Blog Post List

This blog post list contains the most recent blog posts from The Messy Baker in reverse chronological order. You can also browse by recipe category or use the search function.

Tripel Chocolate Brownie Cookies - Made with love by
24 May
Recipe: Triple-Chocolate Brownie Cookies
This is Mairlyn Smith. Like me, she has a  frequently misspelled first name and a passion for chocolate that borders on illegal. She even has an impossibly small kitchen (like mine was until last year). I had the pleasure of interviewing her earlier this month and the longer we talked the more I realized we had in lot common. By the end of our conversation, the only difference between us -- other than hairstyle and a few inches of height -- is that I don't go into grocery stores with a big blade and hack at the root vegetables. Other than that? We're practically twins. She also wrote a health-conscious cookbook that fits my tagline, putting flavour before looks. Unlike many health-focused cookbooks, where fibre content and finger-wagging trump taste and joy, Mairlyn's Healthy Starts Here!: 140 Recipes that Will Make You Feel Great is rooted in pleasure and practicality. She believes, and backs up with studies, that treats are essential to your emotional health. She believes if  something is "good for you" it should also taste good. She believes cooking shouldn't be so complicated you end up huddled in the corner nursing a bad case of carpal tunnel syndrome and an anxiety disorder.
24 May
TARDIS Cookie Jar

This is a TARDIS Cookie Jar. It's mine. You can't have it. If you want your own, and I know you will, you can buy one here. It's the best cookie jar in the world. No. Make that The Universe. Why? Well, being a TARDIS* it's bigger...

16 May
Recipe: Yogurt Chicken with Chutney Yogurt Sauce
This photo the best I can do. The final dish was delicious but it's all gone and I figured a shot of the bones wasn't going to cut it. So here are some of the spices you'll need. Trust me, you'll be glad you rummaged about in the cupboard for that hidden jar of allspice. The resulting sauce was so tasty I used what little was left over as salad dressing. This recipe comes from 100 Perfect Pairings: main dishes to enjoy with wines you love. My cyber-friend Jill Silverman Hough (we've emailed but never met) is the author behind this brilliant little book. When I asked her favourite recipe picks, she named some dishes, but diplomatically suggested my recipe-first approach needed a tweek. She wrote:  
My advice? Pick a wine you like, then pick a recipe in that wine’s chapter...  I think you’ll be most likely to find something that’ll really turn you on that way.
She was right. While it's not hard to get me excited about a delivery system for shiraz or cabernet frac, I get sulky when confronted by a chardonnay. But with a mom and two sisters more inclined to off-dry-pushing-sweet whites, I figured this was an opportunity to compromise. So I gave Gewurztraminer, my mom's favourite, a try. And I'm glad I did.
10 May
3 Reasons to Love Your Local Butcher
My local butcher shop isn't quite as picturesque as the one shown above. Even without cuts hanging in the windows or the latest specials written on the glass, I get an old-world feeling whenever I pop in. It's like I've walked into a scene from a BBC series set in small town Yorkshire, only the prices are in dollars and I can understand everything they say. Without  uncooperative shopping carts, long line ups and muzak nattering away in the background, I don't really feel like I'm grocery shopping. It's more like a friendly visit where money and meat exchange hands. While there's nothing wrong with supermarkets (except uncooperative shopping carts, long line ups and muzak), I find I'm spending more  and more of my grocery dollars at independent shops these days. At first I though it was about eating locally, but it's actually about community. After all, any chain store with a decent butcher can:
  • tell you know where your meat comes from
  • steer you towards the best (and not necessarily the most expensive) cut of meat
  • bring in special orders
  • custom cut / grind your meat
All you have to do is ask. So why go the the little guy? You likely won't fully appreciate your independent butcher (or green grocer or cheese monger) until you:
08 May
Happy Mother’s Day 2011
This is a my mom. Four years old and full of spunk. This photo, with an impeccably well-groomed child perched on an equally well-groomed pony, standing on a freshly swept urban sidewalk, shaped my vision of an ideal childhood -- the one I was so cruelly denied. For years I used to beg my mother to buy me a pet horse. Kind of like the one pictured above. Only bigger and with a longer mane. And without the spots. I wanted a chestnut mare. And if you're going to bother getting a horse, it might as well be the kind you like. "But dear, we live in the city." To her, the logic was so clear nothing more was left to be said. "We can keep the horse in the garage and I can walk it in the park." To me, these solutions were so obvious nothing more was left to be said except "What shall we name it?" I never got the horse.
06 May
Books that make you a better cook
Coddle! Fricassee! Macerate! Sorry. I just had to get that out of my system. I'd like to publicly thank everyone who took the time to give me a reality check the other day. Having read a few too many "how to write about food" articles, I researched myself into a corner. But you pulled me out, dusted me off and gave me a reassuring pat on the back. Thanks. I've been thinking a lot about what you've said and now feel confident that if I toss out a forbidden term you will either understand it, figure things out from the context or turn to Google. It also seems that you are a curious bunch who like to expand your gadgets collection as well as your culinary knowledge. So, here are four books I turn to often in my quest to develop new recipes or at least not cause any more kitchen disasters in the process. While they cover similar territory, each does so in a different way. I'm betting between the four, there's one (or more) that will suit.
04 May
Reality Check for Food Writers
Spend enough time doing something and it will change the way you think, mess with your assumptions, and skew your expectations. When I studied fiction writing everyone who walked into the cafe was a potential character. Their clothes, their order, their gait held clues to their inner thoughts and beliefs. Woah! Everyone noticed the dude in the just-out-of-the-box, neon green shoelaces and dirty, frayed red high tops. Right? Okay, you were busy reading the menu. But the guy who ordered the double chai latte? Come on. Was he doing a bad Brando impersonation or did he just come from the dentist. Didn't notice him either? Hmmm. Seems it's just me. Being immersed in the world of food, I thought I was safe from outing myself yet again as an oddball.
02 May
Recipe: Fried Avocado with Lime-Cilantro Dipping Sauce

Wanting to redeem myself from the monumental failure of my salted caramel candy apples -- which devolved into sliced apples and a dip -- I accepted the task of creating an avocado recipe for MissAvaCado's Cinco de Mayo Blogger Challenge. The results have me wondering...

Raspberry Peach Tart -
28 Apr
Raspberry Peach Pie with Frangipane
Raspberry Peach Pie about to go into the oven - While the daffodils have finally poked their heads through the earth, my freezer remains packed with containers of frozen fruit squirrelled away from last year's harvest. They're so precious to me, I save them for special occasions. Very special occasions. As along as the sooty, deathless snowdrifts maintain a Narnia-like hold on the Earth, nothing seems special enough. (Unless you are celebrating your 85th birthday. And then, I will bake you a raspberry pie upon request.) Of course, the weather eventually breaks and my fear of endless winter melts into a different form of  panic. How can use my frozen treasure before a) it goes bad or b) I need the freezer space for this year's bounty? So, with company coming -- very special company, I may add-- I put a dent in the inventory and got creative. The ginger-peach carrots were okay, but no worth writing about. I won't waste your time with the recipe. And I apologize to the peaches. They deserved better. The dessert? I redeemed myself with Raspberry Peach Pie.
26 Apr
Recipe: Apple and Ginger Truffles
As a child, whenever my table manners were less than stellar, my mother would fix me with a gaze that could freeze time. With a mixture of horror and regret, she would inform me that I was not yet ready to have tea with the Queen. Her tone implied an invitation had been winging its way to our humble home, but had been yanked from the queue the instant my elbows hit the table. Four decades later, while my table manners have improved vastly, Tea with The Queen eludes me. I have also failed to receive an invitation to the upcoming Royal nuptials. I'm sure they mailed it, but like the invitations of my childhood, it vaporized en route due to my behaviour. I blame the truffles.

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