Snack

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Rum Vanilla Extract and Butter Rum Shortbread

The vanilla extract on the left is full of seeds and has a whole pod in the bottle. The vanilla beans on the right are fresh, fragrant and supple enough to knot. Both products are Really Horrible. Seriously. They're from Really Horrible Enterprises located in Ottawa, ON. I...

Homemade Graham Crackers - TheMessyBaker.com
Classic Snacks Made from Scratch – Graham Crackers

These quotes wrap around the bulkhead in Casey Barber's kitchen. I like that she's not afraid of orange, or irreverence, or figuring out how to get the cream filling inside a homemade Twinkie®. Her book, Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favourite...

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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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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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.
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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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.
Peach and Ginger Fruit Leather - The Messy Baker
What to Do with Less-Than-Perfect Peaches – Fruit Leather

[caption id="attachment_8131" align="alignnone" width="500"] You don't need a dehydrator to make fruit roll-ups, but if you're looking for an excuse to buy one, these will seal the deal.[/caption] What do you do when you have less-than-perfect peaches squatting on your counter, threatening to dissolve into a...

Tripel Chocolate Brownie Cookies - Made with love by TheMessyBaker.com
Recipe: Triple-Chocolate Brownie Cookies
This is Mairlyn Smith. Like me, she has a  frequently misspelled first name and a passion for chocolate that borders on illegal. She even has an impossibly small kitchen (like mine was until last year). I had the pleasure of interviewing her earlier this month and the longer we talked the more I realized we had in lot common. By the end of our conversation, the only difference between us -- other than hairstyle and a few inches of height -- is that I don't go into grocery stores with a big blade and hack at the root vegetables. Other than that? We're practically twins. She also wrote a health-conscious cookbook that fits my tagline, putting flavour before looks. Unlike many health-focused cookbooks, where fibre content and finger-wagging trump taste and joy, Mairlyn's Healthy Starts Here!: 140 Recipes that Will Make You Feel Great is rooted in pleasure and practicality. She believes, and backs up with studies, that treats are essential to your emotional health. She believes if  something is "good for you" it should also taste good. She believes cooking shouldn't be so complicated you end up huddled in the corner nursing a bad case of carpal tunnel syndrome and an anxiety disorder.

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