03 December, 2012

Potato Leek Potage

Hopefully it's just the change of season but I don't want to eat salad these days.  Raw vegetables are mostly unappetizing, or if a carrot, edible but slightly stomach churning into almost an...ache.  Oh, and I don't feel like cooking much either.  What is happening?  It's a minor crisis of the kitchen...

I tried this easy potage (a thick soup) to lighten the mood - one pot, six ingredients, herbs and seasoning.  Forty minutes later and it's country delicious.

(serves 4-5 people)
5 small potatoes
1 extra large leek (or 2-3 smaller ones)
3 small turnips
1 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter
5 cups of vegetable stock
1/4 cup of cream
salt and pepper

Scrub, rinse and chop the potatoes and turnips into small pieces.  Slice the white part of the leek lengthwise, clean out the layers of dirt, and slice thinly.

In a large pot melt the butter over medium high heat then add the vegetables.  Cook, stirring for about 3 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of stock or water.  Cook for a further 5 minutes.  Add some thyme and salt and pepper.  Then add the remaining stock - there should be about one inch of liquid above the vegetables.  Bring to a boil then simmer for at least 25 minutes until vegetables are tender.  You can keep cooking them for another 15-20 minutes to further reduce the liquid and watch the potatoes start to crumble.  Stir in the cream at the last few minutes.  Taste for seasoning and then serve.

I served the soup with savoury crackers and soft cheese on the side.

12 November, 2012

Stasis Preserves

I did not get around to making my own preserves this year (or any year to date for that matter), but I do appreciate the fruits of other's labour.   Fruit combinations like strawberry and rhubarb equal comfort food for me - throw them together into a crisp, pie, or boil into jam and you have taste perfection.

At 476 Roncesvalles a few weekends ago, I picked up a jar of Stasis Preserves Strawberry & Rhubarb Jam and have been enjoying the strange but delicious spread ever since (the rhubarb creates a weird stringy element to the otherwise perfect jam).  It's overall a thin jam, nicely coloured and not too sweet.

And they have a very nice logo too - which never goes unnoticed in my books.  The storefront also offers ready-made meals, a significant selection of cured meats and cheese, fresh bread, organic produce, plus oils, vinegars and salty staples for your pantry.

Through their website I learned about FoodiePages - a mail order pop up shop where Canadian artisanal food producers can "etsy" their food wares to the whole world. Think gourmet mushrooms from British Columbia, caramels from northern Alberta, cranberries from Nova Scotia... or this wild blueberry juice from PEI.


21 October, 2012

Sunday Spinach & Soba

My comfort dishes are often rice/noodle bowl variations and this is a great new staple for me. I was sent a hand scripted recipe card by Jessy and this dish introduced me to Ume plum vinegar.  Don't even try to substitute...

That said, this recipe is a great base and you can try many greens (kale, chard, anything you have on hand) or add ons (vegetables, tofu, meat).  The key prize here is the dressing!

Soba & Spinach

1 pkg. soba 
1 t. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped dulse (dried seaweed, found in the seafood section)
1 cup each of spinach, arugula & mustard greens (or other greens)
1 sheet chopped nori (optional)

2 t. sesame oil
1 t. soy
1 t. plum vinegar  ("A tart, salty, festive condiment with beneficial organic acids.")

Cook soba according to package instructions.  Whisk together the dressing in a small bowl.  In a medium pan, saute dulse in olive oil over medium heat then add the washed greens, and cook lightly just until the fresh greens wilt.  Serve the hot noodles in a bowl with the greens and dressing.

07 August, 2012

Conversations with Strangers: Lunch in an Elevator

Image: Scanwiches
(12:45pm - Elevator, Ground floor going up)

He: My height, mousy hair, shruggy posture. White button up short sleeve shirt and grey slacks.
Hint of a moustache. No more than 24 years.

Me: So what kind of sandwich did you get?
He: (proudly) It's a dagwood.
Me: What's that? Ham...?
He: It's everything. Beef, ham, turkey, bacon...
Me: ... oh.

03 August, 2012

Home sweet Home

The expected: lobster, swimming, a summer storm, familiar faces I love, cooking, canning, the ocean...

The unexpected: tasting Tidal Bay wine, meeting a ladybug in the middle of the lake, that Moon above the hay fields, pruning grape vines, recognizing the exquisite unnameable quality of this place...

It is true what is said about loving the place you are from - it won't leave you no matter how far away you go. Never turn your back on the ocean.

Late July on the east coast - there is no recipe sweeter than that.

22 July, 2012

Follow me on Bloglovin'

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04 July, 2012

Romaine, Sweet Corn & Blueberry Salad

Three days before official moving day, with a lot of packing left to do, and fighting rising temperatures in the city, we wanted to eat whatever would not produce extra dishes.  Leftover lasagna from the freezer served with a fresh salad fit the bill: a slightly unusual combination of blueberries and sweet corn make this salad interesting and cool.  I added a handful of trail mix (cashews, almonds, raisins, sunflower seeds) at the last minute.

Combine half a head of romaine (enough bite size pieces for two) with 1/3 cup of fresh blueberries and 1/3 cup of fresh corn (cooked and cut off the cobb, and cooled).  Toss in your favourite vinaigrette (some crushed garlic is a great addition). Add a handful of nuts, raisins and seeds too.

19 June, 2012

Recipes for my Readers

Rapid Fire Round: 
Pick a food you want to eat, inspired by each country
(in order of SJ's highest audience numbers) 

image by Hannah Romeo
recipe by Massimo Capra
recipe by Food Pornographers
recipe by What's Cooking in Your World?
recipe by What Katie Ate
recipe by Poppy
recipe courtesy Good Food
United Kingdom
recipe by Jamie Oliver
recipe by The Three Cheeses
recipe by Food Happy

14 June, 2012


Illustration by Melinda Josie

We will need:
small cutting board & cheese knife
utensils, plates, and glasses (there'll be six of us)
picnic blanket & table cloth
cheese & baguette
pickles & sweet potato chips
bbq chicken
trio of salads - green, potato, quinoa
individual apple pies
juice, soda (for the boys)
and a kite.

Food links for summer picnics:
Sangria! use frozen berries as ice cubes
Slinging Slaws & Summer Salads! by Smitten Kitchen
Drift away with Jose Gonzalez 

06 June, 2012

guest post: tapioca pudding with fruit topping

uh oh, i'm changing.  check out the new look for sweet julienne and let me know what you think (comment below!).  i've been wanting to include guest posts for a while and I finally have my first one.  it's by my mom.  isn't that amazing? 

29 May, 2012

Blood Bones & Butter

First of all there's the name, Gabrielle, which to me sounds delightful, quick witted, and possibly athletic. And the title - Blood, Bones & Butter - which is just Great.  Wouldn't you agree family & food are a natural, emotional fit?

21 May, 2012

Handle with Care: Walnut, Apricot, Pear & Feta Salad

Recently I've only had eyes for Bibb lettuce. Since being served a salad with these delicate green petals at a restaurant last month, I have a new outlook on the endearing qualities of lowly lettuce and long to have  more amusing bites. But be careful; these leaves bruise easily.

And in completely unrelated news, Kristin Wiig departs SNL.  I would like to dedicate this salad to her because she's funny and she knows it.

Walnut, Apricot, Pear & Feta Salad
Bibb lettuce (half a head is good for two people)
a handful of walnut halves
4 diced dried apricots
1/2 pear, peeled and roughly sliced
1/4 cup feta, cubed
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
3 tablespoons diced red onion

For the dressing mix together 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of freshly diced garlic.

06 May, 2012

What to eat: conversations with friendly strangers

First there was a young Italian in Canada on a work visa. I knew I liked him right away the same way I know when the person sitting next to me on the subway is about to get off at the next stop. He's from Milano, and is currently working at an Italian chain restaurant in downtown Toronto. He spends his shift breaks disagreeing about select menu items with his non Italian boss (and the chefs are from Korea and India).  He appears to be twenty-something and above average intelligent.

He states that "real Italian" is only 3-4 ingredients, that Caesar salad and Alfredo sauce are not Italian but are "from Las Vegas", and he refuses to pay $20 for pizza. So despite living here for several months, has never eaten pizza in a restaurant like Terroni's (which I'm told by the Italian young woman standing next to us is actually quite good.) His favorite ingredients on pizza are mushrooms, Gorgonzola, spicy salami, tomato sauce, and mozzarella.

The second stranger was a young Italian Canadian woman, about 22 years old. Her father and grandmother came to Montreal in 1951, followed by her mother (followed by her). She never eats italian food away from her own, or her nana's, kitchen. "Pay for pasta? No way it could be better than my grandmother's." It centers her to cook, working with the method of "a little bit of this, a little bit of that." She is short, a little round in the hips, with very pretty, glossy, smooth long brown hair. Her face has fine features that make her seem like a porcelain doll come to life, with attitude.

The third stranger was a French woman here on a school visa. She is not the stereotypical French cook. In fact, she tells me, "I am quite bad at cooking. And I prefer to eat pasta." She is roommates with two Japanese guys and a Korean who are better cooks, and every Friday one person will cook for the others. On the night of her turn at the stove she skyped her aunt to get support and a recipe for boeuf bourguignon. In the past she has made them crepes with nutella, strawberries, and cream.

She has looked around Price Chopper for good cheese and was disappointed with the choice and the prices. She has a few freckles, nice teeth, and likes to sing to herself in down time (she dislikes being bored.)

She is very smart and engaging and was elated that Hollande just beat Sarkozy in the election. Her brown wavy hair is about the same length as mine, just below the shoulder, but hers is still without gray. When she's thinking she bites her nails and then her eyes come alive with a new thought.

If the timing is right I like asking strangers about food, starting a conversation about their preferences, looking for them to share an opinion about something they like.

This week in honor of the three friendly strangers I will pull together some Italian dishes - tomato salad with good cheese (mozzarella), Marco's pizza, and maybe make my favorite pasta with puttanesca sauce.

03 May, 2012

Rebecca's Roasted Broccoli Crowns

Another incredibly easy recipe, and one to use when you are dragging yourself into the kitchen because you don't really want to cook.  These roasted gems are quite the reward.  

The "before" stares you in the face with neat rows of vibrant green and the chorus 'I-love-myself-for-eating-healthy'.   The "after" is hot, bursting with flavour, and comforting.

Trim the broccoli so you have the crowns and a bit of stem.  Quickly toss them in a vinaigrette (a little olive oil, s&p, and red wine vinegar. Maybe a drop of chili oil.).  Arrange in rows and bake at 375 on parchment paper until nicely browned. Careful not to burn your reward!   

This food magic was brought to me (and now you) by one of the best home cooks I know, Rebecca.  Here's to missed friends and good food! 

29 April, 2012

Crackers/Batons Salés

I've never come across a cracker like this in the store. This recipe produced wonderful, tender savoury sticks (but not the crisp, thin cracker you might be looking for).  There's some milk, butter, flour and salt involved. I've made another cracker recipe (inspired by Leslie Stowe's savoury-sweet crisps) and they didn't crisp for me either.  Both recipes were a tiny miracle and were eaten up.

"Baked goods and desserts should not be regarded as a luxury at home." - Ginette Mathiot

I attempted a classic French recipe from this cushy baking book.  Making these crackers did feel a bit luxurious, as if I was let in on an incredible secret. (I also tested this recipe replacing gluten-free flour for all-purpose wheat, adding a teaspoon of xantham gum, and it turned out fine).

Clotilde Dusoulier (consulting editor on the book) spoke at George Brown College several months ago to a bunch of us aspiring food writers.  Clotilde is one of the world's original successful food bloggers (i.e., it turned into a new career).  It got me thinking about my own desire to write about food, on a blog.  Isn't the genre already overdone, overstocked?  You know, too much salt on the cracker?

Clotilde offered advice about how to stand out among the tens of thousands of food blogs in the world but I am still deciding on the "unique" elements for Sweet Julienne.  I know it is ordinary (photos, a little text, recipes etc) so I've been thinking of ways to switch up the format. I am getting a bit bored.  Until I figure it out, let's make some crackers...

Batons Salés
adapted from The Art of French Baking

(this recipe needs one hour resting time before baking)

1 cup milk
5 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons fine sea salt

Gently heat the milk and butter until lukewarm and the butter is melted.  Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Whisk everything together until the dough is very smooth.  Let rest for 1 hour on the counter.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a baking sheet with butter.  Mix the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt  with a bit of water and set aside (this will be soon be brushed on the cracker to give it a lightly salted finish).

Put a bit of flour on your work surface and roll out the dough (1/4 inch thick).  Cut into 1/2 inch x 4 inch strips (I got about a dozen crackers with varying imperfections).  Place them on the greased cookie sheet.  Brush the surfaces with the salty water and bake 10 minutes until golden brown.  Serve with sharp cheese or lightly sweetened jam.

22 April, 2012

CBC's Spinach & Grilled Cheese Sandwich


There it is.  You know it, and you and I both love it.  I learned a couple new tricks to make a simple melted fist of comfort worth sharing.

I was driving an Autoshare to get groceries at 7pm on a recent Thursday.  Listening to CBC to keep me company, they had a short (and fluffy) piece about national grilled cheese day.  There was audio of the host observing as her producer cooked in the CBC "kitchen" (is this true?) making a traditional grilled cheese.  On the line was one of the creators/judges of the grilled cheese championship out there in California.  (Emphasis on 'out there').  But, what is worth sharing is that they were grilling both sides of the bread in butter before adding the filling and grating the cheese for an even melt.  I didn't make the fists of comfort that night for dinner but I did buy cheese at the store, and they did comfort us the next day.  

My choice was to add chopped spinach to the sandwich and serve with roasted broccoli on the side.   

17 April, 2012

It's food magic: Thai Coconut Soup

I was near Ryerson/Gerrard East last week and hungry for something resembling hope.  I found this recommendation by Frank for Thai food on blogTO.  I walked over but there were no seats available.  I left, hungry, and determined to return (the lemongrass and chile aromas were incredibly inviting).

I was in the exact same part of town the next day trying to see the fashion show by graduating students at Ryerson.  I managed to not see the show (sold out) but there happened to be a table free at (my new favourite low key restaurant) Sukhothai. I ordered a small bowl of Tom Kha Gai soup and Tapioca for dessert. 

Two nights ago I made my own version of the soup for me and Nick.  He went crazy for it!  Said it was the best soup he's likely ever had. And I happen to agree it is nothing short of food magic. 


one can of coconut milk
two cups of veggie broth (or more, depending on how diluted you like it)
brown mushrooms, quartered
sugar snap peas
one medium tomato, cut into eighths
half a block of firm tofu, cubed
one tablespoon of fish sauce
three or four pieces of peeled fresh ginger
one garlic clove, diced
one stalk of lemongrass, tender parts only, diced and crushed
one or two tablespoons of red curry paste
one or two tablespoons of red chile paste 

small handful of cilantro, chopped
olive oil


Lightly sauté the mushrooms, peas, and tomato in a bit of oil and set aside.  Heat the coconut milk and broth in a large pot until simmering.  Add the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce, and tofu and cook for three minutes.  Add the sautéd vegetables and cook for two minutes.  Add the curry and chile pastes, taste and add more if you like, then serve with cilantro garnish.

(you could also make the classic version using chicken stock and chicken breast instead of tofu)

10 April, 2012

Queen West sandwich vs. Entertainment District soup and salad

First round (The County General):  Signature fried chicken thigh sandwich with avocado in one corner, grilled cheese and pear sandwich in the other corner.  We shared platters and all the elements were gone in the time it took the streetcar to pass outside the window. Bib lettuce is my new favourite salad green.  Velvety!

Second round (O&B's Canteen): (I actually ordered french onion soup and a green salad but was tempted by the Fresh Tagliatelle description on the menu.  Took ingredient list home to try later.  I used to pick wild chanterelle mushrooms in cape breton, sidestepping moss covered logs, and who could go wrong with kale, cheese, and fresh pasta?)  rk ordered the beet salad and french onion soup.  Our soup was bang on, nicely salted broth, tangy gruyere but the beet salad was too much of a good thing and my salad called for 'preserved tomatoes' but they barely made it in the bowl, and unfortunately are not a taste I want to return to.

Verdict: The County General for its fried chicken sandwich and Canteen for French Onion Soup

07 April, 2012

Oatmeal Blueberry Pancakes

This reasonable recipe for oatmeal buttermilk blueberry pancakes was lifted from the venerable New York Times archive and properly executed on a good friday morning, with a couple tiny ingredient switches to accommodate what I had on hand.  I made a batch (one dozen) and stuck the remainder in the freezer in packets of three.  I will thaw for a quick breakfast another day, when I officially miss the weekend.  

Many fruits could be substituted for blueberry - banana, raspberry, blackberry.  I'd even try pear.

Cook's note: the batter has to sit for an hour (or overnight) so plan ahead ... they're worth the wait.

Oatmeal Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes
From The New York Times / Martha Rose Shulman

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1 /2 cups buttermilk (I never buy "real" buttermilk, instead I add fresh lemon juice to ordinary milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I prefer to use maple extract)
3 tablespoons canola oil (I used grapeseed oil)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (or other berries/banana)

Mix the oats with the 1/2 cup of milk and set aside.

Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the buttermilk (or milk and lemon juice) and whisk together.  Now whisk in the vanilla (or maple) extract and the oil.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and whisk tougher, but do not over beat.  Fold in the oat mixture.  Let sit for one hour, or refrigerate overnight.

Get a nonstick pan hot and add a bit of oil (if necessary).  Drop 1/4 cup spoonfuls onto the hot pan.  Decorate each pancake with 5-7 blueberries (depending on their size).  Cook until bubbles begin to break through, and the edges are light brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side for about 30 seconds or until nicely browned.  Continue making pancakes until the batter is used up.

Keep well wrapped in the refrigerator for a few days, or freeze them for up to a few months.

28 March, 2012

Food Truck Block Party! May 5!

Block parties rarely happened in Halifax, especially food truck block parties.  Alison (who is always in the know) mentioned this event at the Brickworks in May that I will attend along with an empty stomach and an open mind.  I hope they have thousands of tickets ready to sell...and my name on a couple of them! I'd like to try Gourmet Tacos for starters please.

How to Start a Food Truck in Toronto
Infographic created by Toronto Food Trucks

25 March, 2012

All Day Breakfast: Eggs and Greens

The delight of the first meal of a weekend day keeps me coming back to a dish like this.  Crispy, tender greens weighed down only by the glory of a perfectly cooked egg.  I don't always enjoy the feeling of the end of a good day.  Afternoons lead to evenings, and to night.  Mornings have alway invigorated me and I savour the (memories) of the days I woke up (alert) before 8am.  This childlike morning time has always been my master, my teacher of joy.  There is so much hope and potential.  So much I could do with this day.  I don't want it to end.  And yet.  Afternoons lead to evenings, and to night.  One solution could be eggs and greens cooked together as if they were always meant to be this way. So comforting and easy to prepare, even at night.

(recipe follows)

20 March, 2012

Small Bites: I Found Some Beauty

Like the whistling in an Andrew Bird song, these fleeting food moments were each a revelation.  

15 March, 2012

eggplant salad with minted yogurt dressing

This salad would have been perfect had I grilled the eggplant long enough. And even without the distinctive grilled haloumi (I used feta pieces) or the finishing touch of sumac (read on...) the salad was a refreshing combination of flavours.  We both ate it, but (me) not overly enthusiastically.  Now you have a go at it...

13 March, 2012

Sweet Spigazzuoli!

Marco Polo probably brought pasta back to Italy with him from China in the thirteenth century A.D.  I recently found a tubular pasta that looks wacky and has two z's in the name and brought it back to my appartamento to whiz up a variation on a Neil Perry dish.  

(recipe follows)

06 March, 2012

Apple Stack (with green lentils)

An early spring appetizer that has a spark of freshness:   

Crostini with a savoury compote of green lentils, eggplant, shallots & garlic, topped with green apple and sharp cheese

(recipe follows)

03 March, 2012

We'll have waffles!

It just happens.  I wake up on Saturday morning and want to make either pancakes, french toast or waffles.  I'm not complaining really, but offering indulgent, comforting, gorgeous food!

(recipe follows)

01 March, 2012

Classic rice bowl (plated)

Inspired by the offerings of the popular Toronto restaurant Fresh, and a recipe tossed around kitchens and reinvented many times over by friends and families, this dish is a pleasure bomb of flavour, colour, and texture. (I offer my patronage if they open a location on the east side.)

24 February, 2012

Small Bites: sizing up the competition

Julia was my age when she started cooking.
"My Life in France" by Julia Child and Alex de Prud'homme

I've been reading books about food, poking around websites about food, absorbing New Yorker Tables for Two and salivating over the writing, trying to come up with a great lentil recipe, and anticipating taking my first formal cooking class this summer.

But I'm especially looking forward to watching Top Chef Canada return (albeit with only three female chefs).  Maybe it's because of my background in film and TV production, but I can't help falling in love with this show (and its American counterpart).  I am a drooling viewer, watching the chefs flounder against the clock, waiting for the judges' critiques.  The critiques are often quite painful to watch.  As the competition heats up we must shun the chefs that make mistakes.

In other news, the James Beard Foundation announced its nominations for the JBF awards (now that's a lot of nominations; one nominated restaurant, Isa in Brooklyn apparently "deliberately resists being understood."  Porridge for dinner? Why not!).   

And, my old friend is visiting - I'm diving into the Oscars on Sunday.

Oh, and I'm trying to find a job (not a cooking one, but still).  Competition surrounds me!  As they say (in some kitchens, and probably not JBF nominated ones...) "at the end of the day, it’s only food."