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Cabbage rolls are not trendy, nor instagram-worthy. Some might call them dated, even though their doughy tablemates (peroghies) bask constantly in nostalgic adoration (even by those who did not grow up with Babas making them). I forgot how much I love them until my friend Dorata, who has been doing my hair for something like 20 years, and is one of the best cooks I know, brought me a plate with a few delicate Polish-style cabbage rolls as I sat with my hair under the dryer, and they were some of the best things I ever ate. I’ve never actually made them myself, and so I gave it a go for the radio this morning. I don’t expect to nail anything straight off the bat, especially not having had relatives telling me how and how not to make them. I texted Dorata, read a bit and went from memory, and came up with something that, in my mind, is a pretty delicious cabbage roll –Continue reading

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We took off for Tofino for spring break – a quick trip shortened considerably by a bout of pneumonia (I know!), and with my limited appetite and the abundance of good food to be had out there, I wound up not cooking much. But it occurred to me that these have been sitting in my drafts folder, not shared due to lack of photos, which is a shame because pork lettuce wraps are fast and easy and insanely good, and fit the bill if you have to come up with something gluten or dairy free, or to eat with your hands in front of the TV (but you still want it to have some sort of nutritional value). I cook the ground pork (cheap!) and veggies in a skillet, add enough hoisin sauce and cilantro to make it taste good, scrape it into a bowl and stick it on the table with a head of lettuce (if you’re feeling fancy, separated into leaves) – it’sContinue reading

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There are days when all I want is a big plate of noodles – and because I haven’t yet found the takeout joint with the tangle of irresistibly creamy-spicy-peanutty noodles, I make them myself. I made this particular batch a couple weekends ago, and have answered a few DM requests for the recipe since – sorry it has taken so long to share. I’m going to leave it here to keep you well fed while the three of us hop on a plane for London – just to go exploring and eat some fish and chips. (Mike has never been overseas, and so I got a crazy deal last fall and surprised him and W. I’m writing this as we pack. SO EXCITED. I love London.)

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We don’t wait for lunar new year to make dumplings around here – they’re one of W’s favourite foods, and long ago we started filling and pinching them together. It’s not as difficult as it looks, a great way to spend 20 minutes catching up with someone you love, and little fingers are particularly adept at manipulating the soft dough. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you seal them – fold them in half like a peroghy, twist it into a little topknot, pull up the corners and make a tent, add a couple pleats or don’t. As long as they’re sealed, they’ll cook up just fine and taste wonderful. (Kids will come up with tiny packages you’d never have thought of.) There are, of course, millions of ways to fill a dumpling – essentially you start with ground meat (pork is very common, but some are made with beef, chicken, turkey, shrimp or veggies) and season it with soy sauce, finely chopped greenContinue reading

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One day over the holidays, I asked out loud to a room full of family, “what foods should everyone eat more of in the new year?” (I was planning my first radio segment of January.) My nephews answered, “apples!” “Vegetables!” The youngest yelled out, “TACOS!!” Everyone continued with their vaguely healthy resolution-style suggestions. Charlie kept yelling, “TACOS!” And so it seems fitting to start the new year with tacos. Also, we wound up with two open bottles of nice, local stout, and because no one wants to drink flat beer but it’s perfectly fine for braising meats with, I picked up some pork shoulder. (I told you I don’t like to waste food.) And who doesn’t have at least a few squidgy mandarins at this time of year? These were juicy and sweet, but soft with drying-out leathery skins, making them tough to peel. I did it over the pot of meat, tucking chunks of peeled orange in the spaces between. It worked beautifully.

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Most nights, dinner is predetermined – by recipe testing, leftovers from a photo shoot or radio column or some such, or some transformation of ingredients that need using up. Over the past decade or so we haven’t had the opportunity to fall into a sort of mealtime routine – or rut. We don’t really have our usuals. On tired nights, we wind up eating eggs and toast or spaghetti, which is often just the thing. Tonight, after a late night and long day of cousins and playing in the river and birthday cupcakes, the only thing I wanted to make was a call for takeout – but after eating close to my weight in ice cream that wasn’t surviving the hot afternoon in a cooler, I didn’t want to get sucked into multiple dishes. What I did want was tangy-sweet and noodle-y, and so with ground pork in the freezer and a plethora of noodles avalanching from the cupboard, I made a batch of dandanContinue reading

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I love it when a tub of cooked lentils and bowl of leftover rice in my fridge inspires me to leap out of my usual routine. (Wait, do I have a usual routine? Mike likes to say we never get the good stuff twice – as in, I’m always testing and experimenting and cooking things out of season or pre-holiday for magazines that come out two seasons from now. Peaches in January and pomegranates in July.) That said, I do have culinary habits I too easily fall into. I didn’t shake them completely; I love turning cold rice into fried rice (a vehicle for just about every other leftover in your fridge) and so kind of morphed fried rice and mujadara – a Lebanese rice-lentil-onion-cumin dish that isn’t much to look at on the page, but is so much better than the sum of its parts. Typically the onion is caramelized and the the rice and lentils cooked pilaf-style in the pan with lots ofContinue reading

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If you’ve ever been out for dim sum, you’ve likely bitten into some xiao long bao – soup dumplings filled with a nugget of seasoned pork and a burst of warm soup. It’s a staple of Shanghai cuisine and something most people don’t make at home, likely because it’s no easy feat to get soup inside a dumpling. Except that it is – when the stock is chilled and gelled. You add a cube or two of flavourful chicken gel along with your filling, and it reliquefies as the dumplings steam. It’s like molecular gastronomy before that was even a thing. I was lucky enough to visit Richmond, BC last weekend – it’s part of the Metro Vancouver area, up around the airport – for a couple days of eating with some people in the know. I need a little hand-holding when eating my way around a city with over 400 Asian restaurants, with 200 of them contained within a 3 block strip. With theContinue reading

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A woman I didn’t know walked up to me at the coffee shop this morning and said, “pork belly!” And I was like, yes! Pork belly! As if it made perfect sense as a sort of salutation/introduction to our imminent conversation. She was British and wanted to know where to get some – it’s not exactly a mainstream cut in these parts, where you’d be hard pressed to find any piece of pig with the skin still attached. For crackling lovers, this is a problem. If you’re a fan of crispy bits and can find yourself a slab of pork belly, knowing how to cook it will make any carnivores in the immediate vicinity very, very happy. (Presuming you plan to share, that is.) It’s a cinch to cook, and a prime example of what happens when you take a good piece of meat and apply heat. So simple. To be honest, this belly never even made it to the table – we just stoodContinue reading

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