Vagabond Cookbook

The best you ate on vacation? Make it at home tonight.

Stock turns into Tuscan white bean soup so easily

Ain’t no stock as dope as me, I’m just so fresh, so clean

Some things are so commonplace, you don’t even notice them anymore. The Amen break in “Straight Outta Compton”. Floating rocks in Dragon Ball Z. Those tiny red spider things on rocks. Douchebags at Gold’s Gym. Jennifer Jason Leigh. They never stand out, but they’re always there, incognito but keeping everything right with the world. Oh no! He’s going Super Saiyan! Food has these stealth ingredients too. You rarely notice it, but all great cooks use a lot of lemon juice. Fish sauce can round out the flavours in almost every dish. And butter? Well, few things aren’t better with butter. (Try to name them. Let me know if you find one.) The most fundamental secret ingredient, though? It’s not butter. It’s not lemon. Hell, it may cost no money at all. It adds mountain ranges of flavour for pebbles’ worth of calories. It’s the main thing that separates a so-so […]

Pesto chicken and summer vegetable salad

The Rest of Summer #5: Pesto SMASH!

Let me ask you: What’s green and smashy? Dr. Banner’s a given, but what’s green and smashy and delicious? If you said “pesto”, give yourself an awkward thumbs up. (Sorry, mushy peas. Your time will come.) Not today, li’l one. You’re likely all familiar with pestos, that class of sauces the tomato-haters have loved since the ‘80s (or the 1800s if you’re Italian). Unlike the rich and hearty ragùs that cover pasta and polenta the world over, pestos are bright and punchy dressings used to liven up noodles and vegetables that otherwise live in Bland City. Fusilli and potatoes are classic, but there’s rarely a wrong pairing for pesto in the savoury kitchen. “Yeah, dude, I know. I can also buy a jar of pesto at Safeway for $2.99. Why the hell would I make it?” Truth: You’re right. Ready-made pesto comes cheap. So do supermarket roast chickens. And lookie here, […]

Rabbit cacciatore

What Bucky O’Hare can show home cooks

Bored of pork? Sick of chicken? Well, well, well, have I got the protein for you. Don your deerstalker cap, Elmer, ‘cause today we’re going after rabbits. Be vewy, vewy quiet. People are touchy about wabbits. “Dios Mio! Not Little Bunny Foo Foo! Devon, you’re a monster!” Not so fast, Dinner Police! Rabbit is a fantastic ingredient and, honestly, there are only two reasons you’d even have that reaction. One, you’re a vegetarian. Fair enough. (I have mad appreciation for vegetarians, especially for a guy with a potful of bunny in his fridge.) It’s the other reason that gets me. If you eat meat but you bristle at rabbit, there’s one thing for certain: You’re North American. Everywhere else in the world — from the mountains of Peru to the sands of Morocco — people lap up rabbit and ask for seconds. But, run a quick poll at the neighbourhood […]

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What does Prince have to do with cooking?

Alright, I’ll say it: “When Doves Cry” is the greatest song ever recorded. Period. Stuff your “Purple Haze” is a sack, send “Bohemian Rhapsody” to the cleaners. “When Doves Cry” beats them all. Think about it. Is there another song that works in every situation? At a party? Driving late at night? Bored at work? Doing chores on a Sunday? At a wedding? At a funeral? Getting drunk? Getting busy? Fageddaboutit. “When Doves Cry” always rules. Don’t believe me? Listen again. It’s a rare triumph when a song works in every situation. Rarer still is the dish that always delivers. Fancy or casual? A main or a side dish? European or Asian flavours? Sweet or savoury? Gluten-free? Vegetarian? Hell, vegan? I only know one dish that hits every mark and keeps on swinging. Like a white button-down or Gary Oldman, it’s always the right choice. I’m talking risotto — the […]