Baked Tortilla Chips

Baked Tortilla Chips

I have a food-fession:  I am obsessed with nachos. I spent almost an hour stuck in traffic today talking about food with my carpool and I would say a good chunk of it was about our mutual adoration of nachos. We discussed different kinds of nachos, how to make the perfect nacho, where the best ones in town are etc. And you can’t talk nachos without immediately craving them real bad right?

toritillas on board

Both of us are trying hard to be healthy so we both decided against immediately pulling over to indulge in happy hour nachos. But wait, I think there’s a way to shave a few calories off nachos – bake your own tortilla chips. I know I know, you’re probably thinking ‘who does this stuff?’ and ‘gimme a break, why bake them when you can buy them already made?’ I thought the same thing. Actually it never even occurred to me that you could make your own tortillas without deep-frying them. That is until I saw an episode of Rachael Ray and there she was, baking her own tortilla chips and making it look super easy and healthy.

tortillas ready to bake

I tried it and hot damn, these things were good. Crispy, crunchy, and super easy, just like she promised. So here’s the recipe for you folks.  Happy nacho eating to all, and to all a good night.

tortilla chips on tray

Baked Tortilla Chips

I think there's a way to shave a few calories off nachos - bake your own tortilla chips. I know I know, you're probably thinking 'who does this stuff?' and 'gimme a break, why bake them when you can buy them already made?' I thought the same thing. Actually it never even occurred to me that you could make your own tortillas without deep-frying them.
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: corn, dairy-free, fast, kid-friendly, nut-free, soy-free, tacos, tortilla, yeast-free
Servings: 2
Author: ness

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Day old corn tortilla chips
  • Plain cooking oil
  • Sea salt (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly spray or brush each side of the tortillas with oil. Stack tortillas and cut into eighths. Place wedges in a single layer on baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Sprinkle with salt if desired.
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray
Hearty Chickpea Soup with Fried Rosemary

Hearty Chickpea Soup with Fried Rosemary

Let’s talk about soup baby, let’s talk about you and me.  Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be (insert these 90s dance moves from Salt’n Peppa).

Okay, you probably know by now that I love soup but not all soups are good for you. Many of the tastiest soups out there are full of fat, cream, sodium, and hidden gluten. However, this hearty chickpea soup is easy, full of flavour and protein, and makes a huge batch so you can freeze some for later – perfect for busy folks.

spices

Also, this soup is vegan. There are no veganity-vioations in this soup, so if you are vegan, you can maintain your vegan powers. This soup is so great that regardless of your stance on eating milk, eggs, animal products, you will love it. Personally, I’m not a vegan but enjoy eating vegan meals fairly often.

roasted tomatoes

Roasting the tomatoes gives them until they are caramelized adds some depth of flavour to the soup. After they were done roasting, I just threw them in the pot with the stock and the rest of the ingredients to cook. While the soup was simmering, I fried up some rosemary sprigs in my tiny fraying pan and they shaped themselves into a little heart. So cute. I love fried rosemary leaves and they really add a little somethin’ somethin’ to this soup. What’s not to love about a tasty soup that fills you up without fattening you up?

fried rosemary heart

Hearty Chickpea Soup with Fried Rosemary

Okay, you probably know by now that I love soup but not all soups are good for you. Many of the tastiest soups out there are full of fat, cream, sodium, and hidden gluten. However, this hearty chickpea soup is easy, full of flavour and protein, and makes a huge batch so you can freeze some for later - perfect for busy folks.
Course: Appetizer, Soup
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, tomato
Servings: 6
Author: ness

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

  • Blender or immersion blender

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 Plum Roma tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili for powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 3" piece)
  • 3 cans chickpeas (14 ounce cans, rinsed and drained)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise and place cut side facing up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft caramelized.
  • Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add onions and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add cumin, paprika, cinnamon, chile powder, and stir for 2 minutes to toast the spices. Add the chickpeas, roasted tomatoes, and stock and stir to combine. Bring to boil, then reduce to heat to simmer. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until chickpeas are soft.
  • Meanwhile, fry rosemary. Heat a small non-stick frying pan on medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the rosemary sprigs, 2 at a time, and fry until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to paper towel lined tray to absorb excess oil. Remove leaves once they're cool enough to handle.
  • Once the soup is done simmering, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Remove about a quarter of the chickpeas and set aside. Puree the rest of the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender. Add the reserved chickpeas back to the soup and add fried rosemary leaves. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Recipe adapted from Soup of the Day.
Steak Bavettes (Flap Steak)

Steak Bavettes (Flap Steak)

For a long time, I thought a good steak meant splurging at a bistro/steakhouse or buying a crazy expensive cut of meat from the butcher. I didn’t really grow up in a steak type of family – we were more a stir-fry beef with broccoli type house. However, I’ve recently discovered a steak cut and recipe that is both amazingly delicious and inexpensive. It’s the bavette cut, or flap steak, that comes from the bottom sirloin butt cut of beef and is typically pretty thin (about 1 inch). It’s very flavourful, and you’ll probably see it on a bistro menu for north of $25 bucks a pop, but now you can make it at home for a fraction of the cost.

Steak bavettes marinating

Gluten-free eating can already be super expensive – I’ve resigned to paying over $6 for my gluten-free bread a long time ago. It now feels normal but in the beginning, I would rage about the insane mark up on GF groceries. The bavette cut is a generally inexpensive cut, so you can get your steak on without breaking the bank.

bavettes with steak spice

The beauty of steak bavettes is their thin, flavourful cut. It’s a tougher cut of meat, but with some marinating, steak spice, and a hot grill pan, you’re set for a tasty meal. Just be warned that this cut is best rare (but not too rare). I personally love my steak medium-rare, and I like it with a simply dressed salad on the side.

The original recipe is from a great cookbook from Garde Manger by TV chef Chuck Hughes, named after his restaurant in Montreal’s Old Port. We went to this place a few years ago and this steak brings back fun memories of listening to DMX, Nirvana, and Cyndi Lauper while watching his tattooed chefs shuck oysters behind the bar. Bon appetit.

Steak Bavettes (Flap Steak) |Freshnessgf.com

Steak Bavettes (Flap Steak)

I've recently discovered a steak cut and recipe that is both amazingly delicious and inexpensive. It's the bavette cut, or flap steak, that comes from the bottom sirloin butt cut of beef and is typically pretty thin (about 1 inch). It's very flavourful, and you'll probably see it on a bistro menu for north of $25 bucks a pop, but now you can make it at home for a fraction of the cost.
Course: Main Course
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, meat, nut-free, soy-free
Servings: 2
Author: ness

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

  • Cast iron skillet

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bavette flap steaks (about 1/2 lb each)
  • canola oil for grilling
  • 2 teaspoons steak spice (see recipe below)

Marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary or leaves of 1 fresh rosemary sprig (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or leaves from 1 fresh thyme sprig (finely chopped)

Steak Spice:

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili flakes

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a large bowl or large plastic resealable bag, combine marinade ingredients and whisk together. Add steaks and turn so they are well coated in marinade. Cover/seal and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
  • Meanwhile, combine steak spice ingredients in a mortar and pestle and crush. This makes more steak spice than is needed for this recipe - store any extra steak spice in airtight container.
  • Remove steaks from marinade and discard any extra marinade. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season each side with 1/2 teaspoon of steak spice. Heat a large cast iron skillet to medium high heat and add canola oil.
  • Once pan is hot, add steaks and cook for 4 minutes on one side, and then flip and cook 2 to 3 minutes on the other side. Remove from heat and loosely cover with foil and allow meat to rest for a few minutes before serving.
If you don't have a mortar and pestle, no worries. Just mix the spices together in a small bowl and press spices down with the back of a teaspoon to crush up the spices. Also, you may have to head to your local butcher to find the bavette cut - ideally, they should be about 1" in thickness. 
Recipe adapted from Garde Manger by Chuck Hughes.
Avocado Beet Carrot (ABC) Salad

Avocado Beet Carrot (ABC) Salad

I like happy things. This salad is a happy salad – it’s colourful, full of unexpected flavour, nutritious, and fast. What’s not to love? It’s bright and cheerful, just like my pal Jerrica who introduced me to this salad (and yes she is named after this gal).

Beets and carrots

Beets are so pretty, especially these candy cane and golden beets from my local market. Same goes for these purple and orange carrots. You can make this salad with normal beets and carrots, but these fancy ones happened to be available and well, I’m a sucker for pretty produce.

dressing

I was a little apprehensive when I first saw this original recipe for the salad dressing. Orange, balsamic vinegar, cumin, and lime zest? Together?  Definitely out of my comfort zone. But I trusted Jerrica’s recommendation and figured she wouldn’t steer me wrong. And of course, she was right.

salad close up 2

It turned out absolutely delicious. I loved every single bite. Not only was this salad super fast to whip up, it was E.A.S.Y. and satisfying too. It’s fancy enough to entertain with and filling enough for a light lunch. The avocado was nice and creamy against the crisp of the carrots and beets. The cilantro leaves added extra freshness and complimented the nicely balanced flavours of the dressing.

Now be warned, the balsamic turned the avocado a bit brown. Don’t be scared. It really adds amazing flavour and I wouldn’t substitute for a lighter vinegar just for aesthetics. Taste trumps pretty sometimes. Overall, this salad is colourful, unexpected, and delightful, just like the gal who introduced me to it.

salad with fork

Avocado Beet Carrot Salad (ABC Salad)

This salad is a happy salad – it’s colourful, full of unexpected flavour, nutritious, and fast. What’s not to love? It’s bright and cheerful, just like my pal Jerrica who introduced me to this salad.
Course: Appetizer, Salad, Snack
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, fast, nut-free, soy-free, vegetables
Author: ness

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 carrots (cut into 3 inch strips)
  • 2 beets (cut into 1 inch wedges)
  • 1 hass avocado (peeled, pitted and quartered)
  • 1/4 cups fresh cilantro leaves

Dressing

  • Juice from one orange (including some pulp)
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (plus more for drizzling)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Bring a medium saucepan filled halfway with water to boil. Add carrots and beets and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until beets are tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside.
  • While beets and carrots are cooking, prepare dressing. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together. Add cooked and drained carrots and beets to dressing while they are still warm. Add fresh cilantro leaves and toss together to combine. Using a tong or slotted spoon, scoop out beets, carrots and cilantro and place on serving dish(es).
  • Add quartered avocado to the remaining dressing in mixing bowl and gently spoon dressing over the avocados. Gently place avocados on top of plated beets and carrots and spoon any remaining dressing over the avocado. Drizzle with extra balsamic and serve immediately.
If you use normal beets and carrots and boil them together, the beets will turn the carrots pink.  If this isnèt your thing, you can boil the beets and carrots separately.
Recipe adapted from Kitchen Experiments.
Steamed Fish Cantonese Style

Steamed Fish Cantonese Style

I love fish but I don’t cook it as often as I’d like. I don’t know about you but buying fish has gotten complicated – farmed, wild, organic, sashimi grade, flash-frozen, sustainable. Like I just want fish. But I just avoid buying it more often because I’m confused. So when I do buy fish, I try to get it from somewhere that cares a lot about fish, where it comes from, and how it affects our planet.

Fish from Hooked

For me, that local spot is called Hooked in Kensington Market in Toronto that’s run by chefs. They are really crazy knowledgeable about fish, sustainability, and good eating. We ended up getting the ling cod that was in season and it ended up being crazy good. (P.S. There are a few Hooked locations around town).

This recipe is something that my family grew up eating all the time. It was a staple in our Chinese household, often done with a whole fish from the non-sustainable Asian grocery store. It was dead simple, super-fast, delicious, and we loved it.  If you ask any first-generation Chinese-Canadian, and they will probably tell you the same thing. Every family has their own way of doing it – even my mom and I cook it a little differently.

IMAG3668

If you’ve ever been to a traditional ten-course Chinese wedding banquet, you’ve probably had this fish too. It’s typically done with a huge fish and served family-style in the middle of the table. This dish is simple enough for a weeknight staple AND fancy enough for a wedding. Who would’ve thought?

steamed fish ingredients

Other than the fish, ginger, and green onions, it’s a pantry dish, made with a small handful of ingredients you likely have on hand. Because this dish is done in a steamer, it’s basically a hands-off cooking type dish. While it’s steaming, you have time to whip up some vegetables and make some rice.     

Steamed Fish prepared

You can use any firm white fish, sustainable or not, that’s up to you. I’m not pushing you one way or another. We do a bit of both in our house to be quite honest. We do the best we can, as often as possible, and whatever that is for you, that’s just fine by me. I hope you enjoy making this recipe that after you make only once, you probably won’t even need the recipe to make it again. It’s so easy, fast, and tasty, it’ll have you hooked.

Steamed Fish Cantonese Style

Steamed Fish Cantonese Style

This recipe is something that my family grew up eating all the time. It was dead simple, super-fast, delicious, and we loved it. If you ask any first-generation Chinese-Canadian, and they will probably tell you the same thing. Every family has their own way of doing it – even my mom and I cook it a little differently.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, fast, fish & seafood, nut-free
Servings: 4
Author: ness

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

  • Steamer

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound cod
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon finely shredded fresh ginger
  • 3 stalks thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tamari gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Coriander leaves for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Pat fish dry with paper towels and sprinkle salt evenly over the fish and set aside for 30 minutes in the fridge. This helps firm up the fish and draws out excess moisture.
  • Set up the steamer. Add a large sauce pan with about 2 inches of water and bring to boil. Put the fish in a heatproof dish and scatter the ginger over top, spreading it out evenly. Next, add half the green onions on top. Lower the plate into the steamer, cover, and place over the pot of boiling water. Gently steam the fish for about 10 to 12 minutes until fish is just cooked.
  • Remove the fish from the steamer and sprinkle with remaining green onions and soy sauce. In a small saucepan, add canola oil and sesame oil and heat until hot and smoking. Pour the hot oil over the fish and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot and steaming with rice.
Adapted from Complete Chinese Cookbook by Ken Hom

For me, that local spot is called Hooked in Kensington Market in Toronto that’s run by chefs. They are really crazy knowledgeable about fish, sustainability, and good eating. We ended up getting the ling cod that was in season and it ended up being crazy good. (P.S. There are a few Hooked locations around town).

hooked sign

hooked front sign

This recipe is something that my family grew up eating all the time. It was a staple in our Chinese household, often done with a whole fish from the non-sustainable Asian grocery store. It was dead simple, super-fast, delicious, and we loved it.  If you ask any first-generation Chinese-Canadian, and they will probably tell you the same thing. Every family has their own way of doing it – even my mom and I cook it a little differently.

IMAG3668

If you’ve ever been to a traditional ten-course Chinese wedding banquet, you’ve probably had this fish too. It’s typically done with a huge fish and served family-style in the middle of the table. This dish is simple enough for a weeknight staple AND fancy enough for a wedding. Who would’ve thought?

steamed fish ingredients

Other than the fish, ginger, and green onions, it’s a pantry dish, made with a small handful of ingredients you likely have on hand. Because this dish is done in a steamer, it’s basically a hands-off cooking type dish. While it’s steaming, you have time to whip up some vegetables and make some rice.     

Steamed Fish prepared

You can use any firm white fish, sustainable or not, that’s up to you. I’m not pushing you one way or another. We do a bit of both in our house to be quite honest. We do the best we can, as often as possible, and whatever that is for you, that’s just fine by me. I hope you enjoy making this recipe that after you make only once, you probably won’t even need the recipe to make it again. It’s so easy, fast, and tasty, it’ll have you hooked.

Steamed Fish Cantonese Style

Steamed Fish Cantonese Style

This recipe is something that my family grew up eating all the time. It was dead simple, super-fast, delicious, and we loved it. If you ask any first-generation Chinese-Canadian, and they will probably tell you the same thing. Every family has their own way of doing it – even my mom and I cook it a little differently.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, fast, fish & seafood, nut-free
Servings: 4
Author: ness

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

  • Steamer

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound cod
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon finely shredded fresh ginger
  • 3 stalks thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tamari gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Coriander leaves for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Pat fish dry with paper towels and sprinkle salt evenly over the fish and set aside for 30 minutes in the fridge. This helps firm up the fish and draws out excess moisture.
  • Set up the steamer. Add a large sauce pan with about 2 inches of water and bring to boil. Put the fish in a heatproof dish and scatter the ginger over top, spreading it out evenly. Next, add half the green onions on top. Lower the plate into the steamer, cover, and place over the pot of boiling water. Gently steam the fish for about 10 to 12 minutes until fish is just cooked.
  • Remove the fish from the steamer and sprinkle with remaining green onions and soy sauce. In a small saucepan, add canola oil and sesame oil and heat until hot and smoking. Pour the hot oil over the fish and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot and steaming with rice.
Adapted from Complete Chinese Cookbook by Ken Hom

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