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I’ve been cooking out of Olia Hercules‘ cookbook, Mamushka, this past week. This warm kidney bean salad jumped out, and I made it (with the last of the dried red kidney beans in a jar on my shelf. (I simmered them straight from dry, no pre-soak, in salted water with a bay leaf. They took a little over an hour to tenderize.) I also roasted wedges of cabbage and onion to chop and stir in, and it was wonderful. Some feta crumbled in would be delicious too, I think. Lobio means “beans” in the Caucasus region – Olia calls for a can of red kidney beans, which would certainly streamline the process. This salad was wonderful warm, but is equally delicious cold — and beans always benefit from some time in the fridge to allow them to marinate. As I was out of fennel seed, I used a small-batch Kadhai spice blend (that includes coriander and fennel) from chef Aman Dosanj — if you don’tContinue reading

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I make falafel all the time, and keep meaning to write up a recipe to share. The truth is, I make them so often I don’t really measure anymore – I add a bit of onion, some garlic, a bunch of cilantro stems, a bit of heat in the form of a jalapeño or pinch of chili flakes, and some baking powder to lighten them. Sometimes I add a spoonful of flour — any kind – which isn’t necessary, but will help them hold together a bit. Some people refrigerate their falafel mix overnight to let the texture and flavours develop, so really this is a great make-ahead kind of thing that you can cook quickly, without even having to preheat the oven. And yes, you could use canned chickpeas, but the falafel will have a softer texture, and there is a chance they will fall apart in the oil… I’ve never had a problem with them falling apart but a few people have inContinue reading

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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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We all need emergency meals some days. I’ve been eyeing this – a soupy sort of one pot pasta that’s a staple in Rome, and the sort of humble home-cooked meal that intrigues me most about visiting such a place. (Although yes, I would also make the trip just for the pizza.) As with most staples of this kind, there are as many variations as there are people who make it. This particular version is cooked quickly on the stovetop, pasta and all, which allows the starch from the pasta to thicken the sauce. It works-truly. I brought it in to CBC this morning as an example of the sort of last-minute I-don’t-know-what’s-for-dinner emergency meal you can rummage through your pantry for and eat in 20 minutes rather than give in to take out.

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If I had one of those weekly menu calendars – meatloaf Mondays, taco Tuesdays, pork chop Thursdays – some version of this would be on my roster. I tend to gravitate toward it every January, when I sit down and make a list of dishes made up of mostly vegetables that I really, truly love to eat, and decide that I’m going to make an effort to eat them more often, rather than always load up on bagels and toast. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that… there are just too many things right with it.) This salad of sorts is also the perfect example of how we don’t always need a recipe per se, sometimes all you need is a general guideline. I can definitively say I’ve never measured out feta for a salad, but just crumbled some over, measuring by eyeball. Yes, I picked up some lacinato kale (the smooth dark green kind, also called Tuscan or dinosaur kale) and a thick-necked butternutContinue reading

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Is it too much of a cliche to jump from bread pudding and cinnamon knots to a veggie-heavy curry in the early days of January? I crave stewy, spicy things after so many weeks (OK, months) of butter cookies and Toblerone. And I inevitably get all excited about the piles of gnarly squash over the winter and buy more than I get around to actually using. Sometimes it’s because I go for the bumpiest beasts, the ones you have to tackle with a cleaver to access the insides of. Sure, you can go for smooth-skinned butternut with thick necks, or even buy a bag of squash cubes – in fact, they work extra well here, cooking down quickly into a curry. But if you have a bit of a monster on your hands, one that refuses to be peeled, simply hack it into pieces and roast them in the oven until the flesh is tender enough to scoop or peel away from the skin andContinue reading

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I feel a little sheepish offering this up as a recipe – most of the time you don’t need a recipe for a salad – but I still struggle with creative salad combinations, and so here it is. It’s getting to be the season for winter salads made with kale, Brussels sprouts and winter squash, and I particularly love roasted squash in just about anything – not least of all doused in something vinegary. And I love bowls filled with a jumble of tasty things, and having some cooked quinoa in the fridge to turn into lunch at my desk, and how brilliant pomegranate arils look scattered over just about everything. I’m having a wee panic that we’re a week (A WEEK) into November already, and am trying to resist calming my nerves with copious quantities of raisin toast. Delicata has a thin skin you can eat, so there’s no need for peeling – you can swap in just about any squash, roasted by theContinue reading

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The squash are here! Oh all the piles of squash, arriving during the second week of school, at precisely the same time leaves start falling, some so big you have to cradle them under one arm like a small child. Sometimes, there’s such comfort in predictability. Especially when it necessitates wooly socks. I called this butternut squash soup, but it doesn’t have to be butternut, which is familiar and easy to handle, readily available, smooth and far more clean and manageable when it comes to peeling and cubing than the gnarly monsters you see in farmers’ market bins at this time of year. But feel free to use any kind of winter squash you like – even if you can’t identify it. And because peppers are piled high at this time of year too, it seems fitting to deliver a double whammy of beta carotene. Also? I’m trying to cut back on my caffeine consumption, and I’m hooked on having something warm to sip outContinue reading

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