Sunday, June 27, 2010

I made it myself

I know I said no more recipes, but I’m feeling a little charitable today. Besides, I had a huge craving for spicy Chinese eggplant last week and happened to have some eggplant in my fridge so figured, I know how to cook – I don’t need take-out. I can do this. And I kind of did.

It doesn’t taste exactly as it would in a Chinese restaurant because I used a different kind of chili sauce and it’s not deep fried, plus I used chives from my garden in lieu of green onion, etcetera and so on. But you know what? Very tasty and enjoyable!

Spicy Garlic Eggplant

(serves 4)


4-6 Chinese or Japanese eggplants or 3-4 baby eggplant

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp chopped fresh ginger

3 cloves fresh garlic, chapped

1 tbsp sriracha (chili sauce)

3 tbsp Tamari or light soy sauce

3-4 tsp brown

handful of snipped chives

1 tsp corn starch mixed with 1 tbsp cold water

crispy shallots (optional – I buy a bag of them at Asian markets at keep them in the freezer)


Chop eggplant into finger sized pieces by cutting lengthwise, then into quarters.
Cook in wok or large nonstick skillet in about 2 cups of boiling water until soft, about 10-12 minutes. When soft, drain in a colander.

On medium-low heat, add oil and cook garlic, ginger, and spicy sriracha sauce for a minute, then add soy and sugar. Return eggplant to the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes until sauce starts to form, then stir in cornstarch slurry to thicken sauce. Add chives at the end, and garnish with crispy shallots. Serve with rice.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lunch on the Magdalen Islands

A perfect mix of sand, sea, sun, lobster and poutine: I'm on the Magdalen Islands for a few days, and man, is it ever gorgeous. This was my lunch yesterday, at a simple family diner. I think it cost $12. (Less than a Starbucks Vente Caramel Mocha Frappuccino. Stupid Starbucks.) And it was awesome.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ontario Strawberries: Yay!

A person who doesn’t love a sun-kissed freshly picked Ontario strawberry – as juicy as a piece of Hubba Bubba that’s been warming in your pocket; as hotly anticipated as a first kiss -- is a person who is not to be trusted. (Should you happen to meet such a person, you are to immediately curtail all conversation and walk in the opposite direction at a speedy clip.)

I had my first taste of the 2010 strawberry season during a lovely and languid breakfast at Langdon Hall a few weeks ago, and looked forward to having many, many more tastes of strawberry in the ensuing weeks, seeing as I am a person who can totally be trusted (save for a few white lies to save peoples’ feelings/prevent me from getting in trouble.)

Fresh seasonal strawberries are delicious, and unlike rhubarb, they can be happily eaten raw, or spun into all manner of goodies, be it a pavlova, or a strawberry and cream cheese sandwich on toasted walnut bread (I just thought that up. Note to self: must try.) Hit your berries with a splash of gastrique and some black pepper. Try doing this -- mixed with a cup or so of chopped strawberries. And if you have a bunch that are getting a little long in the tooth, just cook ‘em.

I guess what I’m saying is, strawberries are in season right now and they are delicious and you should eat a lot of them and you should believe me when I say this because I am a person who can totally be trusted.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This just in: A cure for the hiccups

When I get the hiccups it’s not a dainty Betty Boop, oopsy-do scenario. It’s deep, heavy, gut-wrenching, mournful, aggressive hiccups that sound like a bullfrog crossed with a blow horn. And they can actually hurt. And sometimes, if I have them for too long, I get nauseous and have to lie down.

They eventually go away (obviously, since I haven’t made it into the Guinness book yet) but imagine my delight when my neighbour Victoria called me just as I suffering through my latest hiccups episode.

“Yeesh,” she said. And then, “I have the cure: Works every time.”

I tried it: It worked! I tried it the next time: Worked again! (If you’re wondering why I get the hiccups so often, it’s because when I’m really thirsty and take a sip of pop, I always get them for a few seconds. It’s been that way ever since I can remember.) By the third time, I was convinced. By the fourth time I was sold. I had friends and family try Victoria’s hiccup cure too: Worked like a charm!

So Victoria was right and I’m making it official: This is the cure to the hiccups and it works every time.

  1. Get a glass of water
  2. Take a sip and then say “7” out loud. Take another sip and say “6” out loud.
  3. Continue counting down until you get to “1”, but by then your hiccups will already be gone.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Team Richman

Alan Richman is currently the greatest food writer in America. You read a story of his, say, "My Sweet Life", which ran in GQ not even two years ago, which shows he's still at the top of his game -- and one minute you're laughing then the next you've got a lump in your throat, until you suddenly start feeling like an idiot for being nostalgic for someone else's childhood. He's good that way. And he also knows what tastes good, like chocolate cake and pizza.
I was up against Richman for a James Beard award, now many years ago, and we became fast friends. Over time he's shown me around his New York, I've cooked Shabbat dinner for him, and I even set him up on a date with one of my editors (it wasn't a love match but they're still in touch so my instincts were sound.)
Alan Richman is the definition of a mensch. Which is why Anthony Bourdain is officially on my shit list and I will not be buying his new book. (See, I'm so serious that I don't even name it and refuse to link to it.)
I'm a big nobody so Bourdain won't really care what I think about him or that I won't be buying his piece of trash. Except for the fact that if I ever see him or he ever sees me, he'd better watch his back because I'm going to give him such a pinch!
Of course, Alan being Alan, took the high road, which is what makes him such a peach.