Month: April 2016

The best thing I ate this month – April 2016

Don’t be fooled by the amateurish photograph. It was dark. A discerning eye will be able to see through the pixelation and easily surmise that these pork chops are haute cuisine. Not shocking since they were from Montreal’s Joe Beef, currently ranked as the #4 restaurant in Canada (but #1 in my heart).

At Joe Beef more is more. This place is not for the faint of heart. But is it all too much? Au contraire mon frère. The intensity of the experience of an expertly seared piece of meat should not be dismissed out of hand. Biting into the crusty exterior led to the pale-pink tinged and tender interior which imparted a rich, meaty flavour.  These pork chops were seductive. It is not mere hyperbole to say that they left me mesmerized. And they were most definitely the best thing I ate this month (and maybe ever).

Book Review: Bowl by Lukas Volger

Bowl by Lukas Volger: Vegeterian recipes for Ramen, Pho, Bibimbap, Dumplings, and other one-meal dishes

I liked this cookbook—a lot.  It’s by Lukas Volger, a New York-based chef who set out to develop one-bowl meals that are all the rage today—but in vegetarian form. The possibilities for improvisational meals full of seasonal produce and herbs are nearly endless.

Volger’s ramen explorations led him from a simple bowl of miso ramen to a summer ramen with corn broth, tomatoes, and basil. From there, he went on to the Vietnamese noodle soup pho, with combinations like caramelized spring onions, peas, and baby bok choy. His edamame dumplings with mint are served in soup or over salad, while spicy carrot dumplings appear over toasted quinoa and kale for a rounded dinner. Grain bowls range from ratatouille polenta to black rice burrito with avocado. And unlike their meatier counterparts, these dishes can be made in little time and without great expense.

Volger also includes many tips, techniques, and base recipes perfected over years of cooking, including broths, handmade noodles, sauces, and garnishes.


Book Review: Big Flavor’s of New Orleans

Kevin Belton Cover

Chef Kevin Belton, a true Creole New Orleanian, dishes up the culinary history of his city with recipes that provide both down-home comfort and the big flavours. He teaches how to make a perfect roux and explains the background of that holiest trinity of Creole cooking—celery, onion, and bell pepper—while offering his spin on the Louisiana classics of gumbo, jambalaya, étouffée, po’boys, and grillades with grits.

Chef Belton’s signature dishes like Pecan-Crusted Redfish, Stuffed Mirlitons, Louisiana Boudin-Stuffed Quail, Creole Cottage Pie, and Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce are not to be missed and are well worth the time in the kitchen! (more…)

FAMILY RECIPES: Etelka’s Cocoa Chiffon Cake

I’ve come to realize that many of us have been bequeathed a cherished family recipe. Be it simple or elaborate to prepare, it’s a dish so fiendishly delicious that it is the unmistakable star of the family meal, whether celebrating triumphs, comforting woes, or keeping family traditions alive. Withholding such heirloom recipes from the world seems almost cruel. Hence, I am championing the family recipe. I will entice the people in my universe to share favourite, nostalgia-infused family recipes, and I will give one of them centre stage in this very space on a monthly basis. In the end, we are all family, and these recipes represent the legacies of our shared passions. This month’s post is written by my good friend Eva. Enjoy!


Etelka’s Cocoa Chiffon Cake
By Eva

The grand finale of every family birthday dinner was THE CAKE.  My mother, Etelka, always served her signature Chocolate Chiffon Cake. Festooned with  tiny, lit candles, it was ceremoniously placed before the celebrated one as the room broke into a full-throated, charmingly off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday.” (We are not a family of gifted singers.)  A hasty, silent wish, a quick whoosh to blow out the candles, and then bliss ensued as the cake was sliced, handed around and savoured.

The cake’s appearance underwent a few metamorphoses over the decades.  Sometimes it was rectangular, at other times round, depending on the baking pans my mother had on hand.  The cake’s magic lies in its ratios rather than its aesthetics. It has just enough cocoa and sugar to give chocolate lovers their fix without overpowering its rich texture, a combination of moist, delicate cake and silky icing.