flour tortillas 1

You may have heard about how easy it is to make your own flour tortillas, and rolled your eyes, thinking of how cheap they are (and they are), but considering that most bready things are infinitely better when they’re freshly baked, and if you find yourself with a myriad of taco stuffing possibilities but nothing to wrap them with, it’s worth the fifteen minutes of effort to set a stack of warm tortillas on the table. There’s nothing wrong with nibbling on one straight-up, for that matter – if you have little kids around, they aren’t crumby, and can be easily carried around and gnawed on. And if you spread one thinly with butter (while it’s still warm, if possible) and sprinkle it with cinnamon-sugar – well. Roll it up, even, for a slightly breadier version of a crepe. Or spread it with peanut butter and wrap it around a banana, housecoat-style. So much potential in a soft round of bread.

making flour tortillas
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black bean tacos 3

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 you were so inclined, you could load one up with an impressive amount of salsa/avocado/sour cream/all of the above.

black bean tacos 2
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Grilled Satay 1

Food on a stick, right? Feels like summer. The thing I love most about satay is that it makes me feel on the ball – it provides an excuse to buy meat in a bigger (read: cheaper) package, then divvy it up, slicing half to freeze in a quick marinade that will protect it from freezer burn. It goes ahead and marinates in the freezer until you’re ready for it, and thaws quickly on account of already being in pieces. And then cooks in just a few minutes, too. Also? You can dip them in peanut sauce. I would happily dip a pencil in peanut sauce.

Grilled Satay 2

I’m usually a thigh girl; skinless, boneless chicken breasts don’t do much for me, but they do work well here if you’re a fan. Chicken thighs have more flavour, but are trickier to work with – cut them into chunks or strips and thread them on any which way. There’s no need to keep them neat, and in fact mashed-together pieces will cook evenly and stay moist. If you want smooth, S-shaped satay, go for the white meat.
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Fattoush salad 2

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.

Fattoush salad 1
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onion rings 3

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.

onion rings 1

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 – will make your people very happy.
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rice pudding 2

I forgot how much I love a creamy, sloshy rice pudding.

It’s the sort of thing I make semi-regularly, but never with a recipe; I resurrect leftover cooked long grain rice, or use short grain if I make it from the beginning, but it’s always thick and diner-style, and I’m usually the only one to eat it. I forgot how delicious a runny rice pudding is when it’s ice cold; like melted ice cream, sweet and rice-flavoured, and in this case spiked with cardamom. It’s fantastic. The recipe comes from Noorbanu Nimji and Karen Anderson, a couple of gems who just released a new cookbook – A Spicy Touch – the theme of our cookbook club (Bite Club!) the other night. It was hot, approaching 30 in the afternoon, and something in the back of my mind reminded me that cold rice pudding spiked with cardamom would be a very good idea. Of course they had a recipe for it.

a spicy touch

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dan dan noodles 4

Most nights, dinner is predetermined – by recipe testing, leftovers from a photo shoot or radio column or some such, or some transformation of ingredients that need using up. Over the past decade or so we haven’t had the opportunity to fall into a sort of mealtime routine – or rut. We don’t really have our usuals. On tired nights, we wind up eating eggs and toast or spaghetti, which is often just the thing.

dan dan noodles 3

Tonight, after a late night and long day of cousins and playing in the river and birthday cupcakes, the only thing I wanted to make was a call for takeout – but after eating close to my weight in ice cream that wasn’t surviving the hot afternoon in a cooler, I didn’t want to get sucked into multiple dishes. What I did want was tangy-sweet and noodle-y, and so with ground pork in the freezer and a plethora of noodles avalanching from the cupboard, I made a batch of dandan noodles.
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quiche 1

A few weekends ago the family gathered for brunch, and my brother in law brought a quiche. It wasn’t a frittata, but it didn’t have a pastry crust either – its base was made of hash browns. Brilliance! Eggs and veggies and cheese nested in grated potato, baked and served in wedges. His was asparagus and goat cheese and we devoured it all, and then I went home and made one, just to see. So simple! You grate a potato or two on the coarse side of a box grater, then get it started in a hot skillet, crisping up the bottom, before filling it and sliding it into the oven. You work in a little extra in the way of vegetables, but it’s still starchy – and perfect for people who can’t have pastry. Genius.

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Canmore uncorked 3

Food + mountains = a fantastic combo, especially when it’s 23 degrees in the middle of the Rockies on a Friday afternoon-evening the first week of April. It’s perfect road trip weather, and patio weather, and sitting at a long table with 149 potential new friends under a tent while the sun sets behind the mountains weather.

Canmore Uncorked 4

Canmore is a great food destination – Crazyweed has long been our stop of choice, and the new PD3 by Blake provides an awesomely unique dining experience on the upper level of a silver double decker bus.

blake canmore
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