I grew up almost fearing Brussels sprouts – my parents disliked them so much, we never, ever ate them, and I don’t think I tried one until I was in my twenties. I now adore them in just about any form, but I flipped by this in one of Vikram Vij‘s cookbooks while looking for an interesting thing to do with the paneer I just made, and then kind of winged it, not really following the recipe exactly, shredding the B. sprouts rather than quartering them, and reducing it all a bit longer. What are you up to this weekend?? I’m flying to London to go to lunch at Fifteen and cook with Jamie Oliver (!!!) Stay tuned!

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People often ask me what pizza dough recipe I use. The truth is, most formulas for pizza dough are the same – flour, yeast, water, olive oil and salt. The key ingredient not many recipes call for is time. Yeast doughs are a lot like people – the longer it’s alive before it’s baked, the more character it develops. Which means mixing up a batch of dough on Thursday if Friday is pizza night will make all the difference in the world. Let it hang out in the counter, on the fridge – wherever it won’t get into any trouble. Punch it down when it needs taming. The next day, you’ll see its potential in the stretchy bubbles interspersed throughout the dough. Which I apparently took no photos of, I was so preoccupied with the stretching and the topping. And the chilling of the wine – do you know this trick? Wrap a bottle in wet paper towel and put it into the freezer toContinue reading

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(I’ve been a tad obsessed with vintage cookbooks lately – especially those from the fifties and sixties, with their overuse of food colouring and vivid food photos. Although there are no frankfurters or gellies here, don’t you think this photo could be circa 1963?) I was on the road for a chunk of last week, talking on TV about local cheese and the myriad of ways it makes people happy during the holidays. Cheese is generally the focal point when people gather at our house at this time of year – almost always melty, and in enormous quantities. I tend to fall back on the usuals – goat cheese with warmed herby, garlicky olive oil, a skillet fondue, baked brie with maple-pecan praline and the omnipresent homemade Raincoast crisps – but among the recipes we made was a butter chicken tart, smothered in Gouda. That’s right.

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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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I feel like I’ve been slingshot (can that be used as a verb?) straight into mid January, and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve decided that if I’m going to eat bread, it might as well be truly fantastic – and preferably used to bookend other divine ingredients, bound together by melty cheese. There are few things I love more than a grilled cheese sandwich, but too often everything gets ignored but the cheese. Let’s start with the bread, shall we? This is a roasted garlic oval from ACE Bakery, with sweet, mellow roasted garlic right in the dough. It’s a good size – with enough structural integrity and a crisp crust. I used my friend Jessica’s trick – to mix grated Parmesan cheese into soft butter to spread on the outside of each slice, which creates an extra crunchy, cheesy exterior, maximizing those crispy edges.

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Shortbread and balls are the culinary keywords of the season, no? It’s the morning after (OK, afternoon after) our annual Polyester & Cheese Christmas party, wherein friends wear polyester and bring something cheesy, and our dining room table is so weighed down with cheese by the end of the night (as are we) that the next morning all you can do is come downstairs in your PJs, make some coffee and keep going. Polyester & Cheese is the official kick-off to the season of nibbling party food leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner (if you haven’t had warmed mince tarts for breakfast yet, I highly recommend it) straight through until Boxing Day.

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It’s about time for our mac & cheese of the month, isn’t it? I’m away this weekend, in Toronto and then Hockley, at the very first Food Bloggers of Canada conference, and so in my absence I left some frozen meatballs and a casserole for the boys (which I fully expect to find in the fridge on Sunday), and I’m leaving this mac and cheese for you. My sister texted it to me, having seen it on Food52… she knows there’s a good chance that if she texts me something, it will show up on the dinner table. (See: Shakshuka.) She always comes up with good finds – I should have her curate DwJ on the side. The genius of this particular mac & cheese, besides the fact that there’s no cheese sauce to make, is that it’s baked on a rimmed baking sheet (read: all surface area), making it all crunchy top, no soft innards. If you’re all about the cheesy, crispy bits, you’llContinue reading

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There hasn’t been much cooking going on this week – much of the past 10 days has been divvied between visits at two separate hospitals, driving between said hospitals, and queuing at their parkade exits. (Everyone is fine! Or will be. Don’t worry.) What I was supposed to be doing for the past 10 days was finishing up a book manuscript that’s due in Two! Weeks! Fortunately there has been enough to distract me from almost certain panic. One silver lining: I’ve been using up all those containers of frozen this and that, most of it unlabeled, that I’ve squirreled away in the freezer. The other day I actually found, without effort, enough space to put a loaf of bread in the freezer, which around here constitutes a small miracle. Some nights it has been a game of dinnertime Russian roulette, we’ve hit a couple drive thrus, and one day, having been present for the arrival of extra cheesy hospital food mac & cheese atContinue reading

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