Though I haven’t seen her much over the years, my Belgian aunt is known for her croquettes. She shapes them into short, stubby cigars – a mixture of mashed potatoes and other leftover ingredients that can often be found in the fridge, rolls them in breadcrumbs and fries them in hot oil, which she tests for the right temperature with the handle of her wooden spoon. They’re completely delicious, and the perfect thing to make when you happen to have leftover mashed potatoes and roasted turkey at the same time. (The only time she has made them for me, they were made with mashed potato and roughly or finely chopped turkey.)
At this time of year, assembling multi-course meals for more people than you typically have around the table can be intimidating. And besides the Big Feast, there are dozens of other, smaller dinners that need cooking and parties that need DIY catering, generally under the (albeit festive) duress of the season, and very often for company.
Given the choice of what to eat, W will always choose crunchy fried things and waffles. When he heard the two could be combined, he lost his mind a little and asked immediately if we could go out for brunch. But because I’m not a fan of getting dressed earlier than is absolutely necessary, nor of waiting in line for eggs and breakfast breads I could make myself, I convinced him I could do an acceptable job of it at home.
Turkey has dominated my social media feeds this week, reminding me that (yay!) I had leftovers from our big feasts squirrelled away in the depths of the freezer. (I always roast a larger bird than we actually need, so there’s plenty.) Roasted turkey is infinitely useful – beyond the requisite sandwiches, for which I make an extra batch of Parker House rolls or Julia Child’s sandwich bread, it can be used in curries and casseroles, cheesy baked dishes and croquettes. (And of course soup, with all that stock.) Any meat that has been roasted on the bone tends to have more flavour, and having it pre-cooked is like having your own homemade convenience food, all ready to go. So when the Turkey Farmers of Canada asked me to come up with a few new ideas this season, and I was happy to oblige.
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.
I love a good burger. It may be my desert island food, in no small part because there are so many different ways to make one, so it’s impossible to get bored. Which is a good thing, because as I’m now the parent of a 13 year old six foot tall eating machine who requests burgers and/or pizza for dinner every night by placing (begging) his order the night before, I’ve been coming up with variations on the most obvious burger formula. So when the Turkey Farmers of Canada asked if I’d come up with a recipe using Canadian turkey, it was an easy (and delicious) challenge, and of course I like to support our Canadian farmers whenever I can.
I know it’s sometimes uninspiring to cook for one, and cereal is the solo meal of choice for those who would rather not have dishes to do, but I get a lot of satisfaction from single skillet meals that take under ten minutes and don’t stick you with a ton of leftovers. This chicken thigh piccata is almost as easy as cereal: douse a couple chicken thighs in a shallow dish of flour and cook them in butter with a slice or two of lemon in the pan until they’re crisp and golden. If there are any leftover cooked veggies or quick-cooking ones in the fridge – I had half a baked potato and a bunch of broccolini – they take just a few minutes to reheat alongside. When your chicken is cooked, you can squeeze the soft lemon overtop with tongs, then add a splash of stock or wine to the pan along with a dab of butter and forkful of capers, swirl itContinue reading
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.
Happy new year, guys! Technically it’s still a new-ish year, yes? Even though now suddenly it’s almost the end of January? Apologies again for the radio silence – I’m working on some new design tweaks here, or have hired some fine folks to as it’s one of the many things I’m almost completely clueless about, and of course there have been obstacles to be sorted out. Nothing seems to be as straightforward as it is in my mind. Except! This chicken curry, which looks like it has a lot of ingredients, and I suppose technically it does, but once you get to know it, has a very satisfying routine to it: build a thick, brick red masala with oil (or ghee!), onions, ginger, garlic and spices, nestle in some chicken and let it simmer. Vij once told me that at his restaurant people complain with some regularity that “the curry isn’t the same as it was last time”, and he says “it’s not supposed to”,Continue reading
Cook, cookbook author, writer, eater. Food columnist on CBC radio, contributing food editor for the Globe + Mail. ❤️ feeding people.