Improv

Captain Improv’s Easy Lemon Chicken
Captain Improv’s Creamy Lemon Chicken

First there was Lex Luther, The Joker and Mr X. Then came Dr. Horrible and his malevolent idol Bad Horse, The Thoroughbred of Sin. I’m fortunate to have never come across such terrifying evil doers. Some say I remain unscathed because I live a quiet...

Ingredients for Braised Beef with Orange and Tarragon
Braised Beef With Orange And Tarragon

These are some of the ingredients that go into what my husband calls “That Orange Beef Stew Thing You Make.” I call it Braised Beef with Orange and Tarragon but who am I to quibble? He likes it. I like it. Our guests like it....

How to get more flavour out of your chicken stock
Make the Most Flavorful Chicken Stock

Not everyone reads the comments section, so I thought I'd start a separate post to share the conversation I've been having with Barbara about chicken stock. Barbara has moved to a small apartment and is re-learning to make stock without $7 stewing hens and a...

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Poached Eggs with Yogurt and Smoked Paprika Butter

Poached eggs are misunderstood. Cooked without added fat, some people consider them boring— unless they’re wedged between a thick base of back bacon and a topcoat of hollandaise. Others will say they’re too much work. You have to boil water, find a slotted spoon, set...

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Apple Roasted Cornish Hens | Improv Recipe

This improv recipe is a testament to my impulse shopping, poor sense of timing and the power of the common cold. Impulse shopping:  A few months ago, I found fresh Cornish hens at the butcher shop. As I stood at the meat counter waiting to be...

Vegetable Salad featuring English Cucumbers and Greenhouse Vegetables - TheMessyBaker
The Canadian Food Experience: English Cucumbers

Living in Ontario has many advantages. Spring brings maple syrup, fiddleheads, ramps, rhubarb and garlic scapes. Summer provides back-to-back crops of fruits and vegetables starting with seed-studded strawberries and ending with juicy, sweet peaches. Good luck keeping up with all Autumn provides -- apples, beets,...

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Improv Recipe: Garden Greens Pasta Sauce with Tomatoes

Cooking with seasonal foods can be a bit like getting dragged on stage for an improv act. Even though you've been told the basic premise you don't really know what's coming, you've little time to think, and your success requires saying "Yes!" to what's handed to...

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Spirited Fruit (and Sangria)
Spirited fruit preserves - TheMessyBaker.com I am not to be trusted. I head to the Farmers' Market with a clearly written list and rock solid resolve. And what do I return with? Way more items than intended and a feeling of panic. Where will I store all these plums? When will I have time to make pear jam? Should I freeze, can or hide the peaches? Of course, things fall apart when I toss tomatoes designated for preserving into a salad or gobble a handful of blueberries because they are too perfect for anything else but in-the-moment indulgence. You cannot imagine my relief -- your maybe you can-- when I stumbled up  a couple of preserving methods that are as flexible on quantity as I am about my shopping list. The methods are outlined in the ever-so-handy Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (Robert Rose ©2012).
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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.
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Moroccan-Inspired Nectarine and Plum Chicken

I wish you could reproduce this recipe exactly as I made it. But you can't. Unless you mess up your preserves like I did. A few weeks ago, I attempted a homemade mixed-fruit ketchup. But I was so busy "multitasking" I missed the small but crucial...

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