Canadian Spirit [Clementine Collins]


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Filling our liquor cabinet with Canadian products has been something I’ve wanted to do for some time. Though we have some favourites that we simply can’t live without, like our beloved Kracken or Mount Gay Rum, it’s been deliciously fascinating tasting the best of what our national distillers have on offer. In the last two weeks I’ve picked up bottles of Dillon’s {Niagara region} White Rye (100% Canadian Rye without age in the wood) & Unfiltered Gin (crafted in a copper pot still by passing vapour through 22 botanicals), Collingwood Whiskey {Collingwood, Ontario} that, while smooth, toasty and flavourful on the rocks, blends beautifully with an organic apple cider for a cozy little evening sipper, Still Waters Distillery Single Malt Vodka made from 100% malted barley, that makes a smooth, almost buttery Martini, and lastly, the gin used in the cocktail I wanted to share with you today, Ungava Canadian Gin

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Ungava, an inuit word meaning “towards the open water” is crafted in the Ungava peninsula at the northern tip of Quebec. The particular climate in this area produces six rare botanicals that give this almost neon yellow gin its very unique aroma and colouring. I was hooked from the first whiff of fragrant, floral, earthy vapours wafting from the opened bottle and fell even harder as I sipped the gin straight and tasted what I’m not typically accustomed to from my bottle of “what’s-on-sale” gin. BIG flavour. Flavour that floods your mouth and lingers a while so you can almost taste all of those carefully selected botanicals. I highly suggest you chase down a bottle of this liquid gold. Especially if you’re interested in the cocktail we’re talking about today. It pairs wonderfully with sweet, juicy clementines and the kick of puckering tartness from the lemon. 

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makes 2 cocktails

The egg white here gives the cocktail a lovely frothy top. You can’t taste it at all so don’t be worried about that. If you’re concerned about raw egg, you can leave it out. 

3oz Ungava Gin (or other high-quality gin of your choosing)
juice from 2 clementines
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp raw sugar
1/2 egg white
club soda or tonic water
lemon or clemetine slices, for garnish
Place first 4 ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Fill 2 tall glasses with crushed ice and top with cocktail mixture. Top with club soda or tonic water. 

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You Need a Snack [Blackberry Sour Cream Bran Muffins]

Sometimes you just need a small bite. Something to tame the angry gut-beasts during the day, enough to keep you going from breakfast to lunch, lunch to dinner. Snacks are up there on my list of extremely-necessary-things-to-make-it-through-the-day-without-killing-people. It’s in your best interest that I snack, and when I do, it has to be delicious. 

These muffins provide just that. Filling, not cloyingly sweet, but just enough honey to feel like you’re getting a treat. Full of toothsome wheat bran, oats and warm spices and bursting with oozy pockets of blackberry and a slight tang from the Greek yogurt and sour cream, they’re as delicious as they are full of goodness. And they make a great snack at any time of the day…especially when you slather them with a little salty butter if you’re not overly concerned with a little extra fat. 

Blackberry Sour Cream Bran Muffins
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa
makes 1 dozen muffins

If you don’t like the idea of sour cream, you can do a full cup of Greek yogurt instead. It does provide a really lovely tang, though, so don’t knock it until you try it. 

If you added a handful of dark chocolate chips, I wouldn’t be mad at you. 

DRY
1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups wheatbran
1/2 cup quick cooking oats (or whole oats whizzed in the food processor until crumbly)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt

WET
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/2 - 3/4 cups honey (I used 3/4 cup but I wanted them a touch sweeter)
1 tbsp molasses
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped blackberries
brown or turbinado sugar, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Line a 12-muffin tin with paper or parchment muffin wrappers. 

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Set aside. 

In a smaller bowl, add the the wet ingredients and whisk them together until well combined. Fold the wet into the dry ingredients until just combined and no pockets of flour remain. Fold in the chopped blackberries. 

Fill muffin trays 3/4 of the way and sprinkle with a little brown or turbinado sugar. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. 



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There Are Bagels At Hand [Montreal-Style Bagels]

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…with cream cheese and lox. 
…with fresh butter and kosher salt.
…with avocado, lime and manchego. 
…with a fried egg and arugula.
…with melted cheddar and a few drops of Worcestershire…

…but that’s just me. What do you take on your bagel? I sooner ask that than what type of bagel you prefer to maw on since that’s a conversation that could turn allies into foes and leave families across the continent irreparably broken. This may sound a touch dramatic to you, but for so many people I’ve come across, specifically those who live or have lived in Montreal, there are only two answers to this question. Fairmont or St Viateur. And the rivalry runs deep. Residents of Montreal take immeasurable pride in their bagels. So what could make one so different than the other, you might be thinking. The difference, really, is that the Fairmont bagel (or bay-gal, if you’d like to say it in the mother tongue), is a touch sweeter, making the rivalry sound like much ado about nothing. What it really comes down to is loyalty. Both locations are but a few blocks from each other so going to one rather than the other is less out of convenience, more out of devotion. 

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Admittedly, I’ve never had a Montreal bay-gal fresh from the wood oven. {I’ll wait for the collective gasps to die down}. I have, however, enjoyed them at our local Montreal-style bagel shop, Kettleman’s. I know the ecstasy only a piping hot, freshly baked bagel covered in toasty sesame seeds can bring. And thus, I decided it was time to learn. To go where many (wo)men have gone before, but a place that scared the bejesus out of me. Which is funny now that I’ve made 3 batches and am shocked at the ease with which these beauties can be made. You’re a measly 2 hours away from homemade bagels. MONTREAL-STYLE BAGELS! Let’s not even bother wasting more time talking. There are bagels at hand. 

Montreal Style Bagels
adapted from My Second Breakfast & NYTimes {MARCY GOLDMAN-POSLUNS}
makes 18 bagels

Ok, so obviously I don’t have a wood oven in my rental apartment. I’m sure you’re shocked. Though these won’t ever be exactly the same without that deep, smoky flavour…this is as good as it gets for a home-bagel. Unless you decide to use a barbecue or have a wood oven. In which case, you’re pretty awesome. 

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp (8oz, 1 packet) dry active yeast
1 tsp white sugar
2 tsp salt
3 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
4 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, divided

for boiling:
1/3 cup honey

1 cup sesame seeds 

Stir the warm water and yeast together in a small bowl. Let sit until frothy, 5-7 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, salt, oil, and honey and egg + yolk. Stir 1 cup of flour in until full incorporated. Add another 3 cups and stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. Dump bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding up to another 1/2 cup of flour if needed, for no less than 10 minutes. The dough should be extremely supple and smooth. Cover with an inverted bowl and let rise for 20 minutes. 

Divide dough into 18 equal portions. Stretch or gently roll, using finger tips, each portion of dough into an 8 inch rope and bring the ends together to form a circle. Pinch the ends together and then roll gently with the heal of your hand to seal. It’s important the ends are well secured otherwise they’ll open when boiling. Place bagels on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets and cover with a clean towel for 20 minutes. 

Pour the sesame seeds into a large shallow dish. 

While the bagels rise, bring 16 cups of water to a boil in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the baking soda and honey and turn down to a simmer. When ready, add the bagels 2 at a time to the simmering water. Let cook for 1 minute on each side. Remove with a deep-fryer spoon or slotted spatula/spoon, drag through the sesame seeds on both sides and place back on the baking sheet. Repeat with all bagels. 

Preheat oven to 500. Place 1 sheet of bagels in for 10-12 minutes or until starting to brown on the bottom. Flip bagels and cook for another 5-8 minutes, watching closely after 5 minutes so they don’t over cook. They should be golden brown. Serve warm with cream cheese, lox, tomatoes & bacon, or anything else your heart desires. 

Keep in airtight container in the fridge for 1 week. 

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Learning to Spice [Coconut Turmeric Basmati with Cashews]

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My spice cabinet is organized into three sections. The first being my every day favourites - cinnamon, cayenne, cardamom, cumin, oregano. The second are the spices I use often enough but don’t typically grab for first - curry powder, white pepper, allspice, chipotle powder, etc. The last houses the spices that I rarely use. The ones I just don’t really know well enough to know what to do with. Occasionally I take these out and devote some much needed time to experimenting and getting better acquainted.  

Turmeric is one from group three. I just don’t know it very well. I know it’s the same colour as curry powder and often I think my tongue is expecting it to taste like curry powder. It doesn’t. It is used to make curry powder, but it doesn’t have that toasty, bold, spicy flavour that you might expect it to. Turmeric is warm, slightly peppery and tastes slightly of orange and ginger. It adds the most brilliant golden colour to any dish, and I won’t even get started on the health benefits of this humble spice. 

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If you’re new to turmeric like me, here are a few recipes from my favourite people that might help you test the waters: 

1. Roasted carrots + rice w/ zingy turmeric broth from The First Mess
2. Turmeric Tea from 101Cookbooks
3.Cauliflower Steaks with Ginger, Turmeric, and Cumin from The Kitchn
4.Warm Salad of Roasted Turmeric-Chili Chickpeas + Pear from Dolly and Oatmeal
5. Immune Boosting Turmeric Lassi from Green Kitchen Stories

It’s worth noting that The First Mess, one of my absolutely-must-read-as-often-as-possible favourites, was the inspiration for getting better acquainted with turmeric. Laura uses a lot of turmeric in her cooking and I always marvel at how beautiful the finished plates look. She seems to have a knack for creating dishes that you can almost taste through the screen. Always bursting with brightness and vibrant colour, plentiful in warm spices, and crunchy toppings. This leek, fennel, apple + walnut soup with turmeric is next on my turmeric to-do list. A total home run, right?! 

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Coconut Turmeric Basmati with Cashews
serves 6 as sides, 4 as main

Admittedly, I ate 2 massive portions of this rice because it was that tasty. It’s warm and fragrant, rich and comforting, and boasts such a stunning shade of yellow. 

vegetable or coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced or sliced thin
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, divided into two 1/2 cup portions
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 cups brown basmati rice
1/4 cup crushed cashews, toasted
scallions, to garnish
lime wedges, to garnish

Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and saute for 3-5 minutes or until softened and just starting to turn golden around the edges. Add in the ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon and cayenne and cook for another 2 minutes to wake up the spices. Pour in the water and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add the rice, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover leaving a small sliver open for steam to escape. Let simmer for 30-40 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and cover tightly for 20 minutes to steam. Fluff with a fork. 

Serve garnished with cashews, extra 1/2 cup of coconut flakes, scallions and a lime wedge. 

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To Warm Our Tummies [Roasted Pear and Apple Sauce with Whiskey and Brown Butter]

Our tummies have been craving warmth lately. Bowls of soup so scorching the billowing steam is almost opaque, cups of coffee that turn the tough skin of our fingers pink while cradling the mug from table to lips, spoon-hugging chili with a heavy-handed spatter of spice that causes the skin of my eyelids to sweat and this, pear and apple sauce. Right off the stove, foolishly, so it sears the skin of our throats as it goes down.  

This is the stuff of dreams. The type of treat you wait until no one is looking and lick the sides of the bowl. It has a texture similar to the Mott’s Applesauce of my childhood, but boasts a flavour far more mature. The fruit, roasted in a mixture of brown sugar and warm spices, develops a nutty caramelization around the edges that gives the sauce such a brilliant richness. Of course, the addition of fragrant brown butter and smooth, woodsy whiskey doesn’t hurt either. A hit of lemon balances everything out so it isn’t so rich you can only handle one bite. 

Using a mixture of pears and apples, especially the sad bruised ones you won’t eat, ensures a nice round flavor. I used gala, macintosh, and empire apples and d’anjou and bosc pears. Feel free to use whatever you have so long as it’s good and (borderline over) ripe. 

Roasted Pear and Apple Sauce with Whiskey and Brown Butter
makes about 5-6 cups

I like adding milk to my sauce because it makes it tastes richer and lingers a bit on the tongue. Feel free to use cider or water in it’s place if you’d like. 


3lbs mixed apples and pears, sliced in half + cored 

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
1/8 tsp nutmeg

3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp Canadian whiskey
1 tbsp lemon juice
pinch sea salt

1/3 cup 2% milk

To garnish
toasted pepitas
brown sugar
cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Place sliced + cored pears/apples on a high-sided baking sheet or roasting pan cut side up. Sprinkle with brown sugar and spices and pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until a knife goes easily through the center of the fruit. 

While the apples and pears roast, place the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Let cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until butter is brown and nutty. Pay close attention so it doesn’t burn. There should be golden flecks of milk solids - that’s where all the flavour lives! Once it’s golden brown and fragrant, pour in the whiskey, lemon juice and salt and swirl everything around a bit to combine. 

Place the roasted fruit (skins and all), the butter/whiskey mixture and the milk into the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until smooth (or less if you prefer it chunky). Serve with toasted pepitas and extra cinnamon/brown sugar if you’d like. 

 

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Worth a Mess [Broccoli-Lemon Gnocchi with Chili Brown Butter]

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I’ve had my fingers in a lot of bowls this week. Experimenting, creating and cleaning. Experimenting, eating, cleaning. Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Eating, eating, eating. 

I’ve been unduly fortunate to have a week to myself, to do with what I please. And what I please usually involves making a mess. Especially in the case of these gnocchi. I don’t know about your gnocchi process, but mine always creates a lot of mess. Mess that is, without any question, worth it once your teeth descend into the pillowy little bundles of savory joy. These are worth it. Worth a mess, worth the time, worth finding the perfect hiding space so your boyfriend can’t find them. That last one is important if you’re a jerk like me. But in that case, a jerk with lots of gnocchi, you’ll be. And ask yourself, is that really so bad? 

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Broccoli-Lemon Gnocchi with Chili Brown Butter
adapted from Local Kitchen Blog
makes 40-50 gnocchi

1 1/2 cups good-quality Ricotta (strain if it’s got excess moisture)
1 egg
1 tsp sea salt
fresh ground pepper
pinch nutmeg
zest from 1/2 lemon
1 heaping cup finely diced broccoli florets
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 - 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
whole broccoli florets
Parmesan, for garnish
lemon wedges, for garnish

In a bowl, vigorously whisk together the ricotta, egg, salt and pepper until shiny and smooth. Add in the nutmeg, lemon zest, broccoli florets and Parmesan and whisk to combine. Add in half the flour and fold together. Add the rest, slowly, while mixing and folding, until a sticky dough forms. Dump onto a well-floured surface and knead gently until dough is uniform. It should still be a bit sticky. Divide dough into 4 portions and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

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Remove 1 portion at a time and use your finger tips to roll the dough portion into a finger-width rope. Use a light touch and encourage the dough to lengthen by spreading your fingers as you’re rolling it out. Use a very gentle touch as you don’t want to squish the dough, you want pillowy gnocchi. Once finger-width, cut the rope into 1” sections. Place on a parchment-lined, flour-dusted baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Repeat with remaining sections. Shape by quickly pressing against a gnocchi board or the back of a fork. Good gnocchi groves means more potential to catch sauce - something worth noting! 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add about 8-10 (one layer) gnocchi at a time. They will sink to the bottom. When they rise to the top, they are ready. Place on a paper towel lined baking sheet and cover with damp towel. Repeat until all gnocchi are cooked.  

Add butter, pinch salt and chili flakes to a large skillet over med-high heat. Melt, swirling the pan until foam subsides and there are golden flecks in the butter (5-6 minutes). Add in the broccoli florets and 1/4-1/2 of the gnocchi and cook, tossing occasionally, until gnocchi are golden brown in spots and broccoli is cooked but still bright green. Serve with extra Parmesan and lemon wedges. 

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Moving On [Kale and Romano Ricotta Waffles with Cayenne Honey]


Today, I am celebrating. A fresh start, a new career, a life more focused on the things I love. It’s exciting and terrifying and makes me fell alive like only the threat of failing can. 

Monday was my last day sitting at a desk. No more taking meetings, compiling reports and invoices, wearing itchy tights and uncomfortable shoes, feeling down and out about what the hell I’m doing with my life (note: I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing with my life…but I don’t feel down or out about it). It’s time to move on, time to switch it up. And I do so with utter relief and confidence that it was the right move for me, for right now. 

I’ll be working full time at Seed to Sausage, a small-scale, family-run artisan cured meat shop of which I’ve been a loyal customer for years. I’ve written about them before, but to keep this quick and spare you the fan-girl gushing, Seed to Sausage makes incredible cured, fresh and fermented meats. From the sopressata that I go out of my way to find each week, to the jalapeno-cheese curd smokies, the 80 day dry-aged beef to the chorizo that tingles the sides of your tongue with numbing heat. If they make it, people will come… by the throngs I’ve noticed. Something that immediately struck me about this company was their determination to maintain a transparency in their business. This
 determination seems to have forged a stronger trust between business and consumer - something undeniably lacking from many food retailers these days. I’m elated to be working for them, to learn from them and to hopefully form a better understanding of this industry. If you’re in the Ottawa area, come and see me and let’s bond over sausage, ok? Amazing. 

This coming Saturday is my birthday and since it’s so close to this big life change, I wanted to treat myself to a little something that said “damn girl, good for you” (I actually said that to myself as I lowered the lid on my first batch of waffles). A waffle maker! WAFFLES! I LOVE WAFFLES OH MY GOD HOLY SHIT I LOVE WAFFLES. So yea, I bought myself one. And in the 24 hours that I’ve owned this waffle maker, I’ve turned out over 2 dozen of the fluffy little buggers. The first, an earthy Yeasted Rye and Seed Waffle with plenty of sweet, slighty medicinal cardamom and the second, these Winners with a capital W. Unhealthy obsession begins now. I’m already planning dark chocolate waffles, sweet potato waffles, preztel waffles. I’m literally shaking thinking of all the possibilities to cram between those non-stick panels. Don’t be alarmed if the next 10 posts are all waffles. WAFFLES. Let’s say it one more time for good measure. WAFFLES! 

Kale and Romano Ricotta Waffles with Cayenne Honey
adapted from Food Network
makes 6-8 waffles

You may feel a bit weirded out at the idea of putting honey over these savory waffles, but you must. I promise you won’t be disappointed. The sweet/savory balance is out of this world. I also feel like it really brings out the nutmeg flavour, but maybe I’m just mad from too many hours standing in front of a waffle maker. Either way, cayenne honey. You must do it. 

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
few generous pinches cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg (small pinch)

1 cup extra smooth ricotta
2 large eggs
1 1/2 - 2 cups milk
4 tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup finely diced pecorino Romano

Cayenne Honey
1/2 cup honey
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on spice tolerance)
pinch salt

To serve:

Scallions
Butter

Whisk together the flour, baking powder + soda, salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the ricotta and eggs until smooth and shiny. Add the milk and butter and stir to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until no flour remains. Fold in the kale and romano. 

For my waffle maker, I spooned about 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp of batter per waffle and cooked for about 7 minutes. Read your waffle maker instructions to be sure this is the correct method for yours. 

While the waffles baker, warm the honey and cayenne in a small sauce-pot over low heat. It shouldn’t boil or simmer, you just want to warm it through. 

Serve waffles hot with butter, a sprinkle of scallions and a drizzle of warm cayenne honey. 

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My Ally [Chocolate Chip Brownie Pancakes]

I can be difficult. Frequently moody, sour and callous. I can be anti-social (read: crusty), nit-picky, sharp-tongued and straight up cold at times. I would have to think twice about dating myself, let’s be clear on that. 

Despite those flaws, I managed to find a man who loves me. He is the sunniest part of my day, continuing to smile when I have nothing but a frown to offer. He let’s me be. Allows me to sit in the silence I hunger for so often while he sits, silent, by my side. I can ask him for anything at any time, a
nything, knowing he won’t sigh or roll his eyes at the idiocy of my requests. He simply smiles and says, "of course". When I feel dark, he’s the light. In every sadness, he’s my joy. His love is everything and I’m so lucky to know him, to have the gift of his friendship, and to call him mine. Olive you, my Ally. 

I realize It’s not Valentines Day yet, but I wanted to get these out sooner than later so you could whip them up for the person(s) you love most.

Chocolate Chip Brownie Pancakes
adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie
makes 6-8 mini pancakes

These are decadent, rich and delicious. Pass up the box of chocolates and head for a plate of these instead - I promise your valentine will be thrilled with your brilliance and adeptness in the kitchen and you might even get to steal a bite.

Use spelt flour in place of AP flour to make these gluten free. 

1/2 cup whole wheat or AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cane or brown sugar
4 tbsp cocoa powder (I use Camino Natural Cocoa Powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp vegetable oil or melted butter
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp milk of your choice
handful dark or semisweet chocolate chips
vegetable oil, for frying

to serve: 

maple syrup
cocoa powder

Whisk all dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry, add the chocolate chips and whisk just to combine, it’s OK if there are some lumps. Pour a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil into a non-stick skillet and bring to medium-high heat. Pour about 2 heaping tablespoons into the pan and cook until bubbles start appearing towards the center of the pancake. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Repeat until no batter remains. Makes approximately 6-8 pancakes. 

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Day Drunk in Pajamas [Blushing Bourbon]

There has been a hefty amount of luxuriating and reveling in our apartment the last month. First we were in a pre-vacation state of mine, assuring each other that it was totally OK to be checked-out [“we’re already on vacation!”]. Next, we were in Puerto Rico lazing about by the ocean, sipping white wine and reading [Dear Diary - go read it NOW], hurling our bodies around a tiny foam orb over epic games of paddle ball (as athletic as we got), eating whatever-we-damned-well-pleased whenever-we-damned-well-pleased and slothing-out to the best of our capabilities. And then we came home. Back to the real life, we said. Back to stress and deadlines and business and no sleep. And yet, somethings haven’t quite come full circle.

My body is here in Ottawa. I’m sure of this by the layers of cotton and wool wrapped around me and the ever-ebbing flakes outside my window. Though it’s become apparent, still, that my mind has taken a sabbatical. Ground hog day comes to mind. Each day the same. A ceaseless string of extended sleeping hours, cotton accouterments, woolen blankets, cocktails at 2, dog walks at 3, dinners with friends, movies on the couch, slow-cooked meals and wine to end the evening. It sounds horrible, right? I know. I’m enjoying it while I can.

Real life, the real-real life, should be picking up again in the next couple weeks. I’ve been in an unfamiliar limbo that’s about to end as I start my new job and finally make that big uncomfortable leap that’s been creeping about in my gut for the last few weeks. I’m really looking forward to finding that routine and anchoring my life again. It’s lovely to be fancy free (/day drunk on a Tuesday in pajamas) and watch 4 movies a day, but a girl can get a bit stir crazy after a few weeks of that. Winter or not. 

This was one of our “cocktails at 2” from last week. It started as an experiment with the peach bitters I’d picked up but we were so smitten from the first sip that I decided I’d better make it again and write it down. It’s herbal and just barely sweet to balance the grapefruit with a rumble of throaty spice from the peppercorns, and just a bit of smokey caramel from the bourbon. Get it in you! 

Blushing Bourbon
serves 4

I used bourbon here, but I can’t help but wonder what they would be taste like with some Canadian whiskey. If you experiment, I’d love to hear about it! I also feel fairly confident that this would taste pretty killer blended up/frozen. Once the weather warms a little, we’ll give that a go.  

Grapefruit Peppercorn Simple Syrup
2 2” strips of grapefruit zest 
1 1/2 cups cane sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp peppercorns, crushed gently

For the cocktail:
crushed ice
4 oz good quality bourbon
peach bitters (I purchased Fee Brothers from Red Apron in Ottawa)
juice from 2 whole grapefruits
soda water

Pour the sugar, water, peppercorn and grapefruit zest into a saucepan over med-high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool completely so the flavours can hang out a bit. 

Fill 4 rocks glasses with crushed ice and pour 1oz of bourbon into each. Add a dash (1-2 drops) of peach bitters and 1-2 tbsp of the simple syrup into each glass. Divide the grapefruit juice evenly into the glasses and top with soda water. Stir and garnish with a brûléed grapefruit slice (or a regular grapefruit slice). 

Brûléed Grapefruit (for garnish - optional)
4 rounds of grapefruit (1/3” thick)
cane sugar

Turn oven on to broil and place a rack in the top third of the oven. Arrange grapefruit slices on a wire rack over a cookie-sheet and sprinkle each with about 1 tsp of sugar. Place rack into the oven under the broiler for 5-7 minutes or until charred and fragrant. You could also torch your grapefruit if you happen to have a torch laying around (please, for the love of god, be careful). I do, but don’t trust myself to use it without adult supervision. 

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The Whole Truth [Whole Wheat Double-Chocolate Avocado Muffins]

imageYou may think to yourself, while sifting through these pages, that I probably fancy my health a whole lot and go to great lengths keeping my body filled with whole grains and healthy fats and proteins and vitamins and all those wonderful things. 


That’s half true. The whole truth is that when things appear moderately healthy around here, it’s more than likely because I haven’t been to the store for butter or all purpose flour or cream or oil and need to find a way to make-do with what I have in the house. I’m a bit of a sham, I’m sorry to say. Such was the case with these muffins. They are better-for-you because I’m lazy, a sort of counterproductive situation.

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Thankfully, in my sloth-like state, I managed to pump out a really tasty muffin that’s butter free and better for you than most muffins you can buy out and about. The cane sugar could definitely be replaced with agave or maple syrup if you want to try and make these even healthier. As they are, these make for a moist and chocolatey muffin that you can feel better about cramming in your gob as you run out the door or enjoy your evening cup of tea. 


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Whole Wheat Double-Chocolate Avocado Muffins

adapted from Call Me Cupcake
makes 12-15 muffins

The oats should be quick-cooking in these as they keep the mouthfeel more consistent with just a bit of chewiness. If you don’t have quick cooking oats, you can pulse whole oats in the blender/food processor a few times to break them down slightly. 

The chocolate square on top is optional, but it gives the muffin a sort of “icing” feel and the salt sticks really well to it. I would suggest if you want something a little more decadent. 


1 cup WW flour
1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup cane sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large avocado
1 1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)
2 eggs
1 cup 70% dark chocolate (chips or chopped)
1 tbsp grapefruit zest, optional
12 small squares of chocolate, to garnish (I used Green & Blacks because the squares are tiny)
sea salt, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, oats, cocoa, baking soda + powder, salt and sugar. In the bowl of a blender, process the avocado, milk and yogurt until smooth and creamy. Pour into a small bowl and whisk in the eggs. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined (there should be no pockets of dry ingredients). Fold in the chocolate and grapefruit zest, if using. 

Fill a 12 muffin try with liners and fill each 3/4 way. Top each with a square of chocolate. Pop in the oven for 18-20 minutes, checking after 15 to make sure they aren’t burning. Sprinkle each muffin with a little salt when they are right out of the oven. Repeat with any remaining batter. 

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