31 October 2006

Me all Hallowe'eny 2006

Well...The above left is the closest thing to a photo of me decked out for this year's Hallowe'en. Yes, that's a wing. Yes, I'm in black. Yes, there was a black maribou halo that appeared to float in mid air above my head. Yes, there were fishnets and stilettos. Yes, I confused a lot folks in the office.

The response ranged from "you look so cute" to "you look like an angel, but some of that outfit...I don't know" to "are you our guardian angel?" I must admit that scenes from Dogma flashed through my mind today.

Unfortunately, I had a wardrobe malfunction and now I have a broken wing...which adds to the entire fallen angel thing. Am currently looking for an industrial stapler to mend the damage...sigh.

Here's the FAQ:
Q: Did you make the wings?
A: No, I earned them.

Q: How does the halo stay up there?
A: Virtue.

Q: So, what did you do to become a dark angel?
A: Do you really want to know?

Yes, all questions asked today, some several times. Yes, all answers given.

What you see on the right are my Hallowe'eny treats. Witch fingers. A pal emailed me a link to them and I was revolted and intrigued at the same time. I knew I had to make them:


They are incredibly easy to make and quite tasty. I will warn you that there were two reactions: "How cool is that?!" and "Oh my gawd they look too real--I can't eat them."

Some notes:

  • The trick is to keep the dough very, very cold--next time, I'll make the fingers and then refrigerate them prior to baking.
  • For scraggly digits, roll the dough to about 0.5-1.0cm diameter--the dough does puff.
  • Polish the almonds with black food dye (I used a gel that was thinned with a bit of water).
  • The jam I used was a cranberry-raspberry, made even more...bloody...by adding some pinky-red dye. to make it look as if the fingers were severed, dip the non-nailed end into the jam (after baking). Jams with little chunks of fruit are very good for this...great effects.
  • If you want really pussy looking infections, try gooseberry or any other pale green jam.

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29 October 2006

CBBP #2:Participant round-up

When I put out the call for participants in the second Canadian Blogging By Post, I was curious to see what our wonderful bloggers would come up with. At once our theme (Our Season’s Bounty) was both local and national, conjured memories and begged originality.

Given the expanse of our great land, there were so many different things to be done with many different ingredients. Some foods presented were born of tradition, while others were inventions of abundance. Of course there were themes (and if I read things correctly, the doctor will be staying away from a number of us since apples featured in a few posts), but each recipe made was as individual as the bloggers who prepared, photographed and ate them.

So, without any further delay, here’s the participant round-up. They all made magnificent dishes and wrote wonderful posts, so please do go and visit them.

Jenny of All Things Edible decided that an extra-special Apple Sauce Bread was an excellent way to celebrate the harvest. By making her own rosy apple sauce and using dried apples, she propelled this lovely loaf’s appley goodness and made a recipe her own. Be prepared to spend a while there—lots of wonderfully delicious posts abound (including ones on ribs and ice cream…).

Kelli Ann of avoir une famille n'est pas comme un téléroman returns to CBBP and provides us with a lovely meditation on community-supported agriculture. Her recipe (The Un-recipe) was inspired from the produce basket she received that week, prepared in a simple and (heart) warming way. Her blog is just as warming.

Paige of chef-girl.net reminisces about home and the apple tree that spans her mum’s and neighbour's yards. Paige is now in Halifax where she not only has access to lots of great apples, but also lots of tart cranberries. By creating her own Cranberry Apple Crisp, she’s been able to bridge her mum’s cooking with her new life. Lots of beautiful photos compliment her wonderful dishes.

Anne-Hélène of Les Chroniques de Villeray writes an eloquent piece, describing her relationship with autumn. Her contribution to our event is a Turkish-inspired Elma saray komposto (Seraglio compote) that uses apples, raisins and orange marmalade. Anne-Hélène’s blog is a tasty space, chronicling her culinary life in la belle province.

Living in Ontario, in an area with lots and lots of farmers and several farmers’ markets, I thought the best thing I could do was to try and showcase a number of different veg that were at their peak. This Oven-Roasted Ratatouille is a no-fuss and tasty version of the traditional hearty broth.

Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice went more than a little nutty with this event*, and made something that, to her, signals autumn. One of the original CBBP founders, Ivonne will make some lucky person very happy who receives a bundle of these Vanilla-Orange Nuts in their parcel. Ivonne is an adored, favourite Cream Puff – her site is a wonderful record of her culinary journey.

(*Sorry, Dear....couldn't resist)

Sara of i like to cook let apples take her down memory lane, specifically to her mum’s delicious apple desserts. For CBBP2, she give us a new favourite, a Broiled Apple Parfait that looks so delicious, I’m sure it will be gracing a number of tables. Sara's space contains many wonderful ideas and recipes that help to keep foodbloggerdom peppy.

Brilynn of Jumbo Empanadas’ contribution is a funny and “hits close to home” (at least for me) post about making Apple Butter. Whimsically illustrated, I think this post is a must-read for anyone who’s spent any time in the kitchen. With a title like "Jumbo Empanadas," and a Cabbage Patch Doll as her icon, Brilynn’s blog is always a joy to visit.

Linda of Kayak Soup found herself with a break in her schedule, much to our benefit. And what did she do on her day off? She made two very beautiful cranberry preserves: a Cranberry-Apricot Chutney and what she calls “Plain Old Cranberry Sauce.” There’s nothing plain with what Linda produces—everyone who saw her entry for CBBP1 and all of us who read her blog know that.

Lynette of Lex Culinaria was a little sheepish about her post, and I’m not sure why. In her informative article, she lets us in on one of her autumn traditions, Brining Olives. Lynette’s site is beautifully designed, photographed and written—a must visit for anyone interested in food.

Mamma Tiff of Life Changes After Birth was our first entrant to CBBP2, setting the standard for everyone else to follow—and what a standard it was! Her Fresh Apple Cookies look so amazing, I’m sure they disappear quickly. Tiff’s space chronicles her family’s life, especially of her darling little ones, Pippa and Clara.

Ruth of Once Upon A Feast finds two fantastic ways of celebrating our theme: Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake and a West Indian Spicy Beef Curry. Both look wonderful and are great ways to warm up as temperatures drop. Once Upon A Feast is an incredibly inspirational space for cooks of all abilities to visit.

Sarah Lou of One Whole Clove dispels any misconceptions about what’s available at this time of year, with a hearty and warming Cream of Sweet Potato with Maple Soup. One Whole Clove is not just a foodie’s dream, but also a great site for those interested in Quebecois culture and food.

Orange Soufflé gives us a delcious and elegant recipe. Her Chestnut and Bacon Risotto with Savoy Cabbage is a hearty meal, perfect for these cool nights. A lovely blog written by a very sweet person.

Sam of sweet pleasure : plaisir sucré brings his mastery of all things sweet to his entry. The host of the first CBBP never disappoints us with his creations and this one is no different: Pâtes de Fruits, or fruit jellies. Stunning photographs combined with his down-to-earth posts makes this blog a favourite site for so many people.


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28 October 2006

WCB #73 & CBBP #2: A message from Mr. Bean

Hello all you lovely two-legged humman-cats who cook lovely fud and photograph lovely fud and eat lovely fud and read about other two-legged humman-cats who cook, photograph and eat lovely fud.

My humman-cat is running around doing boring, unimportant, hummany things (you know, those things that really don't concern patting ME, scritching ME, nor feeding ME). So she's asked me to fill you in on what's going on around here...which is very cool because it's also Weekend Cat Blogging #73, hosted by one of my favourite bloggers, Linda of Kayak Soup.

Canadian Blogging By Post #2 is taking up humman-cat's time...and cutting into my petting and brushing time. Right now the big concern is a couple of people who forgot to send in their postal addresses. She's emailed them asking for the info because she can't post about the participants, nor can she send out addresses until she has everything in from everybody. She's sent notes to everyone who has entered so if you have sent in your name and your bloglink, but haven't received any reply whatsoever, please email her at cardamomaddict at gmail dot com just to make sure you are in on the parcel exchange.

I'll tell you a secret: When she's not around, I snoop around the Web. Believe me when I tell you that there are some really delicious foods people have blogged about. I just hope whomever sends us the parcel remembers that there's a starving, 20+ lb kitten over here (okay, and two others, but they aren't nearly as kind and loving and I)--I'm sure you can send over a roast chicken, can't you? Please?

Hallowe'en is coming! This morning humman-cat went shopping for ingredients to make some really spooky and scary treats. I'm sure she'll blog about it. And I'm sure I won't be allowed to have any. I don't think that's very fair. I mean, I, being a magificent black cat, was the inspiration for her Hallowe'en costume a few years ago. I think this means I get something special...like a roast chicken.

Gramma's getting demanding. She found out that there's a new cookbook around and that my humman-cat got an advance copy to blog about. So, of course, gramma wants some cooking done. To be fair, gramma's visiting a very sick friend and so my humman will be making some cakes or breads or something for them. Gramma no longer likes to bake cakes or anything as often as she used to, so my humman-cat does all that now.

Now, I need your help.

My humman-cat, as much as I love her, doesn't feed me enough and she doesn't feed me enough yummy fud--"cat food" doesn't count as yummy.

I try being cute and cuddly (well, I don't have to try, I just am), but all I get is "No Beanie, this isn't for you." and "Beanie, this isn't pussycat food." I know that the cakes are yummy (sometimes I get the crumbs that fall on the table or floor...sometimes they need help falling to the floor--especially the big crumbs (I think they are called cuppycakes) and the meats are really yummy (sometimes she gives me a little bit)). I just haven't had any in a really, really long time.

I don't think my humman realizes how difficult it is being a cat. I mean, do you think it's easy for a black cat to shed white hair? What about the grey tabbies shedding brownish hair? Plus there's the entire security guard thing...if we didn't spend our days lolling on chairs, couches and rugs, they'd just get up and walk away.

If you could please convince her to roast a chicken for me, or to make something that she'd eat, but give me some, I'd really appreciate it. I'll love you forever and won't barf in your shoes. I promise.

Mr. Bean (aka Beanie)

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24 October 2006

Reverting to a teenaged girl

If truth be told, restaurant cheesecake is a dessert I usually dread. It seems to be everywhere, a wedge of pallid semi-liquid plastics, drowning in pie filling or squeezy bottle syrup, probably with a name like "choklit."

How could such a lovely and luscious and creamy pie be downgraded to such a horrendous fate?

That said, a home-made cheesecake is truly a thing of beauty.

For the vanilla series, I found a beautiful and easy cheesecake, courtesy of
Tamasin's Kitchen Bible by Tamasin Day Lewis. In the recipe introduction, she thinks of cheesecake as being '60s. I think of it as being ... later's.

I did a quick check of her birthyear and I think I'm developing a theory that it is very whatever-decade-it-was-when-you-were-a-teenager...it seems a very teenaged-girl thing to make. At that age, cheesecake seems very elegant, almost grown up and far removed from regular chocolate or vanilla cakes with their spongey crumb. The correct recipe is enough to make any kitchen novice feel like an accomplished pastry chef in a chi-chi patisserie.

Okay... maybe that was going a bit far.

But a good recipe can give wobbly cook a wobbly and delicious cheesecake...and more than a bit of self-confidence and easy gratification.

This was TFE's birthday cake I made back in the spring--a special request on his part. Luscious and creamy and just slightly lemony, it's a far cry from the heavy slices found in restaurants. The topping, instead of that thick, gloopy cherry filling, was dried cherries, plumped in brandy.

Vanilla Cheesecake (inspired by Tamasin Day Lewis)
serves 6-8
50g graham wafer crumbs
30g butter
450g marscapone
2 extra large eggs plus 1 yolk
170ml double cream
60g vanilla sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
grated zest of one lemon
Creamy Topping
150ml sour cream
1 dspn vanilla sugar
100g dried cherries, plumped in brandy

  • Preheat oven to 375F/190C.
  • Mix the crumbs and butter together and pat them into bottom and sides of a 20cm/8" springform tin. Bake for 10 minutes and set aside.
  • Mix the filling ingredients together until smooth. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes or unitl the centre is slightly wobbly. Cool in the oven's cavern with the door ajar.
  • While the pie cools, mix the sour cream and dessertspoon of vanilla sugar. Remove the sides of the tin and spread the creamy topping over the top.
  • You can serve the cheesecake at room temperature or cool. Spoon the cherries, along with some of the brandy over individual slices as you serve.
  • If you aren't sure of your tins, you can tightly wrap the bottom (the outside, thank you very much) in tin foil
  • You can also set a pan of boiling water on the oven's lower rack--the steam might help prevent cracking (but, quite honestly, there are worse things than a cracked cheesecake...and well, there is the sour cream topping)



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22 October 2006

Edna's favourite blueberry muffins

Honouring a loved one who has died is something, I think, that spans beliefs, borders and eras. The way we pay tribute may differ, but at the basis of it all, funerary rites and other types of memorials are performed as much for the living as they are for the dead.

In our family, when a relative dies, we have observances that are directly tied to religious and cultural rituals that are hundreds, possibly thousands of years old. There are physical rules we abide by--such as those set by my great-great (something) grandfather as to how we are to be buried. There are spiritual observances--such as 40 nights of chants and prayers, led by family or Church elders. And then, there are the dietary restrictions we have--strict vegetarian diet for 40 days.

If I remember correctly, if the deceased had no brothers, then the sisters host a vegetarian feast after 30 or 35 days where all family members, friends and others who can attend, do. If there are brothers, then there is an omnivorous banquet on the 40th death day. These feasts take place after Church ceremonies and can attract hundreds, if not more than 1000 people (I attended a feast for my uncle when I was last in India and there were about 400 people there, to which my mum said that that was only 1/4 of the family).

Today is the 40th death day of our dear

About three weeks after her passing, a public memorial was held at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. About 500 people attended. There were literary lights such as Wayson Choy, there were culinary notables such as Rose Murray, there were also a number of politicians, but what made it wonderful, was there were so many people who were just plain, normal people who were friends, acquaintances or fans.

Dear Friend introduced me to one of Edna's close friends:

"Oh! You're Jasmine!"
"Edna told me all about you!"
"She did?"
"Oh yes. She told me all about your visits and that wonderful Indian food you brought and what you do (and then proceded to give me details from my Edna visits, and the treats I brought her)."
I was speechless.
She continued,"You know dear, it was a very new friendship, but for Edna it was a very deep friendship."

I thought I was going to cry. Here I was thinking that this woman who touched me so deeply really didn't know me from the next fan who dropped in...I couldn't have been more mistaken.

The day was filled with little moments like that. Mr. Choy and I had a lovely chat about Edna and I told him that she really did like him a lot, filling him in on details of conversations. Even after her death, Edna Staeber continued her magical way of making each one of us feel special.

After the speeches and video clips we spilled into the reception, its tables laidened with sandwiches and sweets. Bowls of punch were off to the side as were carafes of coffee and tea. But everywhere--and I do mean everywhere- were wicker baskets filled with blueberry muffins. The Laurier catering team was given Edna's favourite muffin recipe (she was known for feeding muffins to visitors) and they made hundreds of them. The recipe was also given to each of us, along with a copy of her favourite poem.

I truly believe that death only comes when one has been forgotten permanently. The body may be dust, but memories are what keep us living. I think, through her many, many friends, and countless fans and owners of her books, Edna will be with us for a very long time.

So, in my own little space, here is one more way I hope to keep this wonderful person with us. I hope you try the recipe--it is effortless and forgiving...and somewhat addictive.

In her own words "I've eaten a lot of blueberry muffins in my day, but none as good as my sister Norma's."

Edna's Favourite Blueberry Muffins
50g soft butter (1/4 c)
125g sugar (3/4 c)
1 egg, well beaten
160g pastry flour (1-1/2c)
1/2 tsp salt
1 dspn baking powder (2 tsp)
125ml milk (0.5c)
150g blueberries (fresh or frozen) (1 c)

  • Preheat oven to 375F/190C and line or butter 12 medium muffin cups/9 large muffin cups.
  • Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.
  • Cream together butter and sugar. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk. Fold in blueberries.
  • Fill the tins (at least 2/3 full). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until done.


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Edit: Since posting this, I've found out the attendence guesstimate at the Laurier event was 500. I've amended the post...

16 October 2006

CBBP #2: Oven-roasted ratatouille

Just a friendly reminder that Canadian bloggers have until 27 October to get their recipes up and their info to me if they want to participate in Canadian Blogging By Post #2: Our Season's Bounty. A few early birds have sent in their links and info--so far it all looks really yummy.

I suppose I should wait until the bitter end to upload my recipe, but since I'll be away for the balance of the week, I thought I should leave you with what I'm bringing to the feast, in case it can help some of you decide what to do or what you can use. It's nothing fancy, but it's tasty and very versatile.

I am, of course, writing about my oven-roasted ratatouille.

Ever since I discovered the joys of oven-roasting vegetables, I've been a very happy camper. As someone who grew up with boiled, steamed and curried veg, roasting gives me an effortless way of preparing a tasty meal.

This is a very forgiving recipe, with the only real limitation being how many roasting tins you have. You also don't have to keep these veg in your version and just use whatever you have on hand but I will say that when I think of a traditional ratatouille, I do think that courgettes, tomatoes and aubergines need to play a part. If I make enough of it (read: I (as per usual) chop up far too many veg), I can freeze it or use it in a streudel, pasta or pizza topping, or whiz it all together, add some stock and turn it into soup...but if you do that, you'll miss all those beautiful colours...

Oven-Roasted Ratatouille

450g aubergines (1 medium Italian or several of the elongated Asian kind (I prefer the elongated ones, myself)
900g ripe tomatoes (plum tomatoes, if you have them)
60 ml red wine
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
600g green or yellow courgettes (2 medium)
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1/2 a large red onion
6 garlic cloves (or however many you want)
olive oil
1 dspn (2tsp) dried basil
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the aubergines into 2.5-3 cm chunks and put all of them into a colander. Salt well and then place several paper towels on top of the veg. Place the colander in a sink basin or in a bowl and then put a weight on top of the veg--this will draw out the bitter juices--leave it for about 30 minutes (0r more). I'll admit that this step is totally up to you. I don't do this with Asian aubergines, but I will with Italian ones that look as if they've been sitting around for a bit too long...

While this happens, slice the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the pulp and seeds before cutting them into wedges. Put the wedges into a bowl, add salt, pepper and then the wine and vinegar.

Let the tomatoes macerate as you set the oven temp to 450F/220C, then go about chopping the courgettes and bell peppers into 2.5-3cm pieces and cut the onions into wedges. Depending upon how thick the garlic cloves are, you may want to slice each into two or three pieces.

In one or more roasting tins--for this quantity I use two lasagna pans--smear the insides with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Take the weight off the aubergines, discard the bitter water and tumble the veg into the tins, then follow with the tomatoes (juices and all) and the rest of the veg and garlic. Drizzle olive oil, and then sprinkle the spices on top and mix all the veg together by hand. I usually add another restrained glug of olive oil on top prior to popping the tins into the oven.

Bake for an hour or until the veggies are tender and their edges are slightly singed.



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14 October 2006

World Bread Day '06

The The International Union of Bakers and Bakers-Confectioners (UIB) declared 16 October as the day to acknowledge one of our most basic, versatile and celebrated and foodstuffs. Zorra of Kochtop decided it was a perfect reason to host an event and issued an invitation for World Bread Day; all she asked was we simply blog about bread, whether we purchased it or made it ourselves.

It has been years since I baked bread (apart from pizza)...and the last time freshly-baked bread came out of my kitchen, it was courtesy of a bread maker. I guess when the breadmaker went kerplewy, I just stopped making my own loaves. Don't get me wrong...pre-bread machine, I did make the occasional hand-made loaf...but that was a very, very long time ago.

This was the perfect excuse to get back into breadmaking. I went through my shelves and lingered over a few tomes, but the recipe I set my little beating heart upon was Edna's version of Neil's Harbour White Bread from Food That Really Schmecks.

I can only assume Edna got this recipe when she was living in Neil's Harbour, Cape Breton when she was researching and learning about swordfishing. Her article, "Duellists of the Deep" was published in 1948 in Macleans magazine. All I have to say is the recipe worked like a dream (like all of her recipes).

Since the recipe makes three loaves, I decided to make one as the basic recipe (bottom left), one as raisin bread (bottom middle) and the last one as cheese bread...mmm...cheesebread (mmm...bottom right). The only change I made to the original recipe was using half a litre of milk instead of water.

Neil's Harbour White Bread from Food That Really Schmecks
250 ml hand-hot water (1 c)
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp active dry yeast
500 ml hand-hot whole milk (2 c)
100 g granulated sugar (1/2 c)
1 Tbsp (heaping) salt
125 ml vegetable oil (any unflavoured oil will do) (1/2 c)
1.25 kg bread flour (9 c)
melted butter (for brushing)

Bloom the yeast and one teaspoon sugar in water for about 10 minutes or until it gets nice and foamy. Add in the warm milk, 100g sugar, salt and oil and beat well.

Mix in the flour one cup at a time. By the seventh or eight cup, the dough will get very stiff and you may need to add some more water. Keep working the dough in the bowl until "it is easy to handle but floppy and inclined to be moist."

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic--about 10 or 15 minutes...depending upon how many frustrations you need to work out.

Plop the dough into an oiled bowl and loosely cover it with clingfilm or a teatowl. Place the bowl in a warmish, draft free place where the dough will happily double in size--somewhere between one and two hours. When you think it's ready, give the dough a poke: if the finger indents remain, then it's ready, if the dough fills in quickly, then let it rise a bit longer.

When the dough is ready, punch it down and divide the dough into three parts. Shape the pieces into loaf shapes and then put them into well-greased loaf tins or form the dough into rounds and place them on equally-well greased cookie sheets. Lightly oil the dough and cover each loaf with plastic and let them rise for about an hour.

Heat the oven to 400F/200C . Brush the tops with melted butter and bake for 20 minutes or until the tops and bottoms are nicely golden. When you remove the loaves from oven, give them another brush with the melted butter.

For Raisin Bread: After the first rise, knead one cup of raisins into each loaf.

For Cheese Bread: After the first rise, knead one cup of cheese (grated or in little chunks) into each loaf.



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12 October 2006

Honey-cinnamon ice cream

I find it somewhat ironic that I've timed this post to coincide with our first snowfall of autumn. No, it wasn't purposefully done, today just happened to be the day where winds were whipping snowflakes so hard you really couldn't see across the street. I don't know about you, but I think it's perfect ice cream weather...but then again...when is it not perfect ice cream weather?

I told you how
this year's Thanksgiving pie came to be, and in that post, I mentioned the embellishment I added: honey-cinnamon ice cream.

Way back when I used to make ice cream on a regular basis I made an absolutely wicked honey ice cream that was smokey-sweet. I wanted to capture it's essence, but not in a cloying, insipid way. I also wanted something that was reminiscent of Greg's cinnamon ice cream. I write "reminiscent" because I find their version far too cinnamonny for my taste.

So, off I went to develop a frozen treat that was neither too sweet, nor too spicy. What I came up with was an ice cream that was the most comforting shade of taupe, speckled with the occasional fleck of warm reddish-brown. The taste is a deep sweetness that isn't overpowering that finishes with a bit of cinnamony taste. Because I used 18%, 35% and 40% cream, it was very, very rich.

As much as I like this ice cream, I don't think it can attain "star billing" as a dessert. It's a great accompaniment to pies--apart from the apple and pumpkin, I can see it working well with peach and bumbleberry--and most likely any dense and richly flavoured cake or pudding, such as gingerbread, fruitcake or Christmas puddings.

Honey-cinnamon ice cream

Makes about 1 litre.

6 egg yolks
90 ml (about a third of a cup) runny honey
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
500 ml (2 cups) half and half (18%)
125 ml (half a cup) double cream (40%)
125 ml (half a cup) heavy cream (35%)
icing sugar (as necessary)

  • Heat the half and half until it simmers and set aside.
  • Whisk together the eggs, honey, vanilla and cinnamon. Slowly incorporate the hot milk into the sweetened eggy mixture while whisking constantly.
  • Move the bowl to the top of a pot of boiling water (yes, this is a makeshift double boiler) and stir until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
  • Remove the custard bowl and plunge it into a basin of very cold water (keeping care to not let the water get into the custard).
  • When the mixture is cool, whip the heavy and double creams together until you can get firmish peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the custard. Give it a taste. If you would like it sweeter, seive as much icing sugar into the custard as you wish and carefully mix it in so as to not lose all the air bubbles in the mix.
  • Transfer to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.


  • Not everyone can get 40% cream, so if you can't, simply use one full cup of heavy cream.
  • You technically don't need the double boiler, if you are confident enough in your custard-making abilities, you can just set the custard in the milk pan and light a low flame and keep on stirring (this is what I usually do).
  • If you wind up with scrambled eggs, you can seive the mixture into a bowl to break up the custard. Quite honestly, I've had this happen and the solid bits are so creamy, no one noticed them in the ice cream (or at least no one mentioned them).



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09 October 2006

Thanksgiving: Three conversations with my mum

Conversation One:
"All I do is cook all the time. There is no room in the fridge for me to put anything."
"And look, how can I put anything new in here? There's no room."
"Well, mum, maybe--"
"And Thanksgiving is coming. What am I going to do?"
"I don't know."
"What is all of this?"
"I don't know."
"Is (name) coming for turkey?"
"I don't think so."
"Why not? He always comes for Thanksgiving. Tell him that I'm expecting him."
"It won't make any difference, he probably won't come."
"Just tell him to come. And tell him that the boys will be here as well."
"The boys?"
"Yes, they are all alone, so I invited them."
"Okay...I'll ask if he wants to come, but he'll say 'no.'"
"Just do it...and I'll figure out what to do with the fridge."

Conversation Two
"He's not coming."
"What do you mean he's not coming?"
"Just as I said. He's not coming."
"Did you tell him that I expect him?"
"I invited him."
"Well, I'm sad."
"Because he's not coming."
"Will he still stop by on Thursday?"
"I think so."
"Okay. I'll have Thanksgiving on Thursday then."
"What about Sunday?"
"Oh, we'll have Thanksgiving on Sunday too."
"We'll have two Thanksgiving meals?"
"Yes. You'll be here for supper on Thursday, right?"
"Okay, but isn’t that a lot of work for you?"
"No--we'll have roast beef, mashed potatoes, and carrots. That's all."
"And gravy."
"And cranberries. We need cranberries at Thanksgiving."
"And corn."
"And broccoli...and maybe cauliflower."
"And pie. We need pie."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes--pumpkin pie with whipped cream."
"Umm...are you sure you want to make two Thanksgiving suppers this year? That's a lot of work."
"Oh no, it's no trouble."
“That’s a lot of cooking to do.”
“Oh no, it’s not.”

Conversation Three
"There’s no room in the fridge. Where am I going to put things for Sunday? I don’t know why there is so much food in the fridge. ”
“I don’t know mum. You could try cooking less food--you're only cooking for you and daddy.”
“I cook too much. I don’t like spending all my time in the kitchen.”
“I know. But what about just cooking smaller quantities and finishing up what’s in the fridge first?”
“And how will that help for Sunday? There's turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, corn, peas, mixed vegetables, gravy, cranberry, salad, muffins..."
"You don't need to make all of that."
"It's Thanksgiving. Of course we need to have all that. It would be easier if you gave me some help."
"And how many times have I tried to help? Every time I went into the kitchen to help you, you tell me I don't know what I'm doing and you shoo me out. When I make something, you don’t like it."
"Well that's right. But you should help."
"Uh huh...do you want me to make dessert?"
"That would be good. What do you want to make."
"Oh, that would be good."
"Yeah--I'm thinking apple."
"Not pumpkin?"
"No--I don't feel like cleaning out pumpkin."
"But I like pumpkin."
"You just had some on Thursday. Don’t you want something different? And I could make some ice cream."
"Can you make enough for two pies?'
"Two apple pies?"
"No. Enough ice cream for two pies."
"Two pies."
"I’ll make a pumpkin pie; it won't be that much trouble."

This not-so-little apple pie, along with honey-cinnamon ice cream was my contribution to this year’s Thanksgiving lunch. I prefer apple pies made with a number of different types of apples, but to be honest, I never really record what types of apples I use—it all depends upon what I can lay my hands upon.

This year, I met a grower at the market who had Greenings (she called them Granny Greenings)—small, green and tart, these are very good baking apples. I’d not seen them around before and she told me that they aren’t grown by a lot of local farmers, but there are a few people who do have them. From her I bought some Greenings along with Golden Delicious and from another vendor I picked up some Galas and Honey Crisps. The result was a filling that leaned towards tart (fine by me, as I don’t like overly sweet pies; not fine by my parents as they are sugar fiends), but pairs nicely with ice cream...but then…what doesn’t pair well with ice cream?

Now, I know that you probably won’t really need to make a pie this size on a regular basis, but you may want to just keep the rough proportions of the various types of apples/sweet to tart…

Apple Pie with Cardamom
1 10” deep dish apple pie, serves 10-12

150g (¾c ) vanilla sugar (plus a little extra to sprinkle on the crust)
pinch of vanilla salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
ground seeds from six cardamom pods
1 ground clove
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2kg (approx 4.5lbs) apples: 5 Greenings (600g); 4 small Golden Delicious (400g); 3 Gala (600g), and 2 Honey Crisp (4oog)
1 dspn lemon juice
Pastry for a 10” double-crusted deep-dish pie
1 well beaten egg

In a small bowl mix together the sugar, spices and cornstarch. Set aside

As you peel, core and slice the apples, sprinkle the lemon juice over them to prevent browning. When you are done, take a couple of spoonfuls of the sugar mixture and add it to the apple slices; mix everything well.

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.

Line your pie dish with pastry. Sprinkle on a couple of spoons of the sugar mixture. Spoon in the slices, being sure to press the apples down, making sure there aren’t big air pockets. Sprinkle more of the sugar onto the apples as you tip them into the dish, making sure you have some to sprinkle on top of the apples after they are all in the dish. Place the top crust on the pie and pinch the edges and prick little air vents in the usual way. Brush on the beaten egg and sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes. Turn down the heat to 350F/180C and bake until the crust is golden and the fruit is all bubbly—about another 40 minutes.



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05 October 2006

Where have you been all my life?

The anomaly that was September's gorgefest has ended and I'm slowly trying to get back to the usual...I won't say "normal" because...well, who really wants "normal?" Instead of the decadent meals and unending parades of chocolate goodies and lovely waiters, I'm back to my usual day-long graze.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I am part Hobbit.

Lately I've been craving higher-protein snacks -- soy snacks, cheese, seeds, nuts -- you know. Anyway, my favourite bulk food store(the one that smells like honey and dried lentils when you open the door and is staffed by a black-humoured but helpful shopgirl) had a new-to-me snack at the till. Wasabi-roasted peanuts.


I love the pretzelly, slightly sweet shell that buffers the nut from the thinnest layer of wasabi paste. Each treat differs slightly in hotness--some are sinus-clearing, while others are (by comparison) quite mild. They all crunch very well.

I'm always worried that I'll drop one and a cat will find it. Even though they love playing football with small, roundish objects, I can't trust them to NOT taste it. I don't know if these things are bad for my feline friends, but I must admit that it would be amusing to see what would happen if they got one...

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02 October 2006

Nigella in Toronto

Nigella Lawson was in Toronto on Friday promoting the paperback version of Feast and did a signing at the Indigo on Bloor Street...and I was there.

Of course that meant getting the okay from my most marvellous manager to change my hours so I could leave in time to get there. TFE even offered to accompany me--quite generous, given he wound up carrying my books and taking photos.

She was kind and gracious and just lovely to meet (and yes, more stunning in person than on TV). Fans lined up for hours to meet and speak with her. I could hear her give advice on food and cooking--all done with a smile. She patiently posed for photos. As she autographed my copies of How To Eat and Feast we chatted briefly about her writing process (which I think threw her...understandable since I think most of what she talked about was food-related) and imparted a bit of advice.

Such a happy girl am I.



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