Quiche is nothing to sneer at and is plenty manly, thanksverymuch.

I made quiche for Nick.

In a different time, I’ve heard, it wasn’t so manly to eat quiche, never mind to want it. I met Nick in poetry class. The generations, how they gap. He wrote very long poems about damp shorelines and dead horses, and he wore scarves and I was convinced there was something wrong with him because he wasn’t madly in love with me. I thought he was the kind of guy who’d like quiche, you know?

It’s just as well: I was never interested in the kind of  boy who’d frown at quiche. And as it happens, that kind of boy was never interested in me either.

And here we are, a couple of years later and that’s all, and I mentioned quiche the other day and he kept reminding me I’d mentioned it. Nick wanted quiche. So I set out to buy some seasonal greens and a bit of whole milk for ricotta, and I made Nick an eggy pie for dinner.

I wanted to tell you about the quiche that had the chard in it, but my market was out and I was too lazy and too high up in heels to try another store, so I guess I’ll tell you about the spinach quiche, though I’d like for you to imagine it with chard. It’d be easy enough to substitute the chard for the spinach, just blanch the chard first. You don’t have to do the same with the spinach, because it’s wimpier.

Nick would have liked the quiche with chard better, I think, because chard is a manlier green, probably. (It’s perfectly lovely with spinach too, I’m just being unpleasant.) I suppose we’ll try again next week, maybe Monday when the shelves have been restocked.

Ricotta and greens quiche


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 tbsp. cold butter
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 3 to 5 tbsp. ice water


  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese (this is a very good recipe, and I keep wanting it, even now after it’s gone)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 large eggs, plus the white left over from the crust
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves or blanched chard (my estimate is two bunches, chopped and lightly packed once blanched; this is what I would use, but please correct me if I’m wrong)

Assemble pastry in the typical way, crushing the butter between your fingers into the flour, salt, and Parmesan. Stir in beaten egg and ice water until dough forms. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough out with a bit of flour, and press into a nine-inch tart pan. Roll the rolling pin across the top to trim away the extra dough. Line the pie crust with parchment and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes.

Remove pastry from the oven. Cool slightly, remove beans and parchment, and continue to cool. Until cool. Meanwhile, leave the oven on.

Sauté shallots in butter. Remove from heat and set aside.In a large bowl, whisk together your ricotta, milk, eggs and egg white, mustard, salt, pepper, Parmesan, and nutmeg. Add your shallots and butter to the mix, and whisk again.

Taste now, and adjust your seasonings as needed. Stir in your spinach or chard, and pour into the pie crust.

Bake mixture in shell for 4o to 45 minutes, until golden and slightly puffed. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Remove from tart pan to slice and serve.

Enjoy. It smells so good, and is the creamiest quiche in the history of ever, because of the fresh ricotta and because when you’re making something like quiche, you just sort of will it to work, and those happy thoughts make it into the oven with the pie. Serves four for brunch or dinner, or more if you’re cutting it smaller to make it an hors d’oeuvre.

Nothing dainty about it. Isn’t it nice that anyone can have this sort of thing now? Yes. Yes it is. And besides, I wouldn’t serve something like this to anyone who’d sneer at any sort of homemade pie. We don’t take kindly to those types around here, poets or not.

Turnip? Rutabaga? Whatever, just turn it into dinner.

Sunday was our first wedding anniversary. Time flies – that’s now two years of togetherness, though Nick says he’s sure it must have been longer. Nope. Two years, almost to the day, and one year of marriedness, and we spent our anniversary in much the same way we’ve spent most of our days – almost completely out of money more than a week before payday, in the rain, with some of our favourite people.

We went to The Glen at Maple Falls this weekend, which is somewhere near Mount Baker in Washington, and spent three rainy days with a few good friends. The food was fatty, the beer was cheap, and for some reason we all got a little too caught up in the figure skating championships on TV. I blame the cheap American dairy, which was delicious, for the glassy-eyed stupor that befell us all. I ate a pint of ice cream from the dairy on the way down. There must be something magical about American cattle, because we don’t have ice cream like that up here. Egg nog swirl? GENIUS. Maybe the grass is actually greener down south? Could be.

Anyway, last night was our anniversary, and I had intended to turn the turnip into something magical, but Paul’s car had a little bit of trouble on the way home, and, long story short, we ended up pushing it across the border. Canadians really are very nice, and we were grateful for our good-humoured border guard. And as we waited for the tow truck, and then Paul’s sister, and then the SkyTrain ride home, what was going to be an elaborate meal got shelved for an easy bit of soup instead. Until tonight.

Tonight. Chelsea came over, and then Paul, and then we celebrated appropriately – with butter and beer and wine and cheese and this little turnip thing that’s actually kind of a big deal.

I’m going to give you the recipe, but keep in mind that it makes a lot of pasta and I ended up freezing half. Double the sauce recipe if you’re feeding eight, and boil the full amount of gnocchi. If you make the full batch of pasta and you’re only feeding four, you’ll end up with too much to eat, even for lunches the next day.

You can freeze uncooked gnocchi for up to one month – you’ll certainly use it before that. Halve the recipe if you’ve got a smaller turnip (you’ll need a bit more flour because you can’t halve an egg, so adjust as needed), and keep the sauce the same.

Turnip gnocchi

  • 1 2 lb. turnip, peeled, cooked, and puréed
  • 2 tbsp. crème fraîche (bonus points if you made your own; if you’re without, you can use yogurt or sour cream)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup for rolling and kneading, reserved


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 head roasted garlic
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped and toasted (there are more hazelnuts in the picture above than are listed here because I find I have to make more than I need because I’ll eat half of the nuts laid out for the recipe no matter what. You do what you have to do, you know?)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

I used a food processor, but that’s because it’s Monday night, and at 7:00 pm you just don’t have all day. You don’t have to – if you don’t, though, this might be a recipe better suited to a weekend when you have a bit more time.

Thoroughly combine turnip, crème fraîche, egg, and spices in a large bowl. Gradually stir in flour until dough is formed.

Sprinkle reserved flour on a large surface. Cut dough in half, and form each half into baseball-sized pieces. Roll each piece until it’s about one half-inch in diameter. Slice half-inch chunks, dropping slices onto a cookie sheet until you’re ready to drop the lot into a pot of boiling water. As mentioned, I only used half of this, and froze the rest. But that’s because I only ever have to feed four people.

Boil for eight to ten minutes, in salted water, until gnocchi rise to the top.

In a large pan, melt the butter, and add the uncooked garlic, until you can just smell the buttery garlickness, until the garlic is just slightly golden. Squish in your roasted garlic, and add your gnocchi. Toss to coat.

Let simmer for two to three minutes, then toss with sage and hazelnuts. Let sit for another minute. Grate a bit of cheese over top, and season to taste.

Grate a little bit more cheese over top and sprinkle a bit of nutmeg over before serving. This ends up being quite an inexpensive, very filling feast, one that’s redolent of autumn warmth, especially now that it’s starting to feel a lot like winter. Perfect for an anniversary, or even the day after, with your favourite person or a few of them. Just enough turnip, more than enough but not too much garlic, and butter. You don’t need anything more, except maybe a dollop of that crème fraîche and a little bit of good wine.

There’s no reason why you can’t make gnocchi with any starchy, earthy thing you have on hand, and there’s no reason why you can’t make your own adventure when stranded a couple of hours from home. Both are the kind of thing you’ll surely talk about for a long while afterward.

A very long post about pumpkin pierogies.

Pumpkin patchery!A couple of weekends ago, my five-year-old nephew, who I call Comet, looked me squarely in the eye, as five-year-olds do, and asked when Nick and I were going to go with him to the pumpkin patch for an adventure. Hallowe’en is nearly upon us, and he is aware of the significance of pumpkin season. Pumpkin season means dressing up like Darth Vader and carving jack-o-lanterns and getting free candy and then Christmas starts coming up fast. Pumpkin season is very important to a small boy.

So Nick and I promised we’d go out and help him pick the perfect squash.

Nick, Dad, and Nephew.It was a chilly, damp day, the first day of the rainy season where any of us actually needed a scarf and gloves. And boots. Cold it was, so hipsters we were not.

There were also many, many pumpkins to consider.

... decisions ...

... decided. On the first one.

Of course, we go to the pumpkin patch as much for my Dad as for Comet. So there were several pumpkins at the end of the day, some of them too large for a small boy. But just right for an old guy.

A very good pumpkin.I only bought one pumpkin, a small one that weighed about three pounds. A tiny little guy. Perfect for cooking, as we can’t really have jack-o-lanterns at our place – it’s an apartment, and also we’re not really allowed to have fires in the hall anymore. My pumpkin came from under cover, because my gloves are more ornamental than functional and also I didn’t want to touch anything wet. I also bought a big, dense turban squash, which is going to be something wonderful once I figure out how many it’ll feed, and a few decorative gourds that aren’t hard or shellacked and that I am going to try and eat.

Pumpkins from a dry spot.

Decorative gourds. Clearly badass.

A lot of those pumpkins looked like they’d make a very good pie, but, to be honest, pumpkin season is pie-filled enough already, and I made two cakes last week. At a certain point, and you’ll know it when you’ve reached it, you can have too many baked goods. I know it’s hard to believe, but a lot of people never get there. I get there twice a week, which explains why my pants are so tight, and why my chin is quickly becoming chins. I’m pretending like that’s where all my extra sex-appeal is kept.

There are lots of things that you can do with pumpkin that doesn’t include pie or baked goods, things you can enjoy even if you hate pumpkins.

A really good thing you can do with pumpkin, or any squash really? PIEROGIES! Who doesn’t love them? No one, that’s who. Fact. And now, after making you look at my touching album of family-bonding pumpkin fun, you get an awesome recipe for deliciousness that you can top with buttery bacony caramelized onions. Which I think is the opposite of pumpkin pie (even though I love it done right), or, at the very least, resides at a much less hackneyed end of the spectrum.

Pumpkin Pierogies

(makes about four dozen)


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (go with the low-fat kind – it’s runnier, and makes the dough easier to work with. Don’t worry, you’ll make up for it by adding butter.)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter (you can use olive oil if you want. I’m not Polish, I don’t know the rules, or if there even are rules about olive oil in pierogies, so it’s not really breaking them even if there are rules.)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


  • 1 3lb. pumpkin, roasted, seeded, pureed, and drained (will amount to about 2 cups. You can also use canned pumpkin if you want – the colour will be a lot bolder. Substitute squash, or even yams or sweet potatoes, if you like.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon
  • 2 whole heads of garlic, roasted until soft and dark golden
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • Salt, to taste

First, make the dough.

Combine all your dough ingredients in a bowl, and stir until a dough is formed. It will be a stiff dough, and you will find that you need to knead it a fair bit at first – this is okay. Knead for about two minutes, then let rest in a bowl covered with a dish cloth, for about an hour. The goal here is for the flour to absorb and swell with the moisture of the wet ingredients, and also for the whole thing to get to room temperature, thus making it easier to roll out.

While the dough rests, make the filling.

I used a food processor, but you don’t have to. I prefer a uniform texture in my pierogies, and this is the easiest way. You can just mash everything together if you like – that’ll work perfectly well too.

Combine pumpkin, bacon, garlic, cheese, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well, then taste. Adjust your seasonings if need be. This would be the time to add salt if you feel like it.

Divide the dough into two pieces, rolling the first out until it’s about 1/8-inch thick, same as a pie crust. The dough should be nearly two feet long, and just over a foot wide when it’s all ready to be stamped.

Using a cookie cutter or glass (about two inches in diameter), stamp out rounds of dough. Get as many rounds as you can out of the dough; from the first batch of dough (rolled once, stamped, and then re-kneaded and rolled and stamped again) I got 27 rounds. Only roll each piece of dough twice – any more and it gets too stiff and hard to work with*.


Stretch each round out a little bit, and then let it sit like a taco in the crook of your hand. Fill each round with about a teaspoon and a half of filling. To close these, you might find a little dab of water along one edge useful. Pinch it together along the outside, but don’t squeeze the middle. Your first couple of attempts at this might be messy – that’s okay. Just freeze those ones. They’re good fried, and they don’t leak as much when you cook them that way.

Pierogie station.

Get someone to help you. It’s more fun when you have someone to talk to.

Nick pinches pierogies.

Most likely, you will end up with a bit too much filling. I did. But I always do. I scooped the remainder into a container and shoved it into the fridge – it’s going to be a lovely little helper for a bit of squash soup later this week. No waste! In fact, the little remnants of the dough? Roll them out, and cut them into 1/4-inch pieces, like skinny little gnocchi. Then freeze them as well – they are a lovely little addition to a bit of minestrone on a cold December day.

To serve fresh, and you will want to cook up at least a few for your efforts, caramelize some onions in butter with as much bacon as you like. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then drop your little dumplings in. They’ll be ready when they float to the top. It won’t take long.

Getting there ...

When they’re done, drop them into the onion pan, and coat with the buttery bacon, oh, let’s call it “sauce.” Serve with sour cream or good yogurt.

Enjoy. It tastes like pumpkin, to be sure, but not the pie kind. The sweetness of the roasted garlic and the salty cheesy bacon-ness do interesting things to the pumpkin – they give it a life of its own, and invite it to be itself, not hidden under a veil of cinnamon and cloves. I promise they’re worth a try. And you’ll end up with lots of them – freeze most of them. And then when you feel like pierogies again (soon), fry them in butter until the outsides are crisp and golden and serve with a lot of sour cream and chopped green onions. Marvelous. Wonderful. Lovely, and a great way to get that pumpkin goodness into your mouth.

Perfection, plated.




Dinner was fabulous. Wish you were here.

I didn't chop the mushrooms very finely because I'm sort of lazy like that.

At 6:30 pm, the apartment smelled like butter and garlic, and moist earth, as the mushrooms transformed themselves into duxelles. You could smell it down the hall, to the elevator, little whispers of thyme and bay leaf and a lick of white wine on top of everything, and it was like autumn decided on a signature fragrance and released it here, just for us. By 7:00 pm, it smelled like a grand sort of feast, the kind of thing you’d eat in a restaurant if you weren’t poor.

I wasn’t going to tell you about the burgers, because I figured they’d just be burgers like any other burger except with deer, and because I didn’t chop the mushrooms very finely, or even very well, so a lot of them were still in large chunks which means I did duxelles wrong. But they were marvelous, and sometimes things are better when you share them. If you have access to ground deer meat, you should absolutely make these. If you have a brother-in-law who hunts, hug him all the time.

Venison burgers with duxelles and brie

(makes four)

  • 1 lb. ground deer meat
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 small round of brie, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 batch of duxelles, made from 1/2 lb. mushrooms (I used garlic instead of shallots)
  • 4 hamburger buns

In a large bowl, working with your hands, combine the meat, butter, olive oil, garlic, seasoning, and egg yolk. Form into four equal-sized patties, and grill over medium heat, four to five minutes per side.

Spread buns with the condiments of your choosing. I minced some basil into some mayonnaise, and spread that on one half, with a bit of sweet Bavarian mustard on the other side. Maybe don’t use ketchup. It wouldn’t be right.

Divide duxelles between the four buns, placing them on the bottom. During the last minute of cooking, place two slices of brie on the tops of each burger, then remove from heat and place on top of duxelles. Let sit two to three minutes before serving, so that the cheese melts somewhat and the meat rests a bit.

The smell is magnificent. The taste? Oh, wow. It’s a wild sort of taste, big flavours with grassy touches from the cheese and the mild game-flavour in the meat. The basil adds to that, perfumes the whole thing. Drink a big red wine with this, a zinfandel or something like that. It’ll stand up nicely to the whole thing. It’s earthy and homey and wonderful, something you’d imagine eating if you were dating a lumberjack who lived in a log cabin but who also had excellent taste in wine and cheese. Just like that. And wouldn’t that be nice?

Anyway, I just wanted to tell someone about it. When you share a meal with boys intent on watching hockey, you don’t get to wax ecstatic about stuff like you would if you were eating with anyone else. Though I noticed that when the game was over, they were hardly heartbroken that the Canucks had lost. I’d like to think it had something to do with the meal.


This is not a post about turkey, because I’m not talking about leftovers yet.

It’s been another busy busy weekend, and we’re just at the end of it now. If you’re not Canadian, you probably didn’t do Thanksgiving this weekend, but up here, we celebrate in October. I don’t quite know why, because I had my head on my desk for much of Canadian history, because there is only so much one can hear about fur traders, and a certain amount less is all that can be absorbed by the brain and then retained. And I wanted to tell you what you should do with all that leftover turkey, but, to be honest? It can wait a day. Too much turkey all at once is why no one eats turkey at all the whole rest of the year. So leave the leftovers for now. We can talk about them tomorrow, or even the next day – they’ll still be there.

So instead of making turkey hash, sandwiches, curries, and soup, make fettuccine. With bacon and garlic. And since we’re very near first frost, gobble up the last of those heirloom tomatoes – they won’t be on the grocery shelves long. I inherited a five-pound bag of green tomatoes from my mom this weekend, and I’ve got big plans for them – I’ll tell you all about green tomato soup this week, I promise, and you’ll love it. But in the meantime, the red ones (and the yellow and orange and pink and striped ones) will be gone soon, and you must enjoy them while they last.

Tomatoes: The last of the fresh red ones for the season.Slice your tomatoes, and drizzle them with a little bit of good olive oil, a bit of your favourite vinegar, some chopped herbs, whatever kind, and a bit of cheese. And then set it aside, because in eleven minutes the rest of the feast will be ready.

You’ve probably been cooking all weekend, or at the very least doing a lot of things this weekend that took up a lot of your time, so pick up a package of fresh pasta. Dried pasta will work fine too, but dinner won’t be ready for sixteen minutes then, and you’ll want that extra five minutes for sitting and sipping wine and enjoying the quiet. You’ll be hovering over the stove souping up those leftovers soon enough.

Fettuccine Kind-of-Alfredo

  • 1 package fresh fettuccine noodles (350g or 3/4 lb.)
  • 3 strips of bacon, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated aged Gouda (or other hard aged cheese)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

While your pasta water is on its way to boiling, fry up your slices of bacon over medium-high heat.

When they are crisp and brown, reduce to medium, and add the butter and the garlic. About this time, the water should be boiling – dump in your pasta, and boil for three minutes. Right before the pasta is done, add the cream to your buttery garlicky bacon, and let simmer until the pasta is to your liking.

Dump the pasta into the frying pan, and then add the cheeses. I find that tongs are most useful for mixing this all together – you want the cheese to be melty but not sticky, and you don’t want the noodles to feel dry. If this has happened, add more cream. Nothing bad ever happens if you add a little bit more cream.

Once coated, toss with fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with a side of sliced tomatoes, and revel in the easiness of this. This weekend marks the beginning of the eating season, which often means a lot of large, complicated meals that, while delicious, are an awful lot of work. There’s a lot to be said for lazy, hearty pasta dishes during this time of year – they’re like lulls, and you should certainly enjoy them (with wine).

The long shot.Busy week though last one was, I hope to be able to tell you about a lot of lovely things this week. It may be soup week, because I’ve got a bit of zucchini and onion that’s itching to be made into this spicy Korean thing that will surely kill any cold that threatens you, and that green tomato business that I mentioned before. And the stew. You want a showstopper stew that’s not actually all that much work but tastes like you slow-cooked it for two days? Got it, in a pumpkin. And maybe something with turkey, though there’s a lot to be said for freezing the leftovers for a week or two. Or three. Maybe I’ll haul it out to celebrate American Thanksgiving in a month or so. It’ll be about time for it again then, yes? I think that sounds about right. But I’ll let you know if anything changes. And in the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving!

The close-up.

In which it takes me a very long time to get to the point, the point being soufflé.

This was going to be a post about blackberries, because we’re right smack in the middle of a DIY revolution and I’m calling myself a revolutionary because I’ve never been cool and I thought this – this – might be my chance. I was going to pick the berries, and then preserve them elegantly with plums and other berries and Christmas spices, which is a thing I discovered in England (at the Queen’s grocer, no less) and give them to everyone at the holidays, which I believe is the pinnacle of DIY … that is, inflicting crap you made on people at Christmas under the guise of caring even though they know you’re actually just cheap.

Pickers.Anyway. This was going to be a post about blackberries, but it isn’t.

And let me show you why:

Sharp.Prickles. No, thorns. I was expecting a magical time where fat little blackberries would pop right off the plant into my palm, all juicy and lovely, just begging me to turn them into blackberry sorbet and Christmas jam. Instead, the berries were mostly red, and the black ones were almost all hidden behind skin-shredding barbs, almost all of them out of my reach. I think we gave it a solid 40 minutes before Grace was all, “Can we go home now?”

Stupid little jerks.And so we piled into James’ car and headed back home, a little disgruntled. Revolution isn’t supposed to be so prickly, I thought. I didn’t pick enough to do much with, so I turned them begrudgingly into clean-out-the-crisper jam. Which might be my best jam of the season, as it turns out, but I didn’t write it down so I can’t tell you about it until I reconstruct the recipe. Next year.

The surprise of the morning, the thing I’ve been dawdling at telling you about, was the soufflé. One can’t participate in any sort of revolution without a rich breakfast.

I am not sure how one finds himself in his third decade without so much as a taste of soufflé, but neither Grace nor James had ever made or consumed soufflé ever before, not even once. Le shock! Which leads me to believe that there are others. And I hope to correct that.

Soufflé is a kind of fluffy egg cloud filled with cheese, held up by butter and cream, and flavoured with any of many spices, the combination of which makes your kitchen smell like France. Not the sewery smells that unhappy tourists report, of course, but the France of my, and perhaps your imagination. Eggs and cheese. Melting. Fluffy. Clouds. That’s all the introduction I needed.

This recipe was adapted by Molly Wizenberg from Julia Child, and I’ve since adapted it a bit further. Recipes are not things to just read and obey – they are suggestions, and if you have no gruyere but you have gouda, don’t go out and buy a different sort of cheese. And if you feel like cumin seeds? Add those too. Hate nutmeg? Omit it then. This is a dish you can make entirely out of things you already have on hand. And breakfast should never be any more complicated than that.

Classic Cheese Soufflé

(Serves four to six as a main course.)

  • 2 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated gouda cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Butter a six-cup (1 1/2-quart) soufflé dish. I used my Corningware dish that looks like a giant ramekin. I think that’s what’s meant by a soufflé dish. Round. It should be round. Add Parmesan cheese, coating the bottom and sides. Don’t worry if it doesn’t get everywhere.

Warm milk in small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming.

At the same time, melt the butter in larger saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for about 3 minutes, until it is golden and doughy. Do not let it brown. Remove from heat and let stand for one minute. Pour in warm milk, whisking until smooth. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly until very thick, another three minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in paprika, cumin, salt, and nutmeg. Add egg yolks one at a time, whisking to blend after each addition. Scrape soufflé base into large bowl. Cool to lukewarm. I made this part ahead, and then went fussed about with the music for a little while, and bothered Nick.

Beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into soufflé base, so that the mixture begins to look airy, and the colour is lighter. Fold in 1/2 the remaining whites while gradually adding cheese, then fold the remaining whites into the batter. Do not stir. If you stir it, you’ll break it.

Pour batter into your buttered dish.

Place dish in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake until soufflé is puffed and golden brown on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes (do not open oven door during first 20 minutes). Serve immediately. People will be excited that you’ve placed this in front of them.

CHEESE CLOUD!Serve with a vegetable. I grilled some fresh pattypan squash (toss halved squash in olive oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper, grill six to eight minutes per side) instead of frying up hash browns because it’s summer squash season.


Breakfasty.A little bread and jam is nice too, and bacon makes everything better, so don’t forget that. All in all, an excellent start to the day, even if the day made us bleed. Note to self: Just buy blackberries. And definitely, DEFINITELY make soufflé.

A meatball held together by melted cheese is structurally unsound. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t all kinds of delicious.

Perhaps by now you’ve noticed a theme: I really like meatballs. And pancakes. In fact, if you were trying to seduce me, a meatball pancake would probably earn you more credit than flowers, which are lovely but inedible for the most part.

It was finally sunny and hot again today, so I thought, “I could totally barbecue meatballs!” And technically, you can. But then I was like, “I could make cheesy meatballs covered in barbecue sauce and put them on skewers!” Which didn’t seem like it would fail at first. Science and I are aware of each other, but we’ve never moved beyond first names. Apparently, as mentioned up there in the title, a meatball filled with molten cheddar is tasty, but not inclined to hold up to flipping or skewering.

I’m going to give you the recipe, and then I’m going to tell you to paint barbecue sauce on them and bake them in the oven. I always forget about the last thing I cremated on the grill, and then when I go to cook something outside, there are fires and I have to use the scrapey brush and Nick gets mad at me for being sloppy and lazy, and doesn’t agree that his repetitiveness could also be annoying.

First, blend yourself a cocktail. You know what’s tasty with alcohol? Strawberries and rhubarb, sweetened as much or as little as you like.

I stewed some rhubarb and strawberries on Wednesday and threw about four cups' worth into the freezer for baked goods, and it turned out that the concoction worked marvellously when used for fruity blender drinks. Success!
I stewed some rhubarb and strawberries on Wednesday and threw about four cups' worth into the freezer for baked goods, and it turned out that the concoction worked marvellously when used for fruity blender drinks. Success!

Then, do this:

Cheesy Barbecue Meatballs

(Makes 12 to 14 meatballs)

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp. barbecue sauce (plus additional sauce for painting over the meatballs)
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

I pretty much always tell you to do the same thing here. Mix everything in a bowl using your hands. Perhaps I will attempt to be less repetitive in coming weeks, eating something other than meatballs. You can stuff other things with cheese, after all.

Roll into twelve to fourteen balls, about golf-ball size.

Meatballs.Paint with barbecue sauce. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Now, I put mine on skewers:

Ball piercing.Which allowed them to get good and charred. If you like the idea of this, throw them on the grill for a few minutes to get all flame-kissed.

I really thought the skewers would work. But I was enjoying my cocktail, as one does, and so called Nick to come help me flip them. (By which I mean, I called Nick to do it for me.) And he broke them. They looked like this:

It's also all his fault that this photo is blurry.
It's also all his fault that this photo is blurry.

Just bake them. They will maintain their structural integrity that way, and you will maintain your cool. And you will have a lot more time to sip your drink on the patio in the sunshine.

Tomorrow I am going to go cherry picking, and so there will be something new and interesting to tell you about. I promise to show you something amazing that you’ve never seen before. Unless I totally let you down. Because I’ve never done that before. Happy Friday!

This whole post is little more than me bragging about my day off. Which was awesome. I crave your envy.

Long before Nick, there was the city. Having grown up outside of it, and just out of its reach, I was determined to someday get here and renounce my suburban roots. Vancouver to me is like Paris to people who’ve been there and loved it – it occupies my imagination as much as my reality, and it’s wonderful. The water! The buildings! The markets! The wine! I smugly wonder why anyone would ever live anywhere else but here (the cost of housing? The long stretches of grey weather? No! That could not be). I do this mostly on bicycle.


Last night, Paul, Nick, and I went to Granville Island for the opening night of the Altar Boyz, a tremendously raucous bit of blasphemy that had my face cramped with laughter and my mascara running all the way down my cheeks. Before that, we sat on the patio at the Backstage Lounge, which is fantastic not for its food, which costs more than it’s worth and is generally subpar, but for its patio, with water views and generous sunbeams. The cheap beer also helps.



Moules!I had mussels, which were not memorable, but they were pretty, and they reminded me that I love shellfish and had not had it in nearly long enough. With the promise of a busy Nick this evening, I knew that this was my chance: Clams! I would alert Grace of my desire to feast, and we would eat bread and clams and drink refreshing summer wines. So I returned to Granville Island today, because The Lobster Man just beyond the public market is my favourite place to buy shellfish. Oh, the adventure!


And along the way, I became distracted, as always, by Oyama Sausage, which is the most wonderful place in the world. Fact. I decided, having just purchased a short, me-size baguette and sweet little local/overpriced strawberries, that in addition to the clams, I would also buy lunch.


There’s a large Frenchman there who gave me his name but it was jumbled, the way French is, and I could not piece it together in any logical way. He asked for my order in French (I don’t know why), and in order to not seem like a jerk, I responded in High School French, what little I recall of it. (Although, if he’d asked me to sing a song about Les Pompiers, I would have been able to. That stupid song – about firemen – is etched into the recesses of my brain. Thanks, Grade 8. THANKS.) He laughed, apparently tickled by my efforts. What wonderful samples I was handed as a result!

I ordered Delice de Bourgogne, which is possibly the most delicious cheese in the world except for all the other ones, and decadent, oily duck prosciutto. Then I wandered into Liberty, intent on picking out a wine that Grace would surely enjoy, and then discovered cherry wine, which I couldn’t not buy – I had to consider lunch! I wonder how long it takes to get gout. Note to self: look into that.

Sixty dollars later, I finally made it to Lobster Man, the entire purpose of my trip. Mindful that everything I had purchased would have to fit into my backpack, I resisted the urge to buy every kind of oyster, sticking with my original clam plan. Cramming my day’s purchases into my pack, I raced home, in part to get the clams into the fridge as quickly as possible. But mostly to get to the sandwich, which by that point was actually shrieking my name. Here it is:


SDC10672I’ve now discovered that everything tastes better when you order it in French. (Be warned, favourite restaurants, most of which are not French.) And the strawberries were fantastic – little bombs of sweet red glory! How perfect with just a touch of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of basil and black pepper. I don’t care how much cheaper it is to buy a townhouse in Surrey: I’m never living any farther than a bikeride away from duck prosciutto and still-breathing shellfish and cheeses with names I can barely pronounce and wonderful, obnoxious French men. Vancouver: Nevermind how often I whine about your weather – I love you!

Tomorrow will be less a love-fest and more an actual, respectable post about clams, a recipe for clams, and strawberries in honeyed whipped cream. Stay tuned?

Sweet potato gnocchi: Just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you have to eat poverty food.

Sweet potato gnocchi with sundried tomatoes and basil.

When I called this thing “well fed, flat broke,” it was because payday was looming on the not-too-distant horizon and we had no money, but the quality of our meals did not suffer. And I thought it was appropriate, because even on nights when we literally have nothing left to show for all our hard work, we still manage to eat fantastically well.

This is in part due to my compulsive tendency to hoard when times are good – we always have a fridge full of basics that can be spun into something you’d want to eat. I think it’s also because our cute little existences would end in very clumsy suicide if we had to come home to Kraft Dinner and wieners every night once the cable’s been cut off (it has) and our astronomical debt rears its ugly head (it continues to). I cook because we love to eat, and because we don’t care to be reminded all the time about how many ways we suck (so stop calling, Canada Student Loans). A good meal makes us feel better, like regular people who are good at life and who manage to live on what they earn. A crappy meal reminds us that we are little more than 26- and 27-year-old children playing grown-up. So we are well fed.

And, today, we are flat broke.

But I have basil in the fridge, and sundried tomatoes, and sweet potatoes, and I felt like dining in a spot of sunshine and pretending I was anywhere else, and preferably somewhere where sand in my bathing suit would be my biggest worry at any given time. It’s very easy to indulge those fantasies – all you need is a little bit of preparation.

Oh! Before I get started, I wanted to show you what I mean by “two medium sweet potatoes.” I find that the size of vegetables is very subjective and varies from place to place and depends on what time of year it is.

I am aware of the unfortunate resemblance ... I wanted to show you the shot from the other angle, but at that point the resemblance wasn't merely unfortunate, it was uncanny, and sort of gross.
I am aware of the unfortunate resemblance.

Sweet potato gnocchi

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, baked (bake in a 400°F oven for one hour – cool completely before working with these … I recommend doing this the night before)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (plus additional flour for kneading – the amount will depend on how much moisture is in your sweet potatoes)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, mash your sweet potatoes. Add the flour, the egg, the orange zest, and the nutmeg, white pepper, and salt.

Ingredients.Mix these together until the whole thing forms a dough. It will be a very soft dough, which means that you will need to work a bit more flour into it. As mentioned, this amount is variable, and depends on how wet your potatoes are – I needed an additional cup, plus some to keep the gnocchi from sticking together once formed.

Once a dough is formed, divide it into six chunks of about equal size. I saved one, and threw the rest into the fridge to keep them cool while I worked. Roll the chunk out into a long dough snake. (Official term.) I rolled mine until it was about a half-inch in diameter. Then, cut the dough into small pieces, about half to three-quarters of an inch. If you know how to roll the gnocchi with a fork to make it look nice, go for it. If you’re like me and you just mangle the shit out of it, then you can call the little pieces done. Put them on a tray lined with floured parchment while you cut apart the rest of the dough.

Throw these in a pot of boiling water, and then when they rise to the top, they’re done, about seven minutes. You’ll probably end up with more than you can eat, and if that’s the case then you can freeze the uncooked gnocchi for another fun time.

Once cooked, I tossed these in a pan with two tablespoons melted butter, a 1/2 cup of chopped sundried tomatoes, a whole roasted garlic (with the cloves squished out), and a generous smattering of basil (reserve a bit to top the pasta with). I also threw in a handful of parmesan cheese.

Gnocchi in pan.Serve topped with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Imagine you’re somewhere drenched in sun that smells like lemons. Drink red wine. Eat. Enjoy.

It may not look like a lot, but this was remarkably filling. Nick couldn't even finish my leftovers.
It may not look like a lot, but this was remarkably filling. Nick couldn’t even finish my leftovers.

Sometimes I feel like I am being followed around by my own personal fail whale, and I am not Ahab. Or, “Coconut Layer Cake: A delicious summer treat.”


As a 1930s wife, I am

Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!

And I am reminded again of my many failings. And though I don’t put too much stock in this one – Nick took the husband version of the test and was also slapped with a big fat FAIL – it does remind me that I do suck at a great many things. This does, and the cake I made for Sooin.

The cake was delicious: coconut, sweet, and frosted with goat cheese icing. But it was fugly as all get-out, and by now, I’ve run through all the different ways in which it was not my fault (I lost my round cake pans, my apartment was too hot and the icing didn’t set, there was not enough time, there’s never enough time). Tasty though it was, if we’re judging on appearance, I get another big fat FAIL. I wish I made cakes that look like this:

SuperStock_1555R-191028But I make cakes that look like this:

Cake (not pretty).My cake has personality. And character. That other cake is probably made with Splenda and ground-up babies. And it will probably give you cancer. It’s too pretty – you can’t trust it.

Make my cake. Use your round cake pans, cut each layer in half and stack them together, and ice the thing when the weather is cooler. As I mentioned, I made a frosting with goat cheese, and it was lovely – just make cream cheese icing, but instead of cream cheese, use goat cheese. It’s tart and wonderful and will make a rich, delicious frosting that you’ll want to eat with your fingers. But I was thinking about it today, and I think it would have been even better as a layer cake frosted and filled with whipped cream. It would have been effortless, and beautiful if sprinkled with a smattering of toasted coconut.

Coconut Layer Cake

(Two 8-inch round cake pans. Or one 9×13 slab.)

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream together your butter and sugar until the mixture is lighter in colour and fluffy. Drop in your yolks (reserve your whites in a separate bowl), and continue to beat.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. While still beating the butter/sugar/egg mixture, add the flour in by the cup. After the first cup of flour, add in about half of the coconut milk. And then add another cup of the flour, and then the other half of the coconut milk. Add in the vanilla, and then the final cup of flour. Beat it.

In that other bowl, whip your egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Once these are all ready to go, fold these into the batter.

Egg whites being folded into batter.What’s folding? It’s easier than maybe it sounds. You’ll literally be folding the batter over the egg whites, combining the two substances gently until one is integrated into the other.

Pour into your cake pans, which you will, of course, have lined along the bottom with perfectly fitted parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the centre clean. Let rest in pans for five minutes, then turn onto racks to cool. I really think you should frost this with too much whipped cream.

Serve. Enjoy. Personality goes a long way.

Blurry photo of cake.