Monday, June 27, 2011

sunday breakfast

My favourite meal of the week is Sunday breakfast. It is not just a meal but a frame of mind. It is about having a day off, the time to relax and being with someone you care about. Even when alone making a nice breakfast for yourself, cracking your favourite newspaper and spending a leisurely hour at the table is luxury.

The ritual of making Sunday breakfast starts with the right music. Frank Zappa is not what we are looking for! No, we need something soft and passionate. Ella, Chet Baker, Billie Holiday are some of my personal favourites.

Two other important breakfast items are flowers and a breakfast tray. I have always held that one of the nicest things you can do for someone is to cook for them. Whether it is as simple as tea and toast, or a full on breakfast, it is a loving gesture. I am still searching for one of those wicker breakfast trays with the holders on the side for the newspapers. If I am preparing breakfast for my sweetie, I want to take it to her in bed. I also love a nice vase of flowers. A Chinese philosopher once said "the person who has two dollars for dinner will spend one dollar on food and one on flowers."

Sunday morning breakfast is not the time for diets and weight watchers. We can go for a nice long walk, or work in the garden later. Sundays are a time for gentle decadence and satisfying our souls with good food. My two favourite breakfast dishes are french toast and pancakes with fresh fruit and maple syrup. In the following recipe for my pancakes, you can use pretty much any combination of flours and grains you like.

I like to take about 2 cups of fruit, preferably fresh and in season. Yesterday was sliced mangoes and fresh local strawberries, warmed in about 1/2 cup maple syrup. Pour this over your pancakes and you will surely be in heaven.

Bruce's Breakfast pancakes

1 1/2 cups milk mixed with 3 tbsp. yoghurt
2 eggs, separated
1 tbsp. melted butter
2 tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup grains ~ oats/cornmeal/9 grain cereal mix, or any combination of the above
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt

In a bowl mix together the egg yolks, milk/yoghurt, sugar, vanilla and melted butter and set aside. In another bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.
Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet alternating with the egg whites. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes while preparing your pan.
Pre-heat an electric griddle or frying pan to 350 degrees. If you are using a frying pan on the range heat it to medium.
Place a small pat of butter in the pan/on the griddle and when melted add the batter to the pan in 1/2 cup sized dollops.
Allow the pancakes to cook until you see bubbles forming on the surface. This will take about 3 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook a further 2 minutes. Remove to a warmed plate and serve with breakfast sausages, fruit & warm maple syrup.

And, lastly, poetry. It is always nice to place something from your favourite poet on the breakfast tray. And so I will leave this post with the words of Pablo Neruda, since he brought me and my breakfast companion together.

You are the daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin.
Swimmer, your body is pure as the water;
cook, your blood is quick as the soil.
Everything you do is full of flowers, rich with the earth.

Your eyes go out toward the water, and the waves rise;
your hands go out to the earth and the seeds swell;
you know the deep essence of water and the earth,
conjoined in you like a formula for clay.

Naiad: cut your body into turquoise pieces,
they will bloom resurrected in the kitchen.
This is how you become everything that lives.

And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms
that push back the shadows so that you can rest--
vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.

Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

exciting news

Exciting news this week. Bruce's Kitchen got mentioned in Frommer's guide as one of the 15 best restaurants in the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island and San Juan Islands. We were also mentioned as a special insider place worth a visit.

It is at times like this that a lot of the hard work, long hours and anxiety of owning a small business begin to feel worth it. I don't work for these kind of accolades, the joy of cooking for people I know makes me happiest. It is, though nice to get recognition of this sort especially when it will help the Kitchen grow.

I suppose the only small bit was the reference to "big Bruce behind the stove". Considering my recent weight loss I like to think of myself as the ever shrinking Bruce.

I should thank all of my hardworking, dedicated staff, without whom Bruce's Kitchen wouldn't be what it is. Their commitment to making the business work and their customer service are beyond compare. And thank you to all of our local customers who keep us going throughout the year.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Welcome to Bruce's Pantry, the well-stocked cupboard behind the culinary magic of Bruce's Kitchen. There's lots of fresh, local food here, sure, but poetry, music, art, and food activism are also some of the ingredients that go into my recipes.

Recently, a young apprentice who worked for me when I first opened Bruce's Kitchen graduated from high school. Watching him receive his diploma made me reflect on when I started in the trade. In 1981, as I dragged my tired, overwhelmed body home from my first night in the kitchen, I had two thoughts. The first was "These people are lunatics!" considering the frenetic pace and trying to juggle a million things simultaneously.

The second was "I want to be part of this lunacy!" It was like seeing the world in colour - a world of creativity, adrenaline and camaraderie.

What led me to become a chef? The ambrosia salads and sausage rolls of the 1960's Toronto of my childhood were hardly inspiring. One of my earliest food epiphanies involved going to my Aunt Joyce's for family dinner. My Dad had 10 brothers & sisters so family gatherings were generally huge, rambling affairs with predictable menus.

However, my Aunt Joyce had married a Ukranian man and so when the plywood went down on top of the pool table, and the table cloth was unrolled there was this sort of food dichotomy going on. On one side of the table were salads which jiggled luridly when the table was bumped, along with devilled eggs and other delights of the suburban 60's.

However, on the other side were savoury pierogies, earthy mushroom salads and garlic redolent cabbage rolls. I recall thinking "What's going on here? Why is this side so good and the other so...well, boring."

This early question started me on the road to embracing a love of good, well-prepared food which has continued to this day. Food does not have to be fancy, it simply has to have good ingredients chosen with care and reflect love in its preparation.

Next, I will delve into another food epiphany and share a great tourtiere recipe and the recipe for my Mom's catsup.