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Dill Pickle Soup

Dill pickle soup seems to me a dish that came about out of necessity—perhaps in the bleak prairie midwinter, when someone out on a farm in a snow-driven landscape looked in their pantry and decided to turn the pint jars of dill pickles into soup—but it’s no longer made merely out of necessity because it’s completely delicious. And yes, it’s just as it sounds-made with dill pickles, chopped and/or grated, along with a healthy pour of the pickle brine. At its base, there are basic veggies (onion, celery, carrot, potato), but a sausage sliced or crumbled in at the start is also common, and it would also be delicious with wintry beets or cabbage. Sometimes it’s finished with cream, or a dollop of sour cream on top-that’s the beauty of soup… rarely do you need to follow a specific recipe.
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Drunken Noodles

There are plenty of theories about the name of this Thai dish, which is slick with spicy oil, studded with crispy bits of pork, and spiked with garlic and chilies: a) you need a cold beer to tame the spice, b) it’s a very social/late-night meal, c) it’s the ultimate hangover food. I’ve heard from so many people over on Instagram that they’ve been making the drunken noodles from Dirty Food, I thought I’d share the recipe here too. It’s exactly the kind of thing I like to eat – a big plate of noodles you can totally tweak to suit you: use rice or wheat noodles, fresh or dried, and top them with crispy ground pork, or tofu, or shrimp, or plant-based crumbles, or just more veg. It’s all tied together with a sweet-salty-spicy-tangy-garlicky sauce that you could quickly shake up and have waiting in the fridge, and topped with crunchy peanuts (or cashews!), green onions and fresh basil, if you’re so inclined.
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Turkey Croquettes

Though I haven’t seen her much over the years, my Belgian aunt is known for her croquettes. She shapes them into short, stubby cigars – a mixture of mashed potatoes and other leftover ingredients that can often be found in the fridge, rolls them in breadcrumbs and fries them in hot oil, which she tests for the right temperature with the handle of her wooden spoon. They’re completely delicious, and the perfect thing to make when you happen to have leftover mashed potatoes and roasted turkey at the same time. (The only time she has made them for me, they were made with mashed potato and roughly or finely chopped turkey.)
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Kaiserschmarrn (Torn/Shredded Pancake)

It’s the season for long, lazy breakfasts – one of my favourite things about December, and a big reason I hope for plenty of snow. Pancakes and waffles of all kinds, perhaps some cinnamon buns or æbleskiver – I skew toward things I don’t make on an average weekend, but still don’t always have the gumption to make cinnamon buns from scratch, even if I do plan ahead and have them ready to bake from the fridge or freezer. Enter Kaiserschmarrn – a torn or shredded pancake, also known as an Emperor’s Mess (see how it fits here?) – a puffy, eggy pancake you cook in a skillet on the stovetop or in the oven, chop or tear apart and then kind of scramble in the hot skillet with some butter, so they wind up crispy-edged and custardy in the middle. Because it’s one big pancake, it’s perfect to stick on a platter with a dish of preserves (or a drizzle of maple syrup), give everyone a fork and have them share while you snuggle on the couch and watch Christmas movies, or play a game, or whatever you love to do together at this time of year. With plenty of coffee.
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Everything Bagel focaccia

Pizza dough is one of those things I make on autopilot… it’s so quick to do, especially with the dough hook of the stand mixer, and it gets better with time – I always try to anticipate our pizza needs at least 24 hours in advance. This is the secret of pizzeria pizza dough – it always gets at least a day to hang out, sometimes more. I see fresh pizza dough at so many grocery stores and Italian markets, too – so it’s easy enough to pick up for a few dollars. Either way, it’s a great way to get fresh bread on the table, in the form of a nubbly focaccia! Which can be topped with all kinds of things – fresh rosemary and olive oil, garlic and olive oil, crushed olives and olive oil…. or everything bagel seasoning. Yes!!
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Chocolate Tahini Cookies

Chocolate and tahini became one of my favourite combinations last Christmas, in rugelach; this year, I came across these dense, chewy chocolate-tahini cookies in one of my favourite books of the year, a Palestinian cookbook called Zaitoun. It calls for butter and tahini, but you could go all tahini if you were so inclined, and the dough is refrigerated overnight to firm it up and develop the flavours. Generally I’m too impatient for cookie doughs that require a night in the fridge, but at this time of year I tend to plan ahead a bit more, rather than require instant gratification to satiate my usual cookie cravings.
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Given the choice of what to eat, W will always choose crunchy fried things and waffles. When he heard the two could be combined, he lost his mind a little and asked immediately if we could go out for brunch. But because I’m not a fan of getting dressed earlier than is absolutely necessary, nor of waiting in line for eggs and breakfast breads I could make myself, I convinced him I could do an acceptable job of it at home.


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Turkey dinner Dutch baby

Turkey has dominated my social media feeds this week, reminding me that (yay!) I had leftovers from our big feasts squirrelled away in the depths of the freezer. (I always roast a larger bird than we actually need, so there’s plenty.) Roasted turkey is infinitely useful – beyond the requisite sandwiches, for which I make an extra batch of Parker House rolls or Julia Child’s sandwich bread, it can be used in curries and casseroles, cheesy baked dishes and croquettes. (And of course soup, with all that stock.) Any meat that has been roasted on the bone tends to have more flavour, and having it pre-cooked is like having your own homemade convenience food, all ready to go. So when the Turkey Farmers of Canada asked me to come up with a few new ideas this season, and I was happy to oblige.
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