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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This week, I’ve had a love affair with pork. All parts of the pig – its loin, its shoulder, its butt. It started on our drive home from Tofino, when we swung by Meat & Bread between ferry dock and highway. It’s worth the trip – or pilgrimage, even – for a porchetta sandwich with cracklings, served with salsa verde, a brilliant green slurry of fresh Italian parsley, garlic, lemon and olive oil that acted as a bright, fresh, citrusy foil against the rich pork. I became preoccupied with said porchetta, and so when I went for coffee with our new neighbours, Cafe Gravity in Inglewood, and the owner, a recent transplant from the corporate world who went to India, had an epiphany and decided to open a cafe, pulled up a chair and asked for menu advice, I suggested he might be able to easily roast pork in his teeny kitchen for real-food sandwiches.

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I haven’t made scalloped potatoes in over a decade. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I never made scalloped potatoes that weren’t disappointing. I made them with warmed milk, and by simmering the potatoes in the milk first, then baking the partially cooked milky potato sludge. No dice. Tonight I made scalloped potatoes because I was baking a ham, and I figured I’d best get back on that horse. (W asked me to roast him a ham as a bedtime snack earlier this week, and so because entire baked hams are not standard bedtime fare, I promised one on the weekend.) The two go together, don’t you think? And can only be served on a Sunday. All is well with the world when you find yourself at a table full of people, a sticky baked ham and a big pan of warm scalloped potatoes on a Sunday. As it turns out, the two are soul mates, requiring the same time and attention in the ovenContinue reading

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I love my job. I really, really do. But most days are a Tasmanian devil-like whirling dervish of recipe testing and photographing, and usually what we wind up eating for dinner was left over from some show or had just been photographed for a magazine. Ironically as a food writer, I don’t often work with ingredients when they’re actually in season on account of the lead time. On Canada day this past July I was making gingerbread and mince tarts. Today I was working on Valentine’s day stuff. Some days I just want to make dinner with no ulterior motives. Today I was working on a cocktail party story that involves meatballs, and so I took the opportunity to take a little detour and make pork meatball bánh mì – Vietnamese subs – that I’ve been wanting to try for about a year now. The recipe looks long but they’re simple to make – and in fact they could potentially be made ahead – theContinue reading

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I’ve mentioned before how nice it is to have a chef living next door. I was out pilfering the Nanking cherries that line our street – oddly some of the bushes have been stripped by birds, but others are heavy with ripe fruit. Wade comes out and casually mentions that he has some maple whisky and Nanking cherry barbecue sauce in his fridge. Of course he does. There’s nothing wrong with Nanking cherry jelly, of course. Or cherry lemonade. But I had never considered Nanking cherries as a vehicle for barbecue sauce, in place of tomatoes. Brilliant. My mom declared this the best rib sauce she’d ever had. It’s flavourful but not overly sweet, and it doesn’t have that harsh smokiness so many barbecue sauces come with. Good news! Wade offered up his recipe. Which is probably smart, since he likely doesn’t have enough jars in his fridge to go around. Thanks Wade! If you can’t get your hands on some maple whisky, I’m sureContinue reading

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Right. Like I said, every time I bow out and plea too busy to post, I wind up posting more. Go figure. This bacon jam. I did it for Swerve last week, and then served it to Jim this morning on a grilled burger. (I made the burgers out of half ground sirloin, half Spolumbo’s chorizo sausage, squeezed out of its casing. Shaped the pattie around a thick square slice of old cheddar. Then melted another square of Gouda on top on the barbecue for good measure. To make the bacon jam, you chop and cook bacon, onions and garlic down with brown sugar and coffee and maple syrup until it turns into jam. Really. You should make this.

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Not very seasonal, I know. Then again, it has dipped down to -41 this week. I’ve been a bit all over the place – Red Deer, Edmonton, Jasper – driving a lot and cooking a lot, but not regular-like, at dinnertime in my own kitchen. And I was missing it. This satisfied my desire to make a plain old average dinner, one that included warm meat and mashed potatoes and frozen peas, while listening to the 5 o’clock news in the other room. It was really good. The time it took to cook was just enough to simmer a pot of quartered (unpeeled) potatoes, which I roughly mashed with a splash of milk and dab of butter. All was ready in under half an hour. I didn’t have rosemary and it was fine without; I imagine it would be even better with. It’s the sort of recipe that once made can be repeated mindlessly and without measuring. It’s a keeper. And I love incorporating cranberryContinue reading

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You guys, I’ve been holding out on you again. I’ve been making this for a month, and it’s Mike’s new favourite thing to eat, and the only reason I haven’t been sharing the love is because most (OK all) of the times I’ve made it I’ve been on TV (this is what I was doing in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Vancouver… playing with pig across Western Canada). Every time I make it elicits groans and eye-rolling (in a good way) among camera crews, hosts and all who crawl out of the woodwork when there’s food to be had. It’s really just delicious, and amazingly simple to make. From start to finish it took me under 15 minutes. I served it with boiled new potatoes and the last of the greens still clinging to life in the garden. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I can no longer walk out there with the salad bowl, fill it and bring it back to the table. So – what’sContinue reading

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It’s 11pm, and I just arrived in Edmonton. I’m exhausted, and cranky, and it was a long day and a long drive, made longer by what was supposed to be a quick pull-over in Red Deer to a) wake up and b) find a bathroom that didn’t come with the obligation to buy junk food, which turned into c) a brief meltdown in the Winners changing room with bad florescent lighting. And then an arrival to find no record of the hotel booking I made on Expedia – fortunately the good folks at the Matrix took pity on the fact that I did have a printout from them and gave me a room – a suite, even, for the same price. And because it has a swank little kitchenette, I hauled up my CrockPot and am going to cook some ribs overnight. If I don’t fall asleep in this chair. My eyes look like I popped them out and soaked them in chlorine for aContinue reading

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