I'll begin this entry by stating that curry is one of my absolute favorite foods. As I love it so much, I am also quite critical and picky when it comes to finding good curry. Before I show you how to make the tastiest eggplant curry you'll ever have, I'd like to teach you a few things about curry itself.

First off, let me just clarify that curry is not a spice, contrary to popular belief. There exists an herb called the curry leaf, though it is nothing at all like the yellow, processed powder that North Americans refer to as "curry." This blended curry spice is entirely of western origin, dating back to the 18th Century, presumably sold by Indian merchants to the British.

So what makes curry curry? The answer to that differs depending on who you're talking to. One thing all curries have in common: a complex blend of flavours and spices, that are often (but not always) enhanced with different types of chilli peppers. There are more varieties of curry than there are christmas cookies, and their ingredients differ by region, ethnicity, and cultural background. For example, a thai curry will often feature lemongrass, ginger and coconut, whereas an Indian curry will usually contain a mixture of turmeric, coriander and cumin.

The majority of the curries that I cook are Indian style, but are not necessarily traditional. A friend of mine, who is from India, taught me that an authentic curry from her region will make your ears burn and your eyes tear up, but will be so deliciously addictive that it's worth building up a spice tolerance for.  For months, I watched her make her curries, throwing handfuls of spices in, which seemed, at the time, to be tossed in at random, in abundant quantities. I later learned that she must have known exactly what she was doing though, because through lots of trial (and some error) I have discovered that blending the correct amount of spices is an art form. Certain spices, like fenugreek, can add wonderful complexity, but if overused, can leave you with a terribly bitter aftertaste. Others, like cinnamon, may get lost in the mix if you don't add enough.

Today's curry is a simple one, with a spice level that you can easily control. It's great for those who aren't too familiar with Indian food, and who want to try something different. Let me stress, especially if you've never made curry before, to follow these instructions exactly. Too many times, I've seen comments on recipe blogs from users who have "tested" out a recipe, having made so many alterations that the recipe isn't at all what it was meant to be, and then they complain that it didn't taste good. (Well, yeah, if you're making chocolate cookies, and you decide to replace the chocolate with kale, it's going to taste a little weird, geniuses!)  /endrant. As with all recipes, I suggest that you follow this exactly, and adjust to taste only at the end (with salt or spice.) Organizational note: I roasted my eggplant the day before to allow for a faster weeknight meal prep.

Now... the recipe you've all been waiting for...

The Best Ever Eggplant and Chickpea Curry
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients

1 large eggplant
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch salt

2 tbsp butter (or coconut oil, to keep it vegan!)
1 tbsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed with mortar and pestle
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp cumin powder
pinch turmeric
1 can chickpeas, drained
2 large handfuls fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup water (more if needed)
1 tbsp sambal oelek  (found in most major grocery stores in the International/Asian section)
salt, to taste

instructions

Roast your eggplant: Slice in half, lengthwise, and rub it all over with olive oil. Sprinkle the fleshy side with salt. Place flesh side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast at 400F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until skin begins to bubble and shrivel. Allow to cool enough to handle. Scoop flesh out, roughly chop, and reserve in a bowl for later.

In a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt your butter/coconut oil. Add the onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onion is golden in colour (about 10 minutes). Be careful not to burn the onion. When onion starts to become golden, add the coriander seed and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the rest of your ingredients except the cilantro and sambal olek. Stir. Cover and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring intermittently. (If you notice your curry looks too dry, add a bit more water, 1 tbsp at a time.) Remove lid and add cilantro and sambal olek. Stir and continue cooking until desired consistency is reached. Salt to taste. Serve over basmati rice, or with chapati bread.







It's the most wonderful time of the year... The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! This year, I opted for a simple cookie that could easily be transformed. Enter the Brown Sugar Cookie - made three ways!

One is filled with nutella, topped with cocoa. The other is filled with and rolled in sesame goodness. And finally, the simple pleasure of a brown sugar vanilla cookie, perfect on it's own with a hot cuppa tea.

The best part about these cookies is that they use ingredients that you likely have in the house. Brown sugar, butter, flour and eggs. The rest is up to you! You can get cute with them and toss in some non pareils for funfetti cookies. You can get festive and top them with crushed candy canes. You can even go exotic and mix in some candied ginger and cinnamon. Easy and quick, these are great to give as gifts, and, according to my three recipients, ship quite well!

I found the original recipe here and tweaked it just a bit. I added a table spoonful of molasses for some extra brown sugary goodness. Also, I made two alternate versions: one rolled in sesame seeds, and one filled with some nutella. To fill cookies: make a ball, press your thumb into the centre, pipe in nutella, pinch closed, flatten slightly with a spoon & bake!

Everything else is exactly as the original recipe states.

Until next year, happy cookiedays and merry #fbcookieswap all!



Is there anything prettier than a frittata? When done right, this easy meal makes for a stellar sunday brunch centrepiece. The awesome thing about these that the variation possibilities are endless. Veggies, meats, cheeses... Mix and match your favourite combo, arrange it in the dish, pour your egg mixture over it, bake, and voila! Frittata magic.

Some of my favourite variations:

Smoked gouda & figs
Olives, arugula & feta
Pears & brie
Bell peppers, cheddar & mushrooms
Cheddar & apple
Chard & chile

So go ahead, impress your guests & get your frittata on!

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Tomato Frittata
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
6 large eggs
1/4 cup cream (15% or higher)
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 log goat cheese, crumbled
salt, pepper & fresh thyme
oil or butter, for greasing

method
Whisk cornstarch into cream. Whisk eggs with cream mixture until frothy. Mix in goat cheese, spinach and spices. Pour into greased 9" or 10" shallow round baking dish. Arrange cherry tomatoes on top. Bake at 325F for about 25 minutes, until eggs are set and no longer runny. Serve hot.





Quick! You just found out that you have guests coming over and you haven't had time to cook up any appetizers. You know they're going to be hungry as soon as they walk in the door. What do you do? Simple. You make these stuffed dates, of course! These babies have been a lifesaver for me, time and again. So quick to throw together, and always a hit. It's a little sweet and savoury gourmet at your fingertips. Make a couple right now, just to see what all the hype is about. But, be warned. These beauties are highly addictive. I got the idea for these at a NYE gathering one year. The host had put out something very similar, using pine nuts instead. I happened to have pistachios at home when I decided to try it out. If you want to add a really interesting middle eastern twist, you can try adding a tiny drop of rosewater and a pinch of cardamom to the cheese. Note that rosewater isn't for everyone, though I think it works perfectly in this setting.

Stuffed Dates with Pistachios and Honey
makes 24

24 medjool dates, pits removed
1 tub old fashioned cream cheese (Liberté brand, if you're in Canada) or plain goat cheese
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
Honey, for garnish
Rosewater (optional)
Cardamom (optional)

Open up your dates on the long side, removing the pit and creating an opening to hold the cheese. (If using rosewater and cardamom, mix into cheese now!) Spread cheese inside and top with pistachios. Arrange on a platter and drizzle with honey.
(Seriously, seriously simple.)



Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have written some of the most delicious recipes that I have ever tried. The pair have a way of taking whole foods and transforming them into vibrant, flavourful dishes that absolutely never disappoint. For those of you who aren't familiar with the duo, they are the co-authors of the Ottolenghi and Jerusalem cookbooks. Ottolenghi has also published two excellent vegetarian books, Plenty, and Plenty More, collections of recipes from his vegetarian newspaper column over at the Guardian. Whenever I'm in need of inspiration, I flip one of these gorgeous books open, scan around, and stop at whatever catches my eye, or whatever suits the vegetables in my fridge. I am in no way affiliated with these authors, and this isn't a promotion. This is just a little fangirl blogging about her biggest inspirations!

This weekend, I was invited to a very meat-centric potluck dinner, so I felt it appropriate to provide a hearty vegetarian option for those of us who are slightly less carnivorous. I wanted to make something simple, but that had a complex flavour profile. Enter this colourful dish - stewed chickpeas with caramelized sweet potatoes. Sounds simple, but Oh. Baby. I want to eat this stuff all day, erry day. Now, note that you can probably make this vegan by subbing coconut oil for the butter, but really, if there's ever a time to use butter, that time is now. Replacing it would be, just... well, it would be just OK. It would kinda be like the difference between going to see a Stones cover band, or seeing the actual Rolling Stones. The butter is Mick Jagger. You just won't get the same satisfaction. (See what I did there? Ok, ok, I'll get on with it.)

This recipe is a variation of the recipe titled Chickpeas and Spinach with Honeyed Sweet Potato (Ottolenghi, 82.) In the spirit of respecting intellectual property, I always like to give credit to those recipe authors who have inspired me, so, thank you kindly, Ottolenghi & Tamimi. You made my potluck dish a big hit!

Stewed Chickpeas with Caramelized Sweet Potato
serves 3 to 4 people

ingredients
500g sweet potato, cubed
50g salted butter
4 tbsp honey
3 cups water

3 tbsp oil
1 small onion (or about 6 shallots), finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp corriander seeds
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 can (591ml) chopped, unseasoned tomatoes (no salt added is preferable)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp mango powder (found in most spice stores, Indian or Asian grocers, or bulk stores.)
(note: if you can't find mango powder, 1 tsp of lemon juice or zest will also work.)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups torn spinach (or baby spinach)
2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

cayenne pepper, to taste (use more if you like it spicy!)
salt, to taste

method
In a wide pot, bring water with potatoes, butter and honey to a boil. Lower heat to medium, and continue to cook until water is absorbed and butter & honey start to caramelize. Do not stir.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large frying pan. Add onions or shallots, and cook over medium heat, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and corriander seeds. Continue cooking until onions are brown and have reduced, about 3 more minutes. Add ketchup and stir, scraping any brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add canned tomatoes with their juice. Add ginger, cumin and mango powder. Stir well. When mixture starts to bubble, add chickpeas and spinach. Continue to cook until mixture starts to thicken. Add cilantro after about 10 minutes. Taste, and add salt as needed. Add cayenne , a little at a time, until you've reached your preferred level of heat. By this time, your potatoes should be ready, or almost there. Once they are, pour them into the pan, along with their buttery juices. Scrape as much of the browned butter into the pan as possible. Give it one nice, gentle stir.

Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro.











Last week, I posted about Brussels sprouts, the little green vegetables trying to shed their bad reputation. Today, I'll spotlight another miniature green friend, who often gets tossed under the rug (or fed to the dog.) Please, allow me to re-introduce you to the humble sweet green pea. Often cooked until mushy, overdone, brown, or, to the horror of many, straight out of the can (yuck!) peas were never a favourite of mine. Little did I realize that in another state, these little veggies could pack a flavourful punch. Some may even consider them gourmet (pea froth garnish, anyone?).
It wasn't until I attended a wedding this summer that I realized that green peas make a wonderful soup. Born and raised in Quebec, "pea soup," to me has always meant that of the yellow variety, with little chunks of ham and maple syrup. Not that I don't love that one - I do! It's part of our culture, a taste of our heritage. I just wasn't aware that there was another pea, hiding from the spotlight, that could create a wonderfully aromatic, complex, naturally creamy soup, almost entirely on it's own! 
And oh, that colour though!

Creamy Pea Soup with Roasted Chickpeas
an original recipe by allison sklar

soup ingredients
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp oil or butter
2 cups frozen green peas
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup water
salt & pepper, to taste

chickpea ingredients
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp sumac
2 tbsp oil

Roasted chickpeas: Preheat oven to 400F. Toss chickpeas with oil and spices. Lay on parchment lined baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, until crisp. 

Soup: Heat oil (or butter) in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cooking until translucent. Add water, parsley and peas. Turn up heat to high, bring to a boil. Transfer mixture to blender & blend until completely smooth. Serve hot, garnished with chickpeas. 







Brussels sprouts. Known only to some as "that food in movies that kids never eat," Brussels sprouts have gotten a bad rap over the years, possibly due to the fact that people have been cooking them the wrong way. However, there is a reason that they've been experiencing a resurgence - and you'll probably see them make an appearance a lot more often this Thanksgiving, Christmas & holiday season. These miniature cabbages of joy are sprouting up everywhere from upscale restos to food network kitchens. New age foodies have learned that when prepared and heated correctly, these little green powerhouses make for a tasty, tender, buttery dish. Now, what I'm about to say may shock you, so brace yourselves - YOU DON'T HAVE TO ADD BACON! I know, I know. Forget what all those other foodie sites & food network stars tell you. The secret to brussels sprouts that taste good ISN'T bacon. The secret is proper cooking time. To me, bacon is a cop-out. You're basically adding it to mask the flavour that you don't like. Thing is, if you make these little babies properly, they're so delicious on their own that you don't need the bacon at all. In fact, bacon would only distract from the natural tastiness. Before we get started, let me give you a few other pointers that'll help amp up your brussels sprouts game in the future.

3 Things not to do with brussels sprouts:
1. Do not boil the living daylights out of them.
2. Do not boil the living daylights out of them.
3. Do not boil the living daylights out of them.

Great! Now that we've got that covered, remember: do not boil your brussels sprouts. This is a surefire way to make sure you'll never eat them again. They become soggy, bitter, and truly unpalatable.

3 Things you should do with brussels sprouts:
1. Leave whole & steam them.
2. Finely chop & pan-fry them.
3. Half, glaze & roast them.

Today, I'm going to show you how to glaze and roast the tastiest brussels sprouts you've ever had.
So heat up your ovens, and get your sprout show on!

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Honey Glaze
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
2 cups brussels sprouts, chopped in half, woody bottoms removed
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together honey and oil until homogenous. (If you're having trouble stirring, it helps to heat the honey slightly in the microwave.) Add salt, pepper & cayenne. Toss brussels sprouts to coat. Transfer to greased baking dish (8"square should do the trick!). Roast in preheated oven at 400F for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring half way through. They are ready when golden and very tender.

Ah, pasta dumplings. One of life's simplest pleasures! I saw this gnudi recipe a while back in Chatelaine magazine, and I (in my old-school ways) marked it with a post-it for later. I stumbled upon it again recently, and I can't believe I've waited so long to make these. You really don't need to be an expert chef to whip up your very own batch at home, impressing your entire household along the way. The recipe comes together quickly, making it a perfect weeknight meal. What's more, their neutral flavour lends beautifully to a variety of sauces, toppings, & even soups. While the boy ate his portion topped with some osso buco, I enjoyed mine on their own, tossed with a bit of crumbled goat cheese. The cheese melts and sticks nicely, creating a beautiful burst of flavour in every bite!

Sweet Potato Gnudi
inspired by Chatelaine magazine

400g sweet potato (about 1 medium)
200g potato (about 1 small)
3-4 tbsp oil, as needed
3 egg yolks
1 cup flour
pinch sea salt

Prick potatoes with a fork all over and microwave whole potatoes until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes each. (Or, if you prefer, cut into cubes, boil until very tender, and drain.) Let cool about 10 minutes. Cut in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Mash by hand, adding oil to make them extra smooth. Mash in egg yolks and salt. Add flour, a bit at a time, until fully incorporated.

Boil a large pot of water. Fill a pastry bag, or a ziplock bag, with some of the dough. Cut off the tip. Holding your bag over the water, pipe out into 1-inch sections, cutting with kitchen scissors and dropping into pot. Gnudi are ready when they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon. Serve warm.



Dearest readers,

I know, I know, I've been gone for much too long. Sorry for the hiatus. I've been busy travelling, eating, baking and new-job-a-workin'. You can catch up with all of that thanks to the wonderful world of Instagram, where you can see my travel food posts (here!) and see my baking (here!)
Hear, hear, it is now time for a brand new recipe. I never grew up eating pumpkin pie, so, in all honesty, I'm not quite sure what defines a "good" pumpkin pie to most North Americans. What I can tell you though, is that THIS pie is the bees knees. It's the creamiest, fluffiest, pie-i-est pies I've ever made, and I just had to share it with you all. And, it's perfectly in season, perfectly in time for (Canadian) Thanksgiving, and any other fall-themed dinners or dinner parties you may be attending. It comes together quickly, and disappears even faster. I wish I had a photo of the actual sliced open pie, but alas, no time, as it was instantly gobbled up.

Best Pumpkin Cream Pie Ever
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients

pie filling:
1 brick (250g) cream cheese - room temp
1/4 cup butter (approx 56g) - room temp
250g (approx 1 cup) puréed pumpkin*
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
pinch salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove
1/4 tsp allspice

crust:
1 sleeve of Maria Milk Cookies (Social Tea should work if you can't find Maria!)
5 tsp brown sugar
1/4 cup (56g) butter

Line the bottom of a 9" springform pan with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse the Maria Cookies, 5tbsp brown sugar and 1/4 cup butter until crumbly. Press mixture into bottom of pan, and up the sides to form a shell.

In stand mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth, intermittently scraping down the sides.
Add pumpkin, egg yolks, brown sugar and sour cream. Continue beating until fully incorporated. Add spices, beat for another 30 seconds.

Pour pie filling into crust. Bake at 325F for 1 hour. Let cool at room temp, then transfer to fridge and cool for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Tip: try not to eat it all in one serving. Or do. It's basically happiness on a plate.

*I use E.D. Smith canned pumpkin (NOT the pie filling, just the pure pumpkin.) I absolutely love it. I don't consider it "cheating" at all. I've done the whole "real" pumpkin thing before, and it's totally not worth the time, the mess or the hassle.

Fall is just around the corner - which means it's time for pumpkin EVERYTHING! Last year, I showed you how to make your very own pumpkin spice latté, and some homemade pumpkin alfredo pasta. This year, pumpkin season kicks off with a super easy weeknight meal that requires very little prep and comes together in less than 15 minutes. Happy *almost* autumn!

Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Ingredients
2 tbsp butter
3 crushed garlic cloves
1/4 cup milk (or cream, for a richer sauce)
1 brick cream cheese (250g) cut into cubes
3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
pinch salt, black pepper, and clove, to taste


Method
Prepare your favourite pasta according to directions. (I used a herb-speckled pasta, but you can use anything you desire!) Drain, reserving some of the water for the sauce. Meanwhile, melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add milk. Add cheese, a little at a time, until melted. Add pumpkin. Mix together until homogenous. Continue stirring for about one minute, until mixture comes together and is hot. If mixture is too thick, add a few tbsp of cooking water until desired consistency is reached. Add salt, pepper and clove. Toss with pasta. Serve warm.



One of my favourite late summer meals is a large, hearty chopped salad. Take the time to chop properly - a little prep goes a long way! I make many variations of this, usually just using whatever is in the fridge, and then adding a legume (chickpeas or lentils are my go-to, but any kind of bean or pulse will work nicely!)

Super refreshing, super tasty, and super pretty to boot! This version was made using a handful of lebanese cucumbers, yellow cherry tomatoes, a mix of red, yellow and orange peppers, an avocado, and a cup of cooked lentils.

Toss it all with a couple of tsp of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, sprinkle with a teensy bit of salt, some fresh cilantro, and a GENEROUS amount of sumac. Sumac is an incredible citrusy seasoning that I just can't get enough of!

Let it sit for a little before serving so it can soak up all of the flavour. Voila, light and refreshing, yet surprisingly satisfying. Oh, and it's naturally vegan! Enjoy!

So I realize that this is the second time in a row where I devote an entire post to a whole-roasted vegetable. But, trust me, this is SO worth it. Have you ever whole roasted a cauliflower? If you haven't, you pretty much have to do it. Like, right now. It's so easy, so tasty... and SO pretty! I mean, look at this! Use a pre-blended spice mix and this meal comes together in literally ONE minute. Is that even possible? Yes. Yes it is.

Please note that the nutritional yeast is a must! There's really nothing like it. If you haven't yet used nooch, now's the time to start. Not only does it make the texture of the marinade absolutely perfect, but it also creates this whole new dimension of flavour - a nice umami taste that you simply can't get by using anything else.

Alright, are you ready to rock your socks off?
Let's go! Roast that cauliflower and impress the world! Oh, and you don't even have to mention that it's vegan. It's just a nice little added bonus!

Vegan Whole Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
1 large cauliflower
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 tbsp tandoori masala spice mix (or garam masala + 1 tsp garlic powder + 1/2 tsp lemon juice)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 to 2 tbsp water (more or less, adjust for consistency!)

method
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking tray with parchment paper.
Trim bottom of cauliflower so it rests upright on baking sheet.
Mix together nutritional yeast, tandoori seasoning, oil and water. Whisk until it forms a smooth paste. Add more water if needed, a few drops at a time, careful not to add too much.
Rub paste all over cauliflower, covering it completely.
Roast for 45 minutes, until tender. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing.
Garnish with torn fresh cilantro.

Stop what you're doing right now, and go roast an onion. No, seriously. Everyone needs this in their lives.

You see, I have an allergy to raw onions, and partially cooked ones don't usually do too well with me either. Then today, seemingly out of nowhere, an idea came to me - why don't I roast an onion for an hour, like I would a potato, or a beet? Lo and behold.. the birth of pure DELICIOUSNESS.

I roasted this tester for about an hour and 15 mins at 375°F, drizzled with some olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary. The result? An onion so tender, so aromatic, so irresistible. Keep the onion's skin on while roasting, and it'll slide right out when it's done, giving you this sweet, sweet magic. Eat it with a knife and fork straight out of the oven, put it into a burrito, cut it up and top your sandwiches & salads, or add it to any other dish in need of some sweet onion lovin'! Just go ahead and make it now, thank me later!


I'd like to introduce to you a humble little superfood that may already be hiding in your pantry. It's a little seed that is often mistaken as a grain, and goes by a few different names. Soba. Kasha. Groats. Yes, as you may have already guessed, I'm talking about buckwheat.

I call it a superfood, as it's got quite an impressive nutritional profile. Low glycemic, high in protein, rich in amino acids, naturally gluten-free, this little seed is super versatile and can easily be prepared in many different ways. With a slightly nutty flavour that is enhanced when roasted, you can grind it into a flour and incorporate it into your desserts. You can sprinkle the raw groats over ice cream for a delicious little crunch. You can enjoy buckwheat in smoothies, as a breakfast cereal, as noodles (known as soba), or, my personal favourite, as a stack of delicious pancakes. Even Oprah praises buckwheat for it's unique health-promoting properties. 

Buckwheat is the new quinoa. 
(People just don't know it yet.)

I now present to you easy-peasy flourless buckwheat pancakes, made with few ingredients and a whole lot of love. I served them with a scoop of chai-chia pudding for an added protein and flavour boost, and garnished with some fieldberries for a little pop of colour. I used coconut oil in the pan (a little goes a long way), which added a touch of extra sweetness. All in all, these babies were absolutely delish, and the two of us ate every last bite!


Gluten-Free, Flourless, High Protein
Buckwheat Pancakes
an original recipe by allison sklar

Ingredients
3/4 cup buckwheat groats
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch fine sea salt
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp agave or real maple syrup
1 tbsp coconut oil

Method
In a high powered blender, food processor, or coffee grinder, grind groats into a fine flour.
Mix flour with baking powder & salt. Whisk in buttermilk, syrup & egg. Mixture will be bubbly!

Heat oil over medium heat in large frying pan.

Scoop about 2 tbsp of batter at a time into the pan, more or less depending on the size of the pancakes that you prefer. Flip when pancake starts to bubble - these cook quickly, so do not leave them unattended! You may have to lower the heat to med-low after a couple of batches.

Serve with fruit, maple syrup & chia pudding.

Find my chia pudding recipe here!

I can't believe that it's been over two months since my last post! The thing is, I haven't really made too many recipes that I deemed blog-worthy as of late. And of course, I only want to share the BEST. And the easiest. And the tastiest. Well, last night's easy-peasy budget-friendly dinner had my tastebuds screaming for more. So, naturally, when something ridiculously tasty is also ridiculously simple, I know that it is time to blog!

I used a technique that I'd never tried before - poaching eggs on top of a bed of greens. No water needed here - these eggs were cooked by the magic of steam.

Breakfast For Dinner
a.k.a Kale & Eggs with Chile
original recipe by allison sklar

what you'll need (serves 2)

3 chopped fresh garlic scapes (3 garlic cloves would work just as well!)
1 chopped green pepper
1 head of kale (leaves only!)
1 generous handful of spinach.
4 eggs 
4 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp La Bombetta (or other red chile paste)
2 tsp Montreal Steak Spice (or more, to taste.)

method Sautée garlic & butter over medium. When it starts to sizzle & wilt, add the green pepper. Move it all around with spatula and continue cooking until pepper begins to soften. Now, add all of the greens - it will look like it's going to overflow in your pan, but that's good - it'll wilt down quickly. Sprinkle with Montreal Steak Spice (I buy the salt-free kind) and add a tsp of your favourite red chili paste (I used La Bombetta). Cook, moving around with spatula, until greens are wilted, about 4 minutes. Crack eggs, one by one on top of greens mixture. Cover the pan (I don't own a pan cover, so I used a large pizza tray - fits perfectly!) turn heat to the lowest setting, and sit for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until whites are set and yolks are still a lil soft. Serve immediately, on it's own, or with toast!






When a "Let's empty out the fridge and cook all the things," dish becomes a "Let's definitely make this again, like, all the time," kind of meal, I know it's time to blog.

This is one of those amazingly delicious get-your-omnivore-friends-to-love-vegan-food recipes. Seriously, this stuff tastes like love and comfort. A hearty, healthy, nutritional powerhouse, stuffed into a cute little potato package! You don't even have to mention to anyone that it's vegan, because really, they don't even need to know that no animals were harmed in the making of this meal. They don't even need to know that this is good for them. They don't even need to know that it contains complete protein and is full of vitamins. Nope, they just need to eat it. And then, when they're all done, you can casually fill them in. Oh, what's that? You loved it? You want more? You can't get over how creamy the sauce was? Yeah. Oh, bee tee dubs, it was vegan and naturally gluten-free!

And now, for the love of sweet potatoes everywhere, I present to you my 100th recipe!

Vegan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Quinoa & Swiss Chard
an original vegan recipe by allison sklar 

ingredients
2 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked to package directions
1 handful of chopped greens (I used swiss chard)
1 handful of chopped brussels sprouts (or cabbage)
4-5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of your favourite mixed all-purpose seasoning. (I like to use a Jamaican jerk seasoning because it's tasty, but any spice mix that you have on hand will work!) 

Quick spicy vegan mayo: 2 tbsp Vegenaise Original + 1 tsp Sriracha

method
Roast your potatoes, wrapped in foil, in the oven for about 45 mins at 400F. When they're ready, take them out, cut them in half and scoop out as much flesh as you can, trying not to break the skin. Sautée the greens and cabbage in some oil, once they are bright in colour, add in your quinoa and stir. Add your chopped potato. Add your spices. Scoop it all back into your potato. If they need to be re-warmed (mine did, because I made them in advance!) put them back in the oven at 350 for about 15 mins. Serve hot, drizzled with spicy vegan mayo.

I got 99 posts, but a meat sauce ain't one! (Well, until now!)

You guys! This is my 99th post! Are you as excited as I am? Well, you should be. Because this is by far the best of the best. I mean, this is some real stick-to-your-ribs, blow-your-socks-off, even-ravenous-carnivores-will-love-it saucy sauce. Even my boyfriend, the lover of all things meat, declared this sauce to be "so meaty!"

Do you need any more reasons to make this right now? Really? Alright. Here are 10 reasons you should make this sauce: It's hearty. It's tasty. It's spicy. It's easy. It's healthy. It's vegan. Low sodium. Soy-free. Gluten-free. No added sugar. And, for all of those worried about protein intake, it's an excellent source of the good stuff!

Serious winning all around.



One of my favourite things about this sauce is how quick and easy the process is. Chop up your ingredients, toss 'em into your slow cooker, set it, and forget it! Let your kitchen, and your house, smell like you've been slaving over the stove all day (when really, you've just been doing other important things, like catching up on some Netflix.)

Ok, ok. I'll spare you more blab and just get right to the recipe - so that you can get right to it and cook!

Hearty Vegan Slow Cooked "Meat" Sauce
with lentils, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes
a.k.a AWESOME SAUCE
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
1 medium red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup brown or green lentils (dried)
1 large can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with liquid
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped pitted mammoth green olives
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small green chile peppers (or more, if you like a spicy sauce!)
1 tbsp Jamaican jerk seasoning mix (or a mix 1/2 tbsp paprika (not smoked), and 1/2 tbsp herbes de province)

method
Mix all ingredients together in slow cooker. Set on high for 3 hours. Remove lid, stir. If you notice it is starting to become too dry, add a few tbsp of water until desired consistency is reached. Return lid to pot and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 hours. Lentils will be tender and sauce will darken in colour.

Ways to serve it
  • On top of pasta
  • Mixed in with rice
  • On bread (as bruschetta)
  • With a spoon

A taste of the CaribBEAN. (Yes. I am punny.)

Being vegetarian often encourages me to explore new flavours, new textures, and new colour combinations. I'm inspired by exotic dishes, and I love to try new things. If I see a vegetable, a grain, a bean or a fruit that I've never tasted, I'm likely to bring it home and experiment. The same goes for interesting, out-of-the-ordinary recipes. For those of you with a limited food-comfort zone, I encourage you to step outside of the box for a few moments and open up your palates to this amazing dessert. The flavours sound unusual, but that is exactly what drew me to it.

My interest in this dish came earlier this week, when a challenge was posted in one of the Facebook groups that I belong to. The moderator suggested that during the month of March, members should each cook some type of Caribbean style food, and should share pictures and recipes with the group. As the week unfolded, I watched as members shared photos of some really interesting creations, from drinks to starters to mains. That's when I decided to hop on board the bandwagon and make something of my own.



Being a pastry chef, I immediately began researching desserts. Because I mean, what's a meal without a proper dessert, amirite? I stumbled upon a site where someone listed their ten favourite Caribbean treats, Habichuelas Con Dulce being one of them. "Sweet beans?" I thought. Sweet! Beans!

I just happened to have some cooked kidney beans leftover from earlier this week, as well as some left over coconut milk in the fridge. Perfect! A way to try something new and use up my scraps. So, let's get onto it, shall we? Oh, for the record, the original recipes that I searched up all call for condensed milk, or evaporated milk mixed with coconut milk. I decided instead to use only the coconut milk, making this recipe completely vegan, and completely delicious.

Habichuelas Con Dulce
an original vegan recipe by allison sklar. inspired by El Mejornido.

ingredients 
1 1/2 cups cooked (or canned, rinsed) red kidney beans
1 cup sweet potato, peeled and chopped (about 1 medium sweet potato)
3 cups water
1 tsp cinnamon or 1 small cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
3 cloves (or 1/4 tsp ground)
250 ml full fat coconut milk
2 tsp coconut oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup raisins

method
Bring water with cinnamon stick, cloves and anise to a boil.
Add sweet potato, cooking 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.
Remove cinnamon stick, cloves and anise. (Very important!!!)
Transfer liquid and potatoes to blender, add beans. (Keep saucepan aside)
Purée mixture until completely smooth.
In saucepan, add raisins, coconut oil, coconut milk and sugar. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, whisking frequently. Slowly incorporate bean and potato mixture into milk. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is homogenous and raisins are plump.

Serve with shredded coconut and bananas if desired.
Enjoy hot or cold!

Here's a great, super fast, super easy vegan meal packed with flavour, packed with protein, packed with nutrients, and oh-so-green! I found some beautiful asparagus this week at my local grocer (nice, thin stalks & bright green in colour, which is what you should look for when choosing asparagus!) Inspired by Ottolenghi's newest book, Plenty More, and whatever else I had on hand, I came up with this. This salad is on the hearty side, which means that you can enjoy it on it's own, or as a stellar side dish. If you don't have all the ingredients on hand, don't worry! I've put some substitution ideas in parentheses just for you.

Asparagus, Fava Bean & Snap Pea Salad 
inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More 

ingredients
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off, roughly chopped
2 cups snap peas, roughly chopped
1 cup cooked, frozen, or canned fava beans (edamame works well, too!)
1 medium avocado
1 handful chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley if you prefer!)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp tahini (or dijon mustard)
1 tsp agave (or honey)
1 tsp harissa paste (or sriracha)
1 tsp ground corriander seed
pinch of chilli flakes
cracked black pepper
sea salt

Blanch asparagus, beans and snap peas in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and place into colander. Run under cold water to cool. Place into large salad bowl. Top with chopped avocado and cilantro. Whisk dressing ingredients together. Toss to coat.

I proudly present to you my latest creation obsession, Spiced Pepita Cake! Now, you may be wondering, "Pepita cake? Why would I want that?" Trust me, you want this. Just imagine ooey gooey chocolate that melts in your mouth with every bite. Now, imagine that chocolate wrapped in fluffy cake that's sweet and salty and the slightest bit savoury. I'm telling you, you want this. 

Not quite sold? Let me ask you a few questions. 

1. Do you like cake?
2. Do you like chocolate?
3. Do you like easy recipes?
4. Do you like things that are delicious?

If you've answered yes to any of the above,  you want this.



This recipe is a heavily adapted version of chef Rick Bayless' Mexican Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Seed Cake. While Rick uses Mexican chocolate, I used dark baking chocolate and I added some of my own spices into the batter. I also subbed out the butter for Earth Balance Spread, and I added in some sunflower seeds to the mix. Now, without further adieu... The one, the only...

Spiced Pepita Cake with Chocolate
makes one 8" cake, recipe adapted from Food and Wine

ingredients
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
3/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds
250ml Earth Balance Spread (or butter)
3 eggs
1 tbsp tequila
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate 
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground anise (optional)
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper 
pinch black pepper
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter & flour an 8" round cake pan. (I also like to put a parchment circle at the bottom of mine!) Sprinkle 1/4 cup of seeds + 2 tbsp of sugar directly into pan. In food processor (Robot Coupe), pulse the remaining seeds with sugar until sandy. Add eggs, shortening, tequila and pulse until homogenous. Add dark chocolate and pulse until incorporated. Add all dry ingredients and pulse again slowly, but do not overmix! Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until golden and cake tester (toothpick) inserted in centre comes out clean. 

Once cake is slightly cooled, invert to serve. 
Dust with powdered sugar and more cinnamon if desired. 







Fun fact: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo is a grammatically correct sentence in the English language. Wait! Before you go and fact-check that, make some of this deliciousness. This recipe is my vegetarian version of buffalo wings. You thought it couldn't be done? Well it can! And it's healthy. And it's delicious. And it's perfect. 

Vegetarians coming to your Superbowl party? PERFECT. 
Vegetarian yourself? PERFECT. 
Like spicy delicious meals? PERFECT. 

Everything about this meal is perfect. Even my super carnivorous boyfriend said, "you HAVE to make this again." Win all around! Also, it really doesn't take long to prepare, which is awesome if, you know, you're super hungry. Seriously, this meal hits the spot. A little spicy, a little creamy, a little sweet, a whole lot of flavour! 

Pairs well with cold beer and good company.

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Buffalo Tofu with Mushrooms
an original recipe by allison sklar
time needed: 15 to 20 minutes, plus marinating. 
serves 2. 

ingredients
1/2 package firm tofu, cut into strips (or 3cm cubes)
1 cup whole button mushrooms, or sliced white mushrooms
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Franks Red Hot Original
1 tsp white vinegar

1/4 cup mayonnaise**
1/4 cup plain yogourt**
1 tbsp blue cheese crumbles
pinch salt
1 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp soy milk
1 tsp granulated sugar 
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce 
generous amount cracked black pepper
dash hot sauce

2 cups mixed greens (radicchio, arugula, baby kale, spinach)
1/4 cup herbed goat cheese, crumbled

**VEGAN OPTION: Replace may & yogurt with Vegenaise Original, or another vegan mayo & omit cheese. 

how to do it
Marinate tofu for a few hours or overnight in a ziplock bag, air sealed, with ketchup, vinegar and Franks. Mix all dressing ingredients together and set aside. 

Heat a few tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop tofu into pan with juices. Pan fry about 5 minutes,  then add mushrooms. Continue to cook, turning tofu occasionally, until golden on all sides, about 15 minutes. Do not leave unattended. 

Arrange mixed greens in bowls, drizzle with half of the dressing. Place tofu mixture on top. Top with remaining dressing and cheese crumbles. Eat hot or cold.  Enjoy!

Alright, so I have a confession to make. This dish actually started out as an italian-style meatless meatball dish. It was supposed to be covered in tomato sauce and smothered in cheese and served on top of a plate of spaghetti. But, with an ice storm a brewin' outside, I did not feel safe venturing out to get the handful of ingredients that I was missing. So, I decided to just make a few changes and use whatever I had on hand. Basil became cilantro. Beans became chickpeas. And then, somewhere along substitution road, my meatless meatballs in tomato sauce became meatless falafel in yogourt sauce. Let me tell you, whatever you want to call them, these little babies are 100% pure deliciousness.
  

Just a few things to note before you go off and make this. You MUST roast the eggplant the whole way through. No if's and's or but's, the roasted eggplant has a flavour and texture that is crucial to the texture of the final product.  Also, the chickpeas are what give it that distinct falafel taste, so if you decide to sub them for something else, you're going to have a very different little ball! Oh, and be sure to use greek yogourt (I prefer to use 2% as it's creamy but still low in fat, but you can use any % that you like.) Vegan? No fret! Omit the yogourt sauce and replace it with some red hot sauce instead. Alright, let's get ballin'!


Roasted Eggplant Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Sauce
An original recipe by Allison Sklar. Inspired by Meatless Meatballs, Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2015.

ingredients
(for the vegan falafel)

1 large eggplant, roasted
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chickpeas (rinsed & drained)
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup soy or nut milk
2 tbsp ground chia or flax seeds
1 tsp chili flakes
pinch salt & pepper

(for the yogurt sauce)
1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable juice
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp harissa paste 
handful chopped fresh cilantro

Begin by roasting your eggplant. Preheat oven to 375F. Place whole eggplant on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Prick eggplant with fork all over. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, or until it looks wilted on the outside and is soft enough to slice easily with a knife. Let eggplant cool, about 15 to 20 minutes, before using. 

Meanwhile, prepare the broth for the yogurt sauce. In a small saucepan, combine spices and harissa paste. Toast on medium low heat until fragrant (2 to 4 minutes), moving it all around with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add vegetable juice & cilantro and whisk. Continue whisking intermittently on low heat until mixture reduces, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. (You may transfer to fridge once it's cool enough!)

While the mixture is cooling, prepare your "chia egg." (This is your binding agent!) Combine milk with chia seeds and let sit for about 10 minutes, until mixture is slightly gelatinous. 

Now, it's time to make the falafel! Mash chickpeas very well with a fork. Mix together with breadcrumbs, cilantro and garlic. Once the eggplant is roasted and cooled, scoop out the inside, discarding the skin. Mash as well as you can, and incorporate it into the breadcrumb mixture. Add in the chia egg, and use your hands to bring it all together. 

Roll into balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden on the outside. 

Combine cooled broth with yogourt, mixing well. 

Serve hot falafel with cool yogourt sauce. Use more fresh cilantro to garnish if desired. 

NOTE: Short on time? No fret! Here are a couple of suggestions...
You can roast the eggplant the day before. 
You can skip the broth part of the yogurt sauce if you want to, and instead, just mix yogourt with a couple of tsp of harissa or sriracha! Instant spicy yogurt!