from scratch

Most of the time I am a minimalist in the kitchen. I like recipes with a few good ingredients that really highlight each ingredient's flavour. I like vegetables straight from the garden and fruit straight from the tree. I like olive oil that tastes good enough to drink. This preference could explain why right now I am on a basics kick. My favourite recipes of the moment aren't really recipes; they are merely one or two lines of instructions that explain how to make things that we are in a habit of buying, things like flour, nut butter, dairy products (such as ricotta, creme fraiche and yogurt) and condiments. There is something immensely satisfying about making something from scratch. This is partly because you a) get to eat what you made, b) it tastes better and is healthier because of less ingredients, and c) you learn how truly simple most things are to make. That said, you could only imagine my excitement when the New York Times put up a D.I.Y. Cooking Handbook on their website. Needless to say, practically everything on the site is on my list of things to make (with kimchi and cultured butter at the top).

Nut butters are unbelievably simple to make. Talk about one or two lines of instructions: roast nuts and then blend in a blender, add oil if needed. Yes, that is it. Now go and make some almond butter. Eat it on toast, put it in smoothies, and whisk it into dipping sauces. This recipe also works for any kind of nut.

Almond Butter


1-2 cups almonds (or however much you wish to make)
1-2 tbsp neutral oil (unrefined vegetable, sunflower or safflower)
sea salt, if you wish

Preheat oven to 300F/150C. Evenly spread the almonds out on a baking sheet or baking pan. Roast for about 20 - 25 minutes, or until the skins crack. Remove from the oven and let cool. If you like chunky nut butter, grab a small handful of almonds, roughly chop and put to the side. Once almonds have cooled, throw them in a blender and blend until finely ground. Add oil and continue to blend until the almond butter is creamy. Mix in the chopped almonds, transfer to a jar and refrigerate.



eggs for easter

Growing up in Canada, I never took Easter very seriously as a cultural or a religious holiday. I took it seriously as a chocolate holiday. To me Easter meant chocolate and it still means chocolate. The only eggs I remember consuming en masse over the Easter weekend were chocolate eggs (preferably Cadbury mini eggs or Laura Secord large chocolate eggs with a sweet and creamy filling). As a child I hunted for them behind couches and underneath tables. As I grew up, I learned to wait for after Easter when all the chocolate goes on sale.

Sweden reminded me that Easter is not a chocolate holiday everywhere. Although the stores still have chocolate eggs, there is more emphasis on the non-chocolate type of eggs: chicken eggs. Being a lover of eggs, to this I have no objection. So to my annual tradition of eating chocolate over the Easter weekend, I have added eggs (the non-chocolate ones) as well.

Baked Eggs with Asparagus

adapted from Beatrice Peltre's recipe for the Boston Globe


fresh asparagus (preferably local and not the stuff grown in Peru), rough ends peeled off and cut into chunks
creme fraiche
organic eggs
ground cumin
freshly grated Pecorino Romano
a handful of mixed greens, roughly chopped
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Bring water to boil in a tea kettle. In a saucepan, bring salted water to a boil. Cook the asparagus for 1-2 minutes (depending on thickness). Drain and stop the cooking process by running the asparagus under cold water.

Set out as many ramekins/small baking dishes as eggs you wish to cook. Add a dollop of creme fraiche to each one. Then add the mixed greens, asparagus and cumin. Gently break an egg into each dish and season with sea salt, pepper and Pecorino Romano. Set the ramekins into a larger roasting pan and pour the boiling water around the sides so that the water comes halfway up the dishes. Bake until the whites are just firm to touch, about 12 minutes.



spring cravings

Sometimes simple is best. Now that the soil is fertile again in Europe my food cravings have shifted. I want vegetables. Simple vegetables. And lots of them. As much as I try (or aspire) to eat local, I have one addiction that Sweden (or anywhere I have lived thus far, for that matter) cannot satisfy: avocados. Although avocados are technically fruit, I am in the habit of considering them one with sweet potatoes, spinach, beets and other favourite vegetables. Plus, I am not too hung-up about labels.

In high school I used to eat avocados like apples. No, I did not peel them and bite around the pit. However, I did pack them on their own as a snack. No dressing, no seasoning, just avocados: I like them that much.

I admit that now I rarely eat a naked avocado. Lemon juice, sea salt, pepper and chili often accompany my avocados. And, as of late, I have discovered that they are just as versatile as they are delicious. Today I made an avocado and apple smoothie. The most recent Jamie Oliver magazine uses avocado to partially replace butter (read: less butter) in a recipe for ginger-spiced oatmeal cookies. My New Roots taught me that avocados can also be transformed into chocolate mousse. This little green fruit is a master of disguise.

But when not being used as a cooking fat or as dessert, avocados are still delicious simply on their own. One of my favourite ways to eat them is pureed on toast. This recipe is almost too simple to really count as a recipe; but, because this is the perfect breakfast or snack, it is still worth writing.

Avocado on Toast


1 ripe haas avocado
1 clove of garlic, peeled and cut in half
a splash of lemon juice
good extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
black pepper
red pepper flakes

good bread, toasted (sourdough is excellent, so is bread with sun-dried tomatoes and olives, as pictured,)

Mash the avocado flesh in a bowl roughly with a fork. Add a splash of lemon juice and some sea salt. Rub the toasted bread with the cut side of the garlic. Spread the avocado on the toast. Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top and season with black pepper and coarse sea salt. Drizzle toast with olive oil.




Even a short vacation makes me miss my kitchen. Okay, maybe not my kitchen per say. I don't want to sound too attached to/too domestic about my kitchen. I have had many kitchens and I am not picky about where I cook as long as there is a fresh herb plant or two and some good sea salt.

Scotland fed me some delicious meals, but the guesthouse where I stayed served a breakfast that was less delicious. The eggs were somewhere between poached and fried and I am certain that they were made in a microwave. Instead of fresh fruit, there was jam pretending to be yogurt. The coffee machine seemed to use the same off-grey liquid for both coffee and milk. As you know, I am a breakfast baby. My babchai taught me that it is for breakfast that one should wake up in the morning and I have taken this advice very seriously.

The past few days in Gothenburg I have been making up for a week of microwave eggs. I have been making pear and blueberry smoothies with almond butter, boiled eggs with lemon-chive dipping salt, and baked oatmeal.

Baked oatmeal is a nice change from oatmeal made on the stove-top. It is less mushy and the texture is slightly different. Like stove-top oatmeal, you can add any fruit or nuts you have in your kitchen. This recipe is for one. If you wish to double or triple it, you can add a lightly beaten egg to the oat mixture before baking.

Baked Oatmeal for One


1/2 cup rolled oats
pinch of sea salt
ground cinnamon
ground ginger
3/4 cup milk (dairy, soy or almond)
1 tbsp maple syrup
vanilla extract
almonds, slivered
dried cranberries (non-sweetened)
half a pear, cut into small pieces/matchsticks

a smudge of butter or coconut oil

Heat oven to 350F/180C. Grease a small ramekin with either butter or coconut oil. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and then spoon into ramekin. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with more milk if you wish.



breaking for tea

I begin each trip with a list of things to pack and I end each one with a list of foods to recreate. Scotland in April served me tea with fresh mint leaves and red, chili pepper. It teased me with cherry blossoms and green grass. Now I have not just spring on my mind, but also summer. My legs felt direct sunlight for the first time in months. I ate perfect scones and I tried pickled eggs for the first time. Below is a list of food ideas that I packed to bring back from my trip to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Not all are traditionally Scottish, but they are all highly inspiring.

  • home-made ginger beer
  • pickled eggs
  • fresh mint and chili pepper tea
  • the super salad from the Left Bank cafe
  • parsnip crisps with honey and salt and pepper
  • white bean and mushroom puree
  • beef sausage and onion gravy pie
  • sweet potato fries with an Asian marinade and sesame seeds with a cilantro dipping sauce
  • clotted cream
  • kidney bean and eggplant salad


the end of soup season

With the arrival of spring showers, I know that the season and that my food cravings have changed. However, tucked between days of rich sunshine and drinking coffee on patios, the temperature still drops. Soup is a winter staple, but it is also perfect for transition, weather days.

In the fall I visited a friend in Copenhagen who introduced me to the combination of butternut squash and pear. I have long been a believer that pear tastes good in almost everything (in pasta sauces with mushrooms, on pizza with caramelized onions and goat cheese, in salads with walnuts and blue cheese and in all types of cakes). Now I can add to that list: pear roasted with butternut squash and pureed into a soup.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup


1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 ripe pears, peeled and cubed
4-6 shallots, finely diced
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
dried chipotle, as little or as much as you prefer
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

pumpkin seeds
goat cheese
a drizzle of olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F/200C. On a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, combine the pears, squash, garlic and shallots. Drizzle with olive oil, dried chipotle, and salt and pepper and then toss to coat evenly. Roast for about 45 minutes to an hour until the squash is soft and everything begins to caramelize. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. While cooling, prepare the stock (bring water to a boil with bouillon cubes) and remove from heat.

In batches, blend butternut squash mixture in a blender with a few spoonfuls of stock. Blend until smooth and there are no more chunks. Pour puree into a large pot and add any of the remaining stock. Stir well to combine and reheat.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with crumbled goat cheese, pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of olive oil.



postcard from berlin II

I like live animals in museums; therefore, I was very excited to see Soma at the Hamburger Bahnhof this winter. After having spent the fall regularly at the Gothenburg Natural History Museum in staring contests with stuffed lions, it was refreshing to see live animals - as opposed to dead ones - in a museum context. The postcards from the exhibition weren't bad either.

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