Savoury Avocado Cream Bites – An Avo Showdown Recipe


One of the nicest parts of blogging for me is when the two lenses of my blog, food and community, converge. It’s not a rare occurrence, either – food and community go hand-in-hand.

There are a lot of organizations that connect food bloggers these days – Food Bloggers of Canada, food blogger savvy marketing companies, Meetups, and more. It means I’ve had the opportunity to meet other local bloggers and it’s often in the context of a fun event.


This summer, I got to do just that, courtesy of Town Hall Brands and Avocados from Mexico.

They organized an Avo Showdown and local bloggers brought their best original avocado recipes to the competition.

I spent some time recipe-testing, consulting my copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible for avocado-friendly pairings, and came up with an avocado and coconut cream spread, paired with jalapeño jam and a cucumber and fennel salad. I presented it on Vancouver-favourite, Raincoast Crisps, for two reasons: they’re delicious and I thought they’d hold up well to the very long wait between assembly and presentation to the judges.


Savoury Avocado Cream Bites

Serves a crowd

Fennel Crunch:
  • 5 grams red onions, finely diced and soaked in ice water for 10 minutes
  • 50 grams fennel ( ½ small bulb), excluding fronds, finely diced
  • 50 grams cucumber, peeled, quartered & cored, finely diced
Lime Vinaigrette:
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Avocado Cream:
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • a generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
To Finish:
  • jalapeño jam, store-bought or homemade (I use Camilla Wynne’s recipe)
  • crackers, crostini or rice crackers
  • cilantro (optional)

Prepare the Fennel Crunch and Lime Vinaigrette. Toss the Fennel Crunch in 2 -3 tbsp of the vinaigrette, check for seasoning, and refrigerate.

Halve the avocados, remove the seed, and scoop the meat into the jar of a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until the mixture is smooth, thick, and free of lumps. Check for seasoning, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To assemble, scoop a small quantity of the dressed Fennel Crunch onto the crackers or crostini. Spoon or pipe ½ – 1 tsp. of the Avocado Cream on top. Add a small quantity of jalapeño jam to either side of the Avocado Cream. Garnish with another small sprinkle of Fennel Crunch or a shower of chopped cilantro.

Serve immediately.

Tips: For a gluten-free version, use rice crackers, gluten-free crostini, or even slices of cucumber. This recipe is suitable for vegan or vegetarian eaters.


My dish was a hit with my family and with a few of the judges, so I’m happy. (Of course the happiest bunch of all were the night’s winners, as you can see in the photo above.)


The evening was the best reward, anyway. We were treated to mountains of delicious appetizers prepared by the students at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, along with a demonstration of an avocado-shrimp spring roll by PICA’s Executive Culinary Chef Instructor, Darren Clay. (It was fun working in a commercial kitchen alongside fellow bloggers.)


This was followed up by a demonstration of an Alligator Fizz by Justin Darnes, of Drinks Undressed and prestigious bars around the world and here in Vancouver.

By the time we got to taste each other’s dishes (nineteen in all), we were already a little full. But, they were all so delicious, we managed. And on our way out the door, we got a bag of avocado goodies to take home.


A wonderful evening all around.

I was given an invitation to the Avo Showdown by Town Hall Brands, along with a small gift bag, but received no other consideration. All opinions are my own.

G-W Portraits: Josie Boyce


Yesterday, local writer and artist Josie Boyce was my guest for the G-W Portraits series. She’s a long-time resident of the Commercial Drive area and a veteran of Vancouver’s writing, performing, visual arts, and film circles.

Josie spoke about her work, what she loves about this neighbourhood, and how she builds community here.

Here’s a link to Josie’s favourite hangout on the Drive: The Storm Crow Tavern, home of Patton Oswalt’s Sadness Bowl and some excellent beer.

And here’s a link to the Femme City Choir. If you’re planning on seeing them perform this year, buy your tickets early – their shows sell out.

Josie will be reading from her in-progress memoir and other works next week:

All My Empty Dresses: Memories of a Strawgirl
Spartacus Books
3378 Findlay Street, Vancouver
Tuesday, October 13th
7:00 p.m.

You can find Josie on The Josie Pages or on Facebook.

Downtown Gourmet: Meinhardt Fine Foods


When I lived in Kitsilano, I had a few favourite haunts: Videomatica, Zulu Records, Arbutus Coffee, Tealeaves‘ tea room. I also spent time exploring the many shopping streets in the neighbourhood – West 4th, Arbutus, and South Granville among them.

South Granville’s main attraction for me was Meinhardt Fine Foods, which could keep me occupied for hours. Their groceries ranged from affordable to luxury, but they were all a cut above what you could find at a supermarket. There were also gourmet ingredients you couldn’t find elsewhere. It was a great way to supplement the food education I’d been receiving from the cookbooks I borrowed from the library. And it was a great place to treat myself, whether it was an ingredient I was coveting, good quality chocolate, or a meal from their deli and pastry counters.

Eventually, I moved back to Grandview-Woodland, the neighbourhood I’ve always felt was home. My visits to Kitsilano are infrequent and I rarely make it as far as Meinhardt. Food culture has also changed, so that gourmet ingredients are more widely available across the city. But still, I’d like to visit Meinhardt more often.


Now, I can. Recently, I was invited to the opening celebration for Meinhardt’s new downtown location at the corner of Granville and Dunsmuir, in Pacific Centre.

They’re not following the same blueprint for their new store, though. Recognizing that they’re opening in the heart of the business district, the store will focus on “grab and go” fare for those who work in the downtown core, those who live there, and Eastsiders (like me) who don’t want to travel across town for Meinhardt’s gourmet goods.


Their hot bar, soup, and salad bar offerings are all developed by Executive Chef Elke Brandstatter. If the bahn mi sandwiches I sampled at the party are any indication, running to the store for lunch will be a pleasure.

There is also an impressive pastry case assortment, including sophisticated French sweets like macarons and fresh takes on North American favourites like cheesecake, too.

Sweet bar

What most impressed me, though, were two things:

First, their commitment to high-quality local suppliers, like Mellifera Bees and Chef Enrick. From the dairy case to the bread rack, there are British Columbia businesses represented, supplemented by national and international gourmet goods.

And second, I was pleased with the quality and variety of their M-private label Collection – from olive oil good enough for a bread and balsamic pairing to truffles that wouldn’t be out of place at a dinner party.

General Manager Michael Meinhardt was kind enough to talk to me about their M-Collection goods. He told me they were aiming for quality and affordability. It’s something that’s been missing from the Canadian market, at least in BC, where most private label lines are comprised of budget treats or exclusive luxuries. These snack foods and staples are going to become ubiquitous in pantries across the city.

I was a guest at Meinhardt Pacific Centre’s opening celebration and received a box of truffles to take home. No other consideration was received and all opinions, as always, are my own.

Some Bright Ideas


Here’s what I’ve got coming up for you next week on the blog:

Meinhardt Fine Foods has opened a downtown location. I’ll tell you all about it, and their opening party, on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, barring any technical glitches, I’ll have another interview up in the G-W Portraits series.

On Friday, I’ll be sharing a recipe and describing the event that had me hauling out my copy of the Vegetarian Flavor Bible.

Here’s what I’ve got coming up, offline, this weekend:

A visit to Knit City, to ogle the wares of dozens of yarn and equipment purveyors. (Have I mentioned that my yarn diet is almost as fragile as my tea diet?)

I’ll also be attending the Canadian Coffee & Tea Show. I’ll be checking out their Tea Lounge and Tradeshow, while keeping tabs on the progress of the Canadian Barista and Latte Arts championships.

It’s also Doors Open Vancouver this weekend. If I have time, I might take the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at one of the City’s civic facilities. It’s a great way to get a new perspective on the architecture, infrastructure, and function of our City’s landmarks.

As always, I’d love to hear what you’re up to, online and off, this week.

G-W Portraits: Kristina Zalite


When I first met Kristina Zalite, nearly twenty years (!) ago, she was doing environmentalist work and making art. Today, she works at a landscaping architecture firm and she’s still making art.

These days, Kristina’s best known around Grandview-Woodland as a member of Orkestar Šlivovica, a lively Balkan brass band that can be seen at local events like the Parade of Lost Souls, festivals like the Ederlezi Balkan Brass Festival (which they organize), or their Šlivovica Social Club nights.

In our G-W Portraits chat last week, I was happy Kristina chose to focus on the landscape architecture work that she does, while also sharing her perspective on the ways this neighbourhood uses public space to build community.

One of the things I’m really enjoying about this project is how rich and diverse the responses to the question, “What do you love about Grandview-Woodland?” are proving to be. Thanks to Kristina for a great interview!

You can find Orkestar Šlivovica on their website or on Facebook.

Buttery Jam Cookies – A Tuesdays with Dorie Catch Up


I toyed with the idea of blogging for years before I began and one of my regrets was that I didn’t start soon enough to join in with the first round of Tuesdays with Dorie, when they baked their way through Dorie Greenspan‘s Baking From My Home to Yours.

Happily, Laurie Woodward started French Fridays with Dorie right around the time I finally did start blogging, as well as rebooting Tuesdays with Dorie – first, with a bake-a-long through Baking with Julia and most recently, Baking Chez Moi. I worked through a number of the Baking with Julia recipes with my nieces, until their newly adult lives took them in other directions. I join in with the Baking Chez Moi schedule whenever I can.

Today, though, I’m going to sneak in a post about one of my favourite recipes from Baking From My Home to Yours. It’s not the flashiest recipe in the book, but it’s one of the most satisfying ones for me. I love having homemade goodies for guests or to bring as gifts when I visit friends, but I often find myself baking without much time to spare.

As long as you’ve got some room-temperature butter on hand (and if you don’t, The Kitchn‘s got you covered), you can have freshly made cookies on hand at even the shortest of notice. And if you have the sort of friends that drop in, you can invite them into the kitchen while you bake. Kitchen visits are the best, anyway.

Even better, it’s a great way to use up any of the jams you’ve been collecting in your fridge. Toast may have become its own food group, but jam can do so much more. Especially when it’s paired with ginger or another complementary spice.

I’ve used a number of different jams with this recipe and most pair with ginger really well. I’ve added a little black pepper when I’ve used strawberry jam and substituted ground cardamom when I used plum jam. It’s a very forgiving recipe, because the butter cookie base makes just about any flavour combination shine.

This time, I used some ginger peach jam that my neighbour gave me (I gave her some of the jam back in cookie form). I felt the cookies would have benefitted from a little heat – perhaps some black pepper, but maybe the tiniest bit of cayenne. Does that sound too out there? I think it would work.

I still have some of that jam left. These cookies are so easy that they invite experimentation. I may have to stock up on butter.

See what else the Tuesdays with Dorie crew has been catching up on: Rewind!.

Cottage Cooking Club – September 2015


It’s autumn, time for warming meals and bottomless cups of rose-infused lattes (this one’s from Chau Veggie Express).

It’s also harvest time and this month’s Cottage Cooking Club motto is to make the best of what’s seasonal and local. September was a make-up month, so we could choose from any of the recipes that we’ve missed, or revisit a favourite.

I caught up on two recipes this month. They were July picks, but they were perfect for all the garden vegetables that were still at their peak this month.



I made this early in the month, using some fantastic tomatoes. This is a rich soup, full of vegetables. I used some kale that was the nicest thing at the market the day I made it, but it would have been equally as good with any cruciferous green.

Instead of toasted country bread, I served this with rosemary crostini for me and gluten-free toast rubbed with garlic for Kevin. This soup makes a hearty vegan dinner. We’ll be having it often over the winter.


Kale and Ricotta Tart

The second dish I made is vegetarian and a dairy-lover’s dream. I used kale (again) in this dish, instead of the beet greens or chard called for in the recipe. It’s all about what’s freshest at the market, right?

I managed to pack a lot of kale in this tart, so it’s definitely health food, regardless of how much ricotta and heavy cream fill the all-butter crust.

Speaking of the crust, it’s not my favourite tart crust to work with and it’s not as pretty as my go-to from Dorie Greenspan, but it’s tender, tastes terrific, and is sturdy enough to contain the filling. It won’t replace my favourite, but I will use it again.

I’ve started testing recipes from the cookbooks I’ll be reviewing in my holiday cookbook series, so I haven’t gotten to as many River Cottage recipes as I’d like. Don’t let that fool you, though. This cookbook is one I’ll be working through and revisiting for a long time to come.

Here are the links to the rest of the group’s posts for this month. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers and get some great inspiration for vegetarian eating.