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Appetizer recipes

Appetizer recipes

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Appetizer recipes

Just in time for the entertaining season, Canada’s baking superstar Anna Olson shares two great appetizer recipes from her latest book Baking Day with Anna Olson, Recipes to Bake Together.

Roasted carrot dip

* Simple *

The natural sweetness of carrots really comes through in this dip, and while the chickpeas give this dip some structure (and protein), they don’t overwhelm the carrot taste, so you won’t mistake this dip as hummus. I love roasting parsnips and carrots together in the fall; why not try a variation of this dip made with half carrots and half parsnips?

• serves 8 (Makes about 2 cups/500 ml) • prep time: 15 minutes • cook time: 45 minutes

1 lb (450 g) carrots, peeled and diced (about 3 cups/750 ml)

3 tbsp (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme salt and ground black pepper

1 cup (250 ml) cooked chickpeas (or tinned, well drained and rinsed)

¼ cup (64 g) tahini (sesame paste)

2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

Dress up this colourful dip by adding a dollop or a swirl of plain yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of sesame seeds or pomegranate seeds – or all of these things!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Toss the carrots with the olive oil, garlic cloves, thyme and a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large baking dish. Roast the carrots, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Cool before making the dip.
  3. Puree the carrots in a food processor along with the now-roasted garlic cloves, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, cumin and coriander until smooth, adding a little water if needed (up to half-cup/125 mL) to make it smooth. Season to taste and chill until ready to serve. The dip will keep for up to 4 days, refrigerated.

********

Hummus crackers

** More Involved **

I love crackers. A strange admission, yes, but I would choose crackers over potato chips in a heartbeat (but don’t ask me to give up popcorn). These crispy crackers are a delicious savoury snack all on their own or as an addition to a cheese platter, and served with a roasted carrot dip (page 110) it’s as if you’ve reversed the traditional carrot sticks and hummus.

• Makes about 5 dozen crackers • prep time: 15 minutes, plus chilling • cook time: 8 minutes

¼ cup (60 ml) water

3 tbsp (24 g) ground flaxseed

1.5 cups (180 g) chickpea flour

3 tbsp (27 g) sesame seeds

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

¾ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp fine salt

1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp dried granulated garlic)

1 tbsp (30 ml) extravirgin olive oil

2 tbsp (32 g) tahini (sesame paste)

2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C) and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Stir the water and ground flaxseed together and set aside. Place the chickpea flour, sesame seeds, lemon zest, cumin, salt and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse once or twice to combine. Add the flaxseed water, oil, tahini and lemon juice and pulse until the dough comes together. If the dough feels sticky, wrap and chill for 10 minutes (to let the chickpea flour absorb some of the liquid) otherwise turn the dough out onto a rolling surface.
  3. Roll out the cracker dough to under quarter in. (6 mm) thick, dusting it and the work surface with chickpea flour as needed to prevent sticking. Use a 2-in. (5 cm) round cookie cutter to cut out crackers. Arrange them on the baking trays so they are close together but not touching. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting until all of the dough has been used. Bake the crackers for about 8 minutes, until golden brown.
  4. Cool the crackers on the trays on cooling racks. The crackers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

These crackers are a perfect balance: substantial enough to hold up under a good scoop of dip but also delicate enough note to be enjoyed on their own.

Baking Day with Anna Olson

$28, indigo.ca

Visit annaolson.ca


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Better Living Expert: Kitchen Tools You Can Trust

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Better Living Expert: Kitchen Tools You Can Trust

Doing more with less

More than any other room in the home, the kitchen needs the right tools to function well.

There’s also no other room for which so many gadgets and gewgaws are marketed as must-haves. Far too many of them end their days collecting dust on valuable counter space, which is why many serious chefs edit culinary paraphernalia down to a few simple essentials.

Olson’s smooth French-style rolling pin lets bakers “feel” pastry better.

EXPERTS WEIGH IN

That was certainly a guiding principle behind chef Anna Olson’s eponymous line of kitchen tools, check annaolson.ca for availability. “I narrowed it down by looking at what I use on a regular basis and why I like the design of the tools I favour,” says Olson.

The result is a 23-piece collection that includes steel baking pans, sheets, measuring spoons and cups, BPA-free silicone and hardwood spatulas and spoons, and other baking and icing gear.

Tools typically on hand in the pro’s kitchen, says Olson, include a rasp, mini-chopper, silicone spatulas, mandolin, and stand mixer, the latter being a permanent fixture on her own counter.

Olson replaced, however, a food processor with a highpowered blender, because she never used the slicing or grating attachments on the food processor, and finds the blender does such a stunning job of puréeing soups and sauces, and makes the smoothest hummus.

Olson’s aim was to combine great performance and longevity in kitchen tools.

MULTI-FUNCTIONAL & COMPACT

Olson’s not alone—foodies (and smoothie lovers) have, over the last few years, enthusiastically embraced blenders. Many seem to be fans of Vitamix’s lineup, which includes the Ascent blender, whose two-horsepower motor supports five program settings and 10 speeds, and is blessedly easy to clean.

Because Olson likes kitchen tools with multiple uses, her silicone trivets will be versatile, designed to hold hot baking pans, serve as flexible pot holders, keep a mixing bowl in place, or grip and loosen a tightly-sealed jar lid.

Many chefs say the practice of mise en place (French for putting everything—from pre-measured chopped garlic/onion/ginger to whisked egg or flour for a gravy—in small bowls in preparation for cooking) can dramatically improve results for the home chef.

Perfect for this are ramekins, which are also useful for serving condiments or toppings on the table. Small footprint and very affordable, four stackable ceramic ramekins from Quebec-based chef Ricardo sell for about $15 at Kitchen Stuff Plus.

Olson’s oval measuring spoons are designed to fit into narrow jar openings.

KEEP IT CLEAN

Little details make a big difference to food prep and cleanup. A professional kitchen, for example, is never short of clean dishcloths. Similarly, having lots of absorbent, quick-drying towels makes work easier. Greener than paper towels, they too have multiple uses, such as drying and storing greens, covering dishes or cradling bread in a bowl.

Look for both from Euroscrubby; they have super-absorbent dishcloths ($6) and towels (a generous 19 by 28 inches) made in Lithuania from a cotton/linen blend ($13), and decorated with quaint designs that will make you smile.

For Olson, another simple, but absolutely essential, kitchen tool is an ergonomic rolling pin. “It instils confidence in your pastry. I like to use a French-style, tapered rolling pin. It has no handles on the ends; your hands are on top of the pin, so you can feel the pastry better as you roll.”

Vicky Sanderson

SOURCES
Annaolson.ca, euroscrubby.com, kitchenstuffplus.com, vitamix.ca

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