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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. Over the weekend, as I baked batch after batch of cookies for book signings (thanks for coming!) I tossed in a smallish kabocha – oneContinue reading

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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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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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I have no shortage of ways to use the last of the sour cream or yogurt as it drifts past its expiry date (provided it’s not growing tiny Muppets on its surface, yes) – I stir it into pancake, waffle, muffin and banana bread batter, or make scones… I make green sauce or toss it in the freezer. But ladies and gents, we have a new contender… these tiny, tender fritters I came across in the great Edna Staebler’s Food That Really Schmecks (if you’re Canadian, you may remember it) – and though I didn’t think I needed a go-to fritter in my repertoire, it turns out I did.

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Though my dad came to Canada from Belgium when he was a kid, I’m no expert on the Liège waffle, except to know what I like when I eat one. Liège waffles aren’t like other Belgian-style (thick? round?) waffles – they’re dense and chewy, yeast-raised, with a dough like brioche but studded with ultra-coarse pearl sugar that melts and caramelizes on the outside as they cook, creating a slightly crunchy exterior with plenty of crispy bits. (Depending on where you live, you can usually find it at gourmet shops and stores that carry more baking supplies than others. I got mine at Duchess Provisions in Edmonton, which is now closed, but it was only $3 – not pricey.)

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We all seem to want more protein in the morning, don’t we? Without necessarily committing to bacon and eggs… or even to Greek yogurt or anything more substantial than something that can be grabbed and nibbled with coffee. I tend to like carby, sweet-ish things with my coffee, and I feel like biscotti has more potential then it’s often given credit for. It feels so 90s to me – those big glass jars of awkwardly long cookies, often dunked lengthwise in waxy chocolate, on the counters of coffee shops that were just starting to multiply. I think some people decided that biscotti should be hard, and as such let them sit out forever, hardening. But in my mind they should be crisp and not an effort to bite into without softening them first in your coffee.

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Since it seems most of this part of the world is in a polar vortex, I thought I’d offer up a consolation prize to being stuck outside: popcorn chicken and waffle bits, from last year’s Brunch Life: Comfort Classics and More for the Best Meal of the Day by Matt Basile and Kyla Zanardi. Because I truly cannot think of a more suitable brunch scenario than a weekend with a high of -30. This version of chicken and waffles is brilliant—bite-sized fried chicken pieces are far less intimidating to make and cook, and are perfect for nibbling with bites of crisp waffle, all drizzled with a spicy Sriracha maple syrup butter. I love that everything can be eaten with a fork or fingers, and you don’t have to balance your plate on your lap to maneuver a knife. And it’s very conducive to sharing, if you find yourself in the vicinity of other people in their pyjamas.

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It’s a Christmas miracle! I’ve been talking about launching a podcast for years, and I finally did it – it’s done, it’s up! Anna Olson was in town promoting her new book, Set for the Holidays, last month, and I knew that she a) would be a perfect first conversation for the kind of podcast I had in mind, and b) totally up for sitting down for a chat with me. And! As a bonus, it was Christmas, which meant a self-imposed deadline: after recording it, I’d have to get it up before the holidays. It was a steeper learning curve than I thought – beyond the editing itself, which involves multiple tracks, smoothing out hot posts and awkward cuts, balancing the EQ and all that jazz, it weirdly enough is not as simple to upload a piece of audio as it is to post a video on YouTube. We talked to some pros who were far more elaborately set up than we are (GarageContinue reading

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A week or so ago (why is time moving so FAST?!) I spent a day getting on top of holiday prep, thanks to Virtual Vino, and got so caught up in the possibilities of what can be done ahead that I stopped at about 2600 words and promised to follow up with a few ideas about how to get a head start on all the cooking obligations of Christmas Day. Everyone wants a luxurious breakfast without cooking, and a stress-free dinner that doesn’t require spending half the morning getting the turkey in. And the orchestrating of sides and appetizers and dessert can be exhausting. But really – feeding everyone for the whole day doesn’t have to be daunting, even if you don’t have everyone pitching in to get dinner on the table. So much can be done well ahead of time, and doesn’t necessarily require freezer space. First! Order wine. I love having a couple well-curated six packs on standby for parties and dinner duty.Continue reading

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