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Veggies love heat – especially the intense heat of the grill, cast iron skillet or oven (or yes, deep fryer) that’s hot enough to caramelize their sugars (vs the heat of a pot of water, which historically has boiled poor Brussels sprouts to the point of being grey and spreadable). Quickly, crisply-fried Brussels sprouts are taking over restaurant menus, and I love them all. Roasting is easier to do at home, of course, although if you don’t mind i getting a bit splattery, you can do it in a shallow pan of oil. And so after W was invited to a friend’s house for dinner and we made an impromptu escape to Anju on Friday for gochujang wings, Korean fried chicken and Brussels sprouts in lemongrass and fish sauce that are so good, I rummaged around the fridge and came up with enough B. sprouts to give it a go at home.

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Wouldn’t this make the best wallpaper? I believe all vegetables can be significantly improved by roasting; this isn’t to say they aren’t delicious raw, on their own, but apply a drizzle of oil, salt and a hot oven and any veggie you can think of is elevated to new levels of deliciousness. This is delicata that has been halved lengthwise, the seeds scooped out with a spoon and the squash sliced – it has a thin skin, sort of halfway between acorn and zucchini, that is perfectly edible and requires no significant upper body strength to wrestle a knife through. Not only is it manageable, it’s a good size – sort of twice a zucchini; manageable in your grocery basket, and enough for dinner for a handful of people without significant leftovers. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

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There are few kitchen techniques as basic as baking a potato – yet I’ve been asked a handful of times over the past couple of weeks how to do it. What’s the best variety? Does it require a foil jacket? A good baked potato can be a beautiful thing – as basic (yet infinitely more satisfying) as a bowl of popcorn with butter and salt. I dig out the fluffy innards, then butter the crispy skin and eat it like a thin, floppy piece of toast. And sweet potatoes. I roast them when the oven is on, and keep them in the fridge to reheat for lunch. (If you happen to have a jar of bacon jam in the fridge? Ridiculous.) There’s nothing like a good traditional russet – which also happens to be the cheapest of the potatoes. To bake, give it a wash, dry it off and rub it down with whatever cooking oil you generally use in your kitchen (canola, olive, sunflower)Continue reading

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I know, it (kind of) defeats the purpose of eating cauliflower to deep fry it and serve it with lemony mayo. (Then again, if you’re going to eat fried food, you may as well get a cauliflower out of it.) Parka season = beer batter season, right? And when everyone has planted themselves on the couch for a hockey game or movie or rousing game of Munchkin, they inevitably want to eat something. And I like it when that something can fall simultaneously into multiple categories: 1) salty, 2) dippy, and 3) edible with fingers. (And truly, a platter of crudites and dip never gets a welcome response on a snowy Saturday night.) Cauliflower florets have a lovely creamy texture and mellow flavour, but if you’re like me, once you have a bowl of batter and a pot of oil at your disposal, you may go a little nuts, deep-frying anything you can find in your fridge. (I imagine a zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced,Continue reading

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I know, it’s such a clich√© to present you with a whole cauliflower on the second of January, especially after a month-long parade of butter, sugar and bread. And perhaps it’s the decades of conditioning, or the fact that my Christmas season starts the first week of November, but at this point in the picture I tend to hit a wall (of butter, sugar and bread) and really, truly just want some vegetables. (Sadly, this doesn’t prevent me from wanting the last of the Toblerone too.) Of course I’m easing into this whole veggie thing with a healthy dose of cream. Apologies for the iPhone pics taken in the dark, but this was concocted well before dawn for CBC. It was so magically delicious that I have to share. A whole roasted cauliflower is very pinterest-y these days, but I’ve never actually done it myself. Some techniques have you boil the cauliflower first, simmering it for 15-20 minutes in a mixture of wine and herbs,Continue reading

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Squash pie. Right? Because pumpkins aren’t only for carving. This could be pumpkin – the small, sweet sugar pumpkins most often labeled “pie”. They aren’t as woody and sinewy as their grandfathers, and easier to handle for baking. But really it’s butternut – the most common of the winter squash, but congenial in shape, allowing easy access to its innards. I like to buy ones with thick necks, then cut them off, peel and thinly slice and lay over grainy pastry with caramelized onions and cheese – goat, mostly, but I imagine Boursin would be a treat, or Stilton if you like it like that. (I just realized I’m posting a squash double header – ’tis the season, I suppose.) I still don’t have an oven. Some mornings, when it’s still dark, my neighbours see me sneak Bigfoot-like across the street to my sister’s house to put something or other in her oven. It’s like back in the day of Dickens, when families brought theirContinue reading

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We’re back in the city, back to eating on the back porch where all the appliances and boxes and torn-out stuff isn’t, back to walking Lou on the sidewalk instead of the beach. What I miss most about having a stove on this particular day is the ability to cook potatoes – the new ones with the thin skins that are just being pulled out of the dirt and sold in farmers’ markets. I could live on these sweet baby potatoes, for awhile, anyway – forked and doused in butter and lemon, with steak and gremolata, or in an uber-creamy potato salad. (It’s not just for picnics anymore.) My pal Chef Michael Allemeier, one of the best chefs around, the guy who taught me to proof bread in a warm, steamy dishwasher after it finishes a load, came up with this recipe. It has blackberries (!) and fresh mint, along with all the other things that make a potato salad great, plus a hit ofContinue reading

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People often ask why we spend so much time in Tofino. It’s a good question – besides the fact that it’s stunningly beautiful, and totally zen, and has some of the best food (and drinks!) and beaches and rainforests in Canada, my parents were nice enough to build a house there. So really it’s like a second home – with a kitchen that’s far nicer than mine and looks out over the ocean. So far I haven’t managed to figure out how to live there – except maybe to just go out and not come back, and claim that possession is nine tenths of the law? So it’s easy(ish) to settle in and stay for a few extra days when the rest of Canada is being pummeled with snow. And when it’s time to pack up and go, I rummage through the kitchen and use up whatever’s left – this time it meant finally doing something with that broccoli that seemed like a good ideaContinue reading

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If you live somewhere where there are actually things growing out of the ground already, lucky you. Here in Calgary, there are still small glaciers on most streets and in yards, but this weekend the temperature finally crept up past zero. Way up past ten, even! Hello, barbecue. It’s been awhile. Last week I had lunch with a local rancher (one who supplies our Calgary Co-op stores with beef that’s born and bred in Alberta), and was given a gorgeous T-bone steak to take home, which we used as an excuse to fire up the grill (which since October has been subbing as an outdoor freezer). When you get a taste of spring, even when there’s still snow on the ground, you gotta jump on it.

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