Orecchiette with Homemade Ricotta and Cherry Tomatoes

The first time I tried making ricotta from scratch I was about 300-years pregnant with my second child and in some weird hormone-induced frenzy, it drove me mad halfway into the night trying to make my own cheese.

A happy ending being the clincher to this story, I finally made it and it was truly spectacular. Despite a few hiccups the process was not that difficult. You only need four ingredients and at the end of the day, homemade ricotta is hands-down worth making yourself. It’s rich and creamy and has none of that grittiness that comes with buying it off the shelf.

So I ended up making it three times in one night the first time. I’ll tell you what I did wrong, so you can spare yourself some craziness.

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Things to Watch Out For When Making Homemade Ricotta

– Make sure your cheesecloth is folded enough so that your luscious ricotta curds don’t slip right through the holes, resulting in no cheese.
– Let your milk/cream mixture come very slowly, almost to a simmer. Rushing this part by cranking the heat will result in no cheese.
– Make sure you add enough lemon juice, especially when you’ve already tried making ricotta twice in one night. Not going out to get more lemons when you know you should will result in—you guessed it—no cheese.

Luckily my misadventures in cheese-making means you won’t (or shouldn’t, because…hello? No cheese!) make the same rookie mistakes I did, and that your ricotta-making experience will be a breeze.

Because once you’ve made your own, going back to the stuff in the tub won’t be the same. Trust me when I say you’ll be scrambling to find things to smear it on. I like it tossed with steaming hot, just-from-the-pot orrichette pasta, with spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped shallots and a healthy whack of basil, like this:

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Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions:
1. Set a large, fine mesh sieve over a deep bowl. Line the sieve with the two layers of cheesecloth.
2. Slowly bring milk, cream and salt to a simmer, stirring occasionally. This step can take as long as 20-25 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice.
4. Allow the curds to separate from the whey. About 3 minutes.
5. Gently pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and let stand until all the liquid has passed through and your left with only the curds.
6. The longer you let it stand, the dryer the ricotta. I like it somewhere in the middle.

Orecchiette with Homemade Ricotta and Cherry Tomatoes

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Ingredients:
1 clove garlic
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 small shallot, minced
2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp quality olive oil
3-4 large basil leaves
1/2 cup, homemade ricotta
1 pound, orecchiette
Cracked black pepper and sea salt

Directions:
1. Cook orecchiette according to directions on the box.
2. Meanwhile, assemble garlic, shallot, tomatoes and spinach in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and add cracked black pepper and sea salt. Set aside to marinate.
3. Drain pasta and pour over tomato/spinach mixture. Add ricotta to hot mixture and stir. Add a bit of the pasta water to loosen up the mixture if necessary.
4. Serve immediately.

BonnieMo Bonnie Mo is a Toronto-based editor and the face behind Food Network Canada’s Food Fetish column. She’s also a contributing editor over at slice.ca.

Vegan Lasagna Roll Ups with Almond Ricotta

To celebrate National Lasagna Day we thought we’d switch things up and roll up our lasagna! These fun and healthy lasagna roll ups are stuffed with spinach and zucchini, and the most velvety almond ricotta (the ricotta can be made the day before) and can be used in so many other delicious recipes. We’re actually kind of obsessed with it right now!

Prep Time: 55 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Makes: 8 rolls

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Ingredients:

Almond Ricotta:
1 cup blanched sliced almonds
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp white pepper
1 Tbsp finely chopped basil

Tomato Sauce:
½ cup finely chopped white onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 Tbsp finely chopped basil

Lasagna Rolls:
8 lasagna noodles
4 cups baby spinach
1 large yellow zucchini (or 2 small)
1 tsp olive oil
¼ tsp nutmeg
Sea salt & pepper to taste

Note: The almond ricotta should be prepared one day in advance to give it time to set.

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Directions:
1. In a high-powered blender combine all the almond ricotta ingredients together except the basil. You will fold this in after the mixture is blended.
2. Once the mixture is smooth, fold the finely chopped basil into the almond mixture with a spoon, then place a double layer of cheesecloth over a large mixing bowl and pour the almond mixture into the cheesecloth.
3. Take the excess ends of the cheesecloth and tie it around a wooden spoon or something you can lay on top of the mixing bowl, suspending it in the mixing bowl. It shouldn’t be touching the bottom of the mixing bowl. Refrigerate this allowing the excess water to strain from the almond cheese for 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove it from the cheesecloth and place it in a new clean dish.
4. To make the tomato sauce, heat a pan over medium and sauté white onion for 2 minutes with olive oil.
5. Then add minced garlic and dried oregano, and sauté for another minute.
6. Stir in tomato paste until the garlic and onions are well coated, then add crushed tomatoes, sea salt and ground pepper. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Add fresh basil, cover and simmer for another 20 minutes.
7. While the sauce is simmering for the last 20 minutes, preheat oven to 325°F.
8. Boil the noodles in salted water for about 5-6 minutes, until half cooked. Drain and set the noodles aside on a damp towel or damp paper towel to prevent them from sticking until you prepare the lasagna rolls.
9. Thinly slice yellow zucchini with a mandolin.
10. Heat another pan over medium heat with 1 tsp of olive oil, and add spinach and zucchini together with nutmeg, sea salt and ground pepper. Sauté for about 4 minutes. There will be a bit excess water from the vegetables, but just drain it from the pan before adding vegetables to the lasagna rolls.
11. To assemble the rolls take 1 Tbsp of almond ricotta and spread it across each lasagna noodle out to the edges, then layer spinach and zucchini on top. Roll the lasagna noodle snuggly.
12. Pour half the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 9” glass baking dish. Place lasagna rolls 4 across and pour the remaining sauce over each row of lasagna rolls.
13. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

The Ultimate Breakfast Pizza

Recently I decided that it was time I try making a breakfast pizza and let me tell you — it did not disappoint! Not only did it fill the kitchen with the pleasant aroma of all my breakfast favourites, but it tasted absolutely delicious. Combining breakfast classics onto thin, airy pizza crust… How could you go wrong? Well, you can’t! Unless you burn it of course…

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 3

Ingredients:

No-Knead Pizza Dough:
250g all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
? tsp active dry yeast
180ml water

Pizza Toppings:
Tomato sauce
Cheddar cheese (grated)
Cooked bacon
Ham
Green onion
Russet potato (very thinly sliced)
Egg

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Directions:
1. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients, slowly mix in water while stirring with a wooden spoon.
2. Once dough begins to form, work it into a roughly shaped ball with your hands, leaving it in the bowl, and covering with plastic wrap.
3. Allow dough to rise at room temperature for around 18 hours or until doubled inside.
4. After 18 hours, remove dough from bowl and place on a floured work surface,
5. Cut the dough into three even pieces for personal sized pizzas.
6. Knead each piece of dough into a ball and allow to rise for another hour covered with a damp towel, or wrapped in plastic wrap.
7. If you won’t be using all the dough right away, refrigerate it, and remove it from the fridge 1-2 hours before cooking allowing it to warm to room temperature.
8. While dough is resting, if using a pizza stone, place it in the cold oven and turn the heat to 500°F (or as close to that heat as possible), allowing the oven to heat for about an hour.
9. If you don’t have a pizza stone, arrange the pizza dough on a baking sheet, and just preheat the oven to 500-550°F.
10 Once the dough has finished resting, on a floured surface, stretch it thinly to your preference (without breaking the dough).
11. Spread tomato sauce, topped with grated cheddar cheese, potato, bacon, ham & green onion. Once all your ingredients are placed, crack an egg on top of the pizza.
12. If using a baking sheet, bake at 500-550°F, if using a pizza stone, turn your oven to broil and cook the pizza for 5-10 minutes until desired doneness.

100x100_BS Carlene and Bob Deutscher are the dynamic sibling duo behind BS’ in the Kitchen. While Carlene leans towards the sweeter side of things, baking up delicious desserts, you can count on Bob to cook up something savoury! Aside from blogging on BS’ in the Kitchen, Carlene works in marketing & communications, and sidelines as a lifestyle & wedding photographer, while Bob operates his own media company, with a focus on food photography, and videography! Carlene and Bob Deutscher are part of the Lifestyle Blog Network.

Best Ways to Ripen Avocados

We’ve all been there; schlepping a bag of avocados from the supermarket, thinking of all the delicious guacamole and sandwiches we’ll be making with them. Then BAM — three days later and all five avocados are soft and you have a day to eat them all before they go bad.

There are a few ways to make a bag of avocados last more than a week. In fact, the two avocados in the photo above were from the same bag. The one on the left is ready to eat, while the one on the right still has a few more days to go before it can be eaten.

Here’s how to do it:

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Finding a Ripe Avocado

Look for a dark exterior as opposed to green (see photo above). You can also (gently!) press down on the stem. If it gives a bit, then it’s ripe. If it’s too hard or too mushy then it’s not ready or starting to rot.

Many online sources suggest flicking off the stem to see if it reveals a pretty green patch, but doing that to a dozen avocados, just to find one or two ripe ones is kind of a jerk move. Without the stem, the blotch will turn dark from air exposure and no one else will be able to tell if it’s ready. Also, resist the urge to squeeze avocados as you can bruise them, and subsequently make other shoppers believe that they’ve got a ripe avocado when they’re actually grasping at a fruit that you tampered with.

Ripening of Avocados

Online help forums tell me to take half of a hard avocado and pop it in the microwave for a few seconds (gross) or force it to soften by mashing it with a mallet. This might help with the texture, but the taste won’t be great compared to an actual ripe avocado.

Another popular tip is to put the whole avocado in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana because those fruits release ethylene gas; an odorless gas that causes other fruit to ripen. In my experience, it doesn’t make that much of a difference from leaving them on the kitchen counter at room temperature for two or three days.

But one thing that really helps is heat. Steve Gonzalez, owner and chef of Latin restaurant Valdez in Toronto, says that when he’s in a pinch he’ll put avocados on his roof top patio. Arturo Anhalt of Toronto’s Milagro Cantinas also says that 30°C is a good temperature to accelerate ripening times. At one of his restaurants, he’ll actually put unripe avocados in the basement’s engine room.

But in the end, if want to eat an avocado as soon as you leave the supermarket, just buy one that’s already mature (sometimes there will be a “ripe” sticker right on the avocado).

Slowing Down the Ripening Process

When you come home with groceries, take out the number of avocados you plan on eating in the next two days or so and put the rest in the fridge where they can last an extra week. The cold will slow down the ripening process, but you’ll have to take them out a few days prior so they can ripen again at room temperature. Ripe avocados will last an additional day or two in the fridge.

The Other Open Half

As you know, avocados should be eaten as soon as they’re cut open because the air will start turning the flesh into a mushy brown-like a banana. But since most people eat just one half of an avocado at a time, Anhalt says to tightly wrap the remaining avocado half in plastic wrap, ensuring minimal air comes into contact with the exposed area. He also suggests that if you’re storing guacamole; make sure the plastic film sticks directly onto the guacamole itself.

Freezing Avocados

Be warned that freezing avocados will negatively affect the taste and texture. Both Anhalt and Gonzalez don’t recommend freezing avocados, though Gonzalez says the only time he’ll freeze them is if he’s making ice cream or a mousse.

But if you must, mash the avocado into a pulp, mix in a squeeze of lemon or lime juice and store in a freezer bag. Flatten the bag out to get rid of any excess air and keep in the freezer for up to three months.

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The Bare-Minimum Guacamole Recipe

Every chef and home cook will swear that their guacamole recipe is the best. We’ll leave that argument to them. In the meantime, here’s a super bare-minimum recipe that will kick things off. Experiment by adding other ingredients like chopped tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, chilies, hot sauce, and even pineapple chunks. I like a chunky guacamole, but if you want a smoother, mousse-like consistency, use a blender or food processor.

Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados, roughly cubed
1 Tablespoon white onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1/2 lime*
Salt, to taste

Directions:

In a bowl, combine avocados, onion, garlic, and lime juice. Using a large serving spoon, mash everything together until you achieve a desired consistency. Add salt to taste. Serve immediately.

*Some would call this blasphemous but you can substitute in lemon juice if you don’t have a lime. Since lemons are more acidic, add a bit of the juice at a time and taste it so that your guacamole doesn’t turn to lemonade.

734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

Citrus, Kale & Avocado Salad with Lemon-Yogurt Dressing

This bright and fresh summer salad is loaded with tons of great ingredients: oranges, raw kale, almonds and a creamy yogurt lemon dressing.

Rather than smothering this gorgeous dish with multiple artery-clogging dairy products, we used light coconut yogurt and made some homemade tofu feta instead. Trust us — it will blow your taste buds away!

Serves: 4-6

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For the tofu feta:

Ingredients:

1/2 brick extra firm tofu, cubed
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt

Directions:
1. In a bowl or glass container, whisk together rice vinegar, lemon juice, non-dairy milk, basil, garlic and sea salt.
2. Submerge the cubes of tofu in the liquid and cover bowl with plastic wrap or fit the lid to your container.
3. Refrigerate micture for a minimum of 3 hours and up to 24 hours to develop more flavour.

For the salad dressing:

Ingredients:
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut yogurt
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp agave nectar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp each sea salt and pepper
1/2 cup snipped chives (optional)

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together non-dairy milk with coconut yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, agave nectar, garlic, sea salt and pepper. Stir in chives, if using.
2. Store dressing in the fridge until ready to use.

For the salad:

Ingredients:
1 small bunch of kale (approx. 10 cups)
1 seedless orange, peeled and cut into segments
1/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled tofu feta (as per above)
1 ripe but firm avocado, peeled and cut into cubes

Directions:
1. Trim the kale by cutting out and discarding the tough ribs of leaves.
2. Stack leaves and then slice crosswise into strips about 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) wide.
3. Place kale in a serving bowl and add orange segments, almonds and tofu feta, and gently toss.
4. Drizzle with about 1 cup of dressing, then gently toss in avocado.
5. Refrigerate remaining dressing up to 5 days.

Tip: for even more flavour, toast almonds for a couple of minutes in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

Vegan & Gluten-Free Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts

What better way to indulge on a Fryday than with these delectable vegan and gluten-free cinnamon sugar doughnuts. They’re obviously delicious any time of day, but this particular version is best enjoyed for breakfast, paired with a big ol’ cup of coffee.

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Note: This recipe will only work with a flour blend that contains xanthan gum and baking powder. Look for Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit & Baking Mix at your grocery store. It’s fairly common as most commercial grocers carry this line of products and have specific gluten-free sections.

Ingredients (makes 12 medium sized doughnuts):
1 cup soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp ground flax
3 Tbsp water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup organic golden sugar (same as unbleached granulated sugar)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup gluten-free flour mix
1 tsp cinnamon
3-4 cups vegetable oil (for deep frying)

Doughnut Coating:
1/4 cup organic golden sugar (same as unbleached granulated sugar)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

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Directions:
1. In a small bowl mix together ground flax and water. Let sit for 15 minutes in the fridge to thicken. In another mixing bowl combine soy milk and apple cider vinegar, and allow to sit for 15 minutes. After letting these 2 components sit for 15 minutes, heat up vegetable oil in a pot to 375°F while you prepare the rest of the dough.
2. In a large mixing bowl add 2 cups of gluten-free flour mix (the other ¼ cup is for rolling out the dough) and mix with cinnamon until well combined.
3. Add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, vanilla extract, sugar and flax mixture to the bowl with soy milk and apple cider vinegar, and whisk together until well combined.
4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until it just comes together into a sticky ball of dough.
5. On a clean, dry surface spread out 1/4 cup of the flour and place the dough from the bowl onto the floured surface. Knead the dough into a little bit of flour while ensuring you keep the surface floured to prevent the dough from sticking. It will become a little less sticky to handle as you incorporate a bit more of this flour into it. Pat the dough down with your hand until it’s 1/2” thick.
6. Cut 3 1/2” circles from this dough, making sure to lightly coat the cookie cutter with excess flour on the counter. Bring the excess dough together in a ball again, ensure you’ve spread out a bit more of the excess flour across your surface/counter and flatten the dough again to 1/2” thick. Continue to cut out circles. After this second round of cutting out circles you should be left with just enough dough to make 1-2 more doughnuts with your hands.
7. To make the centre hole you can lightly coat the thicker end of a chopstick with a bit of excess flour. Then stick it through the middle of the circles and roll it around a little to create a small 1/4” hole.
8. Combine sugar and cinnamon for the coating in a shallow dish and have it near your frying oil. You’re going to sprinkle the doughnuts right out of the fryer.
9. Ensure your oil has reached a temperature of 375°F and place 2 doughnuts in the hot oil. After about 1-1 1/2 minutes they should be floating at the surface. Using a slotted frying spoon, gently flip them. Let them fry for another 2-2 1/2 minutes until golden.
10. Lift them out with the slotted frying spoon allowing excess oil to drip onto paper towel. You can let them sit for a few seconds but you want to get them coated with cinnamon sugar almost immediately while they’re still hot. Roll the doughnuts around in the cinnamon sugar until evenly coated and place them on a separate clean plate. Continue this process until all the doughnuts are fried.

It’s best to eat these immediately while they’re still warm!

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

DIY Brunch Taco Party

Skip the lines and the hassle of corralling a large group into a 40-seat restaurant by hosting brunch at your house with an easy and fun breakfast taco party. Have your friends assemble their own tacos and they can even make their own corn tortillas from scratch. Not only does this keep your friends busy, it also means less work for you.

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Restaurants typically use a tortilla press to flatten balls of masa (corn flour), but unless you have one of your own, here’s a way to achieve perfectly round and flat tortillas using two cutting boards, some plastic wrap and a steady two-foot jump. Seriously.

For the Tortillas:

Ingredients:
Two sturdy wooden cutting boards (or large, heavy hardcover books)
Plastic wrap
Corn flour (Maseca is a popular brand)
Water
Salt
Frying pan

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Directions:
1. Follow the instructions on the package of corn flour to make the masa dough. Typically it’s 1 cup of corn flour, 3/4 cup of water and 1/8 tsp of salt to yield 8 tortillas. Double up the portions to make more.
2. Use a Tbsp-sized measuring spoon to make evenly sized individual balls of dough.
3. Put one of the cutting boards on the floor and place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the board.
4. Place a dough ball in the middle of the cutting board, followed by another piece of plastic wrap on top. Carefully place the other cutting board (or sturdy book) on top of the dough ball. Holding on to a countertop (or trusty friend) for balance, make a two-foot hop directly on top of the cutting board, flattening the dough ball. Shift your weight back and forth and side to side to ensure that the dough is flattened.
5. Remove the cutting board and gently peel away the plastic wrap, revealing a perfectly round corn tortilla. Place the tortilla on a hot, un-greased frying pan for about 30 seconds on each side.
6. Stack the cooked tortillas on top of each other on a plate. Place a slightly moist sheet of paper towel on top to prevent the stack from trying out.

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Taco Fillings:

There are no rules as to what you can put in a brunch taco, but here are some suggestions. Fill individual bowls with these toppings and let your guests make their own:

– Diced tomatoes
– Sautéed mushrooms
– Green or white onions
– Sliced avocados or guacamole
– Hot sauce
– Spicy mayonnaise (Sriracha mixed with mayo)
– Bell peppers
– Cut up bits of chorizo or breakfast sausage
– Scrambled eggs
– Lime wedges

734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

How to Make Strawberry Jam

As much as we love a delicious gourmet meal, there’s something to be said about a good ol’ classic PB&J. What better way to take a basic sandwich to a whole new level than with rich, homemade strawberry jam?

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Composed of nothing but a few simple ingredients, this made-from-scratch pantry staple is a must-try. When you see how easy (and insanely delicious) it is, we’re sure you’ll be making it every other week!

Ingredients:
1 quart of ripe strawberries (normal-sized container from the grocery store)
½ cup sugar
1 tsp water

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Directions:

1. Sort through the strawberries and make sure they’re completely ripe. Green ones just won’t cut it.

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2. Wash them, remove the stems, cut out the white bits and place them on a paper towel to remove the water.

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3. In a medium-sized pot on medium heat, add 1 tsp water along with the strawberries. Using a wooden spoon, mash the strawberries into small pieces and add the sugar. Stirring continuously, let them come to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from the stove and let it sit over night.

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4. The next morning, put it back on the stove. While you wait for the strawberries to come to a boil, fill two small jars with water and put them in the microwave until boiling. When the strawberries on the stove start to boil, pour the water out of the jars and fill them with the strawberry jam.

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5. Seal the jars, turn them upside down, let them cool and keep them stored in the fridge.

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

How to Make Easy Blueberry Scones

When it comes to baked goods, most of us don’t even attempt to make them from scratch. But it turns out, scones can be just as simple as that go-to muffin recipe of yours — not to mention you likely already have most of the ingredients in your pantry.

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Whether you bake them for a yummy weekend breakfast or for a tea party with friends, these simple, budget-friendly scones are bound to impress.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup fresh blueberries
½ cup heavy cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Icing sugar for garnish

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F and adjust racks so one’s in the centre. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pick over blueberries for only the ripe ones, and rinse.

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2. In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using 2 knives in a criss-cross motion, cut butter into the mix until pieces are no bigger than the size of peas. Stir in blueberries.

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3. In a small bowl, whisk together cream and eggs. Make a hole in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture. Stir lightly with fork, then bring to a lightly floured surface and knead just a little.

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4. Pat dough into a square that’s about 1” thick. Using a floured knife, cut it into four squares. Then cut the squares in half on a diagonal and once more, to create 16 mini triangles.

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5. Transfer the triangles to the baking sheet and bake until golden, about 15-18 minutes.  Let cool, then sprinkle with icing sugar.

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headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

How to Make Peach Bundt Cake

There’s one fruit that I look forward to all year; a fruit that just won’t do if it’s out of season, and that’s peaches. This juicy, flavour-packed fruit is always worth the wait, and you just won’t be able to find it in the cold weather months.

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When peaches hit the shelves near the end of summer, I buy them by the basketful. When I’m not eating fresh peaches, I look for ways to incorporate them into every other dish. Chutneys, salads, grilled and sautéed… These are all great ways to consume this delicious stone fruit. But really, I’m a sucker for cake.

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I love making this peach bundt cake — it’s stuffed full of peaches and if you like, topped with even more. I highly recommend serving it still warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a nice big dollop of fresh whipped cream.

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Ingredients:
1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour, plus 1 Tbsp
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp  salt
½ cup whipping cream
4 large peaches (or 6 small) cut in large dice

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a bundt tin and set aside. In a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat on high after each addition. Add vanilla extract. Beat batter on high for 4 minutes until very pale and fluffy.
2. In a separate bowl combine 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture along with cream and mix on low speed just until combined. Toss your chopped peaches in 1 Tbsp of flour and gently fold into your batter. The flour helps stop the peaches from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
3. Pour the batter into prepared tin and bake in the center of preheated oven for 1 hour or until golden brown and a skewer comes out of the cake clean.
4. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes. Don’t be tempted to remove the cake any sooner or you’ll risk having some stuck inside the tin.
5. Eat with a big spoonful of chopped peaches, ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

11 Foods That Should Never Be Refrigerated

Call me weird, but I really hate putting away the groceries. There’s never any room in the fridge and I now know why. I’ve been putting foods I don’t need to refrigerate in my already-crowded fridge!

Have a look at the list below (I’m going home and taking out #3, #6, #7 and #9 immediately)!

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1. Honey

No need to put honey in the fridge, it’ll just thicken and crystallize which is really annoying to scoop out but perfectly fine. Honey is all natural so it stays good almost indefinitely in the pantry. In fact, a 1000-year-old jar of honey will be as fresh as the day it was put into that jar.

2. Avocados

Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, you can put them in the fridge for a week. Best to keep avocados whole, not sliced, to avoid browning that occurs when the flesh is exposed to air. Also if you want them to ripen faster, put them on top of your fridge in a paper bag.

3. Hot sauce

I didn’t know this but you can keep it in the pantry for up to three years!

4. Coffee

The fridge (and the freezer) create condensation which affect the flavour of both ground coffee and coffee beans. It’ll also absorb odours in the fridge. My mom actually uses coffee grounds instead of baking soda for its odour-absorbing powers. Keep coffee in an airtight container in the pantry.

5. Onions

Avoid direct sunlight. Keep them in a cool, dry place but NOT next to your potatoes. When stored together, both deteriorate faster. Moisture in your fridge will turn onions soft and moldy–yuck.

6. Potatoes

Putting them in the fridge affects the flavour and texture (they become gritty) Store in the pantry in paper bags (plastic bags trap moisture and speed decay). Most varieties should last three weeks but not next to the onions (See #5).

7. Bread

Did you know refrigeration will dry your bread out quicker? It’ll also make it tough and less tasty. Unless it’s sliced bread you plan on using in the next few days, keep it in the freezer or the counter.

8. Tomatoes

Tomatoes lose all their flavour in the fridge because the cold stops the ripening process. It also messes with the texture and them mealy and mushy.

9. Melons

You really shouldn’t store any whole melon fruit in the fridge. Once it’s cut though, that’s another story. There’s research that shows refrigerating whole melons decreases the antioxidants – that’s the good stuff you want.

10. Garlic

Store them in a cool, dry and ventilated container to preserve their powerful flavour. Once the head has been broken open, use the cloves within 10 days.

11. Oils

Nut oils (like hazelnut oil or peanut oil) must be refrigerated, but for other types of oil keep them in the pantry. They become cloudy and harden when refrigerated. While this doesn’t do lasting damage, it’s a pain to wait for the oil to warm up before it flows properly again.

Creamy Vegan Roasted Corn Chowder

Here’s a delicious and easy recipe for using up left over corn on the cob. If you’re feeling ambitious, this corn chowder is totally worth it. While it may seem a little complicated it really isn’t, and it’s so darn tasty!

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Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked for 3 hours)
1/2 cup water
1 cup roasted corn kernels (4 cobs)
1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup carrot, finely chopped
1 cup celery stalk, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper
4 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups roasted corn kernels
4 cups baby spinach leaves

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Directions:
1. Drain and rinse soaked cashews. Place in a vitamix or high powered blender along with 1/2 cup of water and 1 cup of roasted corn kernels. Blend until smooth and set aside.
2. In a large pot, saute yellow onion in 2 Tbsp of grapeseed oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until soft. Stir in minced garlic and cook for another minute. Then toss in celery and carrots and saute for another 5-6 minutes, until everything is soft and has started to release moisture.
3. Add in thyme, smoked paprika and chilli powder combining with the carrot and celery mixture. Saute for another 1-2 minutes, while the herbs and spices become fragrant. Add in sea salt and pepper plus 2 cups of vegetable stock and stir to combine. Simmer this mixture for 8 minutes.
4. Then add in all the cashew cream you blended earlier, 2 more cups of vegetable stock and 1 1/2 cups of roasted corn kernels. Simmer on medium for 7-8 minutes, until a light bubbling occurs. Then fold in 4 cups of spinach leaves and simmer on low for another 20 minutes to allow the flavours to combine.

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3 Best Homemade Veggie Burger Recipes

Grilling season is upon us and just because you don’t eat meat, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a delicious, juicy burger!

Veggie burgers are wonderful for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores; they pack loads of fibre, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. In turn, they help with weight control, prevent inflammation and still deliver a sufficient amount of protein. You can get creative and play around with different flavours and seasonings, like with these three burgers below.

1. Crunchy Sunshine Burger

vegburg

Ingredients:
1 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup brown rice or quinoa (dry)
1 cup beet, grated
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped finely
1/4 tsp sea salt
Pinch of black pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a pot, combine ¾ cup of brown rice and 1 ½ cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover the pot and simmer for 25 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.
3. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and blend until a sticky mixture forms.
4. Shape the mixture into patties, place on a baking sheet linked with parchment paper and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
5. The burgers should be crunchy yet still moist and soft.

2. Oh My Chickpea Goodness Burger

burg

Ingredients:
1 can chickpeas (BPA free, if possible)
½ red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 small sweet potato
½ cup parsley
¼ cup chickpea flour
2 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp honey
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ lemon, squeezed

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Turn on a food processor; while it is running throw in the garlic clove so it is evenly chopped.
3. Add the sweet potato, parsley and onion to the food processor and pulse.
4. Open the can of chickpeas, rinse them and then add the chickpeas to the food processor. Pulse the mixture so some of the chickpeas are being mashed and some are retaining their shape.
5. Take the mixture out of the food processor and place in big bowl. Add the chickpea flour and seasoning to the bowl. Mix well so the entire chickpea mixture is seasoned.
6. Form into patties and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

3. Black Bean Rainbow Burger

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Ingredients:
1 can black beans (BPA Free, if possible)
½ cup quinoa, uncooked
¼ red onion, chopped
¼ cup corn
½ red pepper, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp  paprika
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp honey
½ lime, squeezed
1 tsp chili in adobo sauce (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Place ½ cup of quinoa and 1 ½ cups of water in a pot, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Place the red onion, red pepper and cilantro in a food processor or chop very finely.
4. Open a can of black beans, rinse and add to the food processor. Pulse until some of the mixture is mushy and some beans are still intact.
5. Once the quinoa is cooked add it to a big bowl. Pour in the mixture that’s in the food processor.
6. Add in all of the spices, honey and lime. Mix everything together well so it is all seasoned.
7. Shape into patties, place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Got Some Healthy Buns?

Most buns are made from white flour, which robs your body of nutrients and provides no real nutrition, and many of our bodies simply cannot tolerate whole-wheat based buns. In order to have your bun and eat it too, there are plenty of alternatives to amplify your burger and still maintain your health.

Gluten-Free Buns

A lot of people are sensitive to gluten, which is why the gluten-free craze is blowing up! Gluten is a protein found in certain grains, which gives it is a nice, fluffy texture. Although delicious, gluten can actually be the culprit of a lot of digestive and inflammatory issues. While I don’t necessarily believe everyone needs to remove gluten from their diet completely, it’s something you may want to limit and be conscious of when you’re eating it.

There are tons of gluten-free baked goods out there at health food stores and conventional grocery stores as well. Check the freezer section for gluten-free buns, but be sure to read the ingredients! There may be some additives you’re not familiar with such as xanthan gum. If the ingredient list gets too long or looks a bit too scientific, try searching for another brand. Alternatively, try experimenting in the kitchen with gluten-free flours and make your own!

Sprouted Buns

The act of sprouting grains is a really interesting process. Grains that are sprouted have higher protein and nutrient content; they have much higher levels of vitamins B and C than other options. Many people who are sensitive to certain flours can actually tolerate sprouted grains, and there are also great companies that make sprouted burger buns, sprouted wraps and sprouted bread . Check the grocery store freezer section or fresh bread section to the find some sprouted goodness.

Wraps & Bread

There are many different varieties of healthy wraps and bread out there; spelt, kamut, quinoa, gluten-free and sprouted. If you’re looking to have some carbs with your burger but don’t care if it’s a bun in particular, try slicing your burger and placing it in a wrap or using two pieces of bread. This way you’ll have a much heartier carbohydrate and still enjoy your delicious veggie burger too.

tamara-green-living-kitchen Tamara Green is co-founder of The Living Kitchen, and a Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Cook. She combines her knowledge of nutrition and passion for cooking good food to work with clients to create lasting changes in their lives.

Vegan Corn Zucchini Fritters with Jalapeno Cream

It’s National Corn Fritter Day! We love celebrating this tasty comfort food so we’ve come up with an easy vegan recipe with all the elements of a classic corn fritter. Plus, we whipped up a spicy and tangy jalapeno cream to dip them in. You can thank us later!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 12 fritters

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Ingredients:

Jalapeno Cream (makes 1 cup):
¾ cup cold-pressed olive oil
½ cup non-dairy milk
3 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp pickled jalapeno slices (5-6 slices)
1 garlic clove
¼ tsp ground mustard
¼ tsp sea salt

Corn Zucchini Fritters:
2 cups frozen corn, thawed and drained
1 ½ cups shredded zucchini
¼ cup finely minced shallot
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup fine corn meal
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground pepper
¼ cup non-dairy milk
4 Tbsp vegetable oil (for frying)

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Directions:
1. In a blender, add non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, ground mustard and sea salt. Blend on high while slowly adding the olive oil. Blend until thick and smooth. Then add pickled jalapenos and a garlic clove, and continue blending until they’re well combined into the sauce. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
2. Place shredded zucchini in a strainer and coat with ¼ tsp of sea salt. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then squeeze the excess water out of the zucchini shreds with your hands.
3. Place zucchini in a large mixing bowl with corn, minced shallot, all-purpose flour, corn meal, nutritional yeast, and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt, ground pepper, paprika and nutmeg. Stir to combine well.
4. Then stir in non-dairy milk and combine into a thick batter.
5. Heat a non-stick pan to medium heat with 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Use a scant ¼ cup of batter for each fritter and shape into a patty with your hands.
6. Place 2-3 fritters in the pan at a time and fry 1 ½ – 2 minutes per side, until golden brown on the outside. Add another 2 Tbsp of oil to the pan once you’ve fried about 6 fritters.

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Best Vegan Baked Potato Salad Ever

Potato salad is the perfect side dish in the summer. Here’s a vegan version that some say is the best they’ve ever had!

baked potato salad

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

Potatoes
1 ½ lbs small red potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt & ground pepper to taste

Dressing
½ cup vegan mayonnaise (store bought like Veganaise or Wild Wood)
½ cup sweet relish
1 tsp dijon mustard
½ tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp dill fronts (finely chopped)
1 cup celery (finely chopped)
1/4 cup red onion (finely chopped)

Toppings

1/4 cup Vegan Coconut Bacon
1 Tbsp snipped chives

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
2. Cut the small red potatoes in halves and toss in sea salt, ground pepper, and olive oil until evenly coated.
3. Bake for 45 minutes in a oven safe dish. Meanwhile prepare the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients until well combined.
4. Refrigerate until potatoes are fully cooled from baking.
5. Right before serving toss baked potatoes in the dressing.
6. Top with coconut vegan bacon and chives. Serve immediately!

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Easy and Nutritious Green Mango Smoothie

Here’s an easy smoothie that will take you to the tropics without having to leave the comfort of your kitchen. It’s got the powerful flavours of mango and banana combined with protein packed hemp hearts and nutrient rich spinach.
Green Mango Smoothie

Makes: 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen mango chunks
½ banana
1 cup baby spinach leaves
2 Tbsp hemp hearts
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 cup coconut water

Directions:

1. Blend all the ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.

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Chicken Curry Fried Rice Ready in Under 20

Chicken_Curry_Fried_Rice

My dad is one of those cooks who looks at an empty fridge, claps his hands and can make a meal from almost nothing. With habitual ease, he pulls from the fridge first, then moves to the cupboard, back to the fridge and then to the spice cabinet. The result is always a delicious meal bursting with bold flavours — my dad isn’t one for delicate tastes.

Chicken curry is his ol’ time classic. He rarely repeats any dish he makes, but his curry is one that we always asked for. I’ve taken the basic gist of my dad’s chicken curry and made it my own by turning it into a fried rice dish. Fried rice is something you throw together on a Sunday night when you want to clean out your fridge. I make a version of it almost every week. Also, it’s super easy to shovel into your mouth while sitting in front of the TV watching True Detective intensely.

This chicken curry fried rice is simple and very flavourful. I use coconut milk to get a really nice creamy texture. If you don’t want to buy a whole can — if you won’t end up using it for anything else — feel free to substitute the coconut milk with some whipping cream (35 percent). This recipe calls for lots of curry powder so make sure it’s a kind that you like! Curry powders are all different. Try to find a nice bright yellow one that is mild on the hot scale. Switch out the string beans for cauliflower or even potatoes! Whatever you got in the fridge will work!

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Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 18 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 red onion, diced finely
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1lb (454g) boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast, cut into 1/2” strips
4 to 5 tablespoons mild yellow curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
200g green string beans, cut into 1” pieces
3 large eggs
3 cups cooked basmati rice
2/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
fresh black pepper, to taste

chopped cilantro
plain yogurt
Sriracha, optional

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Directions:

1. Heat the sesame and canola oil over medium heat in a large wok or skillet.
2. Add the diced red onions and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions are translucent and have softened.
3. Stir in the garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for a minute or so until fragrant.
4. Add in the strips of chicken along with the curry powder and salt. Toss to combine.
5. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes until the chicken has cooked through make sure to toss every few minutes so the chicken cooks evenly.
6. Stir in the green beans and cook for about a minute.
7. Push the chicken and green beans to the outside of the wok to create a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the center of that well and scramble using a wood spoon.
8. Scramble for about 2 minutes until the eggs have cooked through. Try not to incorporate any of the chicken or green beans.
9. Once the eggs have been cooked, add the rice and coconut milk and mix everything all together. Be sure to thoroughly mix leaving no rice white! The rice should be a beautiful deep yellow.
10. Stir in the peas and continue cooking for a minute or two.
11. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and season with fresh black pepper.
12. Turn the heat off and spoon a good heap of fried rice into each serving dish.
13. Top with chopped cilantro, a good dollop of cooling yogurt and a drizzle of Sriracha. Enjoy!

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100x100_Danielle-Oron Danielle is a chef, bakery owner, and food blogger who thinks she’s Korean, but is actually Israeli. Also, Danielle does not eat like a lady.

Easy No-Bake Fruit and Nut Granola Bars

These simple and easy no-bake granola bars are guaranteed to win over every family member. Eat them as a snack, breakfast on the go, or after workouts. It’s best to make granola bars from scratch rather than opting for store-bought versions because then you know you’re only eating the good stuff!

nobake-fruit-nut-granolabar-recipe

Makes: 16 bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes (if using melted chocolate)

Ingredients:
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
½ cup raw walnuts
½ cup raw almonds
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
½ cup mixed dried fruits
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp  ground cinnamon
1 cup nut butter (almond, peanut, or sunflower)
2 Tbsp unsulphured molasses
1 Tbsp maple syrup
pinch sea salt

Optional Topping:
¼ cup (1.5 oz) dark dairy-free chocolate or vegan chocolate chips

Directions:
1. In a food processor, add walnuts and almonds, and pulse on low until they are roughly chopped.
2. Add rolled oats and continue running the food processor just until the oats are broken up.
3. Place oats, walnuts, and almonds into a large mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients. Stir until well combined.
4. Line a 9” x 9” baking pan with parchment paper and press the mixture into the pan, spreading out evenly to the edges with your hands.
5. If adding drizzled chocolate on top, melt dark chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Use a fork to drizzle the chocolate on top.
6. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting into individual bars. Store bars in the fridge in an airtight container.

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