don’t have time.  Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Toast the spices. While the chiles are soaking, toast the caraway, coriander, and cumin in a dry skillet over low-medium heat, occasionally shaking or stirring to prevent burning. When the spices are fragrant, remove them from the pan.
  3. Grind the spices. Grind the spices in a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or coffee grinder. I used my magic bullet and it worked like a charm. My food processor was too big for such a small amount of spices.
  4. Drain the chiles, reserving the liquid for step 6.
  5. Combine the chiles with spices, garlic, and salt. Combine the chiles, ground spices, garlic, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. (You can also use a mortar and pestle or your handy magic bullet.)
  6. Make a paste.

    With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process to form a smooth and thick paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. If a thinner paste is desired, blend in a little of the chile soaking liquid until the paste has reached your desired texture. I added 1 tbsp of the chile liquid with 1 tbsp of olive oil at a time into my magic bullet. It was a little slow to come together but I just had to keep shaking it around until it mixed.

  7. Taste and adjust seasonings. The flavor of the harissa will deepen over the next day or two, but you can taste it now and add more salt or other optional ingredients to your liking. The raw garlic will really come through when you smell it, and will soften up a bit over the next few days.
  8. Top with olive oil and store. Transfer the harissa to a jar and cover the surface with a thin layer of olive oil. Cover the jar and refrigerate for up to a month, adding a fresh layer of olive oil on the top each time you use the harissa.

Image

Image

Image

Linguine with Lemon-Dill Vodka Cream Sauce

It’s snowing like hell out… I’m lazy, sick with a cold, and want something easy but decadent for dinner.  Enter pasta and a salad.

I am not in the mood for anything with tomato sauce (or fat-free apparently), so I’ve shifted my attention to a cream sauce. I have fresh dill and a couple of lemons in the fridge and a bag of frozen peas in the freezer. Hey, just because it’s a creamy dish doesn’t mean we can’t lighten it up a bit with some tasty peas! If you have asparagus laying around, that would work well too.

This sauce takes some time to reduce, so plan ahead. I like to eat dinner early so I don’t mind starting it at 4 and letting it simmer down until 5 or so. Dinner can be on the table by 5:30. Score.

IMG_3016

If you don’t have fresh dill you could use dry, but fresh is the way to go if you can. Know how you always end up with more dill than you need when you buy it? We usually use so little of that massive amount of fresh herb. Here’s my solution: chop it up, evenly distribute it into ice cube trays and pour olive oil over each ‘cube’. Freeze. Pop them out and store in a freezer zip-lock bag, in the freezer.  Next time you need dill olive oil combo, you’re ready to go. (Makes for easy salad dressings too!) Brilliant huh.

IMG_3018

IMG_3025

For my salad, I’m keeping it simple with a baby kale/spinach mix, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, sliced oranges, fresh buffalo mozzarella and some fresh mung bean sprouts I’ve been sprouting. They are crunchy and perfect to round out the salad. For the dressing, I’ll probably just drizzle some olive oil and finish with a squeeze of lemon and zest. Simple and perfect.

IMG_3024

Enjoy this sauce with parpadelle, linguine or wagon-wheel pasta. Toss pasta in sauce and enjoy!

IMG_3028

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups organic vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup frozen sweet peas
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Knob of butter
  • Grated parm cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cook onion in oil in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened (but not browned), about 4 minutes. Add garlic and stir.
  2. Add broth, cream, vodka, and salt and boil over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce is significantly reduced to 2 cups, 50-60 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in peas, dill, lemon zest and juice, dijon mustard, pepper and butter. Stir to combine.
  4. Pour over pasta and toss until pasta is completely coated. Sprinkle fresh parm cheese on top (optional).

Salted Vanilla Bean Caramel Corn

I make popcorn on a regular basis, it’s one of my favourite snacks, but lately I want sweet caramel corn. Instead of the plain-Jane caramel corn I wanted to mix it up a bit, so I’ve opted to add salt, peanuts and vanilla bean. Sounds like heaven, right? It is.

Oh yeah, this is happening on a Monday night.

I didn’t want to use corn syrup for my sweet treat, so I knew I had to work with brown sugar and butter. Hey – that’s not a bad thing. I did some research and came up with the simplest way to make it. No corn syrup, no baking… just sauce and let cool caramel corn.

Here’s what you do my friends… make yourself some focaccia, then for dessert, make this. Park your ass on the couch and cuddle up. This makes for one helluva meal 🙂 (sorry for the awful pics, the lighting was terrible in my kitchen tonight!)

  • 1 cup organic popcorn
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 c light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2-4 tsp coarse sea salt
  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Pop popcorn as per usual then spread it out on the lined baking sheet.

IMG_2986Melt butter in a pan.  Add brown sugar and stir until mixed, then add the water. 

IMG_2987Stir until boiling stage and cook for 5-10 minutes until mixture hits soft-ball stage (put a few drops in a glass of icy water until it can form a soft ball).

IMG_2992

Remove from heat and add vanilla and soda, continue to stir while it goes puffy.
Add peanuts and mix well.

IMG_2993

Drizzle over popcorn and lightly stir.
Salt with coarse sea salt.
Allow to cool (if you can).

Eat.

IMG_2997

Caramel Corn

Worth The Wait Focaccia!

In addition to my bread obsession, I have discovered a love of fresh homemade focaccia.  If you have never tried to make this wonder-bread before, you must try. It is SUPER simple, but takes patience as does any good bread. You can however, make a quick version of it and it will be great but if you’re looking for the moistest, fluffiest and most flavourful focaccia? Well you had better take a nap, find a hobby or play some video games while you wait. The good news is that most of the waiting can be done overnight, so just find something to do for 3 hours or so 🙂

This recipe is not mine, I found it while scouring online and OH MY am I ever glad I tried it and am thrilled to share it on my blog.  It is now filed in my ‘keep’ list because it’s just absolutely perfect. I’ve made it once and will be making it again for an upcoming family gathering. Caution: people WILL swoon.

in the tray

I had some crispy garlic infused oil from some Filipino garlic rice I made recently, and I decided to throw it into the dough mix right at the beginning. Excellent idea! (Pats self on back).  If you have any infused oil that you like, I suggest adding it to the mix. It adds another dimension of flavour you can’t get from just adding fresh/dried herbs to the top of the dough before baking. Don’t add too much, I’m talking a 1tbsp or two at max.

The tray

The rest of the directions in the recipe I followed to a T. I did let it rest from 9pm at night until 11am the next morning before starting to ‘turn’ the dough. It had plenty of time to ferment and create oddles and oodles of delicious pillowy bubbles. Right before baking, I halved some cherry tomatoes and carefully pushed them into the dough. I picked some fresh rosemary, sprinkled it on top along with some chopped kalamata olives and thinly shaved red onion.  I finished it off with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and popped it in the oven.

close up

My batch was the perfect size.. I think I was able to get over 30 pieces from the rectangle tray. Only three pieces were left over at the end of the night. It was a HUGE hit, and I know it will be in your home too!  Thank you SO much to Jenny for posting this recipe on her awesome blog, which I recently discovered. You will want to bookmark her page folks, she’s a keeper! 🙂 To find the full recipe, click here.

3

Three perfect pieces

Raw Food Reset Day 8 & 9

These posts are getting boring! I’ve been eating the same damn thing for daaaayyysss. Some how not getting tired of it, except for the tart.  I’ve had it three days in a row and today I think I just had enough of sundried tomatoes and hummus.

We hit up the spin class last night.  It wasn’t as successful as I hoped it would be.  The instructor played ONE track the whole time.  She did the same drill, over and over, without any rhythm. At one point she incorporated jumps, sets of 2, then 4 then 6.  None of it was counted or to a beat, so the whole class was up and down up and down up and down… well you get the idea… all over the place.  She looked up at us 4 times in 25 minutes. I had no clue what was going on, and I’m a spinning instructor!! It was definitely not the ideal first class for B. I will go back to the gym but I’ll try another instructor.

I have eaten the exact same thing the last three days.. only difference being dinner:

Breakfast: mixed frozen berries with cashews, banana

Snack: grapes, kiwi

Lunch: sundried tomato tart and mixed green salad

Snack: apple

Dinner: Tuesday I just had an avocado, tonight I had yam noodles with miso sauce.

Nothing more than that to report. I have some cooked carrots and parsnips for lunch tomorrow because that’s what the famjam had tonight with a roast for dinner.  I am out of salad, peppers, broccoli etc. So I will have to get a salad at work.

I really meant to go for a run tonight, but I am SO tired I just couldn’t do it after I ate dinner at 7:30. I’m going to look for vacations for Xmas and head to bed. Hoping I can get to the gym early tomorrow AM and run on the treadmill and do some weights. Here’s hoping!

Have a great night peeps!

Raw Food Reset – Day 5 & 6

Gotta admit. Friday was a bust.  I had sushi with rice, a chicken wing and one small beef rib for lunch.  For dinner our friends ordered awesome Chinese food and I had some cooked eggplant, peppers, 3 shrimps, some tofu and half a chicken ball.  I also had Prosecco with the girls and loved every sip. I felt a little bloated the next day from the sodium and alcohol, but it didn’t throw me off track.

Yesterday I didn’t really eat much for breakfast for lunch. I had some cauliflower with hummus in the AM and shared a small Greek salad for lunch with B in between errands. For dinner, I made a huge green salad with fennel, and Vietnamese veggie fresh spring rolls with peanut sauce. So filling and satisfying.

B roasted a whole chicken for himself to eat over the next few days. He stuffed the chicken with chickpeas, a recipe we saw earlier in the day on TV from Chef Ramsay. OMG. The roasted chickpea mash he made after with lemon and roasted garlic was INCREDIBLE. I have never tasted anything like it. The ones that fell out of the chicken roasted at the bottom of the pan became crunchy and full of garlic and chicken flavour and were awesome. You must try it.

I kind of wanted to eat the chicken but at the same time I didn’t. I tried a couple pieces of it and it was good but I wasn’t going crazy for the meat. I don’t usually eat a lot of meat anyway so it’s not my go to thing.

Image

I was looking forward to the fresh rolls, the chickpea mash and a nice big salad.

Today I ate the leftover salad and fresh rolls for lunch, and have a super tasty treat planned for dinner. It’s already resting in the ‘fridge.

Image

I tried a new raw power bar recipe, which was awesome. Lots of dates, so it satisfies my sweet tooth. Really loving This Rawsome Vegan Life blog by Emily. She knows how to do it right and everything I’ve tried from her site is AWESOME.  The super tasty treat for dinner I also found on her site, which Emily wrote as a guest post for Ascension Kitchen’s site. Let me tell you, these ladies are rawkstars! (See what I did there?)

Raw power bar recipe

Raw power bar recipe

Raw Power Bar Recipe

Anyhoo.. here’s some pics – they are not as fab as Emily’s but I tried. I don’t have a dehydrator (Yet! I ordered it last week, woot!), and I didn’t have the patience to dehydrate the tomatoes in the oven, so I tossed them in some of the sundried tomato oil and some salt and threw them with some crushed garlic and olives in the toaster oven for 40 mins.  It made a nice cooked mush, which I just piled on top of the tart and threw it back in the fridge.

I also added some of my own home made hummus into the zucchini hummus mixture in the blender, which was SUPER garlicky so I didn’t actually add any fresh garlic to the zucchini mix. Hopefully I didn’t make it too thin and it will set. I also left the skin on the green zucchini.

Sundried tomato tart with zucchini hummus

Crust

Tart

Raw Food Reset – Day 1

I’m in need of a system reset. I’ve been eating well, exercising, but equally drinking and snacking on chips. Counteracts all the goodness I’ve been working so hard on. SO… I decided to go raw vegan for a few weeks to reset my system.  I used to eat a few vegetarian meals a week but since we’ve acquired our house guests, that hasn’t been happening. I feel like I need to get back to that.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon prepping and washing a bunch of veggies that I bought for the week.  I am keeping it simple, but tasty. Nothing like shocking your system and being hangry. I don’t do hangry well, so I need to keep myself interested. It’s not only for my benefit, but also for the public’s well being too.

The Goods

No dairy, no meat, no wheat and no alcohol.  Vegan, raw options only.

I can do this.

I downloaded the DO EAT RAW app from iTunes this week and decided on a few recipes to make. I also did some poking around on the ‘net and planned some snacks that are easy and quick. The first ‘meal’ is a raw collard spring roll/wrap. I’ve had them before at random farmers markets and loved them so I wanted those for lunch. I also wanted a chickpea salad (which is SUPER simple and delish and versatile for lunch/dinner -Thanks Snack Girl- I even like the raisins in it) and lots of greens (spinach, kale, collards) .  My go-to snack is raw broccoli and crunchy almond butter. So so good. For dinner options I plan on making a raw gazpacho type cleanse soup and cauliflower ‘rice’ bok choi boats.  I also stopped off at the apple farm and picked up a HUGE bag of organic Russet apples. They are a fall apple, just picked a few days ago. They have a dark skin that resembles a potato, and you wouldn’t think they are an apple at first glance. Sweet, crunchy and satisfying.

So far so good. I went for a quick run after work, and felt great.

Here’s what I ate today:

Breakfast: Organic banana, kiwi

Lunch: raw collard wrap with almond cream, green salad topped with chickpea salad

Raw Collard Wrap

Moroccan Chickpea Salad

Snack: assorted veggies (broccoli, cucumber, red pepper) dipped in almond butter

Almond Butter

Dinner: leftover salad from lunch with zucchini ‘pickles’, half an avocado, raw pumpkin seeds, raisins and balsamic/dijon dressing

Washing it all down with a big green tea then heading to bed. Cheers to another day of healthy eating!

Run baby run