Sunday Morning

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Burdock & Co.It’s officially fall. The weather is blustery and wet. The leaves are turning, and cluttering the sidewalks and gutters. This is my favourite time of year. It’s time to start foraging for mushrooms, stocking up on summer preserves, and filling the freezer up with food for the winter. It’s not like we can’t go to the store, of course, but it is nice to save all the wonderful foods that have grown up around us. So this morning/afternoon, I’m hunting around for inspiring ideas, recipes and new ways to make the most of this season, in the kitchen.

Last night, I had a lovely dinner with some dear friends at Vancouver eatery, Burdock & Co. Seasonal, fresh, locally sourced foods. Outstanding flavours and gorgeous plating. We had some beautiful pickled vegetables, Farmhouse cheese and honey, seared halibut, and a grilled beef brisket ramen, served with seasonal vegetables. I felt really inspired afterwards, and spent the morning clearing out the fridge to make way for all the fresh vegetables that I’m going to pickup later today. If you’re in town, I’d highly recommend Burdock & Co.

FävikenI’ve never been to Fäviken, but I devour the book like it’s a sacred tome. It is one of my greatest passions to go out into the woods and forage for foods. The earthy smell of the wet forest, the all-consuming quiet… it’s an intoxicating and exhausting quest. Reading of Fäviken Head Chef Magnus Nilsson’s hunting and foraging, and how he prepares the meals for the restaurant, is tremendously awe-inspiring. He creates dishes using ingredients that only one who is so connected to his environment would dream of using. One day, I will make the journey. Until then, I can live vicariously through the written word, and the stunning photographs in the Fäviken book, and online.

Northern BushcraftThis coming week marks the first Chanterelle hunt of the year. My intrepid explorer friends and I will pack up our Laguiole knives, cameras and field guides, and head out into the wild woods to find our beloved Chanterelle mushrooms. I’ve been snooting around the internet to look for more resources on foraging in the Pacific Northwest. This ain’t our first time to the rodeo, but it never hurts to learn as much as you can about what’s out there. Northern Bushcraft has some great tips, and notes on preparation, on everything from blackberries to snails. Mmmmm, snails.

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Sunday Morning

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London Fashion WeekIt’s early. I need some time today to catch up on the past week. I’ve been getting snippets of London Fashion Week via Instagram, (J.W. Anderson, good gracious!) but it’s not enough. Straight to the source I go! I can’t wait to catch up on all the shows I’ve been missing, and I love that you can search by designer and view past collections. I love the shows… it reminds me of dancing. You work your self silly, put in countless hours, and in the end, everything is riding on this one short moment in time. Ahhh!

Bo-lagetYes, I’m still obsessing over interiors. My spoken Swedish is ok, but I can’t read or write very well, (kind of like my English, ha!) but I can certainly look at the pretty pictures on bo-laget.se  and be inspired. Inspired into a jealous fit, that is. Wait until you get to the section of the website where there are homes for sale. It makes my heart do things that hearts aren’t supposed to do, like jump out of my chest. Everything white, clean, simple. Flowers, furs, painted wood floors. Wooden beams. Don’t get me started on the appliance lust.

Thug KitchenIf you are offended by cussing, then you won’t get as much of a kick out of Thug Kitchen as I do. If you have ever worked in a restaurant kitchen, this style of speaking will sound perfectly normal to you, and you may find it strangely comforting. I find myself in hysterics reading through the recipes because they are positively hilarious. I mean, the recipes are great, the food looks fantastic, but the text unfolds in my mind in the voice of Jesse Pinkman, (Breaking Bad tonight!) which makes the experience that much more enjoyable. Really, anyone that refers to an eggplant as a “Grimace-looking son of a bitch” has my ear. I have a thing about Grimace, but that’s probably a story for another time. Have a great week!

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30-August-2013

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30 August 2013Clockwise from top left:

This week has been a bit of a whirlwind. Aren’t they all? When things get a little crazy, it really helps to listen to some beautiful music. Somehow everything feels less chaotic. This week, I’ve been listening to a lot of Ólöf Arnalds. Her music transports me to a magical place, where hot springs and icy fjords meet… where little elves run among the tall grasses… where the air is always fresh and scented with sea salt.

I was invited to a Stella and Dot trunk show this week, and I must admit, I did a little bit of shopping. Tee hee! I’m generally not much of a jewelry person. I like simple pieces and accessories that don’t get in the way. Some people look amazing in big, statement necklaces, chunky rings, and big heavy cuffs. I’m not one of those people. So here I am at a jewelry show, and suddenly I’m having to tell myself to slow down! I ordered a couple of things, but I’m finding myself most looking forward to this stacking ring set. So me! Mixed metals, many ways to wear them, simple. My fingers are going to feel naked until this set arrives. Don’t look! Naked fingers!

Nielsen-Massey makes a bajillion different flavours, essences and other culinary delights. I bought their rose water to make marshmallows with. Rose water marshmallows! Anyway, I put a wee bit in my nightly cup of steamed milk, with a little bit of honey and saffron, ground cardamom and cinnamon sprinkled on top… boy howdy! Taking my Cozy Milk to a whole new level. Now to try making some pretty cocktails with it. Any other ideas? Have you tried cooking with rose water?

Since little B starts kindergarten next week, I’m trying to get myself organized by planning meals a week ahead. I haven’t read much in the way of fiction this week, but I have been cuddled up with cookbooks quite a bit. I just love Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen book. The recipes are easy to follow, and she has such a knack for taking these classics of French cooking, and making them fresh and exciting without doing anything drastic to them. Quite brilliant, if you ask me!

Sleep… where are you? I don’t know why I’m having a hard time sleeping this week. We had a storm one night, and I slept so profoundly and whole-heartedly, that I guess I’m done now for a while. I’m still ridiculously tired, and it shows. Thank the gods for YSL’s Touche Éclat. When time is short and I’m looking rough, I quickly dot some of this magic wand on the inner corners of my eyes, on those big ol’ puffy bags, and at the sides of my nose. Blend, blend, blend… powder, mascara, go!

Ah, blueberries. Their season is coming to an end here, and I will be so sad to see them go. I ate so many blueberries this week that I must be a powerhouse of antioxidant activity. I just picked up another 6 kilos of them this morning. I should probably get more and freeze them before they shrivel up until next year. Long live the blueberry!
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Roasted Beet + Fennel Salad with Goat Cheese

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Summer is the perfect time to try a new salad. Everything is so fresh and delicious! A couple of summers ago, I whipped this salad up on a whim when I remembered at the last hour that we were supposed to bring a dish to a birthday party. The tender, earthy beets are fantastic with the crunchy fennel and soft cheese. Originally, I used sambuca in the dressing, but opted for aquavit this time. It might seem a little bitter, but in the salad, it’s quite something else. If you prefer more of an anise flavor, feel free to swap the aquavit for ouzo, pastis, sambuca, whatever you have in the house. The recipe here will make a nice sized salad for 4 people, and is easily doubled or tripled for parties, potlucks and so on.

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Roasted Beet + Fennel Salad with Goat Cheese

Salad:

  • 2 large beets or 3-4 small ones
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) sliced fennel stalks
  • juice of 1/4 of a lemon
  • 60g (2oz) goat cheese
  • 2.5ml (1/2 tsp) fennel seeds

Dressing:

  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) aquavit or anise liqueur
  • 5ml (1 tsp) dijon mustard
  • 5ml (1 tsp) honey
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive or grapeseed oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 220 C/425 F.

Peel the beets. If they are quite large, cut them in half. Roast them in the oven for 20 minutes, then turn them over and let them cook for another 20 minutes. They should be easily poked with a fork, but still nice and firm. If they need a few more minutes, stick ’em back in.

Let the beets cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Lightly toast the fennel seeds in a hot pan over medium heat. Set them aside to cool.

Remove the fronds from the fennel stalks, and slice. The stalks from one fennel bulb should give you the right amount. Toss the sliced fennel in the juice of the lemon quarter and set aside.

A quick note about the dressing: you will probably end up with more than you need. I always like to make a little more than I think I might need, just in case. The leftover is easily added to a green salad, and will keep for some time.

To make the dressing, whisk the aquavit (or other booze of choice), lemon juice, mustard, honey, olive (or grapeseed) oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. If you are using aquavit, the honey should be just right. If you choose a sweet liqueur, you might want to pass on the honey, or at least go easy on it. Taste the dressing and add salt and pepper, if needed. Set the dressing aside.

If your beets haven’t cooled enough to slice, pour yourself an aperitif and put your feet up for a few minutes. You’ve earned a rest! *you should have a quarter of a lemon left, that should go nicely in something!

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Now that you’re slightly tipsy, it’s time to get out the knives. Slice the now-cooled beets into nice slices, not too thick… not too thin.

With everything ready to go, get your goat cheese out, and assemble the salad. I like to layer beets, crumbled cheese, fennel, a drizzle of dressing, repeat. Sprinkle the top with the toasted fennel seeds. You can make individual stacked salads, or layer it all in a nice big dish.

Enjoy!

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