Dec 9, 2013

Baby Spinach Quinoa Salad with Dates & Sumac

I have yet to come across a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi that is not deliciously dreamy- the guy hits my tastebuds each and every time! The other day I was looking through one of his fabulous cookbooks, Jerusalem, hunting down the vegan friendly recipes... when one in particular caught my attention. It's Ottolenghi's Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds. What intrigued me was the trio he used of dates, red onions and sumac with all the leafy green goodness. It just resonated so strongly with me, surely because of these Middle Eastern/Mediterranean ingredients that I grew up on- I just never had dates, onions and sumac all together at once. I was inspired by what seemed to be a killer ingredient combination but improvised the rest, with quite a few tweaks.

Nov 20, 2013

Crispy Chips: Sweet Potato, Beets, Thyme...

I was at the farmer's market the other day and all of a sudden, a mesmerizing scent breezes through the air. It smells delightfully herby and each step I take hints to me that I am getting closer to this wonderful thing that has perfumed the crisp air of an autumn early afternoon. My olfactory senses continue to guide me to the "source"...and poof! There it is: a mountain of thyme! Simply irresistible, I buy a generous bunch that I'll use in a multitude of ways- namely in these Homemade Crispy Crunchy Oven Baked Sweet Potato & Beets chips! 

Nov 13, 2013

Roasted Brussel Sprouts & Wheatberries with a Parsley-Walnut-Lemon Oil

Put your hands up in the air for *drum rolls*..... brussel sprouts!! They might have a bad rep, but not in my kitchen- I love'em, yum!!! These cute looking round little veggies are right in season around this time of the year, so take advantage of it! I recently roasted them and paired them up with one of my favourite grains- wheatberries- and a nice parsley-walnut lemony oil .

Nov 5, 2013

Mloukhieh- the leafy green of the Middle East...

My guess is that some of you may be thinking "mloukhieh... what the heck is that?!" (answer: it's the green stuff in the picture above). But seriously, Mloukhieh is a type of leafy green typical to some Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. It can be bought fresh or dry. The taste is so unique, that I'm not quite sure how to describe it- its like a bitter, smoky version of spinach. I really love it, but it's not so easy to find any over here... so if you got connections- use them :) And by that I mean whenever friends or family from the Middle East are over to visit, I'll ask them to bring some dried mloukhieh with them (yes- I'm that kind of friend, the one that asks for food items as gifts or favours). 

Nov 1, 2013

Roasted Crunchy Cauliflower

In my opinion, cauliflower has been hiding in the dark for way too long and fortunately, that no longer seems to be the case. This underrated vegetable is now "the thing" to cook and eat, especially lately with the flurry of recipes that illustrates just how versatile it is: cauliflower "rice", cauliflower "pizza", cauliflower "mash", cauliflower "this" and cauliflower "that"- yes we get it, it's cool to eat cauliflower again (By the way- someone is going to have to explain how this whole vegetable trend thing works- first kale, now cauliflower, what next?). 
Anyhow, I've always loved cauliflower. Especially when it's roasted and super crunchy

Oct 25, 2013

You'll never guess what these cookies are made of...

Not too long ago, I told you guys about how I have gone vegan since April 2013... and how it justified part of my dissapearing act of many months from Swirl & Scramble. During this time of living off a non-animal based diet (yes, I survived and am still alive! Doing great thank you!!), I've been enjoying a lot of savoury dishes but haven't explored the sweet side as much.  Having always been a very traditional baker (read: eggs & butter!!) I had no idea how to approach vegan sweets. I've certainly read all sorts of recipes, but was never motivated to test them out. That was until.......

Oct 20, 2013

Kale, Lentils & Butternut Squash

And here is a second act from our dear friends kale & parsley. I was stuck with some leftovers from the other day and needed to make yet another vibrantly tasty and healthy salad (if I may say so myself!). This time however, a little heartier (with the addition of lentils) and roasted butternut squash, giving it a nice seasonal pop of colour. Add a dash of cumin for a flavour boost and some depth before sealing it all together with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon

Oct 17, 2013

Magic Kale Salad

I am not one to follow trends, but for once I am going to tell you: yes, do believe the hype around kale! This curly, crunchy uber-nutritious leafy green has been all the rave for the last two years or so, and it indeed is one super hero of a vegetable that I have welcomed into my kitchen with open arms! It is just too freakin' delicious! I consume it in all different sorts of ways, and one is in my magic kale salad.

Oct 13, 2013

Hungry Monkey Granola

Woo oh my, it has been a WHILE that I haven't swirled and scrambled, hasn't it... What else is there to say other then that my life has been busy (in a good way!) and a couple of things have changed- including my diet... believe it or not, but....*drum rolls*...I have gone...*drum rolls* not vegetarian. I've gone vegan! It's been a little over six months now that I've stopped consuming animal products. It all has to do with a trip to Jamaica earlier this year, where I decided to experience my trip eating at "Rastaurants"- basically where Rastas eat. 

Feb 23, 2013

Aniseed Bread

Most people I know who love to cook are never satisfied until they've found 'the' recipe for bread: 'that' quasi-perfect recipe that not only makes delicious bread, but results in an immense personal sense of achievement leading you to swear that you'll never buy bread from your local bakery again (when in fact, we all know that's simply not true). Essentially, bread is a simple food and probably the most common food that we humans are familiar with. However, it is one of the trickiest to make at home. Many have told me that they'll try anything except bread- leave that to the baker with their special ovens and customized flours (and their early wake up calls). Well, I say don't be intimidated, don't despair. I have a recipe that I swear by- years have passed and it has not once betrayed me!

Feb 13, 2013

Chocolate Safari

I've always loved how the sweetness of dates and chocolate match up. Dates are incredibly delicious fresh (that crunch!) but when they are left to ripen, they become nature's most divine sugar treat. This dessert was something of a rich dark brown chocolate-date canvas laced with cardamom and grated coconut and bejeweled with crushed walnuts and chopped dried apricots. The combination of all these ingredients turned out to be fantastic with flavours that linger in your mouth and take your tastebuds off on a Chocolate Safari... indeed, the most appropriate way I found to name this treat.

Jan 29, 2013

How do you roast your chicken?

It was about fine time that I included a blog post about what might possibly be among the most quintessential staple recipes that any kitchen should witness: roast chicken. It is as classic as the little black dress is to fashion. Comforting, genuine, versatile, universal and always a crowd pleaser.  Lunch, dinner, leftovers, chicken thighs or breast, skin or without- anything goes! Everyone has 'their' perfect recipe, tricks they've read in cook books, tips they've heard through the grapevine and treasured tools and ingredients they keep in a safebox (well, maybe not). Not too long ago, I may have achieved my best version to date. The process is a simplistic one that ultimately comes down to a few steps (but much patience!) I put together based on experience and research. Ah yes, I'm certainly the nerdy type when it comes to cooking. 

Jan 21, 2013

Fennel, Feta & Ouzo

I always wonder what it is that gives vegetables their bad rep- with their multitude of colours, shapes, textures and forms they are anything but 'yucky' (were you one of those kids who hated broccoli?) Boil them, roast them, grill them, fry them, steam them, chop, dice or slice: eating greens should be a wonderful thing! As a matter of fact, I have an unusual soft spot for vegetables: I crave them the very same way I crave chocolate (I suppose one makes up for the other!) Fennel, with it's signature licorice-like taste, is one I particularly relish- especially when it's roasted.

Jan 12, 2013

"Creme de Marrons" for a Sweet Winter

In the world of finger lickin' good spreads there are favourites along the nutty lines of Nutella and Peanut Butter, fruity twists of Jams and Marmelades, and even cookie-ish Biscoff Spread for those of you who realized that the flavour of Belgian Speculoos is indeed an addictive thing.
But my firm favourite has always- and will always be- what the French call 'Creme de Marrons' - which is nothing more then a sweetened Chesnut Puree. If you love the taste of 'marrons glaces' (candied chesnuts), then you will most certainly enjoy Creme de Marrons. It's also one of the key ingredients in the celebrated Mont Blanc dessert with all its swirls and twirls of chestnut goodness. 

Jan 6, 2013

Rose Frangipane Galette des Rois

The calendar reads that today is January 6th- which is the day Epiphany is celebrated- and also the day we all stuff our faces with delicious King Cake. Having spent many years in France, the treat of my choice has always been the Galette des Rois- which is nothing more then scrumptious frangipane sandwiched in between two layers of flaky puff pastry. It sounds simple (which it is) and happens to be my favourite "holiday sweet" of the year- that I admit to making it even if we're no longer in January! 

By the way, in France there's a tradition that each galette holds a slice with a figurine hidden in it. The person who randomly gets this slice will have a lucky year (or something like that) and gets to wear a crown on their head.  This time around I actually got that slice, so that makes me look forward to the next twelve months!

Jan 2, 2013

Wonderful Spinach Tart

A belated Happy New Year to everyone! With the festive season coming to it's end, I have to admit I'm very happy all this holiday food business is over... all the indulgence was starting to get to me! You're expected to dress up, look your best, and spend your time fueled on meals that quadruple your waistline and then running on a treadmill like a crazy hamster in a wheel. And then run some more once it's all over! It doesn't make any sense if you ask me :) On the upside however, I didn't mind the endless hours cooking up recipes! 

Anyway, this year I'm hoping to share lots of delicious awesomeness with you guys. For starters, there's this recipe I'm really excited to share- it's a superb spinach tart that I've been eating since as long as I can remember. My mom would make this so I have it embedded in my taste buds at this point! Rich with spinach, pomegranate and walnuts, it's at once delicious and beautiful. An alchemistic and colourful combination that also includes a tangy sumac spice twist.