Dairy-free

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Pecan Milanesas with Corn and Blueberry Salsa
Corn and Blueberry Salsa to atop Pecan Milanesas — TheMessyBaker.com Blueberries and corn? Really? Yes. In salsa? Oh my, yes. Make that a big, fat blueberry yes. The photographer in me loves the colour contrast. The eater in me loves the crunchy texture and sweet-sour flavours. Add lime and cilantro to the mix? Oh, I'm there. I'm so very, very there. In retrospect, I wonder why the combination surprised me. After all, cornmeal and blueberries are a natural match, so corn itself isn't a stretch. My surprise merely proves what I have long suspected — I'm missing a lot of culinary opportunities thanks to my near total ignorance of Latin cuisine. But all that's changing thanks to Sandra Gutierrez, author of The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America & the American South (University of Northern Carolina Press, 2011). What exactly is New Southern-Latino Cuisine? It's easier to tell you what it's not.
Salt-Cured Arctic Char
Sustainable Seafood | Citrus-Cured Arctic Char
[caption id="attachment_7660" align="alignnone" width="500"] Fried Lingcod Po-Boy[/caption] I hate being "that person." You know, the one who goes out to dinner with a group of friends and holds up everyone's order because she asked the server where the tilapia came from. To ensure no one starved, I stopped asking. By default, I stopped ordering fish. Whether they occur at a restaurant or the seafood counter, moments like these are problematic for many people. While the red / yellow / green seafood rating system is easy to understand, the answers aren't as straightforward as the colour-coding. Is tuna a good choice? Turning to my SeaChoice app, the answer is.... That depends.
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Cast-Iron Skillet Chicken
Cast-Iron Skillet Chicken - TheMessyBaker.som I'm filing this skillet chicken under "Why didn't I think of this?" This dubious looking chicken is one of the best I've ever had. Moist, juicy and with an impossible crisp skin. It also won me over with its simplicity. I made this in between bursts of gardening. Charmian 246. Weeds 0. Like all good recipes and techniques, this arrived in a cirucuitous route. Karen, a fellow roast chicken fanatic, read about the method in the New York Times, who in turn described the technique as "age-old" and "classic." The idea is to cook a whole chicken evenly using a hot cast-iron frying pan. By splaying the legs and placing them directly on the hot pan, the dark meat begins cooking before the breast meat even hits the oven. The bird emerges evenly cooked with crisp skin and moist meat. I'm sure someone is going to tell me this is how they used to do it in the 1700s or that their grandmother  never cooked a bird any other way, but it's new to me, so I'm passing it along.
Preserved Lemons
Moroccan Lemon Chicken with Preserved Lemons
Some days you just have to take a deep breath and say, "Well, it tasted great!" The day I broken open my stash of  preserved lemons was one of those days. With bright yellow lemons and deep green mint, I thought I could turn out a dish as pretty as the photo in the book that inspired me. I was wrong.
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Recipe: Preserved Lemons
Making preserved lemons - TheMessyBaker.com It's time to strike another item off my Culinary Bucket List. In an uncharacteristic display of patience, I tackled preserved lemons. They require endurance, not because they are hard to make, but because they take 4 weeks to cure. In the meantime, to scratch my immediate-gratification itch, I started a Tumblr — a place to stuff all those little items I can't clutter up the blog with. It'll be a home for stray thoughts, non-food shots (which don't necessarily translate to cats), and food shots that aren't good enough for Foodgawker but tell a story I want to share. I'm still figuring it out, but if you care to pop by I have added a link to the far right of the menu bar. Go on. Click it. I dare you. Anyway, I started researching preserved lemons
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Recipe: Plum Lavender Jam

Plums and nectarines

I always thought I had a pretty good childhood. Each winter, my father would make a skating rink in the back yard, which we and our friends would use for noisy hours on end. And when we came in bright pink and shivering, Mom defrosted us with mugs full of homemade hot chocolate. I had a grandmother who let me eat dessert first and an aunt who invited us to her cottage each summer for long weeks spent doing absolutely nothing in a way only a pre-Space-Invaders child could do. If there was one thing missing from my youth, it was a dog. I now know the missing element was actually an orchard.
Jade Soup
Jade Soup
Jade Soup is bursting with leafy greens and herbs - TheMessyBaker.com I'm feeling rather ornery. It's Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend but the weather is downright balmy and I can't face the thought of autumn, let alone winter. I don't care that the leaves are turning glorious colours or the nights are perfect sleeping-weather-cool. I don't want to make the obligatory pumpkin pie -- even if it's damned good. I don't want to slurp delicious squash soup or gobble succulent stuffed turkey. And if you're just a tad like me, you don't want to either. At least not this weekend. Not this early.
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Recipe: Roasted Radishes
  Radishes at the Farmers' Market - TheMessyBaker To observe my mother eating radishes is to understand that over-used phrase "living in the moment." They are not munched like baby carrots or popped into her mouth like grapes. They are consumed with quiet, focused deliberation. To begin, she sets a small bowl of radishes on the table beside her. They are scrubbed and trimmed, with just enough stem to form a handle. She then carefully pours a modest pool of salt on her plate before plucking a radish from the pile. Once she has selected a radish, she nibbles a tiny piece from the tip and dips the freshly exposed end into the salt. She then proceeds to eat the radish, crunching away with a look of peaceful concentration on her face. She doesn't talk. She doesn't touch the other meal items in front of her. She devotes herself fully to the radish. She repeats these steps until her allotment of radishes is gone. The rest of her meal them resumes.
Tripel Chocolate Brownie Cookies - Made with love by TheMessyBaker.com
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.
Forty Creek Pecan Pie
Forty Creek Whisky Pecan Pie
Forty Creek Whisky Pecan Pie by TheMessyBaker.com In our home, birthdays are about dessert. It doesn't matter if the ingredients send me to six specialty shops, or if the results require a small team of architecture students to assemble. If you can dream it, I will make it. Providing you're a family member. Two-recipes-in-one, Frozen Lemon Pavlova? Of course, Mom. Hazelnut Mocha Tort with fancy chocolate topping? My pleasure, Allison. Non-Jammy Raspberry Pie? Anything for you, my only Father-in-Law. So this year, when Andrew asked for Pecan Pie I couldn't say no.

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