Meat on a stick. Anything beefy that can be eaten with your fingers and dragged through tangy-spicy peanut sauce I’m on board with. This is what happened recently when I dug through the deep freeze in search of something that could be cooked quickly. Occasionally I have a flash of insight, picking up beef when it’s on sale and quickly hacking it up and freezing it in a bag of marinade while we unload the groceries. A marinade can be anything, really – often I just go to town with an open fridge, pouring in OJ, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and garlic, something sweet like honey or brown sugar, something acidic like lime juice or balsamic. Plain yogurt that needs using up makes a good vehicle for flavours and spices, even a lob of curry paste. I try to convince myself it’s a good idea to label before tossing it in the freezer to marinate while in stasis, and the resulting package lies inContinue reading

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‘Tis the season for garden parties. My neighbour-friend has one of the very best back yards in the world – small and brimming with herbs, food and flowers, a fence made of repurposed pallets, hung with old tires with waterfalls of flowers cascading out of them. But mostly it’s the lights she strung up that start to glow as it gets dark, and the friends with guitars, chatting and strumming, and the tables covered with food because everyone brought something to eat. When I have to bring something to a party, I lean toward baked cheese dips, because they’re the very best to share with friends. And because S lives just two doors down, I baked mine in my cast iron pan and walked it over with a tea towel wrapped around the handle. It was devoured in under five minutes, was perfect with gin and tonics and prosecco drizzled with rhubarb syrup, and I came home to email everyone the recipe.

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Yes! Because it’s officially summertime (yes, I know it’s still 8 degrees some places – sorry about that) and there will need to be picnics, and why not pack up some kimchi pancakes and a wee jar of dipping sauce to nibble in the grass? The thing about picnicking, besides being awesome, is that really most food is portable, and you don’t need to stick to baguettes and cheese and cold pheasant, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I had a big jar of kimchi in my fridge that wasn’t going to eat itself, and since there are not a ton of opportunities to use kimchi from day to day (I know there are, it’s just not one of my default condiments), I decided to use a bunch of it in a batch of pancakes. Which, by the way, are different and delicious, even if you don’t love kimchi.

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Forever ago, when I was at art college, the school cafeteria sold thick slabs of cheese toast for a dollar. It was about all I could afford, which was convenient because it was also what I loved the most. Open faced grilled cheese. It reminded me of my mom’s tuna melts, minus the tuna, and my grandma’s hot dog melts on hamburger buns that would go all crackly in the oven. Cheese toast is perhaps as comforting as it’s possible to get. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you need a recipe for – and yet it’s so much more than just cheese on toast.

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I’m a sucker for instant gratification – or at least big rewards for minimum effort – but mostly that feeling like I’ve actually accomplished something that didn’t take any time at all, like when you write “revise to-do list” on your to-do list, so that you can cross it off immediately. Labneh – or yogurt cheese – is thick, creamy and pricey if you buy it in the store – but really all it is is good plain yogurt, strained until enough whey runs off to give it a consistency somewhere between Greek yogurt and mascarpone. Leave it to strain even longer and it will get firm enough to roll into a log, or wee balls. Some people store marbles of labneh in a glass jar with fresh herbs and citrus strips, covered with olive oil. I kind of like it spreadable – you can even sweeten it, with a bit of maple syrup or honey. If you go to Monogram Coffee in Altadore (convenientlyContinue reading

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Blooms on apple trees are like ripening avocados – notreadyyetnotreadyyetnotreadyyet – BLOOM! One day they explode from their buds, and then the next day the wind picks up or the rain washes all those little white petals away. All over the deck you just finished staining – with sticky, oily $50-a-pail stuff that says right on the label “do not paint if weather is threatening”. But we did anyway, and then we invited some friends over for Prosecco and bourbon lemonade and summery nibbles on said patio, namely this goat cheese with warm garlicky-pepper-herb olive oil that takes approximately one minute to make. And isn’t it pretty? My friend Gwendolyn makes this with her family every Christmas Eve – to her it tastes like Christmas, but to me it tastes like awesome – and perfect for summer when pots of fresh rosemary and thyme are sitting on my windowsill. I like to put a few sprigs in a little jar with some peppercorns and aContinue reading

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Our longtime director at the Eyeopener, a man I’ve worked with for 6 or 7 of the 32 years he’s been at CBC, is retiring this week. Every Tuesday when I go to the studio, his first question when I walk through the door is – “got steak?” Generally I don’t (although he didn’t complain when I had prime rib instead), but this past Tuesday, being my last day with him in the director’s chair, I made steak. I brought him a nice, triple A, well-marbled ribeye to cook on the grill, but I also made steak bites – easier for everyone to eat in the studio first thing in the morning, and inspired by the steak bites I had at the Steakout truck a few weeks ago (you’ll find them parked beside MEC most of the time), which they served with a garlicky soy aïoli. I’ve had a recipe for Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk’s “Easiest, Tastiest Steak” on my to-make list for many years now,Continue reading

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Spoke at a retired teacher’s convention today, and demoed, among other things, a high-reward-for-minimal-effort romesco dip. Twice. Plus made a few batches to sample out. As always, I ended up with too much. As food goes, it’s a good thing to have too much of. Romesco is made from roasted red peppers, toasted almonds, garlic, olive oil and toasted bread. (Yes, toast – you tear it up and blend it in, and it adds body and bulk to the dip without adding much in the way of fat and calories. I mean yes bread has calories, but it’s better than adding a cup of sour cream or mayo.) It’s fantastic, intensely flavoured stuff, and makes a great substitute for mayo on sandwiches (especially roast chicken, salami or roasted/grilled veg sandwiches) or dip for shrimp with their tails. Perhaps its best feature is its ability to improve with age – a little like Leonardo DiCaprio – so you can do up a batch to dip intoContinue reading

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