Hey friends!

So I’ve had an idea brewing for awhile now, and it seems like a good time to jump in and just do it already. I promised myself I’d get it out there by December 1, and I’m just squeezing it in before my midnight deadline.

I’ve been trying to reimagine how to best utilize all the digital technology that’s available to us to do more fun things between my kitchen and yours. I’ve been getting a ton of requests for Zoom cooking classes throughout the pandemic, and have been trying to wrap my mind around how to best accommodate more people – most of the classes and events I’ve been doing have been for private companies, agencies and organizations, some of them fundraisers, cooking shows and such… but I’d like to do more classes that are open to anyone. (Remember back in February, we had the first of what was supposed to be a series of real-life and live-streamed kitchen parties? The second had been planned for March… what timing!)

I’ve been learning how to work with various platforms, but most of my classes have been on Zoom — I love that I can see you cooking in your kitchen too (if you want me to!), and you can show me what you’re making, how your dough looks, and talk and ask questions. So! I’m going to start doing pop-up kitchen classes (pop-up meaning I won’t have a set schedule), and I’d like to keep them small and intimate, and also affordable… I’ll announce them on social media as I plan them – and I’m thinking they’ll be limited to 25 in order to keep them intimate, on a pay what you can basis (suggested $20?). Of course since you’re in your own house, you can tune in with whomever you happen to be living with – you could take a class with your kids, or make dinner with your partner! We’ll have some fun and learn some things!

But! my idea has two parts: because small classes will only accommodate a limited number of people, I’m also launching… a Dinner Club!! A community of cooks and eaters who want to learn more (or just eat more), whose clubhouse would probably be a sandwich.

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I’m astounded I haven’t managed to post this recipe yet- it’s been part of my toolbox for years, called into service anytime I have cheese but no carrier, or need something quick and interesting for a snacky board or some such.

Once you know how to make this one massive cracker, which is baked and then smashed into pieces, they’re easy to make by memory- 1 1/3 cups flour, 1/3 cup each oil and water. With salt, of course- and any seasonings you like, which makes them super easy to customize. I’ve been into using za’atar and everything bagel spice mix, but you could use finely chopped fresh or dried herbs, or ground nuts, seeds, sharp cheese… they’re a blank slate, really. You roll the dough out very thin on a baking sheet (or the underside of one, if it’s rimmed, so that the edges don’t get in the way), bake the whole thing until it’s golden, then bash into pieces, which is super satisfying, with no pressure for perfection whatsover.
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I’m so getting into the idea of cookie swapping this year, even though it’s going to look completely different than years before- but I love that we’re all so focused on figuring out creative ways to share, and to do the things we love, and to connect with people we love. And of course we’re all baking more than ever.

I’m always up for an excuse to bake (pandemic or not), so this year I’m taking part in Redpath’s Share the Sweetness Virtual Christmas Cookie Swap. Looking through their recipe database, I came across one for Nanaimo Bar Thumbprint Cookies and couldn’t not make them. They have all the right flavours of a Nanaimo bar, only in cookie form-and they may be less intimidating, and perhaps more shareable as a cookie vs a bar. (At least you don’t have to worry about cutting these cleanly.)


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Let me preface this post by saying I did not come up with the giant cinnamon bun- it is a thing, like the skillet cookie or Texas doughnut, that has existed for awhile, and I’ve been meaning to make one for eons. Mary Berg had one in her first cookbook, Kitchen Party, that came out last fall, and Anna Olson has one in her latest, Baking Day, which came out last week. That was the reminder- flipping through her book and then talking to Anna last week when we filmed a thing together, and she suggested leftover doughnut dough could be turned into a cinnamon bun. And so I did it- and then another. And then another.
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This isn’t the most stunning morning-after photo of what was (and still is) a delicious chocolate cake-the light was far better last night than it was when I nibbled it with my coffee in the early morning light. But it’s a simple, delicious cake that could become your go-to if you have frequent birthday cake obligations.

This weekend was the first two of a week of family birthdays (which wraps up with mine on Friday), and because one of them was my sister, and I knew her favourite part would be blowing out candles with her grandkids, a double chocolate, quick to bake single layer cake that could be served straight from the pan and accommodate plenty of sprinkles seemed like just the ticket.

And look at that ganache!!
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I am guilty of mostly buying turkey on those two occasions a year that call for them, but was inspired to experiment with more individual cuts last year, and was presently surprised at the result. It turns out, a turkey breast or thigh is ideal for making shawarma—loaded sandwiches of marinated meat traditionally cooked on a rotisserie and sliced onto soft flatbreads, then loaded with chopped cucumber, tomato, purple onion and pickles, and drizzled with garlicky yogurt, tahini, or both.


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I’ve made two blackberry-plum friands in the past three days, and eaten 1 3/4 of them myself, with a spoon, straight out of the baking dish. A friand is a dense, chewy almond cake, this version studded with juicy fruit, from Ottolenghi’s Simple- I had it out for a virtual book club, and when I got home from picking up a farmers’ market box (from the Bridgeland Farmers’ Market), which had plums and blackberries bigger than my thumb in it, I took it as a sign.
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I’m growing potatoes again this year, in a few condos (collapsable vinyl containers and a two dollar plastic laundry basket-it doesn’t look as terrible as it sounds) in the back. I adore potatoes in all their forms, but particularly now when you can pick up small new ones at the market, or dig them out of your own dirt.

A year ago, Dirty Food went to print, and in it a fairly classic technique for boiling, crushing and roasting potatoes topped with garlicky oil and Parmesan cheese. It’s one of my favourite things to do with potatoes, and one of the most versatile, if you consider how many flavours you could add to the oil or sprinkle over the spuds as they roast.
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