Category Archives: Recipes

Recipe: Mediterranean Chicken Tagine and Couscous

I haven’t posted a recipe in a while. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to take a picture of this dish as we had guests over and the chicken disappeared instantly. I knew I wanted something to go with couscous, and I love braised chicken dishes, so I thought I’d figure something out and modelled this on a Moroccan tagine, without the olives because nobody but me likes olives. Here’s what I came up with. I’m cutting the recipe down to a family-sized dish:

Mediterranean Chicken Tagine

Oven: 350F

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 1 t. minced ginger
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • about 8 dried apricots, chopped (or not)
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 t. dried ground coriander
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. capers
  • 1/2 c. apple juice (or water)
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 lemon, halved and thinly sliced

Have ready a 9 x 11 inch casserole. In a nonstick skillet over high heat, brown the skin side of the chicken thighs. While they’re browning, season the undersides with salt and pepper. Arrange skin side up in the casserole. Tip out and discard the fat from the pan. Add the butter and onion, garlic and ginger and put pan over medium heat. Stir briefly until it’s all hot and then add the spices to fry and become aromatic. Add the raisins, apricots and capers. Add the apple juice, white wine and honey, and stir until it’s all heated through. Pour over the chicken. Tuck the lemon slices in between the pieces of chicken. Cover with foil and put in the oven for about 1 hour. Check to make sure it’s not too dry, add some water if it looks dry. Remove the foil and let brown for another 20 minutes or so. If you want to do this earlier and bake it longer in a slower oven, 300F for 2 hours would work well. Because you’ve browned the chicken skin you’ve accelerated the baking and also rendered quite a lot of the fat out. The chicken gets very tender and flavourful and the sauce is great stirred into the couscous.

Couscous with Pine Nuts

  • 2 c. water
  • 1 1/3 c. couscous
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 handful chopped flatleaf parsley
  • salt and pepper

Boil the water in a medium saucepan. When it boils, add the couscous, turn off the heat and cover. Let it steam. Meanwhile, brown the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until they have brown spots and you can hear them sizzling a bit. When the couscous has absorbed all the water (about 5-10 minutes) fluff it up and add the other ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste.

This looks great in a large shallow serving dish with the chicken on top of the couscous, but I can’t prove it because I didn’t take a picture. Sorry!

A good side for this is chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, with some yogurt and chopped mint leaves.

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What shall we do with all these apples?

It’s been a bumper year for our apple crop.

They’re red, they’re sweet, they’re amassed in autumnal profusion on the limbs of the tree….and I’m not totally sure what to do with them all. They’re quite small, so although they’re nice to eat you can only eat so many apples. Ever made apple crisp or applesauce with tiny apples? You peel one, you slice it – and you have about 4 tiny slices. Repeat many many times. Now you know what carpal tunnel feels like.

The tree is on a corner of the property which is bounded by a hedge. The other day I was out chatting with a neighbour in front of their house which is about half a block away. My back was to my house; my neighbour pointed over my shoulder and said, “Hey! Someone’s stealing your apples!” True enough, a cyclist was leaning over the hedge and helping himself to our bounty. Well, what are you going to do? My feeling is, if someone really wants those apples they are welcome to some. I don’t want them to strip the tree, but a few? No problem. The other day two elderly ladies started into the yard, bag in hand, startling my husband who was taking out the trash. He said, “Can I help you?” They sheepishly admitted they were planning on taking some apples. Justin told them to go ahead, but I noticed him peering out anxiously later to make sure they didn’t take them all.

I did make an apple crisp and took a picture of it unbaked. I forgot to take a picture of the baked article, however.


Apple Crisp

Oven: 375 degrees, 11 x 7 glass casserole (I doubled this recipe and made it in a 9 x 13 to feed 11, but the original recipe is for a smaller, family-sized crisp.)

  • 6-8 large apples or about a million small ones. I like a mixture of apples for texture and flavour. Macintoshes will cook down into applesauce so you can use a couple but I wouldn’t do a completely Macintosh crisp. Jonagolds, Braemars, Royal Galas, Golden Delicious are all good.
  • 2/3 – 3/4 c. brown sugar (depends on how sweet your apples are)
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. quick or rolled oats
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/3 c. butter, melted

Mix the flour, oats, and spices together. Add the melted butter, stirring with a fork until it becomes a crumbly streusel. It should not be greasy but crumbly. If it seems oily add a bit more flour and stir again until it’s crumbly.

Peel and slice the apples and lay them in your pan. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over top. Don’t pack it down. Bake.

Baking times vary according to the fruit, but the topping should be browned and the fruit should be bubbling round the edges. The glass casserole is instrumental here so you can see what’s going on. When you stick a fork in, the fruit should be soft. Generally a crisp will take 45 minutes to 1 hour. I avoid using a really deep casserole because then it takes forever. If you have no choice, cover the casserole and microwave the fruit for a while until it softens, then add the crisp mixture on top and bake. You can also cook the fruit briefly in a saucepan on the stove, then pour into the casserole dish and bake.

Crisps are good for using up old apples but sometimes those apples can be a bit dry; in that case check about 3/4 of the way into the cooking time. If it seems dry, add about 1/4 c. of water or apple juice.

When it’s not apple season, this is great with blueberries, blackberries, rhubarb (add some sugar in with the rhubarb if you try this or you’ll be sorry) and peach crisp will send you straight to heaven. I like mixtures too; apple-blueberry is good and also peach-blueberry. With peaches and blueberries, some sliced almonds in with the streusel mixture is a nice touch.

Happy Autumn!


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The Baked Donut Marathon Weekend

I’ve been enjoying Sally’s Baking Addiction blog – there are lots of good recipes on there and they’re all very easy. Nice! I made Sally’s Peanut Butter Frosting for some chocolate cupcakes for my husband’s birthday. Sooooo good.

She has a few recipes for Baked Donuts! I was like, Baked Donuts? I’ve stayed away from donuts (actually in Canada we call them doughnuts) since I found out the calorie count from one french cruller. It’s been sad; donuts and baked goods are my favourite things. Once in a while I’ll have a donut hole but that’s it. So the idea of donuts that are baked was a revelation and I immediately got some baked donut pans and set to work:

I made some vanilla donuts with strawberry frosting from Sally’s blog – I found that the donuts essentially tasted like muffins in a ring shape and the recipe was very muffin-y (dry ingredients; wet ingredients, oil-based, etc.) so there’s no surprise there. The icing was quite nice; the girls said the doughnuts looked like big doughnut strawberry Pocky and kind of tasted like it too.

Next I tried chocolate donuts from the Bakerita blog, another fun baking site. These were wonderful and very quick to make:

Baked Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

I’ve made some edits; here’s Bakerita’s original recipe.

  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 T. cocoa
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 5 T. sugar
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 T. unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 egg

Oven: 350

Spray 2 doughnut pans with nonstick spray. In the bowl of a food processor put the flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda, salt, sugar, and nutmeg. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Turn out into a medium bowl.

Combine the buttermilk, vanilla, and egg. Add to the flour mixture and stir until almost but not quite combined. Spoon into a Ziploc bag or pastry bag (this process will finish the mixing) and pipe into the doughnut forms.

Bake for about 8 minutes or until doughnuts spring back when touched (toothpick test is also a good indicator). Let cool on wire rack before glazing.

The first time I made these I used Bakerita’s chocolate glaze – it’s delicious but not really doughnut glaze, it’s more of a ganache. Nothing wrong with that but I wanted something more like glaze that hardens a bit. The second time I used Alton Brown’s Chocolate Doughnut Glaze and it was more like what I had in mind.

Bakerita’s Chocolate Glaze (ganache type)

  • 3/4 c. chocolate chips
  • 2 t. butter
  • 1 T. light corn syrup
  • 1/4 t. vanilla
  • 2 T. milk

In a microwave proof bowl, combine all ingredients except the vanilla. Melt for 30 seconds in the microwave then stir. I let this sit for a bit then stirred; it didn’t need additional microwaving. Add vanilla.

Alton Brown’s Chocolate Doughnut Glaze (I halved the recipe and made a few changes)

  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 2T. milk
  • 2 t. light corn syrup
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 oz chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 c. icing sugar

Combine butter, milk, corn syrup and vanilla in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted. Add icing sugar and whisk until smooth. This icing seized up on me and I had to add a tablespoon of hot water and whisk until it was smooth and glossy again.

With this glaze, you also have to work quickly and at one point I had to reheat the icing in the microwave. But it makes a more doughnut-shop type of glaze.

Two sets of doughnuts do not a marathon make. But wait for it:

While trolling the Internet for baked doughnut recipes, I found this recipe for Baked Yeast Doughnuts. I love yeast-based doughnuts and I immediately brought down my bread machine from its home on top of the fridge.

Baked Yeast Doughnuts

If you are using a bread machine, add these ingredients in the order they’re listed:

  • 1 c. milk, heated for about 1 min in the microwave
  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 2 t. butter, melted
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature and beaten lightly
  • 5 c. bread or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 3 t. instant yeast

Set the machine for dough and wait. Make some Chocolate Doughnuts, there’s lots of time. When it’s done, pry it out of the machine, knock down and continue.

(If you are not using a bread machine, combine the milk, water, yeast, butter, sugar, eggs, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. By the last addition you’ll need to knead the dough until springy and elastic and not a shaggy sticky mess. Add flour as needed but sparingly; too much flour will make the dough tough. It should make a nice smooth ball but by now you are probably wishing you’d got a bread machine. Roll in oil or flour and let rise in a bowl covered with a piece of waxed paper and a tea towel, in a warm place, for about 2 hours or until doubled in size. Knock down and continue.)

Roll dough out to about 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. If you have a doughnut cutter, cut out doughnuts and place on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan. I don’t have a doughnut cutter, surprise, so I used a large biscuit cutter and a pop bottle rim for the inside holes. The girls quickly discovered that you can then shoot the bits of dough from the bottle by squeezing it and blowing them across the counter. Fun times! Cover with waxed paper and a tea towel and let rise for approximately 1 hour.

Oven: 375. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the bottoms are just golden. They will not get brown on top (I’m working on this). Remove from the oven and let cool 1-2 minutes.

Cinnamon Topping

  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. cinnamon

Combine sugar and cinnamon. Dip doughnuts in butter, then in cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on rack set over waxed paper.

I made a donut glaze (Alton Brown again) and dipped half the doughnuts in that. But the cinnamon-sugar coating was better. My husband had the last one two days later and remarked that it was just like sweet bread. They were better the day they were made and even if they were more like sweet bread than like doughnuts, they were mighty fine anyway.

Sally’s recipe made about 6 donuts. The Chocolate Doughnut recipe made 12. The Yeast Doughnut recipe made 24. Needless to say, the girls and I did not eat 42 doughnuts. We tried one of each, kept a few for our breakfast next day (and one for Daddy who was opening a restaurant in Toronto even though he wouldn’t be home for another day or so) and took the rest down to the staff at Hapa Kits:

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Behind the scenes at Hapa: the big kitchen meeting

Now that we have four locations of Hapa Izakaya, and a fifth opening in Toronto, we are moving towards further standardizing our menu. We started with a few pages that were consistent at all locations and then each location would have its own “fresh” section of specials that they developed independently. Some specials became so popular that we moved them to the “ground” menu so that we could offer them at all locations. But as our audience grows wider we are moving towards more standardization. Which also means reviewing each location’s rendering of ground menu items and deciding which is the best and should become standard for each location. This was not an easy meeting. I was prepared to come, take pictures with my groovy new camera and external flash, and maybe taste a few things, but I was not prepared to preside over something like a Japanese version of a Pillsbury Bake-Off. I adore our staff and the last thing I would want is to cause hurt feelings! Creative people, they are so sensitive! But fortunately our kitchen guys are pretty practical too.

So if you’ve ever wondered what a restaurant kitchen meeting is like….it’s actually pretty fun, the tasting ones anyway. The downside for me is that a lot of it takes place in Japanese which I don’t speak. Justin translates for Kevin (General Manager) and I and the guys use English when they can, and it’s always really cute when they express themselves in English. We needed to discuss a few practical things first, like pricing, and that’s never very interesting. We managed to spend 10 minutes discussing the cutting of tofu and the recipe and presentation of agedashi tofu, which is a deep-fried tofu dish with dashi, one of my daughter’s favourites and mine. But then the guys went to the kitchen and began the cook-off! I love watching professional cooks at work – their movements are so fast and sure and their timing is always absolutely spot-on. They let me take a few pics in the kitchen while they worked. I know I’m the owner but I don’t presume (not much anyway). I ask first before I intrude into my staff’s working space…and OMG, it’s hot in there.

We had a tough time deciding on one salad dressing. All four locations do a similar citrus-soy dressing and they’re all really good. (I copied down my favourite dressing recipe to use at home but will test it out before I post it because the guys make dressing in litre amounts so I need to cut it down considerably.) We ended up choosing the simplest dressing; it’s harder to screw it up when there are fewer ingredients and the difference wasn’t noticeable to anybody who isn’t a cook. But we had to eat a lot of salad to make this determination!

Trying out the salad dressing

Back to the kitchen….

Cutting scallops at the speed of light…

Scallop Tartare: chopped scallops, bacon, karashi mustard mayonnaise, wonton chips – but it’s ungarnished as it’s for tasting purposes only. Usually this would have some kind of fluff of alfalfa sprouts, some finely julienned radishes, that kind of thing.

Pork Belly

Pork Belly Lettuce Wrap, with crispy wonton bits, apple-yuzu jam and pickled red onions

Pork belly is extremely tasty, but I must confess: it’s not my favourite dish, because I am kind of fat-phobic. For some reason butter and cream are ok, but meat fat, no. It’s not elegant to chew at it like a rat, trying to avoid the fatty parts, so I leave this to Justin. The flavours are divine, though.

This is one of my favourite dishes:

(heavenly choir sings a chord) Polenta Fries!

Did I say I was fat-phobic? The hypocrisy! Well, it’s not meat fat. These are totally worth the calorie count. Crispy light tempura surrounding melting, hot, cheesy, creamy corn goodness? A little shmear of arugula gel for a touch of tartness? A drizzle of balsamic reduction adding its sweet acid to the mix? What’s not to like? Oh, right, the mile I’ll have to run to compensate for the calories. This is one reason I don’t drink: because I want those calories for things like pasta and cupcakes.

Beef Short Ribs, mmmm

We had to eat a lot of short ribs to determine which marinade was best. Tough call!

One of Justin’s favourite lunch items:

Halibut Taco: tempura halibut, housemade bacon, lettuce, tomato, shoestring potatoes, roasted jalapeño tartar sauce

Ishiyaki is a rice dish that is presented in a hot stone bowl: the ingredients are mixed at the table and allowed to cook a bit further to create yummy crispy edges. We have a few incarnations of this dish, some are vegetarian, involving mushrooms, some have pork in them, this one contains very tender braised beef:

Chipotle Beef Curry Ishiyaki

Mixing ishiyaki

Hapa Hot Wings, served with lemon wedge and fire extinguisher

Meeting over, only 2 hours later than anticipated. Beer time!

Who stayed until the end of this post? You get the recipe for the awesome Citrus Soy Salad Dressing which I’ve been figuring out as I work on this post:

Citrus Soy Salad Dressing

  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. Japanese soy sauce (not the dark Chinese kind); we are actually using gluten-free Tamari at the restaurants now but that’s up to you
  • 2 t. sugar or agave syrup
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 2 T.)
  • 3 capers
  • few sprigs parsley (this is a tough measurement; if you packed it together it would probably be less than a tablespoon)
  • 2 T. minced yellow onion

Give it a whiz in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor just chop the solid ingredients very finely and shake in a jar. We serve this dressing with our Sashimi Salad and also our Midori Salad (simple green salad). You know I’m going to try it with quinoa to make a kind of Japanese quinoa salad. Stay tuned…

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I love my camera; thoughts on portraiture; oh, and Blueberry Scones

Looking like a dork but having great fun!


I am loving having a good camera! It’s been a real revelation – I thought I was incapable of taking good pictures but it turns out that with a good camera and some lenses just about anybody’s in business! It is not that hard; the camera does a lot for you. I am following some photographer’s blogs and found some good articles on Pinterest although I have to admit that a lot of the instructions totally whiz over my head. But I’m learning and really enjoying the process. My favourite thing is taking portraits. It’s funny; I’ve had quite a few professional photographs taken but I like very few of them. It drives me crazy to have no direction and then see the proofs and I look like an idiot or like Karla Homolka and about 500 lbs in every one of the pictures. I’ve been taking pictures of friends and we’ve discovered that if you take quite a few, let the subject have a look, then keep taking more, then look, that you eventually find out the best expressions, the best poses, to make your subject look awesome. I discovered that one friend gets tension lines around her nose and mouth if she’s standing, but her face is totally smooth and goddess-like if she’s sitting. Go figure! Thank god for digital photography because we take so many pictures with this learning process, but it’s worth it. So I am driven to take good pictures of people to prove that we are all beautiful, it’s all about lighting and angles and sitting vs. standing and not blinking all the time. Easy-peasy. Plus, with online editing sites like PicMonkey you can make regular people look like movie stars and nice-looking people look like gods.

Food, as it happens, is super-easy to photograph. All you need is a 50mm lens. Check out the Blueberry Scones:

Scones don’t blink.

How easy is that?

Blueberry Scones

  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
  • 5 T. unsalted butter, very cold, in pieces
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk (or milk soured with 1 T. vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (it’s debatable which are easier to work with; fresh don’t bleed into your dough, frozen don’t get crushed when you knead, even ever so lightly)
  • 1 T. milk plus coarse sugar for sprinkling

Oven: 450F

1 half-sheet pan lined with parchment or a Silpat

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt and lemon rind. Cut in the butter (I give it a quick whiz in the food processor then dump it out into a mixing bowl) until it’s crumbly. Pour in the buttermilk  and give a quick stir or two, then add the blueberries and carefully stir until it’s all combined. There will be quite a bit of dry mixture but don’t worry; it will come together. Tip it out onto a floured countertop and sort of squeeze it together, gathering up the dry bits and very gently kneading until it holds together. Shape into a round about 1 1/2 inches thick and cut into 8 wedges, or divide into two and make two rounds, cutting into 6 wedges each for mini-scones. Gently move to the parchment/Silpat-lined baking tray. Brush lightly with milk and sprinkle with some coarse sugar (regular sugar is also fine). Bake about 12-15 minutes depending on whether you made mini or regular scones. When they’re done they should have a nice browned look. Let cool just a few minutes before serving because they are awesome warm with a bit of butter or some jam, or honey, or agave syrup.

You can also skip the sprinkling of sugar and instead, let cool, then drizzle with a thin icing made of icing sugar and lemon juice for an even prettier look that doesn’t require any condiment whatsoever.

You can also put an egg or egg yolk (I had some left from the pavlova) into the bottom of the measuring cup before you add your buttermilk for extra richness and tenderness.





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Pavlova and Potluck Party Etiquette

We all love Pavlova here. Pavlova is not the name of a Russian dog, it is not Anna Karenina’s perfume, it is not a flower from Gorky Park. It is a dessert from New Zealand (they call it a “pav”) that involves meringue baked to a marshmallowy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside gorgeousness and topped with whipped cream and strawberries. Other fruit can be used, but it should be juicy and a bit acidic. Kiwi fruit, raspberries, passionfruit, da! Apples, bananas, apricots, nyet! Blackberries, mmmmm. It is remarkably easy to make and even easier to suck down.


  • 6 egg whites at room temperature (I put them in a bowl of warm water while I arrange everything else)
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. cold water
  • 2 t. white vinegar
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 6 t. cornstarch

Start by finding the serving dish(es) you want to use. This recipe makes two round 8-10 inch pavlovas. I’m often bringing this dessert to dinner parties so I use my carrying server. Cut parchment to fit two half-sheet aluminum pans and use the dish as a template so that you can pencil an outline of the border of your pavlova so it’s not too big. It will expand when it bakes, so be conservative. Place the pencil-side of the parchment paper down on the pans. Preheat the oven to 300F.

Whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the water and whip some more. Add the sugar very slowly, in a very narrow constant stream while you whip (KitchenAid mixers are good for this), scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Then add the vinegar, vanilla and cornstarch.

Divide the pavlova mixture between your two pans. I make a round and then scoop out the middle a bit so the cream and fruit has somewhere to go.

Pavlova before baking

Bake for 45 minutes, then turn the oven off and let cool 4-5 hours or overnight.

Pavlova after baking

To serve, scoop on whipped cream (each pavlova will require 2 c. of cream, whipped, and many many sliced strawberries macerated in sugar (or agave syrup, yum)! About 2-3 lbs berries per pavlova because people always want more to scoop on top.

Madame Pavlova all dressed up and ready to go!

I have in the past used the whole half-sheet pan to make a big rectangular pavlova that I’ve just served straight from the parchment paper for a crowd. It works.

A note on bringing food to potlucks: If you want to make your hostess’ blood pressure shoot up, by all means, arrive with bags of groceries instead of a finished dish. Hostesses love this. It’s right up there with arriving with a big bunch of flowers in paper so that the hostess has to drop everything to find a vase and cut and arrange flowers just when she’s got 14 dishes to finish and guests arriving at the rate of 2 per minute. It’s really relaxing to arrange flowers in the middle of all that. Go ahead and assemble your dish there in your hostess’ kitchen. She has nothing better to do than find you a cutting board, a knife, a mixing bowl, and a serving bowl and spoon. She’s more than happy to alter the temperature of her oven for your dish, even if it burns the expensive roast and casserole she’s already got cooking inside. Fridge space? No problem. She’ll put her salad and dessert out on the back porch to make room for your stuff. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have cider vinegar, so you better bring your own. Seriously? Make the dish, entire, in your own kitchen. Use your own serving dishes and spoons because your hostess may not have extra to spare. If your dish needs time in the oven or fridge space, inquire well ahead of time if that will be possible because maybe it won’t be.

Just my experience. I learned from my mom – we always brought everything ready to go. If we brought a cake, we brought a knife and cake server as well as ice cream and a scoop. You can never assume that your hostess will have ingredients or tools that you need. My mom also taught me to label my serving dishes for big dinners with yellow sticky notes – the big platter has a note that says “turkey”, the large bowl with lid is labeled “mashed potatoes” and so on (of course we heated serving dishes with boiling water before we added the food). That way every serving dish has an allotted food item and you don’t run out. Also, your guest who wanted to bring something but neglected to bring a serving dish can’t steal one of yours, forcing you to serve cranberry sauce from a cereal bowl.

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Quinoa Salad Part 2: Southwest Quinoa Salad

Luckily for me, my husband will eat whatever I cook and put in front of him, so when I made two quinoa salads within about 4 days he did not complain. Also he has perceived that it is healthy eating and he’s starting to come on board with that concept.

I got this recipe from a friend – and cousin by marriage – who I wish lived in Vancouver, I only see her once a year when we visit Vancouver Island. She’s very cool to hang out with, and also an awesome cook. She made this salad when she came to Bowser and very graciously gave me the recipe. I have named it Southwest Quinoa Salad because that’s how it strikes me. I’ve made a few alterations for my kitchen as her recipe was written for a commercial kitchen (she used to own a café). So yummy!

Southwest Quinoa Salad

Southwest Quinoa Salad

  • 1 1/3 c. quinoa – cooked in rice cooker like white rice on the quick cook 20-minute setting, completely cooled
  • 1/2 c. corn – frozen or canned
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 c. red onion, minced and blanched under boiling water then shocked with cold and drained
  • 1 c. tinned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • handful fresh cilantro, chopped

You can roast the corn and red pepper if you like. Cool before adding.


  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. chilli powder
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper (optional)

You essentially mix everything together! I love this kind of salad. It lasts a couple of days in the fridge as well. The original recipe included the zest of the limes but I found my limes were quite strong so I didn’t need it. Obviously you can adjust the dressing to suit your own tastes as I’ve done.

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Hottest Day of the Year

So far, anyway. So I thought I’d turn on my oven to make Blueberry Coffee Cake – I found the recipe on the web and I’m going to have to apologize to wherever it came from because I forgot to make a note of it. But it needs lemon anyway and I made a few more modifications = new recipe?

Blueberry Coffee Cake (low fat)

oven: 375, 9 x 9 pan sprayed with nonstick and lined with parchment paper

You mix this up as you mix up muffins:

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. flour (I used Nutriflour)
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 c. plain nonfat yogurt
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • juice and grated rind of 1 small lemon or 1/2 large lemon


  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. quick oats
  • 2 t. melted butter

1 1/2 c. blueberries

Make the streusel, mixing all ingredients together until crumbly.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mix until barely combined, add blueberries and mix until just combined. Pour into pan and sprinkle with streusel. Bake 35 minutes (test). Let cool before cutting as it’s a very soft cake.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

We are going to the beach today to surprise a friend for her birthday – her husband organized it and coincidentally it’s on the hottest day of the year. Each family is going to bring our own food but the husband is providing some treats also. What food is he providing for the hottest day of the year? Sushi and ice cream cake!!! He’s going to keep the sushi in our restaurant fridge, instead of in his car, so good thing there was space. But the ice cream cake is going to be very exciting in 30+ degree temperature. So like a guy, I love it. Also like a guy: Justin made it home alive from the White Cruise….but he lost his shoes. Not on the boat, at a house party afterwards. I could almost understand the boat, well, not really, but  – at someone’s house? How do you do that?

So I’ve spent my day preparing picnic food: o-nigiri rice balls, teriyaki chicken, salad, cucumber sticks, cherries, and blueberry coffee cake. I’ve just realized that I haven’t figured out drinks at all. I suppose that’s just like a girl. O well. At least I know where all my shoes are.

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Quinoa Salad for a Hot Day


So, Vancouver is being hit with a heat wave! I know it doesn’t get as hot as other parts of the country, but that’s why we live here, because you can wear the same clothes year-round. So when the temperature gets to 26 Celsius I’m all, Seriously? And I used to live on the equator. But in very hot places everyone has air-conditioning. In Vancouver we only need it a few days a year so it’s not worth it, but when it’s hot, it’s awful. In the summer I watch the forecast and get anxious days in advance if high temperatures are predicted. Our house gets really hot and I can’t sleep in the heat. My office is upstairs and it’s horrible to work with your body parts sticking to your chair and desk. So I prepared Quinoa Salad so we’d have something cool and light to eat for dinner and also so I’m not dealing with a hot stove. I’d barbecue but our barbecue isn’t working and we haven’t fixed it yet because, I don’t know. Maybe it’s really comforting to have yet another nonfunctioning piece of equipment in our garage.

My friend C introduced me to quinoa last year – I bought some, but  I didn’t get into it in a big way because I wasn’t sure how to use it, my mother can’t tolerate it, and I was pretty sure the kids would refuse to eat it. But we were eating it in Bowser and I love it so I’m going to force the kids to eat it. I felt really stupid saying “Oh, the girls won’t eat that,” when we were organizing menus. So I’d make them rice and steamed vegetables when the rest of us are having these gourmet meals. It felt really neurotic, like I have poodles instead of children, so I’m going to make an effort to have them eat what we eat.

I’ve now had two kinds of quinoa salad – one is dressed with a basic vinaigrette and has feta cheese, and the other is a kind of Southwest flavoured one. I’m going to post this first kind because that’s the one I just made so it’s fresh in my mind.

Quinoa Salad with Feta

I use a rice cooker to cook quinoa – two “rice cooker” cups is about 1 1/3 c. and I use the water measurement in the pot. But you can cook about 1 1/2 c. quinoa in 3 cups of water – bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Then remove the quinoa to a large bowl and spread it into a thin layer so it cools down quickly. I put this in the fridge and stir it a few times until it’s completely cool.

While the quinoa cooks, prepare vegetables by dicing quite small:

  • 2 medium tomatoes – I remove the seeds and juice first
  • 1/3 long English cucumber
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/4 c. red onion – mince this, put in a  small bowl and pour boiling water over it. Let sit a minute then drain and rinse well with cold water, drain again.
  • small handfuls of: cilantro and flat leaf parsley, and a smaller handful of mint leaves – mince these
  • 1/2 c. corn (frozen or canned)
  • 1/2 c. feta cheese – in very small dice or crumbled if it’s the really crumbly kind


  • 3 T. white wine or red wine vinegar
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 1 t. grainy mustard

Shake together in a jar or whisk in a bowl.

When the quinoa is totally cool, add all the ingredients and toss gently together.


It’s not actually as hot as I was afraid it was going to be. There’s a nice breeze….



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Occupy Bowser!

It’s so beautiful here we are moved to dance….

Whew…a weekend of friends, food, bocce, kayaking, the routine capture and release of tiny crabs, and the joy of camping in the yard. The kids have now decided that they are going to live in the tent and their behaviour is reminiscent of squatters during the Occupy movement, except without the politics and for the fact that we make them shower regularly.

For brunch today we made a frittata, scrambled eggs (because some of the kids won’t eat frittata), toast (Cobs’ Chia Bread), fresh blueberries, and homemade cinnamon buns. I’d made an all-purpose dough, divided it into two, used half for dinner rolls two nights ago, and stashed the rest in the fridge until this morning, when we rolled it out into a large rectangle, brushed it with melted butter and sprinkled it with a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar, rolled it up, cut it into 12 portions and inserted each into a greased muffin cup. I’d prepped the muffin cups with a mixture of butter, brown sugar and honey briefly warmed on the stovetop and put a spoonful into each cup. These baked at 400F within 15 minutes and I remembered to remove them from the muffin cups before they got too attached, as they do when they’re allowed to sit in there until cool.

All-Purpose Tender Refrigerator Dough

  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1 pkg quick yeast
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 4 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

In a small bowl put the warm water, 1 t. sugar (stir) and sprinkle in 1 pkg yeast and let sit while you assemble the other ingredients.

In a larger bowl or glass measuring cup put the butter, milk and 1/3 c. sugar and microwave for about 40 seconds to 1 minute or until warm but not hot and the butter is melted. Beat the egg into with the warm milk mixture. Add the yeast mixture to this.

Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add 2 cups of flour. Mix well and then add more flour until the dough is shaggy and kind of holding together. Turn out onto a floured countertop and knead for about 10 minutes. Only add as much flour as you need to keep it from sticking to the countertop and your hands.

Divide dough into two equal portions. Oil each portion lightly. Either put each into a large Ziploc bag and seal but not completely, and put into the fridge. Or if you are using one portion immediately oil it and put it into a large bowl, cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap and a clean tea towel and let proof 1-2 hours, then use as you like. I made dinner rolls: I proofed the dough, then punched it down and divided it into 12 equal portions, made balls of them and put them about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  I proofed these again for another hour until they were clearly larger and puffier. I brushed them with some beaten egg mixed with water. These baked within 17 minutes at 400F, golden brown and super-soft inside. Mmmmm.

The only thing wrong was that I could only make 12 cinnamon buns with half the dough (it made 12 dinner rolls and 12 cinnamon buns) and we clearly needed at least double that amount because they were so yummy. This recipe is for vacation time because when I’m at home I use a bread maker to do the hard work of making the dough. However, I have found that I rather like the kneading process, it’s very soothing and we’re on vacation so we have time for things like kneading bread dough.

I made hamburger buns last week, they were amazing, and these buns are even better….it actually kind of sucks when I’m trying to reduce carbs. Not eliminate, but reduce. But it seems wrong to do anything but go nom nom nom when you get these buns hot out of the oven.

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