Eating my way around the world

Category: Dips

Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

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Hey there! Thanksgiving is coming up in a few days, have you decided what you’re going to make? Me either! You & I must be one in the same person- procrastinate until the last minute then chain smoke cigarettes (or down red wine like nobody’s business, whatever your vice is, I’m not judging)  while you stress out over what to make.

Are you in charge of the entire dinner? My first bit of advice is to thaw out your bird two days before in the fridge. I made that rookie mistake years ago when I lived in San Francisco & cooked the beast for the first time. I think we ate at 11pm. Don’t do that to your guests.

If you can prep the day before, even better. I’ll normally chop up all the ingredients for the salad the night before, and prep the dressing separately. I’ll buy pre-grated parm if needed, and bagged & washed greens to make my life easier. Don’t be a hero- take shortcuts whenever possible because if you are in charge of everything for the big day, you’re going to be exhausted doing everything else that can’t be prepped beforehand. Same goes for a roasted veg, a pie if you’re in charge of that as well (I would recommend starting your dough today to give it time to rest), a soup could be made the day before if you’re having that as an app, dips can be prepped the day before for your apps, and you can also start on your stuffing the day before too.

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I loathe making gravy, my husband does the gravy because by the time I’ve set out apps, cooked the turkey, mashed the potatoes, rewarmed the stuffing and whatever veg I’m serving, set the table, prep the condiments such as cornichons, and pour myself a glass of wine, I’m so exhausted I could give a f**k about the gravy- I’m about to pass out face first into the latticed apple pie. That’s where the husband magically appears and saves the day. If you have someone you can count on to help with the tedious task of gravy, I urge you to do so. ***A hint for thickening the gravy that absolutely Nobody tells you is warm up your water and flour mixture. Because the temp of your thickener will be almost the same temp as the drippings in your pan, the gravy will thicken up quickly. Same goes for the stock you’re going to whisk in.

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Here are a few recipes I love making for the holidays:
-Bon Appetit’s Kale & Brussel Sprout Salad is a regular request. The fried almonds really make this salad for me, and can easily double/triple to feed a humongous crowd.
-101Cookbooks Roasted Pumpkin Salad will be a winner-winner-turkey-dinner for your vegetarian and gluten-free guests. I am Obsessed with the cilantro dressing. I add in a clove of garlic and a tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar to my version of this dressing, and throw in roasted broccoli & parsnips to bulk the salad out. I love love love this. It can easily be doubled and tripled.
-I also love Heidi’s Heirloom Apple Salad. The crème fraîche dressing is divine.
-And while you’re still on Ms. Swanson’s wonderful blog, check out her Caramelized Onion Dip. So. Damn. Good.
-I love Food & Wine’s Warm Winter Vegetable Salad. I have doubled and tripled this as well, and you can totally prep it the day before and just rewarm it the next day. Add in the dressing, toasted nuts, and cheese at the last minute.
-Do you know of garlic confit? Elevate your mashed spuds and impress your guests with French cooking techniques.
-Instead of rolls (how predictable…) why don’t you make a loaf or two of brioche instead? If you have a stand mixer and 2 days to spare, meaning start tonight, it’s actually not that hard to make, you just need time. All of that butter will be worth it, trust me.
-Do you just want to say “bucket” to turkey this year and make something else? I love Bon Appetit’s Beef Short Rib Pot Pie. This can feed a small crowd for sure. To make this dish less labour intensive, start your crust today, simmer the meat tomorrow and let it sit overnight in the fridge for the flavours to intensify even more, throw everything into a baking dish and lay your crust on Thanksgiving morning/afternoon, and bake.
-Instead of pecan pie, why not make my favourite little Canadian treats instead? Butter Tarts are the unsung heroes of the dessert world.
-Are all of these suggestions just a bit too ambitious for your needs and/or lack of time? Nigella Lawson has the easiest side dish of Butternut Squash with Pecans & Blue Cheese you can prep the night before. Make as much or as little as you need.

Good luck & happy cooking! And remember, when in doubt, just pour yourself a glass of wine and start delegating.


Farçou, Lemony Labneh, & Zucchini Fritters

zucchini fritters
I’m not really sure what compelled me to start a food blog. I seem to think I have endless amounts of time on my hands, and boundless energy to accomplish many things during the day. Blogs, you see, are living and breathing entities. You must feed the beast constantly for it to survive and grow, much like a tiny, little human; just like the tiny little human that consumes much of my time and energy.
But enough of my complaining. What started out as an idea for lunch inspired by Food52, zucchini pancakes, quickly turned into a portfolio of work. After devouring the little stacks with the kid (baby approved!), I thought to myself: what would be a *fun* dipping sauce for these other than the sour cream suggested?
Duh, labneh.
Double duh- lemony-labneh!
A quick search brought me to, you guessed it, Heidi’s blog where she instructs how to make the yoghurt cheese. It’s super simple: you just strain yogurt into a bowl for 24 – 48hrs. That’s it. Mix it with a little salt and lemon rind, and you are good to go.
Done & done.

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So that fixed my yoghurt and zucchini glut that had been taking up room in my refrigerator like unwelcome house guests. But what to do with the stacks of swiss chard I’m growing and not eating? If you can turn zucchini into pancakes, can you turn swiss chard into pancakes?
Turns out you can. It’s a south of France thing called farçou, and it’s apparently a beloved fried street food. I mean, who doesn’t like fried anything? And it turns out those little farçou are also delicious with the labneh. Totally not traditional, but totally fantastic. To make a meal out of it, and to serve it as the French do, pair them with a salad.


A few notes:
-I adapted Dori Greenspan’s recipe for farçou, which calls for 2 cups of milk. My first time making this I just dumped the milk into my food processor, *forgetting* about that little line on the side of the container that says “liquid limit”. The milk spewed out, but what I ended up with were thick, chewy pancakes. Happy accident.
The second time around, because these have now become a staple for me and the kid, I dutifully followed Greenspan’s 2 cup rule, adding the milk in as I combined the ingredients with the food processor going, much as you would do if you were making pesto and adding in the oil. This resulted in thinner, crispy pancakes. Equally delicious. This is a toma-Toh / to-Ma-to thing. I prefer the thicker, chewyer kind.
And I made these gluten free, but subbing in 1 – 1 oat flour for the wheat flour.
If you don’t have more-than-you-can-handle swiss chard lying around, these would be tasty with whatever greens you can find: spinach, kale, collards, etc. And use whatever herbs you can find. Traditionally this calls for parsley and chives, but I didn’t have any, so I used oregano and thyme. I also feel that a tablespoon of dijon would be fantastic in the batter.
And finally, farçou is apparently freezable in case you don’t eat all of them in one sitting. I have yet to master that sort of self-restraint.

-For the labneh, Heidi’s recipe says to strain the yoghurt for 24hrs. The first time around, I ended up straining mine for 48hrs because I forgot about it in the fridge and ended up with a wonderfully thick cheese that didn’t separate. The second time around I was a better student and only strained it for 24hrs. It was still thick and creamy, but I noticed it separated a bit the longer it was stored in the fridge. Totally didn’t affect the taste, but I think I’ll be straining mine for 2 days instead of 1 going forward. I call for a whole lemon’s rind because my motto on flavour is ‘Go Big or Go Home’, but if that’s too pungent for you, just use half a lemon.

-As for those zucchini pancakes that started this whole journey, I wouldn’t change a thing about the recipe except that it Must be doubled. Or tripled. Because they are f***ing great. I did omit the lemon from the original recipe and added it to the labneh instead. A pinch or three of cayenne would also be fantastic in these if you’re not serving them to 10mo old babies like me…..

Zucchini pancakes, adapated from Food52
-4c grated zucchini
-1c grated potato
-2 eggs
-A handful of either/or a mix of chopped parsley, thyme, oregano
-Couple pinches of whole-wheat breadcrumbs
-olive oil
-labneh to serve

-Preheat oven to 250F
-Grate the zucchini & potato into a colander, mix with a couple pinches of salt, and allow to drain for at least 30min. Releasing as much moisture as you can will result in crispier pancakes.
-Beat eggs with the herbs, some salt, and pepper.
-Transfer zucchini & potato to a dish cloth, roll it up, and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Add them to the eggs and herbs; add the breadcrumbs. Stir everything to combine.
-Heat oil in a pan over med-high.
-Form pancakes by the spoonful, drop into the pan and cook until golden brown on each side. Transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep war,.
-Serve slathered with labneh
-I can’t remember how many this made because the kid & I ate them before I could count them…… sorry…….

Labneh, adapted from 101cookbooks
-1c plain yoghurt. I used low-fat, but full-fat would probably be amazing.
-1/4tsp salt
-the rind of 1 lemon

-Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth, set atop a larger bowl to catch the whey.
-In a separate bowl, stir the salt into the yoghurt, and transfer to the cheesecloth lined strainer. Place in the fridge for 24 – 48hrs.
-Transfer the labneh to a bowl, and discard the whey (unless you’re crafty and know what to do with it: see this article)
-Stir in the lemon rind, and proceed to slather everything you eat with this stuff.
-Makes about 1c, but the recipe easily doubles.

Farçou, adapted from Dori Greenspan
-1 to 1.5c whole milk (depending on how thick you want them)
-2.5c oat flour
-3 large eggs
-1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
-1 shallot, coarsely chopped
-2 garlic cloves, chopped in half, germ removed
-a handful of thyme, leaves removed
-a large handful of oregano, leaves removed
-salt & pepper
-10 swiss chard leaves, stems removed & discarded, coarsely chopped
-canola oil for frying

-Preheat the oven to 250F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and line a plate with paper towel.
-Put all ingredients except the milk and swiss chard into a food processor. Turn the processor on and pour the milk in to combine.
-Add the chard and process to combine. Don’t over process though, it’s nice to see flecks of green throughout the soup-y batter.
-Over med-high heat, pour 1/4″ to 1/2″ oil into a large fry pan.
-When the oil is hot, pour 1/4c batter into the fry pan for each pancake. Depending on how large your skillet is, you can get 3 to 4 pancakes in. Don’t overcrowd the skillet or else they won’t fry up nicely. Cook the pancakes until the underside is nicely browned, about 3 – 4min. Flip, and cook until golden brown. Transfer to the paper towel lined plate to drain, then transfer to the aluminum foil lined baking sheet to stay warm in the oven while you make the rest of the farçou. Add more oil to the pan as needed.
-Makes about 15.
-To store, I wrapped them individually in parchment paper and placed them in an air-tight container, refrigerated.