Some of our Favourite Recipes

Family heirloom recipes, plus creations inspired by local or global foods, sometimes both

As jubilados (Spanish for retirees) and foodies, we frequent farmers’ market and search out creative chefs to zest up our own cooking

Zucchini. Zoo-keen-knee. What a disconnect between its name, free-spirited and lyrical, and the vegetable, ubiquitous and obese, tasteless and dull. (I cringe at the uppityness of calling it courgette, or the spongy connotation of marrow.)

Repulsive, as Lorna Crozier describes in “The Sex Lives of Vegetables:”

The zucchini strokes the slim waists
of the pea vines, peeks under
the skirts of the yellow beans…
a voyeur…
In secret shadows it spreads…

Except (isn’t there always an exception?) for zucchini blossoms.

Soft petals of bright orange-yellow, thin and delicate with striations of white and green, playful, like the hat on a harlequin clown. And as much fun to cook.

Zucchini blossoms have a thin texture like a gauzy velvet and a flavour that’s nuanced, faintly sweet. Like a young summer romance.

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I was struggling with what to write for our first blog of 2022.

Travel plans? Something philosophical? New Year’s resolutions?

Aha! Thanks to Magellan I had a jumpstart on a longstanding New Year’s resolution—and a blog idea.

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Do you know piccalilli? No, I don’t mean Piccadilly, the train station in London. Although I first became acquainted with piccalilli in an English pub in 1982 with Magellan, his parents and Lynn. Smitten, I searched for piccalilli back home, disappointment jarring me for decades. It was hard to find and no matter the brand or price, tasted either alarmingly sweet, teeth-on-edge sour, synthetically adulterated or was a lurid yellow. Then I read Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe for piccalilli online in The Guardian. While “pickle,” as it applies to me, is more “to get into a difficult situation” than “to preserve vegetables,” making Hugh’s recipe has become a favourite autumn tradition—and on the rare occasion, an early start on a Christmas gift for foodie friends.

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Cynara cardunculus, carduus, kaktos, carchofas, arḍī shawkī, al-kharshūfa, ḥarshafa, alcarchofa, carciofo, articiocco, artichaud, hartichoak—Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Italian: so many ancient names for artichokes, going back to the eighth century BC when people ate them wild, their prickly buds and tender hearts considered (still) a luxury and vaguely aphrodisiac. Looking at our many photos of artichokes in Sicily, where kaktos were first cultivated by the Greeks according to some, it’s clear we’re enraptured by this armoured vegetable with its Fibonacci pattern.

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Ruby-flushed petioles crowned by lily-pad leaves, rhubarb announces the arrival of spring. The first fruit vegetable of the season, rushing to be ahead of asparagus, rhubarb demands to be sugared and treated as a fruit in desserts. It’s been triumphant. For a time in North America, rhubarb was called “pieplant.” I like the puckery tartness of rhubarb, the way it stays fresh tasting after cooking. So, from my favourite seventeen recipes for rhubarb, I’m sharing Rhubarb Galette, a French free-form pie, a taste sensation from the acclaimed Alice Waters of Chez Panisse restaurant in California, who has been, for fifty years, the leader of the Slow-Food farm-to-table movement.

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“One thing we would never change is macaroni and cheese,” she assures us. “Our customers demand it at every meal.” Exemplary macaroni and cheese it is: buttery noodles in a cream-smooth béchamel hefted by the ladleful from a serving pan, each portion containing a few dark orange patches of chewy Cheddar from the top of the batch.

Jane and Michael Stern, Gourmet magazine, December 1995, reviewing Beadle’s Cafeteria, including its recipe for macaroni—a classic, our favourite go-to comfort food for the last 25 years.

Macaroni. The very word, macaroni, like a mantra, calms us. Thoughts of other food vanish, overcome by desire for this simple dish. Now, right now!

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