Monthly Archives: March 2012


By Terry Walters

Clean Food is available for purchase through our online store or at local bookstores. For more information on this book please visit Raincoast Books


Review written & photographed by Jordan A.R. 

Terry Walters’s book Clean Food (published by Sterling Epicure, $30 USD) is more than just a pile of recipes: it’s a guide for developing a healthy lifestyle based around eating food close to its source in order to maximize the nutritional benefits. Clean food means real, minimally processed, seasonal food.

The nutritional information that jump starts this book for the first thirty-five pages opened my eyes not only to how depleted my regular diet is, but how easy it can be to make small changes that amp up the value of what I eat. For example, adding a small piece of kombu (a type of kelp) during the cooking process of whatever meal you make will infuse the dish with important minerals, improve digestibility, and (possibly) reduce gas. Another helpful tip was that since grains contain phytic acid, which interferes with the absorption of essential minerals, they should be soaked for a minimum of one hour, then rinsed, so that the water soluble acid vanishes and leaves you with a new and improved complex carbohydrate. Simple and effective!

Divided into the four seasons along with an “anytime” chapter, the 200 + recipes in Clean Food offer a variety of simple, healthful dishes to guide you throughout the year. My one concern with this book was that it uses a lot of ingredients I don’t normally stock in the pantry, and so the grocery bills can add up pretty quickly if, like me, you’re somewhat new to this style of eating. But once you’re stocked you’re good to go and, based on all of the information at the start of the book, it’s worth the extra money in the beginning. My only other complaint is that there are no photos. But I checked her website and it seems that a revised edition of Clean Food is forthcoming that will be gluten-free friendly with new recipes, a snack section, and photographs!


Muffin Monday: Coffee Break Muffins

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The last week has been a crazy whirlwind for me, to the point where I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to squeeze in Muffin Monday. But as soon as I saw the recipe was from Dorie Greenspan my mind was made up. These muffins? No matter what happened they were gonna get made. You see, Dorie happens to be one of my culinary heros and there was no way I would be missing out on one of her muffin recipes.

© 2012 CookThatBook

The recipe itself is simple and straightforward, nothing out of the ordinary in terms of mixing the usual wet and dry ingredients. However, in order to ramp up the coffee aspect of these Coffee Break Muffins both espresso powder and freshly brewed coffee were added to the batter. Because coffee is the only liquid ingredient called for in the recipe, the level of flavour boost this gave the muffins was incredible!

© 2012 CookThatBook

Rich, moist and full of the lovely taste of coffee, these muffins are perfect in every way. Because of my high level of trust in Dorie’s recipes, I did not end up making any changes. The only thing I did add was a mint chocolate covered espresso bean on top of each muffin.

© 2012 CookThatBook

Coffee is revered in our house, and these muffins are the perfect start to the day. Trust me – after popping a couple of these in your mouth you’ll be buzzing around productively in no time!

© 2012 CookThatBook

For a copy of the original recipe for Coffee Break Muffins, please visit Baker Street’s site and be sure to check out what the other food bloggers have baked up this week!

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.


Food & Wine Magazine: March Cover Recipe

Written & photographed by

Flax-Coconut Pancakes

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (best gluten-free pancakes EVER!)

Initial Thoughts: Ohhhhhhh…I wonder what Kendall Harris will pair with pancakes?!

THE TEST: Being a lover of all things breakfast, I fell hard and fast for the March cover of Food & Wine Magazine. Pancakes? Talk about a pleasant surprise! Golden, stacked pancakes with maple syrup drizzled overtop and fresh fruit sparkling like jewels made the photo irresistible, and I couldn’t wait to whip up a batch for the family.

© 2012 CookThatBook

While the cover states that these pancakes have a “healthy secret”, it wasn’t until I turned to the recipe that I realized they are gluten-free. Fun! And the dominant flavour? Coconut. More fun!

© 2012 CookThatBook

The recipe was developed by Elisabeth Prueitt, pastry chef at San Francisco’s famed Tartine and Bar Tartine. Despite the fact that she creates daily dessert masterpiece made with wheat flour, Elisabeth is gluten-intolerant. This made me even more excited to try the recipe, as I figured she would want to produce an alternative to regular pancakes that actually tasted good. Trust me – over the years I have suffered through some really awful tasting gluten-free pancakes.

© 2012 CookThatBook

Now because of my daughter’s gluten sensitivity I have dabbled in gluten-free baking, and for several Muffin Mondays have experimented with different gluten-free flour mixes (both store bought and homemade). So I was prepared for the extensive list of ingredients, most of which I already had in my pantry. However, if you are new to gluten-free baking be prepared to go on the hunt for a significant number of items that are a) not commonly found at most grocery stores and b) quite expensive. So what is in the flour mix? Both brown and white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, coconut flour (smells incredible), and flaxseed meal. Other more common ingredients such as baking powder, salt and sugar are added to the mix, which is then combined with eggs, milk and melted coconut oil.

© 2012 CookThatBook

Let me tell ya…these pancakes smell AMAZING once they hit the pan and cook in more coconut oil.

© 2012 CookThatBook

THE RESULTS: I am happy to report that these pancakes tasted as good as they smelled. The coconut flavour really came through but was in no way overpowering. The texture of the pancakes lacked the stereotypical grittiness of gluten-free baking, one of my biggest pet peeves. I loved the nuttiness of the flaxseed meal, which is also a great way of adding fiber, omega-3s and minerals. Healthy and tasty? What’s not to love!

© 2012 CookThatBook

We served our pancakes topped with fresh raspberries and gooseberries, along with warmed maple syrup. And to drink we got the morning off to a good start by popping a bottle of Cascina Castlet Moscato D’Asti, yet another fantastic wine pairing courtesy of Kendall Harris of Wine2Three.

Now I’m going to hop on over to Food, Je t’Aimée to see what Aimée thought about this month’s cover recipe. I’m always happy to have Aimée’s (virtual) company in the kitchen! If you would like to join us next month, the more the merrier. So pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine Magazine and be sure to send us your thoughts, comments and photos. We’d love to hear from you.

Cover Recipe:
Flax-Coconut Pancakes (gluten-free)

© 2012 CookThatBook

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

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

© 2012 CookThatBook

Wine Pairing by Kendall Harris of Wine2Three
There is no better wine to drink with brunch – especially a pancake brunch – than Moscato d’Asti! Moscato d’Asti is a very special Italian wine: Moscato (or Muscat in English) is the grape, and Asti is the region, so it’s essentially Muscat of Asti.

Moscato d’Asti makes a great brunch wine for several reasons:

1) it has a lovely light bubble to it (not as much as a sparkling wine, more like a lively effervescence) which is very pleasing on a lazy weekend morning.

2) It has a slightly sweet, grapey flavour (Muscat is the only wine grape whose flavour is actually described as ‘grapey’ but it’s true! Think green table grapes!), a flavour which makes it pair wonderfully with pancakes topped with fruit.

3) It’s lower in alcohol than regular wine, which makes it the perfect sipping wine with brunch.

You can find Moscato d’Asti in the Italian section of your wine shop, and you’ll notice that several different producers make this style of wine, so choose one in your price range (or one whose label you like!)  Jasmine enjoyed one made by Cascinacastle’t which had all the attributes described above, and was a well deserved treat considering the excellent health benefits of those pancakes! Think of Moscato d’Asti for brunches that include pancakes, waffles or fruit salad, for desserts that include fruits, or on its own without food, on a sunny day when you’re looking for a little refreshment!


This month’s wine pairing suggestion is Cascina Castlet Moscato D’Asti

Kendall Harris shares her adventures in the wine world as Wine2three on Twitter & Facebook. She is WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Advanced Certified & is currently developing a weekly wine series on ShawTV, where she is a full time reporter. Join her on Facebook – click LIKE at for regular fun wine info!

Meet Contributing Writer Jordan A.R.

The reasons why people choose to become vegetarian can be as wild and varied as the people themselves. Even the definition of what a vegetarian is can be disputed: For some it means a lifestyle completely free of any animal products; for others it means a diet where meat is consumed only a couple of times a week.

I stopped eating meat a few years ago because I believe that everything has a right to live. Yet, occasionally I still use products from big dairy farms even though I realize the animals live sad lives and eventually get slaughtered. But my excuse is simple: I’m not perfect. I try my best to lessen my impact and I think that’s all we can ask of one another. At the end of the day, if you’ve put thought into what you eat and are comfortable with your food decisions then you’ve probably done a good job.

But one thing I’ve yet to discover after switching sides is a vegetarian dish that is genuinely succulent. That’s my quest. And perhaps there’s a vegetarian cookbook out there with such a recipe.

We are incredibly excited to welcome Jordan into our CookThatBook family! As a consumer of meat, I have purposely avoided reviewing vegetarian cookbooks as I feel my perspective would lack integrity as I do not follow this particular lifestyle. Enter Jordan! If you have a question/comment for our newest contributing writer, email him c/o 

Monthly Miettes: Tomboy Cake

Hands up if you like cake? Hands up if you like to eat cake for breakfast?! If your hand is still raised, you are going to adore this new monthly component that is the delicious brainchild of the lovely Miss Aimée White, creator of Food: Je t’Aimée. Aimée also happens to be one of our contributing cookbook reviewers as well as my Food & Wine Magazine Cover Recipe cohort, so when she told me about her newest project I signed up right away.

Each month we will tackle a recipe from Meg Ray’s Miette, a beauty of a cookbook based on treats baked up in Meg’s famous San Francisco bakery. Recipe by recipe we will bake our way through the book, blogging and bragging about our experiences along the way. One stipulation? We need to consume our efforts for breakfast along with our morning coffee. Twist my rubber arm.

© 2012 CookThatBook

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to flip through the book, you’ll understand why Aimée decided to create a project around Miette. It’s gorgeous. Gorgeous in the type of way that makes you read through each and every page as if it were a novel, feasting your eyes on the beautiful photography and drooling over the baked deliciousness that scream “MAKE ME! MAKE ME NOW!”

Up first? The impressive Tomboy Cake that graces the front cover of the book.

Originally this cake was meant to be more of a conventionally frosted layer cake, but Meg fell in love with the aesthetic appeal of leaving the sides bare. She liked the contrast between the rough edges and girly pink frosting peaking out between the layers – hence the term Tomboy Cake.

This cake can be adapted to include a variety of cake and frosting combinations, but the book lists a Double Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Buttercream. Because the sides are left unfrosted and exposed to air, you want to ensure that the cake doesn’t dry out. The Double Chocolate Cake is exceedingly moist, making it the perfect candidate. But be warned – this cake is not for the faint of heart (or if you’re short on time). Next to the Spiced Chocolate Torte Wrapped in Chocolate Ribbons,  I would have to say this is the most involved cake I’ve ever made. But I enjoyed the challenge and loved trying out new techniques, such as straining the batter through a fine sieve to remove lumps and prevent over mixing. Sifting the cake pans with cocoa powder (rather than flour) was also something new for me, a trick meant to give the exterior of the cake a smooth finish.

© 2012 CookThatBook

The recipe for Raspberry Buttercream is modeled after the European style of buttercream, and involves an egg white base. American buttercreams tend to be sweeter and do not use eggs, instead integrating a simple mixture of butter and icing sugar. Because I knew there would be a couple of pregnant ladies indulging in the cake, I opted to avoid the use of raw eggs and instead made my go-to (American) Buttercream Icing. However, I did adapt the recipe to include the fresh raspberry juice as outlined in the book.

© 2012 CookThatBook

I ended up serving this cake for an impromptu ladies breakfast, in celebration of my sister-in-law’s birthday.

Nothing beats indulging in a slice of this extravagant cake with your coffee at 9:30 in the morning!

© 2012 CookThatBook

There was one thing that stumped me: the recipe produces two 6-inch cakes, one of which is meant to be sliced into three layers. However, there was no way I could have got three layers out of one cake. If you look at the photograph each layer appears to be quite significant, so I’m not sure if food styling tricks were at play or I’m just out to lunch. In the end I used both cakes, slicing them each in half for a quadruple layer cake.

© 2012 CookThatBook

After each of the ladies took home a piece of cake for their significant others, I’m proud to say there wasn’t a single crumb left! The cake was rich, moist and decadently full of the irresistible flavour of chocolate. Initially I was concerned it would have been too sweet due to the amount of sugar called for in the recipe, but it was perfectly bittersweet and paired nicely with the sweet frosting.

Can’t wait for next month’s recipe challenge!

For more information on Monthly Miettes or if you’re interested in participating, please visit Food: Je t’Aimée      

© 2012 CookThatBook

Muffin Monday: Almond Raspberry-Pomegranate Muffins

This week’s recipe comes once again from Women’s Weekly, so get your metric vs. imperial hat on and let’s get baking!

The batter is simple to prepare, and involves dumping all ingredients into a bowl and giving it a stir. Easy peasy. Now the original recipe called for hazelnut meal and plum jam, but I wanted to use some lovely raspberry-pomegranate jam I had in my pantry and figured almond meal would be a better fit with the flavour profile. I also added ½ cup of maple yogurt. I’d been dying to experiment with this flavoured yogurt in a baking recipe rather than just straight into my mouth, and figured this would be a good time. Because I didn’t have any caster (superfine) sugar I used ordinary granulated, but you could grind it briefly in a food processor if you wanted a finer texture.

While these muffins were not as big a hit in our house as some of the more decadent treats we’ve been consuming over the last few weeks, it is a solid muffin recipe that turned out great. The flavour combination of raspberries/pomegranate with the almond meal was delightful, and one that I would definitely pair again. The taste of maple really popped and added a nice depth to the muffins, while also providing an incredible moistness to the texture.

Tip? Be careful when taking the muffins out of the tray in case the jam filling has leaked to the sides and your finger accidentally touches the molten preserve. As I can attest – it hurts. A lot.

Happy Muffin Monday!

For a copy of the original recipe for Hazelnut Plum Muffins, please visit Baker Street’s site and be sure to check out what the other food bloggers have baked up this week!

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.


Guilty Pleasures

Written by contributing writer Jacqueline Twa

My husband and I have been traveling to Costa Rica for over 20 years. We love it there — in fact we love it so much that we got married there. It is truly the most alive place I have ever been in my life. The landscape is amazing! Rainforests, jungle, rugged highlands and beautiful beaches. Flowers growing in wild profusion, fruit falling ripe to the ground from the monkey filled trees. After dark the air is filled with the sounds of birds, insects, lizards. It makes you feel as if you’re listening to the sounds of the jungle renewing itself, the cycle of life doing its thing as you listen to the music of the night.

© 2012 Jacqueline Twa

Over the years my husband and I have discovered many culinary treasures in this beautiful country, and each trip we always ensure significant indulgence in our favourite cravings. When we are at our dear friends near Nosara at Guiones Beach, we make heavenly pizza in their wonderful outdoor forno oven while watching the sunset over the endless beach. We indulge in homemade tamales filled with chicken, egg, olives and prunes – yes, prunes! We go to our favorite Italian place in the capital city called Tutti Li specifically for dessert, in particular their wonderful nutella filled pasta bundles. We enjoy the country’s national dish called Gallo Pinto (said guy-o-pinto), which is made from cooking small black beans with celery, cilantro and onion then mixed with rice and served with a fried egg on top and covered in a wonderful cumin based sauce called Salsa Lizano (available online).

© 2012 Jacqueline Twa

But by far our favorite treat in Costa Rica happens when we head north to our dear friend’s farm in San Carlos, to the little town that we were married in called Boca Arenal. This is where the ‘guilty pleasures’ part of my article comes into play, in the form of Chicaronnes (pronounced cheech-a-rone-ees).

Now in life there are many varying degrees of guilty pleasures, like watching the Kardashians or eating some of your kid’s Halloween treats when they are in bed fast asleep, and then there are those REALLY guilty pleasures. Like eating Chicaronnes.

By definition, a Chicaronne is basically a piece of deep fried pig fat or pig skin. Sounds kind of gross – but I assure you it is ridiculously good! In the supermarket world, Chicaronnes are those pork rind chip type things you can buy in a bag, but freshly made Chicaronnes are something very different indeed. To truly understand how amazing they are (yes I can hear the groans of protest from the vegetarians in the crowd) you simply must try them made fresh.

© 2012 Jacqueline Twa

To make the Chicarrones you need a large outdoor burner and the biggest, thickest metal pot you own that is suitable to cook things at extremely high temperatures for a long period of time. You will need a giant metal slotted spoon and beers on ice. You also need pork. To be more specific, you need pork skin and fat with a small amount of meat still clinging to it for dear life. You need salt, fresh lime juice, tortillas, and most importantly a single potent Peruvian Pepper (lethal little buggers meant to burn your face off).

You begin the cooking ritual by putting the pot on the burner and cranking up the fire. Cut the pork fat and skin into approximately one-inch square cubes. Put about a tablespoon of a high smoking point oil in the pot and add the pork goodies.  Now for the tricky part. Throw in the Peruvian pepper and fry the living daylights out of the pork until it is brown, crisp and succulent. During the cooking process it is crucial to drink at least a couple of cold ones otherwise you’ll melt from the heat. Honestly, it takes a good 45 minutes to an hour to render this kind of scary mound of meat, skin and fat into crispy, crunchy, porky magnificence!

© 2012 Jacqueline Twa

When the pork is ready, take your massive slotted spoon and pull out the pieces onto a large platter and salt liberally. Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and serve on a small flour tortilla.


Pure, unadulterated, guilty bliss.

COOKBOOK REVIEW Mourad: New Moroccan

By Mourad Lahlou

Mourad: New Moroccan is available for purchase through our online store or at local bookstores. For more information on this book please visit Thomas Allen & Son Ltd.

Review written & photographed by Helena McMurdo

Virtually self-taught, Mourad Lahlou learned to cook “accidentally” while at university, trying to recreate the dishes of his childhood Morocco and longing for a connection to home. Eventually abandoning his studies to open a restaurant with the support of friends and his former professors, his first restaurant became an overnight success.

Today, Mourad Lahlou is the Chef behind San Francisco’s Aziza restaurant where his cuisine marries the traditions of Morocco, with the fresh local ingredients of the Bay Area and the advanced culinary techniques employed by only the most modern of chefs.

In collaboration with Susie Heller, Steve Siegelman, and Amy Vogler along with stunning photographs by Deborah Jones, Mourad: New Moroccan is Mourad Lahlou’s first cookbook and a sensual homage to the memories of his homeland while showcasing the modernity of his cuisine.

At  380+ pages, the book (published by Artisan, $40.00 USD) is comprehensive and detailed. After two introductory sections, the book launches into “Seven Things”, a set of seven introductory lessons that introduce the reader to such essential pantry items of Moroccan cuisine as Preserved Lemons, Couscous, and Harissa. Each of these sections covers these ingredients in amazing depth, with a look at the culture surrounding the ingredient as well as detailed information on how to make them from scratch. There is also a section with suggestions about how to include these items in your cooking.

At first, I was a bit daunted by the magnitude of these sections. The idea of rolling my own couscous or making my own warqa (a Moroccan brick pastry) seemed like more than I wanted to take on. In fact, Mourad explains in the case of warqa even Moroccans buy it these days. But gradually I came to the realization that whether or not you choose to make these things yourself is not the point. The point is that these chapters will give you a better understanding about how these things are made which will ultimately assist your culinary efforts throughout the book.

This cookbook may be grounded in the traditional flavours and memories of Morocco, but the techniques are sophisticated and modern. The recipes range from salads and quick bites to the rich and hearty stews we most commonly associate with Morocco. But there are also refined dishes like Berbere-Cured Chicken Liver Mousse, surprising and unexpected combinations like Farro Curry with Yuzu-Glazed Mushrooms, and a range of sophisticated and beautiful restaurant-style desserts featuring ingredients such as almonds, lavender and rosewater.

Here’s what I loved about this book:

It’s a great read
From the very first pages, Chef Mourad paints a vivid and heartfelt picture of his childhood and the sights, smells and tastes of his homeland Morocco. You’ll be just as inspired to curl up with this book in a quiet corner and let yourself be transported to Mourad’s world as you will be eager to roll up your sleeves and get down to work cooking the recipes.

It’s beautiful
The book’s modern aesthetic and stunning photography make it a pleasure to peruse. The plating is clean and sophisticated and Deborah Jones’ photographs of the dishes flooded in light seem to be bathed in Moroccan sunshine. These are juxtaposed with the colour and flavour of traditional family scenes in Moroccan kitchens and markets.

It was a great excuse to give my spice cupboard a makeover
This book introduced me to spices and ingredients like grains of paradise, long peppers, and dried rosebuds, that were either completely new to me or I had heard of but never deigned to use. If you have a bunch of old supermarket spices, it will make you want to toss them out and start toasting and grinding your own. The biggest reward this book has provided to me has been the insight into the flavours of Moroccan cuisine and the recipes for spice blends like Ras El Hanout, and Harissa Powder. I’ve enjoyed using these while testing recipes from the book, but have also had fun experimenting with them on my own.

It’s an educational adventure
This book imparts a lot in the way of technique. Hand-rolling couscous, making preserved lemons and fresh cheese were all new to me. Some of these things I may not do again, but others will become staples of my pantry. The useful appendix in the back of the book is filled with chef basics, recipes for stocks, sauces etc. If you like knowing how the chefs do it, you’ll also appreciate the “Chef to Chef” sidebars in select recipes which provide alternate presentations and method tips. 

It’s filled with delicious and exciting flavours
The recipes I chose to make were flavourful and rich and featured ingredients both familiar and new. Preserved lemons in particular were something new that I’ve been delighted to discover.

This is definitely the kind of book you’ll want to spend some time getting to know. Be warned that there are few ‘quick-fixes’ in here. The recipes require time and effort and in some cases you need to be prepared to dedicate a few days to complete a dish. Initially I thought this style of time consuming cooking would be impractical for most of us who lead busy lives. But the more I got into the book, I realized that because many of the recipes are prepared in stages the steps can be broken down to make it less of a chore. If you get satisfaction from the effort you put into your food, you won’t mind. And let me tell you the results are worth the effort! More than anything, this book is a chance to look through into someone else’s world, delivered in an authentic and heartfelt voice. I’m looking forward to cooking from this book for many years to come and I’m sure it will quickly become a favourite of mine.