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Today seemed like a good day to have a pot of beans simmering on the stove. As a sort of comforting reminder that we’re home, that the house is being warmed from the kitchen out, steaming the cold windows, and that we have time to let them take their time. And because a pot of beans provides potential for more – for a pot of something bigger and more nourishing that will feed a handful of people who are important in our lives. It means a starting point for me to experiment with without any particular plan. Yes, I can read a lot into a bean. What happened to this particular pot of beans had, as usual, a lot to do with what I had in the fridge. The thing about kale is that three and a half bunches of it take up a lot of space in the crisper, but you can cook it down to hardly anything. And the thing about leftover crustyContinue reading

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I know – it’s even more clich√© to compound quinoa with kale when January is still in single digits, but having eaten my way through most of the holiday leftovers, I’m now attempting to fill my bowl with things that are better for me than cheese and chocolate. (OK, I’m keeping the cheese.) Pomegranate arils (the juicy seeds, which you can eat whole) are common in grainy middle eastern salads, which I find gratifying to put together, and I’ve found if I have some quinoa (or barley, rice, wheat berries) precooked in the fridge, I’m more likely to use it. Don’t think of it as leftovers so much as dinner insurance. Or your own homemade convenience food. A ripe avocado in the bowl demanded to be used immediately, and kale is good and cheap right now – I keep buying bundles, then have to use it in order to reclaim precious fridge space.

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I know… it’s such a cliche to be serving up kale on the first Monday of January. But I had a bundle of dinosaur (or lacinato) kale in the fridge that needed using before I head out of town. I realize the last thing the internet needs is another kale salad, but I needed a kale salad. And I like kale. And I love roasted squash. And I love chopped, salted, toasted almonds scattered by the handful over things. And I had a jar of ginger-miso dressing on account of a magazine story I’m working on about miso. This is how dinner comes to be around here.

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We’re in Tofino at the moment, eating as many summery things as possible – including but not limited to: Dungeness crab we caught ourselves (to great excitement from the cousins) using the scraps left over from our roasted salmon and trout, fresh halibut, lingcod and fish tacos, strawberries from Port Alberni, locally cured bacon and sausage, jelly doughnuts named after the mayor, kale and tiny yellow tomatoes from Catface mountain, peaches, Damson plums and blueberries from the Okanagan, Bamfield Seaweed Salad, eggs from Nanoose bay, Humboldt shrimp, goat cheese and fresh garlic from Salt Spring Island, bunches of fresh basil and as many blackberries as we can pick and carry home. And the restaurants. There are so many good things to eat here – one of our favourites has always been Shelter, a comfortable space with beautiful woodwork and a fireplace and consistently good food. Yesterday we went after the beach – they do a late lunch – and ordered the daily soup, made withContinue reading

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This is a combo I never would have thought to try. But when you buy a watermelon the size of a small animal, you start seeking out new uses for it – usually this is not a problem, as watermelon is a popular snack around here, and makes for a fine smoothie or all-fruit slurpee (its high water content makes it easy to puree) and I’ve been known to make a batch of watermelon-mint mojitos and watermelon lemonade. It turns out it makes a fascinating addition to hummus – it lightens it, making it taste fresh and almost juicy, rather than heavy and creamy from the olive oil and tahini. Not that there’s anything wrong with traditional hummus, of course – but I found the combination of fresh watermelon and cilantro and spices made it a brighter, summery version of the usual, and easy to plow through with thin tortilla chips on the patio with a pitcher of fruity sangria.

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As per my previous post, I’m currently enamoured with all things curried – and with using my masala dabba, which when I hold in my hand and dip into by the stove makes me feel like part cook, part abstract painter, and which turns out curries I didn’t realize I was capable of. Also? I must have curry on the mind because this very weekend I’m flying to London to go to lunch at Fifteen and MEET JAMIE OLIVER. My apologies if I drive everyone crazy with my Jamiepalooza this coming Monday. (Also? I have a 5-10 minute Q&A with him – what do you want to know??) All of which is to say I couldn’t resist another curry – I’m not even going to apologize for it, because this particular one is made with Brussels sprouts, bacon and paneer. If you’re a frequenter of Indian restaurants you may recognize peas and paneer, or spinach and paneer, but this. It’s dense and chewy and crunchyContinue reading

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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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W lives in Minecraft world, where even when he’s not attached to the screen everything revolves around swords and armor and pickaxes and protecting oneself from creepers. The creepers in my world are the cinnamon buns that I have to bake in the morning for a photo shoot, and then sit lustily on the countertop, warm and needing to be eaten. The succession of recipes to be tested and photographed – the pizza straight from the oven, the baked cheese and waffles and pasta carbonara that I have to make and shoot, still steaming, before it gets dark. The lunch meetings and restaurant openings, the rationalization that I need to eat all this, in the name of research. It’s my job, dammit.

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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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