I think we all need a little more cake these days.

Blending whole oranges into a thick puree to add to cake and muffin batter isn’t new – I have a recipe for a whole orange cake on an old recipe card I’ve had since childhood (yes, I was a kid who wrote and collected recipe cards) and the Sunshine Muffins in the Best of Bridge are made with whole oranges whizzed with everything else in a blender. Food 52 has a recipe for a whole orange bundt from Sunset Magazine in their book, Genius Desserts. W made it awhile ago, and it occurred to me that such a cake would make perfect use of those inevitable squidgy mandarin oranges I always seem to wind up with, whether I buy them by the box or bag. (We talked about other things to do with mandarins on this week’s Eyeopener!)

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I made a plant-based (vegan) Deep n’ Delicious chocolate cake for a friend’s birthday last spring, and it was pretty fantastic if I do say so myself. Baked in a disposable foil cake pan for easy door dropping and classic Deep n’ Delicious aesthetic, with frosting piped on with a star tip to complete the effect, I’ve baked this several times and it has been devoured each time – it’s wonderful, vegan or not.

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I had this squashy dal on repeat last fall – it was something I made one day to use the roasted squash I’m in the habit of having in the fridge at this time of year, and I became totally hooked on it. In the fall, when all the giant gourds are in the farmers’ markets, I often poke one with a knife and roast it whole, directly on the oven rack, while something else is baking. It takes about an hour for a large one to soften and start to collapse in on itself – once cool, it’s easy to cut open, scoop out the seeds, and then scoop the soft flesh in spoonfuls into things like soups and stews and curries and dal.
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I adore flatbreads of all kinds. So many cultures around the world have relied on flatbreads in their many forms as a means of having fresh bread with every meal. I make a kind of soft, chewy naan a lot – I roll it thin and cook it in a hot cast iron skillet until it’s blistered and bulbous, and eat it warm, straight from the pan. Naan is perfect with anything saucy, or with dips and spreads or just pulled apart with your fingers and eaten for breakfast. It’s one of the easiest ways to make fresh bread for any meal, and you can have a lump of dough in the fridge and just pull off as many egg-sized pieces as you need when you need them. I adore it.

I’ve been making this recipe for years, which is completely wonderful but calls for yogurt and an egg… on occasions when I haven’t had one or the other I’ve streamlined things, and often use pizza dough that has had a lot of time on the counter (all day, or preferably 24 hours), but I’ve also started to use this simple baking powder leavened dough when I’m in a hurry, and if you knead it in order to develop the gluten, it’s fantastic too.


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August is truly tomato season, and I seek out any opportunity to eat them- in sandwiches, on toast, in a pie with corn cut straight from the cob and a biscuit crust, and in tarts, like this one I made for the Globe and Mail two falls ago. Tomatoes are perfect in shallow tarts and galettes, and can be paired with all kinds of things you might rummage from your fridge or pantry – pesto, olive tapenade, ricotta, goat cheese, Boursin… everything goes with a tomato.
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Seeing as it’s the first week of July, and traditionally the air is filled with the deep-fried smells of Stampede, and half my calories are typically consumed in the form of mini doughnuts, I thought I’d post a recipe here. I did a virtual midway food class yesterday, and people were thrilled to have the ability to turn out actual cinnamon-sugar mini doughnuts in their own kitchens. This is the sort of thing you become known for – I want to be the aunt/grandma/friend who makes mini doughnuts to eat warm when you’re sitting in my kitchen or on my patio.
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I feel like we need some cornbread here. It tastes like summer to me – likely because I’ve spent so many years picking up round cornbreads at SoBo in Tofino, which we would nibble from for days – with coffee and jam in the morning, seafood chowder in the afternoon… whatever. Though it’s often thought of as an accompaniment, you could stir berries or rhubarb into it for a breakfasty cornbread, or add handfuls of grated cheese and chopped or dried herbs to make it savoury. (Keep the brown sugar in if you like – sweetness tends to make cornbread taste more cornbread-y – or cut it back, or leave it out.)
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I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I’m a lazy pie maker. I don’t strive for perfection, or elaborately styled tops (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but more ease – of both assembly and eating. I do get a lot of satisfaction out of a proper crimped double crust pie, but I make galettes more often. Because they’re not as deep they bake more quickly and are easier to eat out of hand, which makes them ideal breakfast pastries and perfect for afternoon snacking.
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