Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Milkshake

Spring has been officially announced, the signs are everywhere, you just can’t miss it. The clear streets, the numbers of people with kids and dogs on the streets, music coming out cars, bars with terraces ..  you name it.

Just like everybody else, I celebrate the arrival of spring my own way: I have set my bicycle free from the confinement of the attic, I keep the door to my apartment open in the morning while I have breakfast, I go out for longer walks, I smile more often, and I make frozen yogurt milkshakes!

This spring’s inaugural milkshake is a strawberry one, very refreshing, not too thick, not too sweet, just the perfect mix of flavors.

strawberry-frozen-yogurt-milkshake

To make 3 glasses of milkshake, you need 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of vanilla frozen yogurt, 1 cup of strawberries (I used frozen), and 1 Tbsp of sugar. And a blender of course. It’s easy to remember: 1 of each ingredient.

 

Melanzane Parmigiana With Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Mozzarella Cheese

We usually look forward to the weekend so we can do the hobbies we enjoy or the activities that we we hadn’t had time for during the week. For me, the weekend in the winter could include a trip to a new cafe, a homemade meal (preferably something in the oven), and an hour on the couch reading my novel.

This weekend’s oven baked dish is the classical Melanzane Parmigiana, with a twist. It is a no-fuss recipe that requires no pre-cooking of the tomato sauce. In addition to the grilled eggplants, I roasted half a red bell pepper and finished with a mix of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Follow the recipe step by step and you’ll end up with a finger-licking Melanzane Parmigiana!

melanzane02

 

Ingredients (for 2):

- 1 medium sized eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch circles
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into quarters
- Olive oil
- 1 can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- A handful of coarsely chopped basil leaves
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella and cheddar

melanzane00

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

1. On a baking sheet, brush the eggplant slices and the red pepper with olive oil on both sides and broil until brown. I peeled the red pepper after they grilled because I really dislike the skin when it comes off the pepper.
2. In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients except the two kinds of cheese. Mix well with a spoon.
3. In the baking dish, place the grilled eggplants at the bottom, spread the tomato sauce mix on top of them, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over that, place the grilled red pepper, and finish with the mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
4. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the tomato sauce is boiling and the cheese has melted.

Sunshine Omelet

It isn’t quite shiny this omelet, but it is colorful and inviting, isn’t it?

vegetable omelet

When your handsome is away and when it isn’t yet time to go out to browse the bookstores and settle in a cafe, what do you do?

Cook up brunch!

Today’s brunch is this wonderfully colorful omelet that brings sunshine to your kitchen even when it is -20 outside and snow is blowing in all directions.

omelet-spring

Red Pepper, Zucchini, Onion, and Mushroom Omelet (For 2)

Ingredients:

- 1/4 of a red pepper
- 1 small zucchini
- 1/2 an onion
- a handful of sliced fresh white mushrooms
- Salt

- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 eggs

- Cheese, I used Grana Padano, but feta would be perfect for this recipe too
- Herbs, I used fresh thyme, but some basil or parsley would also be good

vegies-omelet

Method:

1. Slice the onion and red pepper into thin strips (see photo), cut up the zucchini into capital Ds (see photo), and chop the mushrooms (see photo).
2. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add vegetables and fry until tender and aromatic.  Add some salt (1/4 of a tsp).
3. In a bowl, beat the eggs together. Add the cooked vegetables to the bowl, add the fresh thyme (or whatever herb you’re using) and give everything a quick stir.
4. Pour this mixture back into the hot pan. Lower heat and cover.
5. When the lower side of the omelet is golden and the upper side is dry but not fully cooked, flip the omelet. Use a spatula, or simply flip the omelet onto the lid of the pan and then slide it back into the pan with the golden cooked side up. Turn off the heat.
6. Slide the omelet onto your plate and grate some Padano cheese on it, or crumble some feta.

Eggs on a Bed of Tomato Sauce with Zucchini, Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese

I promised myself one last post before the end of January. I have been over my head with life’s ups and downs, but here I am fulfilling my promise.

This recipe makes a great brunch or even dinner. The sauce comes out really thick and tangy and the eggs just go perfectly well with the rest of flavors. I used a cast iron skillet and frankly I could sense the difference in the way everything heated up together and stayed warm.

Eggs-tomato-sauce00

Ingredients (serves one):

- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, whole
- 1/2 zucchini, sliced
- 4 large white mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
- 1/4 tsp of sugar
- A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 Tbsp of chopped fresh parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper

Method

1. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. I used a cast iron skillet. Add the garlic cloves, zucchini and mushrooms. Fry until soft. Discard the garlic cloves.

2. Add the tomato sauce and thyme and bring to boil. Add the sugar and salt. Let the sauce thicken.

3. When the sauce thickens and is ready, add the cheese and give it a good mix.

4. Crack the eggs on top and cover. When the eggs harden and are cooked, uncover and season with freshly cracked black pepper.

Easy Asparagus Quiche

This is an old favorite revisited. My good friend Peggy taught me this asparagus quiche recipe when we used to be neighbors, and she used to love doing it, and we used to love devouring it! Unlike Peggy, I don’t have the immaculate skill of working with dough, so oftentimes I just skip the dough and just work with the filling. We’re after the cheese anyway, right?

Quiche d'asperge

Asparagus Quiche

Ingredients:

- 4 eggs
- 1 cup of 35% cooking cream
- 1 cup of mixed shredded cheese (I used an Italian mix of mozzarella, provolone and parmesan)
- 2 heaped Tbsp flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- A bunch of fresh asparagus, boiled until half tender

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Whisk the eggs in a  bowl. Add the cream. Mix well. Add the flour, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the cheese. Mix well.

Pour mixture in your baking dish. Line the asparagus fashionably on top.

Bake for 35 minutes.

EASY & IRRESISTIBLE!  (And totally fattening I know!)

How To Put Together A Lebanese Breakfast

I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t start my day with an unhappy stomach. And to avoid getting my stomach upset with me, I need to feed it cheese, olives, zaatar, and the like. (See photo above for an illustration of what pleases my appetite)

The above photo might seem a lot of work for just yourself or you and your partner, you’re right, so why not host a breakfast for your friends?! We often invite friends over for dinner, for cheese and wine, cake and tea, but rarely for breakfast. Breakfast doesn’t have to be only croissant and coffee or eggs and bacon. If you’re open for new ideas and flavors, try putting together a Lebanese breakfast which will take you less an hour to prepare, and you’ll have the above gallery of deliciousness to be proud of!

So where do you start? I provided below a shopping list of the ingredients you’ll need (most of them can be found in any supermarket, not necessarily a Middle Eastern grocery store) and you can prepare everything on the morning of, an hour or so before.

Your shopping list: labneh (strained yogurt), halloumi cheese, kashkaval cheese, feta cheese, zaatar, green olives (preferably Lebanese), haleweh (I prefer the plain kind), ful(fava beans), pita bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, and mint. For drinks, usually black tea is served with sugar, something like Tetley black tea.

What to do with what you bought:

- Labneh: spread it around in a plate and pour olive oil on top

- Halloumi cheese: grill it until golden or simply slice it and arrange it in a plate

- Kashkaval cheese: slice it and arrange it in a plate

- Feta cheese: crumble it in a plate, add diced tomatoes and then sprinkle around 3 Tbsp of olive oil on top

- Zaatar: put 3 Tbsp of the dried herb mix in a bowl, add 3 Tbsp of olive oil and mix well

- Green olives: drain them and serve them in a bowl

- Haleweh: crumble it in a bowl

- Ful: pour the canned fava beans and their water into a pot, bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes. You can mash the beans with the spoon you’re using to stir, as much as a spoon can mash the beans. Before turning off the heat, add diced tomatoes (2 tomatoes), the juice of 1 lemon, 2 crushed garlic cloves, and  1 tsp of cumin. Adjust salt after tasting. Serve warm with a generous drizzle of olive oil on top.

- Tomatoes, cucumbers and mint: slice them in a nice way and present them in a plate.

Tips: Eat with pita bread only, no need for forks and knives. The tea is ideally had with sugar, and make sure to prepare a big pot of tea because your friends will want refills. Be generous with olive oil on the labneh and feta cheese, and try to find a good quality olive oil. (I personally like Maison Orphée.)

Spinach and Avocado Salad with a Zesty Yogurt Cumin Dressing

Image

Today’s recipe is rather simple, but something that I desperately needed after a hot and humid weekend in Montreal. The main ingredient is the fresh spinach leaves which are abundantly found in supermarkets here, and then I added slices of organic red tomatoes and half a medium ripe avocado. The secret in this salad is the dressing, my very own concoction (that I am secretly very proud of!). For the dressing you need:

- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 tsp yellow mustard
- 2 Tbsp of plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 tsp of red wine vinegar (optional)
- 3 Tbsp of olive oil
- 1/2 tsp of cumin
- 1/4 tsp of salt.

Whisk the ingredients well before drizzling on top of your fresh ingredients. 

Baked Eggplant Rolls with Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onions and Pine Nuts

You know what is more pleasing and fulfilling than cooking? Cooking with my friend Yasmine who’s just as passionate as me about cooking!

On my way back to Montreal from Spain, I stopped in Toronto to visit my two great friends (who happen to be sisters) Yasmine and Caroline. Yasmine believes that eggplants are underrated and they’re the most versatile vegetable. To prove this to me, she suggested she bake this signature dish of hers, which kept us in the kitchen almost all morning.

Before I have  Yasmine write up her recipe for you guys, let me just say that if you do not like eggplants or are impartial to them, this dish has the power to transform you into an eggplant lover. What a masterpiece. Yasmine, take over.

Baked Eggplant Rolls with Cheese, Caramelized Onions and Pine Nuts

Ingredients

5 Italian eggplants (you can substitute with the large American variety)

A cup of milk, and salt as needed

1/4 cup organic palm oil and 1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

3 medium tomatoes

1/2 cup goat cheese (preferably the variety with black pepper)

1/3 cup cream cheese

2 handfuls of basil (one handful for the stuffing, another for scattering)

3/4 cup of pine nuts, toasted

Method

I prepared the eggplant rolls by peeling them, slicing them lengthwise (about an inch) and then soaking them for over an hour in salted milk. Salting and soaking the eggplants helps extract the bitter juices out of the eggplant.

Then I heated the oils in a deep saucepan and lightly fried the eggplant. I placed the slices or eggplant on a bed of thick kitchen towels to soak up the oils. The reason I like to use palm oil instead of regular corn oil or sunflower oil is because palm oil is a healthy alternative: no transfats or hydrogenated oils.

I used the same saucepan to caramelize the onions at a low temperature. You will realize that there’s not much oil left in the saucepan. If nothing was left, add a tablespoon or so.

Meanwhile, I prepared the baking dish by diluting the tomato paste in a 1/4 cup of water and spreading on the bottom. Then I sliced the tomatoes an inch thick and spread across the dish.

At this point, preheat the oven to 350F.

And now for the best part, the stuffing! Mix the goat cheese, cream cheese, onions, pine nuts, and shredded basil in a bowl. Place a spoonful in the center of the eggplant and roll. Assemble the mini eggplant rolls in the baking dish over the tomatoes and place in rows tightly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining basil before serving.

Bon appetit!

Broccoli and Mushroom Crust-less Quiche

Did you know that I was a vegetarian for 8 years? I eat meat now and I appreciate a good steak but I still prefer vegetarian dishes! This is one of my absolute favorites!

I know what you’re thinking right now, this does look delicious but isn’t it very fattening?! The answer is yes. According to Paty M., a licensed dietitian and nutrition consultant, this meal is “high in saturated fats and constitutes 68% of the daily saturated fats for a 2000-calorie regimen.” So there you go, you’ve been warned!

Before I start with the recipe, I just want you to note that the ingredients that I will give make a baking dish that is 30cmx30cm and NOT the one in the photos. The one in the photo is a single portion dish that I made aside with the same exact recipe.

broccolimushroomquicheBroccoli and Mushroom Crust-less Quiche (serves 6)

Nutritional facts: One serving (220g) has 350 calories, 26g of fat and 20g of protein. (Provided by the licensed dietition and nutrition consultant Paty M.)

Ingredients:

- 5 small eggs

- 1.5 cup light cooking cream

- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

- 1 cup shredded Emmental cheese

- 1 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp olive oil

- 1/2 onion, chopped julien style

- 2 cups chopped fresh white mushrooms

- 3 cups broccoli florets, I used fresh but you can use frozen

- Salt, black pepper, white pepper, garlic powder and thyme

Method

- Preheat the oven to 375F.

- In a bowl, whisk the eggs, add the cream and cheeses and mix well. Add salt and white pepper. Give it one last mix. Set aside.

- If you’re using fresh broccoli, cook them for two minutes in boiling water. Drain and set aside. If you’re using frozen broccoli, soak them in hot water for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.

- Heat the butter and oil in a wok or pan. Add the onions, fry until translucent.

- Add the mushrooms and broccoli, season with salt, garlic powder, black pepper and thyme. Cook until the vegetables are soft and the mushrooms darken and start letting out their beautiful aroma. (15 minutes)

- In a 30cmx30cm baking dish, place the vegetables on the bottom and then pour over them the cream, eggs and cheese mix.

- Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes until the sides and top are golden.

Omelet with Thyme and Parmesan Cheese

After a beautiful four-day therapeutic break in Beirut, I’m back to my little world of Confetti. I was Beirut for a my friend Maria‘s wedding, which was a very intimate celebration full of dancing and good company. Maria and her husband George are now honeymooning in Italy and France!

Now back to the topic in the title, I prepared this omelet for dinner because it’s been a while that I haven’t had eggs for a meal. I also feel like a fragrant omelet that isn’t too heavy or sophisticated. So I chose thyme and Parmesan cheese.

Thyme and Parmesan Omelet

Thyme and Parmesan Omelet

Thyme and Parmesan Omelet

Ingredients (for 2):

- A knob of butter
- 4 eggs
- Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- Thin shavings of Parmesan cheese

Method

1. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a pan while you whisk the eggs, salt, thyme and grated Parmesan in a bowl. When the butter has totally melted, pour in the egg mixture and cover the pan.

2. When the bottom is golden in color and the top is somehow dry, flip the omelet over to the other face and cover again so that both faces are golden (just like in the photo).

3. When the omelet is ready, place the shavings of Parmesan on top and turn off heat. The cheese on top will melt from the heat of the omelet.

Tomato Salad with Avocado Salsa

For this cute salad there will be no measurements, just a pinch of this and a glug of that. Enjoy!

Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

- A bunch of cherry tomatoes

- A small spoonful of Dijon mustard

- A little bit of olive oil

- A sprinkle of salt & garlic powder

- 1 avocado, mashed

- A squeeze of lemon juice

- Salt

Tomato Salad

Method:

1. Cut the tomatoes in half and place in a bowl. Add the mustard, olive oil, salt and garlic powder. Mix well.

2. In another bowl, mash the avocado with the squeeze of lemon juice and salt.

3. To prepare the salad, scoop spoonfuls of the tomato salad onto a plate and then top that with a dollop of the avocado salsa.

Linguine with Tomato Sauce, Black Olives and Feta Cheese

There isn’t a week that goes by at our house that I don’t make a pasta meal of some sort. Tonight it is this delicious vegetarian linguine dish that is based on simple ingredient that make a special mix.

Linguine with Tomato Sauce

Linguine with Tomato Sauce, Black Olives and Feta Cheese

Ingredients (for two):

- 250g linguine pasta

- 1 can tomatoes, peeled and chopped

- 1 small onion, cut into quarters

- 1 tsp butter

- A sprinkle of white sugar

- 1/4 cup water

- 1 tsp tomato paste

- Salt & black pepper

- 2 heaped Tbsp sliced  black olives

- Feta cheese

Linguine with Tomato Sauce

Method

1. Cook the pasta according to packet instruction.

2. Put the tomatoes, onions, butter, sugar, water and tomato paste in a deep pot and bring to boil. Lower the heat and let the sauce simmer and thicken. Near the end, add the salt and black pepper and toss in the black olives.

3. To prepare the pasta, add the linguine to the tomato sauce and give it a thorough mix.

4. To serve, garnish the pasta dishes with feta cheese crumbled on top of the pasta. The feta goes perfectly well with the tomato sauce and the black olives.

Linguine with Tomato Sauce

White Beans with Tomato and Coriander

Do you know the feeling when you  have had enough of meat and want to take a break? Being an ex-vegetarian, I get this feeling often and this month I really do not have the desire neither to eat nor cook meat. That’s not too bad, because I have a lot of recipes that are meatless that are healthy and easy to make.

White Beans

The following recipe is a quick-fix meal that has lots of flavor and nutrients. Its main ingredients are white beans (also known as white kidney beans), tomatoes and fresh coriander. 100g of white beans has 6.7g of protein and 2.8mg of iron, which is not bad at all, so if you have a can of white beans in your kitchen cupboard, you might want to try this recipe for lunch tomorrow.

White Beans with Tomato and Coriander

Ingredients:

- 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil

- 1 small onion, thinly sliced

- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

- A handful of fresh coriander, chopped

- 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped

- 1/2 tsp of dried coriander

- 1 can of white beans (380g), washed and drained

- Salt

- 1/2 cup of water

- 1 tsp of tomato paste

White BeansMethod:

1. Heat the oil in a deep sauce pan and fry the onions, garlic and fresh coriander.

2. When the onions turn translucent, add the chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and dried coriander.

3. When the tomatoes start letting out their water, add the beans and give everything a gentle stir.

4. Add the water and the tomato paste and stir well. Bring to boil. Lower the heat to medium and let everything boil for ten minutes.

5. Serve with white rice and garnish with fresh coriander if desired.

White Beans

Guest Post by SABINE

The following beautiful post is by Sabine, a fellow tweep (@babinette) who  graciously provided the post, recipe and photographs! Thank you Sabine for your guest post, I’ve been waiting for several promised posts by other friends, but you were the first to send a post. Thanks!

MY MUSTARD BRINGS ALL THE BOYS TO THE YARD, DAMN RIGHT! by Sabine

If you know me even remotely well, you would know that I have passion for 3 things: Good food, good music, and earrings. But you would also know that I have a bit of an obsession with mustard! I can’t even remember how it started, but all of a sudden I started buying mustard jars everywhere I went, collecting random flavours from foodie markets or far away towns, and at any one point I could have about 10 different mustards in the cupboard. Yes, really! Then one day, I had an idea which seemed very obvious for some, and a total waste of time for others… I decided I would try making mustard at home.

My first batch was a total adventure! My home made mustard turned out to have a much stronger flavour than jars bought at the supermarket, and a much different texture. But what I also discovered is that it’s such an easy process, I couldn’t believe how quick the whole thing was, you should try it too! I have so far used recipes from books and modified them slightly to suit my own taste buds, below are the ones I’ve used during my last experimentation. I ended up with some honey mustard and a bit of herbs mustard. Both turned out to be delicious, though I’ll admit I am especially proud of the herbs flavoured batch.

(The recipes below are from a book called 400 sauces by Catherine Atkinson, Christine France and Maggie Mayhew)

Herbs mustard

Ingredients:

1/2 cup white mustard seeds (they’re actually yellow)

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

2/3 cup distilled malt vinegar (basically clear coloured malt vinegar)

4 tbsp chopped fresh mixed herbs (I used rosemary, sage and lemon thyme)

Herbs Mustard

Method of preparation:

1- Add the mustard seeds, sugar, salt, pepper and turmeric in a blender or food processor and blend for about 1 minute.

2- Gradually add the vinegar to the mixture, blending in between additions. (This is the part that I found to be a little tricky. The original recipe called for 1 cup of vinegar, but I stopped at 2/3 of the way as I thought it was already the right consistency. I think it would’ve also ended up a bit too strong.)

3- Add chopped herbs to the mustard, mix well and let it stand for 10-15 mins until the mustard thickens slightly.

4- Store the mustard in well sealed jars and keep in the fridge.

This goes really well with cheese and ham sandwiches, and delicious in a burger!

********************

Honey mustard

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mustard seeds

1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

2/3 cups white wine vinegar

3 tbsp dark clear honey

Honey Mustard

Method of preparation:

1- Put mustard seeds, cinnamon, ginger and vinegar in a bowl and let it soak overnight. (I’ll admit I did cheat and didn’t let it soak for that long, the result was still good!)

2- The next day, add the mixture to a blender and add the honey gradually while blending until the mustard resembles a stiff paste. If needed, add a little bit of extra vinegar for a looser consistency.

4- Store the mustard in well sealed jars and keep in the fridge.

Please note I found this mustard needs to sit for a few days before you can eat it. Goes really well with steak or a meat pie.

Baked Rolled Lasagna Stuffed with Spinach in White Sauce

I have several bags of frozen spinach and here’s another great recipe using spinach and two of my favorite ingredients: cheese and cream. If you use frozen spinach then this recipe won’t take longer than half an hour.

Ingredients (for 4)

- 350g frozen spinach
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- A pinch of salt

- 250ml cooking cream
- Salt, white pepper and a pinch of nutmeg
- Half of a handful of shredded mozzarella

- 8 sheets of lasagna, cooked

- Shredded mozzarella and Gruyère cheese, separate

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

1. Thaw the spinach in a bath of hot water for five minute. Drain and with your hands squeeze out the water from the spinach. Sauté the spinach in olive oil until they’re soft and cooked. Add a little bit of salt and set aside.

2. Pour the cream in a saucepan, season it and add the little bit of mozzarella cheese. Bring to boil and then lower the heat to the minimum and leave it simmering while you roll the lasagna pasta sheets.

3. Lay out a lasagna sheet on a wooden chopping board. With a small spoon, scoop spinach and make a row on the lasagna sheet across the width. Roll the lasagna around the spinach to form a thick finger, much similar to a cannelloni. Repeat with the rest 7 sheets.

4. Spread two spoonfuls of the cream all over the bottom of the baking dish. Line the lasagna rolls side by side to cover the area of the baking dish. Pour over the white sauce, it will not cover the pasta, it will just coat them a little. The pasta is cooked so there’s no need for any liquid to completely cover the pasta. Now sprinkle some Gruyère cheese on top and another final layer of mozzarella cheese.

5. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. For a golden effect, place the dish under the broiler for a few minutes.