remembering breakfast

April 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

I realize that the contents of this photo don’t particularly look edible, but bear with me!

It’s almost one year since we spent an early summer in Montréal. It snowed the first night we arrived, and was 35˚C by the time we left, with lots of Eastern thunderstorms in between. It was pretty much perfect: cooking, eating, reading, walking, and sitting in the sun by the Canal almost every day, all with good–no, great–friends.  I think about it all the time.

Madeleine introduced me to this vegan recipe one morning, and for once I actually documented it (you can tell because our kitchen in Bristol is nowhere near as sunny). Four of us in one apartment meant lots of family-style Sunday breakfasts,  and although none of us are vegan, or even vegetarian, theses maple sausages were pretty great with a hootenanny and even more Québec maple syrup poured on top.

Vegan Maple Thyme Sausages
adapted from The PPK

I used 1/4 cup of maple syrup as per the recipe, but found this to be way too sweet; still good and addictive, but maybe more suited to breakfast than dinner (last night I made them for a mock bangers and mash dinner).

This recipe really lends itself to variation. I imagine you can replicate all kinds of “real” sausages by mixing up the herbs and spices; e.g. fennel and chili (Italian salsiccia), or harissa, cumin and extra garlic (mock merguez).


  • half an onion, finely chopped
  • 5-8 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (95g) cooked borlotti or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp – 1/4 cup (60ml) pure maple syrup, to your taste
  • scant 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or pushed through a press
  • 1 1/4 cups (160g) wheat gluten
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons gram (chickpea) flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • aluminum foil
  • a steamer
  1. Tear off 8 pieces of aluminum foil, they should be at least 5 inches wide.
  2. In a small pan, heat the 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium. Add the chopped onion and thyme, and sauté until lightly browned. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mash the beans into a paste (leave no bean unmashed!). Add all the remaining ingredients and stir quickly with a fork. Finish mixing the dough with your hands until everything is thoroughly combined.
  4. Before shaping the sausages, place the steamer over a pan of water on high heat; the water should be boiling by the time you’re done the next step:
  5. Divide the mixture into 8 pieces. Take one piece of aluminum foil and squish a piece of the dough into a sausage shape, about 1″ in diameter. Roll it up in the foil and twist the ends securely, like an old-fashioned candy wrapper (see photo). If the foil ends are too long, trim them to about an inch.
  6. Place the sausages in the steamer (I only have a small bamboo steamer, so I had to do 2 rounds), and steam for about 30 minutes. Cool them for a few minutes before unwrapping. Brown them in a hot pan before serving.

food on film

April 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

I got a roll of film back today. They’re a little all over the place: Berlin, Bristol, and Paris; December and January.
Is it just me or is yellow an unappetizing colour for a donut?


March 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve been working a lot this week, and it’s rained every day I worked. Not much cooking around here these days, so here’s a neat little video from somewhere else.

spring greens

March 16, 2013 § 2 Comments

A quick recipe for early spring, and some green for St. Patrick’s Day. Potato gnocchi is a lot of work, so I prefer this method: combine ricotta, egg yolk, cheese, flour, and mix gently. Pan fry after boiling, and they become more a treat than a quick dinner. Wild garlic leaves are everywhere at the moment, happy times.

Wild Garlic Gnocchi

250g ricotta
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
30g parmesan, finely grated
50-70g plain flour
45g wild garlic leaves

more flour for rolling

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt, and blanch the garlic leaves for 30 seconds. Lightly rinse with cold water, and squeeze out as much water as possible. Finely chop.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, egg yolk, cheese, salt, and chopped garlic leaves. Add about 50g of flour and gently mix. Depending on the water content of your ricotta, you may need to add more, but it shouldn’t form a solid dough–it should be a wet mixture.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil while shaping the gnocchi. Flour a board/surface generously, and place a spoonful of the gnocchi mixture on top. Sprinkle some flour over the top and gently roll into a snake, about 2-2.5cm wide. Cut into 3cm long pieces. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

When the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat so it isn’t boiling aggressively. Using a spider or spoon, gently lower the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook until they float to the top. Remove and place on a greased baking sheet. Fry in a hot pan with some butter and olive oil until golden brown and crisp.


March 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

I am very behind. I still haven’t developed a roll of film I finished in January, which probably contains photos from last summer. I am almost finished the Berlin recipe book, but have yet to find a printer. I have many things to sew. I have many things to photograph. On and on and on.

And to illustrate my point: the flowers were from Valentine’s Day.


February 20, 2013 § 2 Comments


Growing up, we used to call these “gerbs.” Glutinous Rice Balls –> GRBS –> Gerbs.
It’s easy to see the appeal for a group of kids who liked hanging around the kitchen–it is, inelegantly but basically, edible Play-Doh swimming in a bowl of sugar syrup. We would roll the dough, sometimes tinted pink or green with bottles of Safeway food colouring, into 1 cm balls and drop them into the boiling water where they cooked in seconds.

A chewy rice dough skin usually filled with ground black sesame seeds, they’re called tang yuan in Chinese, which I have literally never heard someone say in my life. They will be gerbs to me forever.

I’ve also, as usual, modified a few different recipes to accomodate what I had in the cupboards (leftover hazelnut meal sound familiar?) and to incorporate flavours found in other Asian food cultures.

I am addicted to the smell of pandan paste, which I can only describe as smelling like cookies but green(?), and it adds some interesting visual contrast. The coconut oil in the filling is a good alternative to pouring over coconut cream, which I was very tempted to do; not to mention it’s healthier than lard, which was listed in a few traditional recipes. And instead of a clear, white sugar syrup, I gave a nod to Japanese kuromitsu (black sugar syrup), which is one of my favourite sweeteners. Lastly, I added some toddy palm seeds, canned, just because I haven’t had them in years.

I like making my own traditions. :•)

GRBrecipe1 GRBrecipe2

year of the snake

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment


The lunar new year starts this Sunday! I doubt I will have cleaned the entire flat by then, as tradition dictates.
Here is a traditional new year’s snack instead: boil some eggs, crack the shells, and simmer again in a mixture of black tea and spices. I love the way they look, even the shells.

Marbled Tea Eggs

  • 3 free range eggs
  • 2 tsp black tea (I used Assam)
  • 1 tsp lapsang suchong tea (smells like a campfire, I highly recommend using this)
  • 1 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Gently add the eggs and boil for 7.5 minutes. When done, submerge the eggs in cold water for a couple of minutes or until cool enough to handle. Using the back of a spoon firmly crack the egg shell all over, keeping the whole shell intact.

Return the eggs to the pot and cover with fresh water, then add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 40 minutes to an hour. Remove from the heat, still covered, and let them sit for at least 2 hours to overnight. The longer they steep, the stronger the flavour.

Peel and eat.

good morning

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Mochi” pancakes recipe found here.

bonne soirée

January 28, 2013 § Leave a comment


Got back from Paris last night and immediately made two boxes of Kraft Dinner (a luxury item in the UK, in my opinion).
Don’t worry, we ate some amazing food and brought back a lot of amazing food.

snow day

January 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

Jan-19-13 Jan-19-13b Jan-19-13c

Woke up to snow yesterday. Went for a walk, followed by hot chocolate and a movie in bed. I think the entire country has shut down.

Nice as it is, I hope it’s gone by Monday.
So many things to do: fabric-buying, recipe testing, new job training(!), family-hugging and Paris-visiting.