Simple allergen-free substitutes for nuts and peanutsRead More
We invited the team behind Dalish Cosmetics in to review Oh She Glows Everyday and give it an allergy makeover.Read More
Welcome back, EAF fans! We recently reviewed Zahav, by Michael Solomonov. When I was initially given this book I thought, oh man, I know nothing about Isreali cooking but I bet it's full of legumes and it'll be really hard to give it an allergy makeover. Thoughts of chickpea-free hummus danced sadly in my head. But then I opened it and began flipping through. There were so many possibilities, so much colour, so much STORYTELLING. I wanted to create all of it, and surprisingly much of it was already suited to my allergies. At that point I knew this book was special and that this review was going to be a lot of fun.
Madiha (right) was the guest cook working with Joella (left) and myself (behind camera) on this review. We made green tahina, Moroccan carrot salad, roasted okra, and shakshuka. So let's dive in...
There's a whole section of the book devoted to this magical dip made of sesame seeds, olive oil, garlic, and other seasonings. Recipes for several variations are provided and he enforces how central this is to Israeli cuisine and many other recipes in the book. So I felt that in order to do the book justice we had to test it out. Otherwise Micheal would be sitting at his computer, reading this review, and thinking umm, did they not get it?
The recipe didn't have to be changed to suit my allergies so that was an unexpected score. 9 times out of 10 everyone's favorite cultural dishes are comprised of ingredients that I'm deathly allergic to. So how nice to be able to just enjoy something as it was intended to be.
I made the green tehina ahead of time for snacking while we cooked and served it with green and wax string beans and spicy radishes. I'm sure Michael Solomonov intended for it to be eaten with fresh seasonal veggies from a local farm but here's our little secret... We realized that it tastes frigging amazing with potato chips. Honestly, make a big bowl of it, get a bag of chips, and go to town. Either that or put out enough veggies to feed your guests so they don't go roaming through your cupboards. You know, whatever.
Moroccan Carrot Salad
Nothing about this recipe had to be changed either! We steamed carrots and tossed them in a dressing made from the boiled down carrot water reduced with orange juice, olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro, and spices. I like to have an abundance of veggies with my meal and this was a great dish that I will definitely make again. A little sweet, very flavorful, and with a fresh hint of cilantro. It was easy to prepare and can be made ahead of time.
And can you believe it, a third recipe that didn't have to be changed? This book is seriously awesome. And it's not a boring run-of-the-mill allergy-friendly recipe like chicken and salad either. For this dish we roasted a pan of okra until they were deep brown and crispy, then tossed with fresh tomato sauce, olive oil, lime, and cilantro. I often get pushback when I make okra for others because people tend to think of it as slimy and stringy. But I always tell them they obviously don't know how to cook it. Okra is rich and creamy inside and firm on the outside when roasted. The tomato sauce is tangy and sweet while cilantro and lemon add complexity.
If you want to hear me stumble and mumble, just ask me to say shakshuka. We were all excited for the shakshuka because we came to realize that all our cultures (Pakistani, Indian, and Italian) have a version of eggs poached in tomato sauce. Very often when I was growing up my dad would make what we referred to as a farmer's meal. He would stir fry chopped zucchini and potatoes, add fresh herbs from the backyard, top it off with our homemade tomato sauce, and then drop in eggs at the last minute to poach. It's a dish I make all the time and one that's really close to my heart.
This version was fantastic and the flavorings were different than the ones I typically use. Instead of basil and rosemary this recipe called for paprika, cumin, coriander, and lime. I liked the change of pace and it felt like a totally new dish while still reminding me of home.
What we loved about this book
There was so much storytelling. We loved that as a reader you could feel his passion for Israeli cuisine and got a sense of his personality (I'm looking at you, page 283) and personal story. This isn't just a collection of recipes; it's an experience. There is so much to take in from the recipes, ample photographs, and great double-page spreads, to the cultural and social info on nearly every page.
The next item on my list to make is challah!
You can pick up your hardcover copy of Zahav here for $35 (regular price is $50)
Another successful review by your EAF team. Cheers!
This weekend I invited one of my closest friends, Joella, into my kitchen to test out Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, It’s All Easy. The book is a collection of simple recipes that will feed a family and can be made quickly on a weeknight. Imagine a book for home cooks who are also busy parents and have a million tasks to accomplish after work.
I’m a fan of Gwyneth so before we dive in I’ll admit I’m biased. I loved The Royal Tenenbaums and Shallow Hal, I scroll through Goop from time to time, and I think conscious uncoupling is the most rational way to handle a split.
…And I envy her friendship with Mario Batali who I used to watch on TV all the time as a kid.
Upon opening the book there were some recipes that jumped out at me immediately. The chicken piccata, which we did make, looked stunning. The photographs in this book are top notch and create a whole atmosphere for the reader. I love that she included shots not only of the food but of her home, her interactions – her lifestyle.
I strongly agree with her statement that food doesn’t need to be complicated to be good. Several of her recipes are ones my nonna always makes, or ones I gravitate towards on weeknights. I pretty much never eat out unless I’m so exhausted Bran feels I’m at risk of fainting. And that is a very rare occurrence. I just love to cook, it’s what I do. I look forward to it at the end of the day, I often plan what I’m going to cook the night before, and I feel very satisfied when I hear murmurs of approval when others eat my food. Joella also cooks at home all the time, especially since she’s striving to incorporate more protein into her diet.
So let’s jump right in. We made three recipes from the book: Jessica’s coconut latte, lemon and herb pasta with cherry tomatoes, and chicken piccata.
We began with this recipe because we needed a little pick-me-up after work and before we poured the wine. How delicious does a coconut latte sound? I love that this recipe didn’t have to be altered to suit my allergies in any way. Very simply coconut oil, sugar, and espresso, all ingredients I already had on hand. We both loved the rich flavor of this drink and I actually went on to make Bran and myself one on Saturday and Sunday morning.
Once we were woken up we poured some wine and got ready to start cooking. Joella chose the soundtrack for the evening. We listened first to Koop Island and then some early Norah Jones (a favorite of both of ours). Our strategy was to begin the chicken and pasta in unison and hope they also finished cooking at the same time.
Chicken in a delicate lemon and herb sauce with capers and lemon slices. I’ve had this dish many times before or variations of it using white wine or some broth. We sauteed the chicken breasts after dredging in flour, then added lemon slices and juice, capers, and Earth Balance vegan spread instead of butter. Again it was super easy to use substitutes for allergens, the only allergen being butter. The chicken was tender and saucy and we ate the entire plate. I could easily see myself recreating this meal some other time or especially if I had a group to feed. We served it on a bed of arugula.
Lemon and Herb Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes
Once again, this recipe was conducive to eating allergen-free. We just left out the parmesan but stuck to the recipe otherwise. It was a lot of food. You could easily serve a whole family with this dish and then have some leftover for lunches. It’s Sunday night and I still have a container full in my fridge. My only negative comment is that I felt like I needed a paella pan to simmer the pasta and tomatoes together. Joella also had a point of criticism as she thought it could have been more flavorful. It’s likely that the parmesan would have made up for that. In future I’ll add more garlic and some lemon.
We created a warm, cosy atmosphere to suit the book and meal. Then Jo got very tired of waiting for me to finish taking photos and we finally sat down to eat.
And we then we dug in! In a big way. It was somehow already 11:30 and we were starving, although we have a habit of talking so much when we’re together that we always lose track of time. Clearly this night was no exception. After scarfing down a huge helping each we settled in to watch the new season of Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix.
What we loved
This book really is great for anyone living with food allergies like myself.
There were tons of beautiful photographs that inspired me to cook.
Gwyneth gave us a window into her life which made the book feel very personal.
The recipes really were easy and used accessible ingredients.
Portion sizes were ideal for serving a family.
There are a ton of recipes in this book. A ton!
Accessibility of ingredients: 10/10
Flavor level: 8/10
Stunning photographs: 10/10
Covetable lifestyle and killer interior design skills: 15/10
Jessica Seinfeld’s coconut latte: priceless.
It’s All Easy sells for CAD $42.00. It’s hardcover bound with dust jacket and is available at Indigo in store or Indigo.ca
Love and Lemons (not to be confused with the lingerie brand) is not only a popular food blog but is now a gorgeous hardcover cookbook. I recently met Jeanine, the creator of the blog and book, at an event at Indigo's home office in Toronto. She made a couple quick recipes for us to sample and I was impressed by how fresh and bright everything was. I got a copy of the book (yay!) which she kindly signed for me.
Skimming through the recipes I was looking for something allergy-friendly of course, but also something I could make using ingredients I already had in my fridge and pantry. Karrie, star of Guy & Girl Nerd Duo and writer of the lifestyle site Karrie Kwong (above) is a very beginner cook so I made sure to select recipes that were foolproof and fast. Cooking outside your comfort zone is a great way to expand your knowledge, but in this case we were just looking to have fun and enjoy a delicious meal together. I chose two recipes; Coconut Rice with Brussel Sprouts, and Veggie Ceviche.
Coconut Rice with Brussel Sprouts
I love how green this recipe is. So healthy, quick, and easy. In case you haven't heard, plates are out and bowls are in. Vegan bowls, smoothie bowls, rice bowls; they're trending. I highly suggest you buy a small cat bowl like the one pictured above, because it's just so damn cute.
Karrie chopped up the green onion, basil, chili, and avocado, then peeled the Brussel sprouts and cut them in half. She fried them lightly in coconut oil until the sides were golden brown, then whipped up the tangy dressing. The rice was cooked in coconut milk which not only means you get the health benefits of coconut but the taste and richness too. She piled a couple spoons of rice into a deep bowl and then added all the veggies. Jeanine suggests adding other veggies such as asparagus to the bowl. I would definitely do that next time as I felt like I was left wanting for more green and more crunch, despite the recipe being quite satisfying. I think adding more variety would also bulk it up a bit and make it more filling for dinner.
This is a nice salad to accompany a main course. We served it with the rice bowl above, but I think it would go great with grilled beef or chicken. Love & Lemons is not a vegetarian or vegan book but the recipes are organized by vegetable and so it lends itself to being a generally plant-based cookbook. At her home office appearance Jeanine explained that although she does prefer to eat veggie meals at home, she isn't necessarily a vegetarian 100% of the time. I can definitely relate to that, as I tend not to eat meat at home if I'm cooking for myself, and only really eat it if I'm cooking for friends, family, my boyfriend, or dining out.
This salad consisted of several vegetables and an apple roughly diced, then tossed in a lime and herb dressing. I notice that her style of cooking is light on oil which is such a change from my usual inclinations. I'm all about the olive oil, all the time.
Things we Loved
The book is really easy to navigate as it is organized by fruit/vegetable. You can easily see what you have in your fridge, look it up in the book, and plan a meal around it. In that sense it's very practical.
The recipes are all easy. Even Karrie, who is definitely a beginner and, when handed a sharp knife audibly whined and said "BUT GUYS I DON'T KNOW HOW TO COOK", managed to make this meal in an hour without the loss of any fingers or eyelashes.
Health is front and centre. This is not a diet book by any means but it is definitely an aspirational way to eat.
The photography is stunning and will make you crave all the fruits and veggies! And Jeanine did it all herself. So how do ya like them apples?
I can't honestly say that the recipes are super friendly towards allergies, specifically the top 8 allergens. There are a lot of legumes, nuts, cheese, and eggs throughout the book. However I did find that ingredients were simple enough to substitute so it was not limiting. If you know your typical ingredients to sub in, you should be fine.
You can pick up your copy of the book here