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Though my dad came to Canada from Belgium when he was a kid, I’m no expert on the Liège waffle, except to know what I like when I eat one. Liège waffles aren’t like other Belgian-style (thick? round?) waffles – they’re dense and chewy, yeast-raised, with a dough like brioche but studded with ultra-coarse pearl sugar that melts and caramelizes on the outside as they cook, creating a slightly crunchy exterior with plenty of crispy bits. (Depending on where you live, you can usually find it at gourmet shops and stores that carry more baking supplies than others. I got mine at Duchess Provisions in Edmonton, which is now closed, but it was only $3 – not pricey.)

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We all seem to want more protein in the morning, don’t we? Without necessarily committing to bacon and eggs… or even to Greek yogurt or anything more substantial than something that can be grabbed and nibbled with coffee. I tend to like carby, sweet-ish things with my coffee, and I feel like biscotti has more potential then it’s often given credit for. It feels so 90s to me – those big glass jars of awkwardly long cookies, often dunked lengthwise in waxy chocolate, on the counters of coffee shops that were just starting to multiply. I think some people decided that biscotti should be hard, and as such let them sit out forever, hardening. But in my mind they should be crisp and not an effort to bite into without softening them first in your coffee.

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Since it seems most of this part of the world is in a polar vortex, I thought I’d offer up a consolation prize to being stuck outside: popcorn chicken and waffle bits, from last year’s Brunch Life: Comfort Classics and More for the Best Meal of the Day by Matt Basile and Kyla Zanardi. Because I truly cannot think of a more suitable brunch scenario than a weekend with a high of -30. This version of chicken and waffles is brilliant—bite-sized fried chicken pieces are far less intimidating to make and cook, and are perfect for nibbling with bites of crisp waffle, all drizzled with a spicy Sriracha maple syrup butter. I love that everything can be eaten with a fork or fingers, and you don’t have to balance your plate on your lap to maneuver a knife. And it’s very conducive to sharing, if you find yourself in the vicinity of other people in their pyjamas.

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It’s a Christmas miracle! I’ve been talking about launching a podcast for years, and I finally did it – it’s done, it’s up! Anna Olson was in town promoting her new book, Set for the Holidays, last month, and I knew that she a) would be a perfect first conversation for the kind of podcast I had in mind, and b) totally up for sitting down for a chat with me. And! As a bonus, it was Christmas, which meant a self-imposed deadline: after recording it, I’d have to get it up before the holidays. It was a steeper learning curve than I thought – beyond the editing itself, which involves multiple tracks, smoothing out hot posts and awkward cuts, balancing the EQ and all that jazz, it weirdly enough is not as simple to upload a piece of audio as it is to post a video on YouTube. We talked to some pros who were far more elaborately set up than we are (GarageContinue reading

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Hey, hi! So I’m in the middle of the craziness that is the Calgary Stampede, and have 8 shows down on the grounds this week – partly because I’ve been asked to do cooking demos for Bush’s Beans, sponsors of the Kitchen Theatre for the past 5 years. As you know, I’m a bean enthusiast, and always happy for an excuse to cook with them – and this time, I challenged myself to come up with something unique using their small pull-tab cans of baked beans, which are being handed out at the kitchen and at pancake breakfasts across the city. I do love baking with beans, and canned varieties make a particularly smooth puree, so I started experimenting with muffins and came up with these. I pureed the whole batter in the blender (or food processor), so you only have to clean one “bowl”, and can pour the batter right into your muffin cups. And because the beans themselves have some fibre and starchyContinue reading

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Crêpes are, truly, one of my favourite things to eat – and to me they taste like summer, perhaps because we always make them on mornings when everyone is around and on holiday, or perhaps because they’re best with berries and other seasonal fruit. (Honestly, my favourite way to eat a crêpe is still to spread it with butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, add a squeeze of lemon if there’s one around, roll it up and eat it standing at the stove while I make more crêpes.) This year I’m doing a series with the Egg Farmers of Canada, making video tutorials that suit the seasons, and this is what I chose for the summer. Crêpes are a fun thing to get the kids into making too – once you have the method down pat, it’s a skill you’ll keep forever. And you make plenty of friends and admirers when you know how to make a batch of crêpes.

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This! Is what Easter weekend is all about. Sweet breakfast breads (waffles! crêpes! cinnamon buns! babka!) and trying to outsmart the nephews (who are smaller, bendier and wilier than I) for Mini Eggs. I gave cinnamon babka a go early – I’ve wanted to try it for awhile, and figured chocolate babka on top of the Easter hunt may be a bit over the top. Truth: cinnamon is not a lesser babka. Also! I had a jar of Rosen’s Cinnamon Bun Spread on my shelf, and it suddenly seemed as if it was made for babka. It was – if you can get your hands on a jar, a small one was perfect for two babkas, and I warmed it for no more than 10 seconds in the microwave first just to give it added spreadability. Otherwise, mix brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, and a bit of honey or maple syrup for added stickiness. Really, I just wanted to make another babka so I couldContinue reading

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Earlier in December I met Ester, my new 93 year old Danish friend who showed me how to make Æbleskiver. Or rather brought out her cast iron pan and recipe and watched as I made it, offering tips and encouragement and told stories as I folded the whipped egg white into buttermilk batter and turned the dough balls in the pan as they puffed and turned golden. I kind of grew up with Æbleskiver – my best friend Sue’s mom would make them sometimes when we had sleepovers at her house in our teenage years, and I’ve been on the hunt for an Æbleskiver pan ever since. Pierre found one for me at a second hand store in BC around the same time I was making them with Ester, and so yay – I am now officially a person who makes Æbleskiver on weekend mornings. Particularly after sleepovers. If you’re not familiar with Æbleskiver, they’re most often described as pancake balls, often spiked with cardamomContinue reading

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Full disclosure: I’ve never really been a bread pudding fan. I want to love it, but haven’t really – until I tried this one, the version I made with Elizabeth Baird when pitch-hitting for Emily Richards one weekend at Christmas in November. Partly it’s due to the bread that was the starting point – a divinely light, buttery panettone baked by a company in Edmonton that’s nothing like the heavy, dense loaves shipped from Italy with a year-long shelf life. You don’t need to seek out this particular loaf – a mish-mash of raisin bread, fruited holiday bread and even croissants or cinnamon buns would work well here. And the finished pudding would be delicious for a holiday brunch or even dessert – they upped their bread pudding game with a crazy simple marmalade sauce you whisk together in about three minutes and pour overtop – spiked with brandy or Grand Marnier, if you like. This is easy to cover up and take with youContinue reading

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