Alton Toast (Avocado Sardine Toast)

alton toast (named for inimitable alton brown who created the original version of this recipe) is our go-to breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack when we need something filling and delicious that feels good. it's easy to throw together as long as you keep a couple cans of sardines on hand and have an avocado ripening at home, and it's packed with all the best kinds of fat from fish and avocados. as a bonus, because they're low on the food chain sardines are super sustainable, so you can chow down free from guilt. if you're unsure about canned fish, this recipe will make you a true believer and may even turn you (like us) into an obsessive canned sardine hunter whenever you visit a new grocery store! for the least fishy flavour, try to find small sardines like brislings.

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Congee(粥)

粥/congee/ juk/ zhou is amazing soul food that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. it’s a bit like chicken noodle soup for asia: whenever you’re feeling sick or sad it gives your body and soul a pick me up. it’s also incredibly easy to make and it’s a great way to use up leftover rice and/or bones! we like to buy the ducks hanging in the windows of Chinese markets and restaurants and throw all the leftover bones into a pot with leftover rice to make it. try to reserve some of the duck meat to toss in the pot at the very end before serving.

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Mouth-watering Tomato Soup

This is definitely our favourite tomato soup recipe ever! It's buttery, velvety, tangy, sweet and the perfect accompaniment for crisp and gooey grilled cheese. The key is letting your onions cook down so that the natural sweetness of them balance out the tartness of the canned tomatoes. Simple and delicious, this is an effortless recipe to add to your repertoire.

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Massaman Curry

Massaman curry is one of my personal favourites. It's a go-to recipe when I host private dinners for larger groups, or have a free Sunday to spend cooking. It is rich, complex, and packed with SO much flavour, and I get giddy when I smell the paste frying. The aroma that fills the room is INCREDIBLE. After leaving it for a while to bathe and bubble in its own deliciousness, you're left with a magical, golden curry with beautifully tender chicken or beef. Damn, I'm mouthwatering again. This recipe definitely takes time 'sans aggression', but trust me, it is well worth it. 

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Sai Ua Falafels (Northern Thai Falafels)

We’re always looking for new ways to integrate vegetarian meals into our diets, and as much as we love tofu we’re eager to explore some more imaginative alternate proteins. Lately, that has meant pulse-patties, from black bean burgers to falafels. We love falafels for transforming relatively-boring-but-packed-with-nutrients chickpeas into crisp-on-the-outside-moist-on-the-inside flavour bombs that add substance to rice bowls and keep us full for hours after a meal. They’re traditionally spiced with cumin, coriander, mint and cilantro, but we wondered if they could be done using the same blend of aromatics as our favourite Thai sausage, Sai Ua. The answer is a resounding yes. Full of lemongrass, turmeric, chilies, kaffir lime leaves and galangal, these Thai inspired falafels have a bold flavour that keeps you going back for more. For strict vegetarians, we use powdered dry mushrooms for umami, but if you’re more lenient we recommend a healthy dose of fish sauce.

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Smoked Salmon and Rösti

Potatoes with breakfast are indisputably awesome, unless they’re terrible. Unfortunately, most recipes take way longer than we’re willing to spend on breakfast and give mediocre results. We're looking for easy, crispy potatoes that can soak up the yolk from a crispy fried egg or a perfect soft boiled egg. Enter Rösti. By shredding the potato, these pancakes can be made in about 20 minutes including skinning, shredding, and forming. They only take 3 ingredients and they come out crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. Top them with whatever runny-yolk eggs and extras you want - our favourite combination adds sour cream, smoked salmon, soft boiled eggs and our classic garnishes of cilantro and pickled onions. I just ate these this morning and I'm salivating just thinking about them.

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Pandan Kaya

We first encountered this unbelievable, spreadable, heaven-in-a-spoon through Jannell's good friend Meagan, who brought a jar of it back from Singapore. After trying it, Jannell couldn't stop talking about how good this was. It's essentially a pandan flavoured coconut custard, but since most of us have never encountered pandan before, that description really doesn't do it justice. It's sweet, rich and has this incredibly unique grassy flavour that comes from the pandan leaves. Please just trust us. You want this in your lives. It goes great on toast, on gf crackers as a snack, or our personal favourite application, as a replacement for maple syrup on waffles or pancakes.

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Caesar Dressing

This one needs no introduction, you've all had a caesar salad in your life. What makes this recipe special is that you no longer have to buy a prepackaged dressing from the store (even if you were buying the fancy one that's stored in the refrigerator). The only ingredient on this list that might be a little hard to track down is the anchovy. It's not usually stored with the sardines, but instead in the refrigerator near fresh fish. Once you've found the sardines, all that's left is to throw the ingredients together and blend!

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Coconut Chia Pudding

Coconut chia pudding is excellent either as a delicious dessert to cap off a nice meal, or as a beautiful breakfast to start your day. You can even use it as a dairy free yogurt to top off some granola if you reduce the chia seeds to 3 tbsp! This recipe is super easy, but that doesn't mean you won't be blown away by the results. It's sweet and rich, pairing perfectly with fresh seasonal fruit.

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Cochinitas Pibil (Mexican Citrus Braised Pork)

There's something incredibly satisfying about eating with your hands, but sometimes it seems like everything in the world is held by the glutens. Pizza, burgers, wraps, sandwiches - gluten makes an excellent handle. But then there are tacos. I drive Jannell nuts trying to turn everything I can into tacos. Breakfast-tacos, stupid-fusion-tacos-that-should-just-unfuse-and-be-served-on-rice tacos, vegetarian-tacos, and these. These are my favourite tacos ever, modelled after a taco stand at Jean Talon market in Montreal that sells exactly one type of taco: cochinitas pibil. They start with the meat - pork shoulder slowly braised in achiote paste, garlic and orange juice. Then you add some refried beans for a nice soft texture to round out the pork. Throw some pickled onions, hot sauce and cilantro into the mix and you're done. 

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Buddha Bowl

I first made this for the family I've been personal chefing for the summer. I drew inspiration from multiple recipes online and combined them to achieve the ultimate buddha bowl! If you're body is craving a hearty and healthy meal, this is a great option. If you care for more protein, sautéed shrimp is a nice addition. 
 

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Pho Broth

Making pho broth is not as intimidating as you think. You throw a bunch of ingredients into a pot, let it make magic for a couple of hours, and voila - you've got pho broth!  If I can't convince you of how painless it is, the latest issue of Lucky Peach might be able to. Part of the reason for starting this blog was to help make Asian food more approachable to everyone. This recipe might not be your Vietnamese grandmom's, but it does the trick. We add Japanese kombu as an umami booster rather than MSG. 

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Bun Thit Nuong

This recipe requires a shoutout to our friend Mat who introduced us to it. He made it for us one day and while it seemed like a large production the first few times we tried it, it became much easier once we got used to it and started treating the recipe more liberally. Don't have pork? Use whatever leftover meat/ tofu/ root vegetables are in the fridge. No vermicelli? Sub in some rice. Beansprouts always rot in the fridge so you don't know how anyone ever uses them in time? Skip them. There are two ingredients though that are absolutely necessary: pickled vegetables (traditionally carrots and daikons) and nuoc cham, a vietnamese "dressing" of lime, sugar, fish sauce, water and (optionally) garlic and bird's eye chilies. This dish is perfect for a warm summer day, since it's served with cold vermicelli noodles, raw vegetables and plenty of spice.

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Nuoc Cham

Ever wondered how to make that mysterious fish sauce dressing you get at Vietnamese restaurants? The one that adds a little tang and life to your vermicelli bowl or fresh spring roll?This is it! Nuoc Cham is our go-to for livening up rice bowls, cold noodles, and even salads! Of course, you can add adjust the level of sambal or chili to your liking. If you don't have Chinese soup spoons, 1 is equivalent to 15-20mL or approximately 1 tablespoon. 

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Ragu Bolognese

Whenever someone asks me what my favourite thing is to cook, this is my answer. I've cooked this countless times since a family friend in Bologna gave us his simple recipe, and I will never get tired of it. I've tried a few recipes from different sources over the years with varying degrees of complexity; some had chicken liver added, many had a mixture of pork, veal and beef, while others required you to render the fat from lardons at the start. For my money, this is the best balance of simple and delicious. For best results, dice all of the vegetables extremely finely (brunoise if you will) and try to break up the meat into the smallest possible pieces while it's browning.

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Kecap Beef

This is one of the courses that we served when we hosted a supperclub at Toronto's Depanneur recently. It's inspired by a dish we tried on an island in Malaysia a couple of years ago. This island had absolutely awful food. Every restaurant had the exact same menu and none of the options were great. But! Every day, this family of women from a neighbouring island would boat over with a few giant tupperwares of home cooked food that they'd sell on the beach. One of the recurring dishes was called kecap beef (pronounced "ketchup"), named after the kecap manis, or sweet soy, that was in the dish. This recipe is our best attempt at recreating their kecap beef. It's sweet, savoury, a bit spicy and incredibly rich. To balance the richness and to complement the soft texture, we recommend serving it with a side of either pickled vegetables or a vinegar-based slaw as well as topped with something crispy - fried shallots, fried potato, peanuts, whatever you want. 

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Coconut Rice

Gluten Free Coconut Rice

I struggled for a long time with coconut rice. I loved the concept, but it always turned out a bit gloopy and mushy. finally, I stumbled upon andrea nguyen's technique, which is to use the coconut water found at the bottom of coconut milk cans rather than the cream. In order to separate the cream and water, make sure you buy a good brand of coconut milk that doesn't contain any emulsifiers. 

note that this recipe still works fine if you don't have a rice cooker. use the same cooking method as usual, but for the liquid use all of the coconut water you get from the can and top it up with water to reach the right rice-liquid ratio.

Serves 4 hungry rice eaters or 6 normal rice eaters

Special Equipment

Rice cooker

Ingredients

1 (400 mL) can of coconut milk
3 rice-cooker-cups of jasmine rice (2 1/4 US cups)
6 Kaffir lime leaves (optional)
Water

Instructions

Refrigerate the coconut milk for 24 hours to ensure separation of the cream and the water.

Skim the solidified coconut cream from the top of the can, leaving the clear water and any milky liquid. Reserve for another use.

Measure out the rice into your rice cooker and rinse until the water runs clear.

Pour in the coconut water and kaffir lime leaves. Top up with water until you reach the "3 cups" marker on the side of the bowl.

Cook the rice in the cooker. Serve.

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Pavlova

Credit goes to Andrea Witzel for this recipe. This is one of the desserts that is most in line with our ethos of finding great food that happens to be gluten free. It's super light, so you always have room for a slice after a big meal, and by pairing it with a tart strawberry-lime curd the sweetness isn't overwhelming. In our rendition, we've topped it with whipped coconut cream and kaffir lime zest, but it could just as easily be made with whipped cream and regular lime zest.

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Whipped Coconut Cream

Gluten Free Whipped Coconut Cream

whipped coconut cream is really easy but it requires a bit of planning and careful purchase of the right brand of coconut milk. a lot of coconut milk is made with guar gum so that it doesn't separate, but that separation is integral to the process of making whipped coconut cream. we typically buy Aroy-D branded coconut milk since we've had typically good results with it, but any pure coconut milk will do. next, in order to get the best separation possible and to ensure the cream will whip properly, you'll need to put the can of coconut milk in the fridge for about 24 hours. it might be possible on a shorter time frame, but we've always done it overnight for dinner the next day.

Ingredients

1 can or tetrapack of pure coconut milk (no guar gum or xanthan gum)
1 tbsp white granulated sugar (optional)

Instructions

Refrigerate the coconut milk for 24 hours to ensure separation of the cream and the water.

Open the coconut milk and scoop out the cream that's floating on top. Ideally this will be almost ice cream textured. Reserve the coconut water and any thin coconut milk for another use.

Place the coconut cream and sugar (if using) in a metal bowl and mix with either a stand mixer or a hand mixer on medium high until the cream is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Serve.

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Strawberry Lime Curd

We made this curd to go with our Pavlova, but it can be used for other recipes as well. It's sweet and tangy, a perfect accompaniment for meringue. This recipe calls for 4 egg yolks since the meringue uses 4 egg whites, but if you're using this curd for another recipe you can substitute 2 whole eggs for the 4 eggs yolks.

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