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I know, it’s such a cliché 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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Sweet potatoes: I’m a fan. Also: butter, and maple syrup, and orange – getting them all together on one plate makes me happy. The warm orange-infused maple butter, which takes all of two minutes to get going in a small saucepan, could be drizzled over split roasted sweet potatoes, but grilling them adds a slightly charred, smoky flavour that seems well suited to fall and winter, even though grills tend to be summer appliances. Whether they’re labeled yams or sweet potatoes, go for the smaller, longer ones, so that they don’t take forever to cook through to the middle. All you need to do is toss them in a pot whole and cover them with water – you bring the lot to a boil and let it go for about half an hour, until the potatoes are tender. This part can be done ahead of time, if you want to get a head start on dinner, or have minimal prep work once the roast orContinue 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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I love this kind of non-recipe recipe. Once you figure out how to do it, it just becomes part of your regular repertoire, and there’s really no need to measure anything. It’s a pretty basic idea, and yet I’ve never tossed warm, charred Brussels sprouts in balsamic vinegar and honey before. The idea came from Leslie, who grills hers in a grilling basket until they’re soft and crispy-edged, if you’re up for firing yours up under all this snow. You get pretty much the same effect in a hot oven, with no need to go out in the snow.

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pumpkin stuffed with everything good 4
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How could you not stuff a pumpkin with everything good? Especially when it’s a week before Halloween and you already have foot-long icicles hanging from your roof. I met Dorie Greenspan last year in Austin. I recognized her son first, sitting on the arm of her chair in the hotel lounge. They had been (and still are) opening a series of pop-up cookie shops called Beurre & Sel, and I had more than a little cookie crush. Whomever I was with – someone blocked out of my memory by the brightness of that Dorie sun – introduced me, and we had a short chat, and I smiled all the way back to my room. The next evening I was at a party – with about 500 other people – when I spotted Dorie chatting with Jacques Pépin a few yards away. She turned and caught my eye, and the two of them came through the crowd, directly toward me. I assumed she was coming toContinue reading

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