This past weekend I was in the lovely Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.  A good friend is back from literally a trip around the world: 14 months in Nepal and then they traveled to Maui, the Philippines, Iceland, France, Germany, Amsterdam etc…so off we went for a visit with her at her parents.  They live on an very tranquil piece of property just outside of Courtney, BC.

Good times, wine, food and friends makes for a wonderful weekend.  After a morning at the spa: walking a hydro path, a fantastic lunch at Atlas and a snooze on the lawn in the afternoon sun, we decided to round out the weekend with a chilled west coast tradition. So, Sunday evening just us ladies packed a picnic for the beach, made a campfire in the wind, ate some good food, chatted and drank Babyduck.  One of the goodies in the cooler that we packed was a delicious curried quinoa salad.

This salad is packed full of protein.  And gets better as the flavours meld in the fridge, so a great meal to make and have in the fridge for lunches or a light summer dinner.  I love the savoury coupled with the sweet, the crunchy and the chewy.  Mmmm.

curried quinoa salad

1 lime
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 pkg extra firm tofu cut into 1 inch cups
1 cup quinoa
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup shredded carrots
3 green onions sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3/4 cup dried apricots sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1 tbsp canola oil

2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup canola oil


  1. Squeeze juice from lime into a medium bowl.  Stir in soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger. Add tofu and marinate for 30-40 minutes.
  2. Place quinoa in a sieve and rinse thoroughly.  Drain and place in a medium sauce pan along with the broth.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat, fluff with fork, set aside.
  3. While quinoa is simmering, preheat oven to 350F. Place walnut pieces on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine carrots, green onion, parsley, cilantro, apricots, toasted walnut pieces, cranberries (if using) and cooked quinoa.
  5. For dressing mix curry powder, lime juice, honey, and canola oil in a seal-able container, shake well to mix and pour over quinoa mixture and mix.
  6. Refrigerate salad for at least one hour.  Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium heat: remove tofu from marinade and cook for 2 or 3 minutes per side until browned.  Add cooked tofu to quinoa salad mixture, mix and serve.

Glow, May 2010 pg. 92


Ages ago I had seen recipe after recipe in the blogosphere for kale chips. I was a skeptic. I mean, really?  You take a delicious and relatively sturdy green and it becomes a tasty, crispy savoury snack?  Well finally last weekend, I grabbed a bunch of Kale and decided to try my hand at it.  There were tons of recipes that offered bits of cheese melted onto the kale as it dried, or basic salt/pepper combos etc.  I am on a bit of an Asian fusion kick right now, so I decided to mix rice wine vinegar and sesame oil with a tiny bit of olive oil.  The key to this whole process is moderation – moderation of flavours as they intensify as the leaf dehydrates.

I made the mistake in my first batch to add some salt before they came out of the oven.  They were just a little too salty for me. I waited the second time and found they didn’t need salt at all.  If this intrigues you, try googling a variety of recipes. You can make these in your oven (like me) or if you happen to have one, a dehydrator.

sesame kale chips


4 cups kale chopped into 2 inch pieces, stem removed from leaf
2-3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (if you have it, I found I didn’t need it, but my sheet was in pristine shape)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, and salt, and toss with kale leaves. Place in a single layer on cookie sheet and place into oven.
  3. Bake 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through until crispy. A hint on a few sites was to not overcook or allow them to become completely brown as they will taste bitter.
  4. Taste one, and lightly salt – I used a seasoned wasabi salt which was a nice touch.  Enjoy!

I am one of those impatient people who has a hard time waiting for an avocado to reach the perfect ripeness for guacamole.  I pick up the avocado from the store, usually knowing that it will need another 3 days or so to become that almost butter like consistency.  But then I get home and I see it sitting on the counter…eying me.  Tempting me to give it a try.  I mean, if you through it in the food processor for long enough it should get smooth like peanut butter right?  Wrong.  It just gets lumpy and is nowhere near the right flavour or of course, right texture.

The other day I was in the store and looked at the avocados and they called to me.  They were sinfully soft without being overripe.  They begged to be whipped into a smooth and tasty guacamole.  I mixed and matched what we had in the fridge to come up with this and I loved it.  I think it was the extra kick of the Mexican Chili powder and the smokeyness of the cumin.  When an avocado calls to you…whip this up, you won’t be disappointed!


2 ripe avocados
1/2 sweet yellow onion
1 clove garlic
handful of cilantro or parsley
3 Tbsp spicy salsa
juice from one lime
1 tsp Mexican chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to flavour


Through it all into a food processor and blend.  Then let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavours mingle.  To prevent browning keep the avocado pits in the guac and then remove.  Enjoy!

A few weeks back I baked Dorrie Greenspan’s Raisin Swirl bread.  One of the notes in the book was that this made a mean french toast…so Sunday morning sounded like a perfect test.

We hadn’t used the whole loaf, had thrown it into the freezer and thus a scrumptious breakfast in no time flat.  Not to knock maple syrup, because don’t get me wrong, I love the o0ey gooey sweetness of real maple syrup, but I think the flavoured butter that you see melting down the French Toast is what made it!  The best thing is that the butter was actually icing left over from the wedding cake the same weekend…double use, one recipe!


French Toast
4 slices Raisin Swirl Bread
1 Tbsp butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 oz Fireball whisky – don’t know why I threw this in, maybe the cinnamony taste, but soooo good!
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Lemon Buttercream
3 Tbsp butter – room temp
2 Tbsp sifted icing sugar
juice from half a lemon
zest from lemon


  1. Prepare flavoured butter: in a bowl whisk together all ingredients, the more you whisk, the lighter it gets.
  2. A low, large bowl whisk together: eggs, milk, fireball(!), cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar.
  3. Melt butter in a skillet, on med/med-high heat.
  4. Dredge bread in egg mixture.  Because the bread is quite dense, let it sit a little and absorb the mix.
  5. Once butter is fully melted in the pan, add the bread (2 at a time).  Flip when golden crispy on the bottom.
  6. Top with lemon butter – serve with a fruit salad.

At work we talk about effort in, in relation to, results out.  In terms of a recipe, this is short and simple.  But the results are spectacular.  I never tire of the recipes you can make with a deliciously slooow roasted, sweet and intense tomato.  The key is long and low in the oven.  It’s 5 minutes before bed, and then a quick pasta for dinner the next day.  Or a deep rich tomato soup.  It’s totally up to you.



2 lbs on the vine campari tomatoes, ripe
1 head (yes head) garlic, cloves peeled
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
fresh cracked black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 150-160 F
  2. Wash and halve tomatoes
  3. Arrange halves, face up in a Pyrex casserole dish
  4. Spread garlic cloves amongst tomatoes
  5. Drizzle olive oil over
  6. Season with salt and pepper
  7. Place tomatoes in oven and roast for 10-12 hours, checking every few hours.

Toss with freshly cooked pasta, fresh basil and feta.  A meal in minutes….errr…hours?

Wow!  I loved making this!  So many of my preferences for food are centred around my memories as a kid.  My grandma used to look after my brother and I when we were little – a few days a week after school when mom was at work.  Our standard after school snacks were chocolate chip cookies she made, or raisin bread from the local bakery (slathered in butter – I know, how bad for you!).  I loved, loved, loved the raisin bread.  It was so soft, light and sweet!

Yesterday, I was looking through cookbooks at our local bookstore, and came across a “hurt” version of Baking from My Home to Yours – by Dorrie Greenspan (yes, the Dorrie of the Tuesdays with Dorrie baking group).  I have been waiting to pick this up for a while now, and just felt too guilty dropping $50 on a cookbook when I had so many already – but at over 50% off for a book that had a little hole in the jacket, I couldn’t not pick it up! As I mentioned in my Whole Wheat Bread post, I am trying to learn and appreciate working with yeast.   So the first recipe I tried from Dorrie’s book was Raisin Swirl Bread.

As the dough was rising, the sweet aroma wafted through the house.  As it baked I took the dog for a super quick pee break and came back into the house welcomed by that fresh bread waft…so lovely.  And isn’t it so pretty?!  So this is dedicated to my grandma – whom I don’t see very often, but love a lot.



For the bread
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar, plus a pinch
1 1/4 cups just warm to the touch whole milk
1/2 stick (or 4 Tbsp) unsalted butter – room temp
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp clear vanilla extract
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg (I cheated and used pre-ground)
3 3/4 to 4 cups AP flour

For the swirl
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (this was optional, but we did it)
1 cup moist – plump raisins (dark or golden)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter – softened


  1. Put the yeast in a small bowl, toss in the pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup warm milk.  Let rest 3 minutes, then sitr – the yeast may not have dissolved completely, and it may not be bubbling, but it should be soft.From here, Dorrie uses an electric stand mixer- in the world’s smallest kitchen, we don’t have space for that… so out comes the wooden spoon!
  2. Combine the remaining milk, butter and 1/4 cup sugar and mix with a hand held mixer for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the salt, egg, vanilla and nutmeg and mix for one minute – at this point the mixture can look pretty “curdy”
  4. Ass the yeast mixture and beat on medium low for 1 more minute.
  5. Add 2 3/4 cups flour and on low speed mix until it just comes together – this is now when I switched to the wooden spoon. (or you could switch to a dough hook)
  6. Add another 1 cup of flour – beat it with the wooden spoon until it comes together and is almost clean of the sides of the bowl.  (Ass up to 1/4 cup more AP flour, 1 Tbsp at a time)
  7. Dorrie says the dough can’t really be kneaded by hand – it would be too soft… I didn’t find this. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes or until is smooth and has a lovely buttery sheen.
  8. Boil a kettle of water – create a water bath in the oven.
  9. Butter a large bowl – turn the dough into the bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.  Place the dough in the oven (turned off) with the water bath below.  Let dough rise until is about double in size 1 1/2 hours approx.
  10. Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, and wrap tightly.  Place in freezer for 30 minutes – or long enough to firm up to be rolled easily.  (At this point you can instead refrigerate the dough overnight if that is more convenient (I wish I had done this – in all this is a long process, and to eat it fresh in the morning, this would have aided the process!)
  11. Make the swirl: combine sugar, cinnamon and cocoa in a small bowl.
  12. Butter a 9×5 loaf pan.Dorrie suggests checking to make sure your raisins are nice and plump/moist – I had never really thought about this before…she suggested that if they are a little hard, to steam them.  I did this in our steamer, and then patted them dry – the result was what tasted like fresh (if you can have fresh) raisins – brilliant!
  13. Place dough on a large, lightly floured work surface and roll into a rectangle about 12×18.
  14. Gently smear 2 Tbsp of the butter on the rectangle – use your fingers!
  15. Sprinkle sugar over the mixture and scatter the raisins.
  16. Starting at the short side of the dough, roll it up jelly-roll fashion – make sure to roll it snugly.
  17. Fit the dough int the buttered pan, seam side down and with the ends tucked under the loaf.
  18. Cover the pan loosely with wax paper and set in warm place.  Let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edge of the pan – about 45 minutes. I placed back in the oven until I was ready to preheat and then I moved it to the microwave – no drafts that way!
  19. When the dough has almost fully risen, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F – place rack at centre in oven.
  20. Melt remaining butter, brush exterior of loaf with it.
  21. Put the bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a sil-pad.  Bake for 20 minutes, then cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes, or so.  The bread should be a lovely golden colour and sound hollow when you knock on the bottom of the loaf.
  22. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes – then unmold.  Allow to cool to room temperature – and then ENJOY!

Delicious plain and simple, or toasted with a little butter – OR as Dorrie suggests make french toast – how wonderfully decadant!

I was reading somewhere that this year has been one of the latest springs in over 20 years.  The idea of spring, the sun, the warmth, the fresh evening smell…everyone is waiting with bated breath for it.  We’ve been teased.  A sunny day or two strung together and it seems there is a collective sigh of relief.  And then rain and heavy clouds return.  April showers and all that…So, while we wait a little while longer, I felt that a heart soup was in order.  On a wet rainy Saturday night, this soup hit the spot. I am sure you could add cubes of ham, or pancetta to the onions and leeks while sauteing and it would add a nice depth of flavour.

Served with homemade wheat bread and a spinach salad.  Dinner with a friend, and a movie was a relaxing break from the hectic world.  Ohhh…and don’t forget the wine!


3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
2 leeks, cleaned very well and sliced finely – only the white and light green parts
6 russet baking potatoes, thinly sliced
4 cups veggie stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large dutch oven, heat oil.
  2. Add onions and leeks, stirring occasionally, cook until they begin to brown.
  3. Ass potatoes
  4. Cover with veggie stock, bring to a low simmer.
  5. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
  6. With a potato masher, puree up the soup.  As chunky or fine as you like.
  7. Add cream, bring to low simmer.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.

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