Oatmeal Bread

Despite years of being the “guy who never ever gets sick” I contracted something at the beginning of December which caused my immune system to completely collapse and left me a physical and mental gong-show for the entire month. A month, I might add, in which I was Executive Chef and couldn’t miss a moment of work.

I got vertigo, chest pains, the shakes, heart pounding, random numbness in my extremities and oh yeah, I couldn’t sleep. The few doctors that were available during the holidays couldn’t fix me, hell they couldn’t even tell me what was wrong inside…  So, I just sucked it up and suffered through Merry-‘Freakin Christmas and into the New Year.

Perhaps due to all the Zen breathing exercises that I employed back in December to get my heart rate under control I cracked open my long-neglected copy of The Tassajara Bread Book during a particularly sleepless night and started down Edward Espe Brown’s rabbit hole of sponge-fed Buddhist bread making… It was just something to do at 2:00am. (more…)

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Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

Blueberry Muffins 1If I had to list my favourite summer food experiences, eating blueberries right off the bush would definitely be in my top five. It’s right up there with the smell of fresh peaches and backyard BBQs, the taste of a good saison and picnicking amongst goats. Yes my friends, the only thing better than a blueberry is a blueberry baked into a muffin… And the only thing better than that is a muffin that I didn’t have to make.

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Sesame Tuiles

Sesame TuilesMaitre D: “And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint.”

Mr Creosote: “No.”

Maitre D: “Oh sir! It’s only wafer thin.”

  • Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (Don’t Youtube it… You’ll lose your appetite!)

A tuile is not a mint, but it is the very definition of “wafer thin”. Half way between a cookie and a cracker the classic tuile is a sugary almond snack from France (“Tuile” means “tile”) that looks exactly like a Pringles potato chip and is traditionally served with sweet cream. Nowadays tuilemaking embraces both sweet and savoury flavours and is molded into a wide variety of shapes for stuffing, decoration or just eating out of hand. (more…)

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Bannock – First Nations Style

FN Bannock 1Long before Europeans brought wheat and barley to the New World, the First Nations people harvested, processed and milled flour from indigenous plant life. Stuff you’d never think could turn into flour like Cattails, acorns, mosses, lichens and ferns. These became the base for a myriad of bread and bread-like recipes that kept the natives fed even during tough seasons and droughts.

One particularly badass recipe from the Neskonlith people (one that pre-dates European contact) calls for boiling black tree lichen until it coagulates enough to form sticky, licorice-flavoured hand cakes which were seared on rocks laid in charcoal-filled pits… Yurm.

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Bannock – European Style

Euro Bannock 1My whole culinary career (such as it is) I’ve been under the mistaken impression that bannock was exclusively a First Nations thing.

It must have been all the outdoor cooking demonstrations on Canada Day; bannock broiling up on cast iron beside staves of smoked salmon, always supervised by the local band elders. Every native cook I knew fried a mean skillet full ‘o bannock and on the occasions that Crystal and I went to Uke to see the extended family you could bet there’d be a lot of fry bread involved.

It turns out that although First Nations people may have been grinding nut and berry flour to make something bannock-like, the bannock recipes we recognize today originate in the Middle East. Most historians agree that the recipe came from ancient Egypt and the modern name came from Celtic England. (more…)

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