70s Week: Terrific Women Make Pepperoni Salad

Pass the pepperoni. I’m eating salad here! I feel like we’ve lost our way with salads. They’ve become so over-simplified under the guise of showing off the best of the ingredients at hand—it’s really disappointing. Where’s the French, Catalina (okay those might be the same thing), Thousand Island, and un-ironic Ranch? Surely it’s time we started adding raw egg yolks to our dressing for creamy, heavy coatings to cover-up the refreshing and crisp icebergs and garden vegetables the greengrocer likes to stock. Who has ever gotten fat by eating a plateful of Pepperoni Salad on the daily?

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Obviously it’s a subject we feel strongly about, which is probably why we found this next photo set hidden in Jen’s Fleetwood Mac album sleeve. Get us on the subject of light-weight salads and it’s like Stevie Nicks flipping out at the end of “Rhiannon”.

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It’s clear from these photos how close Linda and Joy were outside the show—a regular Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern. They shared everything with each other from advice on the best military school to send Joy’s unborn baby, to tips on making macramé plant hangers, and the pleasures of having an ample Italian sausage every now and then. They both really loved this salad.

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For the time, these flavours were really pushing the boundaries of the foreign food aisle at the local Dominion supermarket but that’s what made Linda and Joy’s cooking so special—they weren’t afraid to take risks. Linda, the trailblazer that she was, stole inspiration, as well as the innocence of a few busboys, from her neighbourhood pizzeria. When she first started making this salad it was just a few slices of leftover pizza cut up over a big bowl of iceberg lettuce to make it more nutritious.

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The salad kind of evolved from there. One night when Linda was serving this at one of her “parties”, she had been bunged up for nearly two weeks, which her doctor attributed to her restrictive diet, consisting mainly of whisky and cigarettes. He recommended she try adding garbanzo beans to a salad for some dietary fibre. Though she was reluctant to try it, she loved the word “garbanzo” so picked up a can and added them to the party’s salad that night. Everyone loved the new twist and Joy then took it upon herself to tinker with the recipe on her own, replacing the pizza slices with pizza toppings.

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This is what made Linda and Joy’s friendship last so long. They could relate over anything and found life lessons in the most ordinary circumstances, whether it was sausages, constipation, or a mix of both.

Pepperoni Salad

1 head of iceberg lettuce, torn
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
1 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
19 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup pepperoni, thinly sliced
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/2 cup Italian dressing
salt and pepper to taste

Toss in a parquet bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

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Winter Recipe Roundup


What happens when you give drunk people fire and tell them to spell.

Judging by my Facebook feed, everyone wants this winter to die a fiery death and never return.  Well, suck it up, because I have more winter photos to share, as well as a reminder of the winter recipes we posted.  Hopefully soon this winter will be a distant memory, and you can look back on this post fondly in October when you’ve forgotten that time when it was technically spring but still -14 degrees Celsius and snowing outside.

Also, we busted our asses in a snowstorm to take these photos “in the name of Crustcrumbs!“, so you are going to look at them, okay?  Okay.

Actual snowstorm.

Our shooting conditions.

Winter Recipe Roundup

1. Ice Fishing & Perch Soup

For this recipe, we trekked over to Minet’s Point Park in Barrie to visit the cool ice fishing tepees.  We pretended to go ice fishing to the amusement of the locals while John cooked fish on a portable grill and served it up in a soup.  In a glorious display of grace and finesse, I slipped on the ice and injured my hip like a 90 year old woman.

Perch Soup

2. Hickory Smoked Venison Shoulder

The venison was smoked on the BBQ.  I made John go outside in the snowstorm to check on the meat while I took pictures through the window “for artistic purposes”.  This was also my first time trying venison and it was tasty, but not as tasty as the wild rice salad John made as a side dish, which I am still obsessed with to this day.

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3. Gluten-Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

We baked a cake in a wooden wine crate in a campfire (sort of).  Spoiler alert: the wood crate caught on fire.  The cake was still tasty, because John says it’s impossible to screw up sticky toffee pudding.  Even when it’s gluten free.  I didn’t take a good photo of the final product because cider.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

More Pictures

Ice fishing huts

Cooking Outdoors

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

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Enjoy spring!

Hickory Smoked Venison Shoulder

I think we’re all sick of that cozy feeling we seek in wintertime. Putting on layers of constraining itchy clothes, lacing up bulky boots for a journey of only a few minutes, and wrapping a scarf around my head, up to my eyes, leaving bits scarf fluff caught in my throat, I think like everyone else, I’m over it. I want to be able to tell a story of drinking breezy cocktails in Miami or finding food along the boardwalk on Venice beach.

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I’m not going to do that though because it’s too easy. Character doesn’t come cheap and we are, if anything, paying dearly for our witty, sarcastic and bitter character. We’re still talking winter because it’s unfortunately still here. Just wait until spring actually pops up in Toronto, and then, I’m afraid to say it should I jinx it, summer along behind it. We will drop the bitterness and pick up a distinctly west-coast positivity that can only exist when the weather isn’t holding us hostage under a blanket.

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This meal was created for our ice fishing weekend. Inspired by the woodland environment, I wanted venison and I wanted it to be heavy, wrapped in an extra layer of fat (just like all Canadians in winter), and infused with hickory smoke. I like making roasts that take up a lot of time. Spending a bit of prep to get it in the heat, then forgetting about it until it’s time to eat. Venison doesn’t generally need much time in the heat though, which is why I went with a shoulder roast. For all its leanness, it still has some connective tissues that benefit from slow cooking to break them down.

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If you wanted to do this in an oven and don’t want to have a smoke out in your kitchen, you could certainly bard the roast with double smoked bacon, which would keep the roast moist while also providing a good dose of smoke flavour. I used hickory chips on the barbecue so using bacon wasn’t really necessary and even while maintaining a relatively low temperature on the barbecue, it’s still a harsher heat than the oven so barding in a heavier layer of pork fat is preferred.

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There are a lot of robust flavours venison can pair with. I like juniper, garlic, pepper, wine, bay, oregano, lemon, thyme and onion to not only flavour the meat but any sides to be served with it. Sweetness and acidity are also welcome additions to game meat, hence the pomegranate molasses in the marinade, which also caramelizes on the roast as it cooks.

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We kept the sides simple for this dinner because we’d spent the entire day outside in the snow and could barely manage to lift a pot by the end. A wild rice salad, featuring a vinaigrette of lemon, fresh oregano, parsley and olive oil, with some shallot and pomegranate molasses mixed through is a nutty and herbaceous compliment to the venison. Roasted celeriac purée, simply flavoured with heavy cream and fresh thyme is extremely satisfying and dare I say, cozy, along side.

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Hickory Smoked Venison Shoulder

Serves 4-6

1.13 kg boneless venison shoulder, tied
pork fat for barding
1 bag hickory wood chips, soaked
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

For the marinade:

1 tablespoon whole juniper
1 tablespoon whole allspice
5 whole cloves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
300ml red wine
100ml sweet sherry or port
100ml olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Combine the juniper, allspice, cloves, peppercorns, and garlic in a mortar and pestle and crush until the spices are coarsely ground. To a large heavy freezer bag or a vessel big enough to hold all the marinade ingredients plus the venison, add the spices and the rest of the marinade ingredients. Mix to dissolve the sugar then plunk in the venison. Leave to marinate overnight or up to 2 days.

When ready to barbecue, remove the venison from the marinade, season with the salt and tie the pork fat around it. Place the venison in a barbecue safe pan and decant the marinade into a separate foil pan. In another foil pan add the soaked wood chips and cover with aluminum foil, piercing the top, which will allow the smoke to escape later.

With the lid down, preheat the barbecue to 275°F, placing the pan with the wood chips over direct heat. When the chips begin to smoke, place the pan with the venison over indirect heat and the pan with the reserved marinade somewhere in between direct and indirect heat. Leave the venison to cook for approximately 2 hours, opening the lid to check as little as possible to help keep the smoke from escaping.

When ready, let the meat rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, then remove what’s left of the barding fat before serving.

6 Disastrous Dishes to Avoid on Valentine’s Day

You’ve wisely decided to skip the restaurant scene this year. Who needs the added pressure of getting a reservation on Valentine’s Day, anyway? You’re not an amateur. You can pull off a romantic evening at home, no problem. Just have to figure out what to serve. Best advice we can give you is don’t fuck it up.

Sugared Roses

All menu planning, the way I see it, is a manipulation of your guests. How hungry do you want them to be when they take their first bite of the main course? How full should they be when they finish dessert? Are you worried they’re going to eat and run and if so should you plan to eat the minute they arrive so they understand the party doesn’t end when the meal is over? These are decisions you need to make before you decide what food you want to serve.

Sugared Roses

Valentine’s Day has its own set of rules for menu planning. We talk a lot about traditional eating around here and Valentine’s Day is no different. Do you go for the obvious aphrodisiacs with oysters and chocolate or do you get sentimental and make your partner’s favourite? Maybe you want to make something you both have fond memories of. Listen, all food is good but sometimes Valentine’s Day isn’t the time for it. This is our list of six disastrous dishes to avoid.

Anything with Parsley

Parsley is one of my favourite herbs in the kitchen. There are several parsley salads I make throughout the year but all of them are banned on Valentine’s Day. You might be thinking, you both love Middle Eastern foods. Remember how you met at that shawarma place after a particularly awkward night of goth karaoke? You may be thinking tabbouleh is a good option on the menu but don’t do it. It’s like rule one of romantic menu planning, unless you want to spend the rest of the evening grooming each other’s smiles, ridding them of a seemingly endless field of parsley.

6 Disastrous Dishes to Avoid on Valentine’s Day

Tabbouleh from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Heavy Food

Sure it’s mid February and all you really want is comfort food and why not? Everyone loves macaroni and cheese, right? Well if your plan is to follow dinner with going straight to bed to have cheese dreams, you really need to consider something lighter. If you want cheese maybe splurge on some Coeur de Neufchâtel and have a nibble before dinner.

6 Disastrous Dishes to Avoid on Valentine’s Day

Macaroni and Cheese from The Farm by Ian Knauer

Food That Makes You Go Poof

You know enough already to leave high fibre foods off the menu tonight. Beans and lentils are not sexy foods, no matter what your vegan friend tries to tell you. Jerusalem artichokes at first glance and to the uninitiated locavore might seem like a good choice. A bit different, in season, and known for their luxurious creamy texture, they’d make a great side. The other, lesser advertised bit of information on Jerusalem artichokes is that apart from them being high in fibre, they also contain inulin, a complex sugar that can’t be broken down easily in digestion. Nothing in your evening following this meal will be quiet, that’s for sure. You might well have served a bag of dried apricots for dinner.

6 Disastrous Dishes to Avoid on Valentine’s Day

A Pan Fry [of Jerusalem Artichokes] with Duck Fat and Bay from Tender: Volume 1 by Nigel Slater

Spicy Food

For some, spicy food is okay but you’d better know that going in. A bit of spice tonight is what you want because it speeds up the metabolism and gets your heart racing. It also clears the sinuses, which is the biggest problem. There is nothing worse than needing a nose tampon to stop a relentless flow of “cleared sinuses” at the dinner table. If this doesn’t apply to you, then carry on.

6 Disastrous Dishes to Avoid on Valentine’s Day

Goan Pork Vindaloo from Mangoes and Curry Leaves by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Literal Food

It’s good you’re being creative and really thinking about the menu but it can be easy to take it too far. Stick with heart shaped candy and boxes of chocolate. Eating animal heart tonight – though I’d recommend it on other nights – is not appropriate unless you’re into some Star Trek Klingon role play and you need to fortify yourselves on the heart of a beast before fracturing a few clavicles.

6 Disastrous Dishes to Avoid on Valentine’s Day

Grilled, Marinated Calf’s Heart from The Complete Nose to Tail by Fergus Henderson

Phallic Food

It’s a double standard for sure that you could absolutely serve a meal of oysters and papaya tonight but geoduck is off limits. Blame society’s imbalanced views on the sexes and really weird looking seafood. Sashimi is a very good idea for Valentine’s Day. It’s light and fresh tasting, simple to prepare and luxurious. Geoduck sashimi though creates too many Lorena Bobbitt-like scenarios. It’s just bad foreshadowing for the events to follow in the evening. At best it’s going to remind your partner of the time she had an online dating profile and was bombarded with numerous photographic come-hithers.

6 Disastrous Dishes to Avoid on Valentine’s Day

Geoduck Sashimi from Serious Eats: The Nasty Bits by Chichi Wang

Turkey Dinner Part 2: The Sides

If you’re having turkey as the main event then the sides are absolutely the most important thing going on in the meal. Your guests will know what to expect with the turkey and though it’s nice, it’s not much more than that. Like the the turkey and its various trimmings, the side dish portion of Christmas dinner practically writes itself.

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The parsnips are already roasting with the turkey, getting sticky with maple syrup, butter and turkey juices. The meal still needs carrots. Keeping them separate from the turkey makes them a vegetarian side and provides opportunity to add another flavour profile, in addition to preserving their colour. The carrots, heirloom if you fancy, are simply glazed in a shallow pan on the stovetop with a decent knob of butter, a little sugar, some cold water and a few star anise thrown in there for Christmasy spice and woodsy decoration. The only other spice necessary is a bit of freshly ground black pepper and a touch of flakey sea salt.

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Though the bird is stuffed, it’s with potatoes so it’s okay to make another stuffing with bread. Do something familiar but made better with a few upgrades. Red fife flour is somewhat of a Canadian specialty. It produces a whole grain bread very similar in flavour to rye, and giving attention to the bread here is a pleasant change to forging ahead with whatever miscellaneous petrified white bread that’s often used. The sausage is sweet and mildly spiced while the figs add further sweetness and their seeds an appealing grainy texture.

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Sausage and Fig Stuffing

Enough for 8 as a side dish

1 large day-old loaf red fife (or rye) bread
3 large mild Italian sausages, casings removed
100ml olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped finely
12 dried mission figs, cut into smallish pieces
500ml turkey stock
1/4 large bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
50g unsalted butter

Cut the bread into large cubes, approximately 1” chunks, and place in a large mixing bowl. In a heavy bottomed skillet fry the sausage in the olive oil until starting to brown then add the onion, garlic, rosemary, and figs and continue to fry until the onion softens. Add in the turkey stock and cook until the figs begin to plump. Decant the mix into the bowl with the bread and mix in the parsley. Mix and check the seasonings, adding salt and generous amount of pepper to taste.

Generously butter a casserole dish, large enough to hold everything and tumble in the stuffing. Dot the butter overtop of the stuffing and bake, covered until warmed through. If it seems dry, add additional stock, turkey pan drippings, or gravy. This stuffing can also be stuffed inside the bird, such as the summer savory dressing.

Christmas Dinner

Now as the menu is almost done, you may be thinking the plate might look a little dull. It needs a hit of green. Something that’s not going to get cold by the time the other dishes make their way around to the last diner. A hot casserole of something decadent is ideal. Brussels sprouts in bacon or maybe simmered down in mustard and blue cheese would be a good thing but certain family members don’t like the sprouts and there are others that don’t like blue cheese. Spinach buried under a ridiculously thick béchamel sauce is the way to go this time around. The sauce is rich and aromatic better than any macaroni and cheese. A lightly crisp topping made with Japanese bread crumbs, butter, and a little thyme help to gussy the dish up so it’s worthy of the Christmas table.

Creamed Spinach

Enough for 8 as a side dish

1620g (approximately 4 large bunches) spinach
500ml whole milk (3.5% M.F.)
1 small yellow onion, halved with the root-end removed
2 whole cloves
4 whole allspice berries
10 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
80g unsalted butter
80g all-purpose unbleached white flour
150ml whipping cream (35% M.F.)
2 teaspoons Maldon salt

For the topping (optional):
30g Panko bread crumbs
35g unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon fresh thyme

In a small saucepan add the milk, onion, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, and bay leaf and warm over medium heat until starting to steam. Remove from the heat and cover for approximately 20 minutes, allowing the aromatics to infuse the milk.

Meanwhile, thoroughly wash the spinach and trim away the tougher stalks. Add the wet spinach, to a very large pot and cover as much as the lid will fit on top. Wilt the spinach down over medium-high heat, stirring as necessary until the spinach has collapsed. Remove from the heat and set aside in a colander to drain completely.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat, add the flour and cook for 5 minutes or so, until just starting to turn a light brown colour. Strain the infused milk, discarding the aromatics and add it slowly to the pan, whisking as you go. Stir frequently and cook for 10 minutes. The sauce will be thick. Add the drained spinach, cream, and salt and stir to combine.

If not using the topping, the spinach is ready to serve straight from the pot. To dress it up a bit, decant the creamed spinach into a buttered casserole dish. In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the topping and scatter over top of the casserole. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is browned and the casserole is bubbling.

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With dinner set, it’s time to work out dessert…