Sunday, November 30, 2014

Za'atar Pita Crisps

Have you ever tried Za'atar?  It's an interesting spice mix from the mid-east, usually comprising of thyme, sesame seeds and sumac and other herbs sometimes.   It has a kind of lemony taste, but is so good on roasted meats, on top of greek yoghurt and various Syrian and Lebanese dishes. 

Za'atar Pita Crisps
A friend, Debi Jordan, musician extraordinaire, introduced me to this spice mixture the day she showed me how to make Stuffed Grape Leaves.   And then I went and bought more, just for myself.   Well, the bag I bought was quite large, so I split it with her.

The Za'atar has been sitting in my spice drawer for quite awhile now.   I keep meaning to use it, and in fact have used it seasoning some chicken dishes, etc.


As I was moving it aside the other day, I realized that I really did need to use it up, or at least use more of it in something. 

Then I saw this recipe on and realized "YES" I can do this. 

And in this season of conspicuous consumption, this is even semi healthy.

At least the olive oil is good for you.

Take about 1/2 cup of Za'atar, mix it with some olive oil, in other words make a paste.  Set aside.

Pull out a couple of Pita Bread rounds, cut them into wedges, and then split them in half.    Put the rough inner side up on a baking sheet, and spread the Za'atar mixture on top.

Bake in a 400 deg. oven for about 6 minutes, or until the edges start to brown a little.    ( I cut them in half before I split them, they were a little harder to cut into wedges after baking)

Serve with some Hummus and you either have a nice light snack or lunch. 

I made these for NPA last night and they disappeared.  

I think I'm going to keep some Za'atar on hand as well as some Pita Breads in the freezer from now on, cause this was so simple and easy to make and it just plain tasted good.

I did sample a couple or three before I took them to NPA as well.  

You know I'm not going to share something unless it tastes good, right? 

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving roundup

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, I know I did.   I spent it with friends.

And since the friends who hosted the meal asked if I brought my camera with me, I then proceeded to grab out my camera and take pictures.   

We had the usual, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and sides.    And pies to finish off the meal.

I think I told you already, I was bringing Pumpkin Pie, Boozy Cranberry Sauce and some of my No-Knead bread.

Other dishes brought were shrimp for the starters, as well as fresh fruit, pineapple and papaya to be exact.

Notice the Santa toothpick holder, hiding behind the dish?   

We had from the upper left here, some stuffing, Kugel, Zucchini Sticks, and mushrooms.   The green bean casserole was covered by foil when I took this picture. 
 From the upper left again, Turkey, Turkey, stuffing, Kugel in the corner, then the mushrooms, Yams, more stuffing.
 The Green Bean casserole who had been hiding previously.
 Two kinds of Cranberry Sauce, my Boozy Cranberry sauce at the front, and regular cranberry sauce at the back, alongside some fresh bread.

 There was gravy as well, to go with these lighter than air mashed potatoes.  

I didn't get a shot of the mashed turnips, but I did get a nice big spoonful, and they were good.   And I also didn't get a shot of the Apple Salad.  But I was busy eating and enjoying the company of friends.

Can't forget dessert.
 Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie and a chocolate pie to go with some lovely Columbian coffee.

All in all, lots of good food, and a really lovely Thanksgiving.

I hope yours was great as well.

I'm going to be sharing the recipe for the pie crust I made, a little later,  it was nothing short of fantastic, and good enough to eat all by itself.

I also had fun with the trimmings, I ended up making some mini tarts with the leftovers, but that's a post for another day.

We finished off the day by heading to the beach to check on some stuff, and I had to take a picture 

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Sides

I'm so excited.  It's Thanksgiving this week, and I'm going to join some friends for dinner. 

Which means I get to make some sides and bring them along.

I love the sides at Thanksgiving.

I like the basics, turkey, mashed taters and gravy, but the sides is what elevates it for me.   In fact I can make an entire meal out of the sides, and have done so in the past.   The turkey was kinda an afterthought.

Not really.  I need a slice of turkey so I can put some of my Boozy Cranberry Sauce on top.

I'm making some this year and bringing it along with a Pumpkin Pie

 and some of my
No-Knead Bread.

And even though I'm not making some of my other favourites, nothing says I can't share the recipes or links here with you.

Ummm, by the way, is your turkey in the fridge thawing yet?  Remember, to safely thaw a Turkey you need to allow at least 24 hours for every 4-5 lbs.  In other words, if you're cooking a 12 lb. turkey you should have put it in the fridge on Sunday to start thawing it.  

In the past I've also made this Green Bean Casserole that the Pioneerwoman made on her website.   If you want rich, cheesy, bacony goodness, this is the way to go.   I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.   But I'm not making it this year.

I also love my Wild Rice Stuffing, and while I'm not making it for next week, I may just have to whip some up for myself.

And last, and most certainly not least, you need a pretty table.   Let me share a couple of ideas.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tapas Night for November

I want to apologize, a lot of the links are broken here, and I've been fixing or attempting to fix them as quickly as possible.   

We had quite a turnout last night, standing room only.   Well, not quite, I did have some seating available.   But people seem to like standing around, talking, moving from one conversation to another and it was all good.

However, I'm sure you're not here to hear about the great people and conversations that we had, you want to know about the food. 

And we had food, wow.

We didn't quite have everything from soup to nuts, sometimes we do, but not last night.

We had dishes that showed influences from almost all the world.

I made a couple of items that I'd actually made and posted about earlier, but I thought that they deserved a repeat.

Let me just start with a couple of overviews of the tables.

Yes, I said tables.   I have two buffets, a regular table and an island.   They were all covered with food.

  From the front, clockwise.   Some Garlic Baked Mushrooms,  Cheese from Spain, Pumpkin Beignets, Chicken and Kohlrabi Slaw, Deviled Eggs, Casserole, Carrots, Cheese spread, Spring Rolls.
 And from the front, clockwise again..
Bacon Wrapped Chestnuts, Spring Rolls, Cheese Spread.

See what I mean?   Of course I did take some of the pictures after my guests had managed to consume  most of the offerings.

Now for the overview:
Pumpkin Beignets, and they were good.   A touch of Garam Masala for seasoning, and a couple of other spices.

Emanadas, and they disappeared in short order.

Deviled Eggs, always a popular choice, both to make and eat.

 I didn't get a chance to taste this, everytime I headed over to grab a bit, I got waylaid, but judging from the empty dish it was very good.  And it looked so pretty. 
 Carrots, I did manage to snag a taste in passing.  Very nice.
 I managed to get a shot of these bacon wrapped chestnuts, but didn't get a taste, they disappeared fast .
This was a popular dish, Lasagna, vegetarian even, but it disappeared fast.
 I didn't get a chance to try this either.  
 I'm not sure what these were, by the time I put the camera down, they were gone.
I do want to say, that both dishes the food was on were made by a local potter, she does some lovely work.
 Jon brought his beans again, and as usual, they were so good.
 Can't go wrong with deviled eggs, really, you can't.
 Stuffed Jalapeno's, didn't take long for them to disappear.

There was also this wonderful shrimp dish, which I did get a chance to taste.   It was so good on top of a cracker. 
Brie and Pepper Jelly on bread, and as you can see from the picture, by the time I got around to taking the picture, they were pretty much gone.

I got one shot of this taco dip, and it was popular. 
I mean this is one of those great go to ideas. 

I had fun with some dishes I made as well.   I'd made these Chicken and Kohlrabi Slaw Bites for an event earlier in the week, and decided to make them again.   I even made a few vegetarian.   This time round I added a little bit of Cranberry Chutney to it, more for color.   And it tasted good as well.

 I made some of my No-Knead bread.   Well, actually I made two loaves, but only one was eaten.
 I'd picked up some cheese at Trader Joe's the last time I was in the 'big' city.  The label on it said it was for Tapas, and gee, I had to buy it and serve it.  I also put out a wedge of brie, cause it was hiding in the fridge.
 I served this Antipasto plate alongside the bread, one of those just for fun ideas.  Besides which, I love having different foods out.
 I also made some more Garlic Baked Mushrooms.  And this time I remembered to squeeze a lemon on top.  I have to say, that totally transformed the dish.   I think I have my new go to way of cooking mushrooms, at least while it's still cold outside. 

And no one saw me dip a piece of bread into the juice that was left on the bottom of the dish, did they?

I also threw some Spring Rolls together.   They're quick and easy to do.  And good for you as well.
In fact I think I see some more in my near future.

Now, for the desserts:
I'm just going to let you look and drool here.    I didn't taste them all, I'm sorry to say.

 Shortbread cookies
 Apple Pie
 Lemon Pie
 Partridge Berry Cake, and I did try a piece of this.  I had to.  The berries were brought all way from Newfoundland and I'd never had them before.   Heard of them, but never tried them.    To the best of my knowledge, they don't grow in B.C.   The taste reminded me of huckleberries.  

I was told these were yummy, but didn't get a chance to try them either.

To the left, a interesting take on a cake.   A yellow cake mix with a can of pumpkin, a cross between a pie and a cake.   And the sauce that was used over the top, made this very tasty.  I managed to snag a bit.  
At the back some brownies, apple pie, the lemon pie and I didn't get a shot of the crock pot chocolate peanut candies that were brought as well

I do try to take pictures of all the food, really I do, but, the whole purpose of Tapas Night is to get together with friends and enjoy their company, which is what I do.   The food is just a wonderful bonus.   A lovely, fattening bonus.

And I get to cook as well.  

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