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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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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