Recipes

sesame-biscuits
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.
savory biscotti
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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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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Golden Beet and Yellow Tomato Soup
Golden Beet and Yellow Tomato Soup - The Messy Baker There's a great moment in the pilot episode of Firefly. Against a backdrop of falling bombs, exploding grenades and rounds of gun fire, Bendis, a very young and very terrified solider fears he's going to die. His superior, played by the ever-so dishy Nathan Fillion, responds with bravado. "We can't die, Bendis," he says. "You know why? Because we are so very pretty. We're just too pretty for God to let us die." If only life were like television.   Spilled Soup - A glimpse at how The Messy Baker got her name Serves me right for getting all fancy pants with soup. Turns out nothing, not even my Golden Beet and Yellow Tomato Soup is too pretty to be spared. Either that, or I should watch where I'm stepping during a back porch photo shoot. Anyway, the other day the garden patch advanced. How do you respond when an armload of golden beets, more yellow tomatoes than one can eat without incurring cankers and a purple carrot force their way into your kitchen, stare you straight in the eye and double dog dare you to do something about it?
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Instant Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Instant Strawberry Frozen Yogurt - TheMessyBaker.com This frozen yogurt has four ingredients. Four healthy ingredients. Yet it tastes like something you'd treat yourself to after a hard afternoon of gardening. Or in my case, after a hard night's sleep. I had it for breakfast the other day instead of my usual smoothie. And I don't feel guilty in the least. I'm sure my neighbours wondered why I was sitting on the patio eating ice cream first thing in the morning. But I wasn't. Really. I was eating Instant Strawberry Frozen Yogurt. Even the cat was envious. (He's a big yogurt fan.) The recipe comes courtesy of Camilla Saulsbury, creator of the decadent Chocolate Basil Muffin and the take-a-breathalizer-before-you-drive Butter Rum Pound Cake. Based on her two previous books, I thought she was all about the sweets. Turns out she's all about moderation. She's extremely active and stays fit by practising the classic 80/20 ratio to her eating. Don't get too excited. The 80% applies to  healthy food. Fortunately, with Saulsbury this can be quite delicious.
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Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?
Baked Caprese Salad Stacks – TheMessyBaker.com When you write about food for a living it's easy to forget that it's not always just about ingredients or recipes. Creating a new twist on the chocolate chip cookie isn't as important as baking a batch with a friend. Bland chicken needs nothing more than a spicy conversation. And if your butternut squash soup doesn't rank on Google's first page, if you slurp it with loved ones, you're still a hit. Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?: A year of Italian menus with 250 recipes that celebrate family by Lisa Caponigri is a delicious reminder that sharing a meal is more important than the meal itself.  While Caponigri's menus are balanced and reasonably healthy, it's not about nutrition, clean eating or sustainable food choices. Her multi-generational approach encourages all family members -- even children -- to be involved in preparing dinner, but it's not a how-to-cook book. It's not about pushing culinary boundaries. It's about family -- and friends -  coming together over food. "Sunday dinner is a ritual, a tradition, a bonding experience," Caponigri says. And that's something you can't buy at the deli counter.
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Tempura Zucchini
The zucchinis just keep coming. So I pulled out the big guns and fried the suckers in hot oil. None of this namby-pamby healthy oven-baked stuff. I went deep fried all the way. And I think I just might have scared them off. To shake things up a bit, I used a tempura batter and a spicy dipping sauce. I got the batter ratio from Michael Ruhlman's Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking (Scribner ©2009). While tempura is far from everyday in my world,  it is an effective way to use up the zucchini that arrives in relentless waves like zombies. It is also messy. Not only did I get batter all over the stove and counter, my shoes and hair somehow got into the act. By the time I'd used up all the batter, I looked like I'd lost a paintball match.
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Zucchini Fries | A Baked Version
These came from my section of The Family Plot. The one on the right is about the size you find in the supermarket on any given day. The one on the left? It dwarfs a butternut squash. At a whopping 5 pounds, 5 ounces it's bigger than some newborns. And I'm not talking premies. Folklore says the cabbage patch is the source for babies, but this bambino came from a singe zucchini mound. My sister planted four. I fear for our sanity. Just as I was figuring out what to do with the six pounds of bland squash, these arrived.

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