Roasting radishes brings out all the best adjectives.

I don’t know about you, but I love radishes. LOVE them. I like them raw, sliced over baguette with fresh, homemade butter and fresh-ground black pepper; I like them quickly pickled in a little bit of rice vinegar with sugar and hot red pepper flakes. I like them in salads, in egg salad and tuna salad sandwiches, and whole, eaten like miniature apples, each bite dipped in sea salt. I like them in bruschetta. There is no way that I won’t eat radishes. I love their peppery blitz on my tongue, the way they are so bright and crisp and wet, such a perfect red byproduct of water and earth.

Nick is more reluctant, and doesn’t love them like I do. He’s okay with my radishy urges, but doesn’t embrace them significantly, or even properly. I’ve never seen him pick radishes up when shopping. I’ve never caught him popping them into his mouth, as if secretly, in those quiet minutes before tooth-brushing, cat-feeding, and bedtime. I doubt he even dreams about them.

But this is not about Nick’s shortcomings as an eater. I am certain that one day, I’ll find him crouched over the crisper, teary-eyed at the way the radishes look beside the lettuces and lemons. One day, he will look at food the way he looks at video games.

Tonight we got a little closer to that day, and it was radishes that pushed him. He asked for seconds.

We had a couple of small pieces of venison for dinner (the second last package of venison remaining in my freezer from last fall’s hunt), but the main event was radishes, roasted with whole cloves of garlic and tossed with a pinch of fresh parsley and the gentlest squish of lemon to ever occur in my kitchen. The radish greens were tossed in with browned onions during the last minutes of their fast caramelization in the meat juices and cooking fat. There was so much black pepper! Nothing went to waste. And it was efficient – dinner was on the table within twenty minutes.

If you’ve never roasted radishes, once you do this will probably be the way you’ll come to love them most, if you don’t already adore them irrationally. Just a quick sear in a dash of oil in a pan over high heat, then into the oven for 15 minutes, and that’s it. Toss with herbs and pepper and lemon and salt, if you feel like it. That’s it, really, but here’s the recipe anyway. Make them tonight?

Roasted radishes and garlic

(Serves two as a generous side dish.)

  • 1 bunch radishes, greens removed
  • 6 cloves garlic (or more if you feel like it)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh herbs, such as mint, basil, or parsley
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Trim each radish, top and bottom, removing the root and top. Slice in half lengthwise, if your radishes are of average radish size, or in quarters if they are very large. Peel garlic, and trim the tough ends off if necessary.

In a sauté pan that you can use on the stove-top and in the oven, over high heat, heat olive oil. Add radishes and cook quickly, no more than a minute per side. Add whole cloves of garlic, and put into the oven, uncovered.

Cook for 15 to 18 minutes, turning radishes and garlic each once halfway through cooking. Both sides should turn a deep golden brown.

Toss radishes and garlic with herbs, lemon juice, and salt, and serve immediately. Take a blurry picture, then eat.

They turn sweet, almost buttery. They lose their peppery taste, but take on something different – still bright and springy, but a little more subtle, and silky on the tongue. They are very good as they are (with meat and their sautéed greens), or mushed up with soft cheese on fresh bread. Like cooking cucumbers, this is the kind of thing that everyone should know about by now but for some reason doesn’t. But you do now! Now there’s no excuse. Enjoy!

No wanting for waffles in Victoria.

This past week has been exceptionally busy – back to work, friends in town from all over, hockey games to be dragged out to the bar to endure watch, and a little day-trip to Vancouver Island to go see my friend Amber, who lives in Victoria which means that I don’t visit her enough, and who is an exceptional shopping buddy and shares my enthusiasm for eating. I didn’t cook or bake a thing last week, and yesterday set the crock pot too high and incinerated the ribs I’d left in it. Fortunately, Victoria was filling.

So instead of a recipe, today I am going to tell you about waffles, and a discovery I made that will enhance every trip anyone takes to Victoria ever. The place is called WannaWafel, and you smell it long before you get to Market Square and find it.

Unfortunately, I am still not a competent user of my shitty camera, and had it on the wrong setting, so the waffles don’t show up very nicely in my photos. I ordered the sugar waffle, a chewy, slightly sweet, somewhat salty round waffle, and asked for the fruit compote, which turned out to be a perfect combination of summer berries, cold and tart on top of my hot waffle. It was delicious.

I swear, I would move to Victoria IMMEDIATELY except that apparently it’s impossible to find jobs there and I should really be grateful that anyone was willing to hire me here. WannaWafel is very close to being enough to pull me back there forever. These are real Belgian waffles, and I’m certain once you try them you’ll never settle for an impostor waffle again.

We’ll be back to normal this week, so expect recipes and the usual blathering on and taking forever to get to the point. For now, though, think about waffles – my happy thought to you.

Mexico, St. Lorenzo, and some brunchy buns that belong to both.

My mom keeps talking about these little bread treats called St. Lorenzo buns. Apparently they’re a buttery Mexican treat that have a glob of cheese in the centre, and they are served warm at breakfast-time at at least one resort. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to exist anywhere but that resort and/or my mom’s imagination, as a Google search turned up nothing, even when I varied the spelling. All I’ve got to go on is that they’re pretty much savoury, and that they have a soft cheese in the centre.

I emailed Alana at Eating from the Ground Up, as she’s doing some very accessible (and delicious) homemade cheeses these days, to see if she knew of a cheese similar to what Mom vaguely described. She had a few good ideas, but I wasn’t sure about the texture, and about using apple cider vinegar – aren’t apples a rare treat in Mexico? I wanted to use limes. (Even when asking for help I’m a stubborn know-it-all. The worst kind.)

If you know how the cheese in these is supposed to be, or if you know what these buns are and can help me, please let me know. I think the cheese should be something like panela, which is similar-ish to ricotta, I guess. My mom said it should be creamier, like cream cheese (or mascarpone), which you could use as well (1 tbsp. per bun). I like a challenge, but I’ve started with too few facts to produce a reliable facsimile of the buns. Unless you can determine that the following recipe is a reasonable facsimile … in that case, compliments and adoration will do.

Saint Lorenzo buns

Cheese (based on this recipe here):

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. lime juice (lemon’s fine if that’s what you’ve got)
  • 1 tsp. salt


  • 1 package dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

The night you make the buns, set cold milk and cream in a pot over low heat. Add lime juice. Using a candy thermometer, bring milk to 180°F. Don’t rush it. This should take an hour. Once there, increase temperature to medium, and allow liquid to come to a boil, just over 200°F. The curd will begin to separate from the whey – the whole thing will resemble icebergs in a murky sea.

Remove pot from heat, and let stand 10 minutes. Drain in a colander lined with cheesecloth, 15 minutes.

Stir salt into mixture (still in cheesecloth), then knot around a cupboard door handle and allow to hang for two or three hours, until liquid no longer drips from cheese.

Press cheese (still in cheesecloth) between the bottoms of two small plates, the top plate weighted with a brick or a couple cans of beans, and refrigerate overnight.

If you’d rather go with store-bought ricotta, you’ll still want to drain the excess liquid out – strain about a cup of ricotta in a colander lined with cheesecloth, a clean (non-linty) dish towel, or some paper towel overnight in the fridge.

To make the buns, begin by pouring yeast into the bottom of a large bowl. In a saucepan, combine cream, honey, and butter, heating until butter has just begun to melt. Whisk to ensure that honey doesn’t stick to the bottom. Pour over yeast and allow to stand until yeast is frothy, about five minutes.

When yeast is frothy, whisk egg into the mix, then add flour gradually, forming a paste at first, ensuring it is well-combined every step of the way. Continue adding flour until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface, dusting with additional flour as needed for kneading. Knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic, about five minutes.

Let stand in a lightly greased bowl covered in plastic wrap until doubled in size, about an hour. Lightly butter 12 muffin tins. Slice pressed/drained cheese into 12 equal pieces (about one tablespoon each).

Turn back out onto a floured surface and cut the dough in half. Cut each half into three equal pieces, and then cut each piece in two, so that you have 12 pieces. Stretch each piece out in your palm, pressing a piece of cheese into the centre and folding the edges of the dough around the cheese, pinching the opening closed at the top.

Drop each bun into a muffin tin, and cover the whole thing with plastic. Allow to rise again, until doubled (ish), another hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove plastic from buns, pinch closed any buns that have opened, and stuff the whole thing in the oven, for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden on the tops and fragrant all over.

Serve warm, possibly for brunch, definitely with something delicious, like breakfast cocktails. The buns are lightly sweet, and very buttery, flaky and soft in the centre. So, maybe a cava and orange juice would be ideal? I’ll leave that part to you.

Things that are delicious: Pork belly.

Right up until the Olympics, every talking head on television and quote in the paper was saying that Vancouver would be nightmarish during the Olympics, and that residents should expect delays and difficulties getting around, and that they should leave their cars at home. The whole city (me included!) bought the hype, and now it’s quite easy to get around everywhere but downtown, where there isn’t much fun to be had on a Wednesday night anyway. So last night, I dragged poor, sick-day Nick out with some friends to the Westender Korean Café on Denman Street, where there is a place that only sells pork belly, and for which we had coupons that bought us 50% more pork belly.

Do you know what a pork hangover feels like? It’s as glamorous as it sounds.

The Westender Korean Café is a place that only sells pork belly, and they bring it to you with those hot-pot grill things that you use to cook it at your table. They bring you daikon pickles, kimchi, this shredded-lettuce salad thing, rice, and lettuce leaves, and you cook your pork belly and either pile it up with the Korean condiments on your rice, or load it into the lettuce leaves to eat like Korean fajitas.

From the outside, it doesn’t really look like anything but a dodgy old diner, which is perhaps why I’d never noticed it before Sooin brought us there about six months ago. On the inside, it’s usually packed full of young Asian ESL students from the various English schools in the city. They play nonstop Korean pop music videos – Sooin informed us that there are no fewer than twenty major girl groups in Korea, and as many boy bands, and that pop-culture is a huge deal there. She helped everyone out by pointing out which girl groups were comprised of girls too young for Nick to be ogling, and which boy-band stars we should pay attention to for dance skills and hotness. She says we can go to Korea and get thousand-dollar nose jobs and form our own group. If they’ll throw in free liposuction, I’m in.

When I say that it’s a pork-belly-only kind of place, I really do mean just that. When you sit down, the waitress will pretty much just bring your table a certain amount of food, which is determined by how many people make up your party. Be sure to also ask her for beer or shoju, which is also pretty cheap, and which you simply must have as an accompaniment to a pork binge.

All that food, and it costs practically nothing. Dinner for five, including four pitchers of beer, and more food than we could eat, was $125, including tax and tip. The only problem was that we were in such high spirits after dinner that we thought the fun ought to continue, so we stumbled down Denman past Robson to an izakaya Paul knew would be open, and then there was sake, and Nick held his head in his hands and waxed poetic about bedtime, and then Steve ordered us mackerel sashimi and a big bowl of edamame, and I was all, “We just ate and I’m too full!” “But we didn’t eat JAPANESE,” Sooin replied, and so we ate even more and drank the best cheap sake ever and now this morning I am not sure if I should bother eating or just go back to bed because I am still so full. I am not even sure I want bacon.

I’m sorry. I should never talk like that. Of course I want bacon. But maybe this morning, I’ll wrap it around a vegetable.

Homemade soy milk? Not difficult, and cheaper than anything ever.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of food blogs to stumble upon, a percentage of which are beautiful and amazing and full of fantastic recipes and the percentage is higher than you think. It’s sometimes overwhelming, all this blog-stalking one gets to in pursuit of a diversion and something clever to do with all of these odd groceries one picks up because they were on sale or they were weird and it turns out one is not as creative as one thought.

One. Not me, of course. Of course. In the course of my regular stalking reading, I stumbled upon a beautiful food blog that made me want to pick up and change everything that I am. Or something like that. I found it through Tea and Cookies on Twitter – Tea and Cookies also makes me want to change everything that I am, and at this point, the thought of everything I need to do to improve is so exhausting that I think I’ll stay me, at least until I win the lottery and can afford to be someone better. Everyone notices a train wreck, and so that is what I will cling to.

Anyway, the thing is this blog, and this soy milk. Go there, and make it right now and wonder why you ever bought that crap at the market, even if it was on sale. This is so much cheaper than on sale: Using the organic dried soybeans, one batch cost me around thirty cents, and its yield was about one litre. Drink it hot or ice cold, or use it in your coffee before you head out for your weekend. Me? I’m using it in homemade chai lattes, which I am using to fuel a weekend of cookery, recipe development, article writing, and ego boosting in the form of a foodie photo shoot, which I hope to tell you all about tomorrow or the day after.

Have a great weekend!

Mushroom risotto: An easy, inexpensive, and thoroughly impressive gourmet meal.

My parents came over for dinner tonight, and I made these beautiful roasted vegetables, which reminded me about the risotto that we ate the last time I made the roasted veggies, a few days before Christmas. Mark and Jess, Nick’s sister and brother-in-law, were here visiting from Winnipeg, and he’s gluten-free. They brought their adorable little baby with them, and then I felt a bit like an asshole afterward because I had my camera out the whole evening and only took pictures of the food.

The thing I like most about risotto is that it’s upscale comfort food. It seems like a pain to make because you have to monitor it and keep it moving in the pan, but that’s not so bad. Though it might not be the best thing to make at a dinner party, if you’ve just got a few people over and it’s casual no one will mind you running off for a half-hour, and people will always join you in the kitchen if they think you’ve been away too long. Often, they will anticipate your needs and open a bottle of wine, and you’ll get to catch up in the quiet of the kitchen. Risotto is not as antisocial as you might think.

For the following recipe, you can use any kind of mushrooms you like. If wild mushrooms are available in your market, feel free to grab an assortment and play around. If all you’ve got are plain white mushrooms, that’s just fine too, and it will be lovely and you’ll be amazed at what mushrooms can do. I’m always amazed at what mushrooms can do.

Mushroom risotto

(Serves about four as a small main course. This is an easy one to multiply or divide, however.)

  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock, brought to a boil and kept warm on the stove
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup raw Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled, cooked bacon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a heavy-bottomed pan, melt the first two tablespoons of butter. Add onions and garlic, and cook for two to three minutes, until onions are translucent. Add rice to pan, stirring for about a minute, or until rice grains turn opaque.

Pour in wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan to ensure nothing has stuck. Cook until wine has been completely absorbed.

Add one cup of the warm chicken stock, stirring frequently until liquid is mostly absorbed. Repeat with an additional cup of stock.

On your third addition of stock, pour the remaining liquid into the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed. When you’ve still got just a bit of liquid in the pan, add your mushrooms. Test your rice for tenderness – if it is al denté, you’re awesome and good work. If it isn’t, it’s probably the rice’s fault, so just pour in a little bit more stock, as needed. Keep in mind that the mushrooms are going to sweat and release their own moisture into the mix.

When rice is ready, stir in bacon or nuts, if using, rosemary, nutmeg, butter, and Parmesan. Adjust your seasonings, to taste.

This dish smells amazing, like autumn or a sunny day in winter, and it tastes woodsy and wholesome, like a blanket you eat. It changed Nick’s whole opinion about risotto, which previously wasn’t very high. And it just feels good to eat. No stress, and if you’ve got people over you haven’t seen in awhile, you can talk with your mouth full, because there isn’t a lot of chewing required.

Dip the fish in batter made with beer and then deep fry it. You know you want to.

Fish chunks!I’ve probably mentioned a number of times now my powerful love for fish and chips, that perfect pairing of foods that allow me to practically mainline tartar sauce and malt vinegar – 80% of the time, fish and chips with tartar sauce is my meal of choice, though I hardly ever get it because there are only a handful of places that do it right and I have to go a long way out of my way to get it. I’ll attempt to sate my craving periodically with a Filet-o-Fish, but that is never enough, and so I get a little sad sometimes.

And then Paul calls offering to pick up fish for dinner, and I misunderstand and think he means salmon so I start thinking of rice, and he corrects me to say that he is considering codfish and will we need potatoes with that? And yes, yes we will, and I don’t have quite enough oil to fry all the pieces in a way that will keep some of them from kind of sticking to the bottom of the pot, but most of the pieces will come out okay, and also seriously? Is anyone looking for a single, well traveled, virile young man with fixing-stuff skills and excellent taste in food and wine? Because I am very close to injecting Paul with heroin and pimping him out for real (I think he reads this, but I refuse to self-edit). He shoots ducks and hooks trout and catches crabs, kids. I’m going to see if Nick will let us have a third.

Mad digression aside, last night we had homemade beer-battered fish and chips with hand-cut fries (baked to save space on the stove top), tartar sauce from scratch, and salad. It. Was. Awesome. The fish was fresh and perfect, the kind you can tell was just caught that day. If you’ve ever had bad fish and chips (I’m looking at you, Guildford Red Robin – your fish tasted like low tide and your patio has a view of the Walmart and your waitresses will only address Nick and pretty much ignore me so you suck), you will appreciate the difference quality and freshness make. And I am still kind of full, almost twelve hours later.

Here’s what you should do. Be sure you have at least three quarts of oil, and use a thermometer to make sure the oil hovers around 350°F. You may need to top it up – you want the fish to fry at the top, where it can’t possibly use its batter to adhere to the bottom of your pot.

Beer-battered fried fish

  • 2.5 lbs. fresh cod or halibut fillets, about an inch thick, cut into pieces that will fit comfortably into your pot (I started with three large fillets cut into six)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 regular-size (355mL or 12 oz.) can beer, such as India Pale Ale

Bring about three quarts of oil to 350°F in a large, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the heat – you will need to do a bit of adjusting throughout the cooking process, as the oil will drop dramatically in temperature as soon as you add the first hunks of fish.

Mix together your batter, adding water as needed to bring the mix to a thick, pancake batter-like consistency. You might end up with too much batter, which is okay because that just means you can fry stuff tomorrow too! (Tip: Deep-fried pickles are pretty much the greatest invention ever … find out for yourself?) Optionally, you can add a bit of cumin or curry powder to the mixture for an exotic twist.

Once the oil has reached peak temperature, dredge as many pieces as will fit comfortably into your pot in batter, and gently drop them into the oil – no splashing, please … you will hurt yourself and then the experience will be ruined. I could fit in two pieces at a time.

FRYING!!!Fry for about three minutes per side, but keep in mind that thicker pieces will take longer to cook, and thinner pieces will take less time. But since you’re deep frying at home, you’ll probably not want to let the pot out of your sight, so just monitor the fish as it cooks, and use your best judgment. Cook until the batter is crisp and golden.

Remove from pot onto paper towel, and salt right away. Repeat steps with other pieces of fish. You could also drizzle a bit of lemon over the pieces at this point, but I waited until I sat down with my plate to do that.

Serve with tartar sauce, lemon slices, fries, and all those wonderful sorts of things. Feel that craving finally get satisfied. And then undo your pants because it’s one of those kinds of meals. Delight.

Fish and chips for dinner.

Horses’ Arses.


I have two days off this week which is awesome and I’m finally catching up on my sleep after being sick this weekend and even though someone is very mad at me somewhere about a bill I thought I paid, I’m still being optimistic. With two days off and no money in the bank to distract me into doing things, I’m hoping that this will be the week that I finish my novel. I have to. I have managed to convince myself that if I just finish the damn story, Random House will pick it up immediately, and then it will be optioned as a movie, and then Anne Hathaway or that Evan Rachel Wood girl or someone will star as my protagonist and it will be the best chick flick ever and I’ll get really rich and then it won’t matter that I might lose my job because I’ll be in France anyway, with a villa near the water and you can all come and visit and we’ll have a grand time. This is what will happen if I just focus. It seems so easy, doesn’t it?

Which is why I went back to bed for two hours, and why I am here, now, blogging. And why I just made cinnamon buns, bonus points for them being the lazy kind. And why I did the dishes, which I never do unless I have to or unless Nick mutters something under his breath about leaving me for a harem of maids who never make fun of his eyebrows or move to the other side of the room when he eats. I remember now why I stopped writing the thing in the first place. It’s frigging hard. And also I am having a hard time making my protagonist relatable to anyone but me, because she’s manic and neurotic and painfully self-conscious but also incredibly narcissistic, and also mildly sociopathic, which is why I get her but I’m wondering if she shouldn’t just be the quirky friend of someone much more believable. Random House? Are you out there? You tell me what I should do.

Anyway, the cinnamon buns. They’re called Horses’ Arses because that’s what my Grandpa named them, because apparently if you look closely at the back end of any horse, it will be curly and twisty, and will resemble these fluffy little cinnamon buns, which are made with a baking powder biscuit base and are much quicker than the yeasty ones, which is perfect for breakfast on a weekday or for snacking all day long when you’re supposed to be doing something important and life-changing but you just can’t make yourself type another word of fiction because suddenly everything else in the whole world is super interesting and distracting.

I’m pretty sure the recipe is a Fannie Farmer recipe, but I’ve been making these for so many years now that the recipe is permanently etched onto my frontal lobe. It’s one of those family recipes that everybody’s always made, and I don’t think the recipe has ever changed, except that for my Grandpa, probably more brown sugar was added. You should make these. Go, preheat your oven right now.

Horses’ Arses

  • 2 cups all-purpose or whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar (if you don’t have this, don’t worry – I’ve omitted it before and it always turns out fine)
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar, and sugar. Drop your butter into the mix in hunks, and gently work it into the dry ingredients. Like many doughs, it’s best if the butter isn’t thoroughly combined – you want the majority of the mixture to resemble a coarse crumb, but there should also be larger hunks here and there. This is what makes everything fluffy, and fluffy is better than not fluffy.

Stir in the milk to form a dough, and turn the whole thing out onto a floured surface and gently knead the dough, for about thirty seconds, until it’s soft and no longer falls apart or is sticky. Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.

Brush the melted butter over the rolled dough. Sprinkle the sugar over top, pressing down so that it’s not loose. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m estimating that it’s a cup of sugar. It’s really about two and a half handfuls, and I have small hands – paws, you might even say. I never measure this, because I’ve never seen a parent or grandparent of mine measure it out ever. It’s probably more the case that if you like more sugar, go nuts and add it, and if you like less then don’t add as much I guess. Sprinkle the cinnamon over top.

Roll out!

At this point, you could get as creative as you wanted – add nuts, dried fruit, crumbled bacon, even – anything you like. I never add anything different, because I like it just how it is.

Roll the thing out lengthwise, like a jelly roll. Cut the roll into slices about one-inch thick – you should have about twelve buns. I ended up with eleven. Place close together in a greased baking dish, or in those round cake pans if you wanted to. My dish is about 8×10, and the buns filled it up, some touching. It’s okay if they touch.

Little assholes.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and melty and fluffy. You can smell when these are done – the smell of cinnamon and sugar baking is marvelous, especially when it’s just for you. Serve warm, with a big glass of milk. And then maybe take another nap, because those big goals of yours can be daunting, and sometimes it feels good to procrastinate.

I still mean to tell you about my plums, and something about green tomatoes. Later today I am going to make venison burgers, using Alana from Eating from the Ground Up’s excellent brioche hamburger bun recipe. Last week I kind of fell off the face of the earth and didn’t do anything I said I would and then I felt bad, but I’ve promised myself I’d be productive and finish my story this week, so you know I will be all kinds of distracted and blog, probably more than anyone even wants to read. I say this now. I am completely unreliable, but that’s not something to worry about now – very little matters when you have a tray of warm cinnamon buns all to yourself.


I got crabs from Paul.

Plaid.Saturday was a good day. Crisp, a little chilly because the west coast has decided it’s not summer anymore and now periodically sneezes cold air to remind us that this is Canada and we ought to be wearing jackets. Well, not that cold, but it was a tad nippy at the water, which is where we were. Paul decided to teach us about crabbing. Dungeness crabbing.

Crabbing involves cages and beer. And, to look at my companions, it also seems to involve plaid.



Perhaps not enough plaid, as I didn’t get the memo on the dress code, which could explain why we didn’t catch all that much. I DID wear my crabbing socks, though it wasn’t a solid enough effort, apparently.


We caught starfish.

Murky ... can you make out what this is?


And I kept getting excited, because it looked like we were catching the kinds of things we could most certainly cook immediately and eat. I even helped.

Crabbing makes me look fat.

I am squealing with anticipation and glee in the background.

This one didn't measure up.

But every time we caught something, we’d have to throw it back, because of Paul’s “ethics” and the stupid “law.” So we tossed a lot of otherwise edible critters back into the sea, and we waited, and drank beer, and Nick whined about the cold because he’s a bit of a pansy delicate.

Ultimately, we had to quit on Saturday because there was a karaoke dance party I needed ample time to sparkle my cleavage for, and also it got a little windy and we all had to pee.

And then the rest of the weekend happened, and then I promised you I’d tell you all about soup and liar with my pants on fire that I am, that didn’t happen. Because today, Paul went crabbing. And he caught three. And then, not an hour later, he appeared at our front door with a bucket of crabs and a chilled bottle of wine.

Which is infinitely more fun to talk about than soup.

And ordinarily, the first crab or lobster of a given season is to be prepared in its purest form, and that is boiled in salt water and served hot with melted butter. You can get creative with future crabs, of course – I like to wok-fry them in 1/4 cup butter, 2 tablespoons of sriracha or chili-garlic sauce, three cloves of minced garlic, and a handful of chopped scallions. If you’d prefer not to cut into them live, you can pre-boil them, ten to fifteen minutes depending on the size, and then bake them at 500F for eight to ten minutes until everything is sizzling and smells good. Paul likes them steamed in white wine, also with butter. The possibilities are buttery and almost endless.

Paul, avec Crab.

Legs + Butter + My Mouth, please.


Happy unsexy badger.

And we ate and ate and ate and I ate all the parts no one else wanted and we were stuffed, and it was wonderful. I doubt I’ve ever eaten a fresher crab, and I am a contented badger now, at almost 1:00 am as a result. Right now? I’m boiling shells down for stock and making bagels, which is unrelated but also quite exciting. It may not just be soup to tell you about this week, after all. I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait!!!

My First Pavlova.

I feel like by titling this “My First Pavlova” I should be able to write about the lovely meringues I made in my Easy Bake Oven or something. I can’t believe I was intimidated by this thing for so long – maybe it was the size thing, or the fact that it requires hours and hours of uninterrupted oven cooling time. I don’t know. You know what? It’s not hard at all, and if you just follow a few simple steps, you can make this in your grown-up oven too.

This whole idea came out of Saveur, and the September 2009 article about New Zealand and pavlovas. Apparently the Australians hijacked the pavlova and claimed it as their own, which is why I have always thought this was an Australian thing. Apparently New Zealand invented and perfected the pavlova, and since Saveur told me this very convincingly and with very lovely pictures, I decided that it was New Zealand’s classic pavlova that would finally allow me to embrace meringue.

I’ve given you the recipe for the pavlova, which in the magazine calls for homemade lemon curd and provides a recipe, but you can find a better recipe for lemon curd at Fine Cooking. Or you can buy it. But, hint? Don’t fold the lemon curd into the whipped cream at the end … it will just glom all over the place and not stand up and the whole thing will look terribly messy. Oops. Oh well.


(From Saveur, September 2009.)

  • 8 egg whites, at room-temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, at a low speed, beat the egg whites and the sugar slowly until combined.

Increase speed to medium-high, and beat for about 14 minutes, or until soft peaks form.

Meanwhile, combine cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla. Once the mixture has hit the 14-minute mark, add the cornstarch mixture and continue beating for an additional five minutes, or until the mixture is very stiff with glossy peaks. You’ll know what I mean when you see it – it’s impossible to miss.

Soft glossy peaks.While all of this is happening, roll out a bit of parchment paper and trace onto it the base of a 9″ cake pan, with a pencil. Turn the parchment paper over, so that the pencil side faces down, and place it on a baking sheet. When the egg white mixture is ready, spread it out with a spatula onto the circle. Use all of your egg white froth – it will be fat and tallish when you’re done.

Spreading ...

Spread.Place in the oven, and immediately reduce the heat to 215°F. Set the timer for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Please do not open the oven door at any point after the pavlova goes in.

After the timer goes, turn off the oven. Once again, do not open the oven door. Let sit in the oven for three to four hours, until the pavlova has cooled. This is important. Humidity is the enemy of a crisp-on-the-outside, marshmallowy-on-the-inside pavlova. It might just deflate and turn to goop if you open the oven door. Be afraid of the oven door.

Crispy crunchy marshmallowy delicious.Once cooled, you can store the meringue in a dry, non-humid place (no refrigerators!) until you need to use it – mine sat for about five hours.


  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chilled plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar

Beat the cream, yogurt, and sugar until stiff peaks form. Top the cooled pavlova with this.

Top with any fruit you like, and then drizzle with the lemon curd. Serve immediately.

This is what happens when you fold in the lemon curd. Please don't do that. Eek. It still tasted good, but wasn't as pretty as it could have been.
This is what happens when you fold in the lemon curd. Please don't do that. Eek. It still tasted good, but wasn't as pretty as it could have been.

And so, I made a pavlova, and it was easier than I thought it would be. Look what eggs can do! Tremendous. And very, very tasty.

Sliced, delicious.