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Twice the Fun (October 9, 2002)


Cooking, like sex and dancing, is a pleasure best shared. Two people in the kitchen can have as much fun as two people in the bath! So opens James Barber, Canada's popular Urban Peasant, in his latest book, Cooking for Two.

Well, James, after a start like that, we had to check this out, and were delighted that you've covered the subject so very well.

Barber is irrepressible; he goes on to state that "gourmet cookbooks and glossy magazines with their beautiful pictures always assume that cooking is a solitary and precise occupation for celibate interior decorators... when it ought to be a shared courtship, a foreplay to the intimacy of a shared dinner."

Further, "Let's cook supper" will do a lot more for your relationship than "I'm cooking. Leave me alone!"

Oh, James, we think you've got the answer to a lot of, well, questions, and we also think Cooking for Two is full of wonderful recipes guaranteed to give you great meals and, hey, perk up that relationship. What could be better!

On today's menu:

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (77 KB)


Sort of Souvlaki

Quick, easy... nice start to what promises to be a good evening! And everyone loves chicken!

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • A sprig of oregano
  • ¼ cup good olive oil (50 mL)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 wooden skewers
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 long English cucumber
  • ½ cup yogurt (125 mL)
  • Pita bread

While you cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, have someone chop the oregano and mix it with the oil and lemon juice in a shallow dish. Soak the skewers in water for a few minutes, then thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers, and season the chicken with a little salt and pepper. Let the skewers sit in the marinade, refrigerated, for a couple of hours. Of you are using a barbecue, let it heat up for 30 to 40 minutes before putting the skewers on it. Otherwise, heat a fry pan over medium high heat for 5 minutes before putting the skewers on it.

Cook the chicken for 6 to 8 minutes, brushing more of the marinade on it while it cooks, and turning once. While you are doing this, have someone chop the tomato and cucumber, and stir them into the yogurt. Serve the souvlaki with the yogurt mixture on the side, and with some fresh pita bread.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
A medium or full-bodied dry white – if you want a change from non-oaked Chardonnay or Chablis, try Soave, Vernacchia di San Gimignano.


Sicilian Prawns and Beans

Yum, yum. This has become a favourite of ours; we love the combination, and the little bit of hot spice is just right.

  • 1 tin (14 oz/398 mL) white cannellini or navy beans
  • 12 unshelled raw prawns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chicken stock (250 mL)
  • ½ tsp red pepper flaked (2 mL)
  • ½ tsp salt (2 mL)
  • 1 tsp pepper (5 mL)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • A handful of parsley
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (25 mL)
  • 1 lemon

Drain and rinse the bean under cold running water. While someone rinses, peels and deveins the prawns, combine the beans, bay leaf, stock, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a saucepan, and bring this mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, and let the mixture cook while you cook the prawns. Chop the garlic and parsley while you heat the oil in a fry pan over high heat. Add the prawns and chopped garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, until the prawns just turn pink. While someone discards the bay leaf and divvies up the bean onto a couple of plates, cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the prawns. Sprinkle them with parsley and serve over the warm bean.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
The pepper flakes give this dish a hot mouthfeel, so you'll need a wine with good residual sweetness as well as lively acidity – for something off-the-wall, try a chilled White Zinfandel. If you wouldn't touch blush wine with a barge pole, try a Riesling Spätlese or a chilled Beaujolais.


Summer Pudding

Oh, it's so pretty and, with all the fresh fruit in the markets, a perfect ending to your little shared meal.

  • 4 to 6 thin slices of crustless white bread or sponge cake
  • 12 strawberries
  • A handful of blueberries
  • A handful of raspberries
  • A handful of cranberries
  • ½ cup white sugar (125 mL)
  • Heaps of whipped cream!

While you line the sides of a small, greased bowl with most of the slices of bread, have someone hull and chop the strawberries. Toss all the berries together with the sugar, and pour them into the bread-lined bowl. Cover the berries with the remaining bread. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place a plate on top of it. Weight the plate down with a couple of tins of beans, and refrigerate for 4 hours or so (or even overnight). When you are ready to serve it, invert the pudding onto a plate.

Serve with heaps of whipped cream.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
M make sure the wine is sweeter than the sweetened fruit and cream – chilled Moscato d'Asti, Late Harvest Riesling, Icewine or Sauternes.

We wish to thank Macmillan Canada for permission to publish material from Cooking for Two, by James Barber, ©1999. Photographs by John Sherlock.


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (77 KB)




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