Cooking with Alison

Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Introduction to Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tasting

In How-To, Reviews on July 6, 2016 at pm

Photo courtesy of Flavor Your Life

On July 5, 2016,the Flavour Your Life program, which is funded by the European Union and the Italian government, hosted an extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) tasting event in Toronto. The event was held at Buca Osteria & Enoteca on King Street West, where the food and drinks were incredible, by the way. It’s my new favourite Italian restaurant and I can’t wait to go back! I usually only purchase Greek EVOO, so I was very excited to learn more about Italian EVOO. A HUGE thank you to Gordon from Confessions of a Toronto Foodie who told me about this opportunity.

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Carrot and Roasted Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

In Sides and Sauces, Soups and Salads on June 14, 2016 at am

Salad prior to being tossed with dressing.

The timing of my discovery of this recipe was perfect, because I was looking for winter-friendly cold salads, I had all of the ingredients on hand, and it helped me clear out my pantry. I’ve made this for pot lucks, picnics, and packed lunches. I hope you’ll try it for yourself.

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Favourite Kale Salad Recipe

In Soups and Salads on April 25, 2016 at am

John and I are lucky enough to be apart of a community garden down the street from our home. We grow kale every year and we love making salads with the young tender leaves. But you don’t need a garden to enjoy kale salads. You can use the older bunches of kale that you find in grocery stores. The trick is to massage the leaves with citrus/vinegar and extra virgin olive oil until the leaves darken in colour and soften in texture. What I love most about kale salads is that the leaves maintain their texture despite being doused with salad dressing.

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Favourite Peperonata Recipe

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Sides and Sauces on April 2, 2016 at am

I was first introduced to peperonata at a restaurant that used it as a topping for bruschetta. I then learned that peperonata is either served as a side dish or with sliced bread. I adapted an authentic, Italian (Sicilian) recipe to recreate the version that I had at the restaurant, so that I could serve it on top of toasted baguette slices for a party. If you prefer a more authentic version, cut the bell peppers into large chunks, add tomatoes, simmer longer, and allow it to be more liquidy.


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Orzo Salad with Olives and Feta Recipe

In Pasta, Rice, and Doughs, Soups and Salads on March 25, 2016 at am


I don’t cook with olives or feta cheese very often, because I try to stick to a low sodium diet, but when I received a can of olives from Spain as a souvenir, I knew that I had to do them justice. In my opinion, this orzo salad was the perfect way to use them, because the olives add the perfect saltiness and tanginess to the otherwise bland pasta. The great thing about this salad is that it can be served cold or at room temperature and during any season.

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Broccoli and Smoked Cheddar Soup Recipe

In Soups and Salads on March 1, 2016 at am

Broccoli and cheddar cheese soup is okay, but broccoli and smoked cheddar soup is addictive. I always choose the smoked version of a cheese when it’s available (e.g. smoked gouda, smoked raclette (see how to make a raclette dinner here), smoked gruyère, smoked provolone, smoked mozzarella). When it comes to smoked cheddar, I prefer the brand, Balderson’s double smoked cheddar cheese, aged 1 year.


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Korean Broccoli Salad Recipe

In Asian, Other Asian Foods, Sides and Sauces, Soups and Salads on October 25, 2015 at am

In Korean cuisine, small flavourful side dishes are often served with each meal.  This broccoli is one of those delicious Korean side dishes that can also be enjoyed as a cold salad.  This would be a great accompaniment for kalbi (BBQ beef short ribs) (see recipe here), or jap chae (see recipe here).

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Basic Hummus Recipe

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks on June 1, 2015 at am

Let me count the ways that I love hummus:  It’s healthy, easy to make, cost efficient and you can eat it with pretty much anything you have on hand.  You can spread it on a sandwich, wrap, and baguette slices for crostini, or you can serve it with dippers (ie. vegetables, crackers, pita, bagel chips (see recipe here), bread sticks, etc.).  It’s perfect for entertaining, because it can be made in advance and it makes a great vegetarian / vegan option.

I’ve compared hummus made with fresh garlic, roasted garlic, and garlic infused oil.  Garlic lovers will enjoy the roasted garlic and garlic infused oil in hummus, so instructions have been provided for both.  This is my favourite basic hummus recipe.  Enjoy it plain or experiment with different variations.  For example, you could add fresh parsley, or cilantro, and/or dill.  Also, I use limes instead of lemons when I have them on hand.  See my sun dried tomato hummus recipe here and my cilantro lime hummus recipe here.

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Japanese Seaweed Salad Recipe

In Other Asian Foods, Soups and Salads on March 21, 2015 at am

Seaweed salad is my favourite Japanese side dish.  The seaweed salad is bold in flavour with the naturally salty seaweed paired with toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar.  Seaweed salad is, in my opinion, very expensive when purchased pre-made.  Luckily, it is very easy, and much less costly, to make at home.  Although, many different varieties of seaweed can be used for salad, it can be difficult to find the most popular type.  After years of searching, I finally found some at the Asian grocery store chain, T & T.  Check the refrigerators and the freezers.  Also, I haven’t been able to figure out why the restaurants’ seaweed is always so much greener in colour.  If you know the reason behind this, please let me know in a comment!  Thanks so much!


Frozen wakame was used for this seaweed salad.

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Mini Herbed Polenta Rounds

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks on December 12, 2014 at am

Mini polenta rounds are a great base for a large range of meaty or meat-less hors d’oeuvres.  They’re also cost effective and easy to make for a large crowd.  For my dad’s surprise 60th birthday party, I topped these mini herbed polenta rounds with sauteed cremini mushrooms tossed in balsamic cream.  They were one of the party favourites.




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Crisp and Crunchy Gingerbread Cookies Recipe (and DIY Gingerbread Decorations)

In Cookie Decorating, Cookies, Desserts, DIY and Crafts on December 7, 2014 at am


I hated gingerbread until two years ago, when my friend Allan made delicious chewy gingerbread cookies for his naughty cookie decorating party (see the photos of our x-rated cookies here).  Last year, I fell even harder for gingerbread when I discovered this recipe for wonderfully crisp and crunchy gingerbread cookies.  They were addictive!  I made more batches of mini gingerbread men than I could count and turned some of them into decorations for my family’s Christmas tree (see below for how to make gingerbread ornaments and garland).  They made the tree smell delicious.  Thank you to the White family for sharing this recipe with me.  For an even better gingerbread idea, see not martha’s gingerbread mug decorations here.  They are mini gingerbread houses that perch on the edge of mugs!!!  I can’t wait to make these next year!

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Naughty Gingerbread People

In Cookie Decorating, Cookies, Desserts on December 2, 2014 at am

WARNING:  The following material contains photos of sexual nature that are intended for mature audiences only.  Reader and viewer discretion is advised.

Two years ago, my friend Allan threw a cookie decorating party where we cut out (freehand using a small, sharp knife), baked, and decorated gingerbread people doing naughty things.  I’m not talking about the typical gum drop boobies, I’m talking about The Cookie Sutra.  It was a lot of fun.  Luckily, I can’t take credit for all of them. 🙂  Decorations aside, the chewy gingerbread cookie dough that Allan made was so delicious that it converted me into a gingerbread fan!  I ate more gingerbread cookies that day than I ever had in my entire life.  That is, until last Christmas when I discovered my new favourite recipe for making crisp and crunchy gingerbread cookies (see here).  (See my gingerbread house here.)

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