Have you been watching Jinhee on Top Chef Canada? She’s killing it. She always does. I met Jinhee years ago, when she was cooking over at Raw Bar, and everything she made was magic. She’s brilliant and humble and generous and kind, and I love that she secretly switched from accounting to cooking but didn’t tell her mom (back home in Korea) until she made it to the helm in one of the best kitchens in Calgary. While they were building Foreign Concept, she won the Gold Medal Plates semi-finals (which she went on to win, by the way), by cooking out of her apartment kitchen. (The restaurant was still under construction.) She has brought home the gold two years in a row, and silver the year before. Traveling through Vietnam last year, she fell in love with this Hanoi street dish – Cha Cá Lã Vong – cooked in a well used tin skillet over a small burner. It’s the only thing this particularContinue reading
Look at me, posting something not sweet! Something you may already know about me: I love homemade falafel, all crispy and warm, straight from the pan. It occurred to me that a kind of amalgamation between fish cake and falafel might be possible, and it turns out salmon gets along brilliantly with chickpeas (doesn’t everything?) and adds a meaty richness to the already delicious falafel. It’s a match made in frying pan heaven.
Just a quick pop in to say hello and share a plate of fish that I made this morning on the Eyeopener – to celebrate the fact that fishing season is open in Alberta, and pink and green things are finally budding and blooming on the trees in the back yard. Spring may arrive yet. I love talking about how easy it is to cook fish – so many people think of it as a complex culinary challenge, when really it’s about fast as food gets. Particularly when you start with thin filets of whitefish, which take approximately two minutes per side to cook in a hot pan. You need do nothing to them but season with salt and pepper, or drag them through a shallow dish of flour seasoned with same (or with seasoning salt, if you shake that way) before cooking them in a hot pan. Butter or ghee (clarified butter) is best for flavour, I think – but the really fun part,Continue reading
Apparently it’s Labour Day weekend in a few days (HOW!), which means part of me is plotting what to bring to the parties our friends hold every year to see out the summer, and part of me is getting used to the idea of getting back to a regular schedule next week. I’m also doing my annual kitchen purge, after coming home from Tofino and wondering why we have so much stuff. This includes the stuff currently occupying our freezer and cupboards – including bags of pasta shapes I’m always drawn to at the Italian market, that seem to multiply in the dark recesses of the pantry.
A couple months ago now I went to Yellowknife and went fishing for pike. I caught a 12 pounder (estimated – it was big) and got to judge the World Shore Lunch Championships – an event where dozens of chefs and fishermen gather to cook whitefish like they would onshore – over an open fire. It’s something we experienced before the competition, on the aforementioned fishing trip on Great Slave Lake. Our guide steered our boat toward a rocky island – they’re all rocky there, with so little in the way of soil that the spindly trees cling for dear life to the rocks they somehow sprung out from. He cleaned the three or four pike we kept right on the mossy ground cover, tossing the head, tail, spine and entrails over one shoulder for the gulls, the perfect filets directly onto the soil and moss. One of the group gathered them up into a stainless steel bowl and took them down to the waterContinue reading
People often ask if W is a picky eater. He must be so adventurous! they say, but he’s not, really. Although he went straight from boob to barbecue ribs and one of his first meals was Pad Thai, he regressed and went from loving black bean soup to hating it, and thinking all vegetables were pure evil – such a cliché, I know. He somehow knew at two to be ecstatic at the sight of a pizza box, and wanted anything that came in a colourful package. We had one dinnertime standoff that involved grape tomatoes and both M and W sitting at the table for (what seemed like) hours before it ended with tears and a whole lot of dramatic gagging. (To this day raw tomatoes are the one thing he gets a free pass on.) The thing about kids is that they’re a lot like grownups. They may have more sensitive palates and a more limited idea of what they like and whatContinue reading
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
Guys! I survived Stampede. What a week – so much to tell. And somehow now we’re fully immersed into summer. Heading to the coast is still altogether too far away, so I’m pretending to camp here – I have an open flame in my kitchen, after all. And a grill, and some good cast iron. For now, I’ll just pretend I went fishing.
I’ve never been to India, but I consider myself a curry enthusiast. And I’m fascinated by Indian cuisine. A month or so I spent some time in the kitchen with Mrs. Nimji, an eightysomething neighbour (of sorts) who just happens to have self-published what is now considered the bible of Ismaili cooking, having sold somewhere in the neighbourhood of a quarter million copies. I loved just being in the kitchen with her, watching how she toasted her spices and snipped her almonds in the button-up housedress she used as a full body apron, keeping her outfit immaculate underneath. She gifted me a jar of her own garam masala and my own masala dabba, a round tin filled with smaller round tins filled with spices, which is like the Indian version of an artists’ palatte. I’ve had it on my countertop, admiring it but not quite ready to delve into it until this weekend, when I got to hang with one Vikram Vij, who y’all mayContinue reading
Cook, cookbook author, writer, eater. Food columnist on CBC radio, contributing food editor for the Globe + Mail. ❤️ feeding people.