attack of the zucchinis

3 08 2009

The zucchinis are coming! The zucchinis are coming! In case you haven’t noticed… the zucchinis are most definitely coming. Have you got your battle plan ready? My plan included this awesomely delicious soup which I adapted from Epicurious. It is easy to make from entirely local ingredients (just omit the salt) or you can substitute the butter with oil for a vegan version if you prefer.

Zucchini Basil Soup

  • 2 lbs zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 cups of water (See notes)
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup of fresh basil
  • butter for frying
  • pinch of salt

Chop onions and garlic and cook in a large saucepan until softened. Add roughly chopped zucchini to pan and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add water – I used water that was leftover from boiling potatoes which gave the soup a much richer taste than tap water) and add salt. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Add basil and then puree the soup (be CAREFUL if you’re putting hot liquid in a blender – I prefer an immersion blender). And voila – a surprisingly creamy soup!


hello FLAVOUR!

17 06 2009

Well for all you Googlers who have been finding me with your rhubarb searches, I have yet another treat for you. If you like flavours with a tangy zing to them, then you will LOVE this recipe.

Gingered Rhubarb Jam

  • 4 cups sliced rhubarb (slice it thin but not superthin)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Be sure not to let the bottom of the pan burn. When the jam has thickened pour it into sterilized jars. Next, process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Then…  YUM, enjoy for breakfast and snacks!

them apples: take two

22 01 2009

So what to do with all those apples…? How about my favourite – the ever so easy apple crisp? Yes, in fact it’s SO easy, why am I even bothering to post a recipe for it? I mean, you could probably make apple crisp with your eyes CLOSED… right? Well that’s what I thought for years, having tossed away the recipe card for apple crisp sometime in my late teens. By then I was making it with one hand tied behind my back. And after that I graduated to TWO hands behind my back! I mean, come on, who REALLY needs an apple crisp recipe?!?

You do.

Yes. You need this recipe I am about to give you. You need it more than you know, because until you make it you will be missing out on the best darn apple crisp you have ever tasted.

Best Darn Apple Crisp (from one of my favourites The New Best Recipe)


  • 6 Tbsps all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
  • 5 Tbsps cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch squares
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts


  • 6 medium apples (The authors of TNBR recommend a mix of Granny Smith and McIntosh, but I’ve tried this dish with Ida Reds, Cortlands, McIntoshes… you name it)
  • 1.5 Tbsp of lemon juice (or for a little more LOCAL zing, substitute with apple cider vinegar – yowza!)
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Place the dry topping ingredients (not the nuts though) in a food processor and pulse briefly. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Add the nuts and pulse briefly a few more times. Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Quarter and core the apples – some people like to peel them as well, but I prefer to leave the skins on. Toss the apples with the sugar and the lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Put the mixture into an 8×8 inch square pan or a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle the topping evenly on top and place into the oven for 40 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

Enjoy with abandon because before you know it, it will all be gone. Thank goodness it’s so easy to make. You’ll be making it again and again and again!

Mother Hubbard

5 01 2009

It’s January and I am in HIBERNATION mode. This happens to me every January but this year it has hit me times TEN. Apparently that is what housing another being inside yours does to a person. (That and an almost obsessive urge to organize, clean, organize, clean, etc. But I digress…)

Hibernating for me means comfort food. Warm, solid, substantial comfort food. Unfortunately, I’ve been feeling a little tired in the kitchen lately. But I’ve discovered that not all comfort foods are labourious – like this winter squash recipe which I plan to make again and again.

Mashed Winter Squash with Roasted Garlic

  • 1 Winter Squash – like the beautiful Golden Hubbard above
  • 1 Whole Garlic Bulb – with outer layers peeled but skins left intact
  • Butter
  • Cream or whole milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Slice the tip of the garlic bulb, so that each clove has a tiny opening at the top. Place the bulb and the winter squash on a pan. Bake at 375F until the squash can be pierced easily. Don’t worry about the garlic. By the time the squash is ready, it will be too. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and peel.

Mash or purée the squash pulp. Add a little bit of butter (1-2 Tbsp, depending on size of the squash), a dollop of cream or milk and then squeeze the roasted garlic paste into the pulp. Mix well, add salt and pepper to taste and voilà – a dish that makes hibernation feel easy and delicious!

escape artists

15 09 2008

You KNOW it’s time to harvest your beets when they start pushing themselves out of your garden bed. This weekend I found several beets trying to make a break for it, but I’m pretty sure I corralled them all. And I’m so glad I did! I had meant to use a recipe for beet soup from Canadian Living magazine (they have awesome recipes on that site!). But when I got myself all set up in the kitchen , I realized that I was missing half the ingredients. And so I got creative. The result, I’m proud to say, was FANTASTIC. If you have any escape artists in your bed, I recommend you give this a try:

Gillian’s Beet Soup

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 medium-sized onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4-5 large beets with ends removed
  • 1 potato
  • 5 cups of water – maybe slightly more
  • ½ Tbsp ground coriander
  • 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • sour cream

Heat the butter – yes, I cook with butter! – to medium in a large saucepan. Chop the onions finely and fry them in the butter until softened. Mince the garlic and add to onions. Add coriander. Chop the beets and potato into smallish pieces. Add beets, potato and water. Cook until beets and potato are soft… probably about 15 minutes. Take half of the soup and blend it – if you’re not using a handheld blender, be very careful!! Hot soups can blow the lid off a blender if you try to blend too much at once. Don’t learn this lesson the way I did!!! Return the puree to the saucepan. Stir in vinegar and chopped parsley. Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream in each bowl.


catch up!

29 08 2008

Today marks the end of my peachy week. And I have saved the BEST recipe for last. This is a recipe that will make people arch their eyebrows when they first hear the name. But then when you serve them a bite, their eyes will widen with surprise and they will eagerly await a second bite. I say, hold off sharing that second bite unless you REALLY think they’re worth it. What is it, you ask? Tomato Peach Ketchup!!

I have trouble thinking of the word ketchup without picturing Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. If you don’t know why, well then… ketchup! Ohhh, I crack myself up… Anyways, my beloved wants me to change the name of this concoction. He says that it is most definitely not ketchup. I say it is what ketchup should have always been. HEY HEINZ – YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY KINDS!!!

I love to serve this ketchup with slices of old cheddar and some crisp crackers. I gave a jar to a friend and she poured some over a few chicken breasts and baked them with a thick slice of brie on top. It’s quite versatile, so be creative!

The recipe was given to me during a food preservation workshop held at the Urban Element cooking studio. Since then I’ve modified it some more. Don’t worry though – I didn’t mess with the acidity, so you should have no qualms about canning this ketchup and keeping it on your shelf.

Tomato Peach Ketchup

A warning first though, you will need a BIG pot to make this.

  • 12 1/2 lbs of peaches and tomatoes combined
  • 6 cups of cider vineagar
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 large ginger root finely grated
  • 2 tsp grated cloves

Chop the peaches and tomatoes. Combine everything in a large pot except the sugar. Simmer and reduce for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and cook for 15 minutes more. Pulse mixture briefly in a food processor until a desired consistency is reached – and be careful adding too much hot liquid in the food processor – it can blow the top off if there’s too much! Place misture in hards and process in a hot water bath for five minutes.

Happy Peaches!

the peaches continue…

27 08 2008

Today’s entry comes from The New Best Recipe cookbook. This cooking bible is written by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, who are quite simply awesome. They experiment with recipes like nobody’s business and then they write about all the different experiments and the results of each one – trust me, it’s fascinating and very educational. Hmm, maybe they’ve got a pie crust recipe in there…

Peach Cobbler


  • 2 ½ lbs ripe but firm peaches (6-7 medium peaches)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

Biscuit topping

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar, plus a little more for sprinkling
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt

Filling: Heat oven to 425. Peel and slice peaches. Gently toss peaches and sugar in a bowl. Let stand 30 minutes, tossing a few more times. Drain peaches into bowl. Whisk 1/4 cup of drained juice with cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Toss mixture with peaches and put into an 8 x 8 bakign dish. Bake until peaches begin to bubble around the edges – about 10 minutes.

Topping: While peaches are baking, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a food processor. (Warning – don’t start the topping early! The CI editors say so…) Scatter butter cubes and pulse until mixture has a coarse meal texture. Transfer to a bowl and add yogurt. Toss until a cohesive dough is formed but don’t overmix! The topping will be tough if you do. Break the dough into six evenly sized mounds.

When peaches are done, place the biscuit mounds over peaches and flatten slightly. The mounds shouldn’t touch each other – don’t ask me why. Sprinkle a little more sugar over the top and bake until the topping is golden brown – about 16-18 minutes.

Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream!