Living in Montreal is pretty awesome for a multitude of reasons. Food wise, we have more restaurants than we can possibly ever eat at, and you can easily find authentic tasting cuisine from nearly every country in the world. We have an incredible selection of grocers, small and large, and it's pretty easy to find nearly any special ingredient that you're looking for. 

The one thing that we don't have? Trader Joe's. I love everything about Trader Joe's, and I'll take any opportunity I can get to cross the border just to have a taste of their delicious garlic na'an dipped in cowboy caviar. The thing is, I don't often have this opportunity, so when I recently ran out, I knew I would have to either a) live without it, or b) make my own. Obviously, I went with option B. And let me tell you, as much as I love my TJ's, now that I've made this, I may not need to make as many trips down south as I used to.

Tomatillo Cowboy Caviar (Salsa Verde)
an original recipe by allison sklar 

1 lb tomatillos, husks removed, diced
2 medium onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup corn kernels (canned, or cooked)
1 cup black beans (cooked)
2 tsp cumin seed
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 diced jalapeno pepper (more if you like it spicy)
1 tsp salt

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 375F.
In a large mixng bowl, combine tomatillos, onions, garlic, corn, black beans, cumin seed & oil.
Spread mixture onto baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Transfer about half of the mixture into a food processor or blender.
Add water, vinegar, cilantro, jalapeno & salt to blender.
Pulse until roughly chopped.
Transfer mixture, along with reserved half, to a large saucepan.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmering for about 45 minutes, until most of the liquid has reduced and sauce thickens.
Transfer to jar with airtight lid.
Allow to cool & refrigerate.
Best served cold.

Crêpes are one of those foods that I used to think of as 'special occasion food.' I did not grow up eating them, and knew them only from breakfast restaurants, and a few scattered crêperies around the city. They always seemed a little fancy to me, so I shied away from as I thought that they were too complicated or labour-intensive. Boy, was I wrong! This particularly delicious recipe has a batter that is mixed in the blender - just toss your ingredients in and blitz! Couldn't be simpler. Using a 6 inch non-stick pan ensures that each crêpe is the same size and shape - which is great for fancy stacks, crêpe cakes, or perfectionists! These crêpes are so versatile that we found ourselves trying different topping combinations a few nights in a row, having a great excuse to eat breakfast for dinner multiple times. Savoury or sweet, these thin French style pancakes are my new go-to brunch food. The best part? They can be made in advance and frozen - for up to a year! I know this from experience, as we saved some from our wedding, and they were equally as delicious on our 1st anniversary.

French Style Crêpes
thin pancakes - ideal for crêpe cakes 

Note: Make dairy-free crêpes by replacing milk with coconut milk, and butter with coconut oil


2 1/4 cups milk, warmed to 110F
2 cups ap flour
6 eggs
6 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla*

approx. 1/4 cup oil, for cooking


NOTES: You can make these in advance and re-warm in the oven at your convenience.
If making a large batch, pre-heat oven to 175F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Place all ingredients, except oil, into blender and pulse until completely smooth.
Heat oil in round flat-surfaced skillet or frying pan, ideally the same size as you would like your crêpes to be. I like to use a 6'' pan.
Pour about 3 tbsp. of batter into pan (or, just enough so that the pan is coated.)
Allow to cook for 2 minutes before flipping over.
Remove from pan, and place on parchment lined sheet in a 175F oven until ready to serve.

*Note: Omit the vanilla and reduce sugar to 1/8 cup if you would like to use these in savoury applications.

The end of August is a bittersweet time. While the long, lazy days of summer are quickly getting shorter, the crisp inviting smell of autumn will soon be in the air. It is arguably the best season for fresh local produce, as the farmers' market becomes (an even greater) feast for the senses. Wild mushrooms are in abundance in Québec, and the varieties are endless. I love to mix and match varieties - experimenting with tastes and textures, adding mushrooms to everything from risottos to flatbreads to stir-fries. Flipping through an old issue of one of my favourite magazines, I was inspired to make this incredibly umami mushroom pâté. I grew up eating pâté and mustard sandwiches for lunch, but when transitioning to vegetarianism over 15 years ago, there weren't many options to replace it. Today, an abundance of veggie pâtés are on the market - but trust when I say that there is still nothing quite like this recipe. The flavours are intense and complex while remaining balanced. The touch of miso combined with the hint of tamari brings the umami experience to a whole new level. The best part is that it comes together really quickly, and stores well in the fridge for about 5 days - though, I doubt it'll last that long. It's THAT good.

Vegan Mushroom Pâté
recipe adapted from Coup de Pouce Magazine, December 2017

2 tbsp. olive or grapeseed oil
4 small shallots, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
125g shitake mushrooms, chopped
225g cremini mushrooms, chopped
125g oyster mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp. miso paste
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. tamari sauce
3 tbsp. fresh thyme
cracked black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, mix vinegar with miso & 2 tbsp. water. Break the miso up into smaller bits. 
Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium.
Add shallots and cook until translucent.
Add all mushrooms and garlic. Continue cooking about 5 to 8 minutes, until mushrooms begin to soften and shrink.
Add the vinegar-miso mixture to the pan and continue cooking about 3 more minutes.
Remove from heat.
Add thyme & black pepper.
Transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse a few times. I prefer it to have a a rougher texture, but feel free to make it into a purée. Allow to cool before serving.
Keeps well in a mason jar in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. It is normal that some water will separate from the mixture. Stir well before serving.

There is a little Indian restaurant in the area where I grew up that serves one of the tastiest appetizers I've ever eaten. The dish is called Panipuri, and it's a common street food found in many regions of India. It consists of hollow puffs of crisp dough, filled with delicious chaat, served alongside chutney and tamarind water. Ever since my husband introduced me to this savoury snack, I've ordered it in various restaurants. Each chef has their own take on it, with spices and ingredient choices likely dependant on the region of India that they are from. Sometimes, the puffs are broken into pieces and mixed with the chaat then swirled with herbed yogurt. The chaat itself generally consists of diced potato, onion, and heaps of cilantro, tossed with various spices and a variety of other vegetables, nuts or legumes. 

And then, something magical happened. I took a book out of the library, solely based on how pretty the photos were. Then, I bought myself a copy, because I literally want to try every single recipe in it. One of those recipes is called Bhel Puri, a type of chaat that is mixed with puffed rice. My love of all things chaat and puri made me certain that I needed to try this recipe as soon as possible. I decided to give it my own spin by adding a few extras that I had on hand - and holy moly. You have to understand, this isn't just a salad. It's an experience. 

Need a great way to use up all of those garden cucumbers popping up right about now? Maybe you have a few too many cherry tomatoes and need them to be tossed into something tasty. Perhaps you don't even garden but you want to make a refreshing no-cook summer meal to beat the heat., or to impress at a friend's BBQ. Whatever your reason, this medley of colours and flavours is your new go-to. 

Before we get onto the recipe, just a little FYI, the book is called 'Good Veg,' and you can find it here! As always, if you place an order through any of my Amazon links, you are helping to support my blog at no extra cost to you!

Bhel Puri (Chaat)
with Tamarind Water & Mint Yogurt
adapted from Good Veg by Alice Hart

  • For the puffed rice, I used this gluten-free brown rice cereal - it lends itself better to savoury dishes as it is unsweetened, unlike traditional Rice Krispies.
  • I buy papadums and tamarind paste in the international section of my local grocery store, and I've seen both at most large chains around here. There are also some papadums available online here and here and tamarind available here.
  • If you are planning on making this ahead of time, do NOT add the rice or the crushed papadums until just before serving - you want them to remain slightly crunchy, and putting them in too early will sog them right up!


for chaat
800g fingerling or baby potatoes, chopped (large dice)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped 
2 cups cucumbers, diced 
2 small spring onions or shallots, finely chopped
6 large Medjool dates, chopped
1 cup pomegranate arils
1 cup puffed rice* (see notes)
6 cooked papadums, crushed + additional pappadums for serving* (see notes)
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

for tamarind water
3 tbsp. tamarind paste 
2 tsp sugar
3 cups water

for mint yogurt
1/2 cup plain yogurt (non-dairy coconut yogurt works very well!)
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp. cumin seed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 chilli pepper, minced
3 tbsp. mint leaves, chopped


Place potatoes in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. Potatoes should be tender, but not falling apart. Drain and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine all yogurt ingredients and set aside, allowing flavours to steep.

In a separate saucepan, combine tamarind, sugar and water. Allow to come to a boil and gently break up the tamarind paste. Boil for 10 minutes. Strain and reserve the liquid, discarding the paste.

Combine all chaat ingredients - if not serving right away, leave out the crushed pappadums and rice cereal, only adding once ready to serve.

Garnish each portion with tamarind water and yogurt sauce, and serve with additional papadums & lime wedges.

Have you got 5 minutes? Great! That is literally all the time you'll need to throw this bad boy together.  This cobbler was born one Sunday morning when I had less than an hour before I had to leave for brunch, and I had absolutely nothing to bring with me. Being a pastry chef means that when I am invited somewhere, I cannot simply "pick something up along the way." That would be an atrocity. Blasphemous, even. I knew I could throw something together quickly, but I just didn't know what. The giant bag of blueberries in my freezer coupled with my desire to use my large marbled baking dish led to the idea of cobbler. Aside from being extremely easy and super fast to assemble, this dessert is amazing because it's one of the few southern-inspired foods that isn't loaded with fat, so you really don't have to feel bad when you go for seconds. (And trust me, you will go for seconds thirds!)

This blog does contain one other blueberry cobbler recipe, but I think I've outdone myself this time. The previous one was still delish, but it was much more labour intensive as it required making and shaping biscuit dough. This new and improved recipe is for a cobbler without biscuits, made instead with a crispy crumbly buttery cornmeal topping. Honestly, this is going to be my go-to from now on. I can't wait to experiment with different types of fruits! Also, with only 7 ingredients and 5 minutes to prepare, why NOT make this more often?

Let's talk a bit about ingredients before you run off to the kitchen and make this. I used both frozen and fresh berries because that is what I had available. Don't have enough blueberries? Not to worry! You can add a mix of berries to this, or even some stone fruits. I love mixing the berries with sliced nectarines or peaches. Keep in mind that the baking time may increase by a few minutes if you are using all frozen, and may decrease if all fresh. As all ovens are different, just keep an eye on the colour of the cobbler after 40 minutes. You want the topping to be golden amber, not really brown, and definitely not black. Alright, let's blue this!

5 Minute Blueberry Cornmeal Cobbler
a.k.a. the easiest dessert ever

prep time: 5 minutes
cook time: 40-50 minutes


5 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
3 tbsp. lemon or lime juice
1 tbsp. cornstarch

2/3 cup medium yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup softened butter*, cut into pieces
*use margarine or room temp coconut oil for a vegan substitute!

Preheat oven to 390F.

Pour berries into a deep 9x13'' baking dish.
Sprinkle with cornstarch and lemon or lime juice.
Stir until berries are coated.

In separate bowl, combine flour, sugar and cornmeal.
Add butter. Use a pastry cutter to form a crumbly dough.
Sprinkle dough over berry mixture.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until top is golden.

Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Extra delicious if served warm with iced cream!

Imagine this: a latke and a pakora come together and get tossed with jalapeño and cheddar. Yes, it IS as great as it sounds! These shallow-fried little fritters are crispy on the outside, while remaining magically fluffy on the inside. It's peak veggie season at the market right now, and I managed to score myself a 1.2kg floret for all of two Canadian dollars this week! (That's basically like, 25 cents American, btw.) Now, I love roasted cauli as much as the next person, but a kilo of a single vegetable seemed like a bit much. Plus, I had a ton of spring onions that I wanted to use up as well as some beautiful fresh local garlic. A few flips through my trusty Ottolenghi cookbook, and I was instantly inspired.

Jalapeño Cauliflower Fritters with Chili-Lime Sauce ingredients for the fritters 1 kg cauliflower, cut into large florets
2 cups all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
3 small onions, chopped 1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapenos 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar (optional)
¼ cup chopped cilantro
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp crushed corriander seed
2 tsp Mexican (mild) chili powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
3 cups (approx.) canola or vegetable oil, for frying for the sauce 1/2 cup sour cream 3 tbsp. plain full fat yogurt 1 1/2 tsp mexican chili powder 1/2 tsp onion powder zest from 3 limes Juice from 1 lime Pinch sugar Pinch salt 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro method Mix together sauce ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Place a piece of parchment on a large baking sheet. Place wire rack on top. Set aside. This will be used to cool your hot fritters. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the cauliflower florets. Cook 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain. In a large bowl, combine all fritter ingredients except for oil, egg & cauliflower. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Combine eggs with flour mixture and stir until a thick paste begins to form. Add cauliflower and mash with a fork. Mixture will be lumpy and very wet. Heat oil on medium in a large heavy bottomed saucepan or dutch oven. Scoop about 3tbsp worth of batter into hot oil. Allow fritter to cook about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden. Do not crowd pan. Use a spider strainer to remove from hot oil and place on wire rack to cool. Continue until all batter is used up. If not serving immediately, these can be made in advance and re-heated in oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve with sauce & additional cilantro for garnish.

Whether you're team salad or team sandwich, a helping of pickled veg is always a welcome addition. Sweet, crunchy, vibrant and tangy, quick pickled carrots will take your dish from good to great in a matter of minutes. No canning experience necessary & no need for fancy equipment. This versatile recipe is great for cucumbers, carrots and onions, and can be used in a variety of ways. Top off a sandwich, bahn-mi style as we did, or toss them into a grain bowl (as we ALSO did!) Scramble them into an omlette, or eat them straight out of the jar. However you enjoy them, you'll be wondering how you've ever lived this long without them. 

This Vietnamese-style pickle recipe was inspired by my new favourite cookbook, Good Veg. (I'm telling you, this is the book that got me out of a cooking rut. They aren't even sponsoring this post. I just love it that much.) I've made these three times in the last 3 weeks, because I just can't seem to get enough. The original recipe calls for mixing vinegar with sugar and letting it dissolve, but I found that heating the vinegar helped to speed up the process. I also added some onion & my own blend of pickling spices and made it my own. Feel free to experiment as you wish with the veggies - pickling knows no limits!

Storage: I store mine in a mason jar in the fridge. They keep very well for a couple of weeks thanks to the high acid and high sugar content. If you have time to make these in advance, the flavours develop nicely over time and become tastier after a couple of days. As time passes, your vegetables will discolour slightly, but pickling liquid should remain relatively clear. Discard if liquid becomes cloudy. 

Vietnamese Style 
Quick Pickled Vegetables

2 cups spiralized carrots or cucumber
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/4 cup shredded daikon
2 tbsp sliced fresh ginger
1 cup water
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp coriander seed
1 tsp mustard seed

Combine water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer.
Combine carrots (or cucumber), onion, daikon and ginger.
Place vegetable mix into two mason jars.
Pour liquid inside jars until veggies are fully submerged.
Secure jar lids and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 weeks. 

Out too late? Drank too much? Slept too little? While this wonder drink won't erase those late-night texts, it will re-hydrate you as it delivers a powerful dose of vitamins, antioxidants & a natural anti-inflammatory boost. Turmeric is one trendy ingredient right now - and with good reason! Used in ayurvedic medicine for centuries, turmeric root is known for it's anti-inflammatory properties, soothing everything from headaches to stomach woes.

My husband and I have recently been on a golden smoothie kick. This particular recipe started when Josh had a cold and wanted to load up on vitamin C - he threw a bunch of tangerines into the blender with a chunk of ginger. Holy moly! The first one that he made was so tasty, I declared it the $9 fancy-juice-bar-smoothie. Who knew? Tangerines and ginger can pack quite a tasty punch. I upped the game by adding a quarter teaspoon of turmeric. Not only did it enhance the flavour and boost the nutrition profile, but the colour was absolutely stunning!

This juice keeps well stored in mason jars for up to 5 days in the fridge. We make a huge batch on Sundays and have them ready-to-go for the week. Great way to boost your immune system and feel energized daily, without any supplements or medication!

Looking for more ways to enjoy turmeric?
Check out this awesome cookbook with 50 turmeric recipes!

----- Orange Turmeric Ginger
4 Ingredient
Superfood Smoothie

4 large tangerines or blood oranges, peeled, seeds removed*
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 inch cube ginger root, peeled
1/2 cup peach juice

*I used the tangelo/minneola variety as I find them to be sweetest and have the least amount of seeds

In a high-powered blender, add all ingredients.
Blend until completely smooth.
Serve immediately, over ice if desired.

Keeps well for up to 5 days, refrigerated in a closed container (mason jars work well!)
Shake well before serving.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, meaning that at no extra cost to you, I receive a small compensation if you click through & purchase. These funds allow me to continue running this blog, bringing you new recipes every month!

Sugar-shack season is in full swing, and it’s high time to load up on all of the comforts of winter before the season comes to an end. As a vegetarian, my favourite sugar shack main dish has always been baked beans. Similar to the traditional English variety, French Canadian baked beans are usually served in a tomato based sauce, but they are taken up a notch by being doused in golden maple syrup.

During our travels down to the Southern states a few summers ago, I discovered stewed black eyed peas. I had never had anything like it, but the dish had texture of my favourite baked beans, though they were swimming in a delicious broth instead of a tomato based sauce.

Now that I am an (obsessed) Instant Pot owner, I make more beans than ever before. I recently had the idea to combine the sweetness of my favourite maple baked beans with the brothiness of stewed black eyed peas. The umami experience that ensued did not disappoint.

My only regret? Not making a double batch!

Instant Pot Maple Bean & Onion Soup
(Vegan & Gluten-Free!)


2 tbsp olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Montreal Steak Spice*
1 tsp cracked black pepper
2 cups dry navy beans, soaked for at least 4 hours**
6 cups water
¼ cup ketchup
2 tbsp miso paste 
2 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup maple syrup

*If you're in the States and can’t find Montreal Steak Spice, Trader Joe’s Everyday Spice is a great alternative.


Dilute miso in ¼ cup hot water, breaking up any big pieces, and set aside. 
In your Instant Pot, on ‘sautée’ setting, heat oil. 
Add onions and sautée until translucent. 
Add garlic and sautée one more minute. 
Season with steak spice & pepper. 
Add beans, water, ketchup, miso and molasses. Stir. 
Make sure steam release is in sealed position. 
Close lid and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. 
Allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes before using quick release to finish. 
Carefully open lid and stir in maple syrup & fresh thyme. 
Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

**If you did not soak your beans, increase cooking time to 45 minutes.

Mmm, the sweet sweet mouthwatering sight of a veggie & grain bowl. Known to many as Buddha bowls (or Dragon Bowls if you frequent Aux Vivres in Montreal) these nutrient-rich meals are as tasty as they are colourful. They're super versatile, in that you can change up your combination of veggies & grains based on what's in season or what you've got on hand. Even my carnivorous husband says that he loves these so much that he would eat one every night of the week.

Feel free to experiment by following the basic formula:

Buddha Bowl Basic Formula
3/4 cup of cooked grain, rice or quinoa
+ 1/2 cup cooked sweet potato
+ 1/2 cup cooked legumes/protein (optional if using quinoa)
+ 2 cups raw/steamed veggies
+ dressing

Sweet Potato & Quinoa Buddha Bowl
with Spicy Sesame Dressing

(makes 2 bowls)

Bowl Ingredients
1 medium sweet potato, roasted
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 head broccoli, steamed
1 beet, spiralized, or thinly sliced
1 bunch kale, steamed

Best Easy Buddha Bowl Dressing Ingredients
1/4 cup vegan mayo
2 tbsp. tamari (or soy sauce)
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp. sriracha


Arrange all ingredients in two bowls
Whisk all dressing ingredients together and divide evenly


note: you can prepare quinoa and sweet potato ahead of time and allow to cool if you prefer a cold salad. (Alternately, it can be re-heated and served warm!)

The Instant Pot is not something that I ever thought that I would want or need. I really do love my slow cooker, and despite how This Is Us viewers may feel, I am not afraid of it killing me. Though, I should re-phrase. I really DID love my slow cooker - that is, until a couple of weeks ago when the internal element decided that it was time to die. Lugging it to the curb was a sad day for me, but it meant that I could finally buy the hot new gadget that everyone had been talking about - that all-in-one pot meant to replace a slew of countertop appliances. Lo and behold, I headed over to Amazon in a flash and had an Instant Pot at my doorstep a few days later. (The 9-in-1 model that I so coveted was on back-order, and let me tell you that those 4 days it took to ship felt like an eternity!)

If you are considering buying an Instant Pot, I highly recommend it (this post is in no way affiliated or sponsored by the company!). It is important to note however that these meals are not quite instant - this little bit of information isn't really advertised anywhere and needs to be said. All those people telling you that they made rice in 3 minutes? They really made it in 15. You see, it takes about 10 minutes to start up and pressurize, and then another 10 to de-pressurize. That being said, the Instant Pot is great for are things that would normally take hours to develop their full flavours on the stovetop, such as soups, stews and risottos. We've been on a bit of a pudding kick lately, and because the Instant Pot cooks rice SO well and because experimenting is fun, we decided it would be neat to try making some rice pudding in our Instant Pot. What a delicious success! I spooned it into wide-mouthed mason jars to take to school for lunches - a healthier alternative to the plastic-cup variety.

And, just in the name of variety, I'm going to give you two delicious recipes. The first, my fave - is cardamom-spiced and just the right amount of sweet. The second, Josh's fave - is rich, chocolatey goodness. Can't decide? Make both!

Instant Pot Rice Pudding
(vegan & gluten-free)*
an original recipe by allison sklar


Original Version
1 cup Arborio (risotto) rice
3 cups whole milk (* if making vegan, use any non-dairy milk of your choice)
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cardamom

Chocolate Version
1 cup Arboro (risotto) rice
4 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
4 tbsp. 35% cream (or coconut cream if vegan)

OPTIONAL: 1 can sweetened condensed milk


Add all ingredients (except chocolate and cream, if using) to Instant pot and stir. Lock with steam vent closed. Press porridge button. When cooking is done, allow to release naturally for 10 minutes before turning the quick release. If making chocolate pudding, melt chocolate with cream in microwave on 30 second intervals and stir into hot mixture.

For extra creamy pudding, stir in sweetened condensed milk at the end of the cooking time.

Spoon into short, wide mouth mason jars or regular ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap (cling directly to the pudding so as not to form a skin. Chill until set, about 2 hours.

Serve sprinkled with more cinnamon & crushed nuts, if desired.

This is likely the EASIEST recipe that I've ever created, and arguably also one of the best desserts I've ever eaten. I've always been a fan of chocolate mousse, ever since my first taste over a decade ago at the recently closed Patisserie Gâscogne.

I made it daily when I worked as a pastry chef at a Montreal resto, and it quickly became one of their best-selling desserts. However, that version was loaded with 35% cream. Rich and decadent, yes, but not so nice on the tummy for those of use who are lactose-intolerant.

Now, I've come up with a waistline-friendly,  2 ingredient SUPER easy vegan option that is arguably just as decadent, without the tummy aches or the added fat that cream can bring. The secret ingredient? Aquafaba.

For those of you not familiar with the lingo, aquafaba just means the water from your can of beans (usually chickpeas.) WAIT, WHAT?! You may be thinking. "I don't want no beans in my chocolate!" Just breathe and relax. You need to trust me on this one. This isn't that black bean brownie that your enthusiastic co-worker insisted that you eat because you totally can't taste the beans (Newsflash Barbara, I tasted the beans.) Aquafaba, when properly prepared, ultimately takes on the flavour of whatever it is mixed with - in this case, that flavour is delicious chocolate. It has similar properties to eggwhites, which makes it a great vegan egg substitute in meringues and macarons. t's quite revolutionary in the vegan baking world, with new books coming out often.
Check out my aquafaba cookbook recommendations here and here!

So, let's get to the fun part - whipping it up! It really is magical. Drain a can of chickpeas, reserving as much liquid as possible. Pour the liquid into your stand mixer and turn it on. After about 5 minutes, you'll have soft peaks. Go a little bit longer, and you'll have stiff ones.

**It is very important, much like with whipped eggwhites, that you use it immediately after beating to make your recipe. If you don't, it will deflate and separate, which is never fun.**

2-Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Mousse

160 g good quality dark chocolate
liquid from one can of chickpeas (about 1c)

Melt chocolate over a double boiler OR - take the lazy but simple route and put it in a microwave-safe bowl and zap it for 30 seconds at a time, mixing in between, until fully melted. Allow to cool slightly before using.

Pour aquafaba into your stand mixer. Beat with wire whisk on medium-high about 5 to 7 minutes, until semi-stiff peaks form.

Fold in melted chocolate with a spatula. Do not overmix.
Divide mixture evenly into small mason jars or ramekins. (It may look soupy, but don't worry. it will stiffen when cool!)
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Enjoy as-is, or top with chocolate shavings, fresh or dried fruits, or candied nuts.

Hey world! Happy 2018! Though I'm not one to make resolutions, I do enjoy the excuse for a good thorough housecleaning and organizational purge. This includes cleaning up and re-organizing the accumulated stuff on my laptop, especially  the endless list that is my bookmarks file. I have been bookmarking my favorites long before the Pinterest era.

Each time that I've discovered a good cookie recipe for instance, I've bookmarked it, and for my own reference, I  usually name it something that will help me easily access it. My bookmark list includes:

... and so on.

I've noticed that there are a LOT of recipes on my list entitled BEST EVER. The thing is, every time I make something that is better than the last, it really does become the best ever. Then came a few weeks ago, when my husband forwarded me a recipe for "brown butter chocolate chip cookies with toffee bits and chocolate chunks." I knew immediately that I needed to try it. I wrote the recipe down with a few tweaks after the first test. Surprisingly, I did not name this recipe "Best Cookies Ever," because that would be a lie. They are BETTER than the BEST EVER! Since the Internet definitely needs ANOTHER recipe for chocolate chip cookies, after many requests, I've decided to share my secret with you today.

These crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, melt-in-your-mouth delicious cookies are definitely hard to beat.

Better than the Best
Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies
recipe adapted from Bon Apétit Magazine

1 cup salted butter
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dark chocolate wafers, roughly chopped if large (also known as discs or pistoles)
1/2 cup chopped Skor bar or Heath bar or toffee bits (optional)
Flaky sea salt

In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking until butter begins to brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to get all of those delicious brown bits. Allow to cool about one hour, until it begins to solidify. To speed up the cooling process, if you live in the current polar vortex that is Canada, cover the bowl and place outside for about 25 mins. (A freezer works equally well.)

Preheat oven to 375F. 

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream cooled butter with sugars until combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, chocolate & toffee bits (if using). Paddle just until incorporated. 

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
Use a small ice cream scoop to place cookie dough balls onto paper. Do NOT press down.
Leave at least an inch in between each cookie, as they will spread significantly!
Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt. 

Bake at 375F for about 9 minutes.
You'll notice each batch may take a little less time as your oven runs hot, so keep an eye out!

Allow to cool completely before enjoying.