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Know how I know it’s spring?? Asparagus is here, plentiful and beautiful! But it’s also one of the few fresh local veggies you can get right now. To keep from getting bored (if that’s even possible) with this amazing veg – here’s a quick and simply way to spice it up.


Herbes de Provence Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch of fresh asparagus, trimmed
2 TBSP canola oil
1 TBSP herbes de provence
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat a BBQ or oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Toss asparagus together with all other ingredients. Spread on foil in a single layer.

Roast until tender and slightly brown – about 10-12 minutes.




Last Saturday’s Demo at the store was so fantastic. Seriously. You should have been there. But no worries – they are just as easy to make at home. I ended up using some that I made for myself as a topping on an egg-avocado-bacon-fest breakfast. But they would make an excellent appetizer, especially with a little fresh bread to dip into the spicy oil.

Don’t forget you can check out this week’s live cooking demo at Cardamom and Cloves (440 Preston Street) at 11am! Samples guaranteed for the first 4 to arrive.


Cajun Shrimp

1/2 cup olive oil
2 TBSP Cajun spice mix
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
2 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 TBSP granulated honey (the regular kind will work too but use 1 TBSP)
1 TBSP soy Sauce
1 big pinch of chilli flakes
1 lb deveined shrimp

Mix all ingredients except the parsley together, pour over shrimp and allow to marinate for 1 hour.


Spread the shrimp and oil on a baking sheet and cook for 5-7 minutes at 450 degrees. Serve warm or cold!


I don’t know where I learned to do this. I swear it was something I watched Jamie Oliver do, but upon searching my books and the net for some kind of proof – none was to be found. So now I will take full credit for this stunningly simple but amazing side dish. If you don’t have a microwave, bake them in the oven like normal. Still simple, just takes longer.

This was a part of my Saturday cooking demos at Cardamom and Cloves. So if you’d ever like to try a bit of what I’m making, or just want to watch what boils down to live Food Network, minus celebrity chefs plus me – come down to 440 Preston Street in Ottawa at 11 am any Saturday and enjoy!

Sweet potato

Smoked Spicy Sweet Potato Mash

Serves 2-4 as a side dish, or just me as a main because making other food seemed like too much work.

One lemon cut in half
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in half
2 TBSP olive oil or butter
1.5 TBSP smoked Spanish paprika
Fleur de Hell salt
Smoky Don Smoked pepper


In a microwave safe bowl, arrange sweet potatoes and lemon halves. Sprinkle with a good pinch smoked pepper and wrap in two layers of plastic wrap. Cook in your microwave on high for 10 minutes.

When you remove the bowl from the microwave, poke with a knife or fork to allow steam to escape. Be careful, it’s hot! Remove plastic wrap and lemons and toss. Add olive oil or butter, and paprika and mash. This will probably be super easy at this point. If it’s not, re-wrap and microwave another 3-4 minutes.

Once mashed and mixed with spice – top with a nice pinch of spicy Fleur de Hell sea salt. Serve right away!

Last night was the African Harvest event to celebrate 35 years of Farm Radio International. Not able to make the event but still want to try some amazing African flavours and help the cause?? Well – now it’s in two steps but still totally do able!


African Harvest Chefs – Andrée Riffou and Jeff Crump

First – in recognition of 35 years, Farm Radio is hoping to get 35 new monthly donors. You could be one! Click here form more information.

Next the African flavours… this was a soup I made at Cardamom and Cloves last Saturday for my cooking demo – they happen every Saturday at 11am in store (440 Preston Street) and the first 4 to arrive are guaranteed a sample of the dish that is made.

This recipes uses berbere spice – a flavourful African spice mix of 13 ingredients including paprika, ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and allspice to name a few.


Carrot and Berbere Spice Soup

2 TBSP Olive oil or butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
2 TBSP Berber spice
2 cups veggie stock
1.5 pounds of carrots, peeled
Sea salt
Black pepper
4 dollops of sour cream
Additional Berber spice for garnish

Heat olive oil or butter in a large pot. Gently saute onions until soft – about 4 minutes. Add carrots, garlic, Bay leaf, berbere and stock. There should be enough liquid to just cover the vegetables. If not, add water. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer until carrots are very soft, about 15 minutes.

Cool slightly. Remove bay leaf. Puree with a hand blender or in batches in a regular blender. You can reheat and season to taste now – or season it, cool it and serve cold.

Serve with a spoon full of sour cream and a sprinkle of berbere spice if you like!


Too busy to read?? Here is a clip of me on CTV making the soup!


**Update** To check out just what I’m talking about in this update scroll down!


This on the scene photography brought to you by the super duper amazing Foodie Prints – check out their other amazing foodie pictures on their Instagram account among many other places. Like here.

So of course the second I hit publish on this post I found out that there aren’t enough vendors to do the small bites alley! So while I wont be there (as a vendor) you could be (as an eater! I mean… participant!) I’ve got two tickets to give away to our city’s biggest and best cocktail party. All you need to do to enter is comment on this post about which part of Bon Appetit you would enjoy most!

To get you started here is Katy at Sheltered Girl Meets World with her top 5 reasons she is excited for May 6.

I’ll pick a winner on Thursday morning and you can come pick up your ticket in store at Cardamom and Cloves on 440 Preston Street!



This year’s Bon Appetit Ottawa is going to be bigger and better than ever before. Going into it’s 18th year – this glamorous cocktail party helps over 20 local charities and puts you in a room with over 90 restaurants, caterers, wineries and breweries… and me!! That’s right. In a classic case of me biting off more than I can chew, I have agreed to be part of the new “small bites alley” a spot to showcase smaller restaurants (less than 40 seats) and new food and beverage businesses.


The idea is that producers in the small bites alley have one bite samples and change through the night so you get to see quite a variety of the amazing food Ottawa is producing. This is all on top of the larger plates and samples offered by the larger local businesses! So who is going to be there? For a complete list click here – but here are just a few of the participating vendors:

– Angry Dragonz : love love love this food truck!
– Hooch Bourbon House: after reviews like this one from FoodiePrints, how could I not be excited?!
– Fifthtown Artisan Cheese: there was a bit of a shock when this awesome cheese maker in PEC closed down for a bit, but with new owners they are back! Can’t wait.
– Top Shelf Preserves: Like awesome things? You are going to love this
– MeNa: yes it is just down the street from me, and I could go anytime, but I can’t wait to see what they come up with for this awesome event.

But seriously – so many, many more amazing people going to be there. One of them should be you!

Here’s the nitty gritty:

Place: EY Centre, 4899 Uplands Drive, Ottawa 
Date:  Tuesday May 6, 2014
Time:  5:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased by clicking here: $85 ticket comes with a $50 tax receipt.


When is a sample more than a sample?? When it’s a cooking lesson too!

Starting after the Easter weekend – Saturday samples at Cardamom & Cloves will change. Just come on down to the store at 440 Preston, Saturdays at 11 am to see what all the fuss is about. There will be a recipe demonstration and the first 4 people to arrive will be guaranteed a sample of what was made. Depending on the recipe – there might be more to sample – but the first 4 will always get something tasty!


Aren’t you excited to see what recipes I will come up with  fueled by a chocolate mini egg bender?

Each week a new, seasonal, easy to replicate at home recipe. If there is anything you have learned about me from reading this blog, it is the following: I hate dishes and have a hard time following instructions. What does that translate to? Meals and recipe ideas that are no fail (even if you move step 4 to step 8) and are easy to clean up. What more could you ask for?

What about this Saturday?? This Saturday we will be sampling Lavender Lemonade in the warm Spring sunshine*

And Easter weekend?? Cardamom & Cloves will be closed Friday and will not re-open until Tuesday! Who am I to resist chocolate eggs and taking way too many pictures of my dogs and friend’s kids wearing bunny ears?? Watch out Instagram.

Until then – happy chocolate egg hunting!



*As long as mother nature co-operates… I’m only providing the lemonade – the sun thing is all her.


Before I opened up Cardamom and Clove and my days at C’est Bon Cooking, I worked in the non-profit world. United Way Ottawa, The Catholic Center for Immigrants, The Canadian Council of the Blind and a couple others. One of the organizations I had always found interesting was Farm Radio International – an organization that provides resources and training to broadcasters so that radio programs about farming and agriculture that are being produced and broadcast in Africa are at their most effective. It’s an amazingly effective way to get information to those who are living far from urban centers, have limited reading skills and no access to other communication methods like telephone or internet.


May 1st is Farm Radio’s 35th Anniversary and to celebrate they are throwing a wonderful event! Called African Harvest – a night of cooking demonstrations, African inspired food, local beers and wines and a live and silent auction to support Farm Radio.

The Chefs involved are Ottawa’s own Andrèe Riffou from C’est Bon Cooking and Jeff Crump the Executive Chef at the Ancaster Mill and author of Earth to Table cookbook. The dishes they are creating are a surprise – but I do know that they will be using some African spices from Cardamom and Cloves!

If you are looking for a night of international food and fun – click here for more information and tickets. The night gets started at 7pm at St. Bridget’s on St. Patrick in the ByWard Market. If you need some more information contact or 613-761-3678. As a shameless plug, tickets are also available in person at Cardamom and Cloves at 440 Preston Street.



This past Saturday at Cardamom and Cloves, I made a quick fig and star anise jam for the Saturday sample. Start to finish it took about 30 minutes, and for much of that time I was watching TV waiting for the mixture to cook down. So easy and so yummy. A great way to spice up brunch, or top ice cream – I’ve been guilty of eating this stuff by the spoonful.


Fig and Star Anise Quick Jam

15 figs roughly chopped
2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of sea salt
6 star anise pods
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar

Add sugar, star anise and pinch of salt together in a thick bottomed pan.


I don’t normally remember to take pictures as I’m making something – but this was so easy and pretty I had to share! I used a smoked salt just so you could see it against the sugar. With just a pinch it doesn’t make much difference to the final product.

Next step – heat over medium heat until the sugar melts and begins to caramelize.


Then add the figs and vinegar and allow to cook down over medium heat until jam is the consistency you are looking for. Let cool, remove the star anise pods and enjoy!




The name of this recipe is a mouthful – and so is the cake. Mouthful of ninja level awesome that is. Try making just the crumble as an awesome topping for yogurt, ice cream or hot cereal. I can even imagine how good it would be mixed into some carrot muffins.

Cardamom crumble cake

Cardamom Olive Oil Crumble Cake


1 cup oats
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt


1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup olive oil

Combing the crumble ingredients in a bowl. Set aside

In a large bowl mix together the dry cake ingredients. Make a well – add the wet ingredients. Stir to combine. Mix well.

Pour cake batter into a 9 inch, greased cake pan. Top with crumble and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until a fork inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.


This Monday I was on Rogers Daytime – it was a lot of fun! I made this flavourful Island Marinade. I used it on chicken but I can imagine it would be fantastic on pork or cauliflower as well.

It’s the allspice that make this dish ‘island’. It’s a staple of Jamaican cuisine and is found in all the best jerk recipes. This one is mild, but if you wanted to punch it up, just increase the amount of Cayenne power or think about adding a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce. Every bite will remind you of beaches, warm sun and sweet drinks with little umbrellas.

All Spice


Island Chicken

2 TBSP Garlic powder
1 TBSP Onion flakes
3/4 tsp Thyme, dry
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp Allspice, ground
3/4 tsp Black pepper
1/3 cup Brown sugar, packed
1 Pinch Cayenne
1/2 tsp Ceylon Cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp Cloves, ground
3 TBSP Canola oil
1/2 cup Red-wine vinegar
4 Chicken breasts

Grind all spices together – add to other ingredients and pour over chicken breasts and marinade for 2-24 hours.

Grill, bake or BBQ Chicken as you normally would until cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.


One day it will be warm again… it’s just gotta.

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