Unless you’re a cook, I’m not sure if you will appreciate what I’m about to tell you. I’m not sure if you’ll understand that gravity of my next statement, unless you have spend countless years working every evening and weekend of my entire adult life, but I, Claire Lassam, don’t work on weekends any more.
To non cooks let me tell you this- for the first time in our 6 year relationship, my boyfriend and I have the same days off.
It is amazing.
I am not exaggerating when I tell you it’s a small miracle.
I am so very very happy about it.
Jordan on the other hand, is working all the blooming time these days, and about once a week he’s taking the ferry over to Victoria. So I thought I should meet him on the island and we should escape for a couple days. Actually I’m thinking we should do this all the time.
Oh man I love Vancouver Island. I really really really do.
The people are so nice, the weather is so much better, the scenery is totally comparable to where I currently live.
I just love it.
While we were away I made this little breakfast. Nothing fussy- just some toast and asparagus and ricotta with an egg on top, but it’s rich and comforting and so simple to make. And it was just about the perfect thing to eat while sipping hot tea, reading a book, and just generally being very calm, very relaxed, and very happy.
Today is a day for peas and fava beans. It is a day for bike rides, walks on the Seawall, and beers on patios. It is a day to celebrate, because it is 25 degrees out, there isn’t a cloud in the sky, and this must be the nicest Spring I remember since I moved to Vancouver over 6 years ago.
So today is a day for peas and fava beans.
Normally I just cook them in a bit of butter and call it a day, but today I felt like I had to do something a little more special. So I tossed in some mint, coriander seeds, garlic, and lemon zest and served it cold.
This is such a simple salad, and it completely relies on using really good quality ingredients- the freshest favas and peas you can find. I would love to say I picked them from my garden this morning, but sadly nothing lasts in this little apartment besides succulents, but I am spoiled rotten with my local market.
Dolce de leche has got to be one of the greatest things of all time. It’s a very simple idea- take sweetened condensed milk and caramelize it- whoever thought of it was a very, very clever person.
BUT whoever realized that instead of painstakingly stirring a pot of sweetened milk without burning it, you could just put a whole can in a pot of boiling water and leave it for 3 hours, and when you return the insides will have turned from white to auburn, and the taste will have changed from sweet milk to the richest caramel you could ever hope to know? Well that person was straight up genius.
Periodically, if I know I’m going to be home for 3 hours, and I’m feeling uncharacteristically organized, I pull out a big pot and make some dolce. It’s the sort of thing that makes everything feel a touch nicer- basic chocolate cookies? Sandwich some dolce in the middle. An end of the evening coffee? Stir in a spoonful of the good stuff. A bowl of vanilla ice cream? Drizzle some of this on top for a totally decadent dessert.
Or better yet- put it in your ice cream.
The blogosphere has been going crazy for a couple months now with this revelation that you can make fabulous ice cream without an ice cream churner- all you do is whip up some cream and condensed milk and throw the whole thing in the freezer. But, if you happen to have some dolce kicking around in your cupboard, you might as well use that instead.
This is truly one of the simplest things I think I’ve ever made. And the texture of this ice cream is unreal. Unreal.
Most ice creams that don’t use a machine tend to get icy quickly, to get so hard it’s difficult to scoop them, and to lack that smoothness of really good ice cream.
I’m not even kidding you- this has the texture of soft serve. A week later, it still had the texture of soft serve. It is soo smooth.
The only possible thing that might make this better, is if you made a ganache with coconut milk and poured that, while it was still warm, over top of your ice cream. It is the perfect way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, and also most nights of the week.
So here is how you make this, and you should probably make this right away.
The internet has a funny way of throwing things at you. You know, you see something once and think “hmm, that doesn’t look bad” and then you see it another 40 times and at that point you just have to make it because you’ve seen it so many times and you need to get up on the trend? Even if at this point it’s far from trendy?
Well, the quinoa burrito bowl has been doing the rounds on social media lately. First I saw it on tastespotting, and then I noticed it on twitter, and by the 54th time I saw it on Pinterest I had to make it. It’s a simple thing really, quinoa, refried beans, salsa, and a little cheese on top. It took less than half an hour to make and was a very tasty simple dinner, except that Jordan all but refused to eat it.
See, Jordan likes healthy food, he does. He even likes quinoa, but he doesn’t like pretending unhealthy foods are good for you. It’s actually something we both have in common- you know, the “sugar-free-gluten-free-soya-free-vegan-cupcakes-that-totally-taste-like-they-have-nothing-delicious-in-them-and-are-trying-so-hard-to-be-something-they-aren’t” kind of things.
I tried to explain that I was simply substituting one ancient grain common in Central America for another ancient grain common in South America but he was having none of it. But men are fickle creatures.
So the next day I added all the ingredients together, made a salad with it and he ate seconds.
Like I said.
Turns out this is even better, because you can keep eating it out of the big bowl in the fridge standing up and not feel guilty about it.
This is that salad, I put a poached egg on top, because I am nearly always wanted to put a poached on top of salads but that is optional.
I recently made some cakes and wrote about it for a new online magazine called Decor Addict, and I made a little stop motion video of setting it all up for you guys! Hope you like it- and don’t forget to pop over to the site to see more pictures. xo
When you work at a high end restaurant you have to have everything available at all times. I once worked at a restaurant that required me to make ceasar dressing from scratch every 3 days in case someone came in and ordered a caesar salad, a dish that was assuredly not on the menu. This always struck me as a bit wasteful, but that’s the way it is in fine dining. You have to be prepared.
A couple of years ago, when I worked at a high end resort, it was the exact same, but much trickier because, as we were on a remote island, you had to order everything in advance and usually in huge quantities. One such thing was bananas. They weren’t on the menu, but if someone wanted a banana with their yoghurt in the morning we had to be prepared. I think we were asked twice in 6 months for a banana.
The real problem with this was that we could only order them in in 20kL boxes.
So every two weeks 20 kilos would come in, and somehow I was in charge of dealing with them. Lord knows why.
Fact: I hate bananas. Like, seriously, truly hate bananas. I hate their texture, I hate their taste, and I hate the way they smell. They are, indesputably,the worst fruit.
My theory on this hatred is that I got strep throat to often as a kid, and as such had to take too much banana flavoured liquid penicilin. But that is just a theory, and I know people who loved that medicine when they were little. I was not one of those people.
So when I realized that part of my job description was to cook up something with that many bananas every, well, let’s just say I was less than pleased.
But here’s another fact. I love cooked bananas. Everything I hate about them raw becomes a totally different thing when they are cooked up. When they are mixed with sugar and flour and scented with cinnamon they are just about the best things ever.
I have made a lot of banana breads in my life, so many when I was at the resort in fact, that at the end of the season everyone on staff (all 60 people!) got to go home with a banana loaf that I had frozen. It was a bit nuts.
I’ve made ones with chocolate, ones with nuts, ones with icing, ones with crispy bits of brown sugar in the center. But I had never tried making it without butter, until now. I’m never going back guys. Olive oil is the perfect tamer for banana bread.
This is my new standard banana bread recipe, it is the moistest, softest, most beautifully flavoured banana bread I have ever made.
Once again a new Edible Vancouver has come out, and once again I am so proud to be part of the team that produces it. In this issue I have an article about a croissant-a-thon that a friend and I went on, where a friend and I biked around the city eating croissants, and generally just loving life. And I wrote a small piece and recipe for asparagus and leek baked eggs. Please check it out!
I love pasta. I used to think I would be happy eating pasta every day. It is my ultimate comfort food. When I’m sick I want pasta, when it’s cold I want pasta, when I’m celebrating I want pasta, when it’s hot out I want pasta. I love pasta.
Then I worked at a high end Italian restaurant here in town, that shall remain nameless, where we had pasta every day for staff meal. It was always spaghetti with whatever we had kicking around left over. Except that there was never anything left over, so it was always spaghetti with butter and parm. We also had a salad of leftovers alongside it, except there was never any leftovers, so he ordered in iceberg lettuce for us. It was a sad sad meal, and everyone who worked there was significantly plumper when they left than when they had arrived.
It was a restaurant full of flaws, full of some extraodinarily cruel people, and full of beautiful food for the guests, and iceberg lettuce for the staff. I felt really crappy about myself when I worked there. And for quite a while I stopped eating pasta. I had just gotten my fill.
Slowly though, it came back, and it ought to. I’m a tiny bit Italian and it manifested itself into my diet when I was very small and it never left. I love, passionately, food that uncomplicated, unfussy, that used very few ingredients, but uses the best ones possibly, to make simple beautiful food. That’s what Italian food is all about.
Which brings us back to pasta. Pasta for me is the epitimy of simple food. The combination of essentially just flour, salt and eggs makes the most gorgeous textured noodle that, at it’s best, is just graced with a sauce made of only a very few things. It is simplicity done right.
Making pasta is not complicated, it just takes a bit of patience. You don’t need any fussy equipment, you can easily do it by hand, in fact it’s very satisfying to do it that way. But in a pinch you can do it in a kitchenaid, although the dough is a bit tough and I wouldn’t recommend doing it regularly in your mixer. Apparently old ladies in Italy roll theres out by hand too, but I’m not that skilled so I have a pasta roller, a little handhelp device that costs about $30.00. It’s not a huge expense, and it’s not very large either, so it’s not too hard to store. This batch makes quite a bit, I like to dry out about half of it for later, but you could of course,
tend to have an issue with food that values being cute over being delicious. It’s just not my cup of tea. It’s not that I have a problem with food that looks sweet, but like cake pops, or cakes covered in fondant, I just don’t totally get it.
And yet… Easter. It just wants you to make overly cute things. And it wants you to give those overly cute things to the insane cuteness that is your niece and nephew.
Friends, I am obsessed with my niece and nephew. They are the kids I want one day, they are the kids you dream your boyfriends sister will have, and they are the kids you dream of babysitting. They are that cute, that well behaved, and that affectionate.
And so my thoughts on overly cute foods has been over ridden, by my love of overly cute kids.
Except I’m not really, because these are also super tasty. They are basically just toasted coconut marshmallows (delicious) with Cadbury Mini Eggs on top, and I’m not going to pretend that I’m above a Cadbury Mini Egg at Easter time. I’m totally not above it.
*PS don’t forget to enter the giveaway from earlier in the week! The winner will be decided on Wednesday!