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.

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08 Feb
CTV and My Brush with Fame

So, I'm sitting in the green room of CTV studios in Kitchener waiting to go on. The person ushering me in tells me to take a seat and before leaving points to another guest and says, "And of course you know Alan." I nod knowingly...

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05 Feb
Blog Aid for Haiti
Julie Van Rosendaal is a miracle worker. In what must be the fastest turn-around in cookbook publishing history, she conceived, organized and helped deliver Blog Aid: Recipes for Haiti.  In less than three weeks she got 27 food bloggers to donate 72 recipes complete with photos, one very tired designer (Cathryn Ironwood) to give the book a cohesive look, and two corporate sponsors (West Canadian Graphics in Calgary and Blurb in San Fransisco) to match proceeds. The results? The book's been on sale all of 24 hours and we've raised more than $20,000. Proceeds of book sales will go toward Haitian relief via the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders. And the proceeds are potentially big. Here's how Julie explained it to me in a recent email [emphasis mine]:
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04 Feb
How to Roast Vegetables
[caption id="attachment_2470" align="alignnone" width="640"]A Trio of Roasted Vegetables - The Messy Baker Sweet Potatoes roasted with rosemary[/caption] I got a bit carried away. I was experimenting with roasted vegetables for today's CTV appearance and ended up making five variations. I just couldn't make up my mind which version I liked best, so I made them all. Well, almost all. Having recently posted about Herb-Roasted Potatoes I felt I could skip this one and try some less obvious options. While I know that steaming is the most healthy option, I think of it as more of a summer technique. Light, bright vegetables suit the sunny weather. But during the dull, grey days of winter? I require more depth of flavour, more variation. And roasted vegetables are the ultimate free-style side dish. Not only does roasting caramelize the natural sugars and make the dish delightfully sweet, the options are almost limitless. You can roast almost any vegetable, combine them in any way you like and season them as the mood fits. Just follow the basic steps and you can't really go wrong. To properly roast vegetables you need a:
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02 Feb
Black Forest Chocolate Cookies
Sneaking in under the wire. It's still Groundhog Day. And all I can think of is Bill Murray sitting in a Punxsatawney diner, stuffing his face full of donuts with impunity. According to the groundhog, we have six more weeks of winter coming, which makes me want to stuff my face with donuts, too. Only I know that if I do, I won't start the next day as if nothing happened. Impunity for gluttonous digressions is not part of my Groundhog Day reality. Wanting something decadent, but reasonably healthy, I decided to make some chocolate cookies. Looking in my cupboards I found what I needed. Cocoa is always low-fat, dried cherries are full of antioxidants and nuts are good for you. Add a glass of milk and it's practically a whole meal.
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01 Feb
Seeds, Plants and Thoughts of Spring

January nearly broke me. Lots of bills. Little sun. And weather that fluctuated between skin-shrivelling rain and nostril-frosting cold. But I think I'm going to make it after all. Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces by Gayla Trail (Clarskson/Potter, 2010) arrived the other day....

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28 Jan
Vegetable Tagine
In the comment section recently, Leslie asked about eggplant. She's tired of it drowned in tomato sauce or swimming in oil.  Joe Girard of Rouxbe Online Cooking School provided some great answers, but even his professional advice didn't get me off the hook. I'd promised Leslie I'd look into other ways of cooking it, and a promise is a promise. During my research I came across a tomato-less, non-oily recipe that included eggplant. Best part? I didn't need to salt the eggplant and leave it for a half hour to draw out the bitter juices. Now Leslie, I know this doesn't exactly fit your request for eggplant "in a more natural state", but the weather's been so cloudy and miserable lately, I couldn't resist this warm, sweet Moroccan dish. You can almost taste the sunshine...
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25 Jan
Readers’ Question: How to Make Coffee That Isn’t Bitter
This desperate plea arrived a couple of weeks ago from a reader:
Help! I make the most horrid coffee. I have tried every brand available (even your fav. store in Kingston!), grind my own beans, tried different coffee makers, Bodums, etc and it is still bitter and tastes awful!
Oooh, coffee. Such a personal choice. Andrew loves French roast so dark it looks (and smells) like asphalt. I like an espresso roast for my latte and a medium roast for your average cup. Some people like theirs black while others can't take anything stronger than a double-double*. If you're still searching for the perfect coffee, here are some points to keep in mind:
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22 Jan
Slow-Cooked Beef with Red Wine
I sat beside Ricardo, Canada's most popular culinary celebrity, at the Canadian Culinary Book Awards a few months ago. He's got his own Food Network show, Ricardo and Friends, three cookbooks and a self-titled magazine -- all in two languages. When he was seated beside me I was simultaneously thrilled and panicky. What would I say to him after hello? Turns out I needn't have worried. He sat down, rubbed his palms on his impeccably tailored suit, looked at me and said, "I'm so nervous." Throughout the  2 1/2 hour award show, Ricardo proved to be just as charming as his television persona. When Elizabeth Baird took the podium, he leaned over and said, "I love her. I just her. She was so good to me." When I didn't understand one of the nominated French cookbook titles, he translated. And when his book, Ricardo: parce qu’on a tous de la visite: cuisiner en toutes circonstance, won gold for best French language cookbook, he was genuinely thrilled. After all, this collection of recipes wasn't thrown together in a rush to appease adoring fans. It took 3 years to compile the seasonal photographs. Fortunately, they made an English version of the book, Ricardo: Meals for Every Occasion. I love that he addresses the fears of hosting without talking down to hear readers or offering Martha-esque presentation advice. Instead, his chapters revolve around soothing the "feeling of dread brought on by the sound of the door bell." This guy admits what every host politely denies -- "Having people over for dinner is tough. You dirty tons of dishes -- mostly the nice, fragile stuff that doesn't go in the dishwasher. You get stains on your best white tablecloth. You discover a pile of potato chip crumbs under the sofa cushions." Does he resent the imposition? Not at all. He embraces it.  As he says, "After all. We love 'em to pieces." You don't need to have company to enjoy his delicious, not-too-challenging recipes. Ricardo covers soups, salads, mains, desserts, drinks, snacks and breakfast., but delivers them in chapters entitled:
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20 Jan
Vanilla Cupcakes
Why the pretty cakes? I'm celebrating.  I finally hit Murphy where he lives. Thinks he can break my oven on Christmas morning and get away with it? No way. Sure, he wagged a $300 repair bill under my nose and then pulled it and the rug out from under me by making the parts obsolete. I admit, I was shaken at the prospect of months of nothing but stove top dinners and crockpot suppers. But I looked Murphy straight in the eye and said, "Bring it on!" How did I do this? With a little help from cyber-pal and fellow food blogger, Cheryl Arkison of Backseat Gourmet. When I served up Spicy Green Beans, lamenting my fate, Cheryl was the voice of reason and suggested I find a used one on Kijiji. Ki-what-what? It might be a nonsensical name, but the site delivered! In less than four hours, the replacement was sitting in my mudroom. Within four days it was installed. And all this happened for less than the estimated cost of repairs. Take that Murphy! I was so happy I emailed Cheryl with my thanks. Her response? "In a long convoluted way you have the Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop to thank for your new stove." Okay. Thank you Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop. And thank you Cheryl. Dying to know the back story, pop on over to her blog and find out why Kijiji Rocks!. In the meantime, here's my gratitude expressed in cupcakes.
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19 Jan
How to Keep Your Vegetables Colourful
How to Keep Vegetables Colourful When Cooking  - The Messy Baker So far so good on the weekly veggie post resolution. Spicy Green Beans and a pumpkin-based soup have kept me right on track and feeling all smug. This week? Well, it's a bit selfish, but I decided to turn to the experts at Rouxbe Online Cooking School once again.  One of the biggest turn offs for me as a photographer healthy eater, is dull, colourless food. Who wants to eat grey broccoli or jaundiced cauliflower? Not me. Turns out the way you cook a vegetable can be just important as how long you cook it. And of course, one method won't cover all vegetables. What works for green won't work for red. Or yellow. So, want emerald beans? Brilliant Brussels sprouts? Ruby red beets? Here's how.

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