My wife makes killer pizza dough. She’s become quite the pizza guru and we now have regular pizza nights. It’s always my favorite night of the week. I also love how the whole house smells like an Italian pizzeria on these nights. But on this particular day, it was just shy of 30°C outside, and we weren’t in the mood to heat up the whole house to make pizza. Our oven exceeds 600°F; when it’s cranked to the max for well over an hour to preheat the stone, it gets toasty!
So, we looked to the BBQ.
It was my first try at making pizza on the grill, and we were all surprised by how good it was. The dough recipe I’ve provided below will give you more of a flatbread consistency, but that also means you have a sturdier dough that can handle getting flipped on the grill. I ran out of Harissa paste for one of my pies, so I used Sriracha. You could do the same if you’re a fan of the rooster sauce.
Mix 1 1/4 cups warm water and sugar in large bowl; sprinkle yeast over. Let stand for 10 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup flour; let stand in warm area until mixture is bubbling, about 35 minutes.
Stir olive oil and salt into yeast mixture, then stir in 2 1/4 cups flour. Knead dough in bowl until smooth and beginning to pull away from sides of bowl, adding more flour if dough is too sticky. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes. Form dough into ball. Place the ball in an oiled large bowl; turn to coat it with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down dough; divide into 6 equal pieces. Roll each dough piece on floured surface into ball. Cover dough balls loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Sprinkle 2 large baking sheets or cutting boards with flour. Roll out each dough ball on lightly floured work surface to 7-inch round. Transfer to floured baking sheets/cutting board. Brush tops lightly with olive oil. Working in batches, grill dough rounds, oiled side up, until bottoms are firm and grill marks appear, about 3 minutes. Turn crusts over, grilling until dough is set, about 2 minutes. Return crusts to baking sheets.
Lower heat to medium. Spread 1 teaspoon Harissa paste very on each crust. Sprinkle each with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Return pizzas to grill; close the BBQ lid and grill until cheese melts, about 4 minutes.
Combine mixed greens and herbs with olive oil in medium bowl; toss to coat thoroughly with oil.
Place pizzas on platter. Divide salad among crusts. Garnish with pine nuts, if using.
In my books, Spring hasn’t arrived until the farmer’s market returns with a fresh selection of fiddleheads and ramps (a.k.a wild leeks or wild garlic). Ramps are a big deal in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, where the bulk of my family comes from. My grandfather counts down the days until he can hike into the woods, guided by the aroma of pungent and sweet garlic to locate patches of this most delicious ingredient. My grandfather then pickles them and saves a jar or two for his grandkids. It’s a real treat.
I haven’t pickled them in this recipe. I’ve in fact, done little to them. I’ve included some raw; some lightly roasted. I’ve used the leaves to make a yogurt sauce to augment the whole dish. The potatoes are delicious, but the ramps take centre stage in this week’s dish.
If you’ve never had ramps, now’s the time. They won’t be in season much longer. But a note of caution: As much as I love them, I’m aware that years and years of over-harvesting has made them a threatened species. Quebec banned the commercial harvest in 1995. States like North Carolina and Tennessee have done the same. So, I tend to limit myself to one or two dishes each spring.
1 head garlic, sliced in half across, for the vinaigrette
1/2 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch ramps
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup rice vinegar
1 head of roasted garlic
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
Ramp Yogurt Sauce
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
leaves of 4 ramps, roughly chopped
freshly ground black pepper
Make it happen
Preheat the BBQ to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine potatoes with oil and salt. Transfer to the grill with the garlic, cover the lid, and roast for 30 minutes. Separate 6 ramps from the bunch (you’ll use these later) and add the rest to the grill for 5 minutes. Set the potatoes and ramps aside. Use the garlic for the vinaigrette.
Vinaigrette: In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar and mushrooms over high heat until it boils. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and steep for 30 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the vinegar, squeezing out vinegar back into the pan. In a blender, combine the vinegar with garlic cloves from the head of garlic you roasted on the BBQ, honey, salt and oil. Purée until smooth.
Yogurt Sauce: Combine ingredients in a processor or blender and blitz until smooth and green.
Put the potatoes in a large bowl with the vinaigrette, dill, parsley, and toss to combine. Transfer to a serving platter, using the yogurt sauce as a base. Add the roasted ramps. Finely slice the reserved fresh ramps and use to garnish the dish.
I wish I had a compelling story to go with this week’s recipe. The truth is, one Saturday morning, my wife told me she wanted fish for dinner. With clear marching orders, I went to Whalesbone—the finest fish monger in Ottawa—to see what was on display behind the vitrine.
Salmon, trout, halibut and cod were all there for the picking. I’ve cooked a lot with the first three fish, but after one bad experience, hadn’t cooked cod in ages. So, rolled the dice and walked out with a pound of the oily white-fleshed fish.
I googled cod recipes to see what would inspire me. Upon seeing recipes for miso black cod (a different fish, I know), I decided to roll with it. This is what I came up with. My wife loved it, the bar my recipes must all clear before I share them here.
Does anyone wake up thinking, “You know what I could use right now? A root vegetable salad”? It just doesn’t happen.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, we often think of using root vegetables to flavour stocks or soups. Sure, we might add some peeled carrots to our asian-inspired rice noodle dish. Or make a beet salad from time to time. But if you’re like me, the idea of making a root vegetable salad sounds kind of boring. Not any more.
This is a sexy dish. An array of colours and a wide spectrum of flavours will smack your palate around. It’s a surefire way to buck the winter blues. You’re using seasonal veggies and adding a spike of citrus, herbs, and crunch to breath new life into winter veggies. The real hero of the dish is the faux mayonnaise, made with a lot of lime juice, garlic and spicy chile. Best part is, you can make most this dish ahead of time, letting you spend the weekend as you see fit.
I was inspired by a new cookbook some good friends got me for Christmas, Bar Tartine for this recipe. I’ve adapted it by using fewer ingredients, and using ones most of us would have in our pantry (e.g. olive oil instead of pumpkin oil). I also prefer a dressing that packs a bit of punch; what I have below does the trick, for my personal tastes. As always, let me know how it worked for you!
1 very small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
Green onions, white and tender parts, sliced
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp kosher salt
Fresh cilantro, dill and curly parsley, coarsely chopped, for garnish
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp honey
grated zest of 2 limes
2 tsp kosher salt
225g pumpkin seeds
Dressing (faux mayonnaise)
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1 jalapeño chile
1 tsp kosher salt
5 tbsp sour cream
Make it happen
Separately, steam all the root vegetables for 10-15 minutes, until tender, but not mushy. For the parsnip, make sure to reserve 1/2 cup and set aside at room temperature (it’ll come in handy later when we make the dressing). Otherwise, all root vegetables go straight to the fridge to cool. You can do this 1 day in advance, if you like, and store, covered, in the fridge.
To make the roasted pumpkin seeds, preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter with the remaining ingredients before adding the seeds. Toss to coat and spread out on a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes and then let cool. You can do this up to 5 days in advance, if you like and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
To make the dressing, squeeze out the juice from the limes into a blender with the honey, olive oil, garlic, jalapeño and salt. Purée until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the sour cream. You can do this up to 5 days in advance, if you like and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
To assemble, transfer the root veggies to a bowl and toss with juice of 2 limes and salt. Add the dressing and half of each of the green onions, cilantro, dill and parsley. Mix gently. Transfer to a plate and top with roasted pumpkin seeds, the remaining green onions and herbs.
This week’s recipe looks pretty similar to that ubiquitous Vietnamese dish we all know and love. That big bowl of hot broth that hides an undertow of rice noodles upon which heaping amounts of bean sprouts and cilantro rest. Dig through this nest and you’ll find meat that’s been perfectly flavoured by a broth that’s been simmering all day. It’s quite possibly the closest you’ll get to heaven on earth.
But this ain’t Pho. It’s a bowl of pork broth that’s been augmented with dried squid and spare ribs. The method guarantees you’ll have some of the most succulent and tender spare ribs you’ve had in a long time. You’ll look and feel like a pro when your chop sticks pierce through the meat like a hot knife through butter. Take a bite, follow-it up with a slurp, close your eyes, and picture yourself in Ho Chi Minh City.
A note on ingredients: You should be able to find most of these at your local grocer. As for garlic chives, most asian grocers carry this, but you could always substitute with regular chives. I’d use less, however, as they’ve got a stronger taste than garlic chives, which are surprisingly delicate in flavour. Same deal with the shredded squid. It comes in packages like this.
1 lb pork ribs, chopped into 2.5 inch pieces (the butcher can do this for you)
1 tbsp black peppercorns
4 green onions, white parts only
225g (1 package, usually) dried shredded squid
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
800g rice noodles, separated into 200g portions (if you have smaller bowls, you can cut this in half)
2 tsp sea salt
3 tsp sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
4 shallots, roughly bashed in a mortar and pestle
250g bean sprouts (optional)
small handful cilantro, leaves picked
small handful garlic chives, sliced into 1.5 inch lengths
half bunch mint, leaves picked
2 tbsp fried garlic chips (see recipe below)
2 tbsp fried shallots (see recipe below)
generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
3 red chiles, sliced
1 lime, halved
Make it happen
Mix marinade ingredients in a large bow and add the pork ribs. Toss well to coat. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours. If you can plan ahead, do this the night before for awesome flavour.
Add the marinated pork ribs to a large stockpot. Add the peppercorns, green onions, shredded squid and 10 cups (2.5 litres) of water. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, skimming off impurities as they foam to the top. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and let it do its thing for 2 hours.
Add the salt, sugar and fish sauce. Give it a quick stir and let it cook another 10 minutes before removing from the heat.
When you’re ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to boil. In individual batches, blanch each portion of noodles for 10 seconds, rinse under cold water, and place in separate bowls.
Add pork ribs to each bowl, then cover with your amazing broth. Top with bean sprouts (if you’re using), cilantro, garlic chives, mint, garlic chips and fried shallots.
Finish with a crack of pepper, chile slices and a squeeze of lime.
You won’t even have to take out a knife for this week’s recipe. Start to finish, we’re looking at 15 minutes. And I mean real people minutes, not Jamie Oliver minutes.
To pull it off, we’re letting a kick-ass curry paste do all the work for us. Do not skimp out on this crucial ingredient — it’ll make your big bowl of broth and noodles sing. You should get the curry from an asian grocer, if you’re so lucky to have one in your neck of the woods. It’s tough to find good curry paste at your mainstream grocer. Look at the ingredient list on the curry I got from my local asian grocer: chilli powder, coriander, fennel, cumin, cinnamon, red rice, salt, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, palm oil, tamarind and drumstick leaves. No preservatives. No BS. This stuff packs a punch and will help you make one solid bowl of laksa.
So, find a local asian grocer. Get your hands on some awesome curry paste. Sit back. Marvel as this dish practically cooks itself for you.