The eggplant is an awkward vegetable. It’s purple, sports a strange and pointy green hat, and literally resembles a sore thumb. Poor thing.
Give it a bit of an edge. Dice it up and toss it with balsamic vinegar and a few chopped cherry tomatoes. The awkward aubergine will become an enigmatic eggplant as a member of the prestigious bruschetta trio.
Excellent finger food for parties or for dinner, give these bite-sized bites some confetti of their own by sprinkling them with a couple handfuls of shredded cheese before they make their complete retreat from the oven.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/3 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 eggplant, about the size of a canteen
- Splashes of balsamic vinegar (3-4 tbsps)
- Olive oil
- Bit of italian seasoning (basil, oregano, rosemary)
- Pinch of chili flakes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 fresh baguette
- Shredded cheese (totally optional, if that floats your boat)
Heat oven to 350. Chop garlic and let it cook in a bit of olive oil just before turning golden. Add halved cherry tomatoes and a tiny bit of salt. Place a large lid over skillet and wait until tomatoes look kind of wrinkly.
Meanwhile, chop eggplant and add into mixture. Add couple splashes of balsamic vinegar and a coin of olive oil and cook until texture is spongy. Incorporate spices, salt, pepper.
Cut baguette into 1-2cm thick disks with a serrated knife (looks like it has shark teeth). Lay on a flat baking tray lined with either parchment or aluminum foil. Pat each with olive oil and a spoonful of bruschetta. Let cook in oven for about 7 minutes.
Take out of oven and add cheese. Crank the heat up to broil if you want to brulée your cheese. Re-insert into the fiery furnace for a minute or two. Watching cheese melt is like watching the sun set.
Why waste your gingerbread quota on inedible houses when you can make incredible gingerbread popcorn? It will be poppin’ around the Christmas tree and melting on the tips of your tongues. Suffice it to say, this is the BEST snack we’ve ever made. It is the horse-drawn carriage to Cinderella’s ordinary pumpkin. The fairy godmother of the spice cupboard will bippity-boppity-boo one cup of kernels into two batches of flavours. Make both the gingerbread popcorn and the chili variety for the holidays and you are guaranteed a more-than-merry little Christmas.
Gingerbread Popcorn (adapted from about.com)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup popcorn kernels
- ¾ cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
Prepare oil in a large pot on medium heat and drop three “test” kernels in until popped. Add rest of the popcorn, shaking the pot constantly to avoid burning the little darlings. They are quite sensitive.
Once popcorn is popped, remove from heat and set half aside for the gingerbread popcorn and preheat oven to 200.
In same saucepan, combine butter, sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt over medium-low until mixture looks syrupy. Let it bubble a bit, stirring constantly so that it doesn’t stick to the pan.
Add baking soda (weird but necessary, as you will bake the glazed popcorn to harden it). Pour over popcorn.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment, spread the puffed up kernels evenly and inject into your hearth (oven) for 1 hour, nudging it around a bit every 15 minutes or so.
Behold the best thing you will ever eat this holiday season. And the seasons after.
Cheesy Chili Popcorn (adapted from allrecipes.com)
- ½ popped popcorn (…about 8 cups, see above recipe)
- ¼ smidgeon of butter
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsps parmesan cheese powder
Melt butter with spices and cheese until combined. Pour over popcorn and toss vigorously. Great for parties.
We three are mad as hatters for baked goods, and these rich, flaky scones definitely fit the bill. Perfect for tea parties and un-birthday celebrations alike, scones are a real treat that are also very easy to make if you know a few ground rules.
1. Use only fridge-cold butter, not softened or melted.
2. DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH. You’ll have to knead it, but try to handle it as little as possible. Overworked dough will have a chewy, rather than flaky texture.
3. Scones keep for a few days if stored in an airtight container, but are best fresh.
If raspberries and chocolate chips aren’t your cup of tea, combine either raisins, blueberries, almonds, apples, and cheese into your scones for a whole other dimension of delicious.
Raspberry and Chocolate Cream Scones (adapted from the Joy of Baking)
Ingredients - Yields 8 scones
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup (75 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) cream (we used coffee cream, but heavy cream would make these babies extra decadent)
- ½ cup chocolate chips, semisweet
- 6-10 raspberries
Preheat oven to 375 C. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Break fridge-cold butter up into small chunks. If you have a well-stocked arsenal of kitchen gadgets, mix butter and flour with a pastry blender. Otherwise, use your hands. Mixture should look like tiny doughy pebbles.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, and cream.
Pour liquid mixture into butter/flour bowl, and mix until just combined. When doughy enough to handle, gently knead 2-3 times on a floured surface.
Next, flatten dough and pile chocolate chips and raspberries on top. Use discretion when deciding on the number of raspberries to use, as you don’t want sticky dough. Knead another 2-3 times.
Pat until an inch thick. If you want to be cute, cut out shapes using a cookie cutter (otherwise any old cup will do) and place on a baking sheet. Handle dough sparingly. Try to get as many scones out of the first flattening as possible.
Bake for 15-18 minutes while you ponder why a raven is like a writing desk.
Incidentally, the scones should not be browner than a writing desk.
Serve with tea.
Boil’em, mash’em, stick’em in a stew. Our favourite Shire-ling Samwise Gamgee was the inspiration for tater-time here at the haus. Fun fact: although “shepherd’s pie” is generally used to describe this post’s bi-layered dish— the term should be used only when the meat is mutton or lamb.
Topped with a full fleece of fluffed potatoes, the beef tasted infinitely better when cooked with Korean Barbeque sauce. And no, we didn’t use it only because we had it stored en masse in our cupboards.
Experiment and add some eastern flair to traditional western dishes. You won’t be rewarded air-miles, but your effort will culminate in an appreciation for Chinatown’s little treasures.
Easy Peasy “Shepherd’s” Pie
Ingredient - Serves 4-5
- 5 Potatoes
- 6 tbsps butter
- 1 onion
- 1 ½ lbs ground beef
- 1 cup peas
- 1 cup corn
- 1 tbsp Korean Barbeque Sauce
- Thyme, salt, pepper, to taste
- Shredded cheese, as you wish
- Paprika (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F.
Peel potatoes. Chop into cubes and boil for 15-20 minutes until tender.
While potatoes are boiling, cook onion in 2 tbsps butter until translucent.
Add beef and cook until browned.
Once beef is ready, drain oil (please do, it’s gross if you don’t)
Add peas, corn, Korean Barbeque sauce, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 more minutes over medium-high. Set aside.
Drain and mash potatoes, adding rest of butter, a bit of thyme, and salt.
Spoon beef mixture onto casserole dish and layer with dollops of mashed potato. Top with cheese and paprika, if using.
Bake for 25 minutes and enjoy. It will all be gone within the hour.
The great thing about the kitchen is that you can travel kilometres around the world without enlarging your carbon footprint to the size of King Kong’s paw. With our passports of flavour we were able to marry cuisines both Hispanic and Italian in a little casserole cathedral with our adaptation of Nigella Lawson’s Mexican Lasagna. Here, the chili flakes impart a heat comparable to the climates of the dish’s parent countries. We plan on making it again and again and safely agree that this was amore at first bite.
Mexican Lasagna (adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen)
Ingredients - serves 4
- 1 onion
- 1 red pepper
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 1- 2 tsp chili flakes
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 “can” of water
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can sweetcorn
- 1 cup (or more…) Grated cheese
- 8 soft tortillas
Preheat oven to 400. Heat oil in pan and sweat onion and pepper until soft.
Add salt, spices, canned tomatoes and water. Allow to simmer over medium heat forever (10-15 minutes).
For the filling, mix beans and corn in a bowl and add most cheese, reserving some to layer on top.
Spoon 1/3 salsa into a casserole dish, spreading evenly. Then layer 2 tortillas so that they slightly overlap the sauce, as in a Venn Diagram.
Add 1/3 beans mixture, then a bit more salsa and another 2 tortillas.
Repeat twice more. On final layer sprinkle gratuitous amount of cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes. Let it stand for a bit. But we don’t blame you if you can’t.
Red is a many splendored thing. All you need is a bit of cocoa powder, flour, and well-proportioned liquid ingredients to make an aesthetically pleasing dessert that doesn’t compromise on flavour or moisture. Do not neglect to sift your dry ingredients. The cupcakes should taste like clouds, not coal. Whether for friends or for family, when capped with a snowy layer of icing, these treats make perfect presents for end-of-the-year birthdays.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)
Ingredients - Makes 18 edible red sponges of joy
- 2 ½ cups cake flour, sifted
- 2 tbsps cocoa powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tbsps red food colouring
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Sift and whisk together flour, cocoa and salt.
Buttermilk is like a taxi cab. When you need it, it’s never there. Like the Magic School Bus, lemons will save the day. To make your buttermilk combine 1 cup milk with a tablespoon lemon juice. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Mix in food colouring and vanilla.
Add flour in three batches, alternating between two additions of buttermilk.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three quarters full. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean form the centre.
Top with icing.
Best eaten whilst adorning a huge Mexican sombrero—this means you, Nikki.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients - Makes a lot
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 3 cups icing sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsps cinnamon
Mix cheese and icing sugar until combined. Add vanilla and cinnamon until incorporated. Unless you are very patient and are looking to tone your left or right triceps, we recommend using an electric mixer for this one.
Tis the season to be smitten with soup! Once you have prepared your first from scratch, your spoon will waltz more frequently with this homemade Cinderella. The canned variety is its evil step-sister; it will discover no perks in being a wallflower. Though we did not add the heavy cream that most recipes call for, if you are partial to a creamier consistency, whisk in 1 cup milk before serving. Be sure to have a hand-blender in your kitchen tool-belt. It’s excellent for purées and you will become soup-master supreme in no time.
Easy as Pea Soup (Adapted from Kitchen Scraps)
Ingredients- Serves 4
- 4 cups peas
- 30 mint leaves
- Juice + zest of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1L vegetable stock
Boil peas for 3-4 minutes and drain. Most should be floating to the top.
Combine with mint, oil, and peas and mash (preferably with hand-blender) until it forms a thick paste.
Over medium heat, combine with vegetable stock and heat until well-dissolved.
Serve each with a dusting of pepper and a dollop of plain yogourt (but not if you are vegan! Don’t worry, it will still taste wonderful).
Slurp your way to a smile.
Two-chow isn’t gourmet, but it nevertheless enjoys unparalleled success as St. Laurent’s worst-kept secret. Crispy egg-noodles slathered in “peanut butta sawce” are an affordable staple for everybody’s late-night jaunts around the city. Although we don’t serve our version of “toodles” to the general public with tongs and torn Styrofoam containers, we encourage everybody to make this recipe from scratch. Vegetables make our adaptation a bit healthier than the original—but no less tasty.
Two Dollar Chow Mein—Peanut Butter Noodles (Inspired by St. Laurent Toodles)
Ingredients- Serves 4
- Dash of sesame oil
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 zucchini
- ½ Red Pepper
- 4 bundles of dried egg noodles
- ½ -1 cup Water
Peanut Butter Sauce
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- ¾ cup of peanut butter
Begin by cooking onion with sesame oil over medium-high heat.
Add carrot, zucchini, and red pepper, incorporating a bit of water in the pan as needed
Add noodles and rest of water until you have a soft but slightly crunchy bundle of joy. It should spring back to the touch, as in a loofa.
To make sauce, melt peanut butter in microwave and stir in garlic, ginger, and sesame oil.
Pour over noodles while they are still on the heat and toss to coat for about 1 min.
After a rough day at school, nothing is better than some comfort food. Especially when said comfort food is a bowl full of carbs slathered in meat sauce (or, in the words of that guy from epic meal time, meat SAWCE). Now, spaghetti doesn’t sound like a particularly special meal, but that’s probably because you’re just heating up some sauce from a jar. We promise you can give new life to your noodles by just adding a few ingredients to that sauce. Best of all, spaghetti sauce is totally flexible, and you can use whatever ingredients you have at home to make it to your liking. We do, however, insist on one ingredient – the wonderfully all-purpose Montreal Steak Spice. If you don’t have any, buy some; it will be the best culinary investment you will ever make.
Spaghetti with Meat Sawce
Ingredients - serves 4
- Spaghetti noodles
- 500-750 grams ground beef
- 2-3 teaspoons Montreal Steak Spice
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- A handful of mushrooms, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- Two handfuls of chopped zucchini
- 1 can/jar of pre-made pasta sauce
- 2 teaspoons Italian Herb mix (If you don’t have it, substitute ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, ½ teaspoon dried basil, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
Heat the biggest frying pan you have and add the ground beef (hint for lazy cooks: you can cook ground beef straight from the freezer, just keep scraping off the cooked parts) and the Montreal steak spice. Cook until browned.
In a separate pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, cook until translucent. Add the rest of the vegetables, and sauté until cooked.
When the vegetables are done, add them to the large pan with the ground beef. Add the pasta sauce and Italian herb mix. Stir, and simmer forever.
While your sauce is simmering, cook the spaghetti in a pot of boiling water. When it is perfectly al dente, drain.
Place some noodles a serving on a plate, slather it in meat sawce, and enjoy.
A haven of desserts rich enough to lull you into a sugarbetic coma, Juliette et Chocolat is a Montreal hotspot for first-dates and friendly reunions. Tonight, after a semester-long hiatus, we were reunited with our amiga Nutella and made our own version of the café’s famous frothy beverage. Just as Winnie the Pooh eagerly somersaults into the first vat of honey he sees, this hazelnut spread—when spooned into a warm pot of milk—is perfect for any hungry bear (or student). Let yourself go this Thursday (LYGT—it’s a weekly occasion). Treat yo’self.
Chocolat et Moi: Cinnamon-Nutella Hot Chocolate
Ingredients - Serves 1
- 2 tbsps Nutella
- 1 ½ c milk
- Dash of cinnamon
Combine ½ c milk with 2 tbsps Nutella for every person over low heat.
Stir until Nutella is dissolved and add rest of milk.
Whisk until frothy and add cinnamon, to taste.