Radicchio Salad with Bacon and Eggs – Sunday Lunch for Two

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A busy week lies ahead but I wanted to put up a brief post to share some highlights from the past weekend. My sweet son Max has been away on a school trip to Quebec City where he is practising his French and soaking up the culture. My sister left on Friday for her home in Los Angeles and so for the first time in a long time it was just my husband and I on our own with no classes or dinners or commitments of any kind for an entire two days.

We took walks with our dog, went to the Saturday Farmer’s Market, watched movies and enjoyed a rather romantic dinner out. On Sunday Glen ran some errands and I stayed home to cook us lunch. The weather was nice enough that I cooked with the kitchen doors wide open and let in some fragrant spring air. After the last few rather stressful weeks it was just what I needed.

I had picked up olives, cheese, greens, garlic, eggs and some beautiful purple broccolini at the market on Saturday. I had some double smoked bacon, pasta, good olive oil and bread crumbs in the pantry.

I made orrechiette with the brocolini, plenty of garlic and chilli flakes and topped with shavings of Parmesan cheese and toasted breadcrumbs. To go alongside I made the salad you see above. Pleasantly bitter radicchio with a handful of arugula leaves, some green onions, crispy bacon, Gorgonzola, 10 minute boiled eggs all bound together with a grainy mustard vinaigrette.

We ate and talked and ate some more. Sunday lunch for two.

xo J

P.S. I am pretty thrilled to have some beautiful photos of my kitchen (and my hands!) over on my friend Melissa’s site, The Bounty Hunter. Check them out here!

 

 

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March Food

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This month saw us bid a sweet farewell to winter.

Spring is officially upon us and during these first tentative days of the season there is so much to celebrate. There is the evening light that lasts until the dinner hour, a softness to the air and the very first blooms gracing the trees that were so recently bare.

March was the month to say goodbye to heavy sweaters and wooly socks, endless cups of tea and braising and stewing and marathon baking sessions to help warm up the kitchen on cold afternoons.

With a very heavy heart I must tell you that it was in March the time came to also say goodbye to my beloved 100 year old Baba. She was ready and it was time but my heart still aches with sadness. I miss her every day.

xo J

 

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Longing for Spring Artichoke Soufflés

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It is a sunny day at the tail end of winter that has me longing for spring.

This morning at Norman’s Fruits and Vegetables, the greengrocer just down the street from my house, there were some beautiful artichokes. I had some eggs, milk and butter in the fridge and a tiny wedge of Comté cheese. Some flour in the pantry. Put them all together and I had everything I needed for a lovely light lunch.

It is tricky to photograph soufflés as they tend to collapse fairly quickly. You will just have to trust me that these rose up puffy and brown and had a beautiful light and airy texture. I gobbled one up right as it emerged from the oven. A second soufflé, enjoyed later in the afternoon and fully deflated, was certainly less fluffy but no less delicious.

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February Food

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February flew by. We had snowy days and made the most of them with steamy cups of tea, walks with family and four-legged friends and plenty of baking to warm up the kitchen on chilly afternoons.

At our cooking classes and supper clubs we enjoyed all kinds of citrus fruits which always brighten the dark days of winter, roasted lots of root vegetables and made some delicious braises too.

There was a quick weekend trip to the little blue cabin in the woods where there was little more to do than read books, enjoy hearty breakfasts and watch the pale winter light move across the wooden kitchen table. A lovely couple of days to plan and dream and scheme.

The icing on the cake? This month we organized the dates and details for our second annual culinary tour to Paris that now has us dreaming of spring.

xo J

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A Taste of Paris – Culinary Tour 2014

Paris

We are pleased to announce the dates and details for our second annual Culinary Tour in Paris!

After having such a fantastic time last year with our wonderful group of intrepid foodie travellers, we are keen to offer another tour showcasing the joys of the movable feast that is Paris. We have secured a light-filled apartment in Montmartre with a gourmet kitchen that also happens to be close to many of our favourite food shops, bistros and cafés. It is the perfect place for hands-on cooking classes, wine, cheese and macaron tastings, and for gathering around the table to cook, eat, drink, laugh and share.

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The itinerary for this year will include walking tours of local markets where the freshest seasonal food is enticingly displayed and trips to the shops of artisan bakers, butchers, patisseries, cheese-mongers and confectioners. We will be stopping in at classic cafés for afternoon apéritifs as well as visiting some of our favourite off-the-beaten-track bistros for traditional Parisian fare. There will also be plenty of cooking classes to make the most of our delicious daily discoveries.

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Guests will stay at the nearby Mercure Hotel which is within easy walking distance to the apartment as well as close to many Montmartre attractions and several metro stations. This is a great location from which to continue exploring Paris when our daily culinary excursions have concluded.

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Dates are from June 5th to June 20th. Springtime in Paris!

Check out all of the details here.

Just like last year, we are limiting the number of guests to ten people. We would love to have you join us!

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January Food

Cauliflower pesto pasta Saffron glazed carrots with quinoa and mint Making orange florentines
Raining walk at Keats Sunshine at Keats Winter day
Trout Lake Afternoon tea with friends Whistler
French omelet Spring blossoms and winter Mendiants

January was everything I was hoping it would be. Some much needed quiet time that was filled with eating, weekend getaways and plenty of dreaming. New menus were planned and classes and supper clubs too. I spent afternoons perfecting a proper French omelette, making fruit and nut topped mendiants, dipping lacy florentines in chocolate and frying up ricotta fritters with salted butter caramel (recipes to come). I cooked plenty of family meals, many of them asian inspired and somewhat spicy. I had friends for tea and cake and put out bowls of clementine oranges and pistachios and filled vases with spring blossoms. I even slipped away for a weekend with my son and skied on fresh powder snow under bright blue skies.

Now, it’s February and time to get back to work.

Our first event is this Friday. A supper club that will feature a Niçoise-style beef short rib braise with slow roasted tomatoes, olives, spinach and buttered noodles. We will serve a warming carrot and leek cardamom soup that is scented with just a hint of cardamom to start. There will also be some roasted baby beets that have been glazed in sherry vinegar and served alongside some burratta cheese, watercress leaves and slices of toasted levain. For dessert we have planned an olive oil and citrus cakes with whipped mascarpone and perhaps some chocolate dipped florentines on the side. I still have to decide what hors d’oeuvres to serve but am sure that a walk through the market early next week will help me decide.

I’m excited to be ironing linens and making shopping lists and then prepping the ingredients. Setting the table, arranging bouquets of flowers and finally lighting the candles. Cooking, at home, for old friends and new. It is truly what I love.

xo J

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Spaghetti with Cauliflower Pesto

 Spaghetti with cauliflower pesto

I love to cook for people. I suppose that is pretty obvious to anyone who has spent any time at all looking around this site.

And while I am always very happy to cook for just about anyone it must be said that there are some people who are just easier to cook for than other people.

When it comes to cooking for clients I love to cook for those people who come to our cooking classes and supper clubs with an open mind and a good appetite. I always appreciate those people who think they hate beets or kale or a certain type of cheese but will wait until we are finished cooking the beets/kale/cheese and then try the dish without any pre-judgement. It is surprising how many times a beet hater can be turned into a beet lover as long as they approach the beet itself with an open mind. I can’t tell you how many times students have exclaimed “Wow, I really like these beets, and I have always HATED beets!”.  I find it very easy (and fun!) to cook for these people.

One person who stands out in my mind as being the easiest person to cook for is my sister, Lisa. She will pretty much eat anything and she does so with true gratitude. Gratitude for the food that is being put before her and even more gratitude for the person who made the food. She happily eats even the most cobbled together, the-pantry-is-bare, meals and she is even very pleased to eat leftovers. Sadly she lives in Los Angeles and so I don’t get to cook for her all that often but it is pure joy when I do.

So, you might be wondering, who are those people in my life that are, ahem, not so easy to cook for? Perhaps, not surprisingly, they are the people that I cook most often for: my son and my husband. Now, let me start off by saying that I really, really love these guys and in fact I really love eating with them. All three of us love food, it just so happens we don’t all love the same kind of food. I have never been the type of person who cooks a special meal for my son or my husband, although I have never served a meal that I know they will hate. I try to make meals that everyone can enjoy which can be challenging. Anyone who does the lion’s share of day-to-day cooking for their family will empathize that this can be a tricky endeavour.

My son Max loves steak and fries, salmon with lentils, roasted chicken, carrots (raw only) green salads with vinaigrette and any type of spicy Asian takeout.

My husband Glen isn’t a fan of salmon, isn’t a huge eater of meat, (unhappily) equates lentils with a detox cleanse we did years ago but will happily eat beets, kale, quinoa and cheesy pasta. He loves any type of spicy Asian takeout.

Both Max and Glen would be absolutely thrilled if they could eat spicy Asian takeout every, single, night. What type of spicy Asian takeout you might be wondering? It really doesn’t matter. Fiery Thai curries, chilli loaded Szechuan noodles with spicy pork, bowls of Pho enhanced with plenty of Sriracha and chilli oil, spicy prawn tempura dynamite cones, mouth numbing Indian curries.

In an attempt to stem of take-out food tide I sat down with Glen and Max and handed them each a cookbook. The cookbooks I chose had plenty of pictures featuring recipes from around the globe (including some from Asia, which happened to be spicy). I asked them to pick out recipes that looked interesting to them. Recipes that I could cook for them or that we could cook together. There were a few choices that I had anticipated, like Spicy Asian-Style Baby Back Ribs, crispy fish with sweet chile vinegar glaze, spicy meatballs with Chinese noodles and tuna sashimi with chilli infused sauce. But there were some real surprises too. Things like delicata squash ravioli with garlicky broccoli rabe, creamy polenta with wild mushrooms, pork chops with cranberry beans and thyme, charred orange and escarole salad with almonds and slow roasted salmon with Meyer lemon relish. I was thrilled that we were finding some new recipes to try, recipes that everyone was excited about.

One of the very first recipes that we made from our communal list was for the spaghetti with roasted cauliflower pesto that you see above. I didn’t even know that Max liked cauliflower.

I made it, we ate it and talked about whether it was a keeper (it was) and what we might do to make it even better the next time. Two out of the three of us voted to increase the amount of chile to make it a bit spicier. Sigh. But! At least we are moving towards creating some new family favourites that everyone loves, and that is what family cooking is all about.

 

 

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December Food

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Sunset at Keats Beetroot hummus On the island

The month of December is always so filled with promise.

We had some snow!

We made canapés. Lots and lots of canapés.

We hosted dinners for clients and our friends and our loved ones. We put lights and ornaments on trees, arranged bouquets of crimson red amaryllis and wrapped plenty of gifts. We sadly didn’t bake many Christmas cookies but luckily were gifted some from family and friends.

There was a much needed week away at our cabin where we made bonfires, toasted marshmallow, wore wooly socks, took long walks in the woods, read books and celebrated the arrival of a brand new year.

I have a feeling that 2014 is going to be a very good year.

xo J

 

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