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Today’s forecast: a fierce southwesterly, piles of cookbook edits, earaches all around coughs that won’t quit. On the upside: a batch of warm muffins. Welcome to spring break in Tofino. We’ve run out into the storm twice for essentials – coffee, Pringles (I’m easily convinced when under the weather) and meds – and both times had to retreat out of our wet clothes back in to PJs upon walking in the door. The second time I cranked the oven on first, before taking off my yellow rubber rainjacket, craving the warmth and comfort of a working oven plus a buttery, crunchy-topped muffin to go with my rained-in coffee. Generally I make muffins with grainier flours and healthier oils, but have you seen it outside? It’s a day for cupcakes passed off as muffins. And yes it’s pouring and blowing, but things are green and growing… In the freezer there was a flat of blueberries left over from last year – the very best kind forContinue reading

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meyer lemon scones 1
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Sorry I’ve been neglectful of you guys this week – I’ve been off meeting and eating from Toronto to Richmond. Today I’m still digesting noodles and soup dumplings and what feels like half a dozen pineapple buns from the Lido, but today I have a baby shower to bake for. I’ve been planning a Meyer lemon tart, but since tart pan rings and bottoms have a way of losing each other in the basement, Meyer lemon scones it is. And curd, just to up the ante. Meyer lemons are here – they’re bigger (or sometimes, smaller) and smoother, with a slightly orange tinge, which can be credited to their breeding; a Meyer lemon is a regular lemon crossed with a mandarin orange.

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People often ask me what pizza dough recipe I use. The truth is, most formulas for pizza dough are the same – flour, yeast, water, olive oil and salt. The key ingredient not many recipes call for is time. Yeast doughs are a lot like people – the longer it’s alive before it’s baked, the more character it develops. Which means mixing up a batch of dough on Thursday if Friday is pizza night will make all the difference in the world. Let it hang out in the counter, on the fridge – wherever it won’t get into any trouble. Punch it down when it needs taming. The next day, you’ll see its potential in the stretchy bubbles interspersed throughout the dough. Which I apparently took no photos of, I was so preoccupied with the stretching and the topping. And the chilling of the wine – do you know this trick? Wrap a bottle in wet paper towel and put it into the freezer toContinue reading

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The Fairmont Empress on the inner harbour in downtown Victoria is always stunningly beautiful – but it’s even more so in the fall, when the ivy-covered walls begin to change colour. The Empress hosted the launch of In the Dog Kitchen yesterday with a tea paw-tea for dogs and their owners; it was a blast, albeit a rainy one. We had dog treats (Elvis’ bacon & peanut butter cakes! Turkey dinner doggie biscotti! Grrrranola bars!) made by the chef, and a photo booth with a wee replica of the Empress and little dog-sized fascinators, pearls, mink stoles, bow ties and vests for them to dress up with. So much fun. (My new iPhone won’t let me send photos from my phone to my computer to post here, but you can see all the evidence and hilarity on my twitter feed.)

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Maple Scones 1
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Every once in awhile, I decide I’m only going to do things that are awesome. And I forget that even with superhuman optimism, a lot of things aren’t awesome, and you can’t forgo invoicing and homework and laundry in favour of making things or playing with new projects on the internet. But I have stuck to my new rule of only eating baked goods that are awesome – life is too short for bad bread. Right? And although I do enjoy a good muffin/scone/cookie/cinnamon bun any time of year, there’s something about cooling weather and crunchy leaves that demands something freshly baked alongside your coffee or tea. (Related: no kitchen yet. It’s moving at glacial speed. But I have a sink! Update soon.) Eons ago, I got to the point where I could mix up a batch of scones from memory, knowing just how much flour/sugar/baking powder/butter/cream would yield a perfect carb vehicle for anything from berries to chocolate chunks. A scone truly is theContinue reading

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We’ve been eating a disproportionate amount of pizza these past couple weeks… not only because it’s easy to cook on the grill (we’re currently without a kitchen), but because it’s easy and requires little in the way of dishes – just napkins that can be tossed in the garbage. (Doing dishes in the bathtub tends to make one acutely aware of just how many dirty dishes one generates.) This particular pizza is not the thin crust variety; it’s made on thickly patted out biscuit dough, making it sort a of quasi-focaccia, but then again not really – it’s more like thick wedges of comfort; dough topped with cheese, served warm. You could, of course, add anything you might add to a pizza – and the dough itself can be stirred up in about a minute, without kneading (a bonus when you currently have no countertops) or the need to let it rise. Which means you can come home from work and have a pizza inContinue reading

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Carrot scones - beauty
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I have a hard time not mixing up a batch of scones every morning of the week. When it happens to be Easter morning, and we’re counting down the minutes to head over to Grandma’s house for an epic full-contact Hunger Games Easter egg hunt (5 boys between 5 and 10) I have a reasonable excuse to bake a batch. And just now, having read a sad tale of failed carrot cake and woe over wasted carrots and the grating thereof, it occurred to me that carrot scones should totally be an Easter morning thing. Right? With a honeyed cream cheese schmear that I not even intentionally served in an egg shaped ramekin? These are like a delicious marriage of carrot cake and scone, with a crunchy edge and steamy middle that makes a perfect vehicle for cream cheese – or butter and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Hop to it! Happy Easter!

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Cheese biscuits

I know – I’ve posted a lot of biscuits here. I’m a fan. Everyone should be able to make a biscuit – because if you can make a biscuit, you can make a cheese biscuit, and there are few more comforting things to eat, especially when you have a ginormous ham in the oven. Slabs of sweet, salty ham sandwiched in warm cheese biscuits = happy people. It’s also a great way of using up cheese ends or bits, and a great way to use up cream, buttermilk or even plain yogurt that is about to go south. Soured milk used to be the ideal for light, fluffy biscuits, and now we throw it out. A fresh batch of biscuits is infinitely useful. Wee cheese biscuits, by the way, are also great for parties – you can split them and stuff them with ham and Dijon, or pulled pork, or roasted turkey and cranberry sauce. Just cut little 1 or 2-inch biscuits with a shotContinue reading

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pull apart hot cross buns 2
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Over the past week or so, a half dozen people have said to me – mostly in passing – please tell me you have a hot cross bun recipe! Which makes me partly wonder why there’s such desperation for a good recipe, and whether or not people actually do make them from scratch, or just like the idea of making their own. A hot cross bun will always in my mind be cinnamon-heavy and come from a bag, with a soft, squishy supermarket texture and rubbery not-really-icing crosses, that are only really worth eating when toasted and heavily buttered. I’ve made a few good batches in the past, but nothing worthy of looking forward to year after year. Despite their carbiness and spices and dried fruit, most hot cross buns do not live up to their potential. (Mostly – no offense to anyone’s buns.) But a cinnamon-raisin bun should be delicious.

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