Monthly Archives: May 2011

Why the Canucks are like bacon

By contributing writer Jacqueline Twa

Have you ever woken up to the faint smell of bacon wafting into your room? Have you ever been walking down a hallway or been in a room and caught the whiff of the tantalizing smell of the world’s best carnivorous delight being fried? It’s almost as if you can already taste the crispy, salty goodness – you can imagine the taste, feel the thrill, live the moment.

That’s how it is right now with the Vancouver Canucks. We can taste the victory, smell the Stanley Cup, live the dream before it happens. Okay, admittedly my argument for a connection between hockey and bacon is a bit shaky at best but you read this far didn’t you?!

This month, rather than a full-fledged recipe I would like to talk about my many trials and tribulations in the advanced field of cooking bacon. Some people are fryers, some people are microwavers (shame on you lot)…I have seen bacon deep fried and (gasp) saw one idiot actually try to barbeque the stuff.

But I am here to attest that after years of trial and error, I think I have found the best method to consistently achieve that perfect strip of bacon. How? Roasting it off in the oven.

My method is simple and starts with a very hot oven (425 F degrees). I place a piece of parchment down on a simple cookie sheet and place a rack on top – I hate greasy messes, hence the parchment.

Now I personally believe that the best roasting results are achieved with room temperature meats going into a hot oven so as not to bring down the oven temperature when you place it inside. I position the bacon on the rack so each slice is as close together as possible without overlapping. The more rashers the better! You know each and every piece will disappear.

I am also a big believer that you can improve upon the taste of bacon by adding additional flavour. Wow – I can already hear the gasp, see the raised brows, eavesdrop on the snort of indignation from the bacon purists (you know who you are) that my comment has just caused.

The first step in flavour addition is to decide what you want to put on the bacon – another gasp from the crowd. Yes, I like to dress my bacon up a bit. I have been known to sprinkle white sugar on top before baking it off, I’ve tried cane sugar and I’ve tried a sprinkle of liquid smoke. I have also based it with maple syrup, balsamic reduction, Kahlua, barbeque sauce and even tried molasses. I have dusted it with things like garlic powder, granulated garlic, garlic salt, onion powder, curry powder, cayenne pepper, wasabi powder and even coriander and cumin. I’ve tried dousing it with pepper, paprika, blackening spices and honey, as well as grainy mustard, teriyaki sauce and thick soya sauce.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not espousing the idea that you absolutely must have some sort of flavour topper for your bacon; I’m just saying you should feel free to think outside the box now and then and experiment. At the very least simply try giving it a very small sprinkle of brown sugar with the tiniest pinch of cayenne pepper. Whatever you decide to try, rest assured that you really can’t go wrong. Then again my family would eat grass if I sprinkled bacon on top.

Place the bacon in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes – don’t flip it, don’t move it around and don’t try sneaking a test piece as you will burn your tongue. I speak from experience. Remove the bacon and give it a few minutes to rest before removing it from the rack so it can firm up a bit. Serve and sit back and watch your family wallow in bacon bliss.

Until next time…

REVIEW: Complete Gluten-Free Diet & Nutrition Guide

By Alexandra Anca with Theresa Santandrea-Cull

Cookbook review courtesy of contributing writer
Andrea Savard

Complete Gluten-Free Diet & Nutrition Guide is available for purchase through our online store or at your local bookstore

Complete Gluten-Free Diet & Nutrition Guide written by Alexandra Anca with Theresa Santandrea-Cull (published by Robert Rose Inc.) is a thorough beginner manual to celiac disease. Alexandra Anca is a certified dietician, and she has put together a well thought out guide for the celiac. The first 136 pages of the book contain descriptions of celiac disease, additional associated illnesses, and vitamin deficiencies typically attributed to this particular disease. There are health charts, aisle by aisle shopping lists, a comprehensive description of a gluten-free diet, along with in-depth explanations of what foods are high in protein and fiber and tips on how to combat vitamin deficiencies. She includes the Canada Food Guide and a helpful Vegetarian Food Guide Rainbow. There is a chapter dedicated to gluten-free meal guides based on charts for men and women, varying ages, and activity levels. This would be a great book if you are just learning the ropes for gluten-free eating, or if you would like to have a meal plan that will help you loose weight without gluten. This is really a great all encompassing nutritional reference book. Even a veteran celiac could learn a thing or two from Alexandra Anca.

The book itself is designed like a manual. There are no photographs with the exception of the cover photo. The recipes that I tried were tasty, but the descriptions didn’t match the end result. Overall this isn’t a book I will return to for recipes, but I will definitely keep it on hand to use as a nutrition guide.

I was intrigued by the Zucchini Patties, Quinoa Cashew Oven Pilaf, and the classic Pineapple Carrot Muffin.


REVIEW: The Whole Family Cookbook

By Michelle Stern

Cookbook review courtesy of contributing writer
Sylvie Shirazi

The Whole Family Cookbook is available for purchase through our online store or at local bookstores

The Whole Family Cookbook: Celebrating the Goodness of Locally Grown Foods (Adams Media $17.95 USD) is the first cookbook from Michelle Stern. Michelle is the owner and founder of What’s Cooking with Kids, a certified-green company that offers healthy and seasonal cooking classes to kids in the San Francisco Bay Area. This former biology teacher and mother of two started her own children’s cooking school in order to better educate kids and parents about making good food choices that are not only healthy but environmentally sound.  Her aim in The Whole Family Cookbook is to provide families with a resource they can use to easily cook local, seasonal foods with their children.

The simple and straightforward recipes in the book are perfect for burgeoning little cooks who want to join mom or dad in the kitchen. One of the unique features of the book is a color-coded system that indicates the appropriate age range for each step of the recipe. This feature is an invaluable tool for families with children of varying ages, as each child can be allotted their own task and feel good about being in the kitchen. The book has over 75 organic, family friendly recipes that will appeal to both children and adults alike. There’s also a seasonal recipe index to simplify seasonal eating and meal-planning.

The chapters are divided into the following sections: breakfasts (Breakfast Anytime Pizza, Corny Raspberry Muffins, Baked Apple Puff), lunch (A-B-C Frittata, Thai Spring Rolls, Smashed Avocado on Toast), dinner (Minestrone with White Beans and Kale, Acorn Squash and Wild Rice Bowls, Pumpkin Ravioli), side dishes (Kale Chips, Oven-Fried Zucchini Sticks, Purple Rice), mom-approved treats (Lemon Buttermilk Sherbet, Peaches and Cream Cobbler, Nutella Lace Cookies), and make your own staples (Butter, Hummus, Hot Cocoa Mix). Interspersed throughout the chapters are tips on ‘going green’, fun facts about food labeled Kid Zone, and suggestions on community service under Recipe for Action.

The book is full of useful tips on how to engage children in the process of cooking. Michelle offers advice on what kitchen tools are kid-friendly and how best to get kids excited about good food without having to resort to using tricks or bribes. No hiding vegetables in meals or rewarding a clean plate with a special dessert! She wants us to get kids involved in the process of making the food they eat, thereby teaching them about the value of eating whole foods.


Meet Contributing Writer Sylvie Shirazi

Sylvie Shirazi is a freelance food photographer and food writer. On her food photography blog, Gourmande in the Kitchen, she celebrates the simple joy that food brings to our lives every day.  Her motto is to cook simply. You don’t always need a lot of time or a long list of ingredients to make satisfying and delicious food. Good food isn’t fussy or pretentious; it’s simple, it’s real and it’s made with love for those we love. Through her blog, Sylvie hopes to inspire others to embrace food; to follow their instincts, trust their taste buds, and find a sense of confidence in the kitchen.

Visit Sylvie’s blog at
You can also follow her on Twitter or on Facebook

Food & Wine Magazine: Mar Cover Recipe

Chunky Tomato Soup with Potato Croutons & Fennel-Orange Gremolata, served with Spinach Salad with Citrus & Roasted Beets

Rating: 4 out of 5 (intense combination of flavours, but tasted very fresh & exciting)

Initial Thoughts: I want the fireplace included in the cover photo. Oh wait – I’m supposed to be here for the food…

The Test: At first I wondered how best to approach this particular cover as it is part of a section that includes a variety of soups with mix-and-match topping options, along with a number of side dishes and salads. In the end I opted to make the Chunky Tomato Soup with Potato Croutons and Fennel-Orange Gremolata, along with the Spinach Salad with Citrus and Roasted Beets. These recipes seemed to be the most prominent ones in the photo, and were also highlighted in the cover text.

Soup and salad. Easy peasy, right? Not in this case! But the level of culinary involvement was pretty obvious given the impressive title of each recipe, so I wasn’t surprised that this meal was quite time consuming. Be warned that there are many steps involved, resulting in this meal having a difficulty level that hovers around medium.

The potato croutons and gremolata both came together easily, and the smell of the fennel fronds with the parsley and orange zest smelled amazing; full of fresh flavour that instantly brightened my kitchen. As for the soup, this was a fairly typical recipe involving sautéing the vegetables prior to adding the tomatoes and reducing the entirety for a couple hours. I was intrigued by the idea of only puréeing half of the soup, ensuring a few chunks are left.

When preparing the salad, be sure to leave enough time to roast the beets which as my two-year old pointed out “takes really REALLY long time so I can eat”. But while you are waiting there are lots of other things to be done; such as pickling the red onion and peeling the pith and sectioning the tangerines and grapefruit.

The Results: Overall I enjoyed this meal, although in terms of flavours there was a lot going on. In the end I found the acidic tomatoes were too much in conjunction with the citrus and vinegar in the salad, although I would definitely consider making each recipe again albeit separately.

Mr. Spock and I both loved the suggested toppings for the soup, the utilization of potatoes a fun play off of traditional croutons. The herbaceousness of the gremolata was a bright and fresh addition that plated up beautifully. However, the acidic nature of a pure tomato based soup played havoc with our stomachs. So the next day I pureed the entire soup (half chunky didn’t do it for me folks) and added a generous amount of cream into the mix, sprinkled some grated smoked cheddar cheese on top along with the other toppings and wow – perfection.

The salad had a lot of different competing flavours that worked together but in an aggressive manner that wasn’t altogether unpleasing. Wow. Did I really just write that?! It almost sounds as if I know what I’m talking about. The mustard dressing was full of flavour but simple, which worked well. Lord knows there were enough other things going on in the salad. I loved the pickled onion which had a nice bite from the vinegar but without the overpowering raw onion taste, and the mellow beets rounded the whole thing out nicely.

As mentioned in previous posts, I am not a huge soup fan. That being said, there are a number of other recipes included in this issue’s big soup section that I am excited to try: White Bean Stew served with Sautéed Mustard Greens and Garlic Mayo, Classic Split Pea Soup with Parsley Pistou, Onion Rings and Crispy Bacon, and Silky Cauliflower Soup with seared Scallops, Herb Salad and Dijon-Roasted Cauliflower? Heck yeah.

Chunky Tomato Soup
Pan-Fried Potato Croutons
Fennel-Orange Gremolata
Spinach Salad with Citrus and Roasted Beets

As part of my culinary New Year’s resolutions, I have committed to creating each month’s cover recipe from Food & Wine Magaine.

NOTE: If any of you would like to follow along with me and join in on the fun, I’d love to compare notes! So pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine and get cooking. Be sure to send your comments and photos to

The mission of Food & Wine Magazine is to find the most exciting places, new experiences, emerging trends and sensations in the culinary and wine industries. From travel and entertaining to luxury and design, this magazine brings an energetic and stylish take on food and wine. For more information on Food & Wine Magazine, please visit