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I actually planned dinner tonight. We were going to have salmon and roasted vegetables with couscous and feta (one of Mike’s favorites, and something W scarfed down an entire bowlful of when he was about 9 months old, although I’m certain he won’t be as enthralled with it now). But the thing about planning ahead is that it is on those days you will open the trunk of your car and find two giant bags of mushrooms leftover from that cooking class on the weekend that must be used, even though they are now frozen solid. Mushroom soup it is. I adore mushroom soup, but rarely make it, unless I am for some reason stuck with a surplus of mushrooms that are beginning to dry up. I wish I had a bit of ham, but I didn’t. That’s OK. I pulled out my favorite mushroom soup recipe, then thought perhaps I should do a little more sleuthing, just in case there’s something more interesting thatContinue reading

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(And leftover party food.) Taught two back to back classes at the Cookbook Company today – this morning we made cookies, and this afternoon, grazing (it has been a grazing sort of weekend) – spanikopita, Vietnamese rice paper rolls, mini toad-in-the-hole, pork satay with peanut sauce, candied pecans, Romesco dip, flax crackers, balsamic mushroom crostini with Asiago, goat cheese gratin, curried mango-coconut chicken in wonton cups, and nut, seed and honey clusters. We finished at dinnertime, and I went straight over to my mum’s with Mike, Willem, my sisters and their kids, to polish off the leftovers from their party last night. The highlight of the evening was mid-meal; we were all lounging around the table, muching on leftovers, and I decided to go down the basement to check on W, who was playing foosball. I walk across the dining room, through the kitchen, and as I reach the top of the stairs hear a chorus of everyone’s voices, all yelling: JULIE!! YOUR BACK IS ON FIRE!!! See whatContinue reading

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It’s occurring to me now that not only is anyone reading this blog getting the inside scoop on our dinner habits, but a pretty good peek at my social life as well. My Mom is having a party tonight to welcome the new curator of the Glenbow museum. She has a far more exciting social life than I do, and always has great parties full of artists, architects and all sorts of interesting people. I’m helping with the food, and I’ll be there too, so between cooking and partying will be in her kitchen from dinnertime on. Mike and W are on their own; they’ll figure it out. A few things on the menu: Romesco Dip You have to try this dip – the first time I did I was instantly addicted! I adore it. The toasted almonds and bread thickens the dip and adds depth to the flavor and body to the texture. I often make a batch on Sundays to keep in the fridge andContinue reading

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Some nights, you just need to go pick up a pizza. And after watching a movie, you need to bake brownies and eat them warm from the pan, with cold milk and hot espresso, on the couch wrapped up in a comforter with your family. Lucky me. My Grandma used to make brownies that were fudgy on the inside, with an intensely chocolate flavor and crackling top. This is the closest I’ve come without using a cup of butter. Make sure not to overbake them; they should just be starting to pull from the sides of the pan, but still dense and fudgy in the middle. The best brownies are just ever so slightly underdone. Fudgy Brownies 1/4 cup butter 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate (1 square) 2/3 cup cocoa 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 large egg 2 large egg whites 1 tsp. instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tsp. water 2 tsp. vanilla 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. salt Preheat ovenContinue reading

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Oy. Let me preface this post by publicly announcing how much I admire teachers. Seriously, bravo to you guys. My sister teaches grade 6, and I am constantly amazed by her workload; not only during the days but on evenings, weekends and holidays. I never thought I was cut out for it. That belief was confirmed today when I taught 26 teenagers (grades 6-9) a hands-on cooking class at The Cooking Room in Red Deer. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t a total blast, or that teenagers are somehow intolerable, it’s just – well, picture 26 young adults kneading yeast dough for their calzone, shaping spanikopita in phyllo pastry, frying baci di ricotta (teeny ethereal Tim Bits by way of Nigella), wrapping shrimp in prosciutto, grilling chocolate panini and rolling energy orbs and chocolate truffles, all in one room with one oven. The funny part is – I thought we’d have time to do all this and make ravioli with wonton wrappers. Ha. So I cameContinue reading

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Remember that day we bundled pork, ginger, garlic and green onions into little wonton (or gyoza) wrapper packages and froze them? Today, I can hardly think of anything I’d rather eat, simmered in a steaming bowl of chicken broth (actually turkey, leftover from Christmas, but who can tell?), spiked with soy sauce and the teensiest squirt of red garlic-chili paste to help lift this fog. This is like the hot soup version of that party mix you can buy that is made up of bits of cheezies and pretzels and taco chips, that I imagine are the sweepings from the snack food factory floor. You can sweep out your fridge and freezer right into the pot, throwing in mushrooms, frozen shrimp, broccoli, bok choy, pea pods, green onions, carrots, baby corn (you can buy packages of these frozen, which I did thinking W would think they were fab – he did not), bits of leftover roast chicken or pork, noodles (cook or soak them first, thenContinue reading

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The last 8 1/2 hours I’ve spent in a cab in slushy rush hour Toronto, in a packed, grumpy airport, and in the middle seat (despite the fact that I arrived for my flight 2 hours early) of an equally crammed and irritated plane. Plus I have a cold, and have completely lost my voice. The last thing I ate that vaguely resembled a meal was with Malcolm Jolley, a fantastic guy and the founder of Gremolata.  We ducked into a really cool little place that I now can’t remember the name of – Malcolm, are you reading this? What was it? – where we had espresso and I ate a bowl of black bean soup swirled with cilantro crème fraiche. I suppose it would be more appropriate to say I talked while my soup got cold. Then we left, Malcolm walked me back to my hotel to grab my luggage and cab at 4:30 EST, and it has taken me since then (it’s now 1:30Continue reading

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Being 3500 km from my kitchen, in a hotel room on the ninth floor with no kitchen of its own, I have a foolproof excuse to eat out. Also, my friend Dana McCauley, for whom I once made a chocolate Yule Log covered in pistachios that was eaten by squirrels, who then left chocolatey footprints all over my front porch, invited me to her husband’s fabulous restaurant, Pangaea. To not go would just be rude. So my early first dinner, or threesies, which I might also label breakfast since by 3pm I had only had a latte and a half, was: Mahogany glazed salmon, done to perfection (there is a misconception that salmon – or indeed any other fish – should flake with a fork when it’s done, when really this is an indication that it’s overdone) with wilted bok choy (got my greens in), water chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms, and, wait for it… lime caramel sauce. This may sound weird; believe me, it was beautiful.Continue reading

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I’m just about to leave for Toronto, but am leaving dinner behind. It takes the edge off the guilt, a little. On Friday morning we had a little pre-Super Bowl party in the studio at CBC radio. As Jen Keene so aptly put it, it was the perfect Super Bowl party: tons of food, and we didn’t have to watch football. I made shrimp wrapped in prosciutto and quickly cooked, then dipped in pesto (my sister and I already have plans to have a Friday night couch dinner of these sometime very soon, so just wait for that one), chocolate panini, quesadillas with leftover roast chicken, black beans, sauteed mushrooms and roasted red peppers, and chicken drumsticks and thighs, skinned and done up like chicken wings. I love wings, but really, they are mostly skin and fat, very little meat. Chicken little. I do love eating them with my fingers though, particularly when they are sweet and sticky enough to require stacks of napkins, orContinue reading

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