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Soba Noodle Salad with Citrus and Ginger

Well friends, I’ve finally done it. Done that simple thing that nearly all the adults in the world can do, that, well,  most teenagers can do. That thing that I have been avoiding like the plague for over a decade.

I learnt to drive.

I spent the money, took the classes, practiced in our manual car, nearly broke up my pending nuptuals, but in some small miracle, I learnt how to drive.  I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself.

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Jordan however decided to celebrating by getting  a vicious flu. The kind that makes his workaholic self completely stop. He has probably slept for 20 of the last 24 hours.   I on the other hand, am currently spending most of my days mind-over-matter-ing it, in an attempt not to get what he’s getting. And to aid in my attempt to refuse to allow bacteria into my body, I’m also eating kind of insane amounts of vitamin C.

Not just vitamin C though, the internet has led me to believe that I need not only citrus in IV form, but also garlic, ginger, and spicy food. So here is the garlick-iest, ginger-iest, spiciest, and citrus-y salad you’ll ever need. It’s all the immune boosters in one so that we all don’t end up curled up in a ball watching terrible TV.  I for one like to be in fine form when I watch bad TV.

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spaghetti carbonara with poached eggs

Spaghetti Carbonara with Poached Eggs

I mentioned this in my last post, and I feel a bit weird about announcing it over the internet, but here goes: Over the holidays Jordan proposed, and I said yes.

It has been a magnificent couple of weeks, full of celebrating with friends and family. Jordan told me that the wedding is off if I go on a “wedding diet” and I assured him that it wouldn’t happen, because it can’t happen. Because everywhere I turn these days someone is pouring me a glass of bubbly, and then refilling it, and then refilling it again. Let me tell you friends, it is hard to stay sober when you’re recently engaged.

So this post is against all the new years resolutions, and against the very principle of a wedding diet, because it is hang-over food.

Spaghetti Carbonara, or “bacon and egg bascetti” as I used to call it when I was wee, it basically just that- bacon, eggs, parmesan, and loads of black pepper. You don’t need to cook the sauce, it cooks as the it’s tossed with the hot pasta. You can easily make this without the poached egg of course, but there is something about adding that makes the pasta feel like breakfast. Which is sometimes just the ticket.

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Spaghetti Carbonara with Poached Eggs

 

1 lb Spaghetti

7 Eggs (use good quality free range organic ones, it really will make a difference)

400g Bacon (good smoky stuff please!)

200g Parmesano Reggiano, or Grana Padano

Salt and Pepper

 

Cut the bacon into ½ inch pieces and cook them in a small frying pan over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until they are crunchy, but not burning.

Strain the fat off into a jar of can. Put the bacon aside.

Fill a large and a medium sized pot with water and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile grate the parmesan and mix it in a large bowl with 3 of the eggs and healthy cracking of black pepper.

When the large pot of water comes to a boil, season it liberally with salt and cook the pasta to the directions on the package.

Just as the pasta is done and you’re about to strain it, crack the eggs into the remaining medium sized pot.

Strain the pasta and add it, and the bacon to the egg and parm mixture. Stir vigorously until it has completely combined, making sure it doesn’t curdle.

Divide among 4 bowls.

Using a slotted spoon remove the eggs from the water- testing to make sure they are done by gently poking at the yolk and white with your finger, ensuring that the white is hard but the yolk is soft.

Put the eggs on top of the pasta and enjoy immediately!

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New Years Fun!

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I have been thinking about what to write on this post for a while now, how to talk about my excitement from the last year, how much has changed, how new and shiny everything has seemed, and I keep coming up short. It has been one of the most hectic and crazy and rewarding years I can think of. I have had quit my job, started a business, moved apartments and got a kitten. And as of a week ago, I am also engaged.

 

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It has been one of the most exciting years I can remember, and to mark it’s occasion a month or so ago I invited some of my girlfriends over to wear sparkly dresses, eat pastries and dance around pretending it was New Years Eve. So here are the pictures, to flip through as you’re putting on your own sparkly dresses and hoping for a spectacular new year. I so hope you’re year has been as wonderful and challenging as mine!

 

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HAPPY NEW YEARS!

 

Xo Claire

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

 

 

 

If you are lucky enough to actually like the family you were born into, I highly recommend not leaving the city they live in. Because if you do, the chances of you falling in love are very high. With a person, or with a city, or with a job and then you will be stuck. Stuck in a city, with a person and a job that you are in love with, which is, by most measures, is a pretty fabulous situation to be in. But if you are lucky enough to actually like the family you were born into, there will always be a part that is missing.

 

That’s how it is for me at least. I absolutely love Vancouver, and I can’t put into words how wonderful Jordan is, and I get giddy every time I think about how I work for myself. But it is tough sometimes, and never more so than right after I’ve visited home.  I’ve been super lucky lately, my Mom came out to visit this summer for a whole week, and then I got to visit my whole extended family in Boston a month ago, and last weekend I was back in Toronto for a family wedding. By all accounts, I’ve seen more of my family than I usually do, but somehow that just makes it harder. It’s always so perfect when we’re all together, and now I’m here thinking about how I’m not sure when I’ll see them again, Which is a miserable situation.

 

And whenever I’m this hopeless and lonely, the only thing that does any good is to make cookies. Not fussy cookies, not fancy cookies, and not anything wild or crazy cookies. The kind of cookies I can imagine my Mom baking, the kind that you just drop on a pan and they turn into soft and caramel-y and glorious sweet bits of comfort that make everything a little bit better.

 

These cookies in particular are especially comforting. They are full of brown sugar and chocolate and copious amounts of peanut butter and sprinkled with Maldon salt on top for crunch. It will make you feel better when you’re sad, and that’s about all you can ask for from a cookie I think.

 

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chanterelle mushrooms with fried eggs on toast

Chanterelle Mushrooms with Fried Eggs on Toast

Here’s a secret- I’m really not so into Fall.

I know, I know, everybody loves fall. But I live in a city that rains 8 months of the year and when the weather gets colder I start to feel the panic of not seeing the sun for months on end and I get cranky.

The only upside to fall for me, is apples and mushrooms. Which as I write it this seems like a very strange pairing. But thems the facts; Apples and mushrooms.

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And when talking about mushrooms, I mean the foraged versions that are in all the shops in my part of town right now. Mostly, pine mushrooms and chanterelles.

The combination of which I am currently putting on everything. I’m sautéing them and tossing them into pasta, putting them on pizzas, but mostly, I’m putting them o buttered toast and topping them with a fried egg.

It’s a glorious way to start a day, but also a glorious way to eat lunch or dinner. Mushrooms, eggs, and buttered toast. It’s a beautiful thing.

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Seared Eggplant with Macedonian Feta and Za’atar

Eggplants are a wildly underestimated vegetable.

 

Here’s the thing of it: I love eggplants.

Here’s the other thing of it: I’m one of the few.

Here’s why: There are a lot of bad eggplants out there.

There are a lot of hothouse eggplants, a lot of flavourless eggplants, a lot of eggplants that pretty much just taste like soggy bitterness.

Here’s the other reason why: There are a lot of people who don’t know how to cook eggplants properly. They cook them until they get stoggy, or they don’t cook them enough. Or they cook them with water so they lose any hope of a nice texture.

And all of this may have led you to thinking that you don’t like eggplants and that it’s hard to cook, and the thing of it is, it’s super easy, the trick is lots of olive oil, high heat, and a healthy pinch of salt.

I’ve known this all for a while, but it took Jordan eating eggplant at our favourite Palestinian restaurant to convert him. There it comes grilled with halloumi, and the most puckeringly perfect lemon and za’atar dressing that you soak up with loads of extra pita. (Za’atar is a middle eastern spice mix with dried savary, thyme, sumac and sesame seeds.) It’s perfect in every way.

This is my version of that dish. I sear the eggplant instead of grilling it, because I don’t have a grill. Knock you’re socks off and use the BBQ if you have one. I also use Macedonian feta instead of halloumi, because I am royally obsessed with the Macedonian feta at my local cheese shop, and I want to put it on everything. But if you can’t find it (it’s a thousand times creamier than regular feta) feel free to use the halloumi.eggplant-6 LQeggplant-4 LQ

Eggplant with Macadonian Feta and Za’Atar

6 Small Eggplants, ot 1 Large, sliced into inch thick slices.

250g Macedonian Feta, or Halloumi

1 Lemon

¾ cup Olive Oil

¼ cup Canola or Avacado Oil

1tbsp Za’atar

1 small clove of Garlic, minced or pureed.

Salt and Pepper

Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat .

Mix together the canola oil with ¼ cup of the olive oil.

Pour a good splash of that into the pan, and put in a layer of the eggplant, salt it generously.

Let it cook until the eggplant browns then flip it and let it brown on the other side salting it too, adding more of the oil mixture if neccessary. The eggplant should now be very soft.

Remove it, add more oil into the pan and cook the remaining eggplant.

Slice the feta and layer it with the eggplant on a dish.

Make the dressing: mix the juice of half the lemon, garlic, and a good pinch of salt.  Slowly add in the remaining olive oil. Check for seasoning, and add a bit more olive oil, salt or lemon as needed.

Pour that generously over the eggplant, sprinkle the za’atar over top and serve!

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Seven Minute Eggs with Roasted Corn Butter Lettuce Salad

It has been a glutinous couple of weeks. It’s been full of stagettes and weddings and far more champagne then any one person should consume. There have been an excess of sparkly dresses, gold shoes, and red lipsticks. There have been charcuterie plates, and cheese plates, and seemingly endless amounts of pizza and I am in need of vegetables in a major way.

Which is why, after returning from a wedding this weekend I made this for breakfast the next day. It’s richly satisfying, full of flavour, but also full of the nutrients that only found their way into my diet in the form of Ceasars and Bloody Mary’s over the last few days.

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Big Changes.

Do you ever have one of those months where you blink and suddenly it’s gone. Or you feel like you turn around and out of nowhere everything has changed?

That’s been this whole summer for me.

I moved, after 7 years in my old apartment, to one that is a whole lot bigger, and lovelier. I quit my job, so now I am officially self-employed, which is so exciting and terrifying and amazing. My business is starting to get going, and I’m getting more clients and doing more markets.

It’s been a crazy time, and one that has ensured that I haven’t had time for this lovely little space here.

So I just thought I’d let you know that I’m going to becoming back with regular posts, and lots of new recipes.  I promise.

So what about you? Any big changes happening in your life this summer?

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Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes

I have not been healthy lately. Like, not even a little bit. It’s been parties, and stagettes, and friends visiting from out of town, and dinners out with said friends, and far too much wine and too many gin and tonics with the same friends. It’s been a great summer so far, but it’s not so good for my health. So I had one of those days when I was thinking that I would be super healthy, and work out, and eat vegetables , and all those other things you’re supposed to do when you’ve been eating too much cake. But then instead I thought about blueberry pancakes and healthiness went out the window. Tomorrow guys. Tomorrow I’ll be better. Today, there are pancakes, and that is good enough my friends.

And their gluten free, so it’s like healthfood right? Yep. Totally.

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Radish and Watercress Tartines with Goats Cheese

 

And… it’s wedding season.

Officially. Two weeks ago I went to the first of 4 weddings that I’m attending this year. Last year there were only 2, but the year before that there were six.  Being in your late twenties guys, you go to a lot of weddings.

The difference this year is that all of the weddings are for people who I am super close to. I’m in two bridal parties, I’m making the cakes for all of them, because they are some of my best friends. And when that happens it’s not really just the wedding, but the showers, and the engagement parties, and the stagettes.

I’m throwing a shower for my bestie next month, and she’s vegetarian, so I’ve been trying to think of cute simple tea sandwiches that will look gorgeous, be a bit different and are meat free. My local market had these beautiful little French radishes, and some lovely watercress, and with a bit of goats cheese it seemed like just the ticket.

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