Monthly Archives: February 2009

balsamic nuts

I stole this nut recipe from this website, but it was really vague, understandably, so I was nervous the whole time I was making them.  Mostly, I’ve never candied nuts before, and I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. In the end, they didn’t turn out quite right, but I think I can play around with the recipe a bit and figure it out.


The saucier was really helpful, it’s heavy enough that the syrup didn’t burn and was surprisingly easy to clean up after. Anyway, fairly straightforward, and pretty impressive. I put these in a salad with pear and blue cheese, but they were also good on their own.

  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorn
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons clove
  • 2 dried chilis
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups toasted walnuts

Bring the balsamic vinegar and wine to a boil, and throw in all the spices, but not the cocoa, into the liquids in a spice ball. Reduce all this until it becomes syrupy. This takes awhile, and I was stressed out so I just kept stirring it. Once it’s making thick bubbles and looking syrupy, lower the heat and thicken the mixture with the cocoa. You may need to add more cocoa, just thicken it up. This got tricky because it’s way too hot to taste, which is how I generally know that I’m not making a disastrous mistake. Once it’s kind of ready-ish, throw in the walnuts and coat them, for awhile. Then, spread them all out on a baking tray and let them cool and harden.

I have every intention of making these a lot. So good!


surprising flavours

So, as much as I want to be Corey Mintz, or at least be friends with him (call me!) I know that this is destined to not happen. The main reason is that I do not have what might be called a “refined palette.” I do not notice more than one flavour, and usually I describe this lone flavour as “good.” Clearly my goals of being a food critic are a bit lofty. Unreasonable, even. But, finally, a dish that I can actually call “complex” and “layered,” not to mention “good.”

Full credit needs to go to Ashley. She has a serious talent of picking recipes that I think sound too insane that turn out to be amazing. This carrot and pear bisque is a prime example. First of all, I always assumed that a bisque referred only to seafood based soups but Wikipedia tells me that a bisque can also be vegetable based. I still maintain that this is not a bisque, since it isn’t creamy, but I clearly don’t know much about bisque so I’ll leave it at that. This soup is delicious, and that’s what matters.

  • 2 leeks
  • 6 large carrots, peeled
  • 1 pear, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon red curry paste
  • 2 litres of soup stock
  • salt and pepper

Thinly slice the leeks, wash them carefully, and sauté them in the butter. Cut up the pear and carrots into small pieces, and add them to the softened leeks along with the curry paste. Use some of the broth to deglaze the pot, and then add in all the broth, and bring it to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Turn down the heat and let everything simmer for about half an hour. Purée everything with a hand-held blender. Seriously delicious!

mac and cheese

I guess it’s kind of strange that I grew up totally without macaroni and cheese. This includes Kraft Dinner which I have honestly never ever tried and the first time I ever made it was when I was babysitting at age 15. Anyway, I haven’t really ever gotten into mac and cheese, but awhile ago (eep yes I am behind on the blogging thing!) I was seriously craving something hot and cheesey and totally substantial. Mac and cheese seemed obvious.


You might be thinking that this is typical bland white food, but you would only be partially right. If you look carefully, you will see that the meal is actually kind of pink. (Hint: it’s saffron).

  • milk
  • 2 cups old cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup gouda, grated
  • flour
  • butter
  • saffron
  • parmesan cheese
  • pasta, ideally of the short and stubby variety

Cook the pasta, not too much, and set it aside.  Heat up a few tablespoons of butter, then add the milk, maybe a cup or two, and let it heat up.  Add maybe a tablespoon of saffron, and watch the milk turn bright red.  This part made me feel like a scientist.  Take out the saffron strands once you freak out about how red the milk has turned.  When the milk and butter are bubbling, add in some flour to thicken it.  Stir in the gouda and cheddar until they melt, then toss it all over the pasta, and spread it into a baking dish.  Bake this for longer than you would think, until the cheese sauce has really thickened.  Sprinkle the parmesan on top and bake until it gets crispy on top.

I understand that this is probably an intuitive recipe for everyone else, as they grew up with mac and cheese and don’t think it is even a little novel.  But!  It is novel to me and it’s my food blog!

coffee cake

I am so so in love with my new kitchen investment. I just bought a Le Creuset saucier in Dijon from the Good Egg, a store that totally deserves it’s own post, as it is my favourite food inspiration. Anyway, I cannot say enough amazing things about this pan. It cooks so evenly, meats, treats, everything that comes out of this pan is awesome. Also, it is adorable and it brightens up the kitchen so nicely. And! it feels like a serious investment, so it’s inspiring me to cook lots of fun things.

Anyway, this cake is my new favourite thing. It’s pretty much made from (my) pantry staples, and it doesn’t take too long, so it’s not hard to make it and then feel like I’ve finally accomplished something.


  • 2 shots of espresso
  • water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Grease the inside of the super cute pan (really, you can use anything you like to bake in. I’m new to baking in cast iron and totally converted!) and then coat the pan in flour. Blend the sugar and butter together, and beat in the eggs. Fold in the dry ingredients, and then add the vanilla. Measure the espresso and add water so it fills up to 2/3 of a cup, and mix in.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, then let it sit for 10 and turn the cake out.

I love this as a treat and as breakfast (which I pretend is not a treat).

mango lassie

I love a mango lassie, which is basically a mango milkshake but it sounds more virtuous. And, amazingly, it is more virtuous, if virtue comes to you through healthier eating. I say “healthier” because this is totally a treat and it’s pretty much entirely made of prepackaged food.

But it’s a fun, quick, delicious dessert, or I guess it could be a drink but it’s a little too heavy for me to be able to drink it with a meal.


Francesca showed me how to make these, so simple and really nice. All you need is a blender (I used an immersion blender, my go-to for most blending needs).

  • 1/2 a 750ml container of plain yogourt. Fat content is not an issue, I usually go with non-fat.
  • 1 can of sliced mangoes, with the juice. This is actually one of the times where canned fruit makes things better. This is rare.
  • 10 cardamom pods, crushed

Blend the yogourt and the mangoes, but not the mango juice. Add the juice slowly until it reaches a consistency that you’re happy with. Add in the cardamom and blend some more.  You don’t have to add sugar if you used canned mangoes, they are already sweetened to the extreme!

Easy! Not so impressive, but still.