Broccoli Slaw

I've been enjoying the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook this week. There are several recipes that I would love to try from Deb Perelman's book, but this is the only one I've tried so far - and I've made it twice. This is the broccoli salad that you have either made for family gatherings or you've eaten at family gatherings. It is such a familiar salad, yet I didn't have a recipe for it and I'm not sure that it would have crossed my mind to try and find one.

I am happy to report that this recipe is as good as you remember... better, in fact. The first batch I made was so enticing to me, I had a big bowl of it before bed. And then I lay there, not sleeping, cursing myself, wondering what had possessed me to eat that much broccoli at 9:30 at night. Proceed with caution.

Broccoli Slaw

2 heads broccoli (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayo
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

Trim the broccoli and chop it into large chunks; then cut each chunk into thin slices. I usually cut the stems into thin slices, then stack the slices and cut them in the other direction, into thin matchsticks (I was too precise with these instructions).

Toss the broccoli with the almonds and cranberries. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, mayo, vinegar, sugar, and salt until smooth. Stir in the onion. You can let the onion marinate in the dressing for 10 minutes, to mellow it. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture, and add a generous amount of black pepper. Stir the salad until the broccoli is evenly coated with the dressing. Serve immediately, or keep covered in the fridge for 2-3 days.


Napa & Sonoma - 2013

Arista Winery, Healdsburg
I have recently returned from spending two nights in Napa Valley and two nights in Sonoma Valley. My friend Kristin and I went to celebrate her 40th birthday - and celebrate we did! Here are some of the food/wine highlights.... 

Chateau St. Jean, Sonoma
Out of four dinners, we had reservations for three nights. The fourth dinner was as good as any of the other meals, if not better, a testament to the caliber of food available in the area.

 The Girl & The Fig - Sat at the bar and indulged in a pork belly sandwich on house-made brioche followed up with homemade vanilla ice cream with a warm fig & salted caramel sauce.

BarnDiva - A little fancier, the chevre croquettes with tomato marmalade, honey, and lavender were scrumptious.
Mustards Grill - A Napa favourite, we shared the popular pork chop, after starting with crab cakes (crabs are in season till the end of April apparently).
Ad Hoc - The more reasonably priced cousin of The French Laundry, we by no means felt hard done by. In fact, we felt fantastic! Soba noodle salad, duck breast with duck confit, a cheese plate with Marcona almonds, and an ice cream sundae to end things off.

Not only were the dinners delicious, the breakfasts and lunches were very good, too. And the coffee... Don't even get me started...

Beer-Batter Fish Tacos
Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma
Kristin & I

Bouchon Bakery, Yountville

Ritual Coffee, Oxbow Market, Napa

C Casa, Oxbow Market, Napa
Plump Jack Winery, Napa



Cara Cara Orange & Ginger Marmalade

Cara Cara oranges are one of my favourite citrus fruits. They are a cross between oranges and grapefruit and seem to bring the best of both to the table. Combined with ginger, this is a thrilling marmalade that I am going to make more of this week.

This recipe is from a book that I am loving right now - Food in Jars by Marisa McClennan. So many recipes that I want to try... Cantaloupe Jam w/ Vanilla is near the top of my list but I'll have to wait for summer to do that one. Come to think of it, I'm going to make a note on my calender so that I don't forget.

I was surprised to see that this recipe included powdered pectin. I haven't seen other marmalade recipes that include pectin but apparently Cara Cara's don't have a lot of natural pectin and the powdered pectin helps with the set. I would also hazard a guess that the cooking time is reduced because of the added pectin and therefore the colour of the marmalade is maintained beautifully. I kid you not... This marmalade is gorgeous, in looks and taste.

Cara Cara Orange & Ginger Marmalade
Makes 7 - 250 mL jars.

4 pounds Cara Cara oranges (about 8 or 9)
6 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp powdered pectin
4 ounces fresh ginger root
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Prepare jars, rings and tops for canning. For a detailed guide to canning, see The Harrow Fair Cookbook.
Wash the fruit in warm, soapy water and dry thoroughly. Using a sharp veggie peeler, remove the zest from the fruit. Stack the zest strips in piles and chop into fine confetti. Combine the zest in a pot with 2 litres of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-high, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until zest is tender.
Peel and chop the ginger root and place in the work bowl of food processor. Add 1 cup water and process until the ginger is pureed. Strain the juice through a fine mesh strainer. Keep the juice and discard the pulp. 

While the zest cooks, "supreme" the fruit by cutting the white pith away from the fruit and cutting the fruit into segments between the membranes. Collect the fruit and any juices in a large measuring cup.

Drain the zest in a fine mesh strainer, reserving the cooking liquid. Combine the sugar and the powdered pectin.
In a large pot, combine the drained zest, segmented fruit, 4 cups of the reserved cooking liquid, the sugar/pectin mixture, and 1 cup ginger juice.
Bring to a boil and cook vigorously until the mixture reaches 220 F. This will take 30-40 minutes. Stir regularly as it cooks to prevent scorching.
When the marmalade reaches 220 F and sustains that temperature for 1 minute, remove the pot from the heat. Ladle the marmalade into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a hot-water bath for 10 minutes. (I didn't do the hot-water bath b/c I forgot and I don't usually do it for jams). 


Notes on Roast Chicken

My sister made the roast chicken that I wrote about in February and she wasn't as thrilled as I thought she'd be. After questioning her technique, I realized I wasn't clear enough with the instructions. I have made the exact chicken three times now so I've got a lot to say on the subject. 

Amazing Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken
Fresh thyme or rosemary
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup butter

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Place the chicken in a 9x13-inch baking pan. Salt the inside cavity of the chicken and stuff the herbs and garlic inside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the soy sauce. Brush the chicken with the soy mixture and place the chicken in the oven. Set a timer to baste the bird every 10-15 minutes. Don't pour all of the soy mixture over the chicken at the very beginning. Every time you baste the chicken, use a little more of the mixture and it should be gone in about 3 hours.

The chicken is ready when the joints are loose and the skin is a dark golden brown. The meat should be falling off the bones, or just about. The one I made last night was so dark (in a good way), it looked like a lacquered Peking duck.

I also made stock with the last carcass I had from this chicken. I didn't include ALL of the drippings, but I did include some. The stock is a dark brown so although it might not be great for certain things, you can bet that it will make some fantastically tasty soups, stews, etc. And you definitely won't need to add any extra seasoning.


Ketchup-Glazed Dog Biscuits

What sort of a dog biscuit recipe would the owner of the French Laundry in Napa Valley make for his dog? I couldn't resist finding out. In Thomas Keller's new book - Bouchon Bakery - we have the opportunity to find out. And I was happy to oblige my dogs, Soul (above) and Oscar (below). I'm sure if they could talk they would be gushing over these treats!

I tweaked the original recipe a little bit to accommodate what I actually had on hand. At the Bouchon Bakery, they originally made these treats with leftover fois gras.... I couldn't even find chicken livers at my local grocery store so I made do with beef liver. And you'll notice that there are some odd measurements like "3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp cornmeal". That happens because at the bakery they measure by weight rather than volume and these measurements reflect the conversion.

Ketchup-Glazed Dog Biscuits
Makes approximately 4 dozen.

1 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
13 ounces chicken or beef livers, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp fine cornmeal
3 cups + 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp egg whites

Preheat the oven to 250F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has been cooked out and the bacon is a rich golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Pour off all but a generous film of bacon fat. Add the livers to the pan and saute, turning them frequently and smashing them slightly for about 5 minutes, until broken down to a paste. Remove from the heat.

Place the bacon in a food processor and pulse a few times to grind it. Add the livers and process to combine, then add the cornmeal and process until you have a coarse mixture.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the flour and mix to combine. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and mix until the dough begins to gather around the paddle and feels moist to the touch. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead it just enough to combine.
Place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll it out to a 3/8-inch thick sheet. Using the dog bone cutter (approximately 2 1/2 inches long), cut out the treats and arrange them on the prepared sheet pans. Knead the trimmings together, roll out, and cut out additional biscuits.
Bake until the treats are completely dry, about 3 hours. Remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 200F.
Combine the ketchup and egg whites; the glaze will be very thick. Brush it over the top of the warm treats. Return the pans to the oven and bake for 20-30 minute, then transfer the treats to the rack to cool completely.
The biscuits can be stored in a covered container for up to 1 month.


Roast Chicken - Seriously Delicious

I was looking through some old posts on The Good Egg blog a few days ago and I read something that tweaked my interest. It was a post written after I had spent a weekend with my friend Elaine in Newfoundland. I wrote about how she had roasted a chicken for 3 hours and how good it was. Then that reminded me of the books she had put me onto while I was there - Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, both wonderful little books that I have recommended to tons of people. In one of those books, Laurie Colwin talks about how she roasts a chicken - for at least three hours on a temperature of 250-300F. The catch is that she would baste the chicken "constantly" during those three hours.

Basting a chicken is no big deal - if you are indeed home to do it. I realized my biggest stumbling block would be remembering. So, I set the timer for for every 10 to 15 minutes and last night we had one of the tastiest birds I've ever made.

There is one other part of this story. Laurie Colwin suggested sprinkling the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. But I wanted to try a recipe from one of my scrapbooks. Melt 1/2 cup butter and combine that with 1/2 cup soy sauce. Just those two ingredients created something very close to magic. I also stuffed the chicken cavity with a bunch of fresh thyme (well, not so fresh anymore) and 4 or 5 garlic cloves. After the three hour wait on the chicken, we were rewarded with a falling-off-the-bone, juicy-beyond-belief, taste sensation. It was an epic chicken dinner.


Carrot-Banana Muffins

Just to be certain, I've just run back into the kitchen to take another nibble off of one of these muffins. Can it really taste that good with no flour and no sugar? Well yes, it does!

You are now probably thinking, "What is she, a health nut now?"  I wouldn't say that, but I do like to dabble. This recipe comes from a surprisingly good cookbook called True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure by Dr. Andrew Weil. I say surprisingly because I probably wouldn't have given this book a sideways glance but one of my favourite food websites recommended it (www.splendidtable.org) and whatever they say merits a full-on glance.

Carrot-Banana Muffins
Makes 18 medium muffins

2 cups almond flour (aka ground almonds or almond meal)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened  shredded coconut
3 large eggs
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups pitted and chopped dates
2 medium carrots, shredded
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and coconut. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, bananas, butter, honey, and vinegar together. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Fold in the dates, carrots, and walnuts. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown or a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. (Since there's no actual flour, the muffins will not rise significantly.) Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn out the muffins onto the rack and let cool to warm or room temperature.


Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

I have always wanted to try this cake. It contains no wheat and since Alan is avoiding wheat these days, it was the perfect choice for his birthday cake. And what a treat it was! By the time I got around to taking a few pictures of it, there was very little left. This was a recipe that I have had in my scrapbooks for a while now, cut out of an old "Cook's Illustrated" magazine. You can always trust those hard-working Cook's Illustrated people.
Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
Serves 12

Bottom Layer:
6 Tbsp butter, cut into 6 pieces, plus extra for greasing the pan
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 tsp instant coffee or instant espresso powder
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, separated
Pinch fine sea salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar, lumps removed with your fingers

For the bottom layer: Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Melt butter, chocolate, and coffee powder in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
Remove from heat and cool mixture slightly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla and egg yolks; set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add half of brown sugar and beat until combined, about 15 seconds. Add remaining brown sugar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, about 1 minute longer, scraping down sides halfway through. Using whisk, fold one-third of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold in the remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Carefully transfer batter to prepared pan, gently smoothing top with offset spatula.
Bake until cake has risen, is firm around the edges, and centre has just set but is still soft (centre of the cake will spring back after pressing gently with finger), 13-18 minutes. Transfer cake to wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. (Cake will collapse and shrink as it cools and this is fine). Do not remove the cake from pan.

Middle Layer:
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
5 Tbsp hot water
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp fine sea salt

For the middle layer: Combine the cocoa powder and hot water in small bowl; set aside. Melt chocolate in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly, 2-5 minutes.
In clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip cream, granulated sugar, and salt at medium speed until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15-60 seconds.
Whisk cocoa powder mixture into melted chocolate until smooth. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Spoon mousse into springform pan over cooled cake and gently tap pan on counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles; gently smooth top with offset spatula. Wipe inside edge of pan with damp cloth to remove any drips. Refrigerate cake at least 15 minutes while preparing top layer.

Top Layer:
3/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1 Tbsp water
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

For the top layer: In small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water; let stand at least 5 minutes. Place white chocolate in medium bowl. Bring 1/2 cup cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; add gelatin mixture and stir until fully dissolved. Pour cream mixture over white chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 5-8 minutes (mixture will slightly thicken).
In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip remaining cup cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to gigh and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold remaining whipped cream into white chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain. Spoon white chocolate mousse into pan over middle layer. Smooth top with offset spatual. Return cake to refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2 1/2 hours.

To serve: If using, garnish top of cake with chocolate curls or dust with cocoa. Run thin knife between cake and side of springform pan; remove side of pan. Run cleaned knife along outside of cake to smooth sides. Cut into slices and serve.



Last Friday I taught the "Scrumptious Vegetarian" class. All of the recipes were from, or based on, recipes from one of my favourite books of the last year - Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. If you don't know this book, run to the library or your local bookstore asap. I have found this book to be truly inspiring. 

Harissa is a hot chili pepper condiment that is traditionally served with couscous or fish stews. The original recipe in Plenty calls for one red pepper to be roasted before anything else is done. I made the recipe four times before I wised up and bought a jar of whole roasted red peppers. Roasting peppers isn't rocket science but it does take some time and I think it is probably one of those things that make the difference between someone making this recipe or passing it by. So use the jarred pepper and  keep a stash of this in your fridge to serve with just about anything. Scrambled eggs, fried rice, stews, soups, stirred into pastas... The opportunities are endless! 

How did I know this was a hit immediately? I ate my whole first batch before the clock had even reached 11am.

Makes 1 cup. 
1 roasted red bell pepper
¼ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp caraway seeds
½ Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1-2 medium-hot red chilies, seeded and roughly chopped
½ Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp sea salt

Place a frying pan over low heat and lightly dry-roast the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds for 2 minutes. Remove them to a mortar and use a pestle to grind to a powder.
Add the olive oil to the frying pan and heat, then fry the onion, garlic, and chilies (if you don't want it that hot, use one red chili) on medium heat for 6-8 minutes, to a dark smoky colour. Cool slightly, then tip into a blender or a food processor. Add the remaining harissa ingredients, including the roasted pepper and ground spices, and blitz together to make a paste. Keeps in the refrigerator couple of weeks (well, I think it does, but mine has never lasted more than a few days).


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! There is a calendar hanging in my kitchen that is full of beautiful pictures of fruit and vegetables and the occasional flower. Last years has been replaced by the new-and-improved version and it was in a pile headed for the basement. My camera sat nearby and inspiration took hold. Here are some of the pictures that I photographed from the calendars that I love so much. 

While visiting my sister and her family last weekend, I came across a current seed catalogue in their bathroom. Leafing through seed catalogues in January is a wonderful way to look forward to spring, imagining the world of possibilities at your finger tips. My mind gives no thought to the work involved in sowing, growing, hoeing, and harvesting. Armchair gardening holds a lot of appeal for me.

This is the year that I'm going to make all of those recipes that I've always wanted to try and never have for whatever reason. Too caloric? I'm not bothered anymore. Too labour intensive? Don't be daunted. Why make it when you can buy it? Let's try it at least once. I'm tired of putting recipes off. There are so many foods to make, try,  and savour. If I don't start this year, when will I?

In preparation for making everything I've ever wanted to this year, I spent a few evenings (ok, more than a few) this fall indexing my recipe scrapbooks. What a chore, you're probably thinking. But no. The recipes and food ideas that I have haphazardly collected over the years are nothing short of amazing. Each scrapbook could be a cookbook in itself. And now I can turn to my neatly typed out indexes when I'm looking for something specific, or I can peruse the lists with little more than an ingredient or a thought in mind and find the most inspiring ideas and pictures.

I feel a good year coming on. Family, friends, good food & drink.... I just brewed a cup of Kombucha green tea and the tag on the string says, "The purpose of life is to enjoy every minute." Let's try.