Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blue Horizon - a special project I have been working on

For a few months, I have been hinting about a special project I’ve been working on. I can finally reveal what it is! I’ve been working with Blue Horizon, a sustainable seafood company based in California. Blue Horizon’s products are available at many different retailers across the US and Canada, and most notably at Whole Foods. I have been in charge of styling and photographing Blue Horizon’s line of products and help convey everything the company stands for.

The projects that I take on are always ones that I feel a particular affiliation for– and this project was no different. Blue Horizon is committed to sustainable fishing practices, and only uses fish and seafood caught from environmentally sustainable, small community-based fisheries. They use all-natural ingredients without synthetic growth hormones or preservatives. Blue Horizon’s commitment to ethical fishing techniques and its mandate against any practices that participate in destroying the ocean’s ecosystem was one of the aspects that first really drew me to work with this company. We worked for several weeks finding the look for the packages. Blue Horizon wanted their packages to be a reflection of what they stand for. We thus worked on achieving a look that would convey the freshness of the products and remind consumers of the the richness of the ocean as well artisanal fisheries.

In a world where food production often fails to respect moral standards, eating responsibly has been increasingly important for me. Blue Horizon is taking several steps in the right direction and I couldn’t be more proud to have contributed to such a great company. Here is a glimpse of some of my will soon be able to find the rest of the packages in stores! If you’re curious to find out more about sustainable fishing practices and how to always buy ethically caught fish, visit Blue Horizon’s website. You can also sign up for their newsletter here where you will receive a special discount coupon to try some of their goodies.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Veggie-Packed Crustless Quiche

The only slightly tedious part of making quiche is taking the time to make a good homemade dough. For that reason, it can be hard to make quiche on a busy weeknight. I also find that dough usually makes for a heavy meal, especially in the evening. This recipe is my solution to the issue - crustless quiche! My recipe is packed with baby spinach, zucchini and feta. It's perfect straight out of the oven and maybe even better the day after, at room temperature with a nice green salad.

This quiche also works great with leftovers. Try it with some leftover roast chicken, peppers, goat cheese or prosciutto and pour the quiche mixture over top.

Veggie-Packed Crustless Quiche
Serves 4-6

5 eggs
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of heavy cream
A pinch of nutmeg
5 heaping cups of baby spinach
1 medium zucchini
1 tsp of dried oregano
1/4 cup of Parmesan
1/4 cup of crumbled feta
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 425F. In a bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the cream, milk, nutmeg and add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Reserve.

In a pan on medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the spinach and cook until it just starts to wilt, for 4-5 minutes. In the meantime, grate the zucchini. Place the zucchini in a dish towel and ring out as much liquid as possible. Add to the just wilted zucchini. fold in the dried oregano and cook for 1-2 minutes. Place the spinach and zucchini on a chopping board and coarsely run your knife through the mixture. Add to the milk and cream mixture. Fold in the feta and half of the Parmesan Pour into a 9 x 1.5 inches greased pie plate. Top with the remaining Parmesan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top of the quiche is golden brown. Leave to cool for a couple minutes and unmold onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with a green salad. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mint and Watermelon Juice

As most of my French readers will know, August is really a national holiday month in France. Every year, most of the locals leave the crowded city for a couple weeks and make their way to the many beach towns in France. Growing up, August was always that month where things got relaxing, where you forgot about the busy rhythm of everyday life and just enjoyed spending time with friends, family or both. For us, it usually meant making our way the South West of France, near Biarritz and feasting on deliciously fresh dishes, relaxing by the water and catching up with one another.

This year is the first that I am not making the trip back home. I started working for and have been busy setting up shop here in Toronto. With the warm days still in full swing and a big balcony that I am attempting to transform into an urban oasis, I've had no other choice but to bring the holiday bliss to my doorstep. One of the best ways to do that has been to sit back with an ice-cold drink, a sundress and some good company. This watermelon juice recipe has been my go-to drink for the past couple summers. It's inspired by the watermelon juice from Cafe Gitane, one of my favourite restaurants in New York. while I was a student at the French Culinary Institute in nearby Soho, I often made my way to this quaint little cafe for a late afternoon snack or early dinner. Their watermelon juice is amazing. This is my version of the drink - it's a perfectly refreshing glass of bright pink goodness.

Mint and Watermelon Juice

1 large watermelon, seeded and cubed
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water
1/2 lemon, juiced
A small handful of fresh mint, coarsely torn

Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook on medium heat until the sugar has just dissolved. Let cool. Place the watermelon pieces in a blender and blend until smooth. Place in a pitcher and add the sugar water. Stir. Add the lemon juice and mint. Serve in large glasses with ice cubes and a slice of fresh watermelon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Carrots 'N' Cake Giveaway

It's time for another giveaway folks! I will be giving a copy of Carrots 'N' Cake to one lucky Chocolate Shavings' reader. This book stems from the popular Carrots 'N' Cake blog. You will find plenty of recipes as well as stories about its author, Tina Haupert, and how she managed to find a livable and practical way to be healthy. The book will give you tips on how make wise food choices without giving up the things that you love.

In other news, I've been exploring Toronto as much as possible since moving here. I've tried dozens of restaurants already and am getting a better idea of this city in terms of its variety of food offererings. Understanding a city through its food is the ideal to really understood the core of a place: its origins, people, history. It's been great. Toronto really is the most multi-cultural area I have ever lived in.. even more so than New York! I wil be sharing some more of my experiences in a few, so stay tuned!

Back to our giveaway: here is how to enter! leave a comment on this post or write a comment on Chocolate Shaving's Facebook page. You can write a comment on both and your name will be entered in the contest twice. Simply let me know what eating healthy means for you and what your struggles with it are. The contest ends on August 28th, at midnight. The winner will be drawn at random and you must be a Canadian or American resident to enter. Good luck and I look forward to hearing from you!

Congratulations to Isabelle of Crumb, the lucky winner of this cookbook!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No-Bake Peach Bars

I've been recipe testing to find a great no-bake, fruit-filled dessert for the summertime...and here it is! These bars hit the spot for me -they're easy to make, there's no need to turn on a warm oven and it makes the best of fresh fruit. Softening the peaches for a few minutes really makes a big difference as the peaches release their natural juices and becomes perfectly velvety. These bars are a little gooey so I suggest enjoying them with a fork!

No-Bake Peach Bars

1 1/2 cups of dried prunes
1/4 cup of raw macademia nuts
3 tbl rolled oats
1 tsp of honey
4 peaches, pitted
2 tsp of brown sugar
a small knob of butter

Pulse prunes, nuts, oats and honey in a food processor. Lightly butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan and line tightly with plastic wrap making sure the wrap goes over the sides of the pan. Press down the prune mixture at the bottom of the pan using the back of a spoon or pressing down above a sheet of parchment paper if the mixture is too sticky to properly even out.

Add the butter to a small pan on medium heat. Cut the peaches into quarters and sprinkle with the sugar. Add to the pan when the butter starts to foam. Cook until the peaches just start to soften. Lay the peaches snugly over the prune mixture. Fold the extra plastic wrap over the peaches and leave to set in the fridge for 30 minutes. Cut into triangles and serve. Enjoy!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mini Pita, Haloumi and Zucchini Pizzas

Have you had haloumi cheese before? Haloumi really is one of my favourite cheeses to cook with. It's great in sandwiches, to top salads and even to use on top of your favourite burgers during this summer's BBQ season. Haloumi in often used in Middle Eastern cuisine and has that perfect mix of saltiness and sturdiness - which makes it the ideal cheese to grill and melt.

This recipe was born out of a desire to make weeknight meals more exciting and easier to put on the table. During this time of year, there is no excuse not to use seasonal produce. I tend to move away from heavy meals (especially for dinner) and to concentrate on crisp, fresh dishes that I can get to the table in minutes. These pizzas really hit the spot in our household - I use mini pitas as a base (for all those times when making fresh pizza dough just isn't an option)and pack them with fresh veggies and gooey cheese. The pita also helps make the pizzas lighter and ensures that you have a paper-thin crust that will cook in no time. These are also really perfect for entertaining - the pizzas cook in a flash and are great to enjoy outdoors, with an ice-cool glass of watermelon juice (recipe to come soon!).

And on another note, the winner of my Clean Start Cookbook giveaway is Marcella - congratulations!

Mini Pita, Haloumi and Zucchini Pizzas

Makes 12 mini pizzas

6 mini whole wheat pitas
1/4 cup of olive oil + 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon of grated parmesan
1 clove of garlic, very finely minced
1/4 tsp of dried oregano
1 small green zucchini
1 small yellow zucchini
1 good squirt of lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup of pitted Greek olives
6 medium thick slices of Haloumi cheese
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Preheat your oven to 400F. Carefully cut each pita in half lengthwise to get two round bases. Lay out the pitas on a parchment-lined baking sheet, inside facing up.

In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/4 cup of olive oil, Parmesan, garlic and oregano and generously brush the mixture on each pita half. Using a vegetable peeler, peel thin strips of zucchini and place in a bowl. If the strips are too large, cut them in half lengthwise using a small paring knife. Add the quartered cherry tomatoes and olives. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and pepper and gently toss to coat. Don’t add too much salt as the Haloumi and olives are both quite salty.

Evenly lay out the zucchini, tomato and olives on each piece of pita, leaving a small border. Cut each slice of Haloumi cheese into 2 or 3 pieces and add them evenly to each pita. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the zucchini just starts to wilt. Serve immediately.
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