lemon dill tahini sauce

January 3, 2016


This is a must-have for every refrigerator out there. Make a big batch and keep it handy because it’s fabulous on salads, winter kale, steamed veggies, falafels, sandwiches, or even a dipping sauce for whatever tickles your fancy. Make it a bit thicker and just thin out what you need with a little water for salads when you want to use it as a dressing.

3/4 cup tahini paste

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup dill

sea salt and pepper

In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients. Let it rip until everything is blended well. Adjust taste with salt and pepper if needed. Add a bit more water if it’s too thick. Store in a jar in the fridge and use it liberally whenever the mood strikes.

classic gremolata

April 11, 2015


Gremolata is a traditional milanese condiment typically served with ossobuco alla milanese. With only 3 ingredients – lemon, parsley, and garlic – it’s fresh, zesty, and pungent so why limit its outings into the culinary world? It would be happy on this nossobuco vegan version of ossobuco. But it would be just as happy on pasta e fagioli, a fennel leek parsley risotto, or an end-of-winter vegetable stew. Bring it out whenever you need an extra guest at the party.

Handful of parsley, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Zest of 1 lemon

Wash and dry the parsley thoroughly. Chop the parsley coarsely on a chopping board. Add minced garlic and lemon zest to the pile. Continue to chop all 3 together until well-blended and the parsley is finely chopped. Mix with your hands a little more if needed.

small batch stewed tomatoes

September 13, 2013


I was just given Domenica Marchetti’s new cookbook The Glorious Vegetables of Italy and in it I found a recipe for small batch stewed tomatoes. Given the season and the number of fresh, glorious, local tomatoes out there, I thought I would whip up a small batch. I think everyone should do some canning each year, even if just a little bit, to keep in touch with preserving one’s own food so we don’t lose the knowledge and skills, and what’s more, the connection to age-old traditions. Domenica taught me a trick with this recipe and that’s to grate the tomatoes, leaving the skin out of the concoction. I wasn’t convinced but I like it. She discards the seeds as well but I can’t do that – I like them and that’s where much of the flavour is. She also doesn’t use onions, but I do. So what you see here is a variation but a really good one. I ate it for lunch. As a soup. As is. So good. But with the rest of the batch, I’ll tuck the jars away and pull them out for stews, risotto rosso, and other dishes that need summery-fresh-hand-preserved-tomatoes to truly sing.

1/2 cup olive oil

2 onions, finely diced

12 lbs ripe tomatoes

3 tsps fine sea salt

small bunch basil leaves

6 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice

Wash and sterilize 6 large mason jars and their lids by immersing them in boiling water for 10 minutes.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.

Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place a box grater over a large mixing bowl. Hold the cut side of a tomato flat against the large holes of the grater and grate the tomatoes, pressing gently, until only the skins is left in your palm. Continue until you have grated all the tomato halves. As you work, collect the pulp and any juice that collects in the bowl. Collect the tomato skins in a separate bowl. When you have processed all the tomatoes, and collected all the skins, put the skins in a colander and squeeze them hard over the bowl with the tomato pulp to catch any residual juice. Discard the squeezed skins.

Carefully pour the tomatoes into the saucepan with the oil and onions. Season with the sea salt, raise the heat to medium, and bring the tomatoes to a simmer. When the juices start bubbling, return the heat to medium-low and let the tomatoes simmer, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, until thickened to a nice consistency. Stir from time to time to prevent the tomatoes from burning. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil leaves.

Pour 1 tbsp of the lemon juice into each of the sterilized jars. Ladle the tomatoes into the jars, leaving 1 inch of space at the top. Screw the lids on tightly and process for 35 minutes in a boiling water bath. Store in a cool, dark place.

fresh spicy peach salsa

August 10, 2013

peach salsa


Fresh Ontario’s peaches are one of life’s true pleasures. It really doesn’t get much better than that. Problem is, in our enthusiasm, we usually buy way too many and, after over-dosing on sliced peaches, drunken peaches, peach galette, and other delicacies, we start to get spent and need other creative ways to take advantage of the juicy taste of mid-summer. This spicy fresh peach salsa is yet one more variation to add to your repertoire. It’s great pre-dinner with some crackers, on top of cheese for the cheese lovers, beside nuts, pickled ramps and other munchies. It’s also fabulous beside spicy marinated tofu and grilled vegetables (in which case you could add a little cilantro just for fun). Make a big batch and either freeze or preserve some to pull out during the winter doldrums – summer in a bottle.

2 tbsps olive oil

2 large shallots, diced finely

1 large sweet pepper, diced finely

1 tbsp  garlic, minced

1 tbsp ginger, minced

red pepper flakes to taste

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

8  large fresh peaches, skinned and sliced into chunks

Heat oil in a heavy bottom skillet. Add diced shallots and peppers and cook until tender over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook until garlic is fragrant. Add vinegar and sugars. Let the mixture come to a boil and then turn dow the heat to low. Let simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until it starts to thicken and turn syrupy. Add peaches and boil down until peaches are very soft, flavours have melded and the salsa is thick. Let cool. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.



January 26, 2013


Many of you will know the magical powers of harissa. For those of you who don’t, you should. Harissa is a Tunisian hot chili sauce whose main ingredients include hot chili peppers, spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander, red chili powder, and olive oil. It is most closely associated with Tunisia, Libya and Algeria but its recently making inroads into Morocco and can be found in countries with a strong Arab presence like France and Israel where it is a common topping for falafel. Recipes for harissa vary according to the household and region. Variations can include the addition of cumin, red peppers, garlic, coriander, and lemon juice. This recipe is from Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s Jerusalem. I love it in a not-so-discrete pile next to a Moroccan Tagine, drizzled on top of smokey lentil soup, or simply spread on an open face sandwich topped with whatever suits your mood.


1 red pepper

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

1 1/2 tbsps olive oil

1 small red onion, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

3 hot chilis, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 1/2 tsps tomato paste

2 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tsp sea salt

Place the pepper under a very hot broiler, turning occasionally for about 25 minutes until blackened on the outside and completely soft. Transfer to a paper bag or bowl covered with plastic wrap, and allow to cool. Peel the pepper and discard its skin and seeds.

Place a dry frying pan over low heat and lightly toast the coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds for 2 minutes. Remove them to a mortar and use a pestle to grind to a powder.

Heat the olive oil in the frying pan over medium heat, and fry the onion, garlic and chiles for 10 – 12 minutes, until a dark smokey colour and almost caramelized.

Now use a blender or food processor to blitz together all of the paste ingredients until smooth, adding a little more oil if needed. Store in a sterilized jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or even longer.

salsa al funghetto

September 16, 2012

The Tuscans like their funghi and, while traipsing around Chianti and the Crete Senese, we found variations of funghi-based dishes on every menu. Salsa al funghetto is a paté of cooked mushrooms that can be used in many formats. It can adorn a nice crostini as an appetizer, it can be added to soups and sauces, and it can be used in the traditional tacconi con salsa rossa al funghetto. Use any and all mushrooms (yes, even the Asian shitake and maitake) (yes, even the ones you found at the back of your fridge that are starting to dry up) and keep a jar or two of this in the fridge and/or freezer so you can pull it out at anytime and get transported to the boscos of Toscana where the best funghi grow.

2 tbsps olive oil

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

healthy bowl full of mushrooms, finely chopped

sea salt and pepper

Mince the mushrooms until they are very finely chopped or even until they are almost a paste-like consistency. Sauté the garlic over medium heat in olive oil until full of colour. Add mushrooms and cook slowly until they turn a very dark brown colour and they lose most of their liquid. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. If there is remaining liquid, remove the mixture with a slotted spoon and press out as much of the remaining liquid as possible. Store in the refrigerator or freeze for up to a month. Adapted from Pino Luongo’s A Tuscan in the Kitchen.

tomato conserva

September 11, 2012

I’m going to go out on a limb here folks because right now it’s all about tomatoes. I went to the market on Saturday after a serious day of rain and they were worried the market would flood so they evacuated everyone. Big shame because all of the producers, of course, were anxious to sell their produce which they didn’t want to drag home, and in some cases couldn’t drag home because it would perish. So, right before the woman with the walkie talkie threatened to remove us physically from the premises, I became the proud owner of pounds and pounds and pounds of fresh tomatoes.

My post today is not my own but comes from Marisa McClellan of Food In Jars. I don’t normally post other peoples stuff directly but I think everyone needs to experience the joy and power and pleasure of tomato conserva. So here it is, direct from Marisa via Food52.

10 pounds tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil (plus more for topping)
2 teaspoons sea salt

Chop tomatoes into quarters. Combine them in a large pan with 1/4 cup olive oil and bring to a simmer. Cook until they are soft and the peels begin to detach from the tomato flesh.

Push warm tomatoes through a food mill, sieve or chinois, so that you separate the tomato pulp from the seeds and skins.

Divide the tomato pulp between two large, rimmed baking sheets (I used two half sheet pans).

Place baking sheets in the oven and bake at 350° F. Check tomatoes every half hour, stirring the paste and switching the position of the baking sheets so that they reduce evenly.

Over time, the conserva will start to reduce to the point where it doesn’t fill the baking sheet any more. At this point, I combine the contents of the two pans into and continue to bake.

When the conserva is shiny, brick-colored and has reduced by more than half, it is done. There shouldn’t be any remaining water or moisture separating from the paste at this point.

Scrape finished conserva into clean half or quarter pint jars. Top with a layer of olive oil and place in either the refrigerator or the freezer. As long as you keep it well-covered with olive oil and ensure that you only use a very clean spoon to remove it from the jar, it will keep in the fridge for a month or so. Frozen, it will keep for up to nine months.

vegetable tomato sauce

March 3, 2012

vegetable tomato sauce, vegan lasagne, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson

I came up with this sauce for my lasagne recipe based on an old favourite from my childhood. But don’t stop at lasagne. This sauce would grace the likes of any pasta large or small, sophisticated or plain, day or night. Make a big vat of it, let it sit for a couple of hours to cool and to let the flavours meld, and then store in containers in the fridge or freezer until inspiration hits or dinner duty calls. And since it’s packed full of veggies, it’s a great way to get those much needed nutrients into young picky mouths that otherwise might balk at the likes of green things like zucchini. 

4 tbsps olive oil

2 onions, chopped finely

6 medium carrots, grated

6 celery stalks, grated

3 medium zucchini, grated

large handful enoki mushrooms

6 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup red wine

6 cups stewed tomatoes

1/4 cup tomato paste

basil, thyme, parsley, chopped

1 tbsp organic cane sugar

sea salt and pepper

To make the sauce, heat olive oil in a heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven. Add the onions and sauté until they start to turn translucent. Add grated carrots, celery, zucchini, and mushrooms. Sauté until beginning to get soft, 3 – 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until aromatic, about another 2 minutes.

Add the red wine and let simmer until reduced by about half. Add stewed tomatoes and the tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Add chopped herbs, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Turn down the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Set aside for the flavours to meld.

I found this recipe in the Globe and Mail years ago. It hails from Lucy Waverman and  I return to it again and again and again.We love mushrooms in this house. We spring out of bed on Saturday mornings to get to the farmers market to find specialty ‘shrooms like the ones above. I don’t know their name, or their particular qualities, but does it really matter? They are mushrooms, they are beautiful, and they are happy companions to any other mushrooms we thrown in the sauce with them. If you can’t find any unusual mushrooms, just use the regular offerings from your grocery store and you’ll still be happy with this fabulous sauce dripping over your mashed potatoes, on pasta, or even on toast with arugula and pine nuts.

1 pound mixed mushrooms

3 tbsps olive oil

1 tsp chopped garlic

2 tbsps balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup veggie stock

2 tbsps Port

2 tbsps chopped parsley

salt and pepper

Trim mushrooms, removing stalks if you are using shiitake, and chop. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until they begin to lose their juices, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add balsamic and stock and bring to boil. Reduce until liquid practically disappears and then add Porto. Saute 1 minute longer, sprinkle with salt and pepper and parsley.

johnny apple sauce

November 5, 2010

After years of singing “Ohhhhhhhhhhhh……the Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple seed…” I am thankful for the sun and the rain. And I’m happy to have the apple sauce that comes from the apple seed. This is sweetness at its best with a hint of spice and the grape of the gods. Have it for breakfast, dessert, or a mid-afternoon snack. Or as a saucy side to roasted squash, portobello mushrooms and brussels sprouts.

It’s very simple and incredibly good, two of the top criteria for me when cooking. One question before I go on. Why is it that everything homemade is always better than prepared?? Rhetorical question of course because I know the answer. Thing is, it’s making it next to impossible to go the store-bought route for things like hummus, tapenade, and now apple sauce. I swear the difference in taste is night and day.

2 1/2 cups water

4 tbsps strained fresh lemon juice

8 medium-sized Granny Smith or other apples (tart is good but you choose – there is such a variety)

1/2 cup organic cane sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

3 star anise

2/3 cup good sweet white wine (try Henry of Pelham late harvest vidal)

ground cinnamon and nutmeg

Mix half of the water and half of the lemon juice together in a bowl. Peel and core the apples and cut them into 1 1/2 inch chunks. As you cut each apple, drop the pieces into the water to prevent discoloration.

In a medium size saucepan with a heavy bottom, combine remaining water and lemon juice, the sugar and the wine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Add the apple chunks, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Partially  cover and cook gently until apples are tender. Remove cinnamon sticks and star anise. Add ground cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Serve warm or cool, cover and refrigerate.