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Simply Recipes’ Apple Crisp

Simply Recipes is a food blog run by Elise Bauer. It’s a well known blog and Bauer is also the founder of the Food Blog Alliance. So although she may not be as well known as Anna Olson and Martha Stewart, whose recipes I’m also testing, Bauer’s got some creds. I was a bit surprised to see that Simply Recipes’ apple crisp calls for a 9 x 12 inch baking dish. Most crisps tend to be made in a 9 x 9 or 8 x 8 dish. If the ratio of the ingredients is increased accordingly, it shouldn’t be a problem. But that’s not the case here. The...
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Mario Batali’s Pure Italian Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Mario Batali, the well known Italian-American chef, is a purist when it comes to his spaghetti alla carbonara. He uses eggs only–no cream–and offers instructions on how to cure your own hog jowls, should you want to go more authentic than bacon or pancetta. I opted for bacon, even though I used pancetta when testing Giada De Laurentiis’ version, because it’s the sauce I’m really interested in figuring out. How do I replicate the mouth-warming heartiness of the best carbonaras I’ve eaten? Batali’s recipe uses four separated...
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Michael Smith’s Molten Chocolate Cakes

Double boiler for melting chocolate. If you’ve ever seen Michael Smith’s show Chef at Home, then you probably know how he encourages home cooks to enjoy cooking, and not be afraid to wing it a bit. He often foregoes the measuring cup, favouring the eyeball method. I can’t help but love his approach for how it supports the whole idea of recipe experimentation. But for this recipe quest, especially since it is a baking one, I’m sticking with the exact measurements. Michael Smith’s molten cake recipe includes egg whites, sans yolks, whipped...
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Cod au Gratin Goes Cosmopolitan: Review of Rock Recipes

The second of the cod au gratin recipes I’m testing is from Rock Recipes. I have to admit that I’m rooting for this recipe because the creator, Barry Parsons, is a food blogger from St. John’s, Newfoundland, the home of cod au gratin. Parsons has changed things up with the addition of several ingredients that are anything but traditional. Parsons’ twists include savoury, which is a very traditional herb in Newfoundland. However, he also suggests the not-so-common-on-the-rock substitutes of dill or tarragon. I used tarragon, as I still...
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The Crispiest Crisp of Them All

Sugar, by Anna Olson, is one of my favourite cookbooks. I love me my desserts. Although I have tried many of the book’s recipes, I had never tried the one for fruit crisp. Olson’s is a blueberry/pear crisp, but she says the topping works with any fruit. Taking her at her word, I tried it with apples. The unusual thing about this recipe (for which the ingredients are listed here) is that the crisp includes pecans and cornflake crumbs. Pecans just happen to be my favourite nut, so no sales pitch needed. The cornflakes are a harder sell. But as Olson...
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Penne alla Carbonara alla Giada De Laurentiis

I’ve always used bacon for carbonara, but for the kick-off of this quest, I decided to go all out and try the pancetta. I got it at the deli counter of a local grocery store (which is what, I believe, the Americans refer to as a supermarket). Lesson #1: Don’t say, “Whatever,” when they aske you how you want it sliced, or you’ll take the chance of winding up with something like this: It’s kind of hard to chop that into the one-inch cubes De Laurentiis calls for in her ingredient list. Well, mistakes at the deli counter or the cutting...
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Recipe Review–Trish Magwood’s Molten Chocolate Cakes

Mmm chocolate. It’s without a doubt my favourite flavour. So it is certainly no trial to be testing out molten chocolate cake recipes. I started with Trish Magwood’s recipe from Dish Entertains. You can find the ingredient list here. There are a lot of variations of molten cake recipes. Some use flour, some do not, and some use cocoa powder to work both as flavour and a stand-in for flour. They all use eggs, whether whole, just the whites or more yolks than whites. Magwood’s recipe uses a couple tablespoons of flour, and more yolks than whites. Where...
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Recipe Review: Ultramar’s Cod au Gratin

So here we go! My first recipe review. . . The first version of Cod au Gratin I’m trying is the one from the Ultramar series called Traditional Recipes of Atlantic Canada. As I mentioned in the introduction to this recipe quest, Cod au Gratin is a baked cod and cheddar dish. This recipe has been shared online on a number of sites without proper credit. You can find it here or here. This is the recipe my mother uses, and I believe it’s a pretty widely used one (hence it’s availability on the internet–there’s a good chance that some of...
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What Shakespeare and the World’s Greatest Chef Have in Common

Anyone can cook. As I mentioned before, if you can read a recipe, you can cook. But I have to admit that those who would disagree aren’t entirely wrong. Cooking is sort of like reading. Both are skills that develop to some extent as a result of necessity and interest. Both happen more readily in an environment where they are encouraged. Kids who love to read are often from homes where reading is valued and modeled. Kids who love to cook are often from homes where they’ve been taught how to do so. My earliest memories of cooking involve cookie cutters...
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Easy as Crisp

Whoever said “easy as pie” had it all wrong. Sure the fillings can be the easiest thing going, but the crust? Not so much. Making a good pie crust is an art. A drop too much of water, one pat too many of the hand, one degree too warm for the butter and instead of a tender, flakey crust, you have dried play dough. But a crisp? Now we’re talking easy! No finicky working of the dough–just get your hands in there and get ‘er done. And there’s gotta be some kind of health bonus for the fibre in the oats. A crisp is the perfect place...

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