Recipes

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Recipe: Ginger and Coconut Chicken
Ginger Coconut Chicken I'm not sure whether I should hug Bal Arneson or smack her with a cookbook. Her No Butter Chicken from Everyday Indian is my husband's favourite chicken dish. He loves it so much that while he was holed up in the living room recovering from knee surgery, with nothing but 4 walls, 21 surgical staples and 2 cats for company, he must have requested it for dinner at least once, if not twice -- a week.
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Recipe: Surreal Chocolate Wontons
This is Bob Blumer, aka the Surreal Gourmet. I had the pleasure of meeting him and tasting his fun food at The Drake in Toronto recently. If he looks a bit blurry it's because he moves too quickly for my camera. He thinks quickly too. As he sat and chatted with the group, Blumer created cocktail ideas on the spot based on a recipe one of the guests pulled at random from his newest book, Glutton for Pleasure. Despite his tendency towards avocado-shaped guitars, sponge cake fries and meat cupcakes, Blumer is surpringly down to earth. He hates wasting ingredients and is a strong supporter of Second Harvest. He believes anyone can cook, and because of what he readily admits is "a short attention span", designs dishes to be on the table in the time it takes to listen to an album. He's also modest. With five cookbooks and a Foodnetwork show, Blumer claims his only advantage over Anthony Bourdain, (is it just me or could Blumer be cast as a younger Bourdain?) is that his surreal adventures are so crazy he needs only 1/10 the talent. To showcase his unique approach to food, Blumer made three dishes. The first was Chicken Popsicles, which are incredibly addictive but somewhat recalcitrant. One bite in and mine hurled itself to the floor. I decided not to apply the 5-second rule given I was in public. At home? I'd have dived to the ground and finished it off before standing up again.
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Recipe: Moroccan Roast Chicken
Yesterday was Family Day here in Ontario when everyone gets the day off to hang out with their loved ones. With yet another forecast snow storm threatening to turn what should be a laid back provincial holiday into a muscle-abusing Shovel Day, I decided to have family time Sunday night instead. Being the ever-considerate charm that I am, I chose a dish that would please everyone. My father likes Moroccan food, my mother enjoys any meal she doesn't have to cook, Andrew's all about the meat and I wanted something I could shove in the oven while I dashed to the gym. As luck would have it, a copy of Weeknight Fresh + Fast: Simple, Healthy Meals for Every Night of the Week by Kristine Kidd arrived just last week. I've never used a Williams-Sonoma cookbook before and wasn't sure if we'd agree on the definition of "fresh + fast." After all, when I go to one of their stores the kid in me wants three of everything and the adult in me wonders where I would store a bulky castle-shaped bundt cakes and even bulkier  $400 cake decorating machine. But the book delivers a wide range of practical recipes using items from any well-stocked grocery store. Sure, Kid Charmian whines about the tofu, but Adult Charmian points out that only 3 recipes in the entire book use this ingredient and if there are any more complaints there'll be no Castle Cake for dessert.
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Recipe: Potato and Cauliflower Curry (Aloo Gobi)
If you look at my recipes index it's hard to believe I used to do a lot of health writing. While I was supposed to be promoting a healthy lifestyle in others, opposing stats and studies nearly made me sick. One day I'd file an article declaring 7 cups of black coffee a day would ward off Type 2 diabetes, and wouldn't you know it? The next morning a press release landed in my inbox railing against the evils of caffeine. Does cinnamon really help you lose weight or is it just rat poison with a nice smell? The contradictions were endless. Black coffee, green tea, white vegetables. Everyone had a theory and it was making me crazy. Being somewhat gun shy, I hesitated to review Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease, by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD with Debora Yost. I wasn't sure I wanted to get back to the kind of thinking that vilified or canonized a particular ingredient. But being a Gemini, and just as contradictory as the studies I dreaded, the first thing I did was look up cocoa so I could write a long persuasive post justifying all the dessert recipes I create (and gobble). I wanted to convince you that, despite the whipped cream and butter, chocolate mousse wasn't just delicious, is was downright healthy. After all, according to studies, flavanol-loaded cocoa will:
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Recipe: Chocolate Basil Muffins

Since I'm an unapologetic chocolate addict and flower fanatic, you'd think I'd be blogging about Valentine's Day with all the love in my heart and passion in my fingertips. But it's one of those "special" days I ignore in part because it's so contrived. It doesn't help that the media, supermarkets and florists start pushing Valentine's the minute your New Years champagne goes flat. By the time February 14th finally rolls around I wonder if you want or need another heart shaped anything.

So, I was going to let today slip by with nary a mention, without so much as a hint of red or a sliver of pink. No hearts, no cupids, no love poems. But my sister is wiser than I am. Although she knows my stance, she gently pointed out that not everyone shares my view and offered me her heart-shaped silicone baking cups for the occasion. Oh, she knows my weak spot. Baking. I took the hint -- and the cups.

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Recipe: Accordion Potatoes
It has been brought to my attention that I have been writing a bit too much about chocolate. As if there's such a thing. However, I don't want to give you a false impression of my eating habits, so I will change the topic (briefly) to non-chocolate things. Since woman cannot live by chocolate alone, I (occasionally) make other foods. In fact, I baked potatoes last week. See...
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Recipe: Salted Caramel Apples
To help celebrate the 200th anniversary of the McIntosh apple, I'm taking part in The Ontario Apple Growers' challenge. They're looking for the best candy apple recipe -- ever. After careful consideration, a bit of testing and a second-degree burn to my index finger, I have determined that caramel-coated apples are the Kobayashi Maru of fun food. For those who don't know their Star Trek (or fail to get their sci-fi references second-hand from The Big Bang Theory) this is geek-speak for "no-win scenario." Since I was more a Caramel Apple Kid than one who liked to crack her teeth on flaming red, rock hard candy apples, I decided to play with a grown-up salted caramel version, maybe with a sprinkling of crystallized ginger for those who want a bit o' zing along with their sweet & salty. How'd it go? You be the judge. Here's my enthusiastic set-up shot. Imagine the Macs dipped in obedient caramel. Here's the reality.
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Recipe: Venetian Chicken
Depending on which urban legend you cite, the Inuit have between 17 and 31 distinct words for snow. I have but one. And I can't use it here. This weekend's additional donation of crystallized water had me dreaming of escape. While I wouldn't turn down an all-expense paid trip to the Caribbean, my warm-me-up fantasies tend to focus on Europe. I realize they get winter there too, but my memories revolve around steamy summers spent backpacking through Europe, drooling over intricate architecture while getting fat on frozen treats. Since I wasn't going anywhere the snow ploughs couldn't reach, I turned to my bookshelf for a mental vacation. And Venice was the first stop on my imaginary trip. My copy of Tessa Kiros's Venezia: Food & Dreams is pure escape. From the gold-edged pages with the satin ribbon bookmark to the opulent photography, this is not a book you turn to for quick dinner fixes or innovative new recipes. Instead, it's a book you melt into as the wind howls outside your window. Kiros describes Venice as "One of those rare moments when you grasp the magnificence of this world," and her books captures the elegance, vivacity and beauty of the Floating City.
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Recipe: Chocolate Waffles
Last Saturday, along with two double lattes, I ate waffles and raisins. As far as my food intake went, that was about it. We shall not count the wine as I consider that "medication." Andrew was pretty steamed at me for ignoring my health -- a luxury I often deny him -- but I was stressed, and carbs and coffee are the way I cope. After ignoring my blog theme's upgrades for well over a year, I decided Saturday would be the ideal time to catch up. As punishment for my neglect, I was forced to leap three generations in one go. Being clueless about all the incremental changes that had gone on in my absence, things got messy. Very messy. Hence the sugar and caffeine.
Decorative chocolate drizzles - The Messy Baker
How to make decorative chocolate drizzle

During the chocolate demonstration, Derrick made this decorative chocolate drizzle for Emily. As in Emily Richards. I'm not jealous. Really. After all, my name's too long. And too hard to spell. So demonstrating chocolate script with "Emily" makes sense. I guess. After Derrick showed off demonstrated, he...

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