Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chia Seed Gel

Chia Seeds (yes, the very same Chia that you see advertised in Chia Pets) are amazing. They're tiny little round, black or white seeds (that somewhat resemble poppy seeds) that when come into contact with moisture, form a gel coating around itself. This gel coating, comprised of water and cellulose, more than double their bulk and help you to feel full with less food ('a dieter's dream' they're called) and are packed with a lot of goodness. 

Chia seeds are full of protein, fiber and have more Omega 3s per gram than salmon! They keep you feeling full longer and give you more energy than a cup of espresso. And because of their unique structure and water retention, you can turn them into a gel and use the gel to replace up to half the required fats in any recipe reducing the fat and increasing the fiber and protein. Amazing right? I'm hooked! I like to add a teaspoon of chia to my yogurt, I sprinkle it on my salads and I'm just starting to experiment with it in baking. Google Chia Seeds for yourself and read up on this amazing ancient grain. Seriously. Do it. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Caramelized Onion Mac and Cheese

I went to a party last month. It was a chic, industry, big-city party with open bar and and a caterer. I was sooooo out of my element, heck, I had my 5 month old baby with me! Thankfully everyone was so lovely, Will was taken out of my hands almost as soon as I walked in the door to be oooo'd and awwww'd over and I was pointed in the direction of the wine and food.

I grabbed a glass of red and wandered over to the spread of appetizers. I was nibbling on a celery stick when a server came by and offered me a "plate" (it was the size of a coaster) of Mac and Cheese. I think it took me all of 17 seconds to inhale it. It was AH-MAZE-ING. I tasted a hint of sweetness and it was definitely not made with Velveeta. I sought out another server and had 2 more plates before I started wondering if everyone was looking at me like "who's the girl eating all the Mac and Cheese?!". 

If you live in or around Toronto, check out Cheesewerks on Bathurst, they know their Mac and Cheese. If, like me, you live no where near Toronto, you need this recipe! I've come up with my own version that's pretty damn good if I do say so myself! I kept it simple using ingredients I had in my fridge and pantry, but feel free to switch up the cheeses and noodles to create your own version!

Print this recipe
Caramelized Mac and Cheese

6 medium onions, sliced thinly
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

1 tsp salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
450g uncooked macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend of mozzarella, asiago, parmesan and provolone)
1/2 cup aged white cheddar, shredded
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
Salt to taste

1. Put the 3 tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp of butter in a heavy bottom frying or sauce pan and put over medium heat until the butter is melted and oil is glistening.
2. Add the onions. Stir to coat all the onions in oil.
3. Cook onions over medium-low heat (I had my burner set at 3) stirring ever 5 minutes or so. 
4. After 15 minutes add the salt and stir. Continue to stir occasionally not letting the onions burn.
5. Add the brown sugar and continue to slowly cook, stirring and moving the onions around as needed until they're soft and golden brown. This could take up to an hour.
6. In the meantime, cook the macaroni to under al denté. (you want them slightly under cooked so they don't go mushy)
7. In a large saucepan heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted and then add the flour. Stir with a whisk to incorporate and continue to stir for 3 minutes to cook the flour.
8. Add the milk and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens. Add the cheeses and stir until the cheese has melted. 
9. Pour the cooked noodles, cheese sauce and onions into a slow cooker and mix. Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 4 hours. Serve hot.

(You can do this on the stove as well, just cook your noodles to al denté, mix your cheese sauce and onions with the noodles in the pot and serve)