About Julie

Chocolate should really be declared the official food of February, since at some point long ago someone decided it defined love, or professed it, or otherwise made people feel as good as love does. It’s always chocolate season, of course – but in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day I tend to want it more. The power of suggestion is strong with me. Of course Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the things you love with the ones you love. The folks at Green & Black’s asked if I’d play around with some of their bars and make a fondue for two, and I was more than happy to oblige. You hardly need a recipe for chocolate fondue, but a little guidance helps, and the ratios of cream:chocolate vary from bar to bar. Once you get the formula down – heat cream, add chopped chocolate, stir – you can play around with it a bit, adding a shot of booze to the cream, orContinue reading

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Earlier in December I met Ester, my new 93 year old Danish friend who showed me how to make Æbleskiver. Or rather brought out her cast iron pan and recipe and watched as I made it, offering tips and encouragement and told stories as I folded the whipped egg white into buttermilk batter and turned the dough balls in the pan as they puffed and turned golden. I kind of grew up with Æbleskiver – my best friend Sue’s mom would make them sometimes when we had sleepovers at her house in our teenage years, and I’ve been on the hunt for an Æbleskiver pan ever since. Pierre found one for me at a second hand store in BC around the same time I was making them with Ester, and so yay – I am now officially a person who makes Æbleskiver on weekend mornings. Particularly after sleepovers. If you’re not familiar with Æbleskiver, they’re most often described as pancake balls, often spiked with cardamomContinue reading

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If I had one of those weekly menu calendars – meatloaf Mondays, taco Tuesdays, pork chop Thursdays – some version of this would be on my roster. I tend to gravitate toward it every January, when I sit down and make a list of dishes made up of mostly vegetables that I really, truly love to eat, and decide that I’m going to make an effort to eat them more often, rather than always load up on bagels and toast. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that… there are just too many things right with it.) This salad of sorts is also the perfect example of how we don’t always need a recipe per se, sometimes all you need is a general guideline. I can definitively say I’ve never measured out feta for a salad, but just crumbled some over, measuring by eyeball. Yes, I picked up some lacinato kale (the smooth dark green kind, also called Tuscan or dinosaur kale) and a thick-necked butternutContinue reading

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(Look at kindergarten W! Sniff.) I’ve always been a fan of breakfast. I don’t function well without it, and neither do kids. Particularly W – he’s lucky enough to have access to breakfast every morning before school, but 1 in 5 Canadian kids don’t. Among immigrants and newcomers, the risk is 2.5 times higher. This weekend, the Grocery Foundation launches their #Toonies4Tummies Campaign in support of student nutrition programs in western Canada and Ontario – the Foundation has raised over $88 million over the past 38 years, which has supported over 250 organizations that address health and wellness, including healthy breakfasts and snacks for school-aged kids. When kids start school with breakfast, it improves not only concentration and academic performance, but social skills and self-confidence – and there are fewer incidents of bullying.

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Is it too much of a cliche to jump from bread pudding and cinnamon knots to a veggie-heavy curry in the early days of January? I crave stewy, spicy things after so many weeks (OK, months) of butter cookies and Toblerone. And I inevitably get all excited about the piles of gnarly squash over the winter and buy more than I get around to actually using. Sometimes it’s because I go for the bumpiest beasts, the ones you have to tackle with a cleaver to access the insides of. Sure, you can go for smooth-skinned butternut with thick necks, or even buy a bag of squash cubes – in fact, they work extra well here, cooking down quickly into a curry. But if you have a bit of a monster on your hands, one that refuses to be peeled, simply hack it into pieces and roast them in the oven until the flesh is tender enough to scoop or peel away from the skin andContinue reading

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Full disclosure: I’ve never really been a bread pudding fan. I want to love it, but haven’t really – until I tried this one, the version I made with Elizabeth Baird when pitch-hitting for Emily Richards one weekend at Christmas in November. Partly it’s due to the bread that was the starting point – a divinely light, buttery panettone baked by a company in Edmonton that’s nothing like the heavy, dense loaves shipped from Italy with a year-long shelf life. You don’t need to seek out this particular loaf – a mish-mash of raisin bread, fruited holiday bread and even croissants or cinnamon buns would work well here. And the finished pudding would be delicious for a holiday brunch or even dessert – they upped their bread pudding game with a crazy simple marmalade sauce you whisk together in about three minutes and pour overtop – spiked with brandy or Grand Marnier, if you like. This is easy to cover up and take with youContinue reading

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In general I’m not a very gadgety person, but there are a few kitchen tools I can’t be without, and one is a stand mixer. I was asked to take an Oster® Brand stand mixer for a spin (see what I did there?) and used it as an excuse to also test out a dessert I’ve been meaning to try for ages – a rolled meringue roulade, which sounds far more fancy and sophisticated than it actually is. A roulade is really anything rolled up, and in this case, meringue is spread out and rolled into a log around tart berries and cream – essentially the same ingredients as a pavlova, which just might be my favourite dessert ever. As much as I love plum pudding and the chocolate bundt cake old family friends bring over every holiday, after a big turkey dinner I don’t want something heavy – I love the sweet-tartness and acidity of something made with meringues and tart fruit and cream.Continue reading

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Yeah, I like to bake during the holidays. And every year I make stollen. It’s a dense, sweet German fruited bread, yeast-risen although some refer to it as a cake. The best thing about it is ease of shaping – you pat the dough into a rough oval, fold it over itself (and a log of marzipan, if you like), brush with a little beaten egg for a glossy sheen, and bake it until it’s deep golden. Then you get to shower it with icing sugar from a shaker or through a sieve, which is one of my favourite things. And no matter how wonky you think you’ve made it, it always comes out looking (and smelling) awesome. Use any kind of dried fruit, but make sure it’s moist, or it will suck the moisture out of the dough—if your raisins are like little dried-out pebbles, cover them with hot water, tea or even booze and let them sit until they plump up a bit,Continue reading

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Blog Flog: This post was sponsored by Alberta Wheat. Thanks for growing delicious things, and supporting this space! So I’ve seen these twisted Scandinavian cinnamon rolls in pictures over the years, and have always been fascinated with them – they’re like genteel cinnamon buns, not as gooey and unwieldy (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and are irresistibly pretty, like elaborately twisted knots. They’re called kanelbullar, or sometimes kardemummabullar if they’re spiked with cardamom (which they should be). Since the best part about the holidays is the baking, I figured now was the time to give them a go. I’ve already made them twice in a week, and have plans to stack some of the filled, flat pieces of dough in the freezer to pull out, twist and bake on Christmas morning. People have been asking for weeks if I’ve finished my holiday baking yet, as if it’s a project that needs to be neatly done and tucked away well in advance of Christmas.Continue reading

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