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I’m a bit ashamed to admit I didn’t realize what a big deal green onion cakes are, and have been for decades, in Edmonton. They’ve become the quintessential market and festival food, introduced to the city back in 1979 by restaurateur Siu To. I’ve been meaning to make a batch using the masses of green onions that nearly took over my garden, and when I finally harvested them all (and replanted the bulbs for next spring), I took his lead to make my own. Yes! If you’re not familiar with them, green onion cakes are these crispy, doughy savoury cakes cooked in a skillet, made by rolling dough out, sprinkling it with masses of chopped green onion, much like you’d spread cinnamon-sugar over dough for cinnamon buns, then rolling, twisting, squishing – there are as many techniques as there are cooks making them. The process seems complex, but is simple once you get the hang of it—roll, sprinkle, roll, cut, squish, roll—there’s no need forContinue reading

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If you’re not familiar with papdi chaat, I’d like to put it forth as the ideal snack food, and one of my hands-down favourite things to eat. Chaat is a blanket term used to describe a wide range of snacky, savoury Indian street foods, and papdi (or papri) are the crisp fried crackers used as a base for (or served alongside) diced potatoes and chickpeas tossed with chaat masala (a spice blend customized specifically for this purpose, which you can make yourself or buy pre-mixed), minced onion, fresh mint-cilantro chutney, and a drizzle of sweet-tart tamarind chutney and cool spiced yogurt. Papdi chaat is everything you want in a snack—salty, sweet, sour, tangy, crunchy, spicy and soft. Layers of interesting colours, flavours and textures. It’s all served in one bowl, and you can eat it with your fingers. It’s typically something I order at a restaurant, or have had friends make for me, but I’ve been meaning to give it a go myself for years,Continue reading

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If I had one of those weekly menu calendars – meatloaf Mondays, taco Tuesdays, pork chop Thursdays – some version of this would be on my roster. I tend to gravitate toward it every January, when I sit down and make a list of dishes made up of mostly vegetables that I really, truly love to eat, and decide that I’m going to make an effort to eat them more often, rather than always load up on bagels and toast. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that… there are just too many things right with it.) This salad of sorts is also the perfect example of how we don’t always need a recipe per se, sometimes all you need is a general guideline. I can definitively say I’ve never measured out feta for a salad, but just crumbled some over, measuring by eyeball. Yes, I picked up some lacinato kale (the smooth dark green kind, also called Tuscan or dinosaur kale) and a thick-necked butternutContinue reading

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Is it too much of a cliche to jump from bread pudding and cinnamon knots to a veggie-heavy curry in the early days of January? I crave stewy, spicy things after so many weeks (OK, months) of butter cookies and Toblerone. And I inevitably get all excited about the piles of gnarly squash over the winter and buy more than I get around to actually using. Sometimes it’s because I go for the bumpiest beasts, the ones you have to tackle with a cleaver to access the insides of. Sure, you can go for smooth-skinned butternut with thick necks, or even buy a bag of squash cubes – in fact, they work extra well here, cooking down quickly into a curry. But if you have a bit of a monster on your hands, one that refuses to be peeled, simply hack it into pieces and roast them in the oven until the flesh is tender enough to scoop or peel away from the skin andContinue reading

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It’s funny how people have this thing about parsnips, like it’s one of the world’s most unrecognized (and despised) root vegetables, yet when you mention a recipe with parsnips people say oh! I love parsnips! I figured I’d best get this recipe in before the imminent onslaught of butter, sugar and mincemeat. This was my contribution (along with all of the photos!) to the latest Soup Sisters Cookbook, this one geared toward families and getting your kids into the kitchen. Soup is, after all, the ultimate starting point for the beginner cook – measurements don’t need to be precise, and you can play around with ingredients that are in season or whatever you happen to have in your fridge, and if veggies were wrinkly going in, no one will know. I’m a particular fan of soups you can purée and sip at your desk or take in your insulated to-go cup when you’ve had altogether too much coffee. And you’ll feel like you’re winning atContinue reading

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Yes, you can totally grill lettuce! Not just romaine. And it’s stunning. Such a fun alternative to the usual summer salads. I got a shipment of living lettuce from Inspired Greens last week – gorgeous heads of lettuce grown in Alberta greenhouses and harvested in their pots, sold not in clamshells but in sturdy thin plastic cones, with their roots attached. They’re grown to adolescent size – a bit bigger than baby lettuces, so they stay fresh for ages, especially if you store them in a short glass of water in the fridge. Honestly, I try growing greens in my garden and patio containers with limited success every year – they wilt and bolt and never grow to be big and full and robust – and this is a bit like having a micro-garden on a shelf in my fridge. Far less frustrating.

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Thankfully in the midst of a near-daily Stampede fried food extravaganza, my fridge is full of greens. They grow so well here in Alberta at this time of year, and so that’s what my CSA box was full of when we picked it up this past weekend. Bok choy, rapini, gai lan (I think!) and other bags of greens we couldn’t quite identify but are nevertheless tasty. I chopped some of them up with the head of bok choy, which makes for a great salad in that one end is thick, watery and crunchy, like celery, and the other is dark and leafy – it’s like getting two veggies in one. I added some other greens, the entire bunch of cilantro, some chives from the garden and grated carrot to break up all that green, and doused it in an Asian-inspired vinaigrette made with oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. (Lime would be good too.)

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I’ve been staring at these photos for a good twenty minutes, wondering if I should bother sharing them – they don’t do the dish justice, partly because I left the broccoli on the stove a bit long while doing other things, and partly because mulched broccoli isn’t particularly photogenic. But it was delicious, and a totally different thing to do with broccoli. I’ve been mildly obsessed with the concept of broccoli rubble since reading about it over at Deb’s – the rough chop of it, the quick sauté in garlicky oil, the shower of Parmesan. (And maybe because it sounds a lot like Barney Rubble?) I’ve always been drawn to just about any kind of grainy salad – I figured broccoli would hold up to chewy wheat berries quite well, and some salty crumbled feta, and lots of pepper, and a fried egg. I wish I had some walnuts to toast and toss on top. I devoured this thing, and I don’t regret it.

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Falafel is not something I grew up with, but something I grew to love. Like most of us, I fell for it at street stalls and takeout joints – it’s not the sort of thing I thought to make at home, until about five years ago, when I discovered it’s about as easy to make as a batch of hummus. Truly! If you have a food processor, you can make falafel in about five minutes. It requires a can of drained chickpeas (cheap), some garlic, onion, cilantro, salt and spices – go by taste and pulse it all into a mulch, adding a few tablespoons of flour to help bind the mixture together. (Any kind, really.) You can make them perfectly smooth, or leave some texture, which is what I do. A bit of baking powder lightens them up a bit.

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