30 August 2009

Blueberry Pudding

I did not make this-for my last supper at home before heading back to a dorm room, my dad made some of my favourites. I'll start by posting possibly my favourite dessert-hot blueberry pudding with cinnamon whipped cream. This comes from my dad's recollection of a Craig Claiborne recipe (he thinks) from many years ago. I am leaving my dad's text as is because it amuses me and I've actually never made this.

Hot Blueberry Pudding with Cinnamon Whipped Cream
  • 2 litres (a loaf) of good bread (wholewheat, multi-grain, artisan, ...), crust trimmed, cut into 12 mm/ 1/2" cubes
  • 250 gm unsalted butter
  • 375 gm sugar
  • 1 litre low-bush (wild) blueberries
  • 250 ml (1 cup) heavy cream
  • strong cinnamon sugar
1. Melt the butter in a large deep sauté pan over medium high heat. When the bubbles have settled add the bread cubes, stirring to coat with butter. Stir regularly until cubes are browning, but not burned.
2. Add the sugar and keep on the heat until the sugar melts and begins to carmelize. ---this can be done a few hours ahead, and the pan & bread set aside. Reheat to soften the sugar ---
3. Turn the heat to high. Add the blueberries to the hot bread cubes, and stir until the berries are heated through.
4. Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream, using cinnamon sugar.
5. Immediately serve into bowls with a good glob of cinnamon whipped cream. Garnish with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

Sauté the bread and sugar, and whip the cream a few hours before the meal. The final addition and cooking of the berries must be done just before serving.
This is the Zimmer family’s favourite thing for Peter to do with fresh Nova Scotian low-bush wild blueberries. Other times of the year it can be made with thawed frozen wild blueberries- thaw in the fridge for a couple hours.
The large high-bush blueberries don’t have the intensity of flavour of the “wild” low-bush berries from Eastern Canada and New England.

26 August 2009

Blueberry Coffee Cake with Lemon Spice Streusel

Do we have any blueberries, I wondered, as I opened the fridge door.
Oh yes. Oh my.

This recipe comes from Cooking with Les Dames d'Escoffier. Les Dames d'Escoffier are a female culinary association dedicated to the advancement of women in the field. Some of their luminaries include Julia Child, Alice Waters and Dorie Greenspan. This is a collection of their favourite recipes for home cooking, written very accessibly. So you know it's going to be good. I actually took this out of the library but it has quickly moved to #1 on my wishlist. Tons of great recipes along with wine pairings which is crucial for me, because I am absolutely clueless and unsophisticated when it comes to wine. The book is also peppered with personal anecdotes about these women's careers as chefs, restauranteurs, food writers, photographers, caterers, as well as some great kitchen tips. There are very few photos but, hey, I trust them and this cake did not disappoint. Also a way to use up some of the buttermilk I bought for the waffles this past weekend.

Buttermilk Berry Coffee Cake with Lemon Spice Topping
For the cake:
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen works too, could also use raspberries, blackberries, etc.)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
For the streusel:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 3 tbsp butter, room temperature
1. Pre-heat oven to 350˚ and butter a 9-inch springform pan. Cream butter and sugar in large bowl of electric mixer or by hand (check out our old school mixmaster and understand my longing for a KitchenAid).
2. Add the eggs one by one. Beat in the vainlla.
3. Sift together your dry ingredients and alternate adding them and the buttermilk, gradually, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Do not overbeat.
4. Pour half of the batter into pan, and try to make it as level as possible. Toss together lemon juice and blueberries, sprinkle on top and add remaining batter over top.
5. For the streusel, combine dry ingredients in small bowl and cut in the butter until you have a nice crumb-y streusel texture. Sprinkle over top and bake approx 1 hour 10 minutes, checking doneness with a skewer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes. Undo the springform and serve warm or at room temperature.

24 August 2009

Teaches of peaches

Again embracing the season I bought two boxes of swoon-inducingly ripe peaches and set my phasers on pie. I guess I've had a lot of practice but pie dough is really not all that intimidating, even a fancy-looking lattice top. It can even be prepared the night before to split up the work. Bake sure your butter and shortening are cold for better results.

Pie Dough for Lattice-Top Pie (you guessed it, Cook's Illustrated)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 7 tbsp shortening, chilled (ex. Tenderflake, Crisco)
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 10 tbsp ice water
1. If you've got the set-up, make this in a food processor for best results. You can do just fine without one, I did. Mix flour, salt and sugar, add shortening and process/use pastry cutter until mixture has texture of coarse sand. Scatter butter over mixture and process/use pastry cutter until you get coarse crumbs, with butter pieces no larger than peas. Sprinkle ice water over mixture and use rubber spatula to fold, pressing down to help dough come together. Divide dough into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten larger piece into 5 inch square and smaller piece into 4 inch disk, wrap separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour, up to 1 day.
2. When you're ready to go, roll larger piece into a 15 by 11 inch rectangle. Slide onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper and using a pizza wheel or knife cut 8 strips of dough, straight as you can. Refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Roll out smaller disk on lightly floured surface (we have this cool cloth with the diametre of a pie plate drawn on), and transfer to 9 inch pie plate. Leave the overhang alone and refrigerate.

6-7 medium sized peaches (about 7 cups when sliced)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch salt
3-5 tbsp potato starch or Minute tapioca

1. Heat oven to 500˚ and place rimmed baking sheet inside. Boil water in a large saucepan and fill a large bowl with ice water. Score an X on the bottom of the peaches, use slotted spoon to drop into boiling water for 1 minute, then into ice water for 1 minute to facilitate peeling (or leave skin on, up to you). Halve, pit and cut peaches into slices 3/8 inch thick.
2. Mix slices with lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and starch or tapioca (if using tapioca grind fine in food processor, spice grinder, or place in ziploc and bash with rolling pin/other similar object). Turn mixture into dough-lined pie plate and form the lattice. Here is a useful diagram if you've never made a lattice-top before. Lightly brush lattice-top with 1 tbsp water and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 425˚. Place pie on baking sheet and bake about 25 minutes, until crust is set and begins to brown. Rotate pie and reduce heat to 375˚, continue baking until peach juices are bubbling and crust is golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

23 August 2009

You raise me up

Home-made waffles for breakfast ceases to be a good idea when you realize that means waking up at 8 on a Sunday. This batter for yeasted waffles can be whipped up the night before and left to rise 12-24 hours in the fridge, making quick work of a delicious project.

Yeasted Waffles
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 8 tbsp/1 stick/1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
1. Heat milk and butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat until butter is melted, 3-5 minutes. Cool until warm to touch. Meanwhile, whisk flour, sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl to combine. Gradually whisk warm milk-butter mixture into flour mixture until batter is smooth. In small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla, and then add to batter and whisk until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2. Heat waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions, remove batter from fridge once iron is hot (batter will have risen-make sure to use LARGE bowl). Whisk batter to recombine and deflate, and bake waffles according to manufacturer's instructions. To hold waffles place on wire rack on top of cookie sheet covered with dishtowel in 200˚ oven.

Ribs and grilled corn

To accompany my delicious cornbread, I turned to the barbecue in a day-long attempt to be Southern. It was tasty. Ribs are my standard birthday request and they are always good because well, they're ribs. I knew Cook's Illustrated could take me further. These are slow cooked (pick a nice afternoon to spend outside tending the grill) and incredibly tender. If you're going to the trouble of spending four hours on ribs, it's not much more to make your own sauce, but store-bought is also acceptable.

Kansas City Style Sweet and Sticky Ribs
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 full racks pork spareribs, trimmed of any large pieces of excess fat, membrane removed and patted dry
  • 1 cup wood chips
  • 2 cups bbq sauce
1. Combine paprika, sugar, pepper, salt and cayenne in a small bowl. Massage spice rub into both sides of rib racks.
2. Soak wood chips in bowl of water for 15 minutes, place in small disposable aluminum pan. Place pan directly on primary burner of gas grill, ignite, turn all burners to high and preheat with the lid down until chips are smoking heavily, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium and shut off other burners, adjusting temperature of primary burner as needed to maintain an average temperature of 275˚. Position ribs over cooler part of grill.
3. Place sheet of vented aluminum foil directly on top of ribs and cover grill. Grill, turning and rotating ribs after each hour for 3 hours. Brush ribs liberally on both sides with sauce, wrap them tightly with aluminum foil and cook until very tender, about 1 hour more.
4. Transfer ribs (still in foil) to cutting board and rest 30 minutes. Unwrap and brush with additional barbecue sauce. Slice ribs between bones and serve with remaining sauce.

And now the sauce:
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup root beer
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp brown mustard (regular if you can't find brown)
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining ingredients except liquid smoke, and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer until mixture is thick and has reduced to 4 cups, about 1 hour. Stir in liquid smoke if using-I didn't.

Corn is so plentiful this time of year that one could ALMOST get tired of eating it boiled on the cob with lots of butter and salt. For a nice change of pace, try Mexican-style grilled corn.
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 3 tbsp minced cilantro leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 tsp lime juice
  • 1 ounce Pecorino Romano, grated (about 1/2 cup, I substituted parmesan)
  • 4 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 large ears of corn, husks and silk removed
1. Turn all burners to high and heat with lid down until very hot. Scrape and oil grate.
2. Combine mayonnaise through cheese in large bowl. In second bowl, mix oil and salt. Brush evenly onto corn and grill until lightly charred on all sides. Remove from grill and bursh with mayonnaise mixture, serve immediately.

22 August 2009

I love this cornbread so much...

Well, he'll tell you:

I looooove cornbread. I actually don't care much for chili but will often suggest it just to have cornbread alongside. I played with the Cook's Illustrated recipe a bit to spice it up and make it even cornier.

  • 2 tbsp unslated butter, melted
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk-if you don't have buttermilk, you can make a good substitute with the ratio of 1 cup whole milk to 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1. Pre-heat oven to 425˚. Grease 9 inch square baking pan with butter.
2. Mix together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well.
3. Crack eggs into the well and mix, then add buttermilk and milk and stir until just combined. Add melted butter along with pepper and corn and mix.
4. Pour batter into pan and bake until golden brown and lightly cracked, about 25 minutes.
5. Allow pan to cool 5-10 minutes on wire rack, and serve warm.

A veritable deluge of posts coming soon as I count down to back to school. Next: Ribs!

20 August 2009

Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring...


My work was getting rid of an absurd amount of over-ripe bananas and I seized the opportunity and did not ask questions.

My first project?

Banana bread-from Cook's Illustrated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp vanilla
1. Pre-heat oven to 350˚. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. Melt the butter so it has time to cool.
2. Spread walnuts out on cookie sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 10 minutes. Let cool.
3. Whisk together dry ingredients and walnuts in a large bowl.
4. Mix all wet ingredients together in a separate bowl. Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated and batter is thick and chunky. Scrape batter into loaf pan with spatula.
5. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temp.

16 August 2009

Foodie Films & Feminism

This past week I've twiced ducked into the air-conditioned paradise that is the local movie theatre to check out the latest in foodie fare, Julie & Julia and Food Inc. Food Inc. is good but nothing terribly new if you're familiar with Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore's Dilema and In Defense of Food. Industrial food will kill us all, we ought to know where our food comes from and understand the difference between food and "food", etc. Pollan appears in the film, along with the author of Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser. Pollan also wrote an interesting piece for the nytimes magazine last weekend re Julie & Julia, and the shift that has taken place in cooking to become a spectator sport. Top Chef, The Next Food Network Star, Oprah's BFF Gayle eating sandwiches all get huge ratings, but the majority of those tuning in don't view these programs as educational but as entertainment. They are not inspired to pick up a ladle and shop for fresh ingredients but rather are happy to sit back and watch, eating take-out or frozen entrees. What's with the disconnect? Pollan of course argues that we ought to be getting back in the kitchen, and this sparked retaliation from the feminist blogosphere.

This passage is drawing particular ire: "Curiously, the year Julia Child went on the air — 1963 — was the same year Betty Friedan published “The Feminine Mystique,” the book that taught millions of American women to regard housework, cooking included, as drudgery, indeed as a form of oppression. You may think of these two figures as antagonists, but that wouldn’t be quite right. They actually had a great deal in common, as Child’s biographer, Laura Shapiro, points out, and addressed the aspirations of many of the same women. Julia never referred to her viewers as “housewives” — a word she detested — and never condescended to them. She tried to show the sort of women who read “The Feminine Mystique” that, far from oppressing them, the work of cooking approached in the proper spirit offered a kind of fulfillment and deserved an intelligent woman’s attention. (A man’s too.) Second-wave feminists were often ambivalent on the gender politics of cooking. Simone de Beauvoir wrote in “The Second Sex” that though cooking could be oppressive, it could also be a form of “revelation and creation; and a woman can find special satisfaction in a successful cake or a flaky pastry, for not everyone can do it: one must have the gift.” This can be read either as a special Frenchie exemption for the culinary arts (féminisme, c’est bon, but we must not jeopardize those flaky pastries!) or as a bit of wisdom that some American feminists thoughtlessly trampled in their rush to get women out of the kitchen."

Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon and Kate Harding at Salon cried foul at this but I can't abide by their reactionism. Yeah, I get that cooking and other domestic work can be oppressive, depending on the situation. But cooking has never been that to me, nor do I think it was for Julia Child or Julie Powell. Housewifery was a woman's domain, restaurant kitchens were for male chefs. In the film, Child forcefully enters a man's world with no apologies. The only woman in her Cordon Bleu course for professional chefs, she doesn't sink but swims, and manages to successfully share this previously guarded realm of haute cuisine with the average American women. Child was named a Grand Dame by Les Dames D'Escoffier, an international organization of female chefs, restauranteurs, winemakers and producers dedicated to the advancement of women in the male-dominated (to this day) field of culinary arts (review of their incredible new cookbook coming soon). Cooking brought Julie Powell literary success and personal fulfillment.

In my mind, providing wholesome delicious food is as valuable as bringing home the bacon (note: not mutually exclusive!). My views are of course shaped by my own experiences: I had the luxury of a stay-at-home dad throughout most of my childhood, who I know did not view himself as chained to the stove but rather took pleasure in making great food and teaching me to appreciate it. I don't think only women should get back in the kitchen, and neither does Michael Pollan-everyone should have basic kitchen skills (beyond using a can-opener and setting the microwave), whether they are an amateur gourmand or not. Cooking does not need to be intimidating, labourious, expensive-but fundamental skills need to be instilled before this point can be reached. Though my junior high home-ec classes were nothing earth-shattering, I'm glad they were there and am sorry to see these programs being phased out. Couldn't we have more shows like the French Chef, taking the fear out of cooking, explaining all the mystery and magic rather than watching Guy Fieri eat and eat and eat?

In light-hearted conclusion, I give you the fantastic Sarah Haskins:

15 August 2009

Thanksgiving in August

Well, the best of Thanksgiving flavours in August. Thankfully it is finally too hot to consider roasting a turkey. Turkey burgers with craisins and sweet potato fries will have to stand in for now.

Sweet Potato Fries (for 4)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp fennel
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • Olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 425˚. Grind spices together, mix in salt.
2. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into fry shapes (at least 1/2 inch thick), about three inches long.
3. In a large bowl, mix fries with enough olive oil to lightly coat and spice mixture.
4. On a non-stick baking pan (or a pan sprayed with cooking spray), spread out fries and cook for 30-40 mins, turning about every 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Cranberry Turkey Burgers (serves 4)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup Craisins (dried cranberries)
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • Olive oil
1. Finely chop scallions and pepper, coarsely chop Craisins. Sauté in oil until scallions are lightly browned, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
2. Once cool, mix above mixture with ground turkey and form patties.
3. Cook for approx. 6 minutes per side over medium high heat (I did it on the barbecue but they could easily be done on the stove-top).

13 August 2009


This isn't that much of a recipe-so much of it is 'to taste' but it's delicious and summer-y and possibly the easiest thing I've ever posted. No special equipment necessary-if you own a bowl and a fork you are all set.

  • 2 ripe avocadoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 0-1/2 cup mayonnaise (to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • tabasco sauce to taste
  • 1 chopped tomato, if you like
Mash all ingredients together (except tomato, stir that in last if using), and serve with tortilla chips.

9 August 2009

Rainbow Cupcake Connection

Rainbow cupcakes are old news in the baking blog world, but I'd never partaken. A friend's birthday was the perfect occasion to test out these technocolour treats. While they look fancy and colourful, in fact it is just a plain vanilla cupcake recipe with food colouring. It's a little finicky if you are set on getting a perfect ROYGBIV rainbow in layers, but on the second round I was pretty haphazard, which resulted and equally delicious and more psychadelic cupcakes (I made a double recipe, but really only got 18, not 24-it's a pain to run out of batter halfway through a rainbow. I wanted a light coloured frosting to show off the vibrant cakes, so I went with a cream cheese vanilla bean frosting.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Icing (Cook's Illustrated-to double, just double everything except use 3 whole eggs and 2 yolks)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup / 8 tbsp / 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg + 2 yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • food colouring
1. Heat oven to 350˚. Line muffin tin with paper or foil cups.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter, sour cream, egg and yolks and vanilla and beat until smooth and shiny.
3. Separate batter into as many bowls as colours you plan on using (I did 5). Add in food colouring and mix until desired effect is achieved.
4. Divide batter between the cups as you like (useful tools include spatulas, a laddle, possibly a baster). Bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack before icing.

  • 1 pkg cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from 2 vanilla beans
  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar.
1. Mix and ice cupcakes-you can get fancy with piping or just spread it on, depending on time and aesthetics.

8 August 2009


It might finally be too hot to cook now that it's stopped raining. Mark Bittman's 2007 article on summer cooking (or not cooking) has tons of great ideas and I went with gazpacho, a chilled tomato soup that makes me nostalgic for Spain (fun fact, Spanish McDonald's serves a pre-packaged gazpacho. Also beer.)
It can be made with no heat, very little effort and few ingredients. Chop 3 or 4 tomatoes and one cucumber into large chunks, tear a couple slices of stale bread into small pieces(you can create stale bread by baking the slices at very low heat for 10 minutes of so), add a clove of garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, a bit of sherry vinegar and a couple ice cubes and combine in a blender or food processor, adding water as needed to facilitate blending. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold, leftovers keep well in fridge.

7 August 2009

Rock Lobster

I consider it a basic human right to have lobster at least once when I come home for a visit. Company is the perfect excuse. Lobsters are absurdly easy to cook, absurdly involved to eat (if doing it at home; restaurants don't make you work for it). Much cheaper to do it at home, especially if you just want straight up boiled lobster.

Boil salted water in a large pot, stick your lobsters in head first, cook 15ish minutes depending on their size. Melt some butter for dipping. While waiting for the giant pot of water to come to a boil this past January, I remembered hearing tell that you could hypnotize a lobster, so my friend and I turned to youtube for guidance. If you stroke it's back at the beginning of the tail repeatedly, the lobster will go into a trance state, and you can make it do fun headstands, as seen below. We were pretty lucky as these guys were already pretty lethargic from the flight (you can pick up lobsters to take as your carry-on at the Halifax airport) and so were fairly cooperative. Once your lobster is ready you're going to need some implements, and most importantly, some napkins as it will get messy. A vise grip or crackers of some sort and seafood picks are probably the most essential. Here's a handy diagram of how to dig in.

5 August 2009

Bruschetta and Beer-can Chicken

With the barbecue on for chicken, why not toast some bread for delicious bruschetta? Cut a baguette/similarly shaped loaf into thick slices and toast on barbecue (this will go very quickly, remain alert!) Rub some crushed garlic onto the bread and mix coarsely chopped tomato, fresh basil, a bit of olive oil and salt in a bowl, and then top with tomato mixture. Serve immediately!

Now: do you like beer? Do you like chicken? Have a barbecue? Well, do I have a recipe for you. Once you get the technique down (not hard), there are endless variations to this impressive/succulent take on roasted chicken.

Beer Can Chicken
  • 1 can beer
  • 1 chicken, 3-4 lbs
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose bbq rub
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups wood chips of your choice
1. Pop the tab off the beer can. Pour half of the beer over wood chips or drink if not using wood chips. Using a church key-style can opener, make 2 additional holes in its top. Set aside.
2. Remove chicken's inside stuff. Rinse inside and out under cold running water and drain and blot dry, inside and out with paper towels.
3. Sprinkle 1 tsp of the rub inside the body cavity and 1/2 tsp inside neck cavity. Drizzle oil over the outside and rub or brush it all over the skin. Sprinkle the outside of the bird with 1 tbsp of rub and rub in. Spoon remaining rub into the beer through the hole in the top of can. Beer will probably foam up, no worries.
4. Hold the chicken upright and lower it onto the beer can, so the can fits in the cavity. Pull the chicken legs forward to form a tripod. Tuck the tips of the wings behind the chickens back so they don't get scorched.
5. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using charcoal, place a large drip pan in the centre. If using gas, place all the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium.
6. When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss all of the wood chips on the coals. Stand the chicken up in the centre of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the chicken until the skin is a dark golden brown and very crisp and the meat is cooked through, 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours. If using a charcoal grill, you'll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after 1 hour. If the chicken skin starts to brown too much, loosely tent the chicken with aluminium foil. Using tongs, hold the chicken by the can and carefully transfer it in an upright position to a platter. Let it rest about 5 minutes and then, being sure not to spill hot beer/burn yourself, lift it off the can. Carve the chicken and serve.

3 August 2009


Dim Sum is a wonderful thing, and I am not without here in Halifax. The Great Wall on Bedford Rd is my favourite haunt, as well as the Cheelin stand at the Farmers Market. Excellent dumplings are available, this was more of a challenge, to see if home-made can come close in this instance.

With my good pal Cook's Illustrated walking me through, they turned out great. It is a large recipe, so I now have 30+ in the freezer ready for quick snack attacks remedies.

  • 3 cups minced napa cabbage leaves
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 lb ground pork
  • 6 tbsp minced scallions (about 4 medium scallions, white and green parts)
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed (about 1 tsp)
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 24 round gyoza wrappers (I could only find square wonton wrappers and they do nicely)
  • 4 tsp vegetable oil
1. Toss cabbage and salt in colander or mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Let stand until cabbage begins to wilt, about 20 minutes; press cabbage gently with spatula to squeeze out excess moisture. Combine cabbage and all other filling ingredients in medium bowl and mix thouroughly. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
2. Place 4 wrappers flat on work surface. Place one slightly rounded tablespoon filling in centre of each wrapper. Moisten edge of wrapper with water, using fingertips. Fold each wrapper in half, starting in the centre and working toward outside edges, pinch edges together firmly to seal, pressing out any air pockets. Position each dumpling on its side and gently flatten, pressing down on seam to make sure it lies flat against work surface. Repeat to form 24 dumplings.
3. Add 2 tsp oil to 12-inch nonstick skillet and quickly spread oil with paper towel to distribute evenly. Arrange 12 dumplings (or however many will fit) in skillet, lying flat on one side, with all seams facing same direction, overlapping just slightly, if necessary. Place skillet over medium-high heat and cook, without moving until dumplings are golden brown on bottoms, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add 1/2 cup water to skillet and cover immediately. Cook, covered, until most of the water is gone and wrappers are slightly translucent, about 10 minutes. Uncover skillet and increase heat to medium-high; cook, without stirring until dumpling bottoms are well browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes more. Turn off burner and slide dumplings from skillet onto double layer of paper towels, browned side down, to blot excess oil. Transfer to platter and serve immediately with Scallion Dipping Sauce (below) or soy sauce. Let skillet cool until just warm, then wipe skillet clean and repeat with remaining dumplings and oil.
To freeze extras, place them uncooked on a plate, once frozen transfer to a ziploc. Start the recipe right away from cook time, no need to thaw.

Scallion Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 medium scallion, minced
Combine all ingredients and serve.

2 August 2009

What's kuchen?

A delightful pun on 'What's cooking?' or a perfect transition to explain that kuchen is the German word for cake? I say both. Despite my German heritage, my vocabulary is limited to food (largely Christmas cookies).
Plums are ripe and plentiful right now, so when my dad brought home a bagful yesterday, we both thought 'kuchen'. This isn't strictly a kuchen, but the shortbread crust was very nice! You can do most of the prep the night before, and no messing with pastry-the crust is impossible to screw up.

Plum Tart with Lemon-Shortbread Crust (from Fine Cooking #94)
  • 1/3 cup + 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 6 ripe medium black or red plums (about 4 oz. each-mine were smaller so I used 8), pitted and sliced into 16 slender wedges (or as many as you can get)
  • 1/2 cup or 4 oz. or 8 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp firmly packed finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tbsp plum or apricot preserves
1. In a medium bowl, whisk 1/3 cup sugar with cornstarch, kosher salt and lemon zest. Add the sliced plums and gently toss with your hands to evenly coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate 1 hour to overnight.
2. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9 1/2 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Put the butter cubes in the freezer. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk, lemon zest, and vanilla. Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl or a food processor (or a regular bowl if no food processor, like me), and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and mealy, about 25 short pulses (use a pastry cutter if no processor). Add the egg yolk mixture and blend, using long pulses, just until it forms a moist, crumbly mass, about 15 three second pulses. The dough won't come together on its own, but it should hold together when squeezed. Transfer the dough to the tart pan. Dip the bottom of a flat-bottomed cup measure in flour and use it to press the doug onto the bottom and sides of the pan in an even layer (alternatively, use your hands. Or use them first and then the measuring cup to clean things up). Wrap the pan in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour to 1 day.
3. Heat oven to 375˚. Unwrap tart shell and prick the bottom and sides several times with a fork. Spray one side of a piece of parchment paper or foil with cooking spray. Line the shell with the sprayed side down and fill the lined shell with pie weights or dried beans. Set the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the pie weights and liner. Reduce heat to 350˚ and continue baking until the sides and bottom of the shell are golden brown and dry, 10-15 minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes.
4. Drain the plums in a sieve or colander set over a medium bowl for a few minutes. Pour the juice into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally until very thick, about 3 minutes. Scrape into a small bowl and let cool. Next, melt the preserves in the saucepan over medium-low heat until syrupy. Pour the preserves into the tart shell and evenly brush them over the bottom and sides. With a rubber spatula, spread the plum juice over the preserves on the bottom of the shell. Starting at the edge of the shell, arrange the plum slices cut side down and tightly overlapping in concentric circles. If you have more slices, keep tucking them in wherever they fit. You can also pile a few in the center of the tart.
If any juice remains in the mixing bowl, drizzle up to 1 tbsp. over the plums. Discard the rest. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tbsp sugar over the plums. Bake the tart directly on the oven rack until the plums are tender when poked with a paring knife and caramelized along their edges (a few tips may even blacken), the crust is a deep golden brown, and any juices look syrupy and bubbly, 40-50 minutes. After you remove the tart from the oven, moisten the plums by dipping a pastry brush into the juices between the plums and brushing any surfaces that look dry.
Cool the tart in its pan on a rack for at least 2 hours before unmolding and slicing with a very sharp knife.

1 August 2009


So I made pizza. Mostly this is an excuse to post this gem from the CBC Archives.

Note the pronunciation.

First I made the dough and let it do its thing for a while.
Then I made the sauce. If opening a can of San Marzano tomatoes, adding some olive oil and salt and simmering for 20 minutes counts as making. I will say yes.
I made pizza margherita (tomato sauce, cheese (I used bocconcini) and basil leaves over top after baking and classed up hawaiian, with prosciutto replacing ham.