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The Ultimate Summer Party Menu

I love to host parties- there’s something really satisfying about hosting a good get together at my home. Whether it be a birthday party (mine or otherwise) a New Year’s Eve bash, or something as simple as a dinner on a weeknight with friends. Having my place be the gathering place has always been important to me. It’s why I’ve always made sure to be prepared for a guest or two to stop over, and more importantly, it’s made me know how to put together a menu for when I’ve invited people over.

This week I had a few friends over to celebrate the beautiful weather and more importantly- just get together! Knowing I wanted to put together a menu that would be tasty, would sit out well, and would be fairly easy to make (who wants to be slaving in the kitchen while you’ve got people over, right)? What made this fun was I got to work with Woolwich Dairy to help put together this summer feast and share my menu for the Ultimate Summer Party.

Here is the menu I put together and the food I served on the day:

Appetizer: Oven Roasted Corn with Chilli Lime Butter and Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles
Main: Hot Italian Sausages with Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles, Pickled Hot Peppers and Fresh Greens
Dessert: Woolwich Dairy Triple Creme Goat Brie and Cranberry Jelly Pops

Now before I start listing the ways to make these, you may be wondering- why only goat cheeses? I, along with many of my friends, are becoming increasingly picky about what we want to put in our bodies. It is important that we not only know where our food is coming from, but that we’re making the best choices to help fuel our body and keep us healthy. I personally prefer Goat Cheese for a lot of my meals using cheese because it has less naturally occurring sugars and contains more potassium, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Iron. It’s also higher in protein and most importantly, has lower lactose levels than normal milk. That last one is a big deal for me- I’m very sensitive to lactose, and whereas I may not feel as great after eating traditional dairy products, I don’t notice the same feeling after goat milk products! Always an added bonus! Now, onto the menu!

Oven Roasted Corn with Chilli Lime Butter and Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles

Corn on cutting board

Nothing says summer better than corn on the cob! Super sweet, can be dressed savoury and always a crowd favourite. This is a go-to recipe of mine and I make it every year. I play around with the amount of spices and seasonings (it’s not an exact science to say the least). So have fun with these and see what works for you!

Ingredients: 

Ingredients: 

Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Grill the corn in their husks until the husks start to blacken, about 3 minutes per side. (If you don’t have a grill, or you bought your corn without husks, you can simply bake these on a roasting pan for about 20 minutes at 400F.

Mix together the butter, chilli powder, cayenne pepper, lime juice and some salt and black pepper in a bowl until incorporated.

Peel back the corn husks or remove entirely. (If pre-husked, ignore)

Rub the chilli-lime butter all over the corn. Garnish with the goat cheese.

Hot Italian Sausages with Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles, Pickled Hot Peppers and Fresh Greens

Ingredients:

To serve: ketchup, mustard, relish, etc…

Instructions

Cook your sausages according to the instruction when you buy (typically around 350F for 25-30 minutes).

While your sausages are cooking, on a grill or grill pan, heat to hot, and place your buns inside faced down until lightly toasted.

Once your buns are toasted, prep your condiments (cut olives in half, put everything into bowls, etc..)

Once the sausages are cooking, start with a bed of greens in your buns, top with the sausage, and add your condiments, finishing with the goat cheese.

Woolwich Dairy Triple Creme Goat Brie and Cranberry Jelly Pops

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F

On a lightly floured surface, roll out your first sheet of puff pastry to about 1/4″ thick. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, divide into 6 equal sized squares. Place aside and do same with second sheet.

With the first set of pastry squares, place ~2 tbsp of jelly in the middle of the square and place your brie in the middle of the jelly. Skewer the brie with your popsicle or lollipop stick and then repeat for all 6 squares.

In a bowl, whisk your egg and water together and brush the egg wash around the edges of the of the pastry square you have the brie and jelly in, and top with the second set up pastry squares (this will help them stick) and then use a fork to seal the edges by crimping around the whole square (being extra careful to seal around the stick).

Brush the egg wash over the top of each square and bake on a baking sheet with parchment paper for 12-15 minutes (depending on your oven, mine took 13).

Cool for 5 minutes and serve!

I hope that you enjoyed this summer party menu and are able to use some of these for your next get together! It’s an easy, stress free way to have a feast for your friends and family! Thanks again to Woolwich Dairy for sending me great product and being just as excited to work with me on this.

Chocolate Chewy Vegan Bites

A few weeks ago a friend was asking me what kind of healthy “cheat” snacks I could make that were vegan. I thought about this- I mean, you could go with a potato based anything, and a lot of candies and junk foods are vegan, but I wanted something that could be easily made at home and be picked at for a few days. I tried out a few variations of these bites and are thrilled to say these are the winners! My chocolate chewy vegan bites!

Ingredients

1 Cup Cooked White Quinoa
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup agave nectar (or maple syrup)
¼ cup naturally sweetened peanut butter (with cane or coconut sugar)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
½  teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of fine grain sea salt
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (divided into 2)

Instructions

  1. Line a small baking sheet or any flat surface with wax or parchment paper.
  2. Add all ingredients to a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir well to combine.
  3. Scoop tiny bite-sized spoonfuls onto the baking sheet (about 12 total). With the remaining coconut, sprinkle over the bites. Place baking sheet into the freezer and allow to set for 3 hours until bites are fully hardened.
  4. Enjoy straight out of the freezer. The fudgy bites will start to soften at room temperature after about 7-10 minutes.

How to Make Empanadas

There a lot of different types of empanadas. The way I view it is that a lot of countries have their own sandwiches, and this is no different. Many countries and different cultures have different types of empanadas. Some made with white flour, some with cornmeal, some fried, some baked. My favourite to date would have to be Colombian empanadas. I love the flavour of the dough made with yellow cornmeal, and the pork and beef fillings are always so perfectly spiced that you want a lot more than one (and in fairness, these are small, so it’s not terrible to have 3 or 4, at least that’s what I’m going to tell myself). I’ve played around a lot with this recipe, so I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients: 

Dough:
1-1/2 cups precooked yellow cornmeal
2 cups water
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 Tsp Cumin
1/2 Tsp Salt

Filling:
1 3/4 Cups peeled and diced white potatoes
1 Chicken Bouillon Cube (reduced sodium)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Chopped White Onion
1/4 Cup Chopped Green Onion
1/2 Cup chopped tomatoes
2 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Chopped Chives
2 Tbsp Jalapeno
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
1/4lb ground pork
1/4lb ground beef

Instructions:

  1. To make the dough, place the cornmeal in a large bowl. Add the cumin, garlic powder and salt and mix. Add water and oil and mix together to form the dough. Pat it into a ball and knead it for about 2-3 minutes (make sure it is nice and smooth). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 20-30 minutes while you work on the filling.
  2. Cook the potatoes in a pot with water and the bouillon cube for 20 minutes (or until the potatoes are tender). Drain and very gently mash the potatoes and set them to the side.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a heavy bottom skillet. Add the white and green onion and cook on medium low for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, jalapenos, chives, garlic salt and pepper and cook for about 15 minutes.
  4. Add in the ground pork and beef and cook. Break up the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. It should take about 15-20 minutes to cook the meat (it should be dry).
  5. Add the meat mixture to the bowl with the mashed potatoes and mix well to combine them all together.
  6. Breaking off about 1- 1 1/2 Tbsp sized pieces of dough, form them into balls and place them between two pieces of plastic wrap and roll them until they form a very thin circle. Remove the plastic off the top and place 1 Tbsp of the filling in the centre of each. Using the plastic on the bottom side, fold the dough (carefully, and this will take a few tries on your first time making these) enclose the filling, forming a crescent. Seal the edges with a fork.
  7. In a heavy bottom cast iron pan, add vegetable oil (about 1″ deep) and heat to about 350-360F. ( I suggest using a thermometer for this).
  8. Place a few empanada in the oil, flipping as the bottom side starts to crisp up. This will take ~1 minute per side.
  9. Carefully remove them from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the oil. Serve with lime and aji and you’ve got the perfect snack!

 

I hope you like these as much as I do, and if you try your hand at them, please tag me and let me know if you made any changes!

Homemade Peanut Butter and Jam “Poptarts”

I used to LOVE Poptarts as a kid. There wasn’t really a flavour that I didn’t like. Sprinkles? Great. Raspberry? Perfect. Chocolate? Even better. Now, even though I haven’t had one in years (not really something you pick up at the grocery store in between your frozen greens and chicken breasts) when I started seeing a lot of people trying their hand at making their own, I was like “I can do that!” Challenged by a friend of mine via DM to make some different flavoured ones, I came up with these- Peanut Butter and Jam PopTarts.

Ingredients:
Pastry:
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Cup unsalted butter, cold, cubed
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Milk

Filling:
3/4 cup raspberry jam (roughly one medium sized jar)
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Tbsp Water
2-3 Tbsp Powdered Peanut Butter

Glaze: 
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1.5 Tbsp Milk
1/4 Tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

Filling: 

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water, and then combine with the jam in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool. Once this has cooled, add in your powdered peanut butter 1Tbsp at a time. Taste as you go, and that will determine how much you’ll want to add.

Pastry:

  1. In a large bowl (trust me, you’ll want the room) whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender (or a fork) cut in the butter until it is the size of peas and when you squeeze the mixture it holds together. (A good trick for this is to cut the butter into small enough cubes and mix them in slow so you get the thorough mix). In a smaller bowl, mix together the egg and milk and then add it to your dough. Combine with a fork until everything is evenly mixed and moist. On a floured countered, knead it briefly until the dough is perfectly together.
  2. Divide the dough in half (if you’d like, you can wrap these in plastic and store in fridge for 2-3 days) and roll out one of these pieces to about 1/8″ thick and about 9″x 12″ (think like a big piece of paper). Using a very sharp knife or pastry wheel,  trim the edges and then divide the dough into 3×4 rectangles. Transfer these (with a spatula, you want to avoid introducing them to your body heat) to a lined baking sheet.
  3. Brush an egg wash (egg and milk) on each of the rectangles and spoon a tablespoon or so of filling into the centre of each rectangle (make sure there is a border of about 1/2″ around the edges).
  4. Roll out and cut your second piece of dough just like you did the first and place a second rectangle of dough onto each of the already assembled ones. Using your fingers to press around the edges to seal then, Use a fork to then crimp the edges and poke small holes in the top to allow air to escape.
  5. Refrigerate the pan with the pastries (you don’t need to cover them) for 30-45 minutes (You want them to get hard).
  6. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  7. Bake the pastries for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. If you’re not planning on using the icing, you can eat them fairly warm (just be careful not to burn yourself). If you’re using the glaze, I toss these into the fridge for 30 minutes to cool down. Once cooled, combine all the glaze ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the poptarts (sitting them on a wire rack and doing it this way gives them a really pretty glaze).

I hope you enjoy these! The peanut butter was a lucky surprise when I was making these and I hope you’ll come to love them as much as I do.

Dry Rub Flank Steak with Corn and Jalapeño Salsa

When you live in a condo (unless you’re willing to rent out one of the BBQs in the common area) it’s pretty rare that you’re going to BBQ anything. Now, I never grew up at the grill, but always loved a great flame broiled burger, steak, or well, anything really. So when it comes to summer steak and hosting, I always felt I was going to be limited. That was until I learned you can get almost a perfect match using a cast iron grill pan, a stove top and a piping hot oven. (I use a Le Creuset and a Staub cast iron grill pan because I know they can take the heat, but always make sure your cookware is made for high temperature and stove to oven use). This is one of my favourite summer time treats and hopefully it will be yours too!

Ingredients:

Dry Rub:
2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar
1.5 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1.5 tablespoon paprika
2.5 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1.5 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1.5 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 heaping teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon thyme

Steak and Salsa:
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grill
3 cups corn
1/4 large red onion,finely chopped
2 jalapeño finely chopped (I keep the seeds)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 limes
freshly ground pepper
1 medium sized flank steak (about 1.5lbs- ask your butcher to get you the right size).

Instructions:

Dry rub:
Combine brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, granulated garlic, mustard powder, thyme and cumin in a small bowl.

Salsa:
Add your corn and jalapeño to a medium sized skillet on medium high heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes (closer to 10 if frozen corn). This will get everything hot and release some flavour from the pepper. Remove from heat and add in your onion, tomatoes, cilantro and juice the limes. Add in pepper and stir until well mixed. Set aside (or put in the fridge covered if you’re making your steak later)

The Rest:
Take your spice mix, and rub into each side of the steak (I lay it all out in a tray, and drag the steak through it, and then I packed the spices it didn’t catch and rub it into the steak by hand until it no longer falls off. Add a bit of olive oil to each side to keep everything on. Pre-heat your grill or grill pan until very hot. You only need about 4 minutes per side if you want medium rare (a bit longer if you have a thicker or bigger cut). Once cooked to your liking, remove from heat. DO NOT CUT RIGHT AWAY. Leave it for 10 minutes so the juices seal in. Once that’s done, I put it in the broiler on high for 1 minute or so. Serve by cutting against the grain and top with the salsa.

Homemade Butter Chicken

I LOVE buttered chicken. What I don’t like is the fact it’s often one of the most sodium riddled foods you can get as takeaway. I try to watch my salt and overall food intake each day, and when you want a treat, you don’t necessarily want to have 3 days worth of sodium and 2000 calories for buttered chicken and rice. This recipe you’ll notice is a much lighter approach to buttered chicken. You still feel warm and cozy, but you don’t get the “salt sweats” as I call them.

Ingredients:
4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts (appr. 2lb)
4 Tbsp butter
1 Large White Onion, Finely chopped
5 Cloves roughly chopped garlic
1/3 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
Fresh Cilantro

Spice Mixture:
2 Tsp Curry Powder
2 Tsp Garam Masala
2 Tsp Curry Paste
1.5 Tbsp Ginger
Pinch of Black Pepper

Wet Ingredients:
5.5 oz Can Tomato Paste
1 Cup Coconut milk
1 Cup 35% Cream
1.5 Tbsp Honey

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, combine all the spices.
  2. In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients.
  3. In a pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and soften the onion for 10 minutes. Add the salt, garlic, and spices and cook for 2–3 more minutes.
  4. In a food processor, process the onion and Greek yogurt until smooth. Season with pepper.
  5. In a pan, melt the rest of the butter.
  6. Add the onion mixture and the liquid ingredients. Mix well and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat, add the chicken, and simmer for 1.5–2 hours. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. (Your chicken may cook quicker depending on size of cubes. Test after 1.5 hours).
  8. Serve over rice, naan, or eat on its own. This also tastes great cold straight out of the container.

I love when you try your hands at what I’ve put together! Feel free to share your comments, suggestions, and what you did below, and if you made it, tag me on Instagram at @JackDHarding

Easy Spiced Carrot Recipe

When you’re growing up, you don’t understand nor appreciate what goes into mealtime. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. They’re all just what you’re waiting for when you’re hungry. As you eventually move out, you realize (quite fast) that there is a lot more than goes into mealtime than simply saying “I’m hungry.”

The groceries, the time spent thinking what you’re going to make, and inevitably, the making. I would make the argument that when you’re young (whether that be a child, or to living on your own for the first time) you’ll always think of eating out as the best option. When you’re a kid it’s because “Yay Chicken Fingers!” When you’re an adult it’s, “Yay Chicken Fingers I Don’t Have to Make!” As time goes on though, the thought of going out for a meal you could make better at home just doesn’t cut it anymore. You want a quiet night in with a great bottle of wine and a warm cooked meal. It’s for this reason I learned how to cook.

What I also learned through cooking and eating at home, was that you can create some spectacular bonds over food. Going to a restaurant your conversations can be overshadowed by the noise and bustle of the place you’re eating. You may not want to share intimate details at your local diner either. When you’re in someone’s home though, you feel a lot more comfortable. It’s for this reason I started to host and invested in a dining table to squeeze into my small, one bedroom condo. It started with the regular holiday dinners like Thanksgiving and Christmas, where I would have friends over who didn’t have somewhere to go, and we’d share a beautiful home cooked dinner over wine, music all night, and stories that I can still tell you today. It has since evolved into brunches, “no reason” dinners, and celebrations! The amount of people I have gone from being acquaintances to, or barely knowing, to having a much deeper understanding and respect for as a result of these meals is countless.

It also brings me to my next point: When you go out for dinner you’ll likely forget your meal. When you host or are hosted, you’ll likely remember that night and have those memories forever. I’ve had guests who have told me months later how they still think about certain dishes I’ve made. I can also tell you about meals I’ve had made for me that changed the way I’ve viewed certain foods. Can I tell you about my last meal out? Not really. There are a few standout dinners, but they lack in comparison to the memories, stories, and unforgettable evenings I have had in with those I love. If you can, do your best to have people over this year. It will change your outlook, and give you a newfound respect for the art of a home cooked meal.

Speaking of things that friends have talked to me about months after making them, my roasted carrots have become somewhat of a signature of mine. Spiced to perfection and roasted until they’re perfect- you’ll definitely want this on your table for your next dinner in.

Ingredients:
2lb sliced, crinkle, or baby carrots
3tsp cinammon
3 tsp black pepper
3 tsp hot paprika
3 tsp chilli powder
3 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. In a large freezer bag, combine all spices, olive oil and sesame oil
  3. Pour carrots into bag and seal
  4. Shake bag until carrots are well coated
  5. Spread carrots on baking sheet with parchment paper
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until they’ve begun to crisp
  7. Enjoy!

I love when you try your hands at what I’ve put together! Feel free to share your comments, suggestions, and what you did below, and if you made it, tag me on Instagram at @JackDHarding

My Favourite Savoury French Toast

It’s widely regarded that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s the kick start to your day, your metabolism, and helps fuel you for the rest of your day. It’s the meal you had made for you as a child (whether that was a bowl of cereal, oatmeal, or a full out Full English) and the meal you always dream of having brought to you in bed.

I grew up in a house where breakfast was more of a “fend for yourself” type situation. Sure, there was the occasional morning where you’d get your bread toasted and smeared with peanut butter (extra toasty, and crunchy peanut butter if you’re ever thinking of making me toast) but for the most part, you’d pour yourself some cereal, or get the kettle going for some instant oatmeal. However, about once a month- and after some prodding for days before- you’d wake up to the smell of bacon. You’d come down the stairs and in the kitchen would be trays of bacon, sausages, hash browns, pancakes, and all the fixings. It was one of the best days because you’d be so full for the whole day (and probably had enough salt to keep you a little plump for 3 days).

Fast forward to life on your own and you realize that you won’t magically wake up to breakfast anymore. It was one of the things I genuinely missed when moving out, and even more when I started living by myself. I made a promise to myself that breakfast would be a meal I wouldn’t miss, and I would always take the time for. Some people wake up early to do their hair and makeup. Some people wake up early to go for a run. Some people don’t wake up early at all. Me? Well, it often means getting up a couple hours before I need to start my day, putting the kettle on, and putting something together for myself.

I’ve learned a lot waking up to make breakfast for myself (and on occasion, for others). I’ve learned that there is a beautiful quiet around 7am- no one is emailing you, no one is texting you, and if you choose to keep the television off and opt for a playlist, you can really appreciate the soft glow the world seems to have. I’ve also learned that having that extra time to yourself really helps you ground yourself for the day. I spent a period of about a year where I woke up stressed out over a job I hated. I would wake up and dread everything about to happen during my day. It was to the point where I’d feel nauseous on my commute. After leaving that job was when I started waking up early. It allowed me to reverse my mornings waking up with dread, to waking up with something to look forward to- calm, quiet, and a warm breakfast. It’s amazing what two hours can do for your well-being.

Here is a breakfast I’ve been making since I moved out- Savoury French Toast. Not a fan of overly sweet breakfasts with whipped creams and fruits and jams, I opt for something a little more savoury, salty, and with a bit of a punch of flavour you want to go back to all day.

Ingredients:
1 loaf (8 ounces) day-old French bread, cut into 1/2-inch slices
6 large eggs, beaten
2 cups 2% milk
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup minced chives, divided
1-½ Cup old Sharp Cheddar Cheese and ⅓ Cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Arrange half of the bread slices in a greased 13×9-in. baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, mustard, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup chives.
  2. Pour half of the egg mixture over bread; sprinkle with 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Layer with remaining bread and egg mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
  4. Sprinkle with remaining chives and parmesan cheese.

I love when you try your hands at what I’ve put together! Feel free to share your comments, suggestions, and what you did below, and if you made it, tag me on Instagram at @JackDHarding

How to Make Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes”

I have always marvelled at people who have their “world famous” recipes. Growing up as a child, it was my Mom who made date squares the best of anyone (and still does). As I got older, it was friends’ parents who made different dinner dishes (tater tot casseroles courtesy of Rebecca’s mom, my friend Daniel’s dad is the first person to make me fish that I enjoyed (a beautiful maple salmon that made me forget about only eating fish sticks), and an ex’s mom who taught me the best way to make oven baked chicken wings (which I still use to this day and have received countless compliments on them)).

But what about finding your own?

I never grew up cooking. I was never the child at his parent’s ankles wanting to watch. I was more the kid who was saying “Is it ready yet?” It wasn’t until I was on my own that I wanted to learn how to cook. Thousands of meals, countless recipes learned, edited and made my own, and I’d say I’m on my way to being a good home cook. Learning how to cook, and becoming the person your friends refer to as “the one who knows how to cook” can bring some (and I use this term quite loosely) existential crises of their own.

“What is my style?” “What is my ‘Go To’ dish?” “If you were going to cook a meal for someone you’ve always wanted to meet, what would it be?”

All questions that for a while, made me sweat. For a while, I even had an entire Instagram dedicated to recipes under 500 calories thinking that would be “my thing.” Fast forward and that account has nearly 60k followers and I haven’t posted in ages. Why? Well, I realized I didn’t need to have a style, or a go-to, nor did I need to have the answers to question that would obviously never be asked in real life.

It’s only really been in the last twelve months or so that I feel I’ve really found myself in the kitchen- mostly out of stopping trying to figure out who I was. I learned to focus on finding great ingredients that allow your cooking to shine. I learned that oftentimes, less is more, and simple is better. A recipe doesn’t need to be hard, or difficult, to be good.

And isn’t it funny how life has a way of coming together when you stop trying so hard? This was also the year I found my go-to dish. It’s not a meal, but a side, and I have tinkered with this every time I make it (and I encourage you to do the same). This also happens to be a holiday favourite of mine. It’s low effort and I think you’ll love adding this to your meals.

Ingredients:
1 Large head of cauliflower, based removed and cut into florets
1 can salt free chickpeas
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp Unsalted butter
¼ Cup 35% cream
Fresh dill
Salt to season

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 (f)
  2. On a baking sheet spread out cauliflower and chickpeas and coat with 1 Tbsp olive oil
  3. Cook cauliflower and chickpeas in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until you start to see char marks on the cauliflower
  4. Remove from oven and set aside to cool a little (about 5 minutes).
  5. In a food processor, put 1 Tbsp of olive oil, fresh dill, and add the cauliflower and chickpea mixture
  6. Once the mixture is added, add the butter and place the lid on. Process on high until smooth.
  7. Once smooth, remove from processor and put into an ovenproof dish. Place bake in preheated oven for 5-10 minutes or until you get a light crust on the top (do not overbake or it will go dry).
  8. Serve with a square of butter on top and some fresh dill and black pepper.

 

How to Make Confit Chicken Legs

I honestly never would have thought to confit chicken legs. My great friend Teri (@NoCrumbsLeft) has done a great amount of confit items on her blog and her Instagram which I’ve always been in awe at (and made a few myself) so I knew that cooking anything in a LOT of oil was going to be great. So when I stumbled upon Alison Roman’s recipe for chicken legs in her book Dining In, I knew I had to give it a shot. As with most recipes I like, I made this a few times and made some changes to make this more my own. But I always like to give credit where it is due and make sure I showcase where I found my inspiration.

Ingredients:
4 Chicken Legs (Bone In, Skin On)
2 Cups Olive Oil
5 Stems of Thyme
1 Pint (16 oz) Cherry Tomatoes
1 Head of Garlic
Salt
Pepper
Fresh Dill

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F (once it hits this heat, make sure you leave it for a while and ensure you have even heat)
  2. In a deep dish, place your chicken, thyme, tomatoes and garlic and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Pour over the oil and leave the dish uncovered. Bake in your preheated oven until the garlic is golden brown, the chicken falls apart at the touch, and the oil has taken on a slightly more golden, darker colour.
  3. In a large skillet or cast iron pan, take 2-3Tbsp of the oil from the dish and heat it up. Remove the chicken legs carefully and place them skin side down in the heated oil. Let them crisp at medium high heat for about 7-10 minutes depending on your preferences.
  4. Remove the chicken and let rest.
  5. Strain oil, tomatoes, garlic, thyme into a glass container (you can keep the strained oil and fat mix for about a week in the fridge to cook things like AMAZING scrambled eggs) and place the tomatoes, thyme and garlic with your chicken and serve.

I love when you try your hands at what I’ve put together! Feel free to share your comments, suggestions, and what you did below, and if you made it, tag me on Instagram at @JackDHarding