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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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Here’s a quickie for ya – this was one of those impromptu meals I had no intention of documenting, until it turned out as delicious as it did. It was a means of chipping away at the contents of my freezer in order to transfer everything to the new fridge, and a garlic sausage was the first to make its escape. When Mike and I were younger – newly married and past the novelty of Eggos and Hamburger Helper (the things my mom smartly denied my sisters and I as kids) for dinner, I decided that since he was of Ukranian descent, I should make him big panfuls of kielbasa and cabbage. Though he had grown up on nothing of the sort (think KD and Twinkies – his family didn’t even like peroghies) he loved it (must have been in his blood), but at some point I got distracted and forgot how delicious it was. And then my friend Elizabeth went on a trip toContinue reading

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Yes, gluten-free corn dogs. Because historically the Stampede has been a no-eat zone for my celiac friends, who should be able to enjoy midway food too. My friend Kerry owns Care Bakery, a gluten-free purveyor of baked goods that now supplies restaurants across the city with gluten-free alternatives for their pizzas, burgers, dogs and sandwiches. Her buns are so great (truly), they had to have special pans made that bake their logo right into the bottom of each bun so that customers can double check that a mistake wasn’t made in the kitchen. So we got to talking last week about gluten-free corn dogs, and being the food enthusiast she is, she went home and whipped up a recipe, then ate five for quality control purposes. It’s very similar to most classic formulas; as with most gluten-free doughs, it’s generally best to use a combination of gluten-free flours (ie corn, rice) and some starch in place of the omnipresent wheat flour to make it keepContinue reading

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Can we have peach week please? There’s still time. Did something go awry with peach season, or does it always linger this late? Looking at the ginormous bins of peaches alongside tomatoes, peppers and zucchini feels like every year at Easter, when I wonder aloud to anyone who might know whether it’s the Friday or Monday that’s the holiday? And who gets it off again? And what day do you hunt for eggs and eat the ham? And why can’t I remember how it goes from year to year? Maybe I’m overthinking things, but it’s never a bad idea to stock up on peaches when they might be the last of the season. Awake with insomnia, skimming food blogs I haven’t visited in awhile, pondering what to do with all those peaches (it’s what I do) I came across Delicious Days (hello, old friend!) at about midnight last night, and on it this tangy peach ketchup, which is really like a pureed chutney. Sweet, vinegaryContinue reading

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Bourbon pork tenderloin Collage
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Things are growing around here – no doubt because the regular rain showers interspersed with blasts of sun is taking care of the garden more consistently than I ever have. And having previously lived with a sad and severely balding back lawn, ravaged by kids and peed on by dogs, we’ve managed to bring it (almost) back to life with copious quantities of grass seed and a strategically placed monkey statue, rescued from a friend’s flooded basement and brought home to clean, to keep the birds from eating all of it. (The seed, that is.) Which is all to say it’s worth sitting in the back yard again this year. I was craving something sticky-sweet and grilled, preferably something made of pig, something like ribs, only leaner but no less sticky. Molasses and bourbon did the trick, along with fresh garlic and ginger and grainy mustard and soy sauce for saltiness. Molasses is often overlooked for savoury dishes, but I find myself using it moreContinue reading

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When W was still a baby, just starting to pull himself up to toddle around the coffee table, he skipped directly from fruit and veggie purees to grown-up food, going straight for a platter of ribs at one Sunday barbecue and never going back. I have photos of him sitting out in the grass in his swimmers, happily knawing on a pork rib in the sun, sauced from ear to ear. This is how I feel when I get to eat ribs – carefree and happy, loving the opportunity to eat with my fingers, and usually covered with sauce. W will still choose ribs if he has any say in dinner. It’s on the top of all our lists, but best eaten when it’s warm enough to sit in shorts and flip flops, leaning in over the rib in hand, letting any drips land on the grass, then washing up in the sprinkler afterward. Ribs are the ultimate summer food, best served in the greatContinue reading

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Hoisin pork lettuce wrap salad text

Busy! Busy! Busy! I saw someone write “Dec 3” on a label this afternoon, and wondered why they were dating something in the future. Then I realized it was today. I may have fainted. Good news! We trudged out into the wild near Bragg Creek on the weekend and hacked down our very own tree (Mike loves any excuse to channel his inner Clark W. Griswold) and even managed to stand it upright and cover it with lights (after only one late night trip to the store and a long wait in line) and although our house looks like a snow globe, with dirty dishes and laundry and Christmas packaging instead of snow, that someone has just shook up – I’m getting excited about the next few weeks and the possibility of sliding into a cozy Christmas. How was that for a run-on sentence? So here’s a dinner I’m a tad proud of McGyvering – it came about as a means of using half aContinue reading

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Bangers & mash 1
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We turned on our furnace today. I put on wooly socks, which discouraged me from jamming on my flip-flops. Also? It’s getting dark out already. It’s 6:30. My psyche is all shook up. Onions and garlic are at their best right now. Fat, sticky cloves I’ll miss in the bleak midwinter, when my stash runs out. They make great sweet, vinegary jam you can keep in the door of your fridge to glop on grilled cheese, serve with roast chicken, or dollop alongside bangers and mash. To make bangers & mash, roast fresh sausages in the oven or on the stovetop while you simmer cubed potatoes. Mash them with butter and a splash of milk, and if you really want to be authentic, make some gravy out of the sausage pan drippings (if there are any). Serve sausages atop mashed potatoes, with onion jam.

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