White Asparagus with Vinaigrette

I often write about visiting my aunt and uncle’s farm when I was a child and how, every spring, we would forage for wild asparagus near the stream on the edge of the apple orchard.  When I moved to Europe at 18 I was enthralled by the assortment and variety of asparagus available.  The only asparagus I had ever known was that wild and wiry green variety that grew beneath the apple trees.  At the markets in Pisa there were crates full of milky white asparagus, thick stalks of green asparagus with purple tips, and even a sweet variety that was entirely purple from tip to toe.  How much fun I had learning to cook with them all! Continue reading “White Asparagus with Vinaigrette”

Cerise Chérie Cocktail

August 1997.

I was in a floral print mini skirt and a black leather bomber jacket that smelled of cigarettes and musky perfume (Malibu Musk, to be exact).  The jacket matched my favourite combat boots and a scarf in the same print as the skirt held my hair back in a high pony tail in that 1950s-preppy-meets-punk-rock-grunge style that was so popular in the 90’s.  A pair of Ray-Bans perched atop my head.  I felt so grown up at 17. Continue reading “Cerise Chérie Cocktail”

Quick and Easy Garden Pickles

This warm weather has me dreaming of the garden and all the easy summer meals we’ll have out there!  My grandmother’s recipe for quick garden pickles is still one of my family’s favourite side dishes. They’re so easy, they come together in just five minutes – perfect for those busy days and hot nights when you really don’t feel like cooking at all. We all have nights like that, don’t we?  Growing up, my grandparents had a large garden where we would play as children.  There they grew many different varieties of cucumbers – Armenian, gherkins, lemon cucumbers – which my grandmother would combine when making these pickles.  If you have several varieties in the garden, it’s fun to mix and match the colours and shapes, but if not, an English cucumber works perfectly well.   Continue reading “Quick and Easy Garden Pickles”

Chocola’Tita

Have you ever watched a film or read a book that spoke so deeply to you (good or bad) that you found yourself thinking about it months, even years, later? When the opening scene of a movie shows a woman giving birth on the kitchen table while the cook frantically tries to collect all the amniotic fluid in pots so that it can be dried and the remaining salt used to season the food, you know it’s going to be one of those movies. Like Water for Chocolate came out in 1992 but I only just watched the whole movie a few years ago.  To be honest, after the first scene I turn it off, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I made myself watch the entire thing, and I’m so glad I did, though I sill relive the scenes in my mind. Continue reading “Chocola’Tita”

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream

For her tenth birthday this year, Eva asked for chocolate cupcakes with green frosting. She also asked for balayage highlights, a new purse and some tasteful pieces of jewelry, so what I thought she meant regarding the cupcakes was a very sophisticated dark chocolate cake with swirls of mint buttercream.  What she actually meant were monster cupcakes with green icing hair, googly eyes and sprinkles.  We compromised.  I made the chocolate cupcakes with mint swirls and she decorated hers with monster eyes and sprinkles.  Ten is like that.  You get to be both almost grown-up and still a child at the same time.  It’s good to be ten. Continue reading “Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream”

Lemon Meringues with Grand Marnier

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m obsessed with everything lemon + meringue.  Everything except lemon meringue pie.  It’s the texture of a partially cooked meringue that tends to weep sticky tears over a much too sweet custard, and that egg-y smell that tends to come with it.  My approach to making a lemon meringue pie is to cook everything separately, including the meringue, in the form of meringue cookies.  These can then be carefully arranged on top just before serving – no weeping or worrying that they are uncooked.  If I don’t have time, or patience, to make a full-blown lemon meringue pie, I make these instead.  Big, pillowy, delicate meringue cookies, flavoured with lemon zest and a splash of Grand Marnier. Continue reading “Lemon Meringues with Grand Marnier”

Chambord and Rose Martini

The French Martini is a vodka-based drink made with Chambord and a splash of fruit juice.  I’ve seen recipes for it made with everything from pineapple juice to lemon juice. I don’t know how “French” this martini actually is, but using Chambord makes everything a bit more elegant. Chambord is a liqueur from the Loire Valley of France and, while the brand is fairly new (founded in 1982), it’s crafted after the 17th century liqueur that was a favourite of France’s aristocracy at the time.  It’s made with blackberries, raspberries and black currants which are meticulously blended with Cognac and vanilla.   Continue reading “Chambord and Rose Martini”

Poussins rôtis and cookies au pépites de chocolat

A friend recently posed the question, Do people read blogs anymore?  It seems to me that the heyday of blogging has, indeed, passed, however short it was.  With all the different social media outlets, is there really a place for individual blogs, specifically food blogs? Continue reading “Poussins rôtis and cookies au pépites de chocolat”

Windmill Lattice Apple Pie

There are two different approaches to making apple pie.  The first is to toss the apples with sugar and a bit of thickener (flour, cornstarch) and place them in the crust, raw, so that they cook in the oven.  The second is to cook the apples on the stove top first, before placing them in the crust.  The first method is quick and easy, and works in a pinch, but the results are a filling that doesn’t hold together quite as well and oozes out when you slice it.  Additionally, as the pie bakes, the apples shrink, releasing their juices and creating gaps between the filling and the top crust which shatter when the pie is sliced.   By cooking the apples beforehand, they are pre-shrunk, a little like a good pair of jeans, and you can count on the crust staying intact, without gaps as the pie bakes.  This is how I like to make apple pie, and because much of the liquid is reduced and boiled away while the fruit is cooking, there’s no need for a thickening agent, which preserves the clean, fresh taste of the apples. Continue reading “Windmill Lattice Apple Pie”

On eating disorders

As a recipe developer and food writer, I’m often asked the same question: “How do you stay thin and fit when you’re constantly making so many rich and decadent meals and desserts?”

I should be flattered, graciously accepting these words as the well-meaning compliments for which they were intended, but the truth is, my stomach churns every time I hear this question.  As someone who struggled with anorexia for years, I saw myself as neither fit nor thin, and still, to this day fight to see beyond my imperfections.  When the question is posed, I’m overcome by waves of guilt.  As if, by being labeled fit or thin, I am somehow unworthy of writing recipes or cooking; I’m somehow being dishonest with the world and with myself.  You know the saying, “Never trust a thin cook.” Continue reading “On eating disorders”