Monday, 27 February 2012

First Tweak

Why my blog readers are the best blog readers who ever read blogs: thoughtfully, intelligently and helpfully setting me on the right track toward the right dinner party. Thank you for your comments and suggestions! As per your collective advice, I have decided to adopt option two. If you recall, that was tweaking the original recipes for flavour but still upholding their historical importance. Or something like that.

The next victim of my wartime recipe debauchery was Carrot Fudge.

First following the recipe to a T was an utter disaster. The whole lot ended up in the trash not 20 minutes after they were made. The redeeming quality of being so stereotypically WWII and the fact that they have good flavour to work from urged me to take on the recipe tweak and make them something unique and hopefully edible.

When I took on the decision to alter historic recipes, I also decided to make as few changes as possible and, where it allowed, make substitutes and additions that would also have been feasible during WWII. Now, will my guests really appreciate the fact that I not only altered the recipes with their taste-buds but their accurate acquisition of historical information in mind? So help me, they'd better.

Sparing you the details of the next four attempts at improving Carrot Fudge (including the important decision to name it a less-misleading 'Carrot Bar'), I present a very pleasant alternative.

The completed list of alterations included in a much improved new recipe looks like this:

Carrot Bars

5 cups of packed, grated carrot
1 package of gelatine
1 cup of orange juice
1 cup of sugar, dissolved in the orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
seeds of half a vanilla pod (this is an extravagance that would have not been possible during wartime. I only used a half, so it's OK, right?)

Dissolve gelatine in orange juice and sugar mixture. Add vanilla seeds, orange zest and grated carrots. Stir until well combined. Pour into a shallow baking dish and let set, covered, in the refrigerator.

Musings on Authenticity

I know you are all nail-bitingly anxious to see the results of the first round of WWII recipe-testing results. In a nutshell: surprising and not surprising. Not surprisingly they were difficult to cook. Using ingredients in ways that we wouldn't in this age and using different techniques to achieve good results are challenging and there is plenty of room for error. Surprisingly tasty! A look at the names and list of ingredients in these recipes has you dreading the thought of putting the end product down your throat. They simply do not look good on paper. And as photos did not and do not accompany most wartime recipes, the most unappealing of ingredient lists is all you have to go with. Just go with it.

First up: Woolton Pie.

A simple, hearty dish. I am at a loss of what else to say about it as simple and hearty are about all this pie has going for it. Flavours are on the bland side of bland. The vegetables meld together in a sloppy, flavour-poor stew kind of way and the pastry leaves much to be desired - mainly a bottom crust.

As the very first dish I tested, I was faced with the question of authenticity. Leave the dishes as intended and serve food that has a 99% chance of being bland, tweak the recipes slightly in method or ingredients as to preserve some of the historical integrity yet still serve a dish that guests would want to eat, or simply base my own creation off of wartime recipes that people could get really excited about. 

What would you do if faced with this issue? What you rather be served as a guest of a themed dinner party?

I can see the merits of all three options and different rationales lead me to different conclusions. I am at a stand-still after this Woolton Pie. Curse you, Woolton Pie.

In The Works

Remembrance Day has come and gone - my few historical talks preceding it forced me to delve into the subject more than I ever had before and afforded me a greater understanding and appreciation for the events and sacrifices that we all know happened but don't often sit with and think about. Understandably it left me feeling all the things you normally associate with remembering war, but also with an unexpected (or maybe expected in my case!) urge to celebrate - perhaps as a counter-balance to the solemnity of the occasion.

I've been mulling this over for some time now: combining history and food into a World War II dinner party. The last thing I would want to convey is making light of this time by throwing a party in which the horror of that era is covered up by Carrot Fudge and Victory Cakes, but the real people of WWII are what I am aiming to highlight. While war was waged, life went on and people had parties! They made do and made the most of it. That is what I want to capture.  

And please, for a moment, let's think about all the make do recipes of WWII. Rations. Dried fruit. Carrots. Mystery replacers, fillers, beefer-upers, flavours. We can have some fun with this.

The tentative line-up is as follows:
- Woolton Pie
- Carrot Fudge
- Spring Beauty Cake
- Victory Sponge with Fake Whipped Cream
- B.Y.O.I.D.A. (Bring Your Own Illegally Distilled Alcohol, obviously)

I am (with good reason) very nervous about serving plates with names like "Spring Beauty Cake" to my friends, near and dear, so I will be testing and documenting these recipes in advance of feeding them to guests. The World War Two Dinner Party adventure begins!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Art Deco Chic Opening

The Good: The Art Deco Chic opening was a success! The cat's meow, baby.
The Bad: The inevitable debockle before the opening night of a large-scale, multi-person, multi-piece, long-term exhibition at a world-class institution. For us, it went like this: three days before opening night, the exhibit's co-curator receives a flustered phone call from the donor of one of our star pieces. She says she's changed her mind about displaying her yellow and gold beaded flapper dress and I'm telling you, it's one of the most stunning things I've ever seen; it simply must be in the exhibit. Now, calls and concerns like these need to be handled with care. On the one hand, there's no legal way Mrs. Peabody can pull her (our, for the time being) dress. However, on the other hand, curators who wish to continue having exhibits and collections to curate, mustn't step on and demolish too many toes.

Attendees were encouraged to dress the part.

And so, Mrs. Peabody, after much, much cloying, sweet talk finally relented and the show was back on track.
The Ugly: Nowhere in sight.

But I suspect you want to know about the food.

An evening exhibit opening obviously calls for beverages and snooty finger-food. Exactly fitting that bill was the signature cocktail, French 75, a delightful elixir of gin, syrup, champagne and lemon that oozes 1920s extravagance and class.

After unspeakable amounts of hors d'oeuvres, again echoing the Roaring Twenties, came the grande pièce de résistance: le gâteau. I think the photo really does speak for itself. A masterpiece, indeed.

Perhaps it was preparing for the Art Deco opening, loosely translating the food into the 1920s, that inspired my own wish for a themed dinner gathering. I've yet to make any concrete menu decisions and ideas continue to bounce off of one another, but I have a great feeling about it!

Bustlin' Food

Kitchen adventures have been few and far between this week; please accept my apologies. Autumn always seems to be buzzing with projects from all sides and you accept every one of them, big and small, because external buzzing quickly turns into a desire for the internal kind. And then there you are, saddled with your increasingly consuming Art Deco exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver and schedule of seemingly innumerable lectures around the approaching Remembrance Day. I've scarcely had time to heat a packaged chicken pot pie for one. Granola bar weekend (weekend!) breakfasts and lukewarm pizza-by-the-slice eaten on the fly are sadly becoming less and less shameful. At least I know it's not just just me who's stretched to thin; there's something in the air. Or water. Probably both. That being said, the light at the end of my tunnel comes with the opening night of the exhibit in 26 fast-approaching days.

When my schedule leaves little time for preparing from-scratch meals, I remember why I made four servings too many of that chili a month ago. The practical, organized and Martha-idolizing side of me had enough foresight to hoard individual portions in the freezer for times of desperation. Now is that time. It is currently feeding me breakfast (almost), lunch and dinner. This Greek Red Lentil Soup with Lemon and Rosemary is delicious and provides a much-needed bright punch of vibrant citrus. Of course, the tried-and-true Black Bean and Quinoa Chili is never unwelcome, either. Soup, chili, stew: get into it.


With the prospect of real-deal free time in the not-too-distant future, I have been mulling over a few ideas on how to wind down but also reward myself a bit. The reason I mention it here is this: it will be a dinner party. I have a few themes kicking around and I have yet to decide on just one, but I thought it would prove interesting, if not useful, to collect, test and modify themed recipes for such an occasion as a fancy people dinner party.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Cobbler, Quiche, Burger, Cabbage, Dumpling

Whole Wheat Peach Cobbler

Adapted from Joy the Baker.

Well, I swapped all-purpose flour for whole wheat (that was all I had), white sugar for coconut sugar (all I had... strange kitchen, indeed), likely decreased the amount of overall sugar and, clearly, substituted the plums for peaches. Ta-da.

This recipe is a keeper - adaptable, delicious, simple.

Bärner Zibelechueche

Swiss (Bernese) onion pie. I would liken it to an onion quiche. November Switzerland in pie form.

German recipe here.

Salmon Burgers

Recipe adapted from Underbaraclara. (Google Translate will provide you with the jist)

Adapted due to lack of ingredients/equipment/motivation. EX: mashed a much smaller quantity of salmon with a fork. Still added a whole egg, so needed some breadcrumbs to soak up the moisture and was unwilling to toast bread, so smashed some stale bread with a rolling pin into entirely too large pieces. Did not even realise that the recipe called for sour cream for the dressing and so used mayonnaise + crushed garlic + lemon juice and that's it.

I suppose I can no longer call this space a "vegetarian" blog. We might get into this another day.

Cream Braised Cabbage and Tomatoes

Something resembling a recipe:

Chopped cabbage, onion, little oil, salt, pan. 10 minutes ish. Veggie bacon, halved cherry tomatoes. Couple minutes. Little cream, even littler white wine, pepper, few minutes.

Sometimes the most humble of meals are the most satisfying.

Apple Dumplings

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman.

Mustard Friend guest appearance! And yes, that is Mountain Dew. Being poured over an entire cup of melted butter with even more sugar on top of very few apples wrapped in two packages of Pilsbury crescent rolls. Eating these literally takes 3 years off one's life. Literally worth it.

I don't think I will make these again (I won't say ever) simply because they are so dangerously easy and gooey and buttery and caramely... I'm in the kitchen cutting up apples and taking out the Mountain Dew right now. Damn it.

Friday, 16 July 2010


For you, my dear Polina.

Click to enlarge

Hummous - A Rough Outline

1 can rinsed & drained chick peas
1 heaping T tahini (and no, you may not substitute peanut butter; tahini makes or breaks hummous, period.)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/4-1/3 C vegetable broth
1-2 t lemon juice
1/2 t cumin
1/2-1 t salt (or to taste)
pepper to taste

Can (and really should be) doubled.

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika.

** these are rough guesstimates - tweak things until it tastes right! **

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Tofu Scramble

Tofu Scramble

The Mustards have tried making a tofu scramble in the past, and while certainly good, we didn't quite have it down. I'm not going to claim that I have this down just yet, but this was good. Goooood.


1 package extra firm tofu (would use firm next time!!), excess water pressed out
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 small-medium onion
1/4 - 1/3 cup of vegetable broth
2 tbsp cream (I know, the point of tofu scramble is that it's vegan... you could substitute soy milk/cream)
1 tsp corn starch
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp dried chives
salt & pepper to taste


Saute onion in a medium skillet in oil until tender. Break chunks off pressed tofu and crumble it right into the pan. Let this saute for a few minutes. Add chives and any other spices that suit your fancy. Add vegetable broth and let simmer for a few minutes. Mix corn starch with the cream in a small cup, add mixture to the pan and stir it up. Sprinkle on nutritional yeast and season with salt and pepper!

Note: I prefer my real scrambled eggs on the under-cooked and creamy side, hence the added wet ingredients & corn starch. You could very well skip this entirely if you prefer to have a drier texture, but be sure to use firm (or even medium) tofu.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Pizza Secrets


Simple? Yes. Boring? Hardly.

My ultimate pizza dough recipe. Dead simple. Dead quick. Dead delicious.

Whole Wheat and Honey Pizza Dough recipe from
(If we don't happen to have honey or I just don't feel like dirtying a spoon to scoop some out of the jar (ie, most of the time), we omit the honey, and honestly, I can't taste the difference.)
The Mustards split this recipe in to two pizza pies.

Mr. Mustard is real particular about the order of his pizza toppings.
This is how he does:

In order!

Pizza/tomato sauce
Vegetables etc

The tastier of the two pizzas pictured featured diced potatoes & pesto!

And now for the real secret to gooood pizza:

Forget 350F or whatever the recipe says.

- Turn your oven to broil with the rack near the top.
- Sprinkle a cookie sheet with cornmeal and place the bedazzled pizza in the centre.
- Now let that baby buuuuurn (not literally) for 7-10 minutes, or until everything is nice and bubbly and lightly browning.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Eggs Benedict

Weekend Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is absolutely my favorite fancy breakfast. If you ever need to suck up to me, this meal is well in order. But it has to be homemade! I've never tried a great, or even really good, Eggs Benedict in a restaurant. Ever. Yet I always try.

Now, this Saturday morning, make this. Then ask for a car. It will probably work.

Eggs Benedict for 2

1 whole wheat english muffin, cut in half
2 slices of veggie ham
2 eggs
1 T vinegar
1 package of "International" brand Hollandaise sauce (such a cheater!)
brussel sprouts

1. Prepare Hollandaise sauce as per directions.
2. Steam washed brussel sprouts.
3. Place English muffin halves, with veggie ham on top, on a baking sheet in a 250 degree oven.
4. Bring a pot half-full of water & 1 T or so vinegar to a steady simmer.
5. Crack one egg into a teacup.
6. Swirl simmering water with a spoon and gently add egg to the swirling water.
7. Remove egg with a slotted spoon after about 3-5 minutes or until the white is cooked but the yolk is still jiggly. (You can test this by taking the egg out, placing it gently on a plate and poking it a bit. Very scientific and precise)
8. Repeat with second egg.
9. Assemble bennies: English muffin, ham, egg, salt & pepper, generous helping of Hollandaise sauce.
10. Serve with brussel sprouts (also drenched in Hollandaise sauce).

If making this for 2, you will have leftover Hollandaise sauce, even with pigish helpings the first round. Store it in the fridge, covered. The next day, heat it on the stove and have Eggs Benedict on Sunday too! Weekend bennies, mmm.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Homemade Pasta with Homemade Pesto

To make up for my (extremely)extended absence, I thought I'd ought to make my (re)debut post a knock-out. And that, it is. It really is.

Homemade Pasta with Homemade Pesto

(I literally had to throw this plant out a few hours ago. Maybe I was feeling nostalgic, hence the surprise posting... but it was just getting too buggy(ew) and those bugs are stubborn and I would not put it past them to mowsy on over to my brand-new herb additions and set up camp there.)

To the last drop.

Recipe for homemade pasta from JoyTheBaker. Get it here!

Recipe for homemade pesto from Das Grosse Betty Bossi Kochbuch:

(Lately we have been adding chopped sundried tomatoes to the basil mixture before pureeing it and it is amazing!)


3 bunches basil, coarsely chopped (about 100 g)
3 garlic bulbs, pressed (*we use only 1, though)
2 T pinenuts

Puree in food processor
(do not over-process or basil leaves will become bitter)

1/2 t salt
3 T grated parmesan
small amount of lemon peel (*I think we skip this, but it sounds nice!)

Mix into basil mixture

150 ml olive oil

Add slowly to mixture

Pesto will keep in the fridge for a maximum of 5 days.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

My Parents' Garden

My (Parents') Garden

Our raspberry patch is a marketing scheme. You walk by, unable to resist the big, red, plump berries at the road-side. They are sinfully delicious and you venture deeper into the patch only to find they have substantially diminished in size. Line and sinker, ladies and gents. This is nature.

Our peas are not a marketing scheme. They are just tasty.

Is that not the cutest bean you have ever seen? Am I not the lamest rhymer you have ever... um nothing rhymes with rhymer. And to be honest, I quite liked my rhyme.
I took these a few days ago so we have been enjoying fresh, purple beans for a while now.

We have also got:
onions, carrots, spinach, peppers & tomatoes!

Having a garden is da bomb diggity.
Now, things to do cook with peas... hm.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Cocolate Puffed Wheat Squares

Chocolate Puffed Wheat Squares

This recipe is always a winner. It's not healthy by any stretch of the imagination (hey, it's got puffed wheat, doesn't that count for anything?! And about a pound of butter and sugar, nice try) but it's good. That much I know.
My mum used to make it for us to take on school trips and the 4L ice cream bucket full of them was licked clean long before we got where we were going and sad was the kid who didn't realise we had brought them and didn't get one.

You can also substitute 4 C Rice Krispies for the puffed wheat. Magical.
But the most magical thing about them? They're dead simple. Even easier than that, really.
And, if you use margarine and not butter, they're vegan. Yum.

(This recipe is from memory, hence the wild-Missus-Mustard-this-does-not-make-sense style instructions.)

Puffed Wheat Squares

1/2 C butter or margarine
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C corn syrup
2 T cocoa powder (feel free to add more!)
2 t salt (this is my addition, but I recommend it)
6 C puffed wheat

Stovetop Directions
1. Melt butter/margarine over low-medium heat in a small saucepan. Add remaining ingredients - except puffed wheat - and stir until sugar dissolves.
2. Pour puffed wheat into an appropriately-sized, greased baking pan. ("Appropriately-sized" meaning, pour the puffed wheat in, and if it looks like the height you wish your squares to be, go for it)
3. Pour chocolate mixture over puffed wheat and stir to coat evenly.
4. Let set for a few hours at room temperature, if you can wait that long.

Microwave Directions
1. Melt all ingredients - except puffed wheat - in a large, heat-proof bowl until sugar dissolves or almost dissolves.
2. Pour puffed wheat into bowl with chocolate mixture and stir to coat.
3. Pour mixture into appropriately-sized, greased baking pan. * See above note!
4. Let set for a few hours at room temperature. I dare you.

Maybe Dad would like some.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Root Beer Float Cake

Root Beer Float Cake

Recipe from

I had planned weeks in advance that this was to be my birthday cake. Baked my me. For my own birthday. Yes, my mum thought it was a bit weird too.

So I make the cake. With the whole cup of cocoa powder. And I tell my mum and sister what the icing is meant to be. There is uproar. No, you can't have root beer cake with root beer icing! Make a white icing! It was only after I played the "it's MY birthday!" card that they agreed to go along with this (in their opinion) overly root beery icing.

It turned out perfectly. I have never had a better cake in my existence. It wasn't that root beery but it was all-around delicious and thinking about it's dense, moist chocolateyness makes me want to bake one this instant. And I'm already thinking about that pop/soda to use next.

PS - This is the second cake I have ever made from scratch in my life. The last one being six years ago in Grade 10 at OSS.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Key Lime Cheesecake

Key Lime Cheesecake

I have been away. I have been a naughty blogger.
But I am getting back onto the scene! (Literally meaning: I'm not "new" at my job anymore and Mr Mustard has moved back to Vancouver, so I can finally breathe)
And as I'm easing myself back into the beautiful bounty that is blogging, I present you with something easy (for me). Here's a link. Done.

Recipe from

I'm not the loviest lover of cheesecake, but as my sister ordered it for her birthday, cheesecake it was! As you can tell, I did not use mango as a topping and I thought it was great (as far as cheesecake goes).