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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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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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Fava beans are here! They are some of spring’s first arrivals, along with asparagus and fiddleheads, and are well worth seeking out in their fresh state while you can find them. If you’re not familiar with the fava (or faba, or broad) bean, they’re the big, spongy, cartoon-like beans you see in farmers’ markets in the late spring, and they require a little more effort to access their buttery goodness, but are well worth the effort. I kind of like food you have to work at, or can sit around outside and peel + eat.

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I’ve been in rugelach mode all weekend, making batches of sweet versions (dark chocolate-tahini! apricot-pecan! apricot-chocolate! Nutella! pistachio paste! cinnamon-sugar! for a couple virtual cooking classes (these ones were fundraisers for the CBC Calgary Food Bank Drive), and then doing a shortbread Instagram live bake with Amy, she mentioned having made everything bagel rugelach… and thus the seed was planted.

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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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Pasta and beans (pronounced pasta fazh-e-ohl-eh, and sometimes referred to as pasta fazool) is a classic Italian dish that couldn’t be much faster, easier or more inexpensive; it can also be made without precision, and you can take liberties with the ingredients: a bit of sausage with the onion, carrot and celery is delicious, you could add some thyme, rosemary or Italian seasoning to the pot, and though small pasta shapes are traditional, a diced potato or even some rice or other grain would be tasty as well. With more stock, tomato juice or other liquid, it’s more like minestrone; with less it’s a thicker, stewier pasta dish. If you happen to save your Parmesan rinds, this is a good use for it.

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Dill pickle soup seems to me a dish that came about out of necessity—perhaps in the bleak prairie midwinter, when someone out on a farm in a snow-driven landscape looked in their pantry and decided to turn the pint jars of dill pickles into soup—but it’s no longer made merely out of necessity because it’s completely delicious. And yes, it’s just as it sounds-made with dill pickles, chopped and/or grated, along with a healthy pour of the pickle brine. At its base, there are basic veggies (onion, celery, carrot, potato), but a sausage sliced or crumbled in at the start is also common, and it would also be delicious with wintry beets or cabbage. Sometimes it’s finished with cream, or a dollop of sour cream on top-that’s the beauty of soup… rarely do you need to follow a specific recipe.

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I’ve been at two events in the past two weeks that served plates of this whipped feta topped with roasted beets and dukkah – both were celebrating the launch of the new Calgary Eats cookbook, a collaboration between 40 Calgary restaurants including Ten Foot Henry, whose chef, Steve Smee, contributed this recipe. I have a bowl of roasted beets in my fridge (you can do them in the slow cooker!) and is there a better combo than beets and feta or creamy goat cheese? Wait – how about whipped feta you can drag through with soft flatbread instead of relying on a green salad as delivery vehicle? This is going directly into my regular repertoire.

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I could live on potatoes and cheese, I think—or bread and cheese, pasta and cheese… anything and cheese, provided it’s the buttery, meltable kind. So when the folks from Jarlsberg asked if I’d be wiling to come up with another way to use their creamy, nutty cheese, I was more than happy to oblige. This is one of the best parts of my job. Since Jarlsberg is a Swiss style cheese, I thought I’d make a rösti—a substantial potato pancake, crispy on the top and bottom, and in this case stuffed with melty Jarlsberg. If you’re not familiar with it, you may recognize the yellow patterned rind—Jarlsberg came to be in a small Norwegian village called Ås in the fifties, as a group of students conducted experiments using various cheesemaking techniques typically used with Gouda and Emmental. Because it’s so creamy and meltable, it’s fantastic in fondue and mac & cheese, and really anything you’d like to be a bit gooey. It’s fab on aContinue reading

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