Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Zucchini pizza crust (Gluten Free and Paleo)

I'm sure you've heard of the cauliflower crust, it's been a bit of a craze lately.  I've had it bookmarked for ages but then when I came upon this zucchini crust I just had to make it, of course I had a bunch of zucchini on hand so here we go... 

Now there are a couple of recipes out there I'm sure and I followed a general guide but really this is my own method. 

For 2 plate size pizzas you need: 

7 medium zucchinis, grated. Remove ends and grate on the large side of the box grater. 

Add 1 tbsp salt and mix using a big spoon or hands. Now add it to a colander over top a big bowl or over the sink to drain the liquid. You could weigh the top down by placing a bowl inside the colander over the zucchini and placing another heavy item inside the bowl. 

In the meantime make the sauce: 

1 can whole tomatoes, san marzano are the best. Drain the tomatoes out of the liquid and chop. 

In a saucepan heat 1 tbsp olive oil, Add chopped garlic (as much as you like) and add tomatoes. Season and saute then put on medium low with the lid off until all the water evaporates and it's a nice chunky dry sauce. 

(refer to the pic below to get an idea) 

Now squeeze out all the water from the zucchini using your hands by squishing a half a cup at a time between your palms and letting the liquid drip away.  Place the squished zucchini into a small saucepan or microwave safe dish. 

Now you either microwave on high for 3 mins or you can steam in a saucepan on high for 3-4 minutes. 

I don't really like using a microwave so I went the stove top method. Now again place the zucchini back in the colander and let it cool.  Once cool squeeze out more juice. Taste and it should be nice and flavourful not too salty. 

Add 1 egg

5 tbsp almond meal (ground almond or almond flour) 
3 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese (The real deal!) 
1/2 cup grated mozarella cheese. 
Black pepper and a dash of granulated garlic

Mush it all up and roll it into 2 balls. Place on a baking sheet and bake. Some recipes say to grease/spray the pan but honestly with all the cheese I didn't want any extra fat and surprisingly it does brown up from the cheese so you don't need to. 

Bake on 450 F until it's bubbly and browned. 

Remove from the oven and spread the sauce over top and add more cheese and toppings. I used halloumi cheese which I've sliced and soaked in some warm water for about 30 minutes to remove the excess salt then drained it well and pressed it on a paper towel. Add fresh herbs like basil after baking or a nice handful of fresh arugula with a squeeze of lemon! MMMmmm. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Moroccan inspired Haddock bowl!

Today I'm sharing a recipe that is super easy and elegant, it's perfect for summertime or Autumn!

.. it's basically just my lunch when I'm inspired to whip something quick and healthy...

As always I'll be using my favourite Highliner Flame Savours which are already pre-seasoned and just go directly from freezer to oven for 20 minutes on 400 F.  I use these so often that you may be wondering if Highliner is paying me to do these posts but the truth is they're not and I simply adore these!

Who would't love how easy, convenient and healthy without the hassle of thawing fish in the sink, seasoning and cooking.

I've highlighted key instructions that need to be prepared first with a (*) beside it so everything can run smoothly.

The elements of this dish are a saffron couscous with a lentil and vegetable medley and then the fish. Really super easy!

*Lentils: Use canned but I prefer to use dry.
1/4 cup lentils, washed and boiled in a saucepan in lots of water. Season water with salt and simmer until tender.  Drain and set aside.

For the vegetable medley: 

*1 zucchini, diced and salted in a colander for about 15 minutes, squeeze the excess liquid out with hands and rinse under cool water then squeeze again. Set aside

Olive Oil
1/2 large red onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 tomato diced
1 heaping tsp tomato pasta

Salt & black pepper

2 tbsp water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (or sherry vinegar)

Heat the olive oil and add the vegetables all at once, stir and add the spices then tomato pasta and fry it around a bit. Add water, vinegar and cover then simmer on low.  Half way through remove all the veggies to one side of the pan and add the lentils to keep them warm. Cover and wait for the fish to be ready for serving.

At this point you can bake your Highliner Flame Savours Haddock fish according to instructions

Meanwhile.... prepare the couscous! 

Ahead of time I prepare the couscous, 1/2 cup serves 2 people.

In a bowl add:

(The rule of thumb is to add equal parts couscous and water, never mind the instructions on the box that says add double the amount of water - it's simply too much!!)

*Presoak (even the night before if you wish but about 15 minutes is ideal if you're in a hurry, want to extract as much flavour as Saffron is an expensive ingredient)

1 tbsp warm water and a couple of threads of saffron

For the couscous

1/2 cup dry couscous
1 tsp olive oil
Lemon zest

Mix all this up with a fork and then add 1/2 cup of hot boiling water, cover with a cling wrap and set aside for 5 minutes.

Drizzle the saffron water over the couscous once it's done and after fluffing with a fork, set aside.

To serve layer the couscous on a plate and add lentils and the veggies over top then a piece of fish with a squeeze of lemon juice.
You could garnish with cilantro or add cilantro into the chopped medley if desired.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

"Mac & Cheese" Arabic Style!

I always see this arabic cheese at the middle eastern grocer but never sure what to do with it but today I'm sharing a fantastic (and kid friendly) recipe courtesy of my Syrian friend!

- 1 package Macaroni or favourite pasta
- 1 package of Arabic Baladi cheese (which is a white salty fresh cheese similar to the Mexican queso fresco)
- 2-3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp parsley, chopped finely
- Salt & black pepper (remember the cheese is salty too)

Start by chopping the cheese into small cubes and soaking in some warm water to remove excess salt.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, adding salt to season and boil your pasta.

Chop parsley and set aside.

Drain the cheese well and then drain the pasta when al dante.
Add butter to the pot and fry the pasta in the butter for a couple of minutes. Taste and season.  Add the cheese and just as it begins melting add your parsley and stir for another 3 minutes or so. 
Serve immediately!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Crab, Avocado and Grapefruit Salad


5 leaves of boston lettuce or butter lettuce

1 container of real crab meat (you'll find it in your local seafood section) 

1 Avocado, removed pit and skin and slice into wedges

1 grapefruit, segmented to remove the flesh.

1 tbsp chives


Grape fruit juice
1 tbsp olive oil
Vinegar or lemon juice
Salt & black pepper

Lay out the lettuce leaves on a serving plate. Arrange the avocado slices and grapefruit pieces.

Add the crab meat, distributing throughout and then sprinkle with chives.
Drizzle dressing and enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools!

Kitty litter cake!

So much fun to make and more fun to eat... pranking people with it is also rather amusing

The recipe I'm using today is inspired by the "Better than Sex Cake" recipe which is wildly famous (so it seems!) and it's quite tasty. Here's my spin on it.
Cake:  2 X the following recipe

Hershey's Black Magic Cake
(I baked this recipe twice and it yielded 2 long rectangular pans)

1/2 cup oil  (I used butter flavoured EVOO From Olive That!) or grape seed oil 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (Or mix yogurt with water to a nice thick liquid creamy consistency) 

1 cup strong black coffee OR 2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee plus 1 cup boiling water (or just plain boiling water) 

Dry ingredients:
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Cocoa Powder 
2 cups sugar

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk, warm slightly in the microwave for a couple of seconds so it's easy to pour. 


1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Lay a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch rectangular baking pan.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (Batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pan.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen cake from side of pan and remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

For the second cake I removed from the oven and poked it all over with a skewer (not all the way through to the bottom) and then I poured some condensed milk (1/3 cup) by gently spooning some over the top and spreading it for the warm cake to absorb.

Set both cakes aside.

Salted Caramel Sauce: Recipe adapted slightly from Strawberry Chocolate Concoction 


1 cup granulated sugar

3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut in three squares from the stick 
(should but firm - from the fridge is fine, but not melty)

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 tsp sea salt (fleur de sel is best)

You can use raw cane sugar, which is a light brown color, which is why my caramel is a bit darker than if you were to start with white sugar

Heat sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula.
Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a deep, golden-brown, amber-colored viscous liquid. At all times, be careful not to burn!
Once the sugar is all melted, immediately add the butter. The mixture will bubble, so do watch out. Stir until the butter has completely melted and is mixed well into the sugar.
Slowly pour in the heavy cream. Due to the reaction between the cold cream and hot sugar mixture, the final mixture will bubble vigorously. Allow the mixture to boil/bubble for 30 seconds. It will rise in the pan as it does so. Once again, watch that it's not burning!
Remove from heat and stir in salt.. Allow to cool.

Store in a tightly-capped jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Warm slightly before using again.

(You may have some leftover, which is ok) 

Whipping cream:

2 (500 ml) small cartons of heavy (35%) cream
3 heaping tbsp powder sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

(Whip all together in the blender or kitchen aid until it is fluffy but not too whipped, just softer peaks.)


Prepare your food safe tub or container that resembles a kitty litter. Place a piece of parchment at the bottom and then set your first cake inside (the one without the sweetened condensed milk!)

Layer with half the whipped cream and drizzle caramel next.

The next layer of cake may have to be sliced horizontally into 2 layers if your container isn't a perfect square, otherwise there will be gaps as in my case where the tub got wider at the top and more narrow at the bottom.

I sliced the cake horizontally in a diagonal angle downwards from the middle and out to the side and was able to gently slide that piece over to cover the gap.  In the end it will look and taste delicious so no worries.

Another layer of whipped cream and more caramel.

At the very end and before serving sprinkle the entire top with toffee bits (skor?) and make sure no gaps are visible.  It will look exactly like kitty litter (more precisely the type I use which is corn litter by World's best cat litter)

Treat as a trifle and scoop pieces out.  It's absolutely delicious!