Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Matzo baklava

This is one of those instances when you smack your forehead with the palm of your hand while muttering, "Why didn't I think of it first?"
And then you realize that you're not as much of a culinary genius as you thought you were, and this brilliant dessert had to come from someone who is. And that would be Chef Einat Admony.
Though a bit time consuming, what with the matzo soaking and syrup making and nut shelling and chopping (plus, this is a plan-ahead treat that likes to sit for two days), it's actually not that difficult to prepare.
I switched up the 1 tsp of rose water for 1 tbsp orange water just because I prefer the taste, and doubled the cinnamon, but besides that, it worked like a tasty charm.
Just follow the link to get the recipe from Epicurious.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy Passover

Passover (or Pesach), the Jewish holiday that commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from ancient Egypt, starts tonight, along with its many quirky food restrictions (albeit all with solid biblical backing.)

My advice on how to get through these unleavened days? Don’t over think it.

Eggs and Passover go together like matzo and jam. The boiled egg on the seder plate (the Passover seder plate contains a handful of items that are symbolic to the retelling of the story of Exodus), eaten with salt water for the first course, represents mourning for hardships past – though these days it’s your cardiologist who’s crying come day eight of Passover (zinger!)

Still, sometimes it takes a Jewish holiday to remind one of a Jewish classic, such as this delicious scrambled meal recipe. (And it goes without saying that Easter is a particularly eggy holiday as well.)

In other news, I’ll be blogging about Passover for Food & Wine magazine, so check back here for postings every day this week.

Eggs, lox and onions

(serves 1)

Take a knob of butter and a dribble of oil (so the butter doesn’t burn as easily) and heat them in a small pan. Thinly slice a small cooking onion, put in the hot butter, set on a med-low temperature, and season with salt and pepper and pinch of sugar. Cook for about 12 minutes (it’s worth doing it slow and right.)

When onions look good enough to eat, a couple of eggs beaten with a touch of water, tip into onions and cook for about 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Then toss in about 2 ounces good quality lox (I swear by Kristapsons in Toronto), roughly chopped, plus and a scattering of capers until just warmed through.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The best cheese in the world

This is a photo I took of the best cheese in the world. I know it’s the best cheese in the world because it’s stinking up my fridge like a real champion.

I bought it when I was in Quebec and now I’m afraid to eat it. Not because it’s so smelly, but because once I eat it I’ll be sad that it’s gone.

An ash-covered soft surface ripened goat cheese, Le Cendrillon was crowned World Champion, all categories combined, at the prestigious World Cheese Awards 2009, which took place on the Canary Islands (of all places) in October -- besting 2,440 other cheeses from 34 countries.

Produced in St-Raymond-de-Portneuf, in September, La Maison Alexis de Portneuf Inc. was also awarded the coveted "Prix du Public" at the Selection Caseus 2009 -- a competition that recognizes Quebec's fine cheeses.

All hail the big cheese!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wild on wild rice salad

This party-pleasing pilaf was inspired by a recipe by Rose Reisman, a Toronto-based cookbook author and now restaurateur, whose new Glow Fresh Grill, a causally posh California-style restaurant in the Shops at Don Mills, really impressed me with its healthy take on eating out. Here’s part of what I wrote about it in one of my Dish columns in the National Post

"We don't want to hit people over the head with this," says Reisman of the restaurant's healthy philosophy. "It's not about deprivation of diet." To that end, appetizers mean daily signature soups or salads, like seared tuna over fennel mango slaw, while mains include carefully trimmed pistachio-crusted lamb chops with a pomegranate glaze, heaped with sides of whole grains and fresh vegetables.

A couple of customers happen by while we eat and chat. "We come here a lot," they tell the recognizable Reisman. "It's like the only healthy place in town." The new mother ate the Cobb salad, her husband ordered the turkey burger and their 10-month old had the burger shooters. Consensus: "Delicious" and "goo-goo, ga-ga."

Seeing the place jammed during a Monday lunch actually lightened my heart. I loved seeing that, given a choice, people will embrace a healthier lifestyle, even when dining out.”

Colour burst wild rice salad

(serves 8-10)


1 ½ cups wild rice

4 cups vegetable stock

½ cup chopped pecans, toasted

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

½ cup dried fruit (apricots, raisins, mango, etc.)

2 sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and cubed

2 celery ribs, diced

2 oranges, peel and pith removed, and segmented (or just peel it and pull the sections apart)

½ cup red onion, finely diced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp OJ

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp soya sauce

fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)


  1. Bring veggie stock to a boil and add wild rice. Lower heat to simmer and cook covered for 35 minutes or until wild rice is tender. Drain off excess liquid, let rice cool in a large serving bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Prep your fruit and veggies and toast your nuts if you haven’t already done so. Add them to the bowl.
  3. Whisk together oil, soy, OJ, vinegar, garlic and sesame oil. Taste for balance, adjust if needed and pour over salad. Toss add to combine and let sit for at least an hour before serving.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm sorry I missed it

A few weeks ago I was invited to bring my nephew and nieces to a kidz kulinary event (my spelling) to be held at Nella Cucina in Toronto, to introduce busy families to the wonders of the Dr. Oetker Shaker line of "just add milk or water", shake and bake batters.

Cut to yesterday: I had been travelling for almost five solid weeks, flew home on the 15th and was basically bedridden on the 16th with aches and pains and an inability to get out of bed. (I was just soooo tired.) Fearful of contaminating a cooking class full of children, I bowed out but sent my brother and sister-in-law along for the afternoon event with their kids.

They all returned hopped up and happy, and this is what they reported back to me:

Maddie, age 12: "I really enjoyed spending an afternoon experimenting with the Shakers. We had a ton of freedom. So even though everyone was using the same product, everything was unique. The Shakers were also extremely easy to make, so the kids got to do pretty much all of the baking. I thought the whole afternoon was a great experience but my favourite part was seeing how many different ways you can use something as simple as Shakers. My favourite flavour was the vanilla cupcakes." (A regular pitch-woman, that niece of mine.)

Emily, age 10: "I liked how you got to pick what you make, and how you get a chance to be creative with the decorating. My favourite was the chocolate cupcakes. All you have to do is add milk, then shake! It was a great experience."

Isaac, age 9: "I liked the pizza that they served. I also liked the cupcakes because there were three contests: 'Best use of red, white and blue', 'best use of candy' and 'best use of two cupcakes'. The vanilla cupcakes were my favourite."

Julia, age 6: "I liked the decorating part. You got to choose what you make (pancakes, muffins or cupcakes) and choose what you want on it. My favourite was the vanilla cupcakes."

They came home toting a bag of Shakers so I'll do some test-driving of my own at the cottage during March Break.

And in case you were worried, I made a quick recovery and was back to normal within 24 hrs. Some day scientists will study me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bean Sprouts: Why the hell not?

Seeing as this is a side dish based on bean sprouts, I don’t really have a whole lot to say about it except that I saw a 1lb bag of the thicker super crunchy style of bean sprouts in the produce section and thought, “hmmm.” Then, instead of adding sprouts to a stir-fry, I figured I’d make the sprouts the stir-fry. (Why the hell not?)

It was a moment of pure sprout Zen.


(serves 4 side dishes)


vegetable oil to coat the wok (or large frying pan)

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 celery rib, thinly sliced on the bias

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 lb bean sprouts

dash of soy sauce

big squirt of sriracha sauce

salt and pepper to taste


Heat up wok, add oil to coat bottom and sides.

Add onions, ginger, garlic, celery and carrot. Toss around for a minute. Add sprouts and soy and sriracha and salt and pepper. Toss for two minutes, taste for seasoning and serve.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

First clotted cream

We enjoyed this tea service in the casual lounge area at the Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel in Bowness-on-Windermere in Cumbria, on the first leg of my two-week UK trip. Simply lovely.

I thought when I arrived in Cardiff people would be offering me crumpets and biscuits and chutney and cheddar baps until the sheep came home. Alas, was not to be. (Though it must be noted that the cream they serve with the coffee is so thick I thought it was yoghurt at first.)

Tomorrow: London. Will the tide turn in favour of clotted cream?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fun with leftovers: Puff pastry

I haven’t discussed leftovers in quite a while, like I used to back in the good old days such as here and here, so consider this the rekindling of an old friendship (with old food).

Speaking of which, Stilltasty is my new favourite website. It may just save my friend Miriam's life one day (she's been known to drink milk that's been sitting in a hot car for four days.)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Roll out one block of puff pastry (usually comes 2 to a package; if you can buy all-butter, all the better).

Add some crumbled goat cheese on top, a handful of black olives, slivers of red onion, and season with pinches of brown sugar, sea salt, black pepper and rosemary. Drizzle with good olive oil and pop it into the preheated oven until puffed and browned, about 22-25 minutes.

Cut into small squares for a rustic style snack, or bigger slices sided by salad for a chic lunch.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

First tea in Cumbria

I'm in England's lovely Lake District.
Cumbria to be more specific.
Keswick to be exact.
After flying in yesterday and immediately visiting the U.K.'s only working slate mine (for a change of pace), this morning we woke up, had a full cooked Cumbrian breakie and then went for a four hour hike, all dramatic peaks and coastlines. The sun was shining and the sky was blue (apparently, for the first time in six weeks, so the local hikers tell us.)
A simply gorgeous day, followed by my first proper pot of tea.