Chicken Soup with Chickpeas & Za’atar

It’s October, while we still haven’t turned on the furnace, there’s definitely a chill in the air, and it feels great to wear a sweater.  My sister came over to play cards last night, actually we needed to practice as we’re having a card night with friends later this week, and we haven’t played since the spring.  We played Kings Corners, which is fun, strategic, and frustrating, which for me is the perfect card game.  For supper I decided to make soup in celebration of autumn, along with a simple cheese & veggie flatbread.

I wanted to make Posole, because of a dream I’d had recently.  After explaining to anyone who wanted to hear (in my dream) that a bowl of heated dirt was not, in fact, true Posole, I awoke wanting to make the real thing.  But living on an island, we can’t always go out and buy things like Hominy & the right Chilies. Staring into my pantry, I spotted jars of Za’atar and Sumac, and my brain clicked into place, so I grabbed them as well as smoked paprika and a tin of chickpeas.  With a great chicken stock ready, and a chicken breast in the freezer, I knew that they would come together to make a hearty soup.

The meal started with a small dish of Baba Ghanoush and some sweet potato crackers, along with a yummy Sangiovese. Next up was the soup with the flatbread.  The soup had so much flavour, with a deep broth, full of chickpeas, carrots, and pulled chicken.  Not a huge meal, but an absolutely perfect Card Night supper.

Enjoy making this soup, as it is fragrant and warming, and follows all the methods for a delicious braised meal. Note that the mix I use for Za’atar follows.   Continue reading

Vegan Mayonnaise

This summer I was asked to do a luncheon salad that with a side of bread, would make a lunch for 30 people, and would be suitable for all by providing variety.  Three platters were offered, and some folks ate it like salad, while others made sandwiches from them.  We have a go-to salad platter which morphs easily to suit seasonal brunches, lunches and dinners.  I planned on using fresh shrimp and grilled chicken as the proteins, with a selection of veggies & fruits to complete the platters.  Thinking that I should add in some egg slices, I remembered that one of the daughters of this family was extremely allergic to eggs.  So, that was a no go.  I checked emails, and lists but could find no reference to this allergy, however I do know that she and her wife, and their little one, would most likely be in attendance, as they had never missed one of these family events.

For the dressing I had planned on doing a Green Goddess, as well as Fresh Blueberry Dressing, and Lemon Vinaigrette.  So, having decided that egg would NOT be part of these platters, I decided to try a tip I’d read about to make a egg-free (vegan) mayonnaise (mayonnaise being a very important part of Green Goddess dressing).

Using nut milk or soy milk in place of the egg, creates an extremely luscious “mayonnaise”.  As with mayonnaise, you can be creative with the flavourings, however this is a classically flavoured version.  The soy milk has lecithin in it naturally, which is found in eggs, which is why they are able to emulsify with oil.  Nut milks usually have soy, flax or sunflower lecithin added to them.  It’s the lecithin that is required!  When baking for Vegans, or those allergic to eggs, I make a flax egg out of 1 T ground raw flax and 2½ T lukewarm water.  Simply mix them together in a small bowl, and let rest for about 10 minutes. Use in the place of an egg.  Works like a charm. Continue reading

Chickpea & Grilled Corn Chop Salad

It has been a very long time since I’ve sat down and posted to my blog. This has been a super busy year, and somehow in my brain I knew that autumn would come, and with it much needed “time”. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, boy I have I been cooking! Add in kitchen & bathroom renovations, a new puppy, and one of our wettest fall-winter-springs on record, followed by a full on drought with smokey skies, my energies have been elsewhere… I am so happy to have these breezy, cooler, clear days that late September has brought us.

When I’m doing an event with salads as part of the buffet, I love adding robust “chop” salads. They add texture, and colour to the mix. Because a spoonful goes along way, they fit onto a plate with other foods very easily.

This salad has a little heat, and lots of texture, which is so nice with a burger or chicken dinner. It also serves well as a vegetarian main course salad for those who aren’t going for the meat from the grill. Continue reading

Auntie Paul’s Rum Balls

img_6128We grew up in a large house built in the early years of the 20th century. It stood on the corner lot, anchoring our neighbourhood. There seemed to be kids in every second house, parents with good friendships built during their time there, and we were all well known to each other. We’d play Kick-the-Can through the summer evenings using a four-block area, and we’d make wild sled courses in the wonderful occasions of snow, down through 35th Avenue.

Through these years the Scotens, our neighbours from two doors down, would come over for lunch on Christmas day. I’m sure all of us children had been up for hours by this point in the day. Between their family of 8 and ours of 6, it made for a house full, slightly chaotic with a large dog thrown in for measure. Lunch was made up of simple sandwiches and treats. And every year, Mrs. Scoten, known much more familiarly as Auntie Paul (Pauline), would bring Cheesy Pleasies, and Rumballs; one extremely savory, and the other sweet. For us the Rumballs were probably our first taste of alcohol, and feeling very grown up, we’d savor them. Their rich chocolatiness filled with cherries and nuts was very much our Christmas treat. When I’d moved away from home, and was going to do my own family Christmas, I remember writing to Auntie Paul and asking for the recipe. She passed away this year, well into her nineties; I know she’d be so pleased to have me share her recipe.

As you’ll see this is a very simple recipe with broad measurements for several of the ingredients. I usually use all the smaller amounts listed, but have been know to fill them chock full of cherries and nuts on occasion, and you’ll need the larger amount of sour cream to help bind them together if you decide to go this route. Continue reading

Cranberry Doodle Bars

img_3006October has been a very wet month, many days with dark skies and rain slashing the windows. Even though we still need to work outside on the farm for a part of each and every day, these days also give us the enjoyment of cocooning in our home. Getting caught up on all the inside jobs that get left by the wayside as we enjoyed the long summer. Being inside more often, gives me more time to bake and experiment.

Cranberries are one of my favourite add-ins, they are so tart and fresh, and work well in sweets and savories.   Here I’ve mixed them into a version of Snicker-doodle cookie base, creating a perfect bar to have as you finish the last chapter of the book you’ve been reading, while the fire crackles in the wood-stove. Continue reading