Smoky Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

Hummus is a foodie’s best friend. It’s always there for you; as a sandwich spread, a dip, or something you spoon into your mouth like peanut butter. Not that I do that… all the time. This hummus is decadently creamy and the liquid smoke gives it an absolutely delightful smoky taste.

1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
1 can organic chick peas, reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid (398 ml)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 drops liquid smoke (about 1/8 tsp)

1. Rinse the chickpeas, but reserve the liquid from the can.
2. Add all ingredients to high-speed blender or food processor. Add the chickpea liquid gradually to taste, as you may prefer a less creamy/salty hummus.
3. Serve with Raincoast Crisps or baby carrots.

– Silvia

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Fresh Basil and Macadamia Nut Pesto

With macadamia nuts instead of pine nuts you can add a tasty island twist to a traditional pesto pasta recipe.

3 cups fresh whole wheat pasta
1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted macadamia nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 bunch of asparagus
1/2 of a zucchini

1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain the pasta when it’s done.
2. Wash the asparagus, snap off the ends and discard. Wash and thinly slice the zucchini. Top the vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill for 7 minutes, or broil for 10 minutes.
3. In the meantime, pulse the macadamia nuts in a food processor, then add garlic and basil and pulse a few times more. Slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is on. Scrape the sides of the food processor with the rubber spatula, add salt and pepper and pulse a few more times.
4. In a large bowl, mix pesto mixture and cooked pasta.
5. Cut up grilled asparagus and zucchini and add to the pasta.
6. Garnish with grape tomatoes and serve.

– DJ

Nutty Carrot-Orange Layer Cake

We made this cake for Silvia’s birthday this weekend. The icing is incredible; it’s impossible to have just one slice of this cake.

Cake

4 eggs or egg replacer equivalent to 4 eggs
1 1/2 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup apple sauce
4 cups (1 pound) grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting

2 packages cream cheese or non-dairy cream cheese spread, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup unsalted margarine, softened
1/4 cup orange juice, or more if needed

Cake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine eggs and cane sugar and mix until creamy. Add vanilla extract, apple sauce, grated carrots, raisins, walnuts and orange peel and stir until well combined. Note: Grate only the colored part of the orange, and not the bitter white skin underneath. The oils in the peel are what give it such an aromatic flavor.
4. Gradually stir in thee flour mixture into the egg mixture.
5. Grease one large round cake pan and transfer cake mixture into the pan.
6. Bake for 1 hour and 10 to 15 min or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
7. Cool the cake completely and then cut into 2 even layers. Start by tracing a line around the middle of the cake with a long serrated knife. Then slowly rotate the cake while following that line with the knife and cut through the cake toward the center. After a few rotations you will have sliced the cake in two.
8. Place one cake layer on platter and spread with frosting. Carefully place the second cake layer on top of that frosting. Spread with remaining frosting on top and the sides of the cake until it is completely covered.

Frosting

1. At high speed beat cream cheese and margarine until creamy. Gradually add icing sugar and orange juice and beat until fluffy.
2. Refrigerate finished cake at least 2 hours before serving.

– DJ

2010 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel Sonoma County

Founded in 1895, Seghesio Family Vineyards produces Zinfandel and Italian varietals that honour the history of Sonoma and the Seghesio family. Nestled in Healdsburg, the winery is in heart of Sonoma’s wine country.


DJ with Pete Seghesio Jr. at the California Wine Fair 2012 in Calgary.

Zinfandel is a variety of red grape planted in over 10 percent of California vineyards. DNA testing revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grape Crljenak Ka┼ítelanski, and also the Primitivo variety grown in Italy. The grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century, and became known by the name “Zinfandel.”

Wine Review:

Sonoma Zinfandel is a Seghesio entry-level wine. This affordably priced Zinfandel is very balanced and elegantly structured. It offers aromas of black cherry, blackberry, and blueberry, medium to full bodied with lots of peppery spice. The finish is enhanced by Zin’s ever present acidity. I would highly recommend this wine as it’s a great value for the money.

According to The Wine Enthusiast: “You could use this as a teaching tool for classic Sonoma County Zinfandel. It’s full-bodied, dry and spicy with briary flavors of wild berry, mocha, tobacco, leather and exotic spices. More importantly, it’s absolutely delicious.”

I have to agree 100% with The Wine Enthusiast, this Zinfandel is delicious!

Winemaker’s Notes:

Spicy, lush black fruit of Alexander Valley. Briary and raspberry flavors, along with structure, of cooler Dry Creek Valley. Characteristic synergy of components – balanced and elegantly structured. Pair with red sauces, pizza, barbeque, spicy cousine and a variety of meats.

Price: $22.00
Wine Enthusiast Rating: 93 points

– DJ