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Breakfast with Gretchen

I’ve been having breakfast at Gretchen’s a lot this visit home, mostly because she feeds me copious amounts of good food, and she’s so smart I feel like I get smarter with every conversation I have with her.  We also share a love for Joss Whedon and his genius shows (which unfortunately get cancelled all the time), and Gretchen has been helping me mourn the loss of Dollhouse these last few days (and a couple of characters that died on Dollhouse).  Ahem.  Now that I have professed my love for Joss and his shows, I will return to food.

Another breakfast with Gretchen consisted of Spiced Moroccan Coffee and roast lamb with brown rice and green beans.  Here’s the recipe for the coffee, which is now one of my favourite things to have in the morning.

Spiced Moroccan Coffee

*from Hot Drinks by Louise Pickford

  • 2 cinnamon sticks, crumbled, or a few pieces of cinnamon bark
  • seeds from 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (if you don’t have fennel seeds, you can substitute with anise seeds).
  • 4 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 4 tbsp medium-ground coffee

Ground the spices and sesame seeds in a spice grinder until fine, and stir into your coffee grounds and use the mix to make coffee in your coffee maker.

For those of you who don’t know how to open cardamom pods, just use the flat of your knife to crush the shell (like what you do to get the skin off garlic).  You can use ground spices to make this mix, but it tastes better with fresh spices.

If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can always use a coffee grinder!

Here’s a shot of the roast lamb and green beans:

Gretchen is also a terrific writer and she revived her food blog!!! Find it here:

Happy eating and reading!



BBQ-Sleepover Part 2

Here are a couple more recipes to try if you’re throwing a summer party: pasta salad and mango salsa (although it does go great with chips, most of us were eating it as a salad, it’s so tasty on its own).

Pasta Salad

  • one red pepper, diced
  • one green pepper, diced
  • 450 grams penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • one bag of Hellmans ancho chipotle sauce

Toss everything together!

Mango Salsa

  • 4 mangoes, diced
  • 1 mango, pureed
  • half a red onion, diced
  • one lime, zested and juiced
  • mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of honey (or to taste)
Toss everything together and add mint leaves to taste.  Serve with your favourite tortilla chips.

The next day we had breakfast on the patio because it was such a gorgeous morning.  We BBQ’d our breakfast and had sausages and bacon.  Just be careful when you do this and have a spray bottle with water nearby because the fat WILL make the flames shoot up, and the flames had to be doused every so often so our breakfast didn’t burn.  The bacon and sausages definitely tasted better grilled on the BBQ rather than cooked on the stove top.  Take advantage of summer weather and get out there and use your grill!






Phoenix Cooking Adventures-Part II-Jamie Oliver Cookbook

As mentioned previously, I was (and still am) really excited about my new cookbook.  Laura and I promptly flipped through it and found a few things to try.  One of them is a favourite of her’s, penne carbonara.  Super tasty and easy to make.

Penne Carbonara

  • 1 lb penne (we used one bag, no idea how much was in it)
  • 10 slices of bacon
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 7 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4  1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until done to your liking (I like mine al dente).  In the meantime, fry up the bacon until nice and crispy-drain on paper towels.  Mix the yolks, half the cheese, and the cream together (this is the sauce.)  Once the pasta is done, drain it and immediately add your sauce to the pasta and stir well-the residual heat will cook up your sauce.  Add in the bacon and serve.  Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

To go with our delicious pasta, we tried a drink from the cookbook, and then made another version based on the original.

Ginger Beer

  • 5 oz fresh ginger, grated (I just eyed it and used a decent sized knob since I like ginger)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 4 cups soda water or sparkling mineral water
  • fresh mint

Zest the lemons.  Mix the ginger, zest, and brown sugar in the bottom of a pitcher.  Add the juice from the lemons and then pour in the water.  Let it sit for 10 minutes to allow flavours to blend.  Taste it and add more sugar or lemon juice as needed.  You can adjust the amount of zest to your taste: I love lemons so we used a lot of zest, but you can start with the zest from one lemon and go from there.  You can strain out the ginger and zest before serving.  Garnish with the mint.

Grapefruit and Raspberry Punch

  • 2 grapefruits
  • handful of raspberries
  • 4 cups of soda water or sparkling mineral water
  • sugar
  • fresh mint

Zest the grapefruit.  Mix the zest and raspberries in the bottom of a pitcher.  Add the water.  Add sugar to taste if necessary.  Garnish with mint when serving.

A note about the grapefruit: we picked it from Adam’s mom’s backyard!!! That was so awesome, there is NOTHING like picking fresh fruit.  Especially when it’s January.  It was so delicious, and we didn’t even need to add sugar to our punch!  I also devoured a few of those grapefruit before I left.  Our evening of cooking was a big success!


Chinese Tea

I went to China last year with a few friends, and I recently remembered I bought some tea and a fun tea glass.  I broke out the tea (it was vacuum-sealed, so still fresh!) and the glass, and the tea tasted better than I remembered!  I bought some ginseng oolong tea- 人蔘烏龍.  It’s a little bitter at first, but then there’s this aftertaste that I can’t really describe in English; in Chinese it’s translated as  “golden.”  I really love this tea!

The tea glass I have is actually 2 glasses in ones; the inside glass is suspended between the outside glass, and it’s a vacuum seal.  This keeps the tea warm without you scorching yourself when you pick up the glass.  Also, there’s a little metal filter that sits in the glass so you don’t end up swallowing the tea leaves.  Quite useful.


Fabulous Friday

I love Fridays.  Who doesn’t?  It’s only Monday and I’m already looking forward to Friday.  Not only is it the beginning of the weekend, but I usually make dinner with a couple friends and then we go dancing.  This past Friday we were unable to make dinner together but I still had a great day.  My close friend, and pseudo-roommate (I’m always at her house), HH, invited me over for lunch.  She had made spinach gnudi the night before and some sort of spinach soup.  She was quite upset with the soup and it was billed as a failure.  This is a picture of the soup.  It didn’t taste awful, but it didn’t taste quite right either.  She allowed me to take a picture and blog about it.  Here’s a picture of the soup:

BUT the spinach gnudi was awesome!  She got the recipe here: Martha Stewart didn’t disappoint, it was yummy.

That was just lunch.  After dinner, HH had me and Andria over for sangria.  Yum.  On top of that, Andria and I made dip for chips.


  • red wine
  • soda water
  • orange juice
  • half an apple, cubed
  • mango chunks (we just used frozen chunks)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

I wasn’t the one who made the sangria, but HH just uses one part wine to one part juice to 1/2 part soda water.  Add the lemon or lime juice.  The fruit is used as garnish, but I think it’s the best part!  Makes one pitcher.

Easy Chip Dip-Ingredients

  • tub of sour cream
  • small handful of chives
  • 1/4-1/3 of pkg of onion soup mix

Mix all ingredients together.  You can more soup mix if you like, but I find then it’s too salty.  Enjoy it with plain chips!

It was a great evening.  We chatted and enjoyed our culinary creations.  To finish off the night, I went dancing.

Fridays are definitely my favourite day.