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Thank you, Mr. Schmidt

This isn't the story of cookies. Although, there was a cookie the approximate size of my hand involved.

Nor is this the account of astounding breads baked in wood-fired ovens, though we had some of those too. Nor is it about Schmuffins, teeny cakes that want to be doughnuts, which are not only exceedingly tasty, but are also the most adorably-named breakfast ever.

It's not even about Texas-style beef brisket tacos, with meat that's been smoked long and low for hours. Or the crispy jalapeño rings that set fire to that smolder, and matched dangerously well with tall, skinny glasses of Lynchburg Lemonade. It could be about the waiter we met, with his shock of blond hair and high cheekbones. He talked really fast and he knew his stuff. But it's not.

It's really a story of an unexpected friendship that became one of the most important in my life. And how, last fall, that friendship took us to Louisville, Kentucky.

More years ago than I'll mention, I was sitting in a university Canadian Lit lecture. It was the first day of class. I was next to a friend, and he and I were chattering away, waiting for things to get started when, right before the professor began to speak, this lanky guy wearing a baseball cap plunked himself down in the chair on my other side. He had a grin that took up nearly three-quarters of his face.

In one of those painful exercises of "getting to know everyone", the professor decreed we were to introduce the person we were sitting beside to the rest of the class. I looked to my buddy and laughed at the prospect of how I could embarrass him in front of the girls assembled. But then, she added "you're talking to the person on your left." 

That would be the random boy in the hat. And that's how I met Brett. Thanks, Professor Rose.

Years later, years of postcards and basketball games and cups of coffee, Sean and I had the honour watching Brett marry Kathryn, a woman with a smile that somehow manages to overshadow even his, and who is far more vivacious, talented, sharp and funny than he probably deserves (and I say that with honest affection). She's a gem.

I only wish they lived closer. They settled in Kentucky, and had two of the cutest children you'll ever see. Those two imps call us Miss Tara and Mister Sean, and it is knock-you-over sweet.

I've not told Brett this, but Louisville suits him. His Canadian accent has changed, so that certain words now sound deeper when he speaks them. There's a hint of drawl, a warm rumble in tone that sounds the way Bourbon tastes.

I wrote about the trip we took to see him and his family in UPPERCASE magazine, issue 12. There, I share the details of our adventures. Adventures, and a recipe for buttermilk biscuits.


I don’t have any direct biscuit heritage; I am without pedigree when it comes to those storied biscuits of the American south. My only claim, the only reason I hold the making, eating and sharing of biscuits so high in nostalgic regard is the simple fact that I like biscuits a whole darn lot.

It’s a bit of an obsession. The trouble is, biscuits are one of those things that you can spend a lifetime perfecting. Close cousins to a scone, the type of biscuits I’m talking about are a simple quickbread; the purest forms are flour, a levener, a fat and a liquid. My recipe isn't bang-on traditional; it instead borrows from a few sources, and has a few tricks, in the aim of assuring those of us who didn't grow up making biscuits the guarantee of success. 


Although the biscuits are saved for UPPERCASE, I do have a recipe to share. Let me introduce you to the Hot Brown, what's usually an open-faced sandwich of roasted turkey and bacon, under a blanket of Mornay sauce (a cheesed-up version of Béchamel) that's then broiled until bronzed and bubbling. It was invented in the 1920s at the Brown Hotel in Louisville by one Frank K. Schmidt, as a late-night offering to their guests who'd tired of the dance floor. It is a divine mess of salt and richness and gooey cheese that doesn't suit every day, but is gluttonously welcomed once in a long while. Thank you, Mr. Schmidt.

While a Hot Brown is usually served with sourdough toast, you can see that's not the direction we're taking today. And, much like a journey down south to catch up with old friends, it's a good trip to take.

Kentucky Hot Brown on a Biscuit
My variation on a classic, inspired by a slew of recipes, including that from the Brown Hotel. Use your favourite sturdy biscuits here, as they're the base to an impressively weighty filling. 

I apologize for the egg on top. It's not conventional, and I seem to be fallen into an unintentional theme:"if it's tastyput an egg on itIt'll be even better." For once, the blame is not entirely my own. On our last morning, with Brett and Kat and their charming children as company, we went out for breakfast. Sean ordered a Hot Brown, and the waiter suggested two eggs on top (Louisville's got some great service). He is a brilliant man. Seriously. Crack an egg and don't look back. It's the business.

For the Mornay sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups 10% cream
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano, divided
A grating of fresh nutmeg, less than 1/8 teaspoon, optional
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To assemble
2 eggs
2 buttermilk biscuits, split
1 medium tomato, a good meaty variety, sliced
2 thick slices roasted turkey breast, maybe 4 to 6 ounces total
2-3 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked crisp and kept warm
1 recipe Mornay sauce, kept warm
Flat leaf parsley, to serve

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Slowly whisk in the flour, incorporating fully so there are no lumps. Continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for a minute or so more. In a slow, steady stream, pour in the cream and whisk to combine. Cook, stirring often to make sure the sauce isn't catching, until the sauce comes to a boil, around 3 minutes. Turn the heat to low, and stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese. Season to taste with kosher salt and ground black pepper, and nutmeg if using. Keep the sauce on the lowest heat to keep it warm, stirring occasionally.

Preheat a broiler. Cook the eggs to your liking; my preference is either fried sunny side up, or poached. At most, over easy. But, it's your breakfast so do what you'd like. My only note is that they can be slightly undercooked as they'll be blitzed under the broiler and nobody likes rubbery eggs. Get them ready and then set them aside for a moment. Place the two bottom halves of the biscuits on a small baking sheet or an oven proof plate. Top each bottom with a few slices of tomato. Place a slice of turkey on top, then divide the bacon between the two (breaking the slices in half to keep things neat, if needed). Place your eggs on top. Pour over some of the Mornay sauce and sprinkle the reserved cheese on top. Keep the rest of the sauce hot for serving. Put the biscuit tops beside the filled bottoms, cut side up. 

Toast the sandwiches under the broiler until the sauce starts to bubble and the cheese begins to brown. This should take maybe a minute. Remove from the oven, garnish with whole parsley leaves (which bring a much-needed, fresh crunch), and top with the second half of the biscuit. Serve immediately, with the remaining Mornay sauce passed alongside.

Makes 2, which should serve 2, but I won't bat an eyelash if you don't want to share.


  • Of course fresh, vine-ripened, fragrant-as-all-get-out tomatoes are the ones you want for a sandwich, especially one of such lineage. That said, there comes a time in darkest winter when said sandwich is on your mind and there's no such beauties to be had. I realize I've not helped matters by talking about Hot Browns in January. In these desperate times, I wish I could be so steadfast as to say to wait until September, but I can't. I'll tell you to get yourself some local offerings and roast them in a low oven to concentrate their sweetness to at least a suggestion of summer's best. I roasted my slices, seasoned with salt, pepper and a miserly pour of olive oil, at 300°F (150°C) for about 2 1/2 hours. You can go lower and slower, about 200°F for as much as 4 hours, if you're that patient. 
  • A few drops of hot sauce, dripped over before the biscuit lid is squished on, is how I like to do things.


Places and people



The scent of salted air

I don't think I've ever mentioned this, but I'm a ship's captain's daughter.

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I'm suprprised I've omitted this essential information, as it was relative proximity to the waters upon which my father sailed that determined where I was born, and where I would grow up.

My father's workplace was the wheelhouse of a steamship, at the top of a steep flight of stairs. Each step had a ridged metal tread at its edge that shone. I made that climb countless times up to the ship's bridge, and spun around on many a wheelsman's chair, and all too often accidentally smudged my greasy fingerprints on the lenses of the binoculars they kept handy. I can tell you the type of cookies in the crinkly packet always tucked by the tea kettle, and how much I liked it when my father wore his captain's hat with its embroidered gold leaves, which wasn't often.

I spent a good deal of my childhood on boats. There are regulations mandating age minimums for children on those boats now, but they were more casual with such concerns then. I've got stories to tell.

I could tell you about the mail boat that would pull alongside ours in the Detroit river. I think it brought the Customs Officer aboard, to stamp the papers that allowed our passage across the line that divides Canada and the United States. More importantly to me, the small boat also brought tuck shop supplies. My father once ordered a case of Coca Cola and a box of Nestlé Crunch Bars for my brother and me to hoard and barter and savour for the remainder of our run. You really can't beat a day like that.

I could tell you about studying the undersides of bridges as we slipped underneath. Or about the people who would wave from shore as we'd pass through a canal. And how we'd wave back.

I could introduce you to a  Sleeping Giant.

Or tell you how, after earning your sea legs, (the habit of keeping a bounce in your step, knees flexible and unlocked even when standing in one place), to step on land feels strangely static. There is a momentary shock to realize the ground isn't moving.

I could tell you about storms. The ship would roll and pitch, and I'd understand why some of the furniture was chained to the floor. In wild storms, when the waves came onto the deck, or the rain was hard, or the wind fierce, we couldn't make the walk from our quarters at the bow of the ship to the galley at its stern for our meals. (Not all ships have this set up, with such a split.) In those circumstances we would climb below deck to the tunnel, a space between the side of the ship and the holds, and travel the football-field length of the deck that way, stepping up and through the raised, rounded doorways that marked our progress.

There was a time I woke up to lightning in the middle of  the night. I went to the window and the only lights to be seen were the swaying blips of those on deck. Then the sky lit up, a shock of energy diving straight into the water. I boosted myself up onto the deep windowsill. It was recessed, with a heavy drape mounted outside. I pushed my back up against one side of the alcove and put my legs straight out to the other. So wedged, I pulled the curtain closed, and watched the lightning flash. I don't remember going back to bed.

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I could tell you about the days that were grey.

On those days, those windless days, the water was still and heavy; a silver-backed mirror reflecting a sky that was perfectly overcast, without sliver of blue to be seen. There would be no waves, no movement except our own. The water looked viscous. As it broke against the bow it folded upon itself like ripples of pewter silk, reminiscent of the slick, rounded backs of sea lions when they surface. 

I did not realize the size, the space, the breadth of the unkown on an airplane; in the air, the miles in between wing and ground grants a distance that makes it seem unreal. In a car, you are immersed in the landscape. It is all around, you're closely contained. It was on water that I truly understood the smallness of my world; a world that at that moment was 30 souls on a 700-some-odd-foot man made island of steel and steam. It was one of those grey days, when the outline between sky and water is lost, and there was no land in sight. Only grey, in every direction. I stood still, aware of the hum of the engines that powered us - a vibration you feel in your joints, in the soles of your feet - and was sure I could walk the thick tension of the lake, all the way to the horizon, and go on from there. We were a pinprick. A dot on a map.

I talked to my mother about this memory, and she provided the context; it was most likely Lake Superior we were sailing then, possibly Erie. She told me a quote from Christopher Columbus, which seemed to fit: "You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

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These photographs aren't of the waterways I knew, although my father has navigated these too. They are of Prince Edward Island, a province on the eastern edge of Canada, and the setting for a new adventure. For Kinfolk Magazine's second volume, two friends - Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott - and I put our heads together on a project.

We collaborated on a story about travel, most specifically as a pair. It follows the cross-country drive to the 150-year-old farmhouse where they stayed for a week. Here's an excerpt:

In this case, we're speaking of memories of days spent on the tip of an island. Looking through windowpanes effervescent with bubbles trapped in the glass. Meals shared, and chairs pulled close to the table, and to each other. Walks on soft sand after a feast of clams with butter and beer, to return the shells to the waters from whence they came. The taste of potatoes dug from red earth, the likes of which you won't find anywhere else. The act of battening down the hatches and together bundling up against a storm, with winds that wailed against ancient walls in exhilarating gusts.

Clothes brought in from drying, branded with the scent of salted air.

The magazine is out now, available both in print and on the iPad. If you would like our recipes from the story, I'm chuffed to point you in the direction of Bon Appetit, where they're published along with a few more shots from PEI. Thanks so much to Julia for that.

And speaking of photographs, Nikole has some others up today too - we wanted to show y'all some of our favourites, and though it nice to divide them between us two. So if you head on over to her site you can see them, and read her thoughts on the matter. 

For a look back at the launch of Kinfolk and our first collaboration, it's here

All photographs by Michael Graydon. Food and styling by Nikole Herriott. Cheers guys, it was great fun.

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Let's return to the lentils

It is an unglamourous, unoriginal statement to declare I adore baked beans. But I do.  

Since I have a habit of imaging our conversations as dramas in my head, I can hear you saying "those aren't beans, Tara. Those are lentils." And maybe then you'll tilt your head to one side and pat me on my hand in a kind, but vaguely pitying manner. You might cluck your tongue in a soft "tsk, tsk" as what a shame it is that I've obviously lost any and all of my marbles over this holiday and new year season. 

You may even put up the kettle for some tea. You're really very nice to me.

However, please have faith in my madness, because look at that -  right there, lentils that look like baked beans. 

These brilliant beauties are from Frédéric Morin and David McMillian, and the book they wrote with Meredith Erickson, The Art of Living According to Joe Beef (Ten Speed Press, 2011). Morin and McMillian are behind the Montreal-based restaurant Joe Beef, and two other establishments - Liverpool House and McKiernan Lunchonette. The book is more than a cookbook, more of a treatise, a perspective on food and quality of life. That said, it's not mired down by overly-saccharine missives, but instead kept buoyant by bravado and enthusiasm, as evidenced by the included history lesson of eating in their city, a pullout insert of the most majestic smörgåsbord, and a romantic dissertation on train travel.

I flipped through the book for a few minutes one day, then spent a solid two luxurious hours reading it at the kitchen table the next, from beginning to end, while munching a chewy baguette with a smear of sinus-clearing mustard and wafery slices of salty ham. That was a fine morning, and this is a fine book. It's been on a whole whack of "Best of" lists for the year, with good reason.

Recipe origin given it's due, let's return to the lentils.  

These lentils run all the same bases as baked beans - a humming balance of acid, fat, sugar, salt and bite (an equation cribbed from Morin and the pages of the book, I should say). The mathematics make sense, and are brought to best potential in a lidded pot. While the sludgy pleasure of baked beans is nothing new, the substitution of lentils in the place of the beans changes the effect entirely. The stewy, starchy charm is kept, but the flat density of the lentils shift and slip across the spoon, and make for a less claustrophobic bite. While not light per se, the lentils have a looseness, an almost hearty delicacy (which makes no sense, I know). 

It's a home run. 

Of all the ways one can enjoy a bean that's been baked these lentils can play quite admirably; alongside a golden-crisp sausage, or with cabbage that's been lightly braised, or as a part of a Full English Breakfast (the plate in the back). I've nicked some inspiration from the last, by grilling some bread on a cast iron pan, letting it catch and scorch in places, topped the toast with lentils and a frizzled-edged fried egg with the yolk left runny, and then spooned more beans atop that. It's that hearty, glorious fare that works well with coffee, morning, noon, evening and latest night. 

The flavours are pretty much the regulars: fat and smoke from bacon, a low sweetness from browned onions and garlic, aromatic roundness from maple syrup, mustard's heat boosted by vinegar's twang. The structure upon which all the other ingredients play upon is, funnily, the ketchup - the combination of tomato and vinegar and sugar - is what gathers everything together. Which is to say it's like a curving, hunched backbone to the dish, as one looks when hunkered over a bowl at the table. 

After a quick sauté on the stove and a longer stay in the oven, you are rewarded with a ruddy mix of lentils; it is awfully orange, here and there rusty brown with bacon and a single garnish of a dusky bay leaf. There's a comforting calm to the monochromatic scheme, but it's not fancy-pants stuff. If you'd rather, close our eyes and then grab your fork, or maybe grab the fork first, that might be easier. Either way, make these, eat them, and be happy. 


There's a superstition that lentils are eaten on the new year because they resemble coins and this bodes well for prosperous days ahead. While I'm three days overdue in my wishes to you, the lapse does not diminish the sincerity of the sentiment. I hope your days have been brightly merry, and nothing but best wishes to you and yours for this year to come.

A quick mention, Donny Tsang invited me to chat about the photographs I take. If you'd like to read the interview, it's at Great Food Photos. Thanks so much Donny for the kindness!

Lentils Like Baked Beans
From The Art of Living According to Joe Beef. "This great side dish has a bit of a Quebecois-lumberjack-in-Bollywood taste. It is red lentils cooked like dal, seasoned like baked beans. It is a pork chop's best friend or will mate with a hefty breakfast."

4 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups (500 millilitres) red lentils, rinsed and picked over
4 cups (1 litre) water
1/4 cup (60 millilitres) ketchup
2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons neutral oil
2 tablespoons Colman's mustard powder
1 tablespoon cider vinegar, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon ground pepper, plus more as needed
1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

In oven proof pot with lid, fry bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, or until softened. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.  

Add the lentils, water, ketchup, maple syrup, oil, mustard, vinegar, pepper and bay leaf. Stir well and season with salt. Bring to a boil. Cover, place in oven, and bake for 45 minutes, or until lentils are tender.

Taste and correct the seasoning with salt, pepper, maple syrup, and vinegar. Serve hot now or later.

Serves 4.

Notes from Tara:

  • When it comes to lentils, they need a good wash - a quick rinse in a sieve doesn't always do the job. I cover them with water in a bowl, give them a swish with my hand, strain, and repeat, until the water is no longer cloudy.
  • The bacon I had was rather thick cut, and so produced a good amount of fat. As a result, I didn't use the full 2 tablespoons of oil. I also squirreled away a few of the bits of crisp bacon before adding the lentils, reserving them to add at the table.
  • I used some homemade ketchup, which has things like celery seed, clove, mace, allspice, cinnamon, chili flakes in it; for those so inclined, you could make up a sachet of these spices and steep them into the liquid for the baking. I've not tried it, so fair warning. Sounds like a nice idea though.



They bear repeating


There was a lady I used to know who always kept candies in a bowl on her coffee table. My oldest nephew, who’s now 12 years old and almost as tall as I am, sometimes visited her with me - he was maybe three at the time? He’d toddle over to her knee, ask politely for a candy, and then, manners dispatched, gleefully help himself.

I think he thought her lovely, and possibly magic, as he should have - because she was a lovely person, and really an ever-full candy dish does seem a little magic, doesn’t it?

The candies on offer would change with the season; Hershey’s Kisses on Valentine’s Day, chocolate eggs at Easter, hard butterscotch rounds come Thanksgiving. In winter, the candies were often flavoured with mint. There would be swirled peppermints, soft-centred mints enrobed in chocolate, and hard mints with truffled fillings.   

Of all the minted variations, my favourite were these chocolates flavoured with peppermint through and through. They were blocky things, made at a local shop that’s now gone, and they came wrapped in foils the colour of jewels left out in the frost. They were mild - the chocolate wasn’t too bitter, the mint wasn't too sharp. They were gentle and beguiling, with a right hit of pep, much like our host.

I adored those chocolates. I adored them enough that the other night, after hours of driving in rain and gloom, I sought out some peppermint chocolates in the dusty corner of a dodgy shop and, with full knowledge they were not the right kind and were probably going to be comparatively horrid and would never be considered coffee-table-eligible, I bought them anyway. Then promptly ate three, ignoring their inferiority and happy for their existence because they unexpectedly reminded of her, and that was nice.

I even brought a modest stash of those terrible chocolates home and ashamedly nibbled my way through the supply in the days since. So maybe it’s time to break out a double-boiler and do things up right.

* * *

While Layered Peppermint Crunch Bark isn’t exactly the candy from memory, it is a darn swell substitute and far better than my sorry replacement of recent history. This triple-layer affair has texture and a retro appeal which those clunky, cubist darlings didn't, but it is similarly ideal for ice-capped days.

They are a cinch to make, a melt-and-spread routine of white and dark chocolates, alternated with crushed peppermint snowfalls worthy of Willy Wonka himself. If you have a few hours planned around the house (the chilling takes some time),  knocking together a batch of bars isn't too much by way of supplementary effort. If there's a group of you together, bulk batches are easily accommodated, and boom! Instant candy factory.

It is an old-ish recipe I’m handing over. One, in fact, published only a year before that nephew of mine was born. This recipe is one that's been already introduced and is deservedly well-loved, but I’ll stop short of apology for the encore - familiarity and a hint of kitch needn’t diminish enthusiasm. Therein lies the magic of traditions I think; they bear repeating. We talk about them over and over again, fall into their movements year after year, like the well-worn memory of an old friend who always kept her candy dish topped up.

Merry times to you.


Slightly tweaked from Epicurious. This bark is surprisingly restrained; it isn't exceptionally sweet, and there's enough mint to redeem the waxy blandness of the white chocolate. (I've been known to pour the peppermint extract generously, approaching a full teaspoon in total.)

For the dark chocolate, I aim for the middle of the road and use mostly semisweet and some bittersweet if I have both on hand. The combination seems to be the most universally appealing, which is an asset if you're making these for gifts or a party. Use whichever suits your fancy or your audience. Since semisweet chocolate is quite a bit softer than bittersweet, in that case I cut the cream down to 4 1/2-5 tablespoons.

I have discovered that the red swirly peppermints called for are named "Starlight Mints" - could that be more charming? Pounding the pretties to an uneven dust affords the texture we like best. The tiny shards snap and the larger chunks crunch, but no piece is so large as to give any real resistance. 

30 red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies, crushed fairly fine (about 6 ounces)
17 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker's), finely chopped
A good pinch kosher salt
7 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons whipping cream
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Run the peppermints through a coarse sieve. Reserve the dust to one side, and keep the larger pieces in the sieve itself. 

Turn a large, sturdy baking sheet face side down. Cover securely with foil. Mark a 12x9-inch rectangle on the foil. Place the chopped white chocolate and kosher salt in a metal bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, never allowing the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth, and registers 110°F on a candy thermometer. Remove the bowl from the water. Pour 2/3 cup of the melted white chocolate within border of the marked rectangle on foil. Using an offset spatula, spread chocolate to fill the rectangle. Mix some of the larger peppermint pieces into the dust to make up 1/3 cup. Sprinkle this over the white chocolate and chill until firm, about 15 minutes.

Stir the dark chocolate, cream and peppermint extract in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, around 5 minutes. Pour the bittersweet chocolate mixture over the white chocolate rectangle. Using a clean offset spatula, spread the bittersweet chocolate to form an even layer. Chill until very cold and firm, around 25 minutes.

Rewarm the remaining white chocolate in bowl set over barely simmering water, again to 110°F. Working quickly, pour the white chocolate over the firm bittersweet chocolate layer, spreading with a clean offset spatula to cover. Immediately sprinkle with remaining crushed peppermints. Refrigerate until just firm, about 20 minutes.

Lift bark off the foil onto a large work surface, with a metal spatula as aid if needed. With a thin bladed knife, trim edges. Cut bark crosswise into 2-inch-wide lengths. Cut each strip crosswise into 3 sections and each section across into squares. 

Can be kept, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks. Seperate layers with wax paper to keep candies from sticking. 

Serve straight from the fridge or allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes or so if a softer candy is preferred. For the record, if you stash some in the freezer and then bash it to smaller shards, it makes a fine topping to a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Makes 36 pieces.



A workhorse

uppercase issue eleven


Years ago my maternal grandmother, Gigi as we call her, asked me what I'd like for a present. My answer was quick and decisive: a pot. A sturdy one, like those from her kitchen and that of my parents, the kind of pot that ends up with a job in its title - the Rice Pot, the Dal Pot, the Jam Pot - a workhorse kind of pot. We settled on one in cast iron with a substantial lid. Her choice was perfect.

As our family has grown, so has my collection of iron pots. There's the medium round, which is the favourite for baking bread, the large enameled round in which I make soups, and then the burly original oval - it's got presence; all shiny deep green outside, like a forest in darkness, with matte black interior. Empty, the pot has heft, full it's downright heavy, landing with a muffled thud when heaved from the oven to the table.

And, in a way that feels fitting, a vessel which requires such athleticism in its transport is rarely used for sprightly fare. That's the one preferred come colder months, for braising shanks and roasts, for stews and the heartiest of our meals.

In UPPERCASE magazine this season I wrote about a braised beef blade roast, and it's a workhorse too. Immensely adaptable, the recipe owes some lineage to Boeuf Bourguignon; its gravy is rich and deep with red wine, heady with herbs and sweet with root vegetables. To finish, it gets some pointers from Osso Bucco, as I've borrowed its gremolata - an ending garnish of parsley, garlic and lemon zest - to accent the mellow flavours of this slow-cooked stew. 

There's a family secret in the story as well, as you'll find Gigi's influence in the ingredients. She's a smart one, in matters of both cookware and recipes, so I'm particularly excited to share her coveted wisdom with you. 

Happy reading. 


UPPERCASE magazine issue 11 can be purchased online, or visit their site to find your local stockist.