Gail Hall has been a positive force on the Alberta culinary scene for decades – she was an award-winning caterer, broadcaster, food writer, educator and international culinary tour guide who knew everyone and shared everything from her cooking school and loft on 104th Street in Edmonton. We’ve known her for years, and like most others who knew her, have been inspired by not only her work, but her infectious energy and enthusiasm. She has done so much to build our culinary community, to teach home cooks and support new (and established) chefs.
Sadly, Gail passed away in November, but this past weekend her husband Jon along with her many friends and family members held a celebration of her life – a potluck, of course, and we baked a batch of her almond biscotti to bring along. Thanks Gail, for all the delicious things you’ve shared, and for bringing so many people together around the table.
After somehow accumulating a fridge full of broccoli, making a big pot of broccoli cheddar soup seemed to be a good course of action. This version is bulked up with some butternut squash. Serve it with a bit of crusty bread and you’ve got a full meal. Read More
Growing up, my mom regularly made Ichiban salad – a crunchy mix of coleslaw, packaged ramen noodles, toasted almonds and a tangy dressing made with rice vinegar, oil and part of the seasoning packet. It’s not the healthiest salad in the world, but the mounds of cabbage tend to offset the crunchy noodles, and we only use half the seasoning packet. It has become my go-to desk lunch, and default dinnertime salad, made easy with bagged coleslaw mix, perfectly suited with anything from meatloaf to roasted chicken. If you can’t have almonds in your house, substitute toasted pepitas (green pumpkin seeds).
Aloo gobi, a classic Indian dish of curried potatoes and cauliflower, makes for a wonderfully nourishing stew. Full of veggies, it’ll offset all the holiday baking and sweets we lived on for the past month – it’s exactly the sort of thing we crave when January arrives. As with most curry dishes, it will improve with flavour after a day or two in the fridge, so it’s perfect for making on the weekend if you anticipate a busy week.
This stew is apparently one of Eddie Vedder‘s favourites – all the more reason to give it a try!
Looking for ways to keep kids busy during the holidays? This tasty treat is easy for little hands to make – and they don’t require the same dexterity decorating rolled sugar cookies with frosting and candy requires. They make sweet and salty treats that are fun for kids to package up and share with their friends.
Pick up some chunky pretzels, and melt a small bowl of chopped white chocolate or chocolate chips – or pick up a tub of frosting and warm it for about 20 seconds in the microwave, until it’s a dippable consistency.
Set out bowls of coloured sugar, sprinkles and small candies and let kids dip first in chocolate or frosting, then in sprinkles and candy; set aside on a parchment-lined sheet until set. That’s it! Fun, festive candy sticks for all!
‘Tis the season to warm up with a mug of hot chocolate – we like to mix up a big batch of our own, rather than rely on packaged instant hot chocolate, to stir into warmed milk throughout the winter. It’s also an easy thing for kids to measure and stir together – no chopping or heat required – to package up and give to their friends, relatives, even teachers and coaches to say thanks during the festive season. All you need is some good cocoa, powdered sugar (which will dissolve more easily than regular sugar) and a handful of mini marshmallows. Set the kids up with some markers to make labels, and your holiday gift giving is halfway done!
‘Tis the season for holiday cookies, and this year these chewy Chocolate-ginger Molasses Crinkles have become one of our go-to recipes for Christmas cookie exchanges. They’re easy to make, fun for kids to roll in sugar, and combine warm cinnamon and ginger with deep chocolate flavour. The recipe makes over 2 dozen, so there’s enough to package up and give away, plus a few to nibble on! Cookies are also perfect for teachers, coaches and other people kids want to thank at this time of year.
Make sure you don’t overbake these; they need to stay chewy. They should be set around the edges, but still soft in the middle – they’ll firm up as they cool.
We love a good bacon jam — it’s so easy to make in the slow cooker. Make a batch over the holidays and serve it with baguette slices as an easy party food and then spread the leftovers on a flatbread crust for a pre-Christmas pizza night. Read More
It’s holiday cookie season! This is one of our annual must-haves – Russian Tea Cakes, otherwise known as Mexican Wedding Cakes or in our house, Mom’s Nut Balls. They’re bite-sized shortbread balls made with finely chopped pecans or almonds (some even use hazelnuts), rolled in icing sugar while they’re still warm, which creates a sort of buttery frosting on the outside. Whatever you call them, they’re irresistible – and look delicious on a cookie tray, or bundled up in cellophane and tied with ribbon to give as a gift. Since they last well and are nice and compact, they’re also perfect for cookie exchange parties – it’s one of my go-to recipes.
I am very much a fan of the brownie – the dense, slightly chewy kind, with a crackly top – I think I’d choose one over a slice of cake any day. So last night, when our friend, food writer Gwendolyn Richards, showed up at an event we were cooking for with a pan of her brownies with sea salt and lime, I took note. (And a brownie.) They were exquisite.
This slow cooker version of one of the most popular Bridge recipes of all time is just as easy and just as delicious as the classic. And (sacrilege!) we’ve phased out the can of cream of tomato soup. But not to worry, we’ve also included instructions on doing it the much loved, old-fashioned way if you’d still like to use the tomato soup.
Our newest book (and the first with the new trio of ladies), The Family Slow Cooker hit stores at the beginning of October and to celebrate, we hit the road to preach the virtues of slow cooking. A couple dozen TV appearances (in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg and Toronto), radio interviews, and print media stories later, we’re back at home (in Calgary for Elizabeth and Julie – and Vernon for Sue) looking back at pictures of our book tour adventures. Here are some photos of highlights we hit along the way:
Sue and Julie kicked off the tour making some pulled beef at BT Vancouver – they’re SO much fun here! Always a blast.
Elizabeth and Julie appeared on Your Morning in Toronto on Friday, talking about desserts you can make in your slow cooker – recipes from the new Family Slow Cooker cookbook, which is in stores now! We made coffee pots de creme, using the slow cooker in place of the usual bain marie (hot water bath), to ensure a moist, gentle heat, but we also had our Chocolate Caramel Pecan Upside Down Cake on display – a gooey treat that bakes up perfectly in the slow cooker – and slides right out, after it’s done!
The edges of the pecan layer will get chewy, the center stays softer. This cake will make a lot of people happy!
If you find yourself with leftover pumpkin puree this season, here’s a cake for you. A moist, delicately spiced cake slathered with cream cheese frosting – not too much, we went with the exposed sides look – that’s perfect for this time of year. And the layers freeze well, so you can pack them away for the holidays. As a bonus, frozen cake layers are easy to frost, with minimal crumbs!