This will likely be a very untraditional post. Like everyone else in the world, we’re confined to home for the (un)foreseeable future. When I sit down to write a blog post I often draw inspiration from past experiences, dreams, restaurant meals, what I’ve found in the farmer’s markets or at the grocery stores. But the markets are empty, restaurants are closed, I still have my dreams, and I still find much comfort in the kitchen cooking for my family, maybe more now than before. Cooking with only what we have on hand in the pantry is a bit of a game to me. I took time to organize the kitchen this week, rotating the old with the new. I’ve never liked to waste food, but now, when food seems to be scarce, it’s even more unbearable. I had a few stalks of asparagus in the fridge and half a bag of wild rice in the pantry and so this salad was born. If you don’t have asparagus your could substitute green beans and it would be just as good. Continue reading “Wild Rice and Asparagus Salad”
I know all about the gimmicks some vintners use to sell a subpar bottle. You know – hide a bad wine behind a pretty label and market it to those of us who are drawn to wine on an inherently emotional level; however, that’s not the case for this California Cabernet Sauvignon. I admit, the label is what drew me to the wine initially. It’s a gorgeous montage of surrealist imagery. A time traveller plunges into the depths of the ocean where she’s encased in a world of symbolism and metaphor. You can draw your own interpretations. But the first sip told me that there’s more to this wine than just meets the eye.
The wine is first and foremost fruit forward. On the nose, I instantly thought of crème de cassis as blackcurrant is both the predominate scent and flavour. Taking a backseat are the aromas of wild plum, like the ones that grew in my back yard when I was a kid, along with the subtleties of pencil shavings – both of wood and of graphite – and warm green peppercorns. There’s also a faint sweetness that surprised me a little and provided a bridge between the nose and the palate. Continue reading “Borrowed Time Cabernet Sauvignon”
Chicken breast is such a staple in my kitchen, but sometimes it can feel a little repetitive and a bit boring. I compensate by trying to hide it within elaborate casseroles or stews, but there’s no reason why chicken breast can’t take the spotlight of the meal, if it’s cooked correctly. This Chicken Paillard is an elegant dish that comes together in just minutes and showcases the chicken as the star of the show. It’s neither bland nor boring, and is a great dish to make if you find yourself in a weeknight meal rut. Continue reading “Chicken Paillard with Lemon Orzo”
My husband and I have never really been into the sappy Hallmark holidays. Mushy cards and sloppy romances were never my thing. On Valentine’s Day we play a little game, trying to out-do each other with the most inappropriate and ridiculously raunchy cards we can find, then we’ll watch a James Bond. Instead of flowers, or in addition to, he’ll often buy me a new record to add to our vinyl collection – The Beatles or Pink Floyd or something else he knows I love – and pick up some oysters on the way home. I’ll cook a big meal while he puts on the record. It starts with the oysters, followed by maybe steak with béarnaise sauce (he likes his meat just barely kissed by the flame), sautéed potatoes, butternut squash bisque, with a sweet little treat at the end.
My love language is music and his is food, so it works . Continue reading “Coconut Meringue Cookies”
I’ve learned not to get too attached to the idea of Spring here in Colorado. The weather will deceive you into thinking that she’s on her way, only to spurn you with an arctic cold shoulder leaving you frozen for weeks. There are many years when we skip Spring altogether and go from winter to summer in a day’s time. Yo-yo weather, I call it. And what an up and down week we’ve had!
Much to the delight of the kids, school was cancelled three out of 5 days last week because of the snow. Two came from a forecasted storm and one was a surprise when a different storm which was supposed to bring only a dusting of snow ended up dropping 5 to 6 inches on us. C’est la vie. At least we can rely on chocolate cake to get us through these winter months. Continue reading “Gâteau au chocolat”
Blood orange season is painfully short, isn’t it? I see them in the market one day and the next they’re gone. Their scarcity makes me love these ruby-red beauties even more. They’re the perfect way to brighten a grey winter’s day.
Let’s talk about whiskey sours. This drink always makes me think of the bootlegging cowboys in the prohibition era Wild West. I don’t know why and I’m not even sure if this was served at all in bars of the Wild West – I think, more likely, they shot their whiskey straight – but it’s an image that I love to entertain. The product of an overactive imagination, I guess, heavily influenced by Brad Pitt’s character in Legends of the Fall. I mean, do you blame me? Continue reading “Blood Orange Whiskey Sour”
Baking bread, for me, is a meditative process. The repetition of mixing and kneading the dough helps me relax and collect my thoughts after a long day. When I first became a mother, I read somewhere that the best way to soothe a crying baby was to rock him to the same rhythm as your heartbeat. It’s true – it worked every time. I’ve thought about that principle often, and find that any repetitive motion, especially kneading bread dough, is always the most soothing when done to the tempo of a heartbeat. Speaking of that, do you remember playing with PlayDoh as a child? Perhaps not. But if you’re a parent then maybe you remember getting out the dough for your children. Showing them how to roll it and shape it, it’s almost impossible not to join in on the fun, and in doing so it brings you right back to your own childhood. Even the smell is transportive. For me, baking bread at home is the same. The smell of wildflower honey and the warm yeast working its magic, fill the kitchen with that slightly earthy and ultra comforting aroma. The feel of the dough as it comes together into a ball beneath my palms is so calming. Baking bread is one of the most relaxing and satisfying experiences, and I love to repeat the process almost weekly. Continue reading “Rosemary Country Bread”
I do think there’s something so comfortingly nostalgic in a simple sheet cake. Like the cakes our mothers use to make before Instagram, when it didn’t really matter how pretty or trendy or photogenic or impeccably styled the food was. There was no such thing as an ombré, eight-layer, tiered, naked cake because, in those days, a cake was as much a frosting delivery device as it was a celebratory exclamation point. Don’t get me wrong, I love the creative cake movement. But in the days of sheet cakes, what was really important was that there was an occasion worth celebrating, and what better way than with a thick slab of heavily frosted cake. Continue reading “Carrot and Pineapple Sheet Cake”
A Christmas tradition
Of all my Christmas memories, the ones that involve food are the most vivid, timeless and magical. There are certain scents and flavours that epitomize the holidays, of which, mine were an eclectic mix. Every year my mother made caramel pecan rolls on Christmas morning and the aroma of toasted nuts and sugar would float through the house as we opened our Christmas presents. In my stocking I would find a little bag of pistachios, a tin of marrons glacés and a chocolate covered orange. Treats that only ever showed up around the holidays. We often spent Christmas in New Mexico, where piñon smoke perfumed the dessert air and my grandmother would make biscochitos, a traditional New Mexican Christmas cookie, filling the house with rich notes of anise and cinnamon. In my mind, this melange of flavours and aromas is woven into a Christmas tapestry that hangs squarely on the wall of my memories. These are the flavours that say Christmas to me. Continue reading “Cinnamon Orange Star Bread – A Christmas Tradition”
December began in a flurry of icing sugar, clouds of winter-white whipped cream and cool peppermint candy canes. My mother’s birthday was last week and I make her a peppermint bonbon tart every single year. It’s her very favourite. The recipe has been in our family forever – or at least since the gelatin-dessert-crazed sixties – and I absolutely love it. My grandmother used to make this tart for my mom when she was a girl. The recipe was eventually passed to me, as the designated dessert enthusiast of the family. I made my typical, modern adjustments and adaptations (replacing shortening with butter; freshly whipping the cream; etc.) while keeping its vintage charm. Continue reading “Peppermint Bonbon Tart”