I’m craving fresh, cool, crunchy vegetables, instead. Minced green herbs that pack a punch. And a dressing that has a fiery afterglow.
This is one of my go-to salads in the summer. I make a batch of it, and leave it in the fridge, and then pull some out for lunches. You could also serve this alongside BBQ-grilled (look, Ma, no oven!) chicken or skewers of prawns.
I made this with Japanese Soba Noodles, which are a buckwheat-based noodle (sadly, they also have regular wheat, so they are not gluten-free), but if you could also easily substitute ramen.
The dressing is inspired by a Satay Sauce. If you’ve ever had delicious grilled skewers of meat at the Richmond Night Market, or a Thai restaurant, you’ll get the direction I’m headed in. It’s a peanut-based sauce with the sharpness of vinegar, the saltiness of soy, the heat of chilies and fresh ginger, and the sweetness of a little brown sugar.
You can put whatever vegetables you like with this–I like sweet red bell peppers, scallions, shredded carrots and snow peas. They all add sweetness and crunch.
Asian-Inspired Soba Noodle Salad
For the salad:
1/2 package soba noodles, cooked in gently boiling water for about 5-6 minutes, then drained and held under cold, running water
1/2-1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3-4 scallions, green parts only, sliced on the diagonal
1/2 package of sugar snap peas, sliced into 1/2″ sections on the diagonal
2 large carrots, shredded
1/2 cup finely diced cilantro (optional)
For the dressing:
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
½ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced (or shredded on the smallest setting of your grater)
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp hot chili flakes (optional)
In a small saucepan, place all the ingredients, and heat gently until everything comes together. If the dressing is too thick, you can add water, vegetable oil, or more sesame oil to thin it. Toss dressing with the noodles and all the salad ingredients. Refrigerate until cold. Garnish with sesame seeds or chopped peanuts, and freshly-chopped scallions or cilantro.
I might be late to his party, but I am going to party it up to make up for lost time!
The party I’m referring to? Salad in Jar.
I must confess, I don’t actually like salad all that terribly much. Say what you want, but making a peanut-butter sandwich or grabbing some cheese and crackers is a much speedier lunch for me when I’m working, rather than going through all the washing, peeling and chopping to make a salad. And then, there’s always a tinge of dissatisfaction when I’m done eating a salad. And I’m often hungry again a couple hours later.
In order for me to really enjoy a salad and feel satisfied by it, it needs to have protein (to last me longer), texture, and sweetness. It needs to be complex. Hearty. A pile of lettuce with a few shredded veg on top ain’t gonna cut it.
The solution to all my dilemmas exists in 4 words: Salad in a Jar. Now, Salad in a Jar is the Pinterest phenomenon that’s been around for at least a couple of years. But for some reason (probably because I’m not turned on by salads), I never tried one until a couple of weeks ago. But now I’m hooked.
It answers all my problems: issues of time, money, satisfaction, and healthy eating can all be solved by Salad in a Jar.
Here’s how: you book some time on Sunday (it’ll probably take you less than an hour), and put together five of these things for the week. Then, they just live in the fridge, and every day, on your way out the door, you grab one. You have two options: you can pour your salad into a large bowl at work, or you can shake the bejesus out of it in the jar (to distribute the dressing) and eat it straight from the jar. Either one works, although the bowl option is more elegant and easier to eat, while the straight-from-the-jar option is more convenient, as you can eat it anywhere. It’s entirely up to you.
Here’s how to build the ultimate Salad in a Jar.
Lettuce: I like romaine or green leaf. Iceberg… not so much ($1.29).
Vegetables: whatever you like. You get to decide. I like carrots ($1.99), cucumbers ($1.29), sweet grape tomatoes ($2), and sugar snap peas ($1.67).
Grains: grains are awesome to add to your salad for texture, but also for some much-needed B-vitamins and for extra fibre. You can use cooked quinoa (about $5/bag), barley (less than $2/bag), buckwheat groats, or bulgur. Any of these is likely available in bulk quite inexpensively, a week’s worth should only cost you about $2-3.
Protein: I need protein! A salad alone won’t keep me going. I like to add hard-boiled eggs ($1.89 for 1/2 dozen), some canned tuna ($.99), canned chickpeas ($.89), or even leftover cooked chicken or shrimp.
Something sweet: I like fruit in mine to give the salad a sweetness. You can either use a dried fruit, like apricots, dates, cranberries or raisins ($2-4/per package), or fresh, seasonal fruit, like sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, figs, or peaches (which are all selling for $2-3 per package right now).
Something crunchy: while the vegetables themselves certainly have a crunch, I like nuts or something to give my salad a textural component. You could use any kind of nuts or seeds, lightly toasted, or tortilla chips (bought or homemade). Roasted chickpeas would also be good. While nuts can be expensive, seeds, like pumpkin can be bought for less than $2/per bag, or you can simply buy at a bulk store, and pay less than $5.
Cheese. Yeah. I need cheese. The end. It adds both protein and creamy mouth-feel. You should be able to get enough cheese for a week’s worth for $3-5.
Dressing. Use your store-bought favourite, or make your own. (about $2.50)
If you’re careful, you should be able to purchase all the ingredients you need for your week’s worth of salads for $20. That’s $4 per lunch! Awesome.
When it comes to jars, you have a few options. I like the 1 litre Bernardin Wide Mouth Jars. You can buy a dozen for $13.99 at Canadian Tire, or you can try your luck at the Sally Ann or Value Village. Another option is Dollar Stores. I saw some cute 750 ml wide-mouth snap-top glass jars at my local Dollar Tree for $1.50 each. What’s important is that it’s big enough to hold a hearty salad, and has a tight-fitting lid.
1. Start by doing any cooking or toasting you need to do, to let hot things get as cool as possible before building your salads. Hard-boil eggs, toast seeds or nuts, and cook your grains.
2. Next do vegetable prep: cut and wash and spin dry your lettuce. Slice or shred your vegetables. Grate your cheese. Wash and chop your fruit.
3. Once everything is prepped, you’re ready to assemble. Line up your jars, and start by putting a couple tablespoons of dressing in the bottom of each one. This is incredibly important, because this is how your salad stays crisp. Then layer in your ingredients starting from the hearty to the more delicate. First up: hearty vegetables: carrots, peas, cucumbers. The next layer is grains. The next layer is cheese, and then proteins. You can also keep the proteins separate, and just throw them in at the last minute, if that makes you more comfortable. Now add your sweet fruits, tomatoes, and your textural component. Your jar should now be about halfway full. Fill the rest of the jar with lettuce.
4. Screw or snap on the lid on tight, and store them in the fridge until ready to eat. That’s it! You just saved time and money, and you have a delicious, healthy lunch for every day this week.
What’s your favourite Salad in a Jar recipe? I’d love to hear in the comments section below.
Earlier this week, I shared a recipe for Green Tea Ice Cream. Now, that recipe and this one have one thing in common, and that is, that neither of them is a traditional custard ice cream. While my Green Tea Ice Cream did use eggs and a more traditional custard, it called for the whipping cream to be whipped, and added after the custard was made. This results in a much smoother, velvetier texture.
This ice cream is made with no eggs at all, as it’s thickened with corn starch instead of egg yolks. It is, I would argue, closer to a gelato than an ice cream, given its dense, chocolately texture. It’s also lighter than regular ice cream, as it uses half-and-half, which is usually around 10% fat, as opposed to the 30% of heavy (otherwise known as whipping) cream.
Don’t let any of that “healthier” stuff deceive you, though. This ice cream packs a chocolatey wallop. The texture thicker, more pudding-like, but the addition of the cherry-flavoured bourbon and some fresh cherries (or cherry preserve) kick it up just one more notch.
It’s rich and satisfying and super decadent, but without being really high in fat.
8 fresh cherries, pitted and chopped, or 2 tbsp cherry preserves
1½ tbsp cornstarch
¼ cup half and half
¼ cup Red Stag Cherry-Flavoured Bourbon
1. In a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized saucepan, bring 2 cups of the milk and the cherries or the cherry preserves, to a simmer, over medium-low heat. 2. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa and cornstarch, then whisk in the remaining cup of milk as well as half and half. 3. Stir the cocoa mixture into the hot milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture bubbles. Cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. 4. Remove from heat and whisk in the bourbon. 5. Pour the mixture into a clean bowl and cover the surface of the mixture with plastic wrap. Chill until completely cool, at least a couple of hours, ideally overnight. 6. Churn the ice cream according to your ice cream maker manufacture’s directions.
Summer has arrived in full force here in Vancouver, and we’re currently in the middle of a heat wave. The Sprout and I have been logging tons of time at our local pool, and it rocks.
I think, in some ways, that I’m lucky. Cold affects me more than heat does. I would much rather be too hot than too cold, if I had the choice. I can handle it–as long as it’s not sticky and humid–that’s the stuff that kills me.
But this current balmy weather is suiting me just fine! I’m eating tons of salads, I bought a boat load of local strawberries, cherries and blueberries at the farmer’s market, and this week, I’m cooling down with ice cream.
Ice cream! It’s the best, right? Cold, creamy, delicious.
If you’ve ever had green tea ice cream before, it’s likely it was a Japanese restaurant. Green Tea and Mango ice creams are often on the dessert menu at sushi bars.
This recipe is made with a special kind of green tea called Matcha. It’s not like the loose tea leaves or the tea bags that you buy to make a cuppa. It’s a much more concentrated form of green tea, and it’s perfect for making green tea lattes (iced would be nice this time of the year), which I love made with vanilla soy milk. I also often add a teaspoon or so (I’ve been using Kiss Me Organics Matcha, and I love it!) to my morning smoothie. You see, matcha is high in antioxidants, and even in such small quantities, because it’s so concentrated, it’s a good little bonus.
It’s also perfect for making ice cream.
Most ice cream recipes are based on a custard, which requires you to take egg yolks, sugar, and whipping cream, and heat them on the stove. After it’s cooled down, you make the ice cream in your ice cream maker. What I love about this recipe is that instead of adding the whipped cream to the custard, you whip the cream, and then fold it into the cooled eggs-milk-sugar-matcha mixture. This results in a much lighter and creamier texture–it’s incredibly smooth and velvety on your tongue. Le sigh. Le deliciousness.
Place the matcha powder in a small bowl, and add the hot water to it. Stir well to dissolve.
Place the milk, egg yolks and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot over low-medium heat, and mix well. Heat until steaming and just about ready to boil. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla bean seeds and the dissolved matcha slurry. Whisk well to dissolve.
Pour the mixture into a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, ensuring the wrap is stuck to the top of the custard, to keep it from getting a skin. Place in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight, to completely cool.
Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Fold gently into the cooled matcha custard.
Freeze according to your ice cream manufacturer’s directions. I have a Cuisinart, and it takes about 20-30 minutes in mine.
Let’s face it: nothing quite says “summer” like a good burger done on the grill. If you are a carnivore, your first choice will likely be a big ol’ slab of beef, but if you are vegetarian or vegan, sometimes choices can be, shall we say… less than tasty?
Despite the fact I don’t eat a lot of meat, I’m not a huge fan of tofu. I’ve never been able to cook it so that it didn’t taste like anything but tofu, so I don’t buy it often. There are certainly commercial veggie burger brands on the market: Yves, Money’s and Morning Star (available at Trader Joe’s in the States, or at Pirate Joe’s on 4th), all make palatable varieties. I’ve been known to buy the Costco packs and pull them out of the freezer as needed.
But I was curious: if I want to make my own. what is the best veggie burger recipe? There are a bunch of options out there, like a tofu, or TVP-based burger, a grain-based burger made with rice, oats or quinoa, a bean-based burger, a nut-based burger, or a mushroom- and vegetable-based burger. Often, recipes will combine a few or all of these together.
The challenge with veggie burgers is often with texture and how well they bind together or hold up to grilling. And they can sometimes be dry.
I gathered four of the finest culinary palates in the city (okay, not really, but they were hungry and willing and honest, and most had been, or currently were, vegetarians), and four veggie burger recipes. I didn’t tell the subjects what the basis of each of the burgers was, or where I had gotten the recipe from. I just made them and served them. They were required to try each burger naked, and then they could add whatever condiments they liked. The tasting team was rounded out by my 11-year-old son/food critic. Each of the tasters scored each burger on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the greatest), rating it on Taste, Texture and then gave it an overall rating. I will add some additional comments on each about how complicated the burger was to make.
Let me say for the record (and I know I’m not alone here), but The Kitchn is one of my all-time favourite go-to food blogs. They seldom steer me wrong.
This burger is a beet-based burger, so we immediately called it “Pink Delight.” For obvious reasons. The beets pair with hearty brown rice and black beans, and are flavoured with onions, garlic, smoked paprika, mustard, cumin and coriander.
“A little soft, liked the cumin.”
“Nicely moist. The colour’s a bit much, though.”
“Works great with the pesto, cumin was great, too.”
“Since I hate beets, I can’t quite love this one. But otherwise good. Moist.” –this last comment from Jen, who sucked it up and took one for the team and tried the burger, despite having a serious beet aversion.
My note:SO MUCH WORK (yup, in capital letters). You have to roast the beets. Then you have to peel them. Then you have to grate them. Then you have to sauté the aromatics. Finally, you puree everything together in the food processor, but yeesh. A lot of work. And my kitchen ended up looking like a scene from a Tarantino movie.
The basis of this burger is chickpeas, so we dubbed it the “Falafel Burger.” It’s filled with Mediterranean spices, like cumin, coriander, and fresh cilantro. I also made a pesto/mayo/yogurt spread that went really nicely with this burger in particular. Reactions were unanimous: we all like Falafel. We just don’t want to eat it in a burger.
“Too much like falafel. Not enough ‘heft’.”
“It’s tasty. Reasonably moist. But it’s a falafel, and I wouldn’t want to eat it in a burger bun.”
“Tasty, but a tad mushy. Overall, not bad!”
My note: easy–just huck stuff in blender.
Total Score: 50 (every single person gave this one a 10)
Everyone took one look at this burger, and immediately agreed it needed to be called “The Hippie Burger.” Not shocking. Tofino is hippie central, and this burger is totally vegan. I was completely smitten with Sobo when I ate there a few months back, and have been avidly cooking from this book since I got it. This is the heartiest of all the burgers–there’s quinoa, portobellos, pumpkin and flax seeds as well as carrots, spiced with cumin, coriander and chilli.
“Lacks moisture. A bit too crunchy. Better with BBQ sauce. Good in a bun.”
“Best in a bun. Needs sweetness. Exactly what a carnivore thinks vegetarians eat.”
My notes: also a lot of work. Not quite as much as the beet burger, but still a lot to do and many, many steps. Wish I’d pureed it more. The recipe said to leave it chunky, but I don’t think that worked.
This burger is a nut-based burger, in this case, walnuts. You add some breadcrumbs and eggs to bind, blitz it in the food processor, and bam! Burgers.
“Tasty and satisfying. Goes with a bun and burger condiments.”
“Too pasty. Needs seasoning.”
My notes:While it was probably the easiest one of the four to make, it was my least favourite to eat. The insides were mushy and pasty and not a very pleasant texture. It didn’t taste good. However, two of my tasters, Jen-the-beet-hater and Michael, said it was their favourite, and the most “burger like” of the four.
Total Score: 46
The Best Veggie Burger?? By a hair, TheBest Ever Veggie Burger. I’ll be making these again, but this time, instead of cooking the beets, I’m going to juice them, and use the pulp to make the burgers. I’ll be back with my adaptation of the recipe if they are a success!
What’s your favourite veggie burger? Share in the comments below–despite the research, I don’t think my search is over!
Big love to Michelle, Jen, Jen-who-hates-beets, and Kristi for being fantastic taste-testers and good sports.
Scapes! Scapes! Scapes! I’m obsessed. Every year I look forward to early June, when the Scapes are in season at the Farmer’s Market. I buy handfuls and then come home and turn them into pesto. The season is short, so I usually go back every week until they are gone just to snag more.
With ice cube trays full of frozen pesto now safely stowed in the freezer, I started thinking about other things I could do with scapes. Last year, I’d tried making a jam, but it failed miserably. I added a couple more fails to that count this year, but I finally hit on the right recipe.
The idea for this jam is more along the lines of a red pepper jelly–combining sweet, along with spicy, the tang of the vinegar, and, in this case, garlicky goodness.
I’d serve Garlic Scape Jam atop a baguette or crackers and cream cheese or brie. It brings a savoury element and pairs nicely with the softness of the cheese.
I think this would also be killer to serve with any grilled meats. Try including it in your favourite glaze recipe (many glazes call for jam or preserves) to finish off grilled chicken, pork or steak.
The sweet-savory with the hint of garlic really, really rocks.
I have one of these awesome home canning kits from Bernardin, and they sent me another one, so I thought I’d give it away to one of you so you can make your own Garlic Scape Jam or whatever you like!
It comes with:
a rack for easily raising and lowering your jars into the canning bath
a 21 quart canner
a jar lifter
a magnetic lid lifter (this is my fave thing!)
a bubble remover
a 4 pack Collection Elite decorative jars with lids
Original Crystals pectin and
a recipe booklet.
To win: in the comments section below, tell me what you’d make with your new canning kit.
(fine print: this contest is only open to residents of the Lower Mainland, as I will deliver it to you myself. Contest closes July 20.)
2/3 cup Garlic scapes, washed–trim off anything above the flower
2 green Bell peppers, washed, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 cup white or apple cider vinegar
5 cups sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional–if you like a little heat)
1 package Bernardin liquid Pectin
Place 6 clean 250 ml mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside. Heat SNAP LID® sealing discs in hot water, not boiling (180°F/82°C). Keep jars and sealing discs hot until ready to use.
Chop up the scapes into manageable 2″ sections, and put them in the blender. Blend the crap out of them until they are nicely pureed. Place them in a large, heavy-bottomed, stainless steel pot.
Repeat the same process (pureeing) with the green peppers, and add them to the pot as well, including any liquid that results from the blending.
Now add the vinegar and the sugar (and the hot pepper if you are using), and stir everything well to mix. Bring to a boil and allow to slow boil for 10 minutes. Add the pectin, and hard boil for one minute to thicken.
Using the funnel, ladle jam into hot jar to within 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using the air bubble tool, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more jam. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Using your magnetic lid lifter, pull a lid out of the hot water, and centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining jam.
Using the jar lifter, fill up the canning rack that you’ve placed in the canner, in the position where it’s not in the water. Lower the rack into the water, ensuring that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft (305 m), process – boil filled jars – 10 minutes.*
When processing time is complete, turn stove off, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands (listen for the “pop”s! It’s the most satisfying sound in the world!).
After cooling check jar seals. Sealed lids curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.
Currently still in the theatres, Chef is a movie about… not shockingly… a chef! Jon Favreau writes, directs and stars in this piece about a man who is lost and finds himself in the kitchen. The film starts with Chef Carl in a place that most of us would consider to be professionally successful–running the kitchen of a restaurant. But the restaraunt isn’t his, and whenever he wants to spread his wings creatively, he gets kiboshed by the owner (played by Dustin Hoffman). A big critic comes, and pans the place, so Carl gets taught Twitter by his 10-year-old son and starts a flame war with the critic (played by Oliver Platt, whom I love in everything). The film is partly a case study of “what not to do on social media,” and there were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. Carl leaves, or gets fired, and needs to start his life anew. He finds his passion in a food truck, and a cross-country drive with his son and his sous (John Leguizamo).
See it, see it, see it! This movie gives new meaning to the words “food porn.” There is one shot in particular of pork belly…. drool. As much as I love Sophia Vigara, who plays Carl’s love interest, I could have done without that particular plot point, but other than that, I really loved this film.
Going back a bit further to 2009, this is a film I can’t stop watching every time it comes on TV. First of all, it’s about a food blogger. Which I love. And it stars Amy Adams and Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci, all of whom I adore. Julie and Julia is the film based on the book by Julie Powell, and it’s a semi-autobiographical story. Julie Powell actually did write a blog about cooking her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and I love how it weaves in Julia Child’s life and struggles as she tried to publish a cookbook that, it appeared, no one wanted. I love this one as a foodie and as a feminist, and as someone who regularly turns to Julia Child for cooking advice.
Interestingly, this movie also stars Stanley Tucci, and it is fantastic. Released in 1996, the film is about two Italian brothers who own a struggling restaurant. They will soon close if they don’t get a good review, and the reviewer is coming that night. They cook the most amazing meal of their lives, and the film takes place over that day. We get to know the characters and come to care about them deeply. The critic, like Godot, never shows. The food porn is outstanding, as is the soundtrack, and the final scene of the film is one of my all-time favourite film scenes–10 minutes, no cuts, not a word said. It’s worth seeing for that alone.
So. Here it is, kids. The meaning of life according to food films: follow your heart. Listen to your passion, and go where it takes you. Always be yourself. And you won’t go wrong.
When my friend Don Genova left the big city a few years back to live in Cobble Hill, I’ll admit, I was jealous.
I’ve always dreamt of having a place on an island, and a place in the city.
Cobble Hill, if you’ve never been, is kind of the epicentre of artisan-produced goods on Vancouver Island. Last summer, while house/garden/kitty sitting for Don and his wife, Ramona, who were away, I was amazed at the amount of fantastic artisan-produced food within a short drive. There’s DrumRoaster Coffee, Hillary’s Cheese, Kilrenny Farm (fresh pasta), and True Grain Organic Bread. There’s Merridale Cidery and a bunch of wineries. There’s even a gorgeous lavender farm.
Don Genova shows off “Food Artisans of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands” at his recent book launch at Barbara Jo’s Books to Cooks.
So, with all this locally-grown bounty nearby, Don has taken the last 3 years to write about about all of them. Don Genova recently published Food Artisans of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
This is less of a cookbook (although there are recipes I really want to try!), and more of a profile book. Don has a real relationship with each of the businesses he profiles in the book, and it really shows.
The profiles include:
Bakeries and cafes
Butchers and charcuriers
Cheese, chocolate and ice cream makers
Cideries, wineries and distilleries
Coffee roasters and tea stores
Farms and farmer’s markets
Fishmongers and seafood outlets
Kitchen supply stores
My favourite part of the book is at the back, where Don has maps with outlines of routes you can take to hit up a bunch of the artisan outlets in a day or two. I really want to follow some of his directions this summer!
You can purchase Food Artisans of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islandshere.
Note: I’m off on vacation (well, working vacation) this week, so no new recipes until I get back. Instead, I have a couple of food-related book suggestions for you…
A couple weeks back, I got invited to meet Ruth Reichl. I must confess, at the risk of sounding dangerously uncool, when that email landed in my inbox, I had a full-blown nerdgasm. Li’l oll me? Get to meet the former editor of Gourmet Magazine? The notorious food critic and the toughest critic on Top Chef Masters? The author of four food memoirs? Oh, yeah. I couldn’t reply to that email fast enough.
The book signing took place at Barbara Jo’s, and Ruth was lovely. I felt like it must be such a strange experience, being on a book tour; traveling from city to city, meeting random strangers and trying to have meaningful conversations, or even small talk with them.
The protagonist is Billie Breslin, who comes to NYC seeking her dream job–and actually gets it. She lands the position of the assistant to the Editor of Delicious! Magazine (see any real-life parallels, yet?). There is a colourful cast of characters working at the magazine, and she develops relationships with all of them, as well as with the owners and family of an Italian Deli a few blocks away. But the times, they are a changing, and Delicious!’ publishers shut the magazine down suddenly one day, and Billie’s dream job and new friends are simply gone overnight.
Billie ends up staying as the lone employee of Delicious!, managing the magazine’s “money back guarantee.” While alone in the mansion that houses the magazine’s offices, she stumbles across a hidden library, and even more deeply hidden correspondence between James Beard (who had been an editor at Delicious! during the Second World War) and a young girl who loved cooking.
The book intertwines a coming-of-age story, a love story, food and cooking, and a mystery. I really liked it. I’d not read Ruth Reichl’s books before, and I enjoyed this one so much, I just purchased another of hers to read.
There is one major plot point that I found difficult to swallow, which has to do with a growing stench at the Delicious! offices after everyone but Billie has left. It seems like an incredibly improbable thing to happen in real life, but it’s essential to the plot, so remember your “willing suspension of disbelief” and go with it.
Delicious! is light, summer reading, and pairs well with a lawn chair with a glass of wine.
On Tuesday, July 1, we’ll celebrate our country’s 147th birthday. It’s always a fun day, with lots of festivities, a day off work, and red and white.
Many people will celebrate with a barbecue, and probably a few icy-cold drinks. For Canada Day this year, I wanted to make the quintessential Canadian Cocktail. It had to include bacon and maple syrup.
You may not know this, but the Caesar is a Canadian drink. Back in 1969, a guy named Walter Chell was opening a new Italian restaurant in Calgary, and he thought “hmmm… vodka, tomato juice and clam nectar… sounds like a winner to me!” And it was. To this day, we enjoy the tomato-and-vodka based cocktail, garnished with a celery stick, with our brunches and at cocktail hour.
There are lots of places in the city to get a fine caesar. One of my faves is at Chewie’s. It’s hot–comes with lots of fresh-grated horseradish, and is garnished with a prawn. The caesar at The Score on Davie is an entire meal unto itself–it comes garnished with a grilled cheese sandwich, onion rings, and a deep-friend pickle.
However, making your own is a snap. If you want your Caesar to be truly Canadian, then stock up on Walter’s All Natural Craft Caesar Mix. A local company, based right here in Vancouver, Walter’s sources premium Canadian ingredients to craft a truly Canadian and also super delicious Caesar mix. What I especially like about this stuff is what it does not contain–high fructose corn syrup and MSG. They have two different flavours, Mildly Spiced and Well Spiced, I’d encourage you to check them out.
Canada Day Caesars with Maple Candied Bacon
for the bacon:
5 slices of thick-cut bacon
2/3 cup good maple syrup (grade B Amber if you have it, but anything will work)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees, and bake the bacon for about 15 minutes, until brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and drain well on paper towels. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees, and place back on the pan. Pour over the maple syrup, and turn the bacon to coat well. Bake for 15 minutes, turn, and then bake another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on parchment paper. Bacon will crisp up as it cools.
For the Caesar:
1.5 oz Vodka (I’ve also made this with Bourbon)
Walter’s All Natural Craft Caesar Mix
Worcestershire sauce & hot sauce (optional–the caesar mix already has them)
Pour some celery salt out onto a flat plate. Cut the lime into eighths, lenght-wise, and then cut a small slit in one of the eighths. Place the lime over the rim of the glass, and run it all the way around, transferring lime juice onto the rim of the glass. Now, dip the rim of the glass into the celery salt, until it is well-coated. Squeeze the rest of the lime wedge into the glass, and drop it in, or save it to garnish the glass.
Fill the glass 2/3 with ice, and then pour over the vodka. Hit it with a couple dashes of worcestershire sauce and/or hot sauce, if desired. Fill the glass up to the top with the Caesar mix, and stir well. Garnish with maple candied bacon and serve.