Recipes

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Another Breakfast Soup
Sweet Potato Apple Ginger Soup - The Messy Baker Soup for breakfast is working. Sort of. But after a couple of weeks of savory Asian Chicken and Quinoa Soup, and a gentle Lentil & Lemon Soup, I'm wanting to start my day with something sweet. While I crave a raspberry danish or waffles dripping in maple syrup, I am saving these desserts-in-disguise for special occasions (and no, getting out of bed in the morning is not a special occasion, even for this late-rishing Night Hawk). So I poked about a bit and found a soup that's sweet, healthy, and very warming. Sweet Potato, Apple and Ginger Soup. They had me at ginger. Add a side of multi-grain toast and a grating of sharp cheddar, and I'm one happy eater. The soup recipe comes from The Apple Lover's Cookbook by Amy Traverso (W.W. Norton & Company, @2011). If you think apples are boring, this book will make you think again. The Braised Brisket with Apples and Hard Cider was a hit with my carnivore husband and my in-laws enjoyed a brunch including the apple-laced Dutch Baby (a German pancake that thinks it's a popover). My favourite part of the book is the 30 pages dedicated to 59 different varieties of apple. At last, I have an in-depth look at the apples I often read about but can't always get at my local Farmers' Market. But it's not all Mutsu, Granny Smith and Gala. Ever heard of Black Oxford, Ashmead's Kernel or Jazz? They're new to me. I'm now aching to bite into a Hidden Rose to taste what Traverso describes as a "red-fleshed novelty." The fleeting Pink Pearl ("when it's gone, it's gone") sounds deliciously whimsical, and who can resist anything called Westfield Seek-No-Further? Not me. If you're feeling stifled by the same-old, same-old grocery store apples, don't be.
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Pushing Boundaries
Onion Bhaji with Chaat Masala Recipe - The Messy Baker I did it. Despite containing three ingredients I've never used before, I made onion bhaji. And I pronounce them to be good. Make that "very good."  Andrew, who inspired the selection, claimed they were "delicious" and "as good as the restaurant's." So, with a flourish of my typing fingers,  I am proudly striking the first item off my 2013 Culinary Bucket List. Onion Bhaji recipe. Done. And done well. But I can't take all the credit. Monica Bhide suggested I look at her recipe for Onion Rings with Chaat Masala. I did. But I hesitated at the list of ingredients. I didn't know what chaat masala was. I had never heard of carom, and thought fenugreek was like fennel. Thanks to this recipe I got schooled. And it was far less painful than writing lines.
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Soup for Breakfast
Breakfast Soup Recipe - Asian-Inspired Quinoa and Chicken Soup - The Messy Baker I struggle with breakfast at the best of times. Winter only makes it worse. It's cold. It's dark. One look out the window and any sensible person would dive back into bed until spring -- or at least 10 AM -- not head to the kitchen and prepare food. I think the issue lies in my genes. I am a Night Owl. My natural rhythm seems about 2 hours behind the rest of the world. I simply am not hungry when I first wake up. Having talked to several other people who also describe themselves as "not a morning person," I know I am not alone. Unlike the Early Birds, who leap from bed starving, our sluggish morning metabolism shuns food. After I've been stumbling about for an hour or so, and the caffeine has pried my lids open, I am ready to munch, but on something sweet. Like cinnamon apple muffins or sour-cream-topped waffles dripping with maple syrup. I slurp hot popovers, crumpets or English muffins drooling butter. But I don't. Experience tells me the surfeit of carbs will come back to haunt me. But in the dead of winter, where does this leave me? It's too cold for my summertime fallback -- berries, yogurt and granola. I'm not big on eggs. Gag at the texture of oatmeal and would not feel the least bit cheated if I never saw, let alone ate, another sausage. After much thought, I have decided to embrace soup. For breakfast.
Rosemary Almond Crackers
Rosemary Almond Crackers
So-and-so can't touch gluten. Whatshisface is allergic to eggs. Dairy gives Thing-gummy a rash. And Hoojicky? Garlic sensitivity. Happy Holidays, indeed. I feel for you. I do. Having been on both sides of this equation (I have played the role of allergic guest and accommodating host over the years) I feel for all parties. Unfortunately, it's very hard to find a recipe everyone can eat, let alone will gobble. Sorry, but not matter how many times you suggest tofu pudding, I'm not going for it. Given the scope of food allergies and sensitivities, I have decided finding the perfect party food is downright impossible. But I've come close. This recipe from Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris (Sterling Epicure, 2012)  is egg-free, soy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, transfat-free and dairy-free. Yet this cracker is not flavour- or texture-free. It's pleasant on its own and plays nicely with almost any savoury dip you throw at it. And if that isn't enough, it also provides me with an opportunity to use my fancy dehydrator again. Win-win or what?
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Trying Again – Lazy Quinoa Lasagna Recipe
For some reason, the recipe for slow-cooker vegetarian quinoa lasagna didn't attach to its post the other day. Could have been technology. Could have been me? I choose to blame technology. Either way, I had people asking for the recipe. So here it is.
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Words of Wisdom from Chef Michael Smith and Bacon Candy
Eleven minutes and ten seconds into our half-hour interview, Chef Michael Smith uttered the most honest, excuse-free cooking advice I've heard in a long time.
I don't have much patience for those who say they can't cook. A hundred thousand generations have cooked. It's a very easy thing to do. Suck it up, buttercup. You can do it!
Oh, I'd love to put Smith and Chris Kimball in a room together and see who emerges unbruised. My bets are on Smith —and not just because he's 6' 7". He just makes more sense. To support my prediction, compare these quotes from my wide-ranging interview with Chef Michael Smith against Kimball's no-partying-allowed approach ("Cooking isn’t creative, and it isn’t easy. It’s serious, and it’s hard to do well, just as everything worth doing is damn hard.")
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Lazy Quinoa Lasagna
Mairlyn Smith owes me a new crockpot. Sort of. She didn't actually come to my house and break mine, but because of her I learned just how bad my old one was. At her recommendation I made the slow-cooker lasagna from The Vegetarian's Complete Quinoa Cookbook (Whitecap, 2012), and a potential new entry to my Kitchen Disaster & Fixes app was born. Turns out my slow cooker was okay as long as the meal inside was liquid. Soup? Bring it on! Sloppy curry? No problem. Hot apple cider? You bet. But once that layer of protective moisture was gone, my now ex-slow cooker turned into a lean, mean charring machine. In less than the recommended cooking time, set on Low, it burned a well-defined ring around the bottom of  my lasagna. When I made the dish in my sister's fancy new, 6-litre, programmable KitchenAid slow cooker it worked perfectly. So, Mairlyn, I'll place my order for one of those. Okay?
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Buttermilk Scones | 2 Make-Ahead Options
Buttermilk scones with two make-ahead options - TheMessyBaker.com My shoulder's ache, my fingertips have callouses, and the daylight hurts my eyes. But The Messy Baker is written, filed electronically and a 292-page, double-spaced paper copy is beating up all the Christmas cards as it pushes its way to HarperCollins in Toronto. I have promised myself I will not obsessively check the tracking number until Wednesday —the earliest realistic delivery date. Wednesday noon? All bets are off. In the process of the Last Big Push, I broke a personal record or two. Not only did I write more words than the not-so-great NaNoWriMo novel of 2009, all were coherent (relatively) and spelled correctly (or at least recognizably). In addition, I am now officially the household champion of The Most Consecutive Days Spent Unwashed & in Pajamas — Without a Raging Fever or Knee Surgery Category. Until now, that title was held by my husband during the panic-infused finishing stretch of his recent book. I used to take comfort in my leaf green house robe. Now it reeks of hysteria and is stained with writer's tears. A Messy Robe for a Messy Baker. Everything is unfolding as it should.
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Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies
Removing the skins from toasted hazelnuts in preparation to make hazelnut sandwich cookies - TheMessyBaker.com Hazelnuts. Filberts. Cobnuts. This tasty kernel goes by many names. I'm going to add one more to its repertoire and dub it the "hasselnut." Because of the bitter skin, hazelnuts require a bit more work than pecans or walnuts. They need to be roasted and then rubbed with a clean kitchen towel before being added to baked goods. Some may think hazelnuts are being divas, but I think they're just a bit shy. After all, you can rub and rub and rub and they will never completely reveal themselves. Perhaps this bashful nature is why they hide behind so many aliases?
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Fig and Olive Tapenade
Fig and Olive Tapenade  - TheMessyBaker.com I almost feel like I'm cheating on this one. It's far too easy to be this tasty. But on second thought, it's a perfect illustration of Eric Akis's approach to food. It delivers what he calls "obtainable goodness", is suitable for all levels of cooks, and uses ingredients you can find at the average supermarket. It's also addictive, although I don't think that's part of his mandate. This recipe is from Eric's seventh book, Everyone Can Cook Everything (Whitecap 2012), a compendium of his first six. As I struggle to get the manuscript of my first cookbook completed, it's really hard not to hate him. But one taste of the tapenade and all's forgiven.

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