Recipes

Indian Green Beans
Indian Green Beans
Handful of green beans - TheMessyBaker.com I don't know if there are the Fortex pole beans or the Maxibel French filet beans. I suspect they are a mix. I can't tell because the vines are so thick the leaves obscure the labels. Plus, I was too busy picking beans to bother looking. Regardless of their official name, these are the first crop of beans from my section of  The Family Plot. Back in May, I planted them with one recipe in mind. Today I got to make it. A few months ago, Monica Bhide made me a variation of her Green Beans Subzi, a spicy vegetable dish with lots of flavour and crunch. She strayed from the version in her cookbook Modern Spice, and added coconut chips for extra crunch because she knows I like texture.  Since that meal, I have searched for coconut chips and come up empty handed. Unable to locate this ingredient, I substituted extra large coconut flakes. They aren't exactly the same, but I'm not about to complain.
Peach tomato salad with bocconcini - TheMessyBaker.com
Peach, Tomato Salad with Bocconcini
  Peach tomato salad with bocconcini - TheMessyBaker.com When a spring frost destroyed much of the tender fruit crops in Ontario, I was afraid I wouldn't see a local peach this year, let alone one that delivered a true peachy taste. Fortunately, I was wrong. While the size of the crop may not be large, the peaches are beginning to roll in, and they are sweet, flavourful and juicy. After the intense heat of the past few weeks, I couldn't bring myself to turn on the oven. Too impatient for ice cream (and with a cracked filling that made me temporarily sensitive to hot and cold food), I decided to make something very simple with my first batch of peaches. Something that would also let me experiment with the new basils I have in the garden. Alongside the opal, leaf, and Thai basils, I planted lime basil and -- get this -- lavender basil. While the lime basil had a bright, citrusy taste, the lavender version was surprisingly mild and had a floral scent that screamed out for peaches. So I obliged.
Stuffed zucchini blossoms
Baked Zucchini Flowers with Ricotta
Zucchini Flowers - TheMessyBaker.com This is a zucchini flower from The Family Plot. While we raised plenty of eyebrows planting the garden, we weren't sure we could raise so much as a baby carrot. Much to everyone's surprise, the beans are clawing their way up the poles, the radishes are duking it out for territory, and the tomatoes stagger under the weight of their green fruit. Meanwhile, the zucchini plants bloom quietly in a corner, hoping no one will notice until it's too late. Sorry, Zucchini. We're onto you. I've been itching to try zucchini flowers for years but haven't had access to the main ingredient -- ephemeral zucchini blossoms. Every summer, I feel a bit jealous as a I read the culinary triumph of others with their battered and deep fried blossoms, or their stuffed-and-pan-fried flowers. I nearly choke when food writers get "bored" with this precious ingredient and skip the cooking altogether, opting to sprinkle julienned blossoms into salads and soups as if they were nothing more than a common herb.
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Pecan Milanesas with Corn and Blueberry Salsa
Corn and Blueberry Salsa to atop Pecan Milanesas — TheMessyBaker.com Blueberries and corn? Really? Yes. In salsa? Oh my, yes. Make that a big, fat blueberry yes. The photographer in me loves the colour contrast. The eater in me loves the crunchy texture and sweet-sour flavours. Add lime and cilantro to the mix? Oh, I'm there. I'm so very, very there. In retrospect, I wonder why the combination surprised me. After all, cornmeal and blueberries are a natural match, so corn itself isn't a stretch. My surprise merely proves what I have long suspected — I'm missing a lot of culinary opportunities thanks to my near total ignorance of Latin cuisine. But all that's changing thanks to Sandra Gutierrez, author of The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America & the American South (University of Northern Carolina Press, 2011). What exactly is New Southern-Latino Cuisine? It's easier to tell you what it's not.
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Berry-Lime Cornmeal Shortcakes
By now, you've likely heard a lot about Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables written by Cheryl Sternman Rule and photographed by Paulette Phlipot.  You've likely seen some of its in-your-face photographs, read excerpts of the light-hearted writing, and possibly tried one of the delicious yet accessible recipes. If not, you've at least heard it's organized by colour, so the fruits and vegetables appear according to the rainbow, not course. But what you might not have heard is the story behind the book itself. Yes, Ripe is an unusual book, but not because of the obvious. Yes, the writing is crisp. Yes the photographs make you see food in a new way. Its sum is greater than the whole because of the unusual collaborative relationship between author and photographer. Look at the book's spine. It says "Rule & Phlipot." When I interviewed Cheryl, she explained how Ripe  came into being. And what happened before the writing and photography even began made all the difference to the outcome.
Roasted Strawberry and Rhubarb with Yogurt
Strawberry-Rhubarb En Papillote
[caption id="attachment_7789" align="alignnone" width="500"]The strawberry-rhubarb en papillote is in the bag, heading for the oven -- The Messy Baker En Papillote (French for "in parchment") makes for tender rhubarb in no time.[/caption] As if Friday isn't reason enough to celebrate. Today is the first anniversary of Lynn Ogryzlo's The Ontario Table, and I'm one of her virtual guests. I'm pretty chuffed to be asked to take part. Not only do I enjoy a party, I like hanging out with Lynn, even if it is online. First of all, she spells my  name right. Granted, with a surname like Ogryzlo, you're probably sensitive to such things, but it still earns her bonus points. Secondly, she loves my  doughnuts, and last but certainly not least, she takes one of the most sensible approaches to eating local I've ever seen. Instead of giving you the stink eye if everything on your shopping list doesn't comply with the 100-mile diet, she simply issues a $10 challenge. The concept is easy. Each week, spend $10 of your grocery money on local food. That's it. Small (locally grown) potatoes, right?
Salt-Cured Arctic Char
Sustainable Seafood | Citrus-Cured Arctic Char
[caption id="attachment_7660" align="alignnone" width="500"] Fried Lingcod Po-Boy[/caption] I hate being "that person." You know, the one who goes out to dinner with a group of friends and holds up everyone's order because she asked the server where the tilapia came from. To ensure no one starved, I stopped asking. By default, I stopped ordering fish. Whether they occur at a restaurant or the seafood counter, moments like these are problematic for many people. While the red / yellow / green seafood rating system is easy to understand, the answers aren't as straightforward as the colour-coding. Is tuna a good choice? Turning to my SeaChoice app, the answer is.... That depends.
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Smoky Bacon and Kale Gratin
Marriage often requires compromise. After almost 10 years, Andrew and I have sorted out the domestic chores, bill payments, and even litter box duties. Yet despite impressive and extended negotiations, we remain deadlocked on certain foods. Andrew loves anything bacon and groans at almost anything that once had roots. Me, the reformed vegetarian? While I'm always open to desserts, I want less meat and more vegetables on the menu. This dish seemed like the perfect solution.
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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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My Mother’s Hands | Lemon Curd Recipe
My Mother - TheMessyBaker.com These hands turn 80 this summer. These hands have picked strawberries, made jam, kneaded bread, rolled pastry. They have decorated birthday cakes, anniversary cakes and wedding cakes. They have changed diapers, washed clothes, sewn dresses, mended seams, darned socks, stitched buttons, ironed pleats. They have tied shoelaces, braided hair and wrapped presents. They have stroked sweaty hair from fevered foreheads, wiped away tears, plucked thorns from fingers, applied bandages, massaged aching muscles and held the hands of the dying. Despite arthritis, they carry on.

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