Hummus with Lemon Sauce

Hummus with Lemon Sauce
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

The third appetizer for my Ottolenghi dinner was this gorgeous hummus. The hummus was delicious on its own but I loved it even more with the lemon sauce on it. The lemon and parsley make this sauce fresh tasting and vibrant. The green chili gives it a bit of heat. I loved the heat but if you'd prefer it not spicy, just omit the chili. Enjoy!

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

Hummus:
1 1/4 cup dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 1/2 cups water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light tahini paste
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
6 1/2 tablespoons ice cold water
Salt to taste
Pita bread for serving, toasted

Lemon sauce:
1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 green chili, finely chopped
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.

2. The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook between 20-40 minutes, depending on the type of freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.

3. Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups now. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then with the machine still running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the ice water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste (I had to add a little more water to get the consistency I wanted). Adjust the seasoning if needed.

4. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.

5. For the lemon sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Drizzle the sauce over the hummus and serve with pita bread.

Burnt Eggplant with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds

Burnt Eggplant with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi


This was the second appetizer that I served for my Ottolenghi dinner and my guests couldn't get enough of it. The key to this delicious dip is to really char/burn the eggplants so you get a rich smokey flavour that is accented beautifully with the garlic, lemon and herbs. The pomegranate seeds look like little jewels in this dish. I served this with toasted pitas. Enjoy!


Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

4 large eggplants
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Seeds of 1/2 large pomegranate
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. If you have a gas range, line the base with aluminum foil to protect it, keeping only the burners exposed. Place the eggplants directly on four separate gas burners with medium flames and roast for 15 to 18 minutes, until the skin is burnt and flaky and the flesh is soft. Use metal tongs to turn them around occasionally. Alternatively, score the eggplants with a knife in a few places, about 3/4 inch deep and place on a baking sheet under a hot broiler for about an hour. Turn them around every 20 minutes or so and continue to cook even if they burst and break.
   
2. Remove the eggplants from the heat and allow them to cool down slightly. Once cool enough to handle, cut an opening along each eggplant and scoop out the soft flesh, dividing it with your hands into long thin strips. Discard the skin. Drain the flesh in a colander for at least an hour, preferably longer, to get rid of as much water as possible.
   
3. Place the eggplant pulp in a medium bowl and add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Stir and allow the eggplant to marinate at room temperature for at least an hour.

4. When you are ready to serve, mix in most of the herbs and taste for seasoning. Pile high on a serving plate, scatter on the pomegranate seeds, and garnish with the remaining herbs.

Sweet Potato Galettes

Sweet Potato Galettes
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

I'm a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi and a couple of weeks ago I held an Ottolenghi inspired dinner in my home. The menu was hard to put together because all of his food is so beautiful.  These stunning Sweet Potato Galettes were the perfect start to my Ottolenghi inspired dinner or any dinner for that matter. These beautiful and delicious galettes were so easy to make. I served them warm but they are just as good at room temperature. Enjoy!

Serves 4:

Ingredients:
3 sweet potatoes, about 12 ounces each
9 ounces puff pastry or 1/2 recipe Rough puff pastry
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
6 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
3 1/2 tablespoons aged goat cheese
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 medium-hot chile, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper



Directions:   
1. Preheat the oven to 400*F Bake the sweet potatoes in their skins for 35 to 45 minutes, until they soften up but are still slightly raw in the center (check by inserting a small knife). Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into slices 1/8 mm thick.

2. While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, roll out the puff pastry to about 1/16 inch thick on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out four 2 3/4 by 5 1/2-inch rectangles and prick them all over with a fork. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper, place the pastry rectangles on it, well spaced apart, and leave to rest in the fridge at least half an hour.

3. Remove the pastry from the fridge and brush lightly with the beaten egg. Using an icing spatula, spread a thin layer of sour cream on the pastries, leaving a 1/4-inch border all round. Arrange the potato slices on the pastry, slightly overlapping, keeping the border clear. Season with salt and pepper, crumble the goat cheese on top, and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and chile. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through. Check underneath; it should be golden brown.


4. While the galettes are cooking, stir together the olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a pinch of salt. As soon as the pastries comes out of the oven, brush them with this mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Eggplant, Butternut Squash & Tomato Soup

Roasted Eggplant, Butternut Squash & Tomato Soup
Recipe by Dragon


This warm and comforting soup is rich in flavour and in nutrition. To make this a completely vegetarian soup just substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth or water. Enjoy!

Serves: 6
 
Ingredients:
2 large eggplant (about 3 pounds), halved lengthwise, cut side brushed with olive oil
4 medium tomatoes, trimmed and halved
1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
4 branches of thyme
5 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon Sumac or grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place eggplants, tomatoes, butternut squash, onion, garlic and thyme branches on large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss the vegetables together to coat. Make sure the eggplant is cut side up. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper then roast for 45 minutes. Discard the thyme branches.

2. Carefully scoop the eggplant from its skins and add to a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the other remaining vegetables and juices from the baking sheet. Add broth and bay leaf. Make sure the vegetables are just about covered in broth. If not, add some water. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce heat to a low and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

3. Purée soup in 2 batches in a blender (hot liquid, be careful!) until very smooth, about 1 minute per batch, then transfer the soup back to the saucepan over low heat. If the soup is too thick, add more broth or water. Add sumac, thyme and balsamic vinegar. Stir in the heavy cream. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

4. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and goat cheese.

Toffee Shortbread Cookies Updated

Toffee Shortbread Cookies (Updated Recipe)
Recipe by Dragon

These lovely cookies are always a favourite around my home especially over the holidays. They melt in your mouth and are not too sweet. I love giving these cookies away as gifts to my friends and family. Enjoy!

Makes 3 dozen

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1  teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toffee bits (I use Hershey's Chipits Skor Toffee Bits)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

2. Cream the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.

3. Sift the cornstarch, salt and flour together. Add flour mix to the creamed butter and sugar and thoroughly combine but don't over mix. Stir  in the toffee bits.

4. Scoop dough and shape into 1 inch balls. Place the balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or just until set and the bottoms begin to turn a light golden brown. If baking 2 trays at a time, rotate the trays halfway through. Cool cookies on the tray for 2 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema

Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema
Adapted from Bon Appetit

If anything says summer in a bowl it would be this beautiful watermelon gazpacho. I just adore the colour of this cold soup. It is healthy, refreshing and has just a hint of heat. I recommend preparing this the day before so the gazpacho is properly chilled. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

Gazpacho:
1 pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)
2 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 English cucumber, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 red chili, seeds removed, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons aged white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Crema:
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons whole milk

Garnish
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 cups seedless watermelon, cut into small cubes
1 cup English cucumber, seeded and cut into small cubes
Extra virgin Olive oil

Directions:
1. In a blender combine, watermelon, tomato, cucumber, chili, oil, and vinegar. Blend until smooth.

2. Transfer gazpacho to a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving. Can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

3. In a small bowl, mash together the feta and Greek yogurt until smooth. Whisk in the milk. Chill until needed.

4. To assemble, divide cubed watermelon and cucumber among bowls and pour gazpacho over. Top with crema and almonds, drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Orange, Blueberry and Feta Salad with Citrus & Vanilla Dressing

Orange, Blueberry and Feta Salad with Citrus & Vanilla Dressing
Recipe by Dragon

This has been my favourite salad of the summer and its all because of the Citrus & Vanilla dressing. Addictive is the best word to describe it. The sweetness of this dressing pairs beautifully with the bitter greens and salty feta in the salad. The addition of the oranges and blueberries will make you heart and tummy happy. Enjoy this healthy and delicious salad!

MAKES: 4 servings

Ingredients:

Dressing:
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
grated zest of 1 orange
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon honey (or more if you want it sweeter)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup sunflower oil
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Salad:
4 cups mixed salad greens
1 cup segmented orange slices
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced, soaked in water for 10 minutes, drained
1 cup blueberries
1 cup feta, crumbled
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  
Directions.
1. In a bowl, whisk together juices, zests, honey, vanilla and mustard. Slowly add the oil while you whisk to incorporate the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. The dressing can be made ahead of time and kept in a glass jar until needed. Just shake the jar to combine the ingredients before dressing the salad.

2. In a large bowl, combine the salad greens, orange slices, red onion and blueberries. Drizzle the amount of dressing you desire over the salad and toss to combine. Don't add to much dressing as the salad will get soggy.

3. Top with crumbled feta and slivered almonds. Serve immediately.

4. Leftover dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Bourbon, Citrus & Mint Sweet Tea

Bourbon, Citrus & Mint Sweet Tea

A boozy, refreshing and delicious take on the perfect summer drink; iced tea. Use whatever tea you like, I kept it simple with regular black tea but any flavoured black tea or herbal tea would be delicious in this drink. Enjoy!


Serves 4-6

Ingredients
3 cups water
1/3 - 1/2 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you'd like it)
4 black tea bags
1/4 cup fresh mint or lemon verbena leaves
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 to 1 1/2 cups bourbon (depending on how strong you'd like your drink)
Lemon or limes for garnish



Directions:

1. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir the sugar to make sure it is dissolved.Take the pan off the heat and add the tea bags and mint. Let the tea steep for 5 - 10 minutes, depending on how strong you want the tea.

2. Remove the tea bags and mint (drain well to get out all the liquid) and transfer the liquid to a pitcher. Add the lemon, lime, and orange slices and let it cool to room temperature. Add bourbon, cover and store in the refrigerator until it is well chilled.

3. Serve in glasses filled with ice and garnish with thin lemon or limes slices.

Feta, Dill and Greek Yogurt Biscuits

Feta, Dill and Greek Yogurt Biscuits
Recipe by Dragon

Light fluffy biscuits are a great canvass for different flavour combinations. This one combines salty Feta with aromatic dill. Greek yogurt adds moisture and a tangy flavour that brightens up these delicious treats. Try to find real Greek Feta which is made with goat or sheep's milk, you'll thank me later. Enjoy!

Makes: 10-12

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg, beaten
2  tablespoons cold water
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, stirred
1/3 cup chopped dill
1 cup goat's milk feta cheese, crumbled into large crumbs
1 egg beaten with a splash of milk for an egg wash
Sea salt to garnish
Cracked black pepper to garnish

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450F and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine and sift the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Place the flour mixture in a food processor. Pulse the flour mixture a couple of times to make sure it's well combined.

3. Add the butter cubes to the flour mixture and pulse to cut the butter into the flour. It should resemble course meal. Don't over mix or the biscuits will not be tender and flaky.

4. In a separate bowl, combine beaten egg, water, yogurt, dill and feta. Add the yogurt/feta mixture to the flour/butter mixture and pulse just until the dough just comes together into a ball. Again, don't over mix.

5. Remove the dough from the food processor and place it onto a well floured surface. Using your hands, pat the dough down until it's about 1/2 inch thick. Fold the dough 3-4 times then pat the dough down until it's 1 inch thick. Use a round (2 - 2 1/2 inch) cutter to cut the dough into rounds. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet. Combine the dough scraps, pat the dough down to 1 inch thick and cut out a few more.

6. Brush the tops of the biscuits with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the biscuits are a light golden brown. I rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees half way through for more even baking. These biscuits are best eaten the day they’re made, but will last up to 2 days.
Mint & Oregano Pesto with Lemon and Feta
Recipe by Dragon

I love this Greek inspired pesto. The flavours of mint, oregano, lemon and Feta are classic Greek and a delicious combination. Stir this pesto into any prepared pasta and top it with crumbled Feta cheese for a quick dinner. It can also be used as a dressing for a summer potato salad. Enjoy!

Makes about 1 1/2 cup


Ingredients:

1/4 cup blanched almonds, lightly toasted and chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh mint leaves, packed and stems removed
1/2 cup fresh oregano, packed and stems removed
3 garlic cloves
juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or more depending on the consistency you like)
1/3 cup goat's milk feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. In a food processor combine, almonds,  mint, oregano, garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest. Pulse until everything is throughly combined.

2. With the food processor running, pour oil in a slow stream. Keep food processor running until the pesto is smooth.

3. Add the feta and pulse to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use right away with a prepared pasta or transfer it to a an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to a week.

Lemon Blueberry Bars

Lemon Blueberry Bars
Recipe by Dragon
  
The warmer weather has me thinking about summer and my favourite summer fruit, blueberries! I like to eat them all year long but I find they are at their best in the warm months. I always seem to pair blueberries with lemons in my baking. Like hot beaches and cool waters.....they are a perfect summer match. Enjoy!

Make: 24 to 36 bars

Ingredients:
Crust and Crumble Topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
grated zest of two lemons
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

Blueberry Filling:
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon limoncello or lemon juice
grated zest of 1 lemon
6 cups of fresh Blueberries

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F and place the rack in the middle of the oven.  Grease a 9 x 13-inch backing pan with butter or cooking spray and set aside. 

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer (with paddle attachment), combine flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Stir to combine the ingredients. Add the butter and mix the ingredients until the butter is incorporated and the mixture has the texture of large pea size crumbs. 

3. Reserve 1/3 of the crumb mixture to use as the topping.  Press the remaining mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan to form a crust.  Bake the crust for 15 minutes until it is golden brown.  Let cool for 15 minutes while you make the filling.

4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sugar, Greek yogurt, flour, salt vanilla, limoncello and lemon zest. Whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Gently fold in the blueberries. Pour the blueberry mixture evenly over the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumble evenly over the blueberry filling.

5. Place the baking pan on a baking sheet then bake for 50-55 minutes or until the topping is golden. Allow it too cool completely before cutting into squares.



 
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