I started baking cakes when I was nine or ten years old.  I made quick breads.  They were the easiest.  No whipping egg whites.  No careful folding of flour. Baking utensils were basic. An egg-beater for whipping egg whites and cream.  A large white bowl for mixing.   A heavy spoon for creaming butter.   The forefinger on my right hand still has a tiny bump on it caused by countless of hours of creaming butter and sugar.

The baking of a loaf cake was also easier.  It did not require a quick oven (very hot).  Simply a nice steady heat.  As the cook I had to regulate the heat of our wood burning stove.  If the wood was cut to thin it would spit and crackle and burn too hot and too quickly.  I would test the heat of the oven by opening it and putting my hand in to feel the heat.  One that was created by medium sized logs burning steadily and quietly. I still find myself double checking an oven temperature in this way.

Savory cakes are popular in France.  The cake salé as it is known   (salé  means salty or savory) is a simple quick bread recipe.  You whisk all the dry ingredients together in one bowl. All the rest in another.  Then gently combine the two.  It takes less than ten minutes to put together and like my youthful loaf cakes requires no special equipment.

I made this savory cheese and chive bread  to serve with aperitifs.  I was celebrating a major birthday and my two sisters were traveling from Prince Albert to Vancouver to help me blow out birthday candles.   The bread is also perfect for brunch, excellent with salads and delicious lightly toasted and buttered.

This version is simple –  using just cheese and snipped chives but it also a great way to use those left-over  odd-sized pieces of cheese you have on hand.  It is good with basil or a mix of herbs.  Or you can be creative and mix in diced ham or bacon, toasted chopped nuts, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or minced shallot.

You can serve this warm but it tastes better when it has cooled completely.  If you’re serving it with drinks, cut it into 8 slices about 1/2 thick, and cut the slices into strips.  SAVORY CHEESE AND CHIVE BREAD   …   Bon Appetite.

: quick bread
Cuisine: French
: 8
A simple savory quick bread recipe using just two bowls. It takes less than 10 minutes to put together and requires no special equipment.
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt depending on what cheese and add-ins you're using.
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper or more to taste
  • A generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • ¼ cup whole milk at room temperature.
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 generous cup (about 4 ounces) of coarsely grated Gruyere, Comte, Emmenthal or cheddar cheese.
  • About ½ to ⅓ cup (2 ounces) Gruyere, Comte Emmenthal or cheddar cut into very small
  • cubes;
  • ½ cup minced fresh chives or other herbs (or thinly sliced scallions).
  • ⅓ generous cup toasted walnuts coarsely chopped
  1. Center rack in the oven .
  2. Preheat oven to 350F..
  3. Generously butter an 8-x-4½-x-2¼-inch loaf pan.
  4. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and peppers together in a large bowl.
  5. Put the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk until they're foamy and blended.
  6. Whisk in milk and olive oil.
  7. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and using a sturdy wooden spoon gently mix until the dough comes together. Do not over mix.
  8. Stir in the cheese, grated and cubed, the herbs and the walnuts.
  9. Turn the dough into the buttered pan and even the top.
  10. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the bread is golden and a slender knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  11. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and wait for three minutes then run a knife around the sides of the pan and turn the loaf over onto the rack; invert and cool right side up.


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I joyfully share with you my best tried and true recipes.  Many date back more than fifty years so one could say they have been tested over and over again.  But it takes more than a good recipe to make a good cook. It requires cleaning.  And I have been so remiss for not addressing this important facet of cooking.

It’s a given to start ” mise en place”.  All your required ingredients lined up on your counter.  The other given is you start with A CLEAN KITCHEN.  Dishwasher emptied.  Counters cleaned.  Unnecessary items put away. The next step is to fill your kitchen sink with hot soapy water and line up your drying rack or trays.  You absolutely most clean and put away as you go.

In one of Thomas Keller’s outstanding cookbooks he writes about what he looks for when hiring chefs to work in his restaurants.  They are required to cook several dishes.  If when they are doing this they don’t clean as they go he won’t hire them.    Who do you think cleans behind a chef?


Our kitchen in ROXY’S BISTRO was extremely small.  We did all the prep in this space and served up to eighty covers a night.  When I tell you CLEAN AS YOU GO I know it works.


So when you finish sauteing the onions and garlic and have added it to your dish that pan goes into the sink, washed, drained and dried and PUT AWAY.  It just takes a few minutes and your kitchen work area is clean and tidy.

This WASH AS YOU GO is doubly important when cooking dinner.  When you finish dinner you will just have a few dishes and perhaps a last minute pan to deal with.  WASH AS YOU GO and START WITH A CLEAN KITCHEN is not about being a clean freak.  It is about being calm, happy and organized and more professional in your attitude towards cooking.   Bon Appetite

PS from the chef.

Among treasured mementos in my kitchen is an autographed menu from THE FRENCH LAUNDRY.  It’s inscribed “To Virginia.  It’s all in the details.  Thomas Keller.”

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We live out in the country wedged between the mighty Fraser River a few minutes walk  north of us and the Pacific Ocean a short drive to the west.   This enviable location does come with a problem.  A micro-climate with ground fog rolling across the farm lands and over my tomato plants.

There is a secret to growing tomatoes in this will-of-the-wisp summer.   You plant them in big black plastic nursery pots. Then position these pots against a south wall preferably with a large overhanging roof.  If you are fortunate this will give the tomatoes some protection from the heavy dew and ground fog.

The only supermarket tomatoes I buy are  Campari tomatoes. Eight small tomatoes in a precious plastic box.  They have real,  honest-to- goodness tomato flavour. I harvested seeds from these tomatoes.  Early spring I started them indoors and then transplanted the strongest into pots.    I ended up with six rather straggly plants left over and no more pots. Off to the compost heap with them.  Until my good husband rescued them and planted them in the garden.  They grew.  They grew, and grew and produced tomatoes.   Better tomatoes then the plants coddled in protective pots.

The summer was unique.  We had months and months of nothing but sun.  The plants in the garden loved the heat.  Not so the tomatoes planted in the pots.  Day after day I would harvest the garden grown tomatoes.   A couple of pounds of these dazzling red darlings filling my basket.  The final one day harvesting of the Campari tomato plants netted over forty pounds.  All from six spindly almost thrown-away plants!

This was the summer of enjoying tomatoes every day.  Tomato, bacon and lettuce sandwiches (vegetables from the garden and our own bacon) – divine.  Tomatoes baked in cream with thyme – sublime.  And then tomato soup.  Tomato soup so superb you’ll never go back to your old recipe.    One big roasting pan filled with tomatoes, shallots, garlic, carrots, onion and the zinger – jalapeno chile.  You roast it.  Puree and then eat.  FIERY ROASTED TOMATO SOUP – it just doesn’t get any better.

: soup
Cuisine: Canadian
: 4-6 servings
Once you make soup this way you will never go back to your old soup recipe. One roasting pan filled with everything in the recipe.
  • 2 generous tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 or so medium tomatoes, left whole
  • 2 shallots, diced (about a cup)
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sweet onion chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 jalapeno chile, stem removed, halved
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • Sour cream and parsley for garnish
  1. This is one of those more or less recipes. The precise amount of vegetables is up to you but be generous with your tomatoes.
  2. For a less spicy soup use only half of the seeds of jalapeno chile.
  3. Preheat oven to 400F.
  4. In a large roasting pan toss together all the ingredients.
  5. Roast on the center rack of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a little colour starts to show and the vegetables begin to soften. You want the vegetables to caramelize slightly. This is what gives this soup its distinctive flavour.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and pour some of the stock over the vegetables. Scrap the pan to get all the brown bits up and loosen the vegetables.
  7. Scrap the vegetables into a sauce pan and add the rest of the stock.
  8. Using a hand held blender puree the soup.
  9. Bring the soup to the boil stirring frequently then reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for 5 or 10 minutes.
  10. Serve garnished with a little chopped parsley and sour cream


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All through the long and glorious summer the garden  rewarded us with glorious vegetables.  I  walk from the kitchen across the long stretch of grass and into the garden.  It is another world of vegetables going quietly about their business of growing.   Italian basil, Thai basil and parsley encircle the garden.  No matter where I am in the garden I brush against these fragrant herbs as I harvest vegetables.  My basket is filled with prickly zucchini and brilliant coloured rainbow Swiss chard.  They will be the starring ingredients of the most delicious, refined and positively addictive vegetable gratin.

Zucchini and Swiss chard gratin  takes the ubiquitous zucchini and the humble Swiss chard to new heights.  Seasoned with onion, paprika and garlic.    Enriched with Parmesan cheese, eggs and tart sour cream .  Topped with buttery bread crumbs and fresh parsley this gratin is paradise in a dish.   It was such a hit this summer that I made it over and over again.   Served as the main course or as a side dish with  roast chicken  or pork it is summer perfection on a plate all year long.

The very best of summer – ZUCCHINI AND SWISS CHARD GRATIN.

Cuisine: French
: 6 servings
A savory combination of zucchini and Swiss chard baked with a crispy buttery crust.
  • About 2 pounds (900 g) zucchini
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbs. (50 ml) olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 fat garlic cloves minced (about 2 tbs)
  • Leaves from about 1 pound(450g) Swiss chard, parboiled, squeezed dry and chopped
  • 2 oz (60g) coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 generous ½ cup (125 mL) sour cream
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) smoked paprika
  • ½ cup (40 g) dry bread crumbs
  • A generous handful of coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter melted.
  1. Shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain in a colander for about 30 minutes or more. Rinse in cold water and squeeze dry in a clean tea towel.
  2. Set aside in a bowl.
  3. Heat oven to 350F (180C).
  4. Smear an 8 cup (2L) baking dish with olive oil.
  5. Sprinkle the onions with a little sold and saute in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until soft.
  6. Add the garlic and cook about one minute.
  7. In a large bowl add the zucchini, onion and garlic and mix well.
  8. Add the chard leaves and two-thirds of the Parmesan.
  9. Stir through the eggs, sour cream and paprika.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste. Be generous with your seasoning as zucchini is a bland vegetable.
  11. Spoon into the gratin dish,
  12. Mix the remaining one-third of the Parmesan with the bread crumbs and parsley and scatter over the gratin.
  13. Drizzle with the melted butter.
  14. Bake 40 minutes or until very hot and top crisp and golden.
  15. Serve hot.

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There are chocolate brownies  – the kind you make for children’s celebrations and Sunday barbecues.  And then there are chocolate brownies made for really special occasions –  such as a family member’s 50th Birthday.  This decadent dessert was a request of my gorgeous daughter-in-law Andrea.

Double Chocolate Truffle Brownies is a creation so rich in chocolate, butter and cream that one taste gives you shivers of delight.  You melt the butter and chocolate and carefully stir it into the richest, darkest bowl of delight.  Then you whip the eggs and sugar into frothy golden thickness.  Add the chocolate mixture.  Lovingly stir in the cocoa flour and finish with the freshest roasted walnuts.  The brownie cake cools  filling the kitchen with its sensual chocolate perfume.  Then you top it with ganache –  that bit of chocolate heaven other wise known to mortals as truffles, and sprinkle with glittering sea salt flakes.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE BROWNIES is the chocoholics dream.  You might consider going over the top and serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Why not?




: bars
Cuisine: baking
: 30
A double chocolate brownie with ganache icing and sea salt flakes
  • ⅔ cups (6 oz.) unsweetened butter
  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (Preferably Callebaut or any good quality chocolate).
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla
  • 1 generous cup coarsely roasted walnuts chopped
  • 11/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt (plus additional flaky sea salt to sprinkle over the ganache
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 6 oz. (28 g.) bitter-sweet Callebaut chocolate for the ganache
  • ½ cup whipping cream (cream should contain no thickening additives) for the ganache
  1. Preheat oven to 350F (l80 C)
  2. Grease a 9-inch (2.25L) square cake pan. It is preferable to use the correct size pan. Don't be tempted to use your old stand by 8 inch pan. You want the ratio of brownie to ganache to be perfect.
  3. Grease the pan, line with parchment paper and grease the paper.
  4. Melt chocolate and butter in an oven-proof dish. The safest way to do this is to put the dish in a saute pan that has a couple of inches of water. Put the pan over low to medium heat. Stir your ganache until smooth and melted. Be careful not to get any water in your ganache. Melting chocolate this way as opposed to using a double boiler allows you to monitor the water level and temperature. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In your stand mixer add the eggs and beat at medium speed adding sugar a tablespoon at a time. DO NOT OVER BEAT.
  6. Stir in the reserved chocolate mixture and vanilla and mix briefly.
  7. Add walnuts, flour, cocoa, cinnamon and salt, mixing just until combined.
  8. Spread evenly in prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes - or until just set. Monitor your baking carefully and do not over-bake. Cool completely in pan on rack, then chill for one hour.
  9. To Make the Ganache Topping:
  10. Combine the chocolate and whipped cream in an oven-proof bowl set in a saute pan filled with an inch or so of water over low to medium heat. Stir the mixture often until smooth and melted. Again be very very careful not to get any drops of water in your beautiful ganache.
  11. Water will turn your ganache grainy and there is no rescuing that problem.
  12. Pour over the chilled brownie and spread evenly. Sprinkle a little flaky sea salt over the top of the brownies.
  13. Chill until the ganache is set, about 2 hours. Cut into squares.

How to melt your chocolate – carefully.

Combine the chocolate and whipped cream  in an oven-proof bowl set in a skillet filled with an inch or so of water over medium heat.


Pour over the chilled brownie and spread evenly.  Sprinkle a little flaky sea salt over the top of the brownie.   Chill until the ganache is set, about 2 hours.  Cut into squares.



Now remember, the cook always get to lick on the ganache bowl.  Then wash the dishes.

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This gallery contains 3 photos.

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