On my ad-free cooking blog I only post recipes that people tell me they love – some are healthy, some are not, but they are all delicious! I record these recipes because I love to cook, and people tell me they appreciate looking at and trying out my recipes. Please write a comment if you have any thoughts about my posts so I know if I should keep experimenting with new recipes, documenting them, and paying to keep this blog advertisement-free. Thanks for the feedback! Enjoy!
For my 500th blog post I give you this simple Orange Olive Oil Cake. So easy to make, but a big flavour bomb! I have barely turned my oven on all summer, but this one called out to me, and I had to try it. And . . . rave reviews! If cake at breakfast is your thing, then this is the one for you, but it’s good anytime. It’s so easy – combine the liquids, add to the dry, bake. Eat. Yum. (You will need some kind of device to zest the orange – a microplaner, part of your grater, or an official zester; I prefer the microplaner.)
This cake is super moist, and super flavourful thanks to all the lemon zest. And the olive oil seems to pair really well with the citrus.
My oven is a gong show, and I never know when it’s going to heat up or cool down, so I do my best to guess (one of the reasons I haven’t been baking much lately). For me this was done almost 15 minutes before the suggested bake time because my oven was so hot – and it still turned out great! So if you are a newer baker, or have a really unpredictable oven like mine, this recipe seems to be a no-fail one.
I ate and gave away a lot of this cake, and then I froze a portion. It’s so nice to have something in the freezer that you can pull out when you need it!
zest of 2 navel oranges (I used very large oranges)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup whole or homogenized milk
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 & 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 155 grams)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt or 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
What you do:
Prepare an 8-inch cake pan by cutting a round piece of parchment paper to place in the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Place the rack in the bottom third of the oven.
Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl, then mix it together.
In another bowl combine the sugar, zest (I use a microplaner to do this), eggs, orange juice, milk and olive oil.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined, scraping the bottom and sides to make sure all the flour is incorporated; it might seem a bit weird, but it’s okay to have some lumps.
Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, at which time the top should be browned and a cake tester should come out mostly clean. (Note – I put the cake pan on a baking sheet because I thought it might spill over – it didn’t though! Whew.)
Let the cake cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and then turn the cake onto a cooling rack.
Last night I finished making a batch of blackberry jam, with berries picked from a secret spot. It’s actually one of those places where you wonder if you’re going to trip over a body . . . but . . . free blackberries!
This recipe is made without added pectin, just the berries, sugar and lemon juice.
I don’t really eat a lot of jam, but I had a request to make this and ended up really enjoying it on an English Muffin this morning. I put a bit of Greek yogurt on as well, but cream cheese or crème fraîche would be wonderful with it too.
It takes a bit of work to get the seeds out of the jam, but I think it is a worthwhile job so you don’t bite down on the hard seeds. I found it easier to get the seeds out when the berries had cooked down a bit.
After removing the seeds, the rest of the process is quite simple. You will need some jars, and if you plan to store the jam in a cupboard you will need the proper lids etc. For freezer jam you can use any kind of jar. I used a thermometer to check the temperature, but you can use this guide to help figure out when it is done if you don’t have thermometer.
What you need:
6 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen
3 cups sugar (some recipes call for more, but I like it this way)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
What you do:
In a large pot, heat the clean blackberries on medium heat until they start falling apart.
Push the berries through a strainer, food mill or chinois. If you use a strainer, as I did, it takes a bit of time and energy to push all the pulp through with the back of a spoon.
Boil water in a large pot, then put your jars in there to sterilize. Turn off the heat and remove the jars with tongs. Place the lids in the pot of hot water. I always use new lids when canning to make sure that they seal properly.
Place the strained berry pulp, sugar and lemon juice in a large pot and bring to a rolling boil, stirring continually. Bring the mixture to 105C/220F, then remove them from the heat.
Fill the jars to 1cm below the top. I used a canning funnel to fill the jars so I had no spills – yay! Use a clean cloth to clean any drips from the rims of the jars.
Use tongs to remove the lids from the hot water and place them on top of the jars. Screw the lids on, and then leave the jars sitting where they are until they have sealed. Over the next hour or so you should hear the tell-tale pinging sound that indicates that the jars have sealed. If the jars have sealed properly the lid should be slightly concave, and will not bend when you push down on it; any jars that haven’t sealed properly can be stored in the fridge or freezer. The other jars can be kept in a cool cupboard for a few years.
Sumac is one of my very favourite spices because it adds a nice bit of lemony flavour. I use it mainly in Middle Eastern dishes, for example this salad, or just sprinkled on top of some yogurt cheese or roasted cauliflower.
Only recently did I discover that we have sumac growing right here in Vancouver! And only a block away from my place I was able to find a tree to forage from. Sumac also grows in other parts of Canada and the United States, not to be confused with poison sumac (you really can’t mix these two up when you look at the pictures.)
Now is the time to harvest, and maybe for the next few weeks as well.
This is one of the easiest recipes I will ever post. Harvest, boil water, pour the water over the sumac buds and let it sit for about 10 minutes. You can certainly sweeten it with honey or another sweetener, but I found it was tart but not too sour to drink without sweetener. It is really refreshing when served ice cold, and would probably make a nice base for a cocktail.
I’d love to hear about things you’ve done with foraged sumac – I’ve heard of making syrup, and drying the sumac, but I’ve not tried these. Please let me know if you have!
My community garden plot is bursting with rhubarb, so I’ve harvested it and am looking for new ways to use it. I came across this recipe for a rhubarb liqueur, so I thought I’d give it a try. Last year’s blackberry liqueur was a big hit at my 50th birthday party (what? in my soul I’m 34), so I thought maybe this could be the next big hit.
I halved the recipe to make just one jar of liqueur. The only other thing I changed was to make a slit down each rhubarb stalk, because I thought that would help the rhubarby-ness meld with the vodka-ness.
This is the first time I’ve posted a recipe before tasting the end result and getting a thumbs up from at least one other person. But . . . it takes six weeks to taste the results of this one, so I thought I’d just go ahead and post it now during rhubarb season in case anyone wants to try it out alongside me. And in six weeks or so I’ll post the results, hopefully with a new cocktail recipe. Please let me know if you try it – I’d love to hear how it works out for you!
You might notice that the rhubarb in my picture isn’t particularly red – if you have rhubarb that is redder, is is preferable for this recipe. The liqueur will take on a pretty red colour that way. So mine might not look as pretty, but I’m sure it will be super tasty!
What you need:
1 lb rhubarb
5cm long chunk of fresh ginger
the peels of two oranges
750mL vodka (I used Stolichnaya)
(to be added in in 6 weeks) – simple syrup: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water
What you do:
Cut the rhubarb stalks into lengths that will fit in a 1 litre canning jar. Place the rhubarb in the jar.
Cut the ginger into smaller pieces and add them to the jar.
Use a vegetable peeler to cut the peels off the oranges, using only the outer orange part. Add these to the jar.
Add as much vodka as you can fit in the jar, completely covering the rhubarb. My recipe used pretty much the whole bottle.
Screw the lid onto the jar, then store it in a cool dark place for about six weeks. Every few days give the jar a shake, turning it upside down.
After the six weeks are up, make a simple syrup. Just heat the water and sugar to boiling, and let it cool before using.
Strain the contents of the jar through cheesecloth, returning the liquid to the jar.
Add simple syrup to taste. Remember, you can always add more simple syrup later on if you find it is not sweet enough.
Bottle the liqueur into smaller decorative bottles, or just use some canning jars for this.
Use in cocktails, or just add it to some sparkling water.
Yum yum! These tender lamb chops are so delicious, plus super quick! They can be grilled or pan-fried, depending on what you have available. I love the combination of garlic, rosemary, dijon, and a bit of vinegar to bring a ton of flavour to these. For this dinner I made some grilled zucchini, and grilled new carrots with a maple glaze. This recipe is one of my own and changes a bit each time I make it; feel free to adapt.
This dish requires little prep, with big results. You just need to prep the mustard sauce before grilling. Plus figure out what else to serve with it. Another nice side dish idea is barbecued skewered baby potatoes, which cook really quickly.
For the lamb I bought a whole rack of lamb and cut it up. This was more cost efficient where I was shopping. You can often by lamb chops pre-cut, so I would plan on two per person, or more if you are feeding big meat eaters.
This recipe is based on 4-6 chops, and the amount of each ingredient can vary depending on your preference. One thing that I think is really important is to use fresh rosemary; the flavour is much brighter than the dried version. If you don’t have fresh rosemary, you probably have a neighbour who does, so you may not have to go buy it.
I like a bit more browning on my meat, therefore I add the mustard sauce after I’ve grilled one side. And alternative is to add a little more vinegar and maybe some olive oil to the mustard sauce, and marinate the lamb in that before grilling. If you try that, please let me know how you liked it!
What you need:
lamb chops, salted
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
freshly ground pepper
salt to taste
if you are not grilling you can use 1-2 teaspoons olive oil in a frying pan
What you do:
Prepare the dijon sauce by combining all the ingredients listed, minus the lamb and cooking oil. I like to do this with a mortar and pestle.
Prepare your side dishes. The cooking of the lamb will only take a few moments. Heat your bbq or frying pan to medium-high.
When the bbq or your frying pan is hot, place the chops on the grill/oiled pan. I like mine on the rarer side, so I do about 2 minutes on the first side, making sure I get a good sizzle on them before turning.
Flip the chops, then top them each with some of the mustard sauce. Cook 2-3 minutes on this side, depending on how well you like them done, and how hot your bbq is.
Flip them over one more time so that the sauced side gets some heat, then remove to a plate and let them rest a few minutes before serving.
If I’m frying I like to deglaze the pan with a bit of wine or water, and pour this thick sauce over the chops.
This flame-roasted tomato salsa is excellent any time of year, even in the cooler seasons when it is challenging to access super tasty tomatoes. It’s really easy to whip up, but you do need to plan ahead so that you will have some roasted garlic on hand. I’ve started roasting a bunch of garlic bulbs and freezing them so I can make this awesome salsa anytime I want. I have served it with tortilla chips, but my favourite way to eat it is on beans and rice.
Recently I’ve been buying a lot of the Las Margaritas fresh salsa – it is just so good! But I can only find it in one store, and it is often sold out. So the difficulty finding it, combined with the nearly $8.00 price tag, made me start looking for a way to make it at home.
And . . . I found it! In the Thug Kitchen Cookbook! Yay!
I only made one change to the recipe, and it was a tiny one. I used sweet onions, and typically use them in all my recipes that call for onion because they don’t make me cry as much, plus I think they taste better. The most recent time I made this salsa I didn’t have any green onions, and it was still really good without them.
Friends have been encouraging me to share some of my simple, go-to recipes. I often don’t think of them as a recipe, because it’s something I throw together based on what I happen to find in the fridge.
Today I had some leftover avocado, leftovers of a gorgeous fire-roasted tomato salsa (recipe to come soon!), and some sourdough bread. Although the rest of the continent seems to have eaten a lot of avocado toast, I had not until today!
The hardest part of this recipe is buying the perfectly ripe avocado.
I also made a sunny-side-up egg so I could dip the toast in the egg yolks – mmm good!
What you need:
a slice of bread – I used sourdough
half an avocado
your favourite salsa
hot sauce (optional)
What you do:
Mash the avocado up with a fork. Add a bit of salsa and mix it in.
Toast the bread. Top it with the avocado and hot sauce.
This week I bought an Instant Pot, so I’m now busy trying recipes to get a sense of how it works. I’ve tried out a few recipes, and I’m learning how to tweak them in ways that I enjoy. You can totally make this in a pot on your stove too!
This one is a delicious winner! It has a nice creamy texture and lovely flavours of mushroom, white wine, butter and olive oil. So nice on a piece of toasted bread or crostini! It satisfies those umami cravings. For me this was a part of a picnic spread of cheese, mushroom pate, bean salad, and some veggies.
I made a few changes to the original recipe: In my instructions I have clarified a few details that were not well-described in the Instant Pot Recipe Booklet, and some that were omitted. I used a combination of dried mushrooms instead of just porcini. I also cooked off some of the moisture after pressure cooking because it seemed to liquidy. I added pepper at the end instead of before cooking (I think cooked pepper tastes more butter), and I topped up the liquid in the dried mushrooms with white wine instead of water – yum! I transferred my mushroom mixture to a food processor instead of using an immersion blender because I wanted to make sure I had a really creamy paté; I’m sure the immersion blender does a nice job too – and who doesn’t love fewer dishes!!! I also used a high quality olive oil to add in the last stage. I might also drizzle some on the top in the future!
Next time I will add a sprig of rosemary to the pot before it cooks – doesn’t that sound delicious?
The recipe serves 4-6 people. Or two. If you are self-isolating or just selfish.
What you need:
3/4 cup dried mushrooms, rinsed
1 tablespoon butter (use olive oil for vegan recipe)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, sliced
500 grams (1 lb) cremini or white button mushrooms (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup dry white wine (plus a little more)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
freshly cracked pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons good quality Parmesan cheese, finely grated (use vegan Parmesan for vegan recipe)
What you do:
Place the dry mushrooms in a measuring cup. Pour boiling water over them until it reaches just over 3/4 cup. Push the mushrooms down, then put a tight lid or plastic wrap over the measuring cup.
Slice the shallots and mushrooms.
Add the olive oil and butter to the Instant Pot, then sauté the shallots for a minute. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until they are golden brown (mine didn’t get golden, and it was awesome anyways).
Pour the 1/4 cup wine in and allow to evaporate.
Add the mushrooms and their soaking liquid, along with an extra splash of wine. Add the salt and bay leaf.
Close and lock the lid, and then set the Pressure Cooker to 12 minutes. When the time is up, use the Quick Pressure Release.
At this point I sautéd off a bit of the liquid – you can decide if you think this is necessary. Discard the bay leaf.
Once slightly cooled, add the cracked pepper and Parmesan cheese. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend until smooth.
“These are the best muffins I have ever had,” is how my guy responded to these blueberry muffins. They might not look like the best blueberry muffins, but they are! They are really light and fluffy, with a hit of lemon and a crunchy cap. The trick to successful muffins is not over-mixing the batter, which will cause you to have a dense muffin. Another trick – bake them as soon as the batter is in the muffin tins so they don’t lose any of their leavening.
I made a few minor changes to this recipe: I used the zest of a whole lemon instead of half, and I added the baking powder and baking soda a bit later in the process to avoid over-mixing it. For the Turbinado sugar topping I used a bit less than the suggested 3 tablespoons, and it still gave a nice crunch.
If you are using frozen blueberries you should leave them in the freezer until you are ready to add them.
Makes 9 muffins. They are the very best the day they come out of the oven, but warmed up with a bit of butter in the next few days they were quite good too.
What you need:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
zest from 1/2 a lemon (finely grated, only the yellow outer peel)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg
1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/4 to 1 & 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
3 tablespoons Turbinado (sugar in the raw) sugar
What you do:
Prepare your muffin tins by lining 9 of them with paper liners, and then spray them with baking spray. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Melt the butter then pour it into a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar, lemon zest, yogurt and egg until smooth.
My method of adding the dry ingredients goes like this: add one cup of the flour and stir it in until there are still some clumps. Now combine the remaining half cup of flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Very lightly fold this mixture into the batter, until it it is mostly mixed, with a few lumps.
Fold the berries as little as possible. You should now have a very thick batter, especially if you just added frozen berries.
Divide the better between the 9 muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of Turbinado sugar.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. I started watching mine after 20 minutes (my oven is a little wacky, and it is difficult to keep a steady temperature.) The muffins will look golden when they are done. Test them by inserting a toothpick in the middle; if there is any batter sticking to the toothpick let them bake a few minutes longer.
Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack.
The other day my sister was lamenting the fact that Terra breads had closed during the pandemic because she was craving their fig and anise bread. So I said, “Why not bake it yourself?”
My sister wasn’t really into that idea, so I decided to give it a whirl, and it ended up being quite awesome!
I used my super easy no-knead bread recipe, and added figs and aniseeds to it. It was really delicious, and I only made one modification to my first try – more aniseeds. I thought that one tablespoon would have been more than enough, but it was actually quite a mild flavour. So I upped the amount in the next batch.
After I made the bread, my guy was quite jealous that it was going to my sister, so I ended up cutting off a portion for him – gotta try to please everybody! I have more friends who are fanatics about this bread, so I look forward to making more loaves to share with them.
If you give this recipe a try, please do let me know in the comments if you enjoyed it! The comments let me know if there’s anybody out there who is interested in my recipes.
This bread is lovely with a little bit of butter, cream cheese or goat’s cheese.
3/4 cup dark rye flour (or whole wheat, or only white flour if that’s what you have)
2 & 1/4 cups white flour
1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 & 1/2 tablespoons whole aniseed
1 cup chopped dried figs
1 & 1/2 cups room temperature water
What you do:
Combine the flours, salt, yeast and aniseeds in a large bowl and mix them together. Add the water and mix it in with a spoon, adding the figs part way through the mixing. You will end up with a shaggy, sticky dough.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and let sit for 12-18 hours in a warm-ish place, and out of direct sunlight. The dough should about double in size and become dotted with bubbles. If your house is a little on the cooler side you will likely need the longer rising time.
Cut a large piece of parchment paper and place it on a countertop where it can sit undisturbed. Coat the parchment paper with a bit of oil using your hands, then turn the dough out onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour. Cover the dough loosely with some plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let the dough sit for 1-2 hours, until it has doubled in volume.
About 1/2 an hour before you want to put the bread in the oven, set the temperature to 475°F and place your baking pot on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Let the pot heat up, and when the oven has reached 475°F, remove the pot from the oven. Pick up the dough by gathering together the corners of the parchment paper. Carefully (remember the pot is smoking hot!) place the dough (still on the parchment paper) into the pot. I cut away any really long bits of parchment that are sticking out of the pot.
Put the cover on the pot and bake for 30 minutes while the bread forms its nice thick crust. Remove the lid from the pot and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes more. The bread should become a deep brown when it is done, and if you tap on it, it should sound hollow. Remove the pot from the oven, lift the bread out of the pot, remove the parchment paper, and place the loaf on a rack to cool. It needs to cool for about 1/2 an hour before slicing.