two ingredient magic chocolate shell

two ingredient chocolate crackle toppingFirst up – some blog news – I’m migrating to a new website so there may be some hiccups.

In addition to a new website, I’m also embarking on painting my entire house, planning a major hiking trip, and have a new book, Sir John’s Table coming out!


Though I’ve been spending less time than usual in my kitchen, I have still been cooking and gardening. The arugula and lettuce are up in my garden, the zucchini and tomatoes are coming along, and the coriander I planted from seed is finally sprouting. Last night I made a wonderful, creamy, fragrant, vegan Thai green curry and I’ll post that recipe soon. In the meantime, I’ve been LOVING this two-ingredient magic chocolate shell and whipping it up for fast desserts with ice cream or frozen yogurt and fresh fruit.

It’s a bit scandalous to call this a recipe because you need two minutes (plus or minus 30 seconds) and two ingredients – chocolate chips and coconut oil. That’s it. The recipe is all over Pinterest in various forms. I used dark chocolate chips and organic coconut oil. Zap them on half-power in the microwave. Stir, pour over ice cream, and serve. The hot sauce hardens on contact with the cold ice cream. Le voila – dessert!

If you’re in Canada and haven’t already tried it – I recommend President’s Choice “Elk Crossing” ice cream. “Vanilla-flavoured ice cream with a thick fudge ripple and chocolate peanut butter cups.” Please note, I am not being paid to endorse this product nor supplied with ice cream. Though that would be nice … 😉elk crossing

magic chocolate shell

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup of chocolate chips (dark, milk chocolate, or white)
  • 2 tbsp solid, organic coconut oil

Microwave on medium power for 2 minutes, checking at 1 minute, 30 seconds and stirring, return to microwave for 30 seconds or as long as it takes to melt the chips and reach a smooth consistency.

Pour over ice cream. Refrigerate any remaining topping and microwave on medium power as needed.


chickpea and gin-soaked raisin salad

It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. In this case at least, necessity was the mother of these gin-soaked raisins. The original recipe was a pasta recipe that called for various things including farfalle, Swiss chard, and raisins soaked in vermouth. Somehow, the vermouth had disappeared, but the beautiful blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire was beckoning…. Continue reading “chickpea and gin-soaked raisin salad”

a taste of summer – whole wheat waffles with maple peach compote

It’s hard to believe that just a mere six weeks ago, we had a relatively mild green Christmas. Here in Eastern Ontario – where we’ve been under siege since the beginning of January with snow, high winds, and frigid temperatures – that balmy green Christmas seems disproportionately long ago and far away. Continue reading “a taste of summer – whole wheat waffles with maple peach compote”

easy, breezy, beautiful – four ingredient rum balls

Once again, I’m so far behind in holiday preparations that I’ve practically given up before I’ve even managed to get started. There’s no tree in my new house, no decorations up, no baking done, very few gifts organized, and only one card mailed (to my cousin in England). Despite the fact that I’m a Christmas minimalist – I need some serious help.

Continue reading “easy, breezy, beautiful – four ingredient rum balls”

more sushi, less sorrow

I’m navigating a rocky, erratic path through the #100HappyDays project. If you don’t know about #100HappyDays – you can read about it hereContinue reading “more sushi, less sorrow”

mastering the art of fig jam

This week I made fig jam twice. The first time I made a tiny batch – a taste really – a single jar. Just for fun. I had some dried figs that I wanted to use and some gorgeous, incredibly sweet empire apples that tasted like candy apples. I was fancying fig jam on savoury sandwiches: fig jam and ham; bacon, lettuce, and fig jam; peanut butter and fig jam. In the end, I had a friend coming for lunch and I made roasted parsnip soup and then roast chicken, lettuce, and fig jam sandwiches on seed bread. Continue reading “mastering the art of fig jam”

Anaïs Nin and a classic Italian Bolognese sauce

“Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.” Anaïs Nin Continue reading “Anaïs Nin and a classic Italian Bolognese sauce”

slow cooked leek, bacon, and split pea soup

It’s Sunday and the early morning sunshine is streaming in lighting up trails across the floor as dust motes swirl in the sunbeams. The coffee pot is on. Ella Fitzgerald is singing her heart out in my living room. I am assembling recipes and ingredients all over the kitchen – preparing for a cooking marathon. I text my daughter who lives only a couple of blocks away:  Got any bay leaves? Continue reading “slow cooked leek, bacon, and split pea soup”

molten chocolate cupcakes

Individual Gluten and Dairy Free Molten Chocolate Cakes

For a non-gluten-free (i.e. regular wheat flour) version click here.

  • 4 tbsp margarine (or butter if not dairy-free)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup finely ground almond meal
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted gently
  • icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease 6 small ramekins or line a muffin pan with 6 jumbo muffin liners.

Beat together the margarine and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each. Add vanilla.

Combine the almond meal, cornstarch, and salt. Stir into the egg mixture. Mix gently. Stir in the melted chocolate. Do not over mix.

Divide batter between muffin liners or ramekins– should make about 6 molten cakes.

Bake for 8 minutes. The tops should be just set – the centres should be runny – molten…. Set the timer. Take the plunge. Pull them from the oven even if you’re not completely sure.

Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar, and with fresh raspberries and whipped cream or suitable alternative -or just enjoy au naturel.



memories of love: toad in the hole


I’ve written about my paternal grandfather before and I’m sure I’ll write about him again. He was a big, strapping, handsome Yorkshireman with beautiful blue eyes that crinkled and smiled when he smiled – which was often. He had a fabulous Yorkshire accent. He was my early introduction to love.

When I was very young, my grandfather lived in the Yorkshire Dales, in an old stone house with a terraced garden down to the river where he grew roses and peas and lettuce. I’m sure he grew other things too but what I remember especially were the roses and peas. The roses were fragrant and beautiful – so many varieties and he was tender with all of them. We always had a vase of roses in the house. The pink ones were my favourite. The peas we picked straight from the vine and ate. Sometimes he would send me into the garden with a small pudding basin to collect peas for dinner and the pair of us would sit together later, shelling them, just before he cooked them. When they appeared on my plate for dinner they were perfection – sweet, lightly buttered, often served with a bit of fresh mint. Whenever I eat peas now, I think of my grandfather. And when I think of my grandfather – I think of food, love, joy.

My first memories are of my grandfather. When I was about three, I remember being in his kitchen rolling out the pastry for jam tarts with a tiny little rolling-pin. For my fourth birthday, he invited my only and dear cousin Jackie and made me an incredibly posh fruit cake with royal icing, decorated with marzipan fruits that he let us pick off the cake and eat.

My grandfather, who wore a suit and crisp white shirt with silver cufflinks every day, often donned an apron and cooked. He baked bread, cooked roasts, and made cakes. He let me help in the kitchen – standing me on a small stool while I kneaded a piece of dough or stirred batter or was assigned the job of being ‘taste-tester.’ Before I went to bed each night, he made me a cup of hot cocoa and served it alongside cream crackers slathered in butter and sometimes Seville orange marmalade.

This is how I came to know love.

The intersection of food, longing, and love is one of my favourite subjects. Food is at the heart of everything that matters. At the most basic level – food is about life and about our survival as a species. It’s how we all begin our lives and the thing that sustains us until the end. At some point along our evolutionary path, our human brains became wired to remember food and those who provided it for us. We eat in order to live but we have also developed powerful emotional connections to food. In other words, food, nurture, and love are inextricably linked in our minds.

Toad in the Hole was one of my grandfather’s favourites. For anyone unfamiliar – Toad in the Hole is a quintessentially English dish – comprised of sausages (usually bangers) cooked in a Yorkshire pudding batter. It’s a lot more delicious than it sounds. The batter seals in the flavour and the result is this incredibly rich wonderful taste. And it’s especially good if you make it with brown onion gravy and serve it with fresh peas and small new potatoes.

One of the first references to Toad in the Hole comes from the Oxford English Dictionary who recorded the phrase in 1787. Mrs. Beeton included a version in her 1861 cookbook.

This version below is adapted slightly from Christina Bates book, Out of Old Ontario Kitchens (as found in the “Fiskin Manuscript Cookbook, Metropolitan Toronto Library”).

N.B. These are the original instructions from the Fiskin Manuscript Cookbook. My adaptations are in square brackets.

Toad in the Hole

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

  • 1 lb. [454 grams]  [pure pork] sausages
  • ½ oz. butter [or 1 tbsp olive oil]
  • 4 oz [1 cup] flour
  • pepper & salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ pint [1 cup] milk

Grease a small pudding dish with the butter [or olive oil]. Prick the sausages and lay them in a dish. Put in the oven for ten minutes [at 350 deg F]. Place the flour in a bowl with pepper & salt, drop into the centre, the yolks of eggs. Over this, add a little milk, stir in the flour from the sides – add the rest of the milk and beat well together. Whip to a stiff froth the whites, the stiffer the better, and add to the batter. When the sausages have been cooked 10 minutes, pour the mixture over and cook ½ hour [at 375 deg F].

Brown Onion Gravy

  • 2 large onions, chopped reasonably finely
  • generous dash salt
  • 1-2 tsp brown sugar
  • dash balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup stock

Saute onions, salt, brown sugar and olive oil until onions are completely and thoroughly softened and browned. Add balsamic vinegar. Stir. Sprinkle with flour. Stir well then whisk in the stock and thicken over medium heat. Thin with a little more stock or water if needed. Serve hot over the Toad in the Hole.