Hummus is a fantastic potluck bring-along, great for picnics and BBQs, an easy weekday lunch, and a super party appetizer served with rice crackers or baked pita crisps and lots of colourful veggies. It is also ridiculously easy to make. I’m talking two-steps easy (1. ingredients go in food processor 2. Press “go”). Creamy and nutty, with a kick from the garlic and lemon juice, it is a delicious staple of middle eastern cuisine.
It also happens to be virtuous… lots of fibre, protein and healthy fats.
Hummus is a staple in my summertime lunch and snack rotation, usually accompanied by crisp, refreshing veggies like cucumber, celery and red pepper. It is filling but not heavy. Perfect beach food.
Speaking of beach food, last weekend marked the arrival of sunshine and with it, the first major flocking to the beach. It also happened to coincide with my sprained ankle. Sadness. But I was determined.
If you have never seen what getting undressed at the beach with a sprained ankle looks like, let me paint you a picture. Continue Reading »
EAT! Vancouver is a foodie’s heaven. It’s next weekend (June 10th to 12th). I am seriously excited. You should be too.
Vancouver chefs, cookbook authors, artisans, retailers… etc all in one place, offering cooking demos, food & cooking exhibits, yummy things to buy, and my favourite… drumroll please… the Bite of Vancouver, which consists of restaurants throughout the lower mainland offering appetizer size portions from their regular menus for a couple of bucks!
You can, as they say, “come for lunch and stay for dinner”.
Other highlights include wine, beer and spirits tasting (maybe you should take the bus as a precaution…), chef competitions, and a garden pavilion (speaking of gardens – have you SEEN my herb garden?).
And… drumroll again please… I’ve got a pair of free tickets for you!! Yay! Continue Reading »
Broccoli Salad is an incarnation of broccoli even the most stubborn of broccoli haters can’t hate. The reason for this is 70% due to the presence of bacon, 15% due to the sweet, creamy, tangy dressing that one could lap off a plate (I said “one”, that was not a confession… nor was it not a confession… hmm), and 15% due to the fact that your mom probably made it, and you’re probably at a barbecue.
Yes, every summer barbecue, especially those of the potluck persuasion, have (or SHOULD have!) a broccoli salad. The classic is broccoli + raisins + red onion + sunflower seeds. Mine has cashews. Only because my sunflower seeds were rancid. Which, in an unusual twist, I discovered prior to putting them in the salad. What a concept!
Anyway, the cashews were a delicious swap – you can use either. Or even sliced almonds. But the salty, toasted sunflower seeds are the tops.
Do you want to know a secret? You can toast nuts in the microwave. Continue Reading »
Homemade granola; not just for hippies.
Homemade granola is one of those things that is a world apart from anything you can buy in the store. Lightly sweetened chewy oats clustered with toasted nuts and plump dried fruit is what I’m talking about. Compare that to the over-sweet, pale clumps with a taste slightly reminiscent of the box they were packed in, and you’ll never go back.
Layer it with a good (read: not nonfat) plain yogurt and fresh fruit, and you’ve got a breakfast that will have you dancing out of bed and into the kitchen when your alarm goes off. Okay, maybe that’s a lofty promise. But I do promise it will be way more exciting than cheerios.
It’s a great weekend project. Not that it can’t be done on a weeknight. See, the best part about homemade granola (besides eating it) is, it really only takes about 5 minutes of hands-on time. Toss the oats and nuts together with a syrup made of melted butter, sugar and honey. Spread on a baking sheet. Put in a low-heat oven and give it a shake every 15 minutes or so. That’s it.
In theory, homemade granola will keep for a couple weeks. In theory. I have never experienced it lasting that long.
Because it gets eaten. Er… I don’t think I had to clarify that. Continue Reading »
Rhubarb cake is in my mom’s annual spring baking repertoire – essential, perhaps, because of the massive rhubarb plants she has cropping up in her yard. She also makes an annual giant batch of stewed rhubarb to serve on hot buttered toast, and yesterday she was describing a rhubarb puree that she dilutes with sparkling water, which (insert vodka) sounds lovely.
Rhubarb in the market makes spring official. It is the first in the parade of summer pie fruit, with the promise that strawberries, raspberries, peaches and blueberries will soon follow. After a long winter of root vegetables and starchy comfort food, tart rhubarb is a welcome freshness.
This is my mom’s rhubarb cake recipe. She calls it “Lunar Rhubarb Cake”, because the butter/brown sugar topping sinks into the batter making craters suggestive of the moon’s surface. I bet the moon’s surface doesn’t taste nearly this good…
Some like to sweeten rhubarb significantly. Some like to exaggerate the sour with lemon. I like my rhubarb slightly sweetened, but still puckersome. I think I just made a new word. I like it.
Giveaway details at the end of the post.
I love Indian flavours, and no one has mastered them more beautifully than my chef crush Vikram Vij. I could prattle on and on about how incredible his recipes are. But the experience is really the thing that will convince you, so I think you should find out for yourself; either by visiting one of his restaurants, or by buying his gorgeous cookbooks!
In his latest masterpiece, Vij’s at Home, Vancouver chef Vikram Vij defines a masala as “a mixture of spices, either dry or wet. A dry masala consists of the dry spice mixtures – for example, a garam masala. A wet masala is the mixture of the dry spices with tomatoes, onions, garlic etc.” Continue Reading »
Rocky Road Bars are miraculous in their simplicity. They happen with only 5 ingredients in only 5 minutes. You probably want to tie your apron strings while you continue reading..
Something magical happens when chocolate and peanut butter, crunchy and creamy, salty and sweet come together. It hits all the spots, satisfies every craving.
Make no mistake, the humble rocky road bar is not entering any beauty contests. It is a beautiful mess though, don’t you think? As will you be if you don’t prepare yourself with an adequate napkin supply. The rocky road bar is best eaten alone, with enthusiasm and wild abandon. Then a mirror should be used before departing your accomdations. As I learned when I returned from grocery shopping to find chocolate on my cheek AND chin. I thought the produce guy was extra smiley… guess it wasn’t my cuteness in knee-high rubber boots (not raining), lulu pants (not running) and old hoodie (also with chocolate on it, incidentally).
So here’s what you do. You melt chocolate, and you stir in peanut butter. Then you stir the melty mess into a bowl of marshmallows and other delights. I use pretzels and peanuts. Feel free to be adventurous. (I’m thinkin’ smarties, crunchy cereal, swap the peanutiness for almond butter & toasted almonds, or nutella and hazelnuts…)
Then you pop the mess into the fridge and exercise patience. I’m glad the fridge doesn’t have a viewing window like the oven. I would have been glued to it for the entire waiting period.
The rocky road bar brings back serious childhood memories. It was my neighbour’s mom who loved to make them. Sticky, gooey, sweet, chocolaty. They were rapturous. No, it wasn’t just the pool that drew the neighbourhood kids over to her house.
In other words, all you need is eat ice cream, press “start” on your webcam, and share your sparkling personality for less than 60 seconds to land yourself in the lap of luxury. 1, 2, 3 – GO! And when you win, remember who gently nudged you to enter… especially when it comes to choosing which friend you’re
- 1½ cups chocolate chips
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1½ cups pretzels
- 4 cups mini marshmallows
- 1 cup roasted and salted peanuts
- Prepare an 8 x 8-inch baking dish by lining it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang. Place chocolate chips is a microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup. Microwave on medium (50% power) for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir to melt (the chips may only be half melted – stirring them will melt the rest). Stir in the peanut butter. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine pretzels, marshmallows and peanuts. Pour chocolate mixture over top and stir to combine. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish, using a spatula to press it in and smooth out the top. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. Store in refrigerator.
Liege waffles were probably the thing that seduced me most about Belgium. The smell, primarily. That glorious aroma of hot, yeasty waffles caramelizing on heavy iron grills at every corner. I remember my first one ever. I followed my nose like a pig on a truffle. I was served a piping hot Liege waffle in a little waxed paper square and I was a changed woman.
These are not waffles like we are accustomed to in North America – which are basically pancakes cooked in a waffle iron. No, Liege waffles are magical.
They are dense and quite bread-y; thick and chewy and studded with pearl sugar. Pearl sugar which gets pressed into the deep waffle pockets by a blazing hot, heavy iron waffle press – caramelizing it into pure magic. Continue Reading »
…incidentally, Osama Bin Laden is, too. But that’s another story.
I have a crush on Belgium. I lived there when I was an awkward seventeen year old. As any former exchange student would agree, your exchange country will own a piece of your heart forever. Belgium is where I became aware of the world outside of my hometown. It is where I
learned to hold my beer and say unladylike words in several foreign languages er… transitioned from teenager to (semi) grown up. It is also where I became vividly aware of the pleasures of la gastronomie européenne – read: flaky pastries, crackly bread, good wine, and the best chocolate in the world. Today I am sharing with you a dramatic breaking news story involving some seriously incredible Belgian ice cream…
I went to San Francisco this weekend! I ate. I shopped. I walked. I ate. I walked. I ate. I shopped some more… My wallet came back lighter, my nose came back frecklier, and my calves came back stronger (sweet lord, no one gave me adequate warning about those hills). It was lovely.
It started beautifully on the plane ride, when I was seated next to a buxom elderly lady with a thick Eastern European accent. She spent the first five minutes of our flight jabbing impatiently at the in-flight entertainment system with her thick, crooked fingers; nose to screen, eyes squinted, muttering in what I guessed was Polish. I cheerfully helped her navigate back out of the French pop music radio channel. Then she politely informed me that’s what she had wanted. Oops.
She told me she had lived in Belgium and that’s where she had learned French. I told her I had lived in Belgium and had learned French, too! Instant friendship. The rest of the flight, we gabbed back and forth in our imperfect second languages, rolling our R’s luxuriously and sounding quite glamourous, as we exchanged stories about our lives. She was 85 years old. Had been imprisoned at 19, was a refugee at 21, and later became a professor of sociology teaching in French, her third language. Wowza.