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Forever ago, when I was at art college, the school cafeteria sold thick slabs of cheese toast for a dollar. It was about all I could afford, which was convenient because it was also what I loved the most. Open faced grilled cheese. It reminded me of my mom’s tuna melts, minus the tuna, and my grandma’s hot dog melts on hamburger buns that would go all crackly in the oven. Cheese toast is perhaps as comforting as it’s possible to get. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you need a recipe for – and yet it’s so much more than just cheese on toast.

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Veggies love heat – especially the intense heat of the grill, cast iron skillet or oven (or yes, deep fryer) that’s hot enough to caramelize their sugars (vs the heat of a pot of water, which historically has boiled poor Brussels sprouts to the point of being grey and spreadable). Quickly, crisply-fried Brussels sprouts are taking over restaurant menus, and I love them all. Roasting is easier to do at home, of course, although if you don’t mind i getting a bit splattery, you can do it in a shallow pan of oil. And so after W was invited to a friend’s house for dinner and we made an impromptu escape to Anju on Friday for gochujang wings, Korean fried chicken and Brussels sprouts in lemongrass and fish sauce that are so good, I rummaged around the fridge and came up with enough B. sprouts to give it a go at home.

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I’m a sucker for instant gratification – or at least big rewards for minimum effort – but mostly that feeling like I’ve actually accomplished something that didn’t take any time at all, like when you write “revise to-do list” on your to-do list, so that you can cross it off immediately. Labneh – or yogurt cheese – is thick, creamy and pricey if you buy it in the store – but really all it is is good plain yogurt, strained until enough whey runs off to give it a consistency somewhere between Greek yogurt and mascarpone. Leave it to strain even longer and it will get firm enough to roll into a log, or wee balls. Some people store marbles of labneh in a glass jar with fresh herbs and citrus strips, covered with olive oil. I kind of like it spreadable – you can even sweeten it, with a bit of maple syrup or honey. If you go to Monogram Coffee in Altadore (convenientlyContinue reading

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For the record, I’m not a football fan. I am, however, a fan of the gooey-cheesy-crunchy-dippy food that seems to accompany it, particularly during the playoffs. I couldn’t help but get all caught up in it. I read somewhere that we’ll collectively eat around 1.3 billion chicken wings today, and it occurred to me that a potato skin would make the perfect vehicle for buttery-peppery Buffalo chicken topped with melty cheese. So I combined the two. Potato skins are easy to make – start with smallish russets; their sturdy skins make the best vehicles for any number of fillings. (Traditionally they’d be topped with bacon, green onion and cheese, and you could go that route too.) Bake them as you normally would – baking them makes for a crisper skin than the microwave – then scoop out the flesh and load them up with leftover roasted chicken tossed in equal parts melted butter and Frank’s Red Hot sauce – the secret formula for most BuffaloContinue reading

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I have a soft spot for the Earls Tin Palace of my teenagehood, the hip new restaurant that opened up on 4th St just in time for the ’88 Winter Olympics, when I was 17 and just starting to go out with my friends for cheese sticks, potato skins and mocha Kahlúa pie. Where we’d go as a family when we ate out, and which was gutted by mud and rebuilt after the 2013 floods. Lately we’ve been going for happy hour – for $3 sleeves of draught, half price wine and $2 tuna tostadas. This week they launched a new series of cooking videos – with recipes – and asked me to check out the first (tuna tostadas!) and give it a go at home. It’s not the sort of thing I normally make, which is part of the reason I was happy to give them a try. There are enough elements in this recipe to dissuade the average home cook, but each isContinue reading

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This! I ate it all. To be honest, I didn’t really have a clue what bar-style pizza was until I happened to see a tweet from Serious Eats, and I happened to be starving, and the tweet happened to have an embedded photo of an ultra thin-crusted, cheesy, crispy-edged pizza in it. So I deduced that a bar-style pizza was more appy-sized, with thin, small wedges that were more convenient to eat with a pint. Thin enough to maybe fold in half, like people do in movies set in New York. I thought I had a handle on pizza – I have my go-to crust recipe that I know by heart and like to make a day ahead to give the dough a chance to develop some flavour. I occasionally swap in a batch of chewy no-knead bread dough. I toss it on the grill sometimes, and I know the cast iron pan trick, and I’m down with pita pizzas – a staple of ourContinue reading

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Like most people, I like to dip one kind of food into another kind of food. My goal, usually, isn’t to treat said dip as a condiment, but to trowel out as much as my dipping vehicle can structurally tolerate. (Crispy toasted pita chips are great for this – just cut them in wedges and bake them until golden. If you like, brush them with oil and sprinkle with dried herbs and/or salt first.) Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you want to look at it) the dip world is highly populated with mayo and sour cream-heavy dips of the French onion sort, which while delicious, don’t have much in the way of nutritional virtue. This Syrian dip of roasted red peppers, walnuts, garlic and pomegranate molasses, however, is worth treating like more than a condiment.

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As the daughter of a gastroenterologist and fibre enthusiast, I have long been a fan of the bean, pea, chickpea and lentil. My BFF and I schemed up and wrote a book about them, in fact. (That I may or may not have ever mentioned won a Taste Canada award for best single-subject cookbook that year.) So I’m very excited that the World Health Organization has officially declared it the International Year of the Pulse – which is kind of a big deal. And a great thing for our Alberta pulse growers – did you know they grow in the prairies? In fact, Saskatchewan is the world’s #1 exporter of lentils. It’s true! (I love this Resolution of the General Assembly, with its very sincere and official-sounding words leading into each reason the world should love legumes: Noting, Desiring, Recognizing, Believing.) Which is why I just got back from a couple days in Toronto – I went to help celebrate the launch yesterday, and catchContinue reading

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My social media streams are full of skiing and skating, making me want to follow suit and hit the trails/rinks/slopes, but equally wanting to chip away at that pile I felt sure I’d tackle in comfort over Christmas week, in slouchy socks with spiked coffee and a half-eaten Toblerone at my side. It’s nice to feel extra accomplished by getting work done while on holidays, with barely a trickle of email, when you don’t feel guilty getting distracted by twitter and Facebook and Instagram because hey, I’m on holiday.

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