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Trashy Cookies

I’ve been making these like crazy these past few weeks, as I’ve been out celebrating and signing copies of Dirty Food – yes! It’s out in the wild! I wrote a bit about it in last weekend’s Globe & Mail. It’s slowly trickling into bookstores now… there have been issues with my decision to give it an exposed spine, which looks imperfect (enough that there was concern stores would think they were defective and send them back), but I chose because I liked the look of it, and because it allows the pages to lay flat, which I think is important for a usable book, especially in the kitchen, and particularly when it’s a smaller format than the norm.
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May as well hop onto the pumpkin muffin bandwagon… though pumpkin pie isn’t my favourite (and I don’t enjoy squash in my latte), I do like a spiced pumpkin muffin. And a batch in the oven makes the house smell fantastic.

Despite the fancy-sounding name, you don’t need roasted squash per se to make these – so long as enough heat has been applied to your squash of choice to soften it (it could be microwaved, or steamed, or baked) it will work just fine, as will canned pumpkin purée. But I posted on Instagram a few days ago that you could, while the oven is on to bake cookies or a lasagna, stick a whole winter squash directly on the oven rack and just let it bake. Which requires literally zero prep, and makes them infinitely easier to handle.

roasted kabocha squash

Over the weekend, as I baked batch after batch of cookies for book signings (thanks for coming!) I tossed in a smallish kabocha – one of my favourite kinds… I love its dense, dark flesh. A medium squash will take about an hour, and once cool you can peel it with your fingers – no wrestling with a tough squash and a knife. And you can still roast the seeds! Look – the flesh is soft enough to scoop out with your fingers.
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Truth: I haven’t been this excited about a new recipe for awhile. I’ve never been a bun-making person. Bread, yes – crusty sourdough, no-knead and W’s favourite Julia Child sandwich loaf (with or without beans), but I didn’t grow up with dinner rolls on dinner tables, so I never really got into it.

So yesterday, Angela requested Parker House rolls for Thanksgiving – she said it was the one thing that always had to be on their table. I had made them before, but not for awhile… I poked around and came across several recipes that had more or less the same formula – Bon Appetit, King Arthur Flour… dough enriched with lard (I used butter, because of course) and an egg, brushed with melted butter before folding and again after baking, and sprinkled with flaky salt immediately upon exiting the oven. The fold, of course, is what makes it a Parker House roll.


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Roasted Beets with Whipped Feta, Lemon and Dukkah

I’ve been at two events in the past two weeks that served plates of this whipped feta topped with roasted beets and dukkah – both were celebrating the launch of the new Calgary Eats cookbook, a collaboration between 40 Calgary restaurants including Ten Foot Henry, whose chef, Steve Smee, contributed this recipe. I have a bowl of roasted beets in my fridge (you can do them in the slow cooker!) and is there a better combo than beets and feta or creamy goat cheese? Wait – how about whipped feta you can drag through with soft flatbread instead of relying on a green salad as delivery vehicle? This is going directly into my regular repertoire.
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I could live on potatoes and cheese, I think—or bread and cheese, pasta and cheese… anything and cheese, provided it’s the buttery, meltable kind. So when the folks from Jarlsberg asked if I’d be wiling to come up with another way to use their creamy, nutty cheese, I was more than happy to oblige. This is one of the best parts of my job.

Since Jarlsberg is a Swiss style cheese, I thought I’d make a rösti—a substantial potato pancake, crispy on the top and bottom, and in this case stuffed with melty Jarlsberg. If you’re not familiar with it, you may recognize the yellow patterned rind—Jarlsberg came to be in a small Norwegian village called Ås in the fifties, as a group of students conducted experiments using various cheesemaking techniques typically used with Gouda and Emmental. Because it’s so creamy and meltable, it’s fantastic in fondue and mac & cheese, and really anything you’d like to be a bit gooey. It’s fab on a burger, in a croque monsieur, and any of those melty cheese dips with artichokes, crab, or spinach. But! Check out this rösti.
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(Crab) Apple Fritters

No, you don’t *have* to use crabapples for these – it’s officially apple season, and the markets abound with bins of crisp, flavourful apples – and just about any would do well here. But they do make good use of tart crabapples, which don’t need to be peeled – just slice off their cheeks, chop them a bit more if they’re big, and let the soft, sweet dough offset their tartness. It’s a delicious use for those apples that might otherwise compost themselves on your lawn.
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It’s like summer comes crashing to a halt on cue the first week of September – suddenly it’s dark before 8, you need to put your wooly socks on, there are leaves crunching underfoot when I take Lou for a walk, and my garden is giving up. Perhaps most ridiculous of all – it’s only a month until Thanksgiving. (!!!) I do love this time of year though, and all the produce that goes with it, and the way the oven warms the house, rather than just heating it up. It makes me want to cook all over again, even though I never stopped cooking over the summer.
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Pasta with Peas + Lettuce

Confession: I’m one of those odd people who loves leftover salad. Yes, salad from the night before, that has already been tossed in dressing, so it gets all wilty in the fridge. It’s like a more condensed version of its original self, and I’ve always wondered why we don’t wilt lettuce the same way we do spinach.

If you follow along on Instagram stories, you’ll know I had a bumper crop of lettuce this year. I’ve been plucking leafy greens straight from the garden all summer – which never gets old – but even in July and August, you can get too much salad. And now, finally, my immaculate and bountiful lettuce row is beginning to wane, and I’m scrambling to add it to things before it winds up in the compost bin. But look: it’s tasty tossed with warm pasta, which wilts it slightly, and it has a delicate, lettuce-y flavour compared to hardy spinach, chard or kale, that goes so well with butter and Parmesan.
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I haven’t made a batch of Phantom Rhubarb Muffins (from the Best of Bridge-so named because they’re so delicious they tend to disappear) for years, and keep meaning to. I love tart bits of rhubarb in my muffins, and this recipe doesn’t produce too big a batch – I know you can freeze them, but who ever needs 2 dozen muffins at a time? 8 is perfect. I made these one recent morning when we were packing up the car for a road trip, in order to avoid the mostly disappointing $2 highway muffins with our very necessary coffees. Note: because I was distracted (and am, in general, imperfect) I wasn’t thinking and used more butter and sugar in the simple crumble topping than necessary, which resulted only in more caramelly bits on top – nothing wrong with that. And though the recipe calls for pecans, I had almonds – use any nut you have in your baking cupboard, really.
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