Peppered Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese and Honey

I will be one of many to admit that I’m in denial of winter still clinging to its last few weeks. Toronto has been a cluster of warm, sunny days mixed with snow-covered cars and winds. This has resulted in some very entertaining people watching since there are some who are still in full-blown winter mode (hat, mitts, scarf, down jacket, etc.) and some who are wearing shorts (yes, shorts in March in Canada, I know). I’m not quite in that deep in denial, but I am to the point that I’m planning cottage trips and making desserts that will at some point require fresh summer peaches.

Unfortunately, in the time being, I had to use frozen peaches instead of fresh because it’s just what I had on hand. Obviously this makes a big difference in flavour and texture but either way they still tasted amazing.

I also only had about a handful of peaches left in the bag because I didn’t plan ahead very well, so I just sliced up some apple and used that instead of peach on some of them. Still tasted great. I’m sure you could do this with mango, orange slices, berries, etc. whatever you have on hand that you want to use up.

If you’ve never worked with puff pastry before, know that it is tricky and may look a little ugly if you make mistakes but it will almost always taste good and look impressive after baking. You need to thaw it out (don’t try to use it half-thawed, it won’t work and you’ll be annoyed) and it can dry out or be sticky if you wait too long. I basically kept mine in the fridge right up until I had to cut it into pieces and that worked well for me. I found this recipe on Some The Wiser.

Pepper Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese and Honey

Pepper Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese and Honey

Ingredients

Makes 6 tarts

  • 1 large sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 5oz. goat cheese, softened
  • 1 cup peach slices, fresh or frozen*
  • Black pepper to garnish
  • 4-5 tbsp. honey, for drizzling

*If you’re using frozen, thaw out your peaches in the fridge overnight.

Method

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut sheet of puff pastry into 6 rough squares (I used a pizza cutter); they don’t have to be perfect. Slather on some goat cheese onto each one, leaving a small border around the edges. If your cheese is being uncooperative and crumbly, microwave it for 20 seconds so it spreads easily. Lay your peaches (or other fruit of choice) on top of the cheese, then grind a small amount of black pepper onto the tops of the fruit.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until puffy and golden brown on the edges. Drizzle a bit of honey on the top of each tart and they’re ready to serve!

Pepper Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese and Honey


 

COMING IN APRIL

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April on The Vegetarian Ginger is going to feature all low-sodium or salt-free recipes. Share your tips and join in!

Quick Cowboy Cookies

What’s a cowboy cookie? It’s essentially like an oatmeal cookie went on Pimp My Ride (oh hey, 2004 MTV reference) and became extra-awesome.

This cookie mix was actually given to me in a jar as a gift by my boyfriend at Christmas with the instructions attached. Just like these brownies I made a few months back, I had to tweak the instructions to make sure it made sense to people who are making it from scratch.

Sidenote: I bought a crêpe pan, so any awesome recipes you have for those please send my way. Also, I am going to be visiting New York at the end of March and I really want to see as many amazing foodie places as I can. Any suggestions?

Cowboy Cookies

Ingredients

Makes 24 cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, egg and vanilla until smooth and creamy. In a separate bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add in both sugars and loosely mix. Fold in pecan pieces and chocolate chips, then add the dry mix into the wet mix, stirring well with a fork or your hands, if you don’t mind the mess.*

Line two baking sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper. Form dough into roughly 24 walnut-sized balls, then bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months. If you want them extra gooey, throw them in the microwave for 15 seconds before eating.

Cowboy Cookie

Paleo Blueberry Pumpkin Breakfast Bars

Breakfast is a fickle time. Some people don’t have time or desire to throw anything together in the morning. Others love it, but sometimes it can get repetitive—a variation of eggs, toast, maybe some vegetables or ham for you meat eaters out there. Muffins are good sometimes but end up being filled with more sugar than dessert and lack actual nutrition. These bars take elements from all breakfast eaters’ habits and combine them: easy to make, grab-and-go, and healthy.

These were made gluten-free with coconut flour but you could easily make them with all-purpose flour as well. You can also get flexible with the toppings—I almost tripled how much crumble to put on top because I like a good crunch. I also added in a bunch of assorted nuts and seeds, and used sweetened coconut. Like I said, get creative and make your own. This is just a guideline. I adapted this recipe from PaleOMG.

The one major thing I would change is the amount of flour used in the batter. It ended up being really moist, which is fine if that’s your thing, but I wanted mine to be a little bit firmer. I ended up waiting for mine to cool, cutting them up into bars, then baking them on my cooling racks in the oven at 200 degrees F for about 20 extra minutes.

Paleo Breakfast Bars

Ingredients

Makes 8 bars

For the crust:

  • ⅓ cup pumpkin purée
  • ⅓ cup real maple syrup (none of that Aunt Jemima stuff)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (or ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves, ⅛ teaspoon powdered ginger)
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

For the blueberry layer:

  • 2 cups of frozen blueberries work, thawed
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. coconut cream concentrate
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Zest of ½ a lemon
  • 2 tbsp. coconut flour

For the crumble:

  • ½ cup mixed nuts, chopped (I used pecans and blanched almonds)
  • 3 tbsp. sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp. pepitas, chopped
  • ½ tsp. poppy seeds
  • 2 tbsp. raw hulled hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together pumpkin purée, maple syrup, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, powdered ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Slowly pour the dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix well.

Lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish, then cut a piece of parchment paper down so it can fit into the baking dish, leaving two sides out of the baking dish. This way you can pick the bars out of the dish without breaking them apart.

Pour the batter into the lined baking sheet and spread out evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cooked completely through.

While the crust bakes, place a small saucepan over medium heat and add blueberries. Add honey, coconut cream concentrate, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix well. Once the blueberries begin to burst, remove from heat, pour out half the liquid, and add coconut flour. Mix until completely combined. Let sit for about 5 minutes to thicken up. When the crust is done cooking, pour the blueberry mixture on top.

In a bowl, add nuts and seeds, coconut, honey, cinnamon and salt and mix together and mix. Add clumps of the nuts to the top of the blueberry mixture. Place back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan, then place on a cool rack to cool for 5 more minutes before cutting into 6-8 squares. Store in fridge for up to 5 days.

Paleo Breakfast Bars

Paleo Breakfast Bars

Pumpkin Tequila Chili

I love chili. While it’s easy enough to make at home with the basics—tomatoes, onion, beans, broth—I often find I can’t reduce it down to the level of thickness I really want. That’s why when I saw this recipe, I got excited right away. It’s described as a “hearty spoon-stands-up-on-its-own” chili. Hungry yet?

My favourite go-to canned veggie chili is Stag. I have tried to replicate it a few times but have yet to succeed, although this recipe matches the consistency perfectly. Using pumpkin thickens up the broth and adds a ton of vitamins and flavour that you wouldn’t be getting otherwise.

This recipe is from Thug Kitchen’s cookbook, which if you haven’t had the pleasure of looking through I suggest you wander over to your nearest bookstore and flip through it. It’s fantastic. The writing is hilarious and the photos are killer. The tequila was my addition to the recipe. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, booze makes all recipes better.

Pumpkin Tequlia Chili

Ingredients

Serves 4-6 people

  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper of your choice, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, minced*
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2½ tbsp. mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 cap fulls of tequila
  • 1 (14.5oz) can low-salt diced tomatoes
  • 1½ cups pumpkin purée**
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups cooked beans of your choice
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

*If you want a little less spice, de-seed the jalapeño. Be careful to wash your hands afterwards though—that could be unpleasant.

** I thought this was common sense but in the original recipe, they note not to use pumpkin pie filling because it will turn out disgusting.

Method

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and pepper and sauté them until a strong aroma comes off and they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño, soy sauce and spices, stirring together and allowing it all to cook for about 1 minute. Add the tequila and allow to burn down, then add the tomatoes, pumpkin, broth and beans; stir well to mix.

Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once done, remove from heat, stir in lime juice, and top with cilantro. Get creative with extra garnish by adding sliced avocado, tortilla strips and sliced jalapeño.

Pumpkin Tequlia Chili

Lentil “Meatballs” in Lemon Pesto Sauce

Ever since I was a kid, I was pretty picky with the meats I would eat. Ground beef was always “meh” in my books at best (leading a strict diet of burger buns and soda at summer barbecues). Meatballs were good because they were loaded up with sauce and surrounded by pasta, but I probably wouldn’t have favoured them on their own. Making vegetarian meatballs is, in my mind anyway, way more tasty (and healthy, if you’re into that kind of thing).

One thing I love about this recipe (among the many reasons there are to love it) is that it doesn’t use soy. I’m not against soy in any sense, but I know that eating it all the time isn’t supposed to be great for you and it can get boring. Any long term vegetarian will know the feel of going to a restaurant and having a bland tofu substitute while their friends eat amazing looking seafood and steak. This is a recipe I’d like to think of as less of a substitution, and more as a first choice.

This recipe is from Sprouted Kitchen, a blog that one of my friends recently showed me and I am in awe every time I look at the photographs. The same friend made these meatballs for a Christmas party and they were devoured and actively sought after. Since then I’ve been meaning to make them, but I’m just getting around to it now and I wanted to give them a go to see how I can make them my own.

Not only do these pack protein and iron like crazy, they also have tons of flavour and hold their shape well in pasta dishes, sandwiches, or just as an appetizer. If you’re looking to make these gluten-free, you can sub in some rolled oats and gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs

Ingredients

Makes 18 small meatballs

For the mealballs:

  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. whole fennel seed, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. sea salt and black pepper
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)

For the lemon pesto sauce:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup pinenuts
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. parmesan, grated
  • 2 tbsp. water, to thin

Method

In the bowl of a food processor, pulverize the lentils into mush. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add in the beaten eggs, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, fennel seed, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to mix well. Stir in the breadcrumbs and let the mix sit for 20 minutes. This will allow the mixture to set and the flavours to develop. Rinse out the food processor as you will need it for the sauce.

Lentil meatball mix

For the lemon pesto sauce, put the garlic, nuts, lemon zest and juice and salt in a food processor and run until smooth. Add in the basil leaves and olive oil until it has a smooth, sauce-like consistency. Add in small amounts of water, oil or lemon juice to thin as desired. Stir in the parmesan and set aside. The sauce will keep covered in the fridge for about a week.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Check the lentil mix by rolling a 1-inch round ball between your palms—if it holds together, it’s ready. If it seems pretty wet, sticks to your hands and falls apart, stir in another tablespoon or two of breadcrumbs until the ball stays together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the mix into small balls and line them up on a baking sheet (they don’t need lots of space between, they won’t spread). If you like a bit more of a crust, brush them with olive oil.

Lentil meatball mix

Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown, gently turning the balls over halfway through baking. Remove to cool slightly before serving. Serve hot with lemon pesto sauce thickly drizzled overtop. Keep any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days and stick them into sandwiches, pastas, soups and salads.

Lentil Meatball

A Guide to French Macarons

French macarons are known to be one of the trickiest cookies to master at home. They are often described as finicky, delicate, and down-right rage-inducing.

First and foremost, I watched this video from Entertaining with Beth on how to get a flawless batch of macarons. I used her recipe for the cookie element and used a basic buttercream recipe for the filling. This was my first attempt at them and I couldn’t be happier. My biggest worry was that I wouldn’t get “feet” on my cookies. The signature feet on macarons are the part that anchors the base of the cookie and the tops; it should appear ruffled and airy.

There are so many great tips in her video that I need to share. I would have been completely stranded otherwise. Sifting the almond meal and sugar to rid of lumps and allowing the batter to sit before baking are two very important and essential steps (more detail below in the instructions).

A couple of things I would change—I used a small tip to pipe the batter which was a small mistake (the recipe is still very doable) it just took much longer. Using an inch tip will help move things along much quicker. There is a part of the process where you need to bang the cookie sheet on the counter to release air bubbles; if piping takes too long, you may struggle to get air bubbles out because the tops of the cookies thicken. If this does happen and you see air bubbles under the surface that aren’t rising up, simply get a toothpick and lightly tap wherever you see bubbles.

Once your cookies come out of the oven they should have the consistency of eggshells on the top, and be slightly chewy in the centre. I botched one or two while piping them out which ended up being my taste testers.

French Macarons

Ingredients

Makes 24-30 macarons

For the cookies:

  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • Food colouring of your choice (I used red gel colouring)

For the buttercream filling:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2-3 drops red food colouring

French Macarons

Method

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Separate the egg whites from the eggs; discard yolks. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and mix until frothy. Add in salt, cream of tartar and granulated sugar, then mix on high for 8-10 minutes until still peaks form (really, they shouldn’t be runny at all).

Add the desired amount of food colouring. I used red gel dye, but you can use drops or any other colour you want. In my experience pale colours are more flattering to the cookie.

Sift almond meal and confectioners’ sugar. If you’re like me and don’t own a sifter, you can use a fine sieve and run the mixture through that to get rid of any chunks. This makes a huge difference in the final product so do not skip this step.

Fold the almond meal/sugar mixture into your egg white mixture by hand. Take note: mixing will make or break your macarons. Under mix and they will mound and crack—over mix and they will be too flat and lack feet (in case you missed what “feet” are, read above). I mixed mine with exactly 75 turns of a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape along the sides of the bowl often; the consistency felt and looked similar to melted marshmallow. Fit a piping bag with a 1-inch tip and fill with batter.

Pipe out 1-inch rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (not greased, not wax paper). Once you finish piping out one pan, grab either side of the cookie sheet and bang it hard on the counter 4-5 times to release air bubbles. If you can see air bubbles but they do not pop on their own, use a toothpick. Repeat until all the batter has been piped.

Again, this is a key step in gaining your feet. Allow the cookies to rest, unbaked, for 20 minutes on the counter before putting them into the oven. When the time finally comes to bake them, only do one sheet at a time so ensure they bake evenly. Once they have rested, bake each pan for exactly 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow them to cool before trying to transfer them.

Meanwhile mix the buttercream. In a small bowl, mix together butter, sugar, vanilla and desired food colouring. It may not look like a large amount, but a little bit goes a long way in this recipe. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip or use a small flat spatula to ice the cookies.

Gently reverse cookie shells on their backs, and pipe a small mound of filling on one of them. Top with the other shell, and repeat until all cookies have been used to sandwich some buttercream filling. Your French macarons are ready to be gawked at and devoured.

French Macarons

French Macarons

Seven(ish) Layer Taco Dip

Taco night will never be the same.

Picture the perfect taco. In my mind, it’s got guacamole (obviously), cheese, sour cream, beans, tomatoes and something to give it a kick. This dip blends all the best toppings for vegetarian tacos and makes it easier than ever to O.D. on Mexican food.

This is great to serve at a party with all kinds of dippable foods: crackers, tortillas, veggie sticks, etc. On less dignified days, I could probably eat it with a spoon. It’s super customizable and can be altered depending on how much spice you like, what dietary restrictions you have, and whether or not you want to go into a food coma.

Seven Layer Taco Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 (454g) can of vegetarian refried beans
  • 5 small avocados, pitted and mashed
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (28g) packet of taco seasoning or 4 tbsp. of a homemade spice blend
  • 2 cups cheese of your choice (I used a habanero heat pre-shredded mix, plus some shredded mild cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 2-3 canned jalapenos, sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Method

Get a large baking dish, or a dish with deep enough sides to hold a couple inches worth of dip.

Spread the entire can of beans out on the bottom of the dish. This is your first layer. Next, mash together the avocados, lime juice, salt and pepper. I wouldn’t go too heavy-handed on the seasoning because the canned beans and taco seasoning will add plenty of flavour (*ahem* sodium). Spread this out on top of the bean layer.

In a food processor, blend together the cream cheese and sour cream with the taco seasoning. Spread this on top of the avocado layer. Sprinkle the cheese of your choice on top. Then comes the tomatoes, corn, jalapenos and scallions. Serve at room temperature or chilled. This dish will stay good for several days as long as it is stored in the fridge (covered).

Seven Layer Taco Dip

Deep Dish Whisky Cream Cheese Brownies

I know, the title is a bit of a mouthful. But when you have whisky, cream cheese and rich walnut brownies all swirled into one enormous mess, you want to make sure people know what they’re in for.

My boyfriend gave me a “brownie in a mason jar” kit for Christmas, which is basically all of the dry ingredients you need to make a batch of brownies layered and pre-mixed so you can just add butter and eggs and get to it. I decided to modify it a bit by throwing in the cream cheese and whisky because really, who doesn’t want that.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to cook with more booze. Every time I add beer to stew, wine to risotto or whisky to baked goods, it always gives it an extra kick that’s hard to find elsewhere; you can also take a sip or two (*cough* or more than two) while you’re at it.
Deep Dish Brownies with Whisky and Cream Cheese

Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  •  3 tbsp. whisky

For the cream cheese filling:

  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp. unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg*

*I didn’t have an egg for this part since I forgot I needed 5 and I only had 4. I ended up using about a tablespoon of mayonnaise (stop grimacing) and it worked perfectly.

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and lightly flour a 9×9-inch baking pan. Set aside.

Stir all dry ingredients together in one bowl (from flour to walnuts in the ingredient list) until well combined. Thoroughly mix in melted butter, eggs and whisky. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until it is flexible. Beat in flour, sugar and egg and mix for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Pour 1/2 the batter into the prepared baking pan. Spread all of the cream cheese mixture evenly over top of the first layer of brownie batter. Pour remaining brownie batter over top, and swirl with a fork or spatula the mix with the cream cheese.**

Bake for roughly 40-45 minutes until a toothpick can be cleanly inserted into the centre. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then careful transfer to a cooling rack until fully cooled. Serve warm with ice cream and syrup or eat as is.

**Mine wasn’t that pretty since it was my first attempt and I semi messed up. Make your own patterns and show me up.

Deep Dish Brownies with Whisky and Cream CheeseDeep Dish Brownies with Whisky and Cream Cheese

Japanese Cold Noodle Salad (Hiyashi Chuka)

Put down everything and pick up your forks because you’re not going to want to miss out on this one.

I made two versions of this dish: one with soba noodles and one with flat rice noodles. For whatever reason, the rice noodles clumped together and remained hardened in certain spots even though they were well cooked everywhere else, so I preferred the soba version. The rice noodles still managed to be salvaged enough for a bowl though (as you’ll see in the photos).

One of the reasons I love this dish so much is because it’s customizable in every way. Want ramen noodles instead? Do it. Don’t like the flavours in the dressing? Whip up one of your own. Pile on whichever toppings you like, create your own, and ditch the ones you’re not too big on.

I know cold noodles may not sound like the most appetizing thing in the world at first. But once you toss on the rice vinegar dressing (don’t be shy with it) and pile it up with toppings, you’ll be a believer.

I adapted this recipe from Emily Han’s version on The Kitchn. She gives great recommendations for toppings (veg and non-veg) and the recipe turned out so well.

Japanese Cold Noodle Salad

Japanese Cold Noodle Salad

Ingredients

Serves 2

Noodles

  • 6 ounces dried noodles (soba, ramen, flat rice, etc.)

Eggs

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • Small amount of vegetable oil for frying

Additional Toppings

  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame, cooked
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels, cooked
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, julienned
  • 1 sheet nori seaweed, sliced into strips
  • 1 scallion, sliced

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce (my favourite is Kikkoman)
  • 3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds

Garnish

  • A handful of sesame seeds
  • 4 large bok choy leaves, washed and trimmed

Method

Noodles

Cook noodles of choice according to package. Drain, and submerge in a bowl of ice water until thoroughly chilled. Drain again and set aside.

Eggs

Whisk together eggs, salt and sugar. Heat a non-stick or cast iron pan and add a small amount of oil so that the surface is just covered. Add in just enough egg to cover the pan—you want it to be as thin as possible. Cook on each side for roughly 10-15 seconds, then transfer to a plate and repeat until all the egg is gone. Depending on the size of your pan, you will get 2-4 sheets. Once all your egg it cooked, cut the sheets into thin strips and set aside.

Dressing

Whisk everything together is a small bowl and set aside.

Assembly

Divide the noodles between two large bowls. Arrange eggs and all other toppings, and garnish with sesame seeds and bok choy leaves. Just before eating, liberally drizzle with dressing and toss.

Japanese Cold Noodle Salad

Extreme Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce

Sometimes you just have to learn lessons the hard way, which is exactly what I did for this recipe.

I grew a decent amount of scotch bonnet peppers in my backyard this year. I wasn’t expecting to have so many (about 20 picked) so I figured hot sauce was the best way to go. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know condiments come and go frequently in my house because I put them on everything. How bad could it be right? Wrong. So very, very wrong.

I removed all of the seeds from the scotch bonnets as I was adding in the jalapenos and wanted it to be hot but edible. I cut them into little strips and tossed them in the pot, along with all the other ingredients. About 10 minutes later, I felt a light itching on my knuckles. 10 minutes after that, the itching was much worse and on most of my fingers. Half an hour in and my hands were red, blotchy, burning and it lasted like that on-and-off for about 5 hours.

Then it came time for me to blend up what was in the pot to get my final result. I always use an immersion blender for anything that’s already in a pot so I don’t have to dirty more dishes and it’s just generally easier. That being said, you really, really don’t want to splash anything from that pot in your eyes, so if you don’t have a pair of safety goggles or sunglasses around, use a closed-top blender.

I blended everything up and within seconds the oils had risen into the air and I began coughing—it felt like a light burning in my throat. I opened all the doors and it still lingered around for 5 minutes afterwards. I ended up blending the rest while covering my mouth with the shirt I was wearing. I was also wearing sunglasses (so I looked ridiculous) but at least that part was fine.

There was one shining saviour in this whole ordeal, which was the actual finished hot sauce. Even just tasting some on the end of a toothpick gives a nice kick but it smells and tastes like a proper homemade hot sauce that would spice up soups, stews, chili or anything that could dilute it a little.

I find it really important that people take my advice on the gloves/goggles situation. So much so that I found it completely necessary to give a bright red disclaimer about it below. Please be careful!

Warning: Wearing the gloves is a must (trust me, my hands burned for hours). Wearing some kind of safety goggles and even a mask to cover your mouth when using an immersion blender is strongly suggested. This sauce is HOT.

Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce

Ingredients

Makes about 2 cups of hot sauce

  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 small white onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 19 scotch bonnet peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 6 small jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar

Method

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, peppers, salt and ginger; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Pour in water and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until all ingredients are cooked.

Wait until the mixture has significantly cooled down (this will help prevent the oils itching your throat), then blend mixture with an immersion blender or a regular closed-top blender. If using the immersion blender method, read warning above.

Once blended, stir in vinegar and sugar. If there are still some fibres from the peppers, run your hot sauce through cheesecloth or a fine strainer. Store in the fridge in an airtight container and add to soup, stew, curry and more to give your dishes a nice big kick.

Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce