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Instant Pot Spicy Cauliflower and Cheddar cream soup · Monday October 23, 2023 by colin newell

Spicy Cauliflower Cheese and Cream Soup

Winter time is the right time for soups — and our Cauliflower, Cheddar Cheese, Cream and Chili soup is delicious, satisfying and dreamy!

And while it is not yet winter, we can happily call this a harvest recipe – Andrea quipped that practically everything on the dinner table came with our hands and out of our garden — apart from the Cauliflower — I have yet to create the wonderful ones that I find at my local farmers market.

Stuff you are going to need!

• 1 medium head Cauliflower
• 1 tbsp Garlic
• 1 Sweet onion, small
• 1 fresh Jalapeño – chopped – seeds IN or OUT

Canned Goods

• 4 cups Chicken broth or vegetable broth


• 1/4 tsp Black pepper • 1/2 tsp Salt • 1/2 tsp Chili flakes


• 2 tbsp Olive oil


• 3/4 cup Milk or Table Cream! (Use the cream, trust me!)
• 1/2 cup Smoked Cheddar cheese
• 2 cups White cheddar cheese, sharp
• 1/2 cup Monterrey Jack cheese

Here’s how you do it!

In the insert of the Instant Pot, add olive oil and diced onions.

Using the Saute function, cook the onions for a couple of minutes until they begin to turn translucent.
Add minced garlic and stir for about thirty seconds, until it becomes fragrant.

Turn off the Saute function by pressing Cancel.

Add chopped cauliflower, broth, salt and pepper.

Select a cook time of five minutes at high pressure.

When the cook time is complete, perform a quick release of pressure.

After the pressure has released and the valve has dropped, carefully remove the lid and press Cancel to turn off the pressure cooker.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to your desired consistency.
Create a slurry by whisking together the cream.
Pour into the hot soup, stirring to combine. Allow this to thicken for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally (if needed, you can use the Saute function to simmer the soup).

Add the shredded cheese combo, stirring until melted.

Serve, topped with additional shredded cheese and chives, if desired.

And now for your entertainment, some Hawaiian slack key guitar that I recorded after several trips to the Islands!



Rancilio Silvia re-visited... · Tuesday August 22, 2023 by colin newell

Long time reader Bert M. checks in with his Rancilio Silvia story!
Way back in 2007 we published this treatise on the Rancilio Silvia espresso machine — it has since been read about 600,000 times.
A Local coffee enthusiast, Bert M., took it all to heart and set out on a journey with this great Italian coffee maker – here is his update!

Hi Colin!

Just re-read the Rancilio Silvia article and thought I would give you an update.

On your recommendation I received my Rancilio Silvia and Rocky In March 2008. Silvia worked perfectly until I had to replace the pump about 2 years ago. Most of the chrome has peeled off the group head cover. Waiting for one of the new black group head covers. Silvia still works perfectly.

These following photos when the machine was about 13 years old.

3-Way Bypass Valve

Untouched photos of the 3-way valve disassembly (picture at right) before I realized it was the pump.

I thought maybe the 3-way valve was plugged up. – Whitfield Food Services (Victoria) replaced the pump for me – Fast, reasonable priced service there!

Thirteen years of following your recommendations for cleanliness obviously paid off. I shared these photos with a Toronto area service tech and he was amazed.

Rancilio Silvia Group

Two years ago I started using IMS precision basket and screen – it really improved the quality of the shot but they were not always great.

Picture at left – original group after 13 years of usage.

A few months later I gave my Rocky to a family member and purchased a Eureka Oro Mignon XL grinder with 65mm burrs. 3 shots and it was dialed – in and another really noticeable upgrade in taste quality. (“Let the grind do the work as you taught me”).

The biggest change with the grinder is consistency of quality shots. Every shot, and I mean every shot, is excellent. You were right again when you said, “Spend your money on the grinder.”

Kitchen Counter Set up...

We drink Americanos – splitting the double shot and adding about 4 ounces of water with 2-3 teaspoons of 18% cream. Three times a day. Brita filter for the water for 15 years. No desire for lattes, cappucinos etc.


-Minimum 30 minutes preheat machine and portafilter before pulling the shot
-Hit brew switch till heating light comes on.
-Remove portafilter when heating light goes off.
-Then grind for 7.6 seconds and tamp. Use 7.8 seconds when the coffee approaches 2 weeks.

We still purchase Half-Caf Fantastico every two weeks on your recommendation!

-Portafilter into group head at 1m 30sec after heating light goes off.
-Pull shot for 31-36 seconds although 90% of time it is 33 seconds.
-Remove and flush group head and portafilter immediately until heating light comes on.
-Add water and cream to coffee.
-About 15 seconds after heating light goes off, flush group head with first a bit of steam followed by the water for a few seconds and use Pällo brush to quickly clean screen area. Wipe all carefully with dry cloth.
-Reinsert portafilter to be ready for second shot in about 10 minutes.

Boil all parts with ½ teaspoon of Granny’s dishwasher detergent every month and rinse rinse rinse. Back flush with same and only get a hint of colour in the water that comes through and then backflush with clean water about 10 times.

We have enjoyed perfect coffee every time.

Thank you Colin!

All the best.


The 2022 Jeremy Dutcher Tour University of Victoria Farquhar Theatre · Friday September 9, 2022 by colin newell

Jeremy Dutcher Canadian Tour

Marking my first outing back into the world of live entertainment, Andrea and I bought tickets for the much anticipated Jeremy Dutcher and band at the University of Victoria Farquhar auditorium Friday night.

It has been two and a half years since I sat for some live music — a very long wait. And without question, this was worth waiting for.

Jeremy Dutcher is a classically-trained Canadian tenor, composer, musicologist, performer and social activist, born in New Brunswick. A Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) member of the Tobique First Nation in North-West New Brunswick, Dutcher studied music and anthropology at Dalhousie University and currently calls Montreal, Quebec home.

Many know him from his CBC radio exposure and his project of interpreting 110-year-old wax cylinder recordings of ancestral songs and creating breathtakingly haunting arias and ballads in dialogue incorporating samples of those recordings.

Dutcher, winner of the Polaris Prize capping a five-year journey to produce/release his debut album, is one of the approximately 100 individuals who speak Wolastoq. Described as a “severely endangered language”, Dutcher feels composing the songs developed a closer relationship with his own ancestors, creating a medium for healing among the younger generations – victims of generational trauma, cultural suppression and re-navigating an anglo-centric narrative in Canadian music history.

Prior to seeing Jeremy, I had little exposure to any of his multi-media work, videos, live stuff – etc. So it was an extra special treat to see him and the band with no expectations on how he would approach his material.
So it was a pleasant surprise to see a very sparse stage set-up with little more than a piano, acoustic bass, drums, guitar and a trumpet.

Jeremy Dutcher is a very fit and particularly hirsute fellow who commanded the stage in a way reminiscent of performances by Jim Morrison, Robert Plant and (yup, I’m going there…) Freddie Mercury of Queen. There is no denying this man is a force of nature, who seemed to have a maturity and sophistication way beyond his years.

And despite the fact that the bulk of the performance was in Wolastoq, the music held the audience captive through feeling and emotion — at one point the audience was split in two groups to provide a 2 octave drone in the key of G for one of his pieces… and it was pure magic. The line between audience and performers was completely dissolved.

Jeremy’s band consisted of UVic alumna (and Oscar Peterson School of Music faculty) Tara Kannangara, on trumpet, composer-producer-multi-instrumentalist Bram Gielen on double-bass, Spencer Cole,Toronto based drummer, pianist, vocalist, and composer and Thom Gill on some very funky guitar. These were very accomplished jazz musicians.

Jeremy Dutcher’s single 105 minute set felt like something of a seance – a connection with spirits long passed – or a raising of memories – a healing – a learning – a yearning for a better connection to who we are – to the Earth under our feet – to the misfortune and misdirection of our colonial past. Not so much as an exercise in judgement (from Dutcher…) – not at all. His was a position coming from a place of peace and love – a more encouraging exercise… way more than a series of learning moments.

And based on the standing ovations (three) the room as a whole achieved something. Something tangible. Something mystical. Something progressive.

And for a moment, back to the dialogue on pop stars past, Jeremy made me imagine what it would be like to be in an intimate live space with the likes of Jim Morrison of the Doors. It was palpable. He exuded a twin-spirited kind of sexuality that was hard to quantify in purely human terms. He effortlessly played with phrasing, fluid and flawless ascending and descending legato. Little hand gestures reminded me of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. Honestly, I have not had this much fun and this many tears at a live performance, well, ever.
So bravo Jeremy Dutcher and band! My first thought with his last note was: When can I experience this again? It was that good. Catch him when you can. Check out Jeremy Dutcher on his website.

Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident and long time author of the website – writing on the subject of cafe culture since 1996.


Sourdough Rye Bread · Saturday May 21, 2022 by colin newell

Sourdough bread is, as history tells us, the World’s first bread.

Ingredients include water, salt, flour and natural yeast – and not the yeast that comes out of the jar – the stuff that is all around is at all times… in the air, on the ground, on our skin… yea, there too – everywhere. It is the natural leavening agent that has been with us forever.

It is also said that man cannot live on bread alone — while that is not entirely true, I think what they meant was that we need to mix it up a bit – as in adding darker flours, like rye and whole wheat! Now that is definitely better for you.

In this recipe we do not talk about sourdough starter, levain and such like… you need to research that in advance – this is a recipe for a moderately advanced baker. Need help – email me or get Googling!


1.) Grab a bowl that will hold at least 1/2 kg of dough – that is 500G – so something medium sized.

2.) Add 100g of your ready sourdough starter to the bowl. (It is ready when a spoonful floats in water…)

3.) Add 10g of kosher salt – great salt can effect the flavour so don’t cheap out on this critical ingredient.

4.) Add 360g of warm water (not hot water!) 35 to 45 degrees © or 110 degrees (F) is probably OK but definitely not hotter than that.

5.) Mix the water, salt and starter well. Add a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses for some sweetness and depth of color. Add 1-2 tablespoons of caraway seeds.

6.) Gradually add 230g of white flour, 230g of whole-wheat flour and 52g of rye flour.

You can use a mixer. I do this by hand or with a bread mixing hook.
Work/knead the dough to form a sticky ball.

Stretch and fold – To develop the gluten in the dough, it is important to stretch and fold the dough twice an hour for the first 2 hours and then once more before putting in the fridge to develop/ferment overnight.

There are many awesome YouTube tutorials on the “Stretch and Fold” so find one you like and develop your technique. Note video below!

7.) You can let this all rise overnight (6 to 12 hours) or slow it down by putting it in the fridge. Fermentation keeps moving along even when your dough is tucked away in a cool area – it changes the flavour some. For keeping the dough “feisty” I tend to keep it out in the kitchen and work around its schedule.

Rule: Higher room temperature, faster “development” and fermentation of the dough.

8.) Assuming you are doing this overnight, in the morning the dough should have doubles in size – or more. Pull out the dough and toss it onto a floured bread board or surface you are happy scattering flour on.

9.) Here is another learning moment – (find a suitable YouTube video…[example below]) This is where you work the dough a bit and pull, fold and shape into a “loaf” and drop into a floured or parchment papered loaf pan.
Do consult the internets on technique because it is extra difficult to describe in words alone.

10.) Let rise for 4 – 6 hours… even 8 hours… or overnight again… in the fridge.

12. ) Transfer the dough into the pan. Cover and “2nd rise” for 4 to 6 hours. Dress with additional caraway seed. Slash with a razor (see the video below!)

13.) Bake for 24-28 minutes at 475 degrees (F) or until delightfully brown on top. You are looking for a core temperature of at least 190 (F)

14.) If baking in a Dutch Oven, bake for the first 17-20 minutes with the cover on -
and then for another 10-15 minutes at 450 degrees — or until core TEMP of 190 (F)

Turn onto drying rack for, at least, 30 minutes or more before cutting — I know, it is tempting to try cutting it when it is right out of the oven. Don’t do it! You lose a lot of moisture by cutting the bread too soon.
Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and pop culture writer – active on the internets since 1994! That is a long time. His features on pop culture, food and beverage things have been around here…. well… forever!


Happy New Year Shakshuka with Feta · Saturday January 1, 2022 by colin newell

Shakshuka for Brunch - 2022

Welcome to the New Year everyone – 2021 is behind us and ’22 is ahead.

Our New Year’s brunch tradition is Shakshuka.

Shakshuka is a Middle-Eastern dish that is not only perfect for breakfast and brunch, but also for a quick and delicious dinner.

Best of all, it truly easy to make. Let’s do this…

Ingredients Overview

Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Don’t scrimp on cheap olive oil!
Onion and Red Pepper –
Spices – Roasted cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper.
Tomatoes – Fire roasted, canned and chopped is best.
Eggs – Free range or organic if you have them.

Ingredient specifics

▢14oz / 389g Chopped (Fire roasted) Tomatoes
▢ 2 large Eggs
▢ 2 tbsp Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
▢ 2 cloves of Garlic, finely diced or 1 TBSP minced garlic

▢ 1 medium Red Pepper, finely diced (optional)
▢ 1 small White Onion, finely diced
▢ 1 tsp Cumin
▢ 1/2 tsp Salt, or to taste
▢ 1/2 tsp Sugar
▢ 1.5 tsp Smoked Paprika
▢ 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper, or to taste
▢ 1/4 tsp Black Pepper, or to taste
▢ Feta, crumbled to serve
▢ Fresh Parsley or Cilantro/Coriander, finely diced to serve

1.) Fry pepper and onion in olive oil until softened and beginning to brown. About 5 minutes.
2.) Add garlic and fry for a couple of minutes longer.
3.) Stir in spices.
4.) Pour in tomatoes and season (salt, pepper, sugar). Leave to simmer for 5 mins.
5.) Crack in eggs and cook. (see additional tips!)

The skinny of this is: You are cracking eggs into a “sauce” – there are many ways of approaching this, the quick way or the slow way. Many adherents suggest a long slow simmer to thicken the sauce. The problem with that is that you lose moisture and the sauce dries up. I believe in adding the ingredients after simmering the sauce for 5 minutes (medium heat) until it just begins to reduce. Make a divot in the sauce to hold two eggs. Crack in the eggs into the divots, turning the heat to low to simmer for 10 minutes. From there, cover the skillet and poach the eggs for an additional 2 minutes. Ideally, you want soft yolks, so there may be some practice required here.

Note: The feta cheese and parsley is actually sprinkled onto the serving plates — not into the pan!

Colin Newell is an ancient 20th Century writer, photographer and electronics expert. He has roamed the streets of Planet Earth looking for genuinely good coffee and food. As always, if any of these recipes don’t seem quite clear, send me a note. Answers guaranteed!