Saturday, January 27, 2018

cock-a-leekie soup

Just a few months of radio silence there.

But now — now!

Now, it is 2018 and it appears to be the Year of the Flu at our house, so I have a great many chicken soup recipes in store for you.

Let's start with this one. Unless you're Scottish, you might not have heard of it before.

I will tell you all about it. First and foremost, it is very tasty and just the thing you want to eat in the winter, whether you are sickly or healthy. It is also quick, which is handy when you're frail or come home from work and want to eat quickly on a dark winter's night.

It is basically a chicken soup with leeks and rice ... but, oh, it is so much more than that.

The leeks and rice are like silky soulmates — you'll know what I mean when you take your first bite. And the lemon rind! Somehow, when you add a bay leaf and a piece of lemon rind to this soup, you get a soup that tastes much more complex than it actually is. The original recipe doesn't call for carrots but I like the way the orange flecks brighten up the soup.

Apparently, the first recipe was printed in 1598, although its very fun name wasn't popular until the 1700s. Also, the original version had prunes. Prunes! I could actually see them working here but I haven't tried them yet. I'll let you know.

Now, in terms of how you do the chicken, you have two options. You may start with a couple of chicken breasts and poach them in the broth while the soup cooks. Then you pull them out, cut them up, and throw them back in.

Or, you may start with the best invention in the grocery story: the rotisserie chicken. In that case, cut out little chunks and add them near the end. Either way, this is easy. And very, very comforting.

one year ago: old-fashioned scottish shortbread
two years ago: kimchi soup
three years ago: cheesecake in a jar with passion fruit sauce


cock-a-leekie soup
adapted from canadian living
serves 4 — 5

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. butter
3 c. leeks, sliced
1 1/2 c. carrots, chopped
9 c. chicken stock
1 c. long-grain white rice, like jasmine or basmati
3 strips of lemon rind
2 bay leaves
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (raw or cooked)
salt and pepper
3 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Warm a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the oil and butter, then stir in the leeks and carrots. Throw in a bit of salt. Cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until leeks are soft.

Add stock, rice, lemon rind and bay leaf. If using raw chicken breast, throw in now. Bring to a boil. Simmer for about 18 to 20 minutes until rice is tender.

Remove the lemon rind and bay leaf. If you poached the chicken breast, remove it now and cut into small chunks. Add chicken chunks to the soup and heat up again.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in parsley. Serve.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


As far as I understand, it's pronounced like "kook."

The word is Dutch, and so is this lovely little loaf.

You might not be surprised when I tell you it has a slight black-licorice flavour, because of the anise powder. It has other warming spices, too — cinnamon, allspice and cloves — but the anise comes through the most.

If you don't love licorice, you might not love this loaf.

But if you do — oh, you're in for a treat.

It bakes up to be satisfyingly chewy and is absolutely the perfect thing slathered with butter right around mid-afternoon. With a cup of tea, of course.

This is another recipe from my friend Sheri's late mom, who was a wonderful home baker. If you'd like to try another recipe of hers, here's her Dutch marzipan cookies.

one year ago: eating out from amsterdam to vienna
two years ago: summer: germany
three years ago: mt. harris trail mix


original recipe from Mrs. Brink

2 c. wheat flour
     or gluten-free:
     70 g. millet flour
     70 g. oat flour
     70 g. sweet rice flour
     70 g. potato starch
     1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 c. brown sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. anise
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/2 c. molasses
1 c. milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan.

Get out a big bowl and mix the dry ingredients. Stir in the molasses and milk. Pour into loaf pans.

Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until set and a toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


My dear readers — where did I go?

Well, as you can see here, Scotland.

But that was just for two weeks. Otherwise, I've been sticking close to home in Edmonton and Calgary. My writing coaching business is growing, which means less time to come and dollop around over here.

However. I continue to cook and bake, so surely I can work myself up to posting about it more than once every three months? I certainly hope so. In fact, I've been making a lot of Scottish food lately.

So, Scotland! Let me show you some pictures ...


Rhodos in full bloom in Kelvingrove Park, next to Kelvingrove Art Gallery
The River Kelvin (AKA our running route)
Twilight stroll in the Glasgow Botanical Garden to
celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary

Isle of Bute:


Isle of Mull:

Isle of Skye:


Oh, and you were wondering about the food? 

We loved it — thank you for asking. The local creamy cheese, the cockles meat, the smoked fish, the perfect soups for lunch ... You see why I've been inspired to make more Scottish food at home.

one year ago: walnut pesto

Thursday, March 30, 2017

amazing overnight waffles

Let's carry on with the breakfast theme, shall we?

I have been meaning to tell you about these waffles for quite a while now.

I started thinking about yeasted waffles seven years ago, when I ate one for breakfast at Macrina Bakery in Seattle. It was light but substantial and had that homey flavour of freshly-baked bread. I was hooked.

But I didn't perfect my own gluten-free yeasted waffle recipe until last winter.

Enter Mollie Katzen's Amazing Overnight Waffles in The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

Besides tasting exactly the way I want my waffle to taste, they have a genius technique. The night before — or even a day or two before! — you stir together the dry ingredients and whisk in some milk. Then you cover it and let it sit out on the counter overnight to do its thing.

Let me tell you, it doesn't sleep overnight (but I do). Instead, it bubbles and develops a faint taste of sourdough and hangs out happily until I rub the sleep out of my eyes and go check on it.

At that point, I plug in the waffle iron to heat because all I have to do is whisk an egg and a bit of melted butter into the batter.

All of a sudden, we're sitting down at the breakfast table taking in the wonder of a weekend morning and eating hot yeasted waffles.

It is heaven. A very achievable heaven.

one year ago: sriracha broccolini and tofu with coconut rice
two years ago: peanut sesame noodles
three years ago: brigadeiros and spicy salmon broth


amazing overnight waffles
By Mollie Katzen in The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser
Adapted for gluten-free flours

265 g. flour (2 c.) all-purpose wheat flour
     Or gluten-free:
     55 g. oat flour
     50 g. millet flour
     80 g. potato starch
     80 g. sweet rice flour
     2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
heaping 1/2 tsp. table salt or heaping 1 tsp. kosher salt
490 g. (2 c.) milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
64 g. (6 tbsp.) butter, melted + butter for the waffle iron

Stir the flour(s), yeast, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a plastic hat (my favourite). Let stand overnight at room temperature. (If your kitchen will be warmer than 21 degrees, put it in the fridge. Likewise, if you'd like to make this more than 15 hours ahead, put it in the fridge.)

Have a good sleep.

In the morning, heat up the waffle iron. Whisk the egg and melted butter into the batter, which will be somewhat thin. Mix a little neutral oil and melted butter together and brush it over the waffle iron. Dollop spoonfuls of batter onto the iron and use a metal spoon to spread it out a bit. You are looking for just enough batter to cover much of the waffle iron.

Cook until crisp and brown but not too dark, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve hot. If you're making them for a crowd, you can keep them warm on a rack in a low oven. Don't pile them on a plate because they'll release steam and get quite soft.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

lemon curd

As a teenager, I used to make lemon curd all the time.

I remember pulling out the double-boiler and setting the bottom pot on to boil while I measured out the lemon, sugar, eggs and butter for the top pot.

I'm not sure where I got the recipe — maybe the church cookbook?

In any case, I was smitten. I spooned it thickly between layers of cake and dolloped it on vanilla ice cream. Sometimes, I just spread it over buttered toast.

All that to say: why did I forget about it for 20 years?

As I have just re-realized, there's something about transforming the lemon into a wobbly, rich curd that makes it taste even more intensely of lemon. And it is wonderful.

I got fully back on the lemon curd bandwagon last weekend when I tried Regina Schrambling's lemon-almond butter cake. In it, you make lemon curd, then plop great spoonfuls onto the almond dough. The cake rises up around the curd and it all mingles together to create a homely cake with surprising pockets of lemon flavour. It is very good.

Then on Shrove Tuesday, Scott and I were invited to a pancake dinner. I, of course, offered to bring a pancake topping. Because — really — I'm always up to the challenge of making a new pancake topping.

Lemon curd it was. We had it again yesterday morning on our leftover pancakes. It might be just be our new favourite pancake topping.

At this rate, I'll be making lemon curd every three days. I think we'd both be OK with that.

one year ago: roasted rhubarb with wine and vanilla
two years ago: buttermilk pancakes with apple-pear tops
three years ago: salted butter break-up cookies


lemon curd
very slightly adapted from Regina Schrambling*
makes a scant cup

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
7 tbsp. sugar
2 extra-large eggs**
3 tbsp. butter, cubed

If you have a double boiler, put water in the bottom pot and get it started boiling. If you don't, start a regular pot. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl and set aside for later.

In the top pot of the double boiler or a heatproof bowl, beat the zest, juice, sugar and eggs well. Add the butter. Set it over the boiling water pot. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until it thickens into curd, about 5 to 8 minutes. I found mine was ready when the spatula would leave a trail on the bottom of the pot that wouldn't completely fill in with curd.

Strain into the bowl you already prepared. Press plastic wrap over the curd to keep it from forming a skin and cool in the fridge. Put in a clean jar or another container with a lid. Some recipes say lemon curd keeps for weeks in the fridge. Enjoy!

*I halved the recipe. Also, the original recipe (halved) calls for 6 tablespoons sugar. I mistakenly used 7 the first time I made it and I've kept using 7. I find it's just the right amount of sweet —any less and it would be too puckery.

**I do tend to have extra-large eggs on hand because they're a good price at the Italian Centre. However, I'm pretty sure this would work with large eggs, as the difference in weight is usually very small. Try it and let me know?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

old-fashioned scottish shortbread

I've had Scotland on my mind lately.

At the end of January, Scott and I hosted a big Robbie Burns Day party, where we ate Scottish meatballs and everyone wore plaid. Our friend Niall also read Burns poems in Old Scots wearing his Campbell kilt. It was glorious.

When I think of Scotland, I think of mountains and strong black tea and beautiful woolen blankets and ... shortbread.

I've made gluten-free shortbread before, but I was hankering after something a bit more old-fashioned in the shortbread department.

One cold January afternoon, I pulled out my recipe binder for cookies. I kept turning the pages until I found my Great-Aunt Marjorie's recipe for shortbread.

Well, Marjorie gave it to me but I think she got it from her mother-in-law. Although I'm not actually completely sure about that. In any case, it's called "Mom Allison's Shortbread" and Allison is a Scottish name, so I feel good about its authentic Scottish-Canadian roots.

All that to say — it's just what I was looking for. You bake it in an 8-inch tin and then cut it into "petticoat tails," which look like triangles, for the uninitiated.

The recipe says that letting it sit in a sealed tin for a couple of days brings out the flavour, and that is true. However, it was also fantastic an hour out of the oven. So it's good on all fronts: right away, two days later, ten days later. I can't give you any longer time frames because it won't last that long in our household.

one year ago: gluten-free sandwich bread
two years ago: cheesecake in a jar with passion fruit sauce and tomato soup with two fennels
three years ago: nuts and bolts and tuscan white beans


mom allison's shortbread
bakes an 8-inch round you may cut into 8 or 12 pieces
note: whether you use wheat flour or the gluten-free flours, you still also add the white rice flour

vanilla castor or berry sugar to sprinkle on top*
6 oz. all-purpose wheat flour
     or gluten-free: 
     2 oz. millet flour
     2 oz. potato starch
     2 oz. sweet rice flour
     1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 oz. white rice flour
3 oz. berry or castor sugar**
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp. table salt)
5 oz. salted butter, at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk the dry ingredients together. Rub in the butter with your fingers or use a stand mixer to make a stiff dough.

Roll the dough out between two sheets of plastic wrap. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap and invert the dough into an 8-inch cake tin. Now, peel off the new top layer of plastic wrap.

Mark into 8 or 12 pieces and prick all over with a fork. Bake in the mid-oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until it's set and just the edges are slightly golden.

Take it out of the oven and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Mark pieces off again.

Once it's cool, you can try some right away. You can also let it sit in a sealed container for a couple of days to bring out the flavour. We found it just gets better with time but it still great the first day.

* Make your own vanilla sugar by immersing a split vanilla bean into the sugar for some time. If you just think of this right before baking — no problem. It still works and you can use the leftover sugar for future baking projects.

** If you don't have this finer sugar on hand, just whiz it up in the food processor for a little while until the grains look smaller. This worked for me.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

christmas cookie (and gift) time!

Last weekend, I was suddenly given the gift of time.

You can probably guess what I used it for.

That's right: Christmas baking!

I made hazelnut-almond batons* and thin gingerbread almond cookies* from my favourite new cookbook, Classic German Baking. Of course, I also had to make a loaf of marzipan stollen.*

After two of those recipes called for grated lemon peel, naked lemons started colonizing my kitchen. I thought I should use them up before they multiplied, so I re-adapted my Great-Grandma McNair's lemon loaf to be gluten-free. It was fluffy and soft and buttery — I'll be posting about that soon.

After all that ... I was done. If I don't cook or bake for the next two weeks, I will be a happy camper. (Yes, that includes Christmas. Maybe we could have a cookie plate for dinner?)

If you haven't made your Christmas cookies yet, I thought you might like a round up of my favourites over the years, so here are few links. And do check out Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss — it is a lovely tome of German goodness I will treasure for years. It even has a whole section devoted to Christmas baking.
What's that I hear? Now that I've given you cookie ideas, you're still looking for a few gift ideas? Oh, OK ...
  • The Trudeaus gave these lovely scarves to the Obama daughters when they visited earlier this year.
  • I finally had a chance to see this pretty jewellery in person today at a pop-up downtown. I am especially enchanted with the interesting stud earrings.
  • Not exactly romantic or magical, but who wouldn't want a fat separator for making gravy and stock? I know I do.
* I adapted all these recipes to be gluten-free and they worked perfectly. Let me know if you'd like the details.

one year ago: ginger meringues
two years ago: peppermint lavender balm
three years ago: annie's sun-dried tomato dip

Thursday, December 1, 2016

hitting the road ...

There hasn't been much cooking or baking in my world over the past month.

Instead, I ate many snacks of roasted hazelnuts (a tiny Tupperware container easily fits in my fancy purse) and was lucky to try tacos in Vancouver, dumplings in Toronto and burgers in Calgary.

During the day, I've been putting on a suit and going to business meetings —just call me Corporate Stephanie. During the evening, I've been catching up with my good friends who are sprinkled across Canada. All in all, a pretty great month.

Now that it's December, I'm happy to be back in Edmonton, plotting the German cookies I'll bake for my Christmas cookie plate and settling into the routine of reading Christmas cards after dinner.

But! I thought you might like to know about the restaurants I discovered, so I've updated Hop & Go Fetch It with eight new spots from my travels.

Check it out for that taco bar in Vancouver, not to mention sushi like butter and a hippie lunch spot. For Toronto, look for my new favourite neighbourhood coffee shop and a fancy, independent coffee shop in the heart of all those shiny office towers downtown.

one year ago: wish list
two years ago: shortbread peppermint pattie cookies
three years ago: annie's sun-dried tomatoes