Category Archives: food

I’m Pretty Sure I Could Live on Peanut Butter and Chocolate

This looks so good, I’ve realised that it needs sharing widely. As soon as I’m back at home, I’ll be on these. And my men-folk will bow down to this domestic goddess.

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The Kitchen Billets-Doux

I love Reese’s peanut butter cups. LOVE THEM! But…if you think about them too much, you realize they are actually kind of nasty. Plus they have lactose in them which means I can get very sick if I don’t exert self-control. I always wanted to try making my own but it seemed like it would be really hard.

Guess what: IT’S NOT!

BEHOLD! A peanut butter cup! Made in my kitchen!

image

I became totally inspired by Lori Leigh Wilson’s chocolate almond butter cups and decided to go for it over the weekend. I didn’t have any almond butter and also I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to “-butter and chocolate cups.” But I did have decent peanut butter on hand. I also had graham crackers, which is what she had replaced in her recipe with Puffins. I had just enough chocolate chips. I had Earth Balance! I…

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Book club: The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper


This novel had been getting a lot of buzz when we decided to include it in our reading list. As today’s moderator suggested, it would appear that Andrew Pyper was trying for that sweet spot where genre fiction overlaps literary fiction, but as a group, we were not convinced that he was successful.

Pyper’s protagonist in The Demonologist is David Ullman, a Milton scholar who is offered an all-expenses paid trip to Venice if he will visit a particular address and use his expertise in the area of demons to assess a situation. He brings his daughter Tess with him and she is captured and drawn into the underworld.  The rest of the novel follows Ullman in his attempt to find and rescue her.

What worked:

We agreed that the story was interesting.

We thought he had moments of good writing.

There were some good action sequences.

We liked the relationship between Ullman and fellow professor Elaine O’Brien: a non-sexual, cross-gender friendship.

The cover (both dust cover and hardcover) were well done.

What didn’t work:

The novel reads too much like a screenplay. It seemed made for film, and not the literary fiction audience that we suspect he was going after.

We didn’t understand what was really going on. Does Ullman really believe there are demons that can intervene in our lives? Did important bits in flashbacks in the novel really happen, or were they subject to perceivers’ error?

Many of us were simply not very engaged in the novel. In a comparison between Pyper and Dan Brown (for example), those of us who admitted to being familiar with the latter rated Brown as better at engaging the reader in the story, and better at owning up to the agenda of the protagonist (in Brown’s case, and anti-Vatican stance, for example.)

The novel needed a(nother) good edit.

Overall rating: 6/10 (with a range of 5-7)

I hosted this month and decided to go for a Venetian theme, even though a relatively small part of the novel takes place in Venice. (As someone pointed out, this was probably a better theme than roadside diners/motels in terms of meal options.) Because of my Sunday morning committments, I chose a mainly cold buffet meal.

We lunched on a caprese salad, scampi alla Veneziana, crostini al radicchio Trevisano, proscuitto e melone, cheeses (a Romano sheep’s milk cheese and some asiago), and drinks made of prosecco, campari, and peach juice.  My spouse picked us up a Cappuccino Dacquoise for dessert.

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Hacking Costco’s Edamame Salad

20130521-222744.jpgI had this at a party last week and loved it. The hostess confessed that it was from Costco, but I want to take a stab at making it myself, so started by copying out the ingredients from the label.

Ingredients:

  • Edamame
  • Peas
  • Daikon
  • Bell peppers
  • Corn
  • Onions
  • Fresh parsley and dill.

I figure any combination of the above would work just fine.

Main dressing ingredients (excluding additives/emulsifiers):

  • Yogurt
  • Mayonnaise
  • Cream
  • Liquid Egg
  • Canola Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Vinegar
  • Herbs
  • Spices

Based on the ingredient list, I’d probably try a recipe like this one from Mark Bittman for a creamy vinaigrette.

I’ll try it out and get back to y’all.

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Dinner that made my boy go "Oh my gosh, Mom!"

PULLED PORK SANDWICHES WITH BARBECUE SAUCE (Bonnie Stern, in National Post, February 5, 2011)

Even if you don’t need this much pulled pork, it makes sense to braise a whole pork shoulder (a. k.a. pork butt) because you can use the leftovers for poutine, on pasta or in grilled cheese sandwiches and macand cheese. Or freeze the leftovers for future meals. The trick to braising a pork shoulder is to cook it until it is fork tender. It can easily be made a day ahead. Ask for Canadian pork at your butchers, or look for the Canadian flag on the package at the supermarket.

Paste:

– 2 tbsp brown sugar

– 1 tbsp kosher salt

– 1 tsp each paprika, pepper and cumin

– 2 tbsp Dijon mustard

– 3 cloves garlic, minced

– 4 lb boneless pork shoulder (pork butt roast)

Cooking liquid:

– 2 cups apple juice

– ½cup maple syrup

– 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

– 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

– 6 whole cloves garlic

– 2 onions, thickly sliced

Maple barbecue sauce:

– 2 cups favourite barbecue sauce

– ½cup maple syrup

– 2 tbsp each Worcestershire sauce and apple cider vinegar

– 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Sandwiches:

– 12 soft buns

– coleslaw (see recipe below)

– chipotle mayo (see recipe below)

– guacamole -your favourite, optional

1. Combine brown sugar, salt, paprika, pepper, cumin, mustard and garlic. Rub into roast. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Combine apple juice, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Place garlic and onions in the bottom of a Dutch oven and set roast on top. Add liquid. Cover roast with a piece of parchment paper and then cover pan tightly. Cook in a preheated 325F/160C oven for 3 to 4 hours or longer, until pork is so tender it falls apart when pierced with a fork.

3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan whisk barbecue sauce with maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and mustard. Bring to a boil. Cook gently 5 minutes. Reserve.

4. When roast is ready, remove from pan. Slice thickly and chop. Combine with half the barbecue sauce, adding some of the strained cooking juices if meat is too dry. Reheat meat just before serving in a 325F oven for about 30 minutes.

5. Make sandwiches on the soft buns with meat, extra barbecue sauce, coleslaw, chipotle mayo and guacamole (if using).

Makes 12 sandwiches

CREAMY-STYLE COLESLAW

This creamy coleslaw tastes great either in a sandwich or on the side.

– 4 cups shredded green cabbage

– 1 tbsp kosher salt

– 1 carrot, grated

Dressing:

– ¾cup mayonnaise

– 1 clove garlic, minced

– 1 tbsp sugar

– 1 tbsp vinegar

– ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper or to taste

1. Make coleslaw by combining shredded cabbage with salt. Place in a colander set over a bowl, with a plate on top, pressing down on the cabbage to extract excess moisture. After about one hour, rinse cabbage and pat dry, pressing again firmly. Combine with carrots.

2. For dressing, combine mayonnaise with garlic, sugar, vinegar and pepper.

3. Combine dressing with cabbage mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Makes 12 servings

CHIPOTLE MAYO

Chipotle chilis are smoked jalapenos — hot and delicious. When I buy a tin of chipotles, I open it up and puree it all, transfer to a Ziploc bag, flatten the bag so that the mixture isn’t too thick and freeze it. That way you can just break off any amount you need and it will defrost quickly. If the sauce is too spicy, add more mayo or some thick yogourt or sour cream. This mayo is also great on grilled chicken sandwiches or burgers.

– 1 cup mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s)

– 1 tbsp chipotle chili puree or to taste

– 1 clove garlic, minced

– 1 tbsp lemon juice

1. Place mayonnaise in a bowl and stir in chipotle puree, minced garlic and lemon juice to taste. Keep in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 cup/250ml

This is seriously good eating. It looks long and complicated, but the only things I had to buy were the pork roast and some BBQ sauce (I used Diana’s traditional). Everything else I had on hand.

I made the pulled pork and chipotle mayo but decided to forgo the coleslaw for sauerkraut that we had in the fridge. I tweeted Bonnie Stern the day before to see if I could make this in my slow-cooker and she gave me the thumbs up.

It is all I can do to not take leftovers out of the fridge and scarf them down cold.  Some went (cold) in lunch bags today. And the house smelled fantastic!

Dinner that made my boy go “Oh my gosh, Mom!”

PULLED PORK SANDWICHES WITH BARBECUE SAUCE (Bonnie Stern, in National Post, February 5, 2011)

Even if you don’t need this much pulled pork, it makes sense to braise a whole pork shoulder (a. k.a. pork butt) because you can use the leftovers for poutine, on pasta or in grilled cheese sandwiches and macand cheese. Or freeze the leftovers for future meals. The trick to braising a pork shoulder is to cook it until it is fork tender. It can easily be made a day ahead. Ask for Canadian pork at your butchers, or look for the Canadian flag on the package at the supermarket.

Paste:

– 2 tbsp brown sugar

– 1 tbsp kosher salt

– 1 tsp each paprika, pepper and cumin

– 2 tbsp Dijon mustard

– 3 cloves garlic, minced

– 4 lb boneless pork shoulder (pork butt roast)

Cooking liquid:

– 2 cups apple juice

– ½cup maple syrup

– 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

– 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

– 6 whole cloves garlic

– 2 onions, thickly sliced

Maple barbecue sauce:

– 2 cups favourite barbecue sauce

– ½cup maple syrup

– 2 tbsp each Worcestershire sauce and apple cider vinegar

– 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Sandwiches:

– 12 soft buns

– coleslaw (see recipe below)

– chipotle mayo (see recipe below)

– guacamole -your favourite, optional

1. Combine brown sugar, salt, paprika, pepper, cumin, mustard and garlic. Rub into roast. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Combine apple juice, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Place garlic and onions in the bottom of a Dutch oven and set roast on top. Add liquid. Cover roast with a piece of parchment paper and then cover pan tightly. Cook in a preheated 325F/160C oven for 3 to 4 hours or longer, until pork is so tender it falls apart when pierced with a fork.

3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan whisk barbecue sauce with maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and mustard. Bring to a boil. Cook gently 5 minutes. Reserve.

4. When roast is ready, remove from pan. Slice thickly and chop. Combine with half the barbecue sauce, adding some of the strained cooking juices if meat is too dry. Reheat meat just before serving in a 325F oven for about 30 minutes.

5. Make sandwiches on the soft buns with meat, extra barbecue sauce, coleslaw, chipotle mayo and guacamole (if using).

Makes 12 sandwiches

CREAMY-STYLE COLESLAW

This creamy coleslaw tastes great either in a sandwich or on the side.

– 4 cups shredded green cabbage

– 1 tbsp kosher salt

– 1 carrot, grated

Dressing:

– ¾cup mayonnaise

– 1 clove garlic, minced

– 1 tbsp sugar

– 1 tbsp vinegar

– ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper or to taste

1. Make coleslaw by combining shredded cabbage with salt. Place in a colander set over a bowl, with a plate on top, pressing down on the cabbage to extract excess moisture. After about one hour, rinse cabbage and pat dry, pressing again firmly. Combine with carrots.

2. For dressing, combine mayonnaise with garlic, sugar, vinegar and pepper.

3. Combine dressing with cabbage mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Makes 12 servings

CHIPOTLE MAYO

Chipotle chilis are smoked jalapenos — hot and delicious. When I buy a tin of chipotles, I open it up and puree it all, transfer to a Ziploc bag, flatten the bag so that the mixture isn’t too thick and freeze it. That way you can just break off any amount you need and it will defrost quickly. If the sauce is too spicy, add more mayo or some thick yogourt or sour cream. This mayo is also great on grilled chicken sandwiches or burgers.

– 1 cup mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s)

– 1 tbsp chipotle chili puree or to taste

– 1 clove garlic, minced

– 1 tbsp lemon juice

1. Place mayonnaise in a bowl and stir in chipotle puree, minced garlic and lemon juice to taste. Keep in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 cup/250ml

This is seriously good eating. It looks long and complicated, but the only things I had to buy were the pork roast and some BBQ sauce (I used Diana’s traditional). Everything else I had on hand.

I made the pulled pork and chipotle mayo but decided to forgo the coleslaw for sauerkraut that we had in the fridge. I tweeted Bonnie Stern the day before to see if I could make this in my slow-cooker and she gave me the thumbs up.

It is all I can do to not take leftovers out of the fridge and scarf them down cold.  Some went (cold) in lunch bags today. And the house smelled fantastic!

Adventures in "slow carbs"

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The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated.

Okay, you can take the title with a grain of salt, but I’ve been slow-carbing over the past few days and seeing very encouraging results.  The basics of the diet are what is typical in low-carb diets, minus dairy (butter is okay), plus beans, plus red wine(!).  Lots of veggies, no fruit. No grains of any colour.

I’ve been having one of the recommended breakfasts each morning (fried eggs on a bed of steamed spinach, topped with salsa, and coffee with cinnamon and a small amount of cream (only allowed dairy along with butter.)  I had a bit of a cheat yesterday at lunch when I was served fruit with my omelet, and had some profiteroles at a birthday party last night, but otherwise I’ve been true to the diet.  Oh, and the best part?  One complete binge day per week is acceptable!  Like, eat ’til you’re sick if you want.  My first binge day won’t be ’til next Saturday, but I don’t feel incredibly guilty about those two cheats on one day this weekend. Tim wouldn’t be happy, but you know, it’s my gig. 

Ferriss is a very compelling writer and a big proponent of tracking stats.  On everything.  But it’s not necessary to do that to reap the benefits of this plan.  In the past four days I have dropped 5.6 pounds, of which 4 pounds were fat.  ( He’s also big on tracking body fat, which I am doing with a scale that (possibly not completely accurately) hands me this lovely measure.)  My body fat % is quite high, so I’ve got to work to get this down and low-carb approaches have always worked best for me.

On the plan for today is to make a big pot of beef and bean chili for dinners, and a cold bean salad to have in the fridge for lunch with a pile of greens.

If you’re looking for a realistic (no big cooking efforts needed) low carb diet that understands why red wine is an integral part of the examined life, give it a try.  It’s available as a kindle ebook as well.

I’ll keep you posted!

Shepherd’s pie….an oldie but a goodie!

Had some leftovers from our wonderful lamb dinner the other night, so put together a quick shepherds pie.  Here’s my go-to method:

Hopefully, you have some leftover meat, potatoes, vegetables (or just use frozen peas and/or corn), and gravy.  

Chop and fry an onion and some garlic (there was enough garlic in the gravy from our leftovers, so I left that out this time.)  Add minced leftover meat and chopped veggies (I had some green beans and broccoli that I threw in).  Heat this up and add gravy to make a thick stew and put it in a casserole dish.  (If you don’t have gravy, use a cup of beef or other broth, a tablespoon of tomato paste and 2 tbsp of flour and just throw that in instead. Season with salt and pepper and maybe some parsley.)  

Mash the potatoes if they are not already in that form, with lots of whatever makes them creamy.  I like to add some cream cheese and/or butter and/or cream plus some Lawry’s seasoned salt.  Top the meat mixture with potatoes, grate some old cheddar or whatever cheese you want to use up, and pop it in a medium oven, uncovered, for twenty minutes or until the cheese has melted and the stew is bubbling up the sides.  (You can assemble this in advance and just heat it up before you’re ready to eat.) 

Total comfort food!  Additional gravy to pour over the top is a bonus.