Recipes

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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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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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Canada’s Favourite Recipes
Elizabeth Baird's Home - TheMessyBaker.com I could tell you I have always dreamed of being invited to Elizabeth Baird's home, but I'd be lying. The thought was simply too grand to have ever occurred to me. Seems I have been thinking small without knowing it. Last week, I had the honour -- and I use that term sincerely -- of having lunch with authors Rose Murray and Elizabeth Baird. In Elizabeth's home no less. The reason? A quiet launch of their newest co-authored book, Canada's Favourite Recipes (Whitecap 2012). For context, Elizabeth Baird and Rose Murray are two of Canada's best known and well respected cookbook authors and food writers. It's no exaggeration to say Elizabeth Baird is a household name. All my peers own at least one cookbook she either authored or edited with Canadian Living. Rose is no slouch either. She likely contributed to the aforementioned books. In addition she has at least 10 solo cookbooks to her name. Both as a team and as individuals, these two women have  been shaping the Canadian culinary landscape for more than three decades via their delicious yet approachable recipes. And I lunched with them. In Elizabeth's home. As guests arrived, I snooped about the main floor. If I could have stolen a paint chip from her front office, I would have, just to prove that it is, in fact, close to the colour of my kitchen. Fortunately, I had my iPhone
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The Inside Scoop on Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
Black Bean Quinoa Burger – TheMessyBaker.com When you meet with the author of a cookbook, you're often given insights not found in the final print edition — like how they spent most of their time at college scribbling recipe ideas in their binder instead of taking lecture notes, or which of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of recipes to try first. I was lucky enough to catch up with Camilla V. Saulsbury last month and talk to her about her new book, 500 Best Quinoa Recipes (Robert Rose, 2012). While no one had heard of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) a few years ago, this seed-that-eats-like-a-grain is everywhere:  in cookbooks, granola, breakfast flakes, and baked goods. It's gluten-free, high-protein, low-fat and much more approachable than its odd name suggests. It's not gummy or stodgy like some wild grains. It's crunchy without being hard. And best of all, it's easy to cook. From someone who never cottoned onto tofu despite sincere, diverse and repeated attempts, trust me when I say quinoa is worth a try.
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Damn You, Biscotti! Die! DIE!
Savory Biscotti - The Messy Baker Three tries. It took me three kicks at the proverbial can (or pan, in this case), several hours and a couple of meltdowns to figured out how to make savory biscotti that A) didn't taste like stuffing and B) didn't fall apart like a cheap particle-board desk the second you breathed near it. When the aimed-for results emerged from the oven, I should have been elated. I should have danced the Biscotti Boogie, high-fived the cat and plastered photos on Instagram. But all I could see was an impossibly messy kitchen and four gigantic pans of unservable baked goods. As I stood at the counter feeling sorry for myself, Andrew walked in, nibbled a lump of should-be biscotti and said,
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Preserving tomatoes regardless of quantity
How to preserve tomatoes regardless of quantity – TheMessyBaker.com Clearly, my tomatoes aren't getting enough love. When my back was turned, they  produced and produced and produced — to the point they toppled over and smothered the Swiss chard. Lying on the ground, they continued the fight. Not only did they produce more fruit, they romped all over the basil and trampled what was going to be fennel. Injuries to either party be damned. See the red tomato in the middle? It split its side in an effort to work its way to my kitchen door. In my defense the zucchini was rather distracting — all 302 pounds of it. Plus I am a bit busy working on my book. When I finally ventured out to the jungle garden, I was met by eager orange, red and yellow tomatoes. They practically leapt into my arms. The poor watermelon just lay there and whimpered. Shush now. All in good time. All in good time. How to perserve tomatoes regardless of quantity – TheMessyBaker.com

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