Recent Posts

Apple Blueberry Pie

I was born in a small town in rural southern British Columbia. We had 10 acres of land and to a small child, it was enormous; a wondrous, magical place full of nature and adventure. The property sported a small orchard of beautifully twisted and gnarled apple trees and if you have seen an apple tree you may understand how magical they appear.

They have a particular grayish bark that makes them look ancient and wise and during the spring they burst with soft pink blossoms that later in the summer and fall become perfect fruit. Many a sunny summer day was spent amongst those ancient beauties, climbing, conversing with bees and picking apples, then watching my mother’s hands peel them, slice and spice them, and bake them into perfect pies in our farmhouse’s wood burning oven.

Now I live a long way away from that pastoral life, I’m decades beyond those hazy summer apple-picking days. I can easily stop by a grocery store or bakery and buy a pie, and it would be good, it might even be great. It might remind me vaguely that I once upon a time plucked sun-warmed apples in the shade of hundred year old trees. Or maybe not. Despite time and distance, nostalgia is a potent force and despite it being a seemingly insignificant goal to pick apples and make a pie from them, the action, for me, was soul satisfying. Sometimes simple things can transport us, take us back in time and place and let us re-live a moment, or re-connect with someplace or some one we have lost or moved on from.

(more…)

Best Steak Sandwich

best steak sandwich

Sometimes I cook things with leftovers in mind and sometimes the left overs are better than the original meal. Each and every time I grill up a steak I consider the leftover potential: a meat pie for one, steak and perfectly orange-yolked, runny organic free range eggs or … the best steak sandwich (in the humble opinion of this blogger).

What makes “the best” really the best? Highly subjective territory, obviously, but with this sandwich, it’s all about balance: sourdough bread, thinly sliced cold steak, creamy mayo and even creamier avocado and a drizzling of zingy, fresh, herbaceous chimichurri sauce to cut through the richness. You know how to make a sandwich so I won’t belabor the method here but after the jump you can see our house chimichurri recipe and get going on this lip smacking sandwich.  (more…)

Blueberry Pancakes

Some foods are classics for a reason, because everytime you reach for them you get just what you’re needing and expecting from the experience. Blueberry pancakes on a slow weekend morning are pretty much my definition of the perfect indulgent breakfast. Through the week it’s spinach and frozen fruit wazzed up into smoothies that get the day started but sometimes on a Saturday or Sunday I like to slow things down, get a bit more nostalgic and bring some smiles to the table with these old school treats. And if it happens to be blueberry season, like it is right now, then all the better! Unless I have to pick them myself, you know how I feel about picking fruit! (more…)

Quick and Easy Banana Bread

I’ll be honest, with the exception of one recipe  I haven’t had great success with banana bread over the years. It’s always stodgy and damp, not enough lift, and often not banana-y enough in flavor. Recently, there were 3 brown bananas on the counter and I debated tossing them into the freezer to keep browning for a banana bread or smoothie in the future but then I thought, screw it! And I made this recipe up as I went along. The result? The best damn banana bread I’ve ever made! Fast! No mixer! Easy to do with minimal ingredients! Honestly, it’s a winner.

Quick and Easy Banana Bread

3 very ripe bananas
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp hazelnut extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all the wet ingredients together until well combined. Add the dry ingredients in two parts, mixing just until combined with each addition. Scrape the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan then cool completely, out of the pan, on a wire rack.

Vanilla Bean Thumbprint Cookies

When I was in my teens I worked the counter at a small bakery. They made some amazingly delicious things, one of which were birdnest cookies: a sturdy yet crumbly shortbread cookie covered in toasted coconut and a deep red jewel of raspberry jam in the center. As much as I am a fan of coconut in all sorts of dishes and sweets I always felt like those “nests” were too rich. This version is less sweet, more petite and still jam-jewel studded with raspberry and for a different twist: marmalade. The vanilla bean freckles add to the flavor and charm and they disappear as quickly as you can make them ie: FAST!

Vanilla Bean Thumbprint Cookies

makes 6 dozen 1″ cookies

1 lb salted butter at room temperature

1 Cup (packed) light brown sugar

1Tbsp vanilla bean paste

4-5 Cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup jam(s) of your choosing (I used raspberry and marmalade)

Note before you begin: you can mix this dough by hand or with a stand mixer but I would not recommend hand mixers. This dough is very sturdy and requires kneading that handheld mixers can’t manage.

image

Combine the butter and sugar and cream together. If you’re using a stand mixer, use the lower settings – the objective here is to specifically NOT incorporate air. Once the sugar is dissolved into the butter, add the flour one cup at a time. You will need slightly more than 4 cups and possibly as much as 5 of its a humid day. The dough should crack slightly when you press your finger into it but still be soft and pliable, not chalky. Once the flour is mixed in, knead the dough on a lightly floured board until it’s cohesive and smooth (about 3 mins with the dough hook on a stand mixer).

Scoop the dough with a 1Tbsp scoop and place flat side down on ungreased cookie sheets. I find I can get 2 dozen little scoops on each sheet. Using the end of a wooden spoon, press a divet into each lump of dough.

image

image

Load up a pastry bag with jam (or a zip top bag with a snipped off corner) and squirt jam to fill each divet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes or until the  bottoms are tinged gold and the surface of the cookie looks matte.

Allow to cool on the pan.

Then, drizzle a glaze of 4 heaped Tbsp and 2 tsp lemon juice over top.