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Yes! Because it’s officially summertime (yes, I know it’s still 8 degrees some places – sorry about that) and there will need to be picnics, and why not pack up some kimchi pancakes and a wee jar of dipping sauce to nibble in the grass? The thing about picnicking, besides being awesome, is that really most food is portable, and you don’t need to stick to baguettes and cheese and cold pheasant, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I had a big jar of kimchi in my fridge that wasn’t going to eat itself, and since there are not a ton of opportunities to use kimchi from day to day (I know there are, it’s just not one of my default condiments), I decided to use a bunch of it in a batch of pancakes. Which, by the way, are different and delicious, even if you don’t love kimchi.

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It’s okay, I think, to adopt other families’ culinary traditions when it suits you. Having not grown up with a Ukrainian baba, and having married into a Ukrainian family that ironically doesn’t cook (!!!), I’m perfectly happy to learn the art of perogy making with a friend who learned from her own baba Nettie, who was the type to turn out thousands of them with her crew for a church supper or fundraiser in Saskatchewan (someone needs to bring back the perogy supper, I think) or just to fill the freezer to feed her family from week to week. I love the idea of gathering a few of my favourite people in the kitchen to mass-produce handmade perogies while catching up on what’s going on with who, and having a bunch of almost-made dinners – and from scratch, by hand, yet – to show for it. You can use just about anything to fill a perogy – most often it’s mashed potatoes with cheese and/orContinue reading

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Spring has been crazy early this year, and now so is asparagus – by like a month. They started picking mid-April at Edgar Farms by Innisfail, and the norm is around the middle of May. It’s a short window – they typically pick (by hand, from their own homemade motorized picking carts) from mid-May until the end of June, so at this time of year I eat as much asparagus as I can handle. Our sunny days and cool nights make for particularly sweet asparagus with purply tips – I know I’ve said it before, but just a reminder: thinner isn’t necessarily better. Thick stalks are every bit as sweet – you just don’t want the bendy and woody ones. And YES – they are fab on a pizza. You don’t even have to bother shaving them into thin ribbons, although that does look pretty. Toss them on whole!

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It’s hard not to get drawn into the Mexican food love-in happening all over the internet this week – the power of suggestion is strong with me and all things edible, and so my mind started to wander down south and I pulled a stack of corn tortillas out of the freezer and went to the store to squeeze some avocados. What I love about black bean tacos: I almost always have a can of black beans, which cost about a dollar, and which need minimal dressing up (chili powder, cumin, red onion, cilantro, lime, no particular measure) before being mashed, as-is, with a potato masher or fork. Feta or queso fresco or whatever kind of cheese you have or love acts as a deliciously melty, salty glue to hold the crunchy pockets together, which cook in less time than a grilled cheese sandwich. They’re far more stable than the yellow boxed kit version, reminiscent of both pizza pockets and hand pies, and if youContinue reading

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The first of the locally-grown greenhouse tomatoes and cukes and romaine are here! We’ve even eaten our first asparagus stalks. In April! So crazy, this year. I know you probably don’t need a recipe for a salad, but you might like the idea of it – fattoush is a Mediterranean toasted pita salad that’s easy to assemble and makes the most of spring greens and those first pops of mint in the garden. Romaine is typical, as is cucumber, tomatoes and purple onion. I like making mine with ribbons of cucumber – simply use a peeler to cut it into thin ribbons – and fresh cilantro. And instead of the usual croutons, you bash up toasted pitas into the mix, adding a satisfying, toasty crunch.

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I am a fan of the onion ring. Done well, they’re glorious things, crisp and golden, with a sweet onion that hopefully doesn’t slither out when you bite into it. I rarely order them, unless I know they’re going to be good – it’s a high fat investment for something sub-par. And I rarely make them at home, but once in awhile I do – when there are people around to share, and I have a few nice, sweet onions that I don’t want to smother in the bottom of a soup or stew. They’re simple to make, and you only need about an inch of oil in the bottom of a small pot – there’s no need to heat vats of oil or invest in a deep fryer. They’re cheap – and look what you get. Just-fried and paper towelled, showered with salt and brought straight to the table – with a quickly stirred together aioli of lemon juice, mayo and mustard – willContinue reading

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Who needs a healthy dose of veggies after that long weekend chocopalooza? (I do.) Something crunchy and cruciferous, to give my jaw a workout. Something to provide a nutritional ballast against all that ham, all those cinnamon buns, and so many handfuls of eggies. And so it was good timing that a few food blogging friends had organized a virtual cookbook launch for our mutual pal Mairlyn, who recently launched a cookbook of Canadiana, Homegrown.

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It hardly feels as if we’ve had winter this year – sorry if you live somewhere where it does, with blizzards and sleet and such – but I actually love the winter, sticky snow and sleet and all. The coziness of it, the open invitation to hibernate, the lack of pressure to get out and do something while it’s nice out. Not that I’m complaining about the sunny days either – people have been hanging out on patios on the regular – it just feels weird. February is normally soup month, and root vegetables and winter squash. And now suddenly it’s March! And this brilliant red soup – made so by the combination of orange squash (or sweet potato) and purply beets – is bright and citrusy with orange juice, or a bit earthier without. That’s the beauty of soup – you can toss whatever it is that needs cooking into your pot without much need for precision.

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Like most people, I like to dip one kind of food into another kind of food. My goal, usually, isn’t to treat said dip as a condiment, but to trowel out as much as my dipping vehicle can structurally tolerate. (Crispy toasted pita chips are great for this – just cut them in wedges and bake them until golden. If you like, brush them with oil and sprinkle with dried herbs and/or salt first.) Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you want to look at it) the dip world is highly populated with mayo and sour cream-heavy dips of the French onion sort, which while delicious, don’t have much in the way of nutritional virtue. This Syrian dip of roasted red peppers, walnuts, garlic and pomegranate molasses, however, is worth treating like more than a condiment.

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