Choice Cuts & Battle Scars – Life as a Chef

Life as a cook is wrought with danger. Restaurant kitchens are hot and cramped spaces with hot oil, scorching heat and fire at every turn with sharp knives and whirring appliances // read more

Green Pea Guacamole

                               As a cookbook collector, there's always a few books that fall by the wayside, forgotten, gathering dust, at the back of a // read more

Pozole Rojo & Chinese-style Slow Roasted Pork Neck Bones

Pork neck bones are one of the last bastions of economy cuts available on the market. Once popularity in the restaurant marketplace hits, prices skyrocket and availability wanes. Lamb // read more


Vancouver Island Must-Reads

A great way to acquaint yourself with a culture is through its food and culinary customs. These three recently published books shine a light on Vancouver Island's food culture and the // read more


Papalo Guacamole

Papalo, a native herb to Mexico and South America, fell into my hands the other day in Sooke, a far cry from points south. Markus Weiland, chef and owner of Markus' Restaurant in Sooke, was // read more

Finders Keepers/The Wild Foraging Heroes of Vancouver Island – Part Two

Finders Keepers - Part Two If you’ve ever picked blackberries at the side of the road, you’ve engaged in the act of foraging, an act that has sustained peoples and cultures since // read more

Finders Keepers/ The Wild Foraging Heroes of Vancouver Island

Finders Keepers - Part One If you've ever picked blackberries at the side of the road, you've engaged in the act of foraging, an act that has sustained peoples and cultures since time // read more

Zucchini Cakes – Gluten-Free

When life hands you zucchini........ make zucchini cakes! These savoury cakes, or fritters, are easy to whip together at a moment's notice, as an appetizer or accompaniment to a main // read more


Adding Creativity to Handmade Corn Tortillas

Pressing out handmade corn tortillas is a must-do when I'm teaching Mexican cooking classes. It adds a hands-on element to the class, brings the students together and gives them confidence // read more


Huevos Rancheros

Huevos rancheros is one of those dishes that appears more often on Canadian menus than those in Mexico. It comes in all sorts of styles, eggs on top of corn or flour tortillas, garnished // read more


Chayote and Apple Salad with Pomegranates in a Jalapeno-Lime Vinaigrette

Cabbage is quickly losing its appeal around here. Spring is in the air and I'm getting itchy for spring greens. I gave our local cabbage a fair shake for the last two months, consuming it // read more


Chile Colorado with Chicken and Vegetables

Like the next gal, I'm quite happy purchasing locally grown food, especially meats, and I make a concerted effort to seek it out.  With only a few abattoirs on Vancouver Island, buying // read more


Blueberry Muffins or Any Berry Muffins for That Matter

I've been on a baking jag again. Always seem to happen during the winter months when the weather is nasty and staying indoors is the most sensible option. I've ripped through a couple of // read more


Roasted Winter Squash and Apple Soup

There is no shortage of winter's harvest here on Vancouver Island. Hearty root vegetables,cabbage and kale are still readily available at our local farm markets, and squash with its tough // read more


A 3-Chile Salsa with Oaxacan Smokiness

"Oaxaca loves smoky flavours," says Pilar Cabrera, "roasted tomatillos, mezcal, desserts of leche quemada." She is also referring to the smoked chile pasilla de Oaxaca, an ingredient being // read more


Burgers, Messy Food and Feeding the Roofers

They started early filling the ground with old roofing tiles, nails and trash, and filling the air with foul language.  They were like feral animals. They smoked and spat, and dined on // read more


Spud-tastic! Variation on the Scallop Potato

The mandoline is receiving a lot of press in food magazines lately. Both Fine Cooking and Bon Appetit devote space and time to the slicer in their January issues. The mandoline, made in // read more


Variations on a Moroccan-Inspired Marinade

Recipes are often mere springboards when faced with limited or minimal ingredients in the kitchen. With any luck, new dishes can be created that might even be better than the original. // read more


The Cookie Chronicles – A Basic Recipe to Begin

Spending time over the years on various online food forums, I've met a lot of people with names such as Canucklehead, Little Frog, Viola de Gamba, Moosh, TFA, Sushi Cat, and other such // read more


Corn Flake-Crusted Fish with Tomatillo Sauce

  Taking cues from the tomatillo sauce from my previous post, and a Rick Bayless recipe for corn flake-crusted fish, I combined the two to create a delicious dinner. Both versions // read more


Easy & Versatile Tomatillo Sauce

The tomatillo, a member of the gooseberry family, is distinguished by its papery husk, and is a staple of the Mexican kitchen. They're readily available - mostly - and the fall harvest is // read more

Soup’s On! Minestrone Heats Up the Autumn Chill

The sudden turn of weather from dry, crisp and sunny to overcast, damp and chilly has us all running for warmth and comfort. Soup is the natural cure all, and with the bounty of fall // read more

Pumpkin Pie Season

In spite of the extended sunshine and near drought conditions we've been experiencing, the Saanich farmlands are dotted with orange right on time. Pumpkin season is upon us. While canned // read more

In Pursuit of Purslane

Purslane, aka verdolagas in Spanish, is a delicious wild edible, a ground creeper and hugely underutilized where I live in Victoria. Succulent and tart with a flavour similar to cactus // read more

Mixiote. Gift of the Maguey

Through many trips south of the border and the many cookbooks on my shelves, Mexico continues to deliver the delicious and the exotic and never ceases to pique my curiosity. A market is // read more

Pancakes – It’s What’s for Breakfast

Pancakes should be delicate, not leaden. You can best achieve this with beaten eggs whites folded in to the mix, to lighten them up. The milk required can be substituted with buttermilk or // read more

Waldorf Salad Redo – Soup’s On

The Waldorf Salad, an American classic, was invented somewhere between 1893 and 1896 at New York's Waldorf Hotel. The gist of it finds apples, celery and walnuts tossed in mayonnaise // read more

Chintextle Sauteed Mushrooms

Chintextle, or chintestle, is a savoury chile paste hailing from Oaxaca, a state known for its distinct culinary riches. The paste, made with the smoked chile pasilla of Oaxaca, or // read more

Spaghetti Pie – Leftovers Part Two

Spaghetti pie first came into my life during a trip to Italy. I enjoyed a slice of the rustic pie in a tiny cafe in Naples after viewing the ruins of Pompeii. The latter impressed me with // read more


Fire Roasted Anaheims with Orzo & Vegetables

The challenge this week is to scour the fridge and use up the bits, the stem ends and the ingredients bought - in a now forgotten - flash of inspiration. The majority of my menus veer // read more


Listen macaron, you've had your day in the sun. With your loud colours and buttercream filling, it's time for the unappreciated Madeleine to take a stand in the spotlight. Delicate and // read more

Easy Carrot Salad with Cumin, Parsley and Lemon

Out foraging at the local farms the other day, it's clear the last of the carrot harvest is upon us. At Michell Farms, 10 pound bags of carrots can be had for song, and I'm determined to // read more

Carrot-Almond Torte

In Victoria, snow makes us kind of giddy. People tend to smile more and greet strangers on the street. Small independent businesses have shuttered early, with notices such as, "We're off to // read more

Speaking with a Broad: Chef Patricio Sandoval at Villas Carrizalillo

Mention the name Sandoval in the restaurant world and the first thing that comes to mind is Ricardo Sandoval. With 28 modern Mexican restaurants under his belt, spanning North America and // read more

Free the Brussels Sprout

It's time to loosen up the baby cabbage from its tightly bound confines. For years it's been served whole after being boiled to a dull green, a sad specimen associated with many a family // read more

Enchiladas with Chicken and an Ancho-Tomato Salsa

Enchiladas, a dish of stuffed and rolled tortillas bathed in a chile sauce, has many permutations. At its most trashy, it contains an overdose of cheap gooey cheeses and is laden with salts // read more

The Laura Calder Interview

This book happened because I was inspired by a bunch of 80-year olds. You just meet them by accident and then suddenly a book comes out of life and what you're living. - Laura Calder on // read more

Xiao Long Bao The Soup Dumpling

"We handcraft food for your tastebuds," reads the business card of Dinesty Chinese Restaurant in Richmond. I'm here as a lunch guest of Rae Kung who insisted that I taste what is her // read more

New Culinary Horizons: Vancouver’s Chinese Cuisine

The curious palate needs to be fed. And what better way to excite and educate it than to wade in to the deep delicious waters of Chinese cuisine. This vast pool encompasses the complex and // read more

Oaxaca’s Smoked Chile Pasilla stuffed with Peaches, Ricotta and Walnuts

Summer came and went far too fast. And by the time I caught up with its crazy fast pace, it was gone, but I still had designs on a few summer recipes I did not want to let pass. Case in // read more

Recent Dishes Savoured: On The Road in Washington & Oregon

A road trip is remiss without roadside attractions. Besides the taco truck parked right across the street, this was Umatilla's redeeming feature in the arid landscape. I do believe this is // read more

The Vikram Vij Interview

  Vikram Vij recently stopped by in Victoria to host some media at The London Chef and teach a fortunate few a cooking class later that evening. He was also here to begin the launch of 15 // read more

Be Obscure Clearly. Waitsburg, Washington

We'll travel great distances for the perfect meal. Or a well-crafted cocktail. We'll fight our way through intense traffic, traversing great distances, getting lost en route, all the while // read more

Roast Chicken. Why Can’t I Quit You?

The change in weather has brought us indoors away from the bbq and back into the kitchen. I tried this brilliant and inspiring technique for roast chicken from Mark Bittman yesterday and // read more

Spice-Roasted Chicken

Isn't evolution wonderful? Not the fact that we're now walking upright and the hairiness has abated - waxing keeps my eyebrows in check! - but the way a recipe can morph and adapt to suit a // read more

Risotto with Young Fava Beans, Spot Prawns and Lemon

Every year my enthusiasm and anticipation of the yearly garden starts the same. Trips for sea soil, digging out the compost, buying seeds and mapping out where the plants should go for // read more

Roast Chicken in a Luscious Garlic-Salt-Rosemary Marinade

It's the fourth day of sun, maybe the fifth. I'm so giddy that summer's finally arrived, I'm losing count. With no time to waste, I've dusted off the grill and whipped up a quick marinade // read more

Flourless Walnut Cake

Walnuts are used throughout the world in a myriad of ways from sauces and medicines, pickled whole, used in liqueurs, or ground for making tortes and cakes. This versatile nut can be found // read more

Vodka Sauce

Vodka has very little use in our house. Gin on the other hand,  but that's another story. Our neglected bottle of vodka emerges only for that brilliant Sunday morning restorative, the // read more

Wise About Spot Prawns

The spot prawn season runs just under two months, and it's such a treat to find them fresh and live right off the boat. If you're unfamiliar with spot prawns and have lived most of your // read more

Spot On for Spot Prawns

It's May on the west coast, and that means spot prawns are in season. Held up as an icon of sustainability, the sweet crustacean, and the largest prawn fished on the coast, is a chef and // read more

Quick Dishes for the Meze Platter

Feta cheese, red peppers, a couple of garlic cloves and some great tasting olive oil is really all that's needed to throw together a quick and easy dip with Mediterranean // read more

Roasted Beet Salad, Flowering Cabbage Tops and Spice-Marinated Lamb with Chickpea Stew

A gloomy, overcast day and a craving for Moroccan spices. Not that the two go hand in hand, but spices are proving to be a remedy for our unusually cold spring. So in between writing // read more

Roasted Jalapenos stuffed with Mint and Two Cheeses

Once you get the hang of roasting and cleaning jalapenos, this appetizer dish, stuffed with goat and cream cheeses, and brightly flavoured with mint, is a hands down winner. Roasting a // read more

Salsa de Chile Pasilla de Oaxaca – Version Two

The smoked chile pasilla de Oaxaca, or chile Mixe ( pronounced, mee-hay) is unique to the state of Oaxaca. It imparts a fiery, smokey flavour to salsas, chiles rellenos, and vinegary // read more

Candied Jalapenos

Not only for salsas or roasted and stuffed with cheese, jalapenos can also be used for purposes of a sweet nature. Washed and dried, stemmed, seeded with the inner white membrane // read more

Spaghetti Aglio,Olio e Peperoncino (Spaghetti with garlic, oil and chiles)

On the Amalfi coast, everyday provided another exciting round of flavours and sights. Lemons, the size of grapefruits were everywhere. The fresh leaves were used to wrap ingredients, // read more

Black Beans and Sweet Memories of Travel

Top: dried avocado leaves, right: toasted ground black beans and left: ground avocado leaves It was quiet that morning except for what sounded like a beaded curtain blowing in the // read more

Chicken Estofado, A Oaxacan Version

In Mexico, and more specifically, Oaxaca, moles play an important part in the country's culinary repertoire. In Canada, we only see moles, usually red, and made with the addition of // read more

Chicken Pot Pie & the Art of Leftovers

With a bit of creativity, leftovers can be elevated out of their often unworthy and uninspiring reputation into to a starring role. And with rising food costs, there's no better time to // read more

The Cobb Salad. The Brown Derby Dressing

The Cobb Salad came in to existence in 1937. Created late at night, with access to the restaurant's kitchen, then Brown Derby owner Bob Cobb threw together ingredients readily at hand, // read more

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

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


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

Sojourn by Horseback in Rojas de Cuauhtemoc

A great way to experience the Oaxaca countryside is by horseback. Mary Jane Gagnier and her team of horses offer excursions onto trails less travelled for newbies and experienced riders // read more

Welcome to the Grilled Meats, Oaxaca City

The sign above the entrance reads, Bienvenidos a las Carnes Asadas. You can't miss this long hallway off the Viente de Noviembre market in Oaxaca. It's filled with smoke, with fires // read more

Locavoracious in Mexico

What better way to find the soul of a place than to eat the local specialities of the region? The open air markets of Mexico hold the key.In Puerto Escondido, villagers come down from the // read more

El Pantero Strikes Again

Everyday around noon, El Pantero emerges from the water in front of Playa Carrizalillo with a sack of freshly picked oysters. Nicknamed The Panther for his lean physique and black wetsuit // read more

Devouring Puebla

Puebla, a two-hour drive from Mexico city, is smaller in scale and known for its colonial buildings and ornate tile work. Wandering the cobblestone sidewalks, there is always something // read more

Ricardo Munoz and Azul y Oro in Mexico City

The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) is blessed with one of the best restaurants in the city, if not the country. Azul y Oro, a 200-seat restaurant housed in the Centro // read more

Hot Chocolate, Churros and Goat Meat Tacos. A Brief Snapshot of Mexico City

Mexicans are notorious snackers. Every morning, stalls throughout Mexico city are set up to serve tacos with a myriad of ingredients, picante salsas at the ready. Here is one that serves // read more

First Tastes and Sights in Mexico City

Arriving in Mexico City late one evening, we wandered around to get our bearings. The evening was unfolding as it should,  with tiny eateries getting ready for the onslaught of hungry // read more

Vegetable Frittata or Strata.

Those roasted anaheim chilies stashed in the freezer. That leftover turkey meat, the chard or kale stalks, the cool red-tinged corn and various herbs on the verge of extinction, we've all // read more

Meatloaf with Caramelized Onions, Wild Mushrooms and Tomato Sauce

Nothing like a bout of tomato sauce, redolent with onions and garlic to take the edge off a cold rainy afternoon. Simmer with oregano until the tomatoes break apart and soften. To further // read more

Chef Roberto Santibanez’ Chilie Relleno with a Picadillo of Chicken, Capers, Olives and Almonds

Stuffed chiles, or chiles rellenos in Spanish , show evidence of the many cultures that showed up on the shores of Mexico. For example, through trade came the introduction of olives, // read more

Iguana Mole, Chayote Salad and Mushroom Quesadillas

I keep three big tubs of chilies in my cool climate pantry, but cooking Mexican has been on the back burner for a while. When I came across a bag of chile costeno rojo, I felt the need to // read more

Mole Amarillo – Not the one with chocolate!

Fall and winter are perfect seasons to make moles. These renowned labour-intensive stews of Mexico, especially Oaxaca state, are slow-cooked, healing dishes infused with earthy chilies and // read more

Cornflake-Crusted Fish in Tomatillo Sauce

Breadcrumbs are versatile but can be substituted in many dishes with crushed cracker crumbs or that breakfast staple, cornflakes. Think breaded and fried oysters whose briny goodness pairs // read more

Roasted Tomatoes & Cauliflower with Breadcrumbs

For centuries, cooks from around the globe have cobbled together delicious meals with minimal ingredients. Bread is a prime example, and no matter what variety you enjoy, it remains one of // read more

The Bacon Explosion. Seen and Tasted in Seattle

The first day of this year's annual Seattle Tiki Home Bar Tour had some tasty snacks along with Pete's Voodoo punch and appropriate tunes by DJ and tour organizer Terence Gunn. This // read more

Deep Cove Chalet – Paradise Found

In the late summer, early fall, Deep Cove Chalet beckons. Run by cci and his wife Bev, the Chalet serves French country cuisine. Koffel's culinary roots are in Alsace and you'll find many // read more

The Pumpkin, a Saw and a Few Good Cooks (Guest Bloggers)

There's really only one way to handle this 25 lb. pumpkin. I attempted to open up the beast with a chisel and hammer first - too tedious - so out came the saw. This exquisite specimen is // read more

A Quick Dish of Chickpea and Swiss Chard

Forget the hummus just for one second and give this chickpea treatment a whirl. Swiss chard is abundant at this time of year and the two together produce a delicious dish easy to whip up // read more

Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls of Wheat Berries, Mushrooms and Vegetables

A recent find in the Saanich farmlands, this spectacular Savoy definitely needs its own chair. What a beauty. And what an inspiration for cabbage rolls. The main grain consisted of 1 cup // read more

Simple Baked Apple Tarts

You bet I'll cycle for apples. Not only is it a balancing act but there's nothing like the taste of an apple pie. Even if it's of the rustic variety. I added the chopped zest of one lemon // read more

Sticky chicken wings

I came across this treatment reading Nigel Slater's book, The Kitchen Diaries. Cracked pepper, lemon juice and sliced lemon, fresh bay leaves, olive oil and sea salt season the wings // read more

Easy Granola

I find making granola a form of meditation. I don't really even like granola but I like the process of adding ingredients, slowly toasting them in a low-heat oven, stirring occasionally and // read more

Crispy Pig’s Ear Salad

Yes, you heard right. Driven by a desire for challenge, a way to shake up the same old culinary routine, I decided to wade into the shallow end of what U.K. chef Fergus Henderson has made // read more

Julie Usher’s Easy Pasta Dish

Here's a delicious pasta dish that can be assembled and cooked with ease. It's one of those dishes that you can return to repeatedly - and I do - when the cupboard's looking a little bare, // read more

Green Bean Salad & Beet Salad

Gratefully, the weather still dictates al fresco dining. Lately, I've been buying some great looking green beans. And for two days in a row, I've treated them equally. A quick blanch in hot // read more

Olive oil and Rosemary cake

Here is a simple cake that is perfect for Sunday lunch or brunch. It is great served alone, with Italian cheese and honey, or as I did, with ripe figs and pots of thick yogurt and honey for // read more

Garlic Soup. A true restorative

One of the cookbooks I return to frequently is Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef by Jean-George Vongerichten and Mark Bittman. The recipe for garlic soup is a revelation, using the // read more

Wicked Butter Tarts

You have been forewarned.   Short-Crust Pastry (You might have your own recipe, but this number works for both sweet and savoury dishes) 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour 1 tsp. // read more

Salmon Wrapped in Fig Leaves

Fig leaves, under-utilized, unlike their kin, fennel pollen and dill flower heads, impart a subtle figgy aroma to ingredients like salmon or goat cheese when wrapped and baked. I happen // read more

Baked Figs Stuffed with Gorgonzola

In keeping with a leafy theme, we have figs and their longtime companion. Till death do they part. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Gently wash the leaves and shake dry-ish. With a sharp // read more

Dolmades – Stuffed Grape Leaves, Vegetarian Version

A friend generously dropped off a bag of grape leaves for a session of dolmades rolling. Stuffed grape leaves are a tasty appetizer of Greek and Lebanese origins. (There could be other // read more

Corn Chowder

That luscious corn from Saanich has to be used up and there's nothing better to take the chill out of the air these days than a hearty corn chowder. Get your mise en place ready. 3 - 4 // read more

Spaghetti al limone

With the glut of cookbooks on the shelves, sometimes a recipe will escape you until a casual flip through will bring a surprise. Why didn't I see this before, you might ask. And I did. I // read more

Simple and Quick Tomato Sauces

When supplies of fresh produce just aren't within reach, I turn to canned goods. And I feel no shame. When cans of Italian whole tomatoes are on sale, I buy a couple of cases at a time, // read more

Cheese on Toast

This little ditty was a staple of my childhood. We called it either cheese on toast or Welsh Rarebit. I understand that it's not exactly the latter but having an English mother, who were we // read more

Chanterelles. Heralding the Return of Autumn

Every year, the August long weekend brings a chill in the morning air. A sure sign of autumn to come.  We've had blazing summer days and nights this year, and I don't want to move on, but // read more

Albondigas en Chipotle

Good 'ole meatballs. A 1001 variations, tasty little morsels all. Translated to the Mexican table, albondigas (Spanish for meatball) are a national standby, appearing regularly on comida // read more

Summer Bean Salad

No matter how hard we try to grow various kinds of vegetables, I swear it's the garden that dictates what grows and what doesn't. And the garden says, beans. Our runner beans are a given // read more

Two Easy Tomatillo Salsas, Guacamole with Peaches and Chicken Kabobs

Tomatillos, that green fruit surrounded by a papery husk has been a staple of the Mexican diet for eons. It's easy to buy ones of uniform size in Mexico, but in Victoria, B.C., size // read more

Salsa Arriera "Mule Driver’s" Salsa

Any budding aficionado of Mexican cuisine should have one - or the whole collection - of Diana Kennedy's cook books. Therein you'll find a rich resource of dishes - obscure and well known // read more

Nopales/Cactus Paddles/ Guacamole, etc.

A prickly subject. Nopales or cactus paddles are a tasty treat if you can get beyond its stubble. They are worth the trouble and so much better than the cactus bits you can get in a can. I // read more

Watermelon Margaritas

Thirsty? The best way to make easy work of an oversized watermelon is to juice it. Cut off the peel of a seedless watermelon and whip the melon in a blender, until you have juice. There // read more

Salsa Macha

Not for sissies.According to my notes, this earthy salsa macha hails from Central Veracruz. Toast 20 - 24 chiles de arbol, stemmed. Careful not to burn. I use a root brush for scooting the // read more

Salsa, an ongoing exploration

One thing is certain, salsa in Mexico is always on the table. Going through my Mexican food journals and recipe files I was struck with the endless combinations and possibilities for that // read more

Baja-Style Fish Tacos

The key to successful fish tacos, or for any dish you are about to undertake, is preparation.  When friends are coming round, I like to set the table first. To keep things in a fiesta // read more

Squash Blossoms for Quesadillas and Stuffed, Battered and Fried

We wait all year for this event. When the squash blossoms open wide. Really we could care less about the squash, it's the flowers we want. My love of the flower began during my first trip // read more

Easy Elegant Summer Salads:Watermelon and Goat Cheese, Fennel and Orange

Watermelon and goat cheese is an unlikely combination but completely refreshing as a starter or elegant finish to a meal on a hot summer day.  Crumble goat cheese over four wedges of // read more

Tomato Meet Oven

Stepping into the tomato world of SunWing Farm is like stepping into an alternate universe. While I could go for any of their first rate heirloom varieties, for my first foray into // read more

Green Goddess Dressing

One of my favourite salad dressings of summer. Green Goddess. She's a lovely accompaniment with fresh crab over greens and tomatoes. She livens up an artichoke and is a natural with big // read more

Queso Fundido with Roasted Anaheims, Mushrooms and Cheese, served with Salsa Fresca

Queso fundido, a dish of hot melting cheese, is a popular Mexican appetizer served with hot corn tortillas. I like to fancy it up a bit, layering cheese with sauteed mushrooms and onions // read more

Mezcal and a Meal in Matatlan

Don Renaldo and the Guttierez family are Oaxacan artisan mezcal makers and gifted cooks. We dropped in one afternoon for a tasting and to partake in a special meal. Unfortunately, we missed // read more

Goat barbeque at La Capilla

La Capilla is an open air restaurant in Zaachila, a 30 minute drive outside of Oaxaca City. My first visit there was over 12 years ago. Peacocks roamed the grounds then, dazzling diners // read more

A Glimpse at Market Specialties from Puerto Escondido

While some people prefer to surf the waves of nearby Zicatela beach, I wake up early in Puerto Escondido to get to the public market. Market days are the best, meaning the days when // read more

Dining in the Clouds/Sunday’s Special in the Sierra Juarez

Sunday is the day that Doña Leecha makes criollo potato and corn tortillas. Her restaurant Casa Piedra located at Rancho Benito Juarez in Oaxaca is located at a breathtaking 10,000 // read more

Cherry Clafouti

It's July and cherries are in season. Looking forward to sitting in the garden with a bowl of cherries, I purchased some dark red  juicy-looking ones at a local farmer's market. Seduced // read more

Leg of Lamb Cooked in Fresh Alfalfa/Hay

Every few months or so I check the online menus of Chez Panisse. Mostly it's for inspiration tinged with a subtle form of torture. Me on the cool Canadian West Coast, she to the South in // read more

A Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear AKA Anthony and Me

The claim, reminiscent of those ads in the back of comic books, seemed to be speaking just to me. It read, "Bask in the moral certainty that you are the baddest-ass king hell, fearless // read more

Potato Salad

The stellar spud. So versatile. So willing to be boiled, fried, baked, peeled, stuffed, mashed, smashed and otherwise violated, works for any season, served cold or hot, vegetarian-style or // read more