French Garlic and Potato Soup

This traditional garlic soup is similar to a vichyssoise, with the leek being replaced by garlic and sweet shallots.  It’s my cure-all for everything from relieving a simple headache to treating the full-blown flu. Garlic has so many antibacterial, antiviral and medicinal benefits, I’ve always said it’s better than antibiotics.  For ages, women have kept their families healthy by making healing garlic soups to fend off sickness and disease.  Don’t let the whole head of garlic in the soup turn you off – as it cooks, it becomes sweet and buttery, and the bite is tempered by puréed potatoes and a splash of milk. Continue reading “French Garlic and Potato Soup”

Cinnamon-Sugar Jack O’Lanterns

Yesterday my husband and I made a little bet.  He said it couldn’t possibly snow this early in the season. It’s not even Halloween yet!

I said, “Anything’s possible.”

I won.

It felt more like December than mid-October, with the snow falling in giant flakes outside the kitchen window, and there’s nothing I love to do more when it’s snowing outside in December than to bake holiday cookies.  So I queued up my winter playlist (which includes a few Christmas songs for good measure) and set about baking these fun little Halloween treats. And that’s how I happened to be carving Jack O’Lantens while listening to Christmas music yesterday.

Continue reading “Cinnamon-Sugar Jack O’Lanterns”

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Bourbon Bacon Jam

Butternut squash soup is one of my favourite fall dishes. It’s quintessentially autumn – from the colour, to the flavours, to the aroma of warm spices simmered together in a broth made velvety by the purée of winter squash – which stands alone as something I look forward to making all year round.   Kind of like my favourite sweater, it’s reliable, but too warm for September.  I wait patiently for the “sweater weather” of October to arrive, when I can finally pull it out of the closet on that first blissfully cool autumn night.   Though our favourite sweaters may be worn and threadbare in places, I would never suggest that they should be changed or improved upon in any way. They are perfect as they are.  That’s not the case, however, when it comes to cooking.   When I’m in the kitchen, I’m always looking for ways to kick up the flavours a bit and that’s exactly what happened with this recipe. As I was stirring the pot it was almost as if I had an Angel sitting on one shoulder and the Devil on the other. . . Continue reading “Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Bourbon Bacon Jam”

Earl Grey Hot Toddy

I’m kicking off the weekend with an Earl Grey Hot Toddy and a few good books.  Old books are my weakness.  I can’t resist. Sorry e-readers, nothing beats holding a real, hardbound book in your hands.  The weight.  The texture of each page between your fingers.  The smell of a time long forgotten, pressed between the pages and preserved in the spine.

It’s been my dream, ever since I was a little girl, to have my own library, overflowing with antique books.  All of the classics – Hemingway, Twain, Longfellow, Capote, Hugo, Verne, Mitchell – really, I could go on forever! Continue reading “Earl Grey Hot Toddy”

Pork Tenderloin with Plums

One of the easiest ways to elevate an everyday dish to something elegant and refined is by adding a little dried fruit.  I love to cook with fruit in both savory and sweet dishes.  When paired with roasted meat, it brings a subtle richness and a depth of sweetness that you can’t get from anything else, especially when using dark dried fruits like raisins or prunes. Continue reading “Pork Tenderloin with Plums”

Old-Fashioned Apple Cake

I call this an old-fashioned cake because anything cooked in a bundt pan feels old-school and vintage to me, but I was surprised the read, recently, that the modern rendition of the bundt pan has only been around since the 1950’s.  Of course, the traditional, tube-shaped cake, called Kugelhopf, that inspired its creation has been around for ages, originating in Eastern Europe, but it wasn’t until the 50’s that the design was brought to the US and the first bundt pan was cast by the founder of the Nordic Ware company in Minnesota. Continue reading “Old-Fashioned Apple Cake”

Zucchini pain d’épices

Pain d’épices is a traditional French quick bread, rich with honey and warm spices. It’s often served around the holidays but, since it bears such a noticeable resemblance to American banana bread and zucchini bread, I love to serve a variation of it in late summer when the garden is overflowing with zucchini. Continue reading “Zucchini pain d’épices”

Zucchini Vichyssoise with Sweet Corn Relish

French country cooking meets a mid-century American past-time.

Yesterday I made one of my favorite summer soups: a zucchini vichyssoise, loosely based on Ina Garten’s recipe from her book, Barefoot in Paris.  It’s an old stand by in my kitchen during the summer months for two reasons: 1) it’s a great way to use up all the zucchini that’s coming out of the garden and 2) it’s delicious!  It looks lovely garnished with green ribbons of julienned zucchini or with fresh snipped chives, as Ina suggests in the book,  but yesterday, as I stood at the stove and watched it simmer I realized that the soup alone wasn’t going to satisfy my craving for something cool and fresh the way it usually does. Continue reading “Zucchini Vichyssoise with Sweet Corn Relish”

Lavender Gelato

There are places in this world that seem to radiate a magic not found elsewhere. It’s not, at first, apparent, but is perceptible as something of an electric hum. A sparkle of vivacity, a reverberation like the resonance of a drum.  New Mexico is one of these places.  What looks, to one just passing through, like desert – harsh and unforgiving – in fact, hides a treasure trove of secrets found only if you take the time to explore the region a little more deeply. There’s an energy here and it manifests in the food they produce, in the soil, laced with minerals and metals, in the water, so scarce in places, and in the terroir.  I can’t think of any place in the world that is quite like New Mexico, except for just one. Provence. Continue reading “Lavender Gelato”