Olive di Casino Royale (Fried Olives – Vegan)

I know I haven’t posted in a while…I’m sorry all my faithful followers! It’s been crazy lately. I was away on a family ski trip, I was sick, and I’m moving next weekend…so needless to say I have my hands full! My kitchen has been totally packed up ready for the move, so I don’t even have a fork or knife, but thankfully I have a costco size box of cereal, almond milk and red solo cups to keep myself going at home!

Anyways, we were at Manning Park over the February long weekend with our family from Kelowna. It was an awesome trip – lots of snow, hot tubbing, good drinks, lots of laughs, and the snowboarding was BEYOND AMAZING. We had high hopes for some fun cooking that weekend, but unfortunately I came down with a pretty wicked cold the last day of the trip so I didn’t get to cook as much as I had wanted. Gord and I spent weeks prior talking about cooking together and work shopping the name for the olives (“the spy who fried me, from olives with love, olives – fried olives” to name a few), so we were making them no matter what. I have a very faded memory of being nudged on the floor “Hey you, get up, time for you to make the olives” .

The “Kitchen”

My dad set up the outdoor “kitchen” a.ka. the tailgate (pictured here)…because who wants to fry inside of their cabin and get it all smelly. I put my coat on, poured myself a glass of wine (maybe a martini would have been more appropriate), and headed outside to deep fry.

Gord used to make these olives all the time at our cabin when I was a kid. We used to just cover them in hot sauce and they were fantastic. We love olives a lot, so no surprise that we started deep frying them. These brought back a lot of really wonderful memories!

Back in the day, we weren’t concerned about making them vegan, so coating the olives was easy with the help of an egg wash. We had to get a bit creative and experiment to make these olives vegan friendly. CHIA EGG was what I came up with.

Chia Egg

Honestly, I’m not sure if chia egg was the right answer. It did work, but as the chia egg sat it just got thicker and gloopier, making it harder and harder to properly coat the olives. Not to mention it made a sticky mess in the flour and some of the coating fell off. If anyone has any better ideas for vegan egg coating (or more experience using egg alternatives) let me know – I’m open to suggestions!

Nonetheless, they were delicious and got gobbled up instantly. I wish I could of made more, but I was sick and had no energy to be standing outside in the cold any longer. I don’t really have a set-in-stone recipe for these…but I’ll put a bit of a walk-through below. We served them on skewers in martini glasses, as our ode to James Bond…(the spy who fried me) with warm vodka marinara sauce for dipping.

This was by no means a “bust”, but there is room for improvement. If you’re an olive lover though, like we are, then these are definitely worth a try!

Olive di Casino Royale

  • Queen stuffed olives
  • Chia Egg (general ratio is 1 tbsp chia seed to 3 tbsp water and let sit until gel like) (or another egg substitute of your liking)
  • Panko Bread crumbs
  • Flour
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Parmesan (if not vegan) or vegan parmesan (Optional)
  • Grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil) for frying
  • Hot sauce or marinara sauce for dipping

Again, as I don’t have exact measurements because I get dumb when I’m sick – use as much as you think you’ll need and experiment!

Drain olives.

In a large pot or pan, heat up a couple inches of grapeseed or vegetable oil. You’ll want to make sure you’re making these somewhere well ventilated.

Combine bread crumbs, salt/pepper, and vegan Parmesan (if using) in a bowl. Set up two other bowls – one with flour and one with chia egg.

Toss olives, a few a time, in flour. Transfer to chia egg and toss until coated. Lastly, transfer the olives to the breadcrumb mixture and coat.

To check if the oil is ready, take the end of a wooden spoon and dip in oil. When bubbles form around the wooden spoon, the oil is ready for frying. I don’t have a fancy thermometer, it’s not necessary.

Drop the olives, one a time, in the oil. Toss with a slotted spoon and cook for 2-4 minutes, until the breading is crispy and golden brown.

When they’re done cooking, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain the excess oil.

Serve with hot sauce or warm marinara sauce for dipping!

Beet Hummus

So I promise I’m not trying to channel Dwight with another beet recipe. It’s just that I was never taught how to grocery shop for 1 or 2 people. I grew up watching my mom grocery shop as if 30 people might randomly show up at the house expecting a 3 course meal at any given time. Ahh Italians. I’m still learning the whole “Dani, you are one person, you do not need to buy 50 pounds of potatoes just in case” thing.

With that in mind, when I made the Tahini Harvest Bowl last week, I bought wayyyyy too many beets and only ended up using one. The mysterious hungry crowd that I’m always waiting for didn’t show up to my house, so I ended up with a crisper of beets that I’ve been munching on slowly. I’m not one to waste good produce, so with one lonely roasted beet left I decided to shake things up a bit.

And suddenly…beet hummus! It’s a nice change from plain hummus. I mean, look at the colour – IT’S HOT PINK! How gorgeous is that? And it’s not hot pink because of processed food colouring…it’s hot pink because of NATURE. Nature is crazy!

This is a bit sweeter than regular hummus . Although it’s not overwhelming, you can definitely taste the beets. If you don’t like beets, this is not the dip for you. If you’re a beet lover, or maybe just adventurous, you’re in luck. Sweet roasted beet, garlic, lemon (duh!), and parsley all blended together with chickpeas, for a sweet, garlicky, beety bowl of love. Side note – does anyone else notice chickpeas kind of look like little butts? I hope that doesn’t ruin chickpeas for you, but it always makes me giggle.

This is such a simple dip to make. Once you have a roasted beet (tip: they’re easier to peel once they’re roasted) it’s just a matter of throwing everything in the food processor. I love dipping crunchy pieces of cucumber in hummus…and they look so pretty next to this! Oh, and pita obviously. If you have any other ways you love to use hummus, let me know! I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy it!

This makes about 3 cups of hummus and keeps for a week in the fridge, which makes it the perfect make ahead snack. Hummus is a great dip to make as you can adjust the seasonings to your taste, so consider this more of an ingredient guide as opposed to set in stone measurements.

Alright, so this dip is creamy, super beautiful, quick, easy, full of vitamins and minerals (so don’t feel guilty about eating a ton of this), and delicious. Best served with pita, colourful veggies, and wine. If you love hummus and you love beets, welcome to your new favourite snack!

Beet Hummus

  • 1 small – medium roasted beet, cooled, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 -540 ml can of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tbsp. tahini
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp parsley, to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, to taste
  • Olive oil

Blend beets in food processor until smooth. (To roast beet wrap in foil and roast at 400 fht. for around 35-40 minutes until tender)

Add chickpeas, tahini, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Blend.

While it’s blending, drizzle in olive oil until smooth and creamy but still thick and dip like.

Taste and adjust seasoning adding more salt, pepper, garlic, parsley or lemon to your taste.

Serve alongside crisp veggies and pita bread. Keeps for 1 week in the fridge.

Tzatziki

Y’all know I lovveee lemon. So naturally when I make Tzatziki it’s going to be full of lemony love and LOTS of dill. This is honestly one of my favourite dips/condiments, it’s so creamy and refreshing. I think it’s delicious on everything. I also like to think it’s healthy because it has cucumber and lemon in it. When you think of it like that you won’t feel as guilty for just smothering everything in it. Tzatziki is NOT just for Greek food!

I didn’t have pita bread when I made this last week, but I was HARSH craving it. I ended up eating it for the next 3 days – which is perfect beccauuuusee *drum roll* this stuff tastes better the next day! Is this the perfect make ahead appetizer or condiment? Umm..heck yeah! I mean it is amazing fresh, but the next day when the lemon and the dill and the garlic have had time to mingle and get cozy – maybe exchange phone numbers and have a movie night – then it tastes reallllyyy fantastic! Whenever I make this for friends and family there is always someone who asks for the recipe. Which I’m always happy to give because this stuff is way better than store bought.

Anyways, so yeah, I ended up eating this on some baguette and I had some cucumber slices (leftover from making this), roasted mushrooms and tomatoes to dip into it. A couple days later when I ran out of bread I just dipped slices of cheese in it (I regret nothing). Like I said, it’s a perfect make ahead dish, so you don’t have to be afraid of letting it sit in the fridge. It’s also wonderful because you can make this to taste. I like a lot of lemon and dill, but you can add less or more if you like! The only thing to keep in mind is that the more lemon juice you add, the runnier your Tzatziki will be.

Before the angry squeezing, grate it into paper towel or dishtowel

SQUEEZE YOUR CUCUMBER LIKE YOU’RE MAD AT IT. I’m serious. If you don’t squeeze all the juice out of it, you’re gonna have a bad time. Why are you mad at it? I don’t know, maybe it disappointed you, maybe it gave you the stink eye, maybe it disrespected your mother, just make something up or use it as an opportunity to release some bottled up frustration. I find the easiest way to do it is to fold 3 or 4 paper towels up and squeeze it over the sink. The paper towel will rip a bit, so just make sure the cucumber doesn’t fall out the bottom. Another easy way to do this is to use a clean dishtowel and just throw it in the wash after.

If you want to keep it classic, serve this with Pita Bread (click here for my recipe) You can also make this vegan simply by using your favourite plain vegan yogurt!

Whatever you serve it with, I promise that it will be a HUGE HIT!

Tzatziki

  • 500 grams plain Greek yogurt (the small container)
  • 3/4 cup grated cucumber (liquid squeezed and drained)
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp. dill (or to your taste)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon -1 lemon (depending how lemony you like it)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (to your taste; tip: instead of chopping your garlic – grate it on your rasp grater/zester)
  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Start by grating and draining your cucumber. To do this, grate your cucumber on a cheese grater onto folded paper towel (3-4 sheets) or a clean dishtowel. Squeeze over sink until there’s barely any liquid being squeezed out.

In a large bowl combine yogurt, drained cucumber, lemon zest, dill, lemon juice, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Stir well. Leave in fridge overnight, or until you’re ready to serve. Garnish with dill or a drizzle of olive oil.

Note: the seasonings are to taste. The more lemon juice you add in, the runnier your dip will be, start by adding the juice of half the lemon, taste it, and then add more if you want. You can always add more in, but you can’t take it out!

Saluti!

Olive Stuffed Jalapenos (Vegan)

My snowy week away with friends and family is over, and we have only a few weeks until our next snowy ski/boarding trip with my aunt and uncle, which means that Gord will once again be busting out fantastic vegan recipes. I’ve never been so full in my life as I was staying at their house. When we weren’t shredding up on the mountain, we were swimming in a sea of olive oil, hummus and wine (no complaints here). I realized I had forgot to post these though, and I did promise Gord that I would.

I was skeptical of these at first. I normally make stuffed jalapenos with cream cheese and cheddar, then wrapped in bacon and baked…butttt…that ain’t vegan. The nice thing about these though, unlike the incredibly non-vegan ones, is that these are really good cold! Actually, I found they were better once they had been sitting in the fridge for a bit and had time to chill, you know how I like to let flavours mingle. And they’re only 4 ingredients (plus a glass of wine or corona) so they’re really easy to make. They’re refreshing, crisp, and you can make them as spicy or as mild as you like.

Now if you don’t like olives, this definitely is not the snack for you, so you should probably just move along, because the stuffing is literally just chopped olives. We’re an olive family though, everything from appetizer platters, pasta, deep fried olives or martinis – olives normally make an appearance in our dinners.

The only thing I may have changed (sorry uncle Gord, you can correct me if I’m wrong about any of this) is that I would’ve maybe baked the jalapenos a bit longer to get them a bit softer. With that in mind, I do get why it’s good to keep the jalapenos a bit crunchy, it’s a nice texture contrast to the soft, chopped olives. I also think that I put way to much oil on the jalapenos, so I actually ended up patting them down with paper towel before putting them in the oven, so it may be something to be cognizant of. Anyways, we ate these with mexican food, and they were a really good compliment, which is no surprise since it’s lime and jalapenos! Oh oh oh, but I was thinking…how good would these be with garlic stuffed olives? You can experiment with the olives here, how fun!

I made these really mild, I took all the seeds and the ribs out of the jalapenos, but if you like it spicy – leave some in! Remember to wear gloves when you’re working with these, especially cleaning out the jalapenos…if you don’t…you’re gonna have a bad time. You can wash your hands all you like right afterwards, but it’s still gonna sting if you touch your eye or basically just any part of your body. Have you ever done that? I have, and if you have too then I’m sure you’ll never do it again. If you really dislike someone though, then feel free to do this bare handed and then touch them. Otherwise, just wear some gloves. Even disposable dish washing gloves will do. Safety first people! Gord, if I’m missing anything else in my blabber, do tell! Oh, also these can be left in the fridge for a few days afterwards, and the leftovers are just as delicious – bonnnuuuusss!! The longest part of making these is waiting for your beer to chill all the way through!

How cute are these though?

Olive Stuffed Jalapenos (Vegan)

  • 12 jalepenos, halved and de-seeded
  • 2 cups green stuffed olives
  • 24 slices lime (about 3-4 limes, depending on size)
  • A couple tbsp. grapeseed oil or olive oil

Preheat the oven to 250 fht. (Thank you for the correction, uncle Gord!)

With disposable gloves on, slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise, leaving the stems on.

Use a serrated grapefruit spoon or a spoon and a knife to cut out the ribs and the seeds from the jalapeno. If you like it a bit spicy, leave a few of the seeds in, but not too many. Make sure you really clean them out!

Brush each jalapeno half with grapeseed or olive oil. Put in the oven and bake for around 15 minutes or until the jalapenos soften up..think of them like al dente jalapenos (or a bit softer, to your preference)!

Meanwhile, put the olives in the food processor (or one of the fun handheld choppers) and process until the olives are finely chopped.

Once the jalapenos are baked and cooled, stuff each half with the chopped olives.

To garnish, peel the limes (important so you can and slice into small wedges to fit onto the jalapenos. I think it’s easiest to peel the limes with a knife, very carefully.

Place one slice of lime on each jalapeno, and serve cold! Does it get any easier? I think not.

Saluti!

Vegan Triangle Puffs

Gord originally made these on our ski trip to Manning park last year. I couldn’t for the life of me remember how he made them. So instead of asking him, like a normal person, I brought up Vegan sausages to Kelowna and asked if we could make them, and yayyy we did! We ate these for lunch with our quick vegan pea soup (link attached) and it was perfect. I may have had 1 or 2. Or 3. Fine, I ate 4. They’re vegan so they’re healthy, right? Kidding kidding, this is the comfort food of vegan food, and it’s wonderful. I’ll have to work them off snowboarding tomorrow. We put the leftovers in the fridge and I fully intend on eating more before the day is through. These puffs will please both vegans and the carnivores in your life. They will last in the fridge covered, for around 4 days. They’re delicious cold or hot!

We cheated and used store bought puff pastry, because who the heck makes their own? These are ridiculously easy, everything is put together in the food processor, bzzzzz bzzz bzzzz blended and done! Stuffed into rolled puff pastry and baked until brown and cripsy and flaky! Perfection.

These would be a great appetizer, you can make small, little mini ones for a nice canape! Or you could make them bigger and make them meal sized and served with salad for dinner would be deliissshhhh. If these things were to hit the streets, they would be forgetting about crack. Actually we could clean up Hastings street with these, but I think we’ll keep them for ourselves. Selfish selfish.

As with our soup, wine is necessary, although not in the recipe, still very important. And I think I mentioned this in my vegan pasta sauce recipe, but what’s everyone’s deal with vegan meat? This stuff is delicious and aready has spices so it cuts out the middle man. I prefer these over sausage rolls because as many of you know, meat makes me sick (TMI?) and these are 100% beak and hoof free (unlike a lot of sausage/hot dogs). Also they are not greasy, so the puff pastry stays nice and crisp and flaky. As a sidenote, my uncle Gord is helping me write this post, it’s called teamwork. As a bonus, we didn’t light anything on fire!

Stay tuned for some more vegan recipes this week – I think we have risotto coming tonight – drool – and some stuffed jalapenos – also drool. Anyways, I’m gonna continue sipping my early afternoon wine (I’m on vacation afterall) and maybe eat another one of these babies. I hope you all enjoy these as much as we do!

Vegan Triangle Puffs

  • 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 package vegan italian sausages (4 sausages)
  • I cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • 5 tbsp. sundried tomatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp grapeseed or olive oil (to blend)
  • 4 sheets puff pastry, thawed

Put onion, sausage, olives and sundried tomatoes in food processor. Double check your olives for pits before you put them in, otherwise it will ruin your food processor and put sharp shards in your mixture! Pulse until everything is blended and finely chopped and mixed well together.

Slowly drizzle oil into food processor until mixture turns into a thick paste like, maleable mixture.

Once mixture is done, take your puff pastry sheet (or roll out yourself so it’s nice and thin, and cut puff pastry into 8 squares (these make nice side dish sizes). If you’re making them for a main dish, only cut them into four, or you can cut the pastry even smaller if you want mini ones.

Put about 1 tbsp. of filling in middle of puff pastry. Take some water and wet the edges of puff pastry slightly. Fold the top corner of the pastry over and crimp with a fork.

Place triangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (hey did you know that the parchment that comes in the sheets of puff pastry can be used to bake on? Save having to use your own).

Bake at 375 fht. for 15-25 minutes, or until golden brown on the top. Just keep an eye on them!

Serve hot, warm or cold with mustard.

Saluti!

Brie in Pastry (Vegetarian)

This one seems self -explanatory, right? Take a wheel of brie, add your favourite jam and goodies into it, bake…and BAM…stellar appetizer with minimal prep!

The most difficult part is remember to take out the puff pastry (best to defrost overnight in the fridge)…and waiting for it get all melty in the oven. It’s not uncommon for my BFF and I to sit down and eat an entire wheel of brie in one sitting…this recipe is definitely not an exception.

Seriously though, look at it. In the world of cheese, this thing would be a supermodel. It’s literally begging to be dug into and drank with wine.

Brie en croute

It’s really yummy served with bread or crackers (because you can never have enough carbs, obviously) but honestly, it’s amazing all on it’s own. The puff pastry is already a great vehicle for all the ooey gooey goodness hidden inside.

I love apricot jam and walnuts layered inside, but I’ve also used apple butter and pecans, strawberry jam, pine nuts and balsamic and it’s always been delicious – so there’s lots of room for experimenting here! Brie is really a blank canvas.

Brie in Pastry

  • 1 Wheel Brie
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Apricot Jam, or your favourite jam/fruit compote
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, or your favourite nuts
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp liquid (water or milk)
  • Favourite seasoning for topping (I used a mixture of dried basil/oregano for the one pictured)

Preheat oven to 375 fht.

Lay sheet of puff pastry down, spread a couple tbsp. of jam and nuts in the middle.

Place your wheel of brie on top, and cut brie horizontally, separating the top from the bottom of the brie.

Remove top of brie, and on the bottom portion, spread the rest of your jam (amount depends on how big your brie is, plus how many preserves you like – this is all personal preference!) and nuts

Place top of brie back on top, and wrap the puff pastry over, folding the sides over as you go around. Once you’ve wrapped the puff pastry, press the edges of the pastry together to close it so it doesn’t over leak while it’s baking.

Flip brie right side up, so the edges of the puff pastry are on the bottom (or honestly, you can bake it right side up if you like and don’t mind seeing the puff pastry creases) and place on baking sheet, or pie pan.

Brush with egg wash, and top with your favourite seasoning. I like dried herbs – but everything seasoning would also be delicious!

Bake for 15-20 minutes until puff pastry is brown and crispy and cheese is melted through. Don’t be alarmed if some of the jam leaks through, it’ll get all caramely and delicious!

Serve with bread or crackers, or on it’s own!

Saluti!