Read an Excerpt
Nice to Meet You
I know what you’re thinking: this book is crazy. Is it a gourmet cookbook or a comic strip? An entertaining guide or quick-eats tome? Actually, it’s all of the above and then some. And since this is my book, it’s also full of my personal favourites, which include fine French eats, streamlined Japanese vittles, as well as high-carb treats and low-cal faves. However, you will find no recipes containing pears, fennel, headcheese or any other oddly textured or licorice-flavoured foods, for I hate them. My book, my rules. Besides, I think you’re going to like things my way.
Take a read-through, enjoy the witty illustrations, get the lowdown on the different themes and see what piques your interest. Dog-ear recipes you might want to try later. Tear out any pages that don’t appeal to you and mail them to enemies. After you read the “I Burn Water” chapter and learn about what you need to buy and know to get going (not much!), call your mom – tell her you’re thinking about taking up cooking. Don’t get upset when she tells you to keep the phone numbers for fire, ambulance and poison control at the ready. She’s your mother – she worries about you!
This book is fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s not also a serious cookbook. This is where you’re going to learn how to roast a perfect chicken and side it with homemade cognac gravy. It is here that you shall master chocolate crème brûlée and corn fritters from scratch. Within these pages is everything you will need to know in order to mix the perfect cocktail and throw a dazzling party. Sweetpotato gnocchi? Mu shu vegetables? Indian butter chicken? Soon you’ll be able to say, Been there, done that. The origins of Cajun cooking? You’ll know soon enough. How to do trailer-livin’ right? That’s in here too. Recipes to stave off hunger, satiate cravings, save time, amaze family and friends. In. This. Book.
So what are you waiting for, a personalized invitation? Crack the spine and come on in. The cooking is fine.
SPICED MIXED OLIVES:
Ban the Martini! Free the Olive!
Serves a crowd
Is it just me, or are olives the bits ’n’ bites of the ’00s?
4 cups mixed good-quality olives, green ones, black ones, large and small, rinsed (available at most supermarket delis)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small lemon, cut into wedges and roughly chopped
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp crumbled dried
2 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Toss all ingredients together in a bowl and let sit at room temperature for a few hours.
Pour into a decorative bowl, with a side bowl for pits. Rustic-chic.
El Loco Snacko
Serves a crowd
If pairing sweet red pepper with smooth avocado, tart lime juice and zippy Jack cheese is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp minced fresh coriander
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 large avocado, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
10 8-inch flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 tbsp vegetable oil (approx)
1. In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese, red pepper, lime juice, sugar, coriander, jalapeño, avocado and green onions.
2. Spread a heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture on a tortilla. Top with an even sprinkling of shredded Monterey Jack cheese, then cover with another tortilla. Press down a bit so the two tortillas stick together, forming a quesadilla.
3. Preheat oven to 200°F.
4. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tsp oil over medium heat. Cook a quesadilla until golden on one side, then flip and do likewise on the other. Drain on paper towel, then place on a cookie sheet. Repeat until you have five gorgeous quesadillas. Keep warm on cookie sheets in the oven until your guests arrive.
Cut each quesadilla into four wedges and pile ’em high. A little salsa perfects this Mexican miracle.
WHITE CHOCOLATE BERRY TART:
It’s Not Really Chocolate, but I Still Call It Friend
I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, but this tart, inspired by a dessert from one of my favourite Italian restaurants in Toronto, changed my mind about the chocolate imposter. It doesn’t have the same effect on me as its dark kissing cousins, but it certainly satisfies a summertime sweet tooth.
25 social tea biscuits (approx)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, 1/2 cup melted and 1/4 cup at room temperature
1 lb white chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 pint fresh raspberries
Extra raspberries and whipped cream, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 10-inch ceramic tart pan or springform pan.
2. Pound tea biscuits into small crumbs by putting them in a plastic bag and crushing with a rolling pin or wine bottle, or pulse in a food processor. You should have 2 cups of crumbs. Stir in the melted butter and firmly pat into tart pan. Bake until lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool in pan.
3. In a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave, slowly melt white chocolate and remaining 1/4 cup butter together; stir in cream and vanilla, stirring until smooth and glossy – no lumps! Set aside to cool slightly.
4. Layer cooled tart crust with fresh raspberries, then pour white chocolate mixture over top. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, but better overnight.