Recipes

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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.
Pumpkin-Diptych
Fear Not: Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie - TheMessyBaker.com If I could eliminate one emotion. It would be fear. I'm not talking the "Don't go down that dark alley" kind of fear where your Spidey senses are tingling for good reason. I'm talking the joy-crushing, "This not going to work" kind of fear. The type that keeps you from trying something outside your comfort zone. The type of fear that prevents you from offering to bake the Thanksgiving pie, even though you know the host will be busy battling the bird. The type of fear that has you making the same dish over and over and over again because you don't want to upset the apple cart — even though no one has  so much as bumped that cart for such a long time its wheels have sunk deep into the ground. Well, this is for the Pastry Paranoid and the Apple Cart Dwellers.

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