Post Christmas Empanadas

After three days of holiday cooking, eating and drinking it seemed vaguely unsettling to enjoy my morning coffee in a quiet, clean kitchen. No lists to go over, no ingredients to pull from // read more

Eating Local in Puerto Escondido

I spend most mornings in Puerto Escondido picking up fresh provisions from the local Benito Juarez market. The produce is perfectly arranged in tidy piles, or tied into bundles, and is of // read more

Chilaquiles Rojos with Huevos Revueltos

Coaxing nourishment and deliciousness out of what's leftover in the fridge can be either daunting or inspiring depending what the ingredients are and your mood at the time. Feeling a tad // read more

Borlotti Bean Soup with Roasted Pumpkin

With the coming cold weather comes cravings for comfort foods. Long simmering stews, roasts and other hearty pleasures of the table beckon. That includes soup and those beans at the back of // read more

Pork Roast with a Happy Medley of Vegetables

Attention me hearties!Pork. Season. Sear. Saute chopped celery, onion, garlic and carrots. Add white wine. Season. Add the seared pork. Add chopped cabbage, sage and chopped up lemon // read more

Octopus – A Right of Passage

Fear Eats the Soul, is the title of a Fassbinder film that tells a story of a life half lived. The cooking of octopus has that kind of spell over me; fear of the unknown, a cooking life // read more

Simplest Celery Salad Ever

Celery, often languishing at the back of the fridge, needs a shout out. I love it. I use it not only when making stocks or garnishing a caesar, but add it to many salads for extra crunch // read more

Freshly Shucked Oysters and other Favourite Snacks in Oaxaca

The sun is hot and the sand feels so good between my toes. The beer is ice cold and a plate of freshly shucked oysters has just been brought to our outdoor table. Hanging out at a cafe // read more

Upside Down Pear Skillet Cake and Other Baking Ideas with Pears

The change in the weather has me baking like fiend, using up a big bag of pears our country friends had gifted us with. First, can a pear tartin using my trusted short crust pastry // read more

A Taco Party Vegetarian-Style

When meat's not your thing, you can pull together a rather tasty display of vegetarian fare without relying on soy nuggets or other aberrations of nature. You won't even miss the carne. // read more

Zucchini Ribbons. The Natural Gluten-Free Pasta

I'm on a diet. Cue the violin. Words like crispy, confit, and second helping, have been replaced with gentler words such as steamed, skim and, on the side. I've been playing around with // read more

Xoco – Chicago

Xoco is the newest restaurant from chef and Top Chef Master Rick Bayless, co-owner of Topolobampo and Frontera Grill. The casual eatery draws inspiration from Mexican street food, but // read more

Taxim – Chicago

Greek restaurant. You know the stereotype.Those perfectly turned potatoes - I believe they come like that in a bag. The perfect rice - is that Uncle Bens? The classic salad made with // read more

Green City Market in Chicagoland

With their long hot and humid summers, Illinois grows an exorbitant amount of produce. It's something I was unaware of and surprised by while dining in Chicagoland, and was thrilled to find // read more

Breakfast of Champions – Hot Doug’s

10:30 in the morning seemed unusually early to seek out duck fat fries, but I'm not alone. Fridays and Saturdays only, Hot Doug's serves up quack fries along with an unusual and // read more

Raising the Bar – Chicago

The stars of the bars have been found. Sable, at the new Palomar Hotel does not disappoint. An ace staff overseen by executive bartender Mike Ryan runs a tight ship, shaking and // read more

Margie’s – Sweet in Chicago

With its classic neon signage, Margie's provides a glimpse into real Chicagoland. Set on a corner in the Bucktown neighbourhood, families and friends gather for sundaes and shakes at // read more

Lowering the Bar – Chicago

Two nights in we have yet to find the ultimate cocktail bar. One that makes a White Lady, a Sazerac or other classic libation with ease and quality spirits. Sometimes you can't always get // read more

Chicago – Tastes in the City that Works

I'm in the city that works, as they deem it. Chicago. I'm digging the architecture and digging into the food. Enjoyed Sunday brunch today at one of James Beard award-winning chef Paul // read more

Food Ink. Chef’s Tattoos

Food. It's not just on your plate. As a tribute to their cooking craft, many chefs are having their favourite ingredients and tools of the trade tattooed on their flesh. Recently I // read more

Salade Nicoise

Nicoise olives, seared tuna, fresh green beans, tomatoes, boiled eggs, beets and iceberg lettuce, that was my version of the classic salad. Drizzled with a red wine vinaigrette and // read more

Minestrone

Winter, spring, summer or fall, minestrone - that hearty soup with Italian roots - can be crafted with any season in mind, utilizing many kinds of ingredients on hand, from leftovers to // read more

Spaghetti al Vongole and a Chicken Marinade

There were two standouts this week. First a recreation of the vongole we enjoyed in Olympia, Washington. Nothing more than fresh clams cooked in white wine, parsley and garlic, tossed in // read more

Patacones aka Deep Fried Plantains – Costa Rica

A popular coastal Costa Rican snack is the patacone (plural patacones). You may know them by their English name, deep fried plantain. Why is it that anything deep fried is so // read more

Picadillo con Papaya Verde – Costa Rica

I recently experienced a 5-day whirlwind tour of Costa Rica, land of coffee, bananas and eco-tourism. Digging beneath the country's breathtaking beauty - damn near impossible, believe me! // read more

Road Trip. Vancouver Island, Highway 101, Olympia, Washington

Whether you prefer a Vancouver Island wine trip or an exploration of the various thrift stores along the way, a restful reward mid-island lies at the Crow & Gate pub. Located on ten // read more

Summer Cocktails with Hibiscus Flowers. Queso Fundido & Grilled Marinated Chicken

Big glass jars and icy pitchers of agua de jamaica are a common site throughout Mexico. Classified under the agua fresca umbrella, this refreshing beverage is made from dried hibiscus // read more

Corn Husk Boats. Spinach Salad with Toasted Almonds and Oranges

Hey, sailor! If you're not up for making tamales, dried corn husks, a common wrapper used for those delectable snacks, can be reconfigured as a fun container to hold rice or salad. First, // read more

Stuffed Chilie Pasilla de Oaxaca with Cheese

Although deemed a regional dish, I can't recall ever eating it in its stuffed form all the years I've been going to Oaxaca, Mexico. (See note below). I first came across it in Diana // read more

Salsa de Chile Pasilla de Oaxaca, Chiles Cooked in Ash

With a bag of ash from Teotitlan del Valle and a bag of smoked chilie pasilla de Oaxaca, I'm picking up where I left off in December. The smoked chilie pasilla is a unique chile in // read more

Ginger & Salt, RIffs on a Simply Spectacular Condiment

Two dishes have come into my scope that riff on the Ginger and Salt treatment from a few weeks back. While my previous post finds ginger, green onions, oil and salt used as a dipping // read more

Fragrant and Hot Spare Ribs – More Asian Flavours

With the success of steamed spare ribs with black beans and chilies from Fuschia Dunlop's Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, I found another, slightly more complex recipe for ribs earlier in // read more

Asian Flavours with Hunan Intentions

Inspiration comes in many guises: a great cookbook or food magazine, a stunning visual cue, a fragrant aroma, fresh produce or from an exquisite dining experience. Recently, inspiration // read more

Guin’s Magic Crumble Topping

Rhubarb or any fruit, seasonal, fresh or even frozen  is perfect as a crumble. Crumble, crisp or cobbler, the names mean the same, a rustic easy peasy dessert where the fruit is front and // read more

Spring Tart with Asparagus, Green Onions and Cheese

Who are you calling a tart? After a winter of earthy root vegetables, spring's first bright green offerings are so welcome at the table. Asparagus heralds the beginning of renewed // read more

Vitamin G

A big fat juicy hamburger. Sometimes, I just gotta have it. But there are stipulations. The bun must be toasted, the cheese, cheddar and the onions, fried. The burger must have fat, be // read more

Pork with Jalapenos and Cilantro

Ground pork shoulder meets chopped jalapenos and cilantro for a bright and juicy recipe that's brilliant as a sausage stuffing, but  equally brilliant as a meatloaf when time is // read more

Ginger, Salt and Oil, a Perfect Condiment for Steamed Fish

The story goes something like this: When Mark Bittman hung out more in Vancouver - because he was/is jazzed about the outstanding selection of Asian cuisine - he happened upon a simply // read more

Chilie Tuxta on a Sunday Afternoon. Salsa Class

A recent chat about Mexican cookbooks had me hankering for a taste of Mexico. What better way than to start cooking those culinary souvenirs from a recent trip. The tiny chilie tuxta, // read more

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

I dread potlucks. Memories of past events come streaming in: ten versions of hummus on one table, the horrifying multi-layered "Mexican" dip, the lazyass bag-of-chips bringers and the // read more

Garlic Chicken Revisited

When dinner needs to be quick and easy, I turn to garlic chicken for sustenance. I upped the garlic this time, 20 cloves to be exact, crushed to a paste with salt in my trusty // read more

Santouka, Ramen Rapture in Vancouver

Santouka is the latest ramen house to open on lower Robson Street in Vancouver. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka is a well-regarded Japanese chain with five outlets in California. This is their // read more

Pecan Pie

I nailed it! After years of tinkering with this dough and that filling, I've struck recipe gold. Hah! The dough stayed fluted - in its rustic way - and the filling set up nicely. // read more

Roasted Onions for Roasted Onion Soup

I'm a sucker for good looking produce. When I'm out at Michell Farms in Saanich I can't resist the boxes and bags of vegetables grown on their vast acreage. But often with impulse bulk // read more

Kick-Ass Chai Tea

Spring cleaning. My tiny kitchen is in dire need of a seasonal shakedown. The walls, the ceiling, the oversized platters and bowls, the whisks, the mashers, the tongs, anything hanging // read more

Pork Shank Redemption

Let's get ready to rumble! Pork shanks, when you can procure them, deliver rich and delicious flavours after a bout of slow cooking. I've had them only twice before, in restaurants, and // read more

Tortilla Soup with Mexican Condiments

Like the beet and cabbage borschts of Eastern Europe and the minestrones of Italy, Mexico's tortilla soup is a simple nourishing broth made from readily available ingredients. Tomatoes, // read more

I survived Momofuku’s Crack Pie

It's all your fault Momofuku! Manhattan's Momofuku Bakery and Milk Bar has taken the U.S. by the sweet tooth with Crack Pie, a cheeky name given to their riff on the Chess pie, a simple // read more

Empanadas – a Doughy Exploration

Like the Chinese dumpling, the perogy, the samosa and Cornish pasty, the empanada has many global cousins, each delicious morsels, all wrapped up inside a half moon shape of dough made from // read more

Winter Garden Kale Soup with Toasted Pine Nuts & Feta

With signs of spring bursting forth - a little early, but who's complaining - I'm ready to plant peas, spinach and radishes. To make room, the last of the winter greens have gotta go. That // read more

Medieval Reminiscence

More wine, wench! This was the drunken cry that hounded me every weekend for two years at the Medieval Inn. It was the 1970s and this was my first official job in the service industry. I // read more

Oaxacan-Inspired Pork and Chilie Soup

I call it a culinary haunting. Ever since the Christmas comida we enjoyed at La Capilla, I can't shake the thought of the soup we had as a first course. Slow cooked in a pit with the goat's // read more

Let Them Eat Potato Cakes (Making Tortitas de Papa)

A popular snack found at fondas and street food stalls throughout Mexico, potato cakes or tortitas de papa, are wonderful on their own - as any potato-based snack is - or gussied up with // read more

Project Tongue

There's a first time for everything and it was time to cook tongue. Like any first timer I turned to books and acquaintances for guidance. "My mother always made tongue," is the common // read more

Garlic Chicken

It's time to get back into the kitchen. This simple preparation for chicken legs and thighs is something you can throw together last minute or even with some notice to let the flavours - // read more

Mexico City Farewell

The San Angel Inn, set in a 17th century hacienda, is a welcome respite from the chaos of Mexico City. The inn is renowned for its margaritas and martinis brought to table in a beautiful // read more

Veracruz Highlights

Imagine an evening sipping cubas or margaritas and having the strange and wonderful unfold before your eyes. Ten years ago in the zocalo of Veracruz city, we were visited by opera singers, // read more

Mole in Xico

After reading the chapter on Veracruz in Diana Kennedy's book My Mexico we went in search of the recommended mole de Xico, a sweet mole redolent with nuts, fruit and chocolate. Xico // read more

My Culinary Souvenirs

Rest assured that I will never be sporting a tank top with CABO emblazoned on the front. Nor will I wear a straw hat with a band around it announcing Puerto Vallarta. My holiday // read more

Zaachila for Christmas

Christmas Day in Oaxaca was once again spent with friends gathered at a long table at La Capilla. We'll be dining on goat barbecue, a welcome alternative to turkey any day. Okay, I lie. I // read more

Making a Pipian. A Few Helpful Pointers

"Pipian is the orphan of the mole family, " says Mary Jane Gagnier co-owner of Rancho Pitaya. "It rarely gets served in restaurants, or talked about." I can see why. Pipian // read more

Tamal Making in Teotitlan del Valle

With stunning views of the Sierra Madres in the distance, I was about to learn the art of tamale making in Teotitlan del Valle, a short distance from the city of Oaxaca, // read more

Salsa Masterclass with Smoke and Ash

Casa Sagrada  sits atop the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle. Located 25 km (15 miles) southeast of Oaxaca city, the village is not only renowned for its colourful and intricate // read more

Favourite Oaxacan Antojitos

Antojitos. Bocaditas. Snacks. However you want to call them, a stay in Oaxaca city is never complete without hitting a few places for my favourites. The zocalo, a restful place shaded by // read more