Elk Chilli

My wife and I have done our fair share of dinner parties as well as catered quite a few friends’ weddings and the number one most requested item by far is Crystal’s patented chilli. The fact that I’ve been producing high-end catering/resto food for almost fifteen years doesn’t ever factor in. If we’re showing up to the pot-luck you can bet we’re bringing chilli. (more…)

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Poached Chicken and Rice

poached-chicken-and-riceI just realized our kitchen calendar was still on August and flipped it over, revealing the stereotypical picture of golden hued oak trees and a dilapidated barn that always accompanies September. Ugh… Here on the Westcoast September would be more accurately represented by a grey sheet of rain.

Yep, autumn has come just like it always does; like a switch is flipped, the sun just surrenders and the rains begin like the final act of Seven Samurai… And as usual most of my friends, family and co-workers are getting sick.

So the calendar goes back up on the wall, I fire up a big pot on the stove and pull one of my secret weapons against autumn depression from the freezer: Master Stock! I know it sounds like Master Chief’s little brother or a particularly corny GI Joe villain, but it’s not. It’s a broth made from simmering a whole chicken with Asian aromatics and then, over the course of many uses and multiple chickens it condenses into a powerful, gelatinous flavour bomb for use in soups, stews and sauces.

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Portuguese-Style Kale Soup

Caldo Verde1Caldo Verde is the ubiquitous Portuguese soup made from potatoes, thinly sliced kale and maybe a bit of paprika-spiked Linguiça sausage thrown in for a little Shazam! I’d heard the name mentioned in cookbooks and on other food blogs plenty of times, but I’d never researched or attempted to cook this “green broth” everyone seemed so hot on.  Then winter hit, and I got sick, and all I had left in the garden was a single miserable little kale plant to comfort me. (more…)

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Fish Stock (Aka Severed Head Soup)

Fish Stock1I returned home from work the night after Halloween to find a severed head in my fridge.

It was arranged on a plate next to the celery, eyes bulging, mouth agog with still-glistening tongue half protruding the way I’d imagine a strangulation victim’s would. It wasn’t a person’s head of course; it belonged to a fish, a really big fish… But it was still kind of a shock.

While I was at the restaurant, Crystal’s sister had stopped by with a present from the clan in Ucluelet. Uncle Chuck had landed a huge Halibut and (because he’s awesome!) shipped it over to us, packed in ice. Lisa had spent the afternoon processing the beast and once it was down to nothing but guts ‘n gills she figured I’d take care of the rest. She was absolutely right! It’s just the kind of weird stuff I love doing on a weekend. (more…)

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Stinging Nettle Soup

Nettlesoup1I’ve got a big heap of Stinging Nettles in the sink waiting for me to make my move. They sit there glowering at me, covered in wicked piercing hairs filled with sting-juice. Not to fear! I’ve stolen my wife’s hot pink dish gloves (sexy!), a strainer to catch any bugs ‘n bits left curled in the stems and big pot for boiling all the fight out of these ornery weeds. Let’s make some soup!

This is a riff on a recipe I found in (of all places) a Tricycle Magazine article from way back. The author explained the beautiful simplicity and austerity of nettle soup in a way that really stuck with me. It’s a really honest, peasant-style soup that invigorates and soothes at the same time. The perfect thing to feed my foraging family during the early spring flu season… Seriously, is everyone in this house sick but me? (more…)

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