Magical Breakfast Burritos

This burrito might just be the super-powered vegan and gluten free breakfast miracle you have been searching for.

A few weeks ago I enjoyed a beautiful weekend in the Okanagen, experiencing amazing food, wine and a wrap that I have not been able to stop dreaming about. My friend and I landed at a kitschy coffee shop that served amazing local java and a vegan wrap that even left my carnivore travel companion in a puddle of her own drool.

Desperate to recreate what I have been missing, I amped up the breakfast treat by adding a whole lot of high-nutrient fillings to really get your Monday off to the right start, or at the very least, make up a little bit for what you did to your body over the weekend at the wine bar.

First, I began with dandelion. I remember working for an Italian family when I was young and them selling frozen chopped dandelion in bags. Like most, I turned my nose up and thought who in the world would purchase weeds to actually consume. Turns out dandelion is amazing in soup and you can easily remove the bitterness with a cold bath. Also, pairing this with a sweet potato gives a bit of balance which is needed. I also blanched the sweet potato and then just sprinkled with hot smoked paprika and a bit of raw coconut sugar to bring out the flavour and also give it a nice crisp on the outside while not over cooking it.

Moving on to the tofu scramble, while scrambling tofu can seem a little bit scary at first to those who are die-hard egg fans, I found that adding a bit of nutritional yeast and cooking in a bit of water and plain soy milk did give a bit more creaminess and egg texture.

The whole thing gets stuffed with sweet pea shoots, some pan fried peppers and spicy green pesto. YUM YUM.

TOFU SCRAMBLE:

Take a half block of soft tofu and crumble into medium-heat pan. Add quarter cup of soy milk and quarter cup water, 1 tblsp nutritional yeast, half tsp tumeric, salt to taste. cook until liquid dissolved.

ROASTED SLICED SWEET POTATO:

Blanch sweet potato which is peeled and sliced in half. Remove and slice into strips, coating with a spray of olive oil, then sprinkle with hot smoked paprika and a half tsp of raw coconut sugar. Salt and pepper and place into 425 degree oven for approx. 25 min, turning once. Remove.

WILTED DANDELION GREENS:

Take one bunch organic dandelion greens and plunge into cold water bath with salt for ten minutes. Drain. Steam greens in steamer until wilted-about 3 minutes.

SPICY TRUFFLE PESTO:

Take one bunch fresh basil, quarter cup toasted pine nuts, 2 tsp truffle oil, half a squeezed lemon and half cup olive oil and place into blender. Add salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp red chili flake, 2 cloves roasted garlic and pulse for 8-10 pulses or until mealy and blended. Do not over blend.

ASSEMBLY:

Take a rice or gluten-free burrito wrap and warm in a moist towel in microwave to soften. Remove and heat up pan to medium heat as we will toast the burrito to give a good shell on the outside so none of your yummy filling seeps out!

Place tofu scramble first, then wilted dandelion, sweet potato then thinly sliced pan-fried red pepper (you can do this quick once you remove your tofu from the pan) all on top of one another. Top with pesto and pea shoots and then fold in sides and roll like a burrito. Toast for a few minutes on each side until browned. Top with more pea shoots and enjoy!

Recipe makes two large burritos and enough pesto for a week of dipping afterwards!

The Thanksgiving Plate – Meal Planning

I am so excited for Thanksgiving this year. The weather in Southern Ontario is going to be amazing (perfect for fall hikes and festivals) and also the coming together of loved ones is just magical.

Since there is a split down the middle this year of carnivores vs/veg eaters, I have decided to tackle this as diplomatically as possible. Therefore yes-I am cooking a bird ( a small one) and focusing on hearty veg dishes and a classic fall dessert to finish.

Here is a sneak-peek at this year’s menu – Recipes below!

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving everyone, from my home to yours.

-Angelee

2018 Thanksgiving Lunch Menu

  • Butternut squash and fennel soup
  • Citrus brined, smoked turkey
  • Burnt heirloom carrots with maple pear glaze
  • Potatoes smashed with grainy mustard
  • Salads
  • Cinnamon and clove cranberry sauce

For dessert:

  • Selection of rustic tarts (apple/butter/pumpkin)

 

Butternut squash and fennel soup

Ingredients:
    • 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • sm. thumb of ginger, diced
    • 1/4 tsp pepper flakes
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1 large fennel bulb, core and tough stalks removed, sliced
    • 4 cups butternut squash
    • 4 cups vegetable stock (homemade preferred)
    • salt and pepper

To garnish: creme fraiche and fennel frods

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil in a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Add butternut squash. Drizzle with a little more oil and toss to coat. Season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, add chopped fennel, ginger and onion to a large soup pot and saute with olive oil for 5-7 minutes. add remaining ingredients and reduce heat to simmer.
  3. Roast for 30-45 minutes until the  butternut squash is tender. Remove from oven and place in stock pot. Cook for an additional ten minutes, adjusting seasoning with salt or pepper as desired. Puree soup using an immersion or traditional blender.

 

Citrus “brined”, smoked turkey

Warning: This recipe is a hack. Yes, you can brine the bird for 12 hours prior, in a load of water, have a super big mess and  then throw it in a smoker. You will thank me for this hack, I promise 😉

Ingredients:

For the basting liquid:

  • 3 navel oranges, juiced
  • 5 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp lard, melted
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke

For the” brine”:

  • Salt (1 tbsp salt per 5 pounds turkey)
  • Pepper
  • Dried herbs of choice (ie: thyme, sage)

For cooking:

1 cedar plank soaked in water and an additional 2 tsp of liquid smoke

Method:

Take the rinsed, defrosted and patted-dry  bird and salt and season liberally inside and out, and keep in fridge for up to 48 hours. This is a dry rub. Do not rinse! Put in large ziploc bag or wrap tightly in saran wrap.

Place bird on roasting rack and insert the soaked plank under the bird and under the rack (so it is wedged between the rack and base and bird on top of rack). Do not cover!

Roast for 1.5 hours then begin basting with melted butter/lard juice blend every 1/2 hour.

After a few hours, check bird as it will begin to brown up beautifully and give you a nice crispy skin. If not at 165 degrees, very loosely tent with foil to slow browning.

The result is a smoky, citrus-y, beautifully moist bird, without all the work.

 

Burnt heirloom carrots with maple pear glaze

This recipe is insanely easy to whip up as your turkey is resting. Simply turn on broiler and on a flat roasting pan or baking sheet which is lightly oiled, turn on oven to low broil.

Method:

Blanche peeled and trimmed heirloom carrots, dry, then salt and pepper.place in oven and “roast” for 3-5 minutes, turning and glazing with 2 tbsp maple syrup mixed with 1 tbsp pear balsamic and 1 tsp butter, melted. Glaze and turn until little crispy edges begin to appear and serve immediately.

Potatoes smashed with grainy mustard

  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup half and half, warmed up
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 3-4 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Method:

Place potatoes and 1 tablespoon of the salt in a large saucepan; cover potatoes with cold water, about 6 cups. Bring to a boil over high, and reduce heat to medium. Partially cover pan, and simmer until potatoes are just tender enough to pierce with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain well, and return to warm pan. Let stand 5 minutes.

Mash potatoes with a handheld potato masher or a large fork. Stir in warm milk, butter, and mustard. Stir in pepper and remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons salt. Serve immediately.

 

Cinnamon and clove cranberry sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 C orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon + half tsp ground clove

Mix together juice, sugar and spices until dissolved over medium heat.  Place cranberries in pot and cook until comes to boil  then reduce to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, stirring gently through process taking care to not puncture the fruit. Serve at room temperature.

 

 

My MasterChef Canada Audition Experience

42919097_10160920406215574_4233420139770413056_nI have been dying to share what my experience was like auditioning for MasterChef Canada, and let me tell you, it is NOT for the faint of heart.

I mean, have you ever had two famous chefs, a professional food taster and other random foodies taste something you made? And then score it? And discuss it? Well neither had I, until I decided to audition for MasterChef Canada and, luckily, got in on the first application try.

I say lucky, because I met a few people who had auditioned before, but didn’t make it through. One guy put in his application two years ago, and just finally got the call.

Yeah, that’s right.

My morning started out at 4 am, and of course, the day before my creme brulee refused to cooperate, after dozens of perfect trials.

(I actually had to run out the day before and buy more blue cheese, it was that bad).

Running out the door with my cooler of dessert items, the empanadas and some apples, along with my daughter and her friend Allanah, we set out of the early trek to Toronto in my rented SUV.

Of course, the first corner I turn is too hard-nerves combined with the fact  I knew I HAD to be there by seven a.m. to line up, and we left a half hour later than planned. I hear a loud tumble from the back, and my heart drops into my gut and profanities spew out of my mouth.

Pulling over, I anxiously open my cooler which has tumbled over to see if everything has been destroyed.

Somehow (by some miracle I still do not fully understand but am not arguing) everything is intact and my existential meltdown is thwarted.

Once we arrive in Toronto, we line up, I am handed a bracelet, and we are told to wait. Police officers are there to keep the peace and keep MasterChef’ers from clogging up the sidewalk. The mood is anxious and tense, with periods of collegial conversation in between. There are about 150 or so of us, some with family members, some with signs, and all of us protecting our coolers like it was our first-born. I hear a roar come from the crowd, and to my surprise, Michael Bonacini and Claudio Aprile make their way through the crowd and cheerily greet everyone. The excitement is instantly elevated.

Suddenly, my wrist band and number is  called, and we are ushered down the stairs at the Intercontinental and are prompted to register, take a professional casting photo, and then sit and wait in a large banquet-style room. There are about forty of us altogether, and the wait was excruciating.

About two hours pass, and Meredith, the show producer, jumps in and welcomes the group. She explains the process, and tells us there are some surprise guests. The doors open and several finalists from Season Five come in to share their stories of how the application process went, and best tips to succeed. Everyone talks about the three minute plating and shaky hands. Apparently, even the coolest of cucumbers have cracked under the plating time limit. I am told if I remember to breathe, I will do just fine. I scoff at what the big deal is, I mean, I am plating a dish, something I have done a thousand times before, no biggie.

But then as our group gets ushered in, and the countdown begins, I have Claudio Aprile standing right in front of me, watching with curiosity as  I begin plating my dish. He is watching literally every. single. move.

I start shaking. I mean, it literally took me a full minute to get control of my hands to place the garnish on my dessert. I remember Claudio whispering to me to breathe.

I gulp.

                Pictured below: the recipe that made the cut

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A scorecard is placed on our table and we wait after the “hands up!” is called.

A professional taster goes around and tries the dishes. Then the MasterChef judges themselves stop to talk to each contestant hopeful and some pause to taste my dish.

Jenn from season five comes around and asks what I made.

I ramble off “I am from Niagara, so I wanted to do a play in a fruit and cheese plate. This is a blue cheese creme brulee, ice wine infused sugared grapes with a walnut and sugar crackle soil…” and before I could finish she grabs a fork, tastes it and says “OMG this is awesome” and then calls over to another former contestant to come by and try my dish.

I felt so incredibly validated, elated, scared, anxious…all these feelings at once. Did I actually have a shot?

Another hours passes and the room grows increasingly hot. All of us wait. Some sit on their coolers and others sit on chairs or perch in front of fans while the judges leave and discuss our scores and dishes. Meredith pops back in, and announces that while all were amazing, they are only calling a select amount of people to move forward.

Approximately ten table identification numbers are called. I was B5.

Mine was one of them.

The group of us are herded back into a room where a fresh group of 40 are waiting to move forward and try out. Everyone stands and applauds for us. The high I am feeling is better than any wine buzz I have ever had. Ever.

After this, some are selected to go and have an on-camera interview. I go up to the second floor and enter a room and begin spewing my guts out. I am not sure if I made sense looking back, I remember still feeling this crazy high and was giddy and emotional the whole time.

What happens next? Well, IF I make it, it will be up to six weeks of filming, and not much I can really say after this moment.

Good luck to all my fellow MasterChef hopefuls, and hope to see you all on the other side!

 

 

MasterChef Canada Application Is IN!

Well…I took the plunge.

After years of watching the MasterChef Canada competition and drooling over delicious home cook’s dishes (and not to mention Michael Bonacini, who I may be a fan of), I have put in my application to compete.

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Why not?

I mean, for five years, I have been busting butt in the corporate world and cooking/raising a family when I wasn’t working. Each season my kids would poke me to apply-maybe because they were tired of me complaining I wanted to but didn’t have time due to work, but hopefully because they really enjoyed my food.

So when I found myself quitting a start up I knew wasn’t working and wanting to focus back on my roots of franchising, I knew this time I wanted to truly take my time before I took a leap in ANY direction.

Now let me tell you, this hasn’t been an easy feat.

First of all, I had just relocated back to my hometown after working in Thunder Bay for five months and incurred some hefty expenses to move. About three weeks later, my car also died and is still sitting in the driveway as we speak.

(I am taking donations for Poppy, the pain in my butt Mini).

Secondly, I had a few offers come forward but none would start until later in the year and while both aligned with my passions nicely, I needed some income in the short term or at least something to do before I went absolutely stir crazy.

I have never, ever NOT worked.

I repeat. Never.

It was a close friend who encouraged me to apply. Putting his football coach hat on with me and in a stern, dad-like tone said “Angelee-I want you to set a goal and get up tomorrow and get that done for you”.

So I put it out there “Secret-style” and got working on my application and video.

The process itself took me about an hour and a half. I was really stumped on the “signature dish” question. I mean, what described ME fully? I love to cook plant-based food, Indian and also make pastry, but how can I make that fancy? It was a bit of a struggle and where I probably spent about a half hour pondering this alone.

Watch my video application here

I ended up writing down that my signature dish would be a roasted curried vegetable en croute with mint cilantro sauce.

The minute I hit send on that, my inner type-A screamed LAAAMMMMMMMMMME.

But it was out there.

I want to do more avant-garde. More creative fusion techniques. And THAT is what I came up with? Argh.( It will be the death of me, this perfectionist attitude I have)

My application video complete, anxiety attack subdued, I hit send and posted it to my Facebook and took a big gulp.

 

Here goes nothing, world.