A Cake Fit for the King (of Rock ‘n’ Roll)

I was reading an article recently about the return of vintage desserts. Desserts from the 50’s and 60’s are making a huge comeback right now, which makes me extremely happy, as I have a penchant for vintage recipes (vintage anything, really!). I think the pandemic played a huge role in their return – not only were we dealing with ingredient shortages last year (specifically flour), and making few and far between shopping trips, but we were also craving comfort food. The dishes that might have come out of our grandmothers’ kitchens. While we are dealing with a global pandemic, most of our grandparents were enduring the Great Depression and rationing of WWII – not too dissimilar crises. After reading the article I took a moment to glance at the comments section and saw that a cake called, “Elvis Presley’s Favorite Pound Cake,” from Epicurious.com, was mentioned several times. It’s a whipping cream cake – essentially a pound cake made with heavy cream in place of milk or buttermilk. All pound cakes, by nature, are decadent, but this one is over the top! Not only is it made with heavy cream, it also uses seven eggs which provide lift so that no other leavening is needed. I can see why it was the King’s favourite!

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Thai-Inspired Noodles with Sunflower Butter and Chicken

June is turning out to be hot, hot, HOT. Heat records are being set all across the US southwest. We reached 102F (39C) yesterday! Historically, Colorado doesn’t hit the 100s until July and August, so this summer is turning out to be quite unusual. I, for one, really enjoy the heat, especially after our long, cold mountain winters. But all I’m craving is cool, crunchy fresh veggies. I’ve been making these Thai-inspired noodles for years. Before my daughter was born, I made them with peanut butter, which is traditional but, because of her food allergies, I now use sunflower seed butter. Either is just fine. If you really don’t want to cook in the heat, you can use a Rotisserie chicken. If using fresh chicken breasts, I like to cook them early in the morning to prevent the kitchen from getting too hot (season well with salt and pepper and bake at 400F/200C for 25-30 minutes). Then I let them chill in the fridge all day. At dinnertime, it’s just a matter of boiling the noodles and whipping up the sauce which is made in the blender. No fuss, no sweat – just how a summer weeknight meal should be! 

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5 Ice Cream Recipes for the (Unofficial) Start of Summer

Yesterday was Memorial Day here in the US, which is also what we like to call the “unofficial start of summer.” My kids just finished their school years last week, the weather is finally warm, we lit the grill for the first time last night, and it truly does feel like summer. I have my mind on light and easy summer recipes, fresh salads and cool, sweet treats. Of course, that means ice cream.

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The legend of the artichoke

The legend goes that Zeus, king of the gods, came down from Mt. Olympus to visit his brother, Poseidon, near the sea. As he looked out across the sparkling waters of the Aegean, his vision fell upon a beautiful young woman standing barefoot on the grey stones that stretched out along the shoreline of the island, Kinaros. She stared back across the sea, eyes like fire, unfazed by his formidable divinity. Their gaze locked in what can only be called, An Embrace of Fate.

What Zeus wants, Zeus gets. At that moment he wanted nothing more intensely than this mortal, with eyes that burned with vitality and a face like a flower, upturned toward the sun. She was named Cynara, for the island she called home.

Zeus, being a cunning séducteur, approached Cynara in all his glory and promised her the sky and the moon if she would agree to be his lover. She refused. He promised her all the flowers in the fields above the sea. Still, she declined. Then, drawing back into himself as if to stir up that FOMO we humans find so powerful, he made one last offer, something she couldn’t possibly resist. Zeus would grant Cynara the gift of goddess-hood, lifting her mortal soul from the dirt and stone of this earth if, in return, she would live always near him in the home of the gods upon Mt. Olympus – his mistress in an affair that would last an eternity, so long as Hera, his wife (and sister), was well occupied.

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Clafoutis aux Framboises

There’s nothing that encapsulates the feeling of summer for me like a fresh raspberry. Each berry contains within it all the sunshine, light and floral sweetness of a summer afternoon. At my childhood home there was a split rail fence along which grew a long row of raspberry bushes. Starting in early July, my brother and I would wake up early and run out to the fence to pick the raspberries that had ripened overnight. It was a race – us against the birds – and we often lost, but when we would find a ripe, untouched berry, the reward was more than worth the effort. To this day, the taste of fresh raspberries brings me right back to those childhood summers.

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Gâteau Basque

My goal for this online space has always been to make it an inspiring and relaxing place, a bit like an an oasis for those who visit. I try to keep it light and up beat, as notes of levity are becoming scarce in this world rife with negativity. However, bad things happen to everyone, and we are no exception. “When it rains, it pours,” they say, and the past few weeks have felt as if we’re stuck in monsoon season.

On Friday, one of our dogs (Nandor) received an alarming diagnosis. While I won’t get into too much detail here, his condition is serious but can be treated; however, he will require several rounds of different medications, a couple hospitalizations, and he will need to be kept very calm and still throughout his treatment period, spanning 120 days. This, along with several other recent events, has me feeling like a dark cloud has settled over our home. Like the blog, I always try to keep my emotions and headspace very calm and zen-like. My response to stress or to circumstances that feel as if life is spiraling out of control, is to pause, take a few deep breaths to refocus, then react with grace, one step at a time.

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14 French Recipes to Welcome Spring

There’s a certain hum of excitement as spring approaches. Because of our long, snowy winters here in Colorado, the arrival of spring is always a little delayed, but over the past few weeks I’ve noticed that the quiet of winter has been replaced by the sounds of life. It starts before dawn as I rise early to make the coffee. I can hear the birds through the closed and locked windows singing to each other in the darkness and beckoning me to slide the glass open and see what all the fuss is about. Out in the potager, the chives are always the first to emerge, blooming in brilliant purple plumes that are covered in bees of all shapes and sizes. Soon the sugar peas will bloom on the garden fence. The chickens are laying again – with each egg, the noisy fanfare of celebration. Farmer’s markets are finally opening up again here, with the first asparagus, tiny strawberries, baby lettuces, radishes and turnips. I think it’s safe to say that spring is finally here.

This spring feels like butterflies of anticipation leading up to an imminent party. Tiny flowers, like traces of confetti, signaling a grand celebration. For the occasion, I wanted to revisit some of my favourite spring recipes. These are the dishes I look forward to making when the days get long and warm and the earth awakens from her quiet hibernation. After a dark winter, these bright, fresh recipes are more welcome than ever.

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PAIRING: Llama 2018 Malbec + Barbacoa Burritos

Barbacoa is a traditional method of cooking meat over fire – the early origins of our modern day barbecuing. It originated in the Caribbean and in Mexico, where whole sheep or goats, and sometimes a cow’s head were cooked low and slow in holes dug in the ground and covered in thick layers of leaves. This closed-environment method of cooking created a gentle, moist heat that can be closely replicated by using a slow cooker. Barbacoa eventually spread north into the United States where it evolved into our much beloved Southern BBQ.

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Orecchiette with Broccoli

I like to think that when I’m old, I will be able to look back on my life and see a succession of Sundays, like pearls strung together on a necklace. A highlight reel consisting of the meals we ate and the people with whom they were shared. Sunday is, after all, my favourite day, the highlight of my week, a day dedicated entirely to family and food, when meal preparations start early in the day and dinner lasts long into the evening. We spend almost every Sunday with family, a tradition that’s as old as I can remember. As a girl, our Sundays were spent with my grandparents; my grandmother in the kitchen standing over a simmering pot, my grandfather in his vast garden, tending or harvesting the vegetables that would eventually make it onto our plates and into our stomachs. As kids, we flitted carefree between the two, picking up the basics of cooking and gardening simply by observance of both.

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Roasted Sausages with Sweet Potatoes and Mandarin Oranges

The “sheet pan dinner” bandwagon is roaring through sites like Pinterest, Facebook and even the newspaper, and I have to admit I’ve jumped on board. During the week I love the simplicity of cooking everything together in one pan and letting the oven do the majority of the work while I focus on setting the table and pouring a glass of wine. With that said, I take issue with the newest trend – “Dump Dinners”.

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