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I feel like I’ve been slingshot (can that be used as a verb?) straight into mid January, and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve decided that if I’m going to eat bread, it might as well be truly fantastic – and preferably used to bookend other divine ingredients, bound together by melty cheese. There are few things I love more than a grilled cheese sandwich, but too often everything gets ignored but the cheese. Let’s start with the bread, shall we? This is a roasted garlic oval from ACE Bakery, with sweet, mellow roasted garlic right in the dough. It’s a good size – with enough structural integrity and a crisp crust. I used my friend Jessica’s trick – to mix grated Parmesan cheese into soft butter to spread on the outside of each slice, which creates an extra crunchy, cheesy exterior, maximizing those crispy edges.

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Just when I think I’ve tried everything (not really, but some days are more uninspiring than others) something comes along that is so much better than the sum of its familiar parts. Had I flipped past a recipe for bacon and tomato jam I would have certainly done a double take, but I’m not sure this would have jumped off the page and grabbed me – but when Shauna came to visit in Tofino and brought a copy of their latest book, she looked me straight in the eye as she handed it to me and said, “try the bacon and tomato jam.” It seemed at first as if she was speaking in code, like I was meant to read more into her message. I wasn’t. She just meant to make it clear that I should make the damn jam. And so I did. This is not jam in the typical sense of the word – it’s sweet on account of the roasted tomatoes andContinue reading

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At the beginning of the year, my friend Jan and I started a series we called Gatherings, a monthly post based on a time we had extra people around our table, or in our backyard – there have been birthday parties (OK, a few birthday parties) and a big pot of meatballs, pecan waffles with wine smoothies and music-inspired cocktails. I was in Toronto on Monday-Tuesday and we got together to work on a project and as we sat on the hotel room beds, laptops and books and room service calamari and wings spread across both, Jan, who is far more on the ball than I, pointed out that we were due for a post in a couple days. Apparently it’s the last week of August. (People in Tofino gathering for their annual Lantern Festival at the botanical gardens 2 weeks ago.) So yesterday, Jan wrote about cousin camp – an annual summer thing where she has her nieces and nephews over for an epicContinue reading

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Butter chicken and naan are totally gaga for each other, don’t you think? It’s tough to have one without the other. And so I wrapped butter chicken in naan dough, then baked it into a sort of butter chicken calzone. With or without cheese, it’s one of our new favourite things to eat around here. I originally wrote this recipe for the April issue of Parents Canada – streamlining it for print with the use of bottled sauce. You could, of course, use any butter chicken recipe you like, or even use takeout. Once cold, it will easily spoon into the middle of a circle of dough without running amok; you can then top it with a wee mound of grated cheese and seal the pocket to bake into a gooey pocket – I want to give them a go on the grill, and see if the added char will make them even more reminiscent of the smokey flavour naan gets from a traditional tandooriContinue reading

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It’s raining all weekend, right? This is the plan? Which means we’re diving back into warm and cheesy comfort food? Good, because I’ve been dying to tell you about this sloppy little number. It was by total serendipity that this came to be. I was making cheese rarebit for Alice, and had just finished taking photos of it. Rarebit is one of those dishes that has gone the way of escargot and beef Wellington; for those unfamiliar, it’s a Welsh dish of cheese, loosened with ale or milk or made into a thick cheese sauce and poured over toast, then broiled. Toasted cheese, I want to call it. My mom used to make cheese sauce, but she’d pour it over steamed broccoli. Remember when that was a thing? Broccoli with cheese sauce? A total 80s side dish. Does anyone do it anymore? Broccoli-cheese segregated the granolas from the junk food eaters; my mom used to make a roux of butter, flour and milk, then addContinue reading

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I just got back from a quick (36 hour) jaunt to Vancouver that included the opening of Whitecap‘s hip new office in Gastown (around the corner from Meat & Bread! And Revolver!), breakfast with one of my favourite people at the new Forage in the Listel, lunch on the steps of the VAG with one of my favourite food bloggers, and dinner at YEW in the Four Seasons (it was also Dine Out Vancouver) with Ned (whom some of you may know I did a few seasons of a not-on-Food-Network cooking show years ago). Which all sounds very glamorous now that I type it out here, and I suppose it kind of was, except that I’m really not all that glamorous, even when thrust into a swanky hotel. (I hope that didn’t come across as a humblebrag, but people have been asking what I was up to in Vancouver, and that was what I was up to… that and buying far too much coffee andContinue reading

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I know it’s not quite asparagus time yet, but as a food writer I have lead time, and so generally I’m making back to school lunches before summer even arrives, and mincemeat pies on Canada Day. Thus I have a glut of asparagus in the fridge from an asparagus story I was working on, and it is exciting to think that spring is technically here even if the green things haven’t quite caught up yet, and that these buds will be prodding their way out of the ground very soon. And when they do, we’ll be eating as many Alberta grown and snapped off by hand stalks as we can. Asparagus in its raw, natural state is surprisingly delicious – it tastes like freshly shelled peas – and it’s fabulous marinated and chilled, in a salad, dipped in hollandaise, sliced into ribbons and tossed onto a pizza. I’ve seen shaved asparagus pizza (which triggers thoughts of a lady asparagus – dressed up Bugs Bunny-like –Continue 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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Sorry, that’s Saturday morning breakfast, not Friday night dinner. Come to think of it, dinner was apple cider and Kinnikinick cookies at the very first Calgary Food Summit in honour of World Food Day, where I spoke a bit to the group of 130 and was involved in lively discussion/brainstorming session on the issues of food security and policy and everything related to creating a sustainable food system, trying my best not to touch anything or anyone and washing my hands so obsessively they now look like they should be attached to a 90 year old. By the time I got home last night I felt on the verge of a full-on flu smackdown. (I couldn’t manage to hold myself upright at the computer, looking desperately around my cluttered office for something good to give away, and finally crawled into bed and called it Free Stuff Saturday mornings.) W is up and down, a little more feverish again last night and kept falling asleep throughoutContinue reading

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