Need some comfort food to get you through the day? I've got solutions for you.
MAKES: 2 cups (500 mL)
COOK TIME: 10 minutes
1 Tbsp (15 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice (approx.)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) finely diced onion
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
1/2 clove garlic, puréed
1/2 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
2 ripe avocados
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp (15 mL) chopped cilantro
1. In a medium-sized bowl, add all ingredients except cilantro and smash with a fork to desired consistency.
2. Stir in cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lime juice.
3. To prevent oxidization, store in the fridge with plastic wrap touching the surface of the guacamole for up to 3 days. Another option is adding a thin layer of water over the entire surface. Pour off the water and stir before serving.
• Avocados do not begin to soften until after they are picked from the tree and they are usually put on the shelf hard. So basically, it’s pure luck if you need ripe avocados the day of and can find them. When buying avocados I typically buy unripe ones knowing they will ripen in the next day or two, rather than buying ripe ones that will end up in the garbage if not eaten immediately.
• How to choose a ripe avocado? The riper an avocado is the darker green its skin. It should yield to a firm but gentle pressure but not be mushy.
• How to get avocados to ripen faster? Put them in a paper bag in the warmest place possible, like a windowsill or close to your oven. Adding another overripe fruit, like a banana, will also help. They still may take up to two days to ripen.
COOL FACT: HOW TO PREVENT OXIDATION AND DISCOLOURATION IN FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
You can create a barrier from the air by covering what you want to be protected in plastic wrap, water or even sometimes oil.
You can also use some type of acid. I always keep citric acid in my food-styling kit and mix it with water to cover certain fruits and vegetables, keeping them perfect until ready to shoot. Apples, avocados, and artichokes all brown and discolor easily. You can soak cut fruit or vegetables in water with a few tablespoons of lime or lemon juice, vinegar or even a crushed vitamin C tablet—all these will help prevent discoloration until ready to use.
MAKES: 3 cups (750 mL)
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 30–60 minutes
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED: food processor
2 lb (700 g) eggplant (the smaller ones roast faster)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) tahini
1/2 of 1 clove garlic, puréed
3–4 Tbsp (45–60 mL) fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
1 tsp (5 mL) smoked paprika (optional)
1. Preheat oven to broil, or medium-high if using a barbecue (or grill).
2. Prick eggplant all over with a fork to allow liquid and steam to escape. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet if broiling, or place directly on the grill for barbecuing. Eggplant will take about 30 minutes, depending on size, until tender with charred skin. You want to be able to pierce the flesh easily with a fork.
3. Once cooked, transfer eggplant into a colander fit over a bowl; drain and cool completely before removing the skin.
4. Scrape all flesh from the eggplant, discard any liquid that has drained and transfer to a food processor along with the remaining ingredients. I suggest starting with half of a clove of garlic and 3 Tbsp (45 mL) lemon juice; add more if needed after tasting.
5. Purée to desired consistency—I like mine a little chunky.
Larger eggplants will release more water than smaller ones, so make sure to let them drain in a colander to avoid a watery baba ganoush.
MAKES: 4 cups (1 L)
PREP TIME: 3 minutes
BAKE TIME: 8–10 minutes
2 Tbsp (30 mL) neutral flavoured oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) tamari sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) paprika
1 tsp (5 mL) smoked paprika
1 tsp (5 mL) cayenne, chili or Espelette powder
2 tsp (10 mL) salt
Pepper to taste
2 cups (500 mL) raw pecans
2 cups (500 mL) raw almonds
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oils with the tamari, spices, salt, and pepper.
3. Add nuts and toss to coat.
4. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and bake 8–10 minutes, tossing halfway through cook time, until aromatic and browned.
5. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Nuts will crisp up further while cooling.
ESPELETTE PEPPER TIP:
Espelette (or Piment d’Espelette) is a French chili pepper known for its use in Basque-style cooking. It can be found in most specialty food stores. The peppers are considered rare, so they are pricey but a really nice treat. The heat is moderate compared to other chili