Cannellini Bean Tapenade

The summer months are buzzing with activity around here.  We have friends or family over several times a week, the kids running around the yard, the men on the deck or in the garage.  I have an open-door policy, literally.  love to open all the doors so that people can drift in and out, from one yard to another, like waves on the shore.  On days when I entertain but can’t bring myself to turn on the oven (the house is hot enough with all the doors open!), instead of cooking a big meal, I will set out a generous charcuterie board overflowing with an assortment of meats, cheeses, marinated olives, cherry tomatoes, cornichons, grapes, nuts, crackers and slices of baguette, and let everyone help themselves.

Continue reading “Cannellini Bean Tapenade”

Watermelon Mojitos

If there’s one thing you will always find on my counter or kitchen table in the summer, it’s a watermelon – the bigger the better.  Like a basket of apples in the fall, or pumpkins in winter, it’s an iconic part of our ever-changing “kitchen table still life.”  I will let it sit there, getting riper by the second in the afternoon heat while I admire its variegated jade and emerald skin, until someone reminds me that I really should cut it so that we can enjoy it with more than just our eyes.  And then the boasting starts.  Who can eat the most? Who will take the title of Watermelon Master?  This contest is almost always initiated by my husband, Rich, who claims to be able to eat the entire watermelon in one sitting.  I don’t doubt that he would, if given the chance, but it’s an accolade that the kids are not willing to let him have.  While I certainly don’t condone these brutish, gluttonous brag-fests, I have to admit, they’re wildly entertaining. Continue reading “Watermelon Mojitos”

Cedar Planked Salmon, Three Ways

Fickle summer weather!  It will be beautiful in the morning; I’ll wake up dreaming of lighting the grill, seasoning meat, pouring a glass of wine and cooking dinner outside while the kids run through the yard and the dog barks at the neighbor’s chickens, only to have the dream shattered mid-afternoon, when storms race in over the mountains and force us inside.  Other days we wake up to a cool, cloudy drizzle and I think, there’s no way I could start the grill in weather like this. Only after I’ve panned a meal inside does the sun come out and the weather becomes perfect for grilling.  The dichotomy of Colorado weather is that it can go from soggy to parched in a matter of hours, thanks to the elevation and the drying mountain winds.  Sometimes we go weeks without even a drop of rain, and everything gets so dry that just the tiniest rogue spark from the grill’s coals could ignite a wildfire.  On these days, all outdoor fires, including those in grills, are banned as a precaution.  All of this poses a problem, because I’m a planner when it comes to cooking, and grilling so often must happen spontaneously.  When the weather happens to be perfect, the stars align and I have all the essential ingredients to create a feast on the grill I have to seize the opportunity.  That is, unless, I have something that works just as well on the grill as it does in the oven.  That’s why I love this salmon.  Each of these recipes can be made in either.  Problem solved. Continue reading “Cedar Planked Salmon, Three Ways”

Moscow Mule + Ginger Beer Tonic

I’m a bit selective when it comes to bringing items into our home.  My husband would argue that I’m just paralyzingly picky. I blame it on my tendency toward perfectionism. I spent a year scouring antique shops and flea markets for a painting for our dining room.  Something with a bohemian flare to fit with the rest of the house, in soothing hues of blue and green to match the green walls in the room, which, I should mention are not yet green.  When I finally found it – an antique reproduction of a John Audubon blue heron – I knew intuitively that it was the one.  But about the green walls – that is to say, the walls which are currently just a vision of a painting project we planned three years ago. I can’t seem to find just the right shade. Green, but not too green – more of a silvery-teal, like Tuscan kale after it has just been washed.  I’ve been through dozens of paint swatches, each an infinitesimal variation on the same shade, of which my husband claims to see no difference.  I haven’t settled on the right one. Selective or just picky?  The problem, I think, lies in the curtains. Continue reading “Moscow Mule + Ginger Beer Tonic”

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”

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”

One hundred drafts, one meal

People write blogs for different reasons.  Some to make money, others to promote their business, many want to showcase their photography, and some simply have a story inside of them that needs to get out.

For me, the reason is simple.  I use this space as my own personal cookbook.  The process of cooking for me is very organic.  I’m impulsive in the kitchen.  I go with my gut, adding a pinch of this or a dash of that, all the while taking notes and writing down the steps as I go.  Most of the time all this note-taking happens right here on the blog, in a new, unpublished post where I type while in the midst of cooking.  If, in the end, the food is good, if the people around my table are happy and linger long, cleaning their plates with the last bits of bread, draining the last drops from the bottle of wine, laughing while they hold their full bellies, I’ll save the draft.  If not, I just hit “Delete.” Continue reading “One hundred drafts, one meal”

Blueberry Martini

Happy New Year!  I hope yours is off to a fantastic start!  For the last few months I’ve taken a break from posting my weekly cocktail recipes, but I thought it would be fun to get back in the swing of things and start the start the year off with a new martini.  This blueberry vodka martini is made with an organic blueberry-lemon syrup, sweetened with local honey.   It reminds me of the freshness of Spring – wildflowers, sunshine, warm afternoons and cool evenings.  Here’s to longer days and the perfect cocktail to get us through the rest of winter! Continue reading “Blueberry Martini”

7 Winter Cocktails to Drink Now

Let’s play a little game.  Imagine, for a second, that it’s a few days before Christmas.  Your significant other has surprised you with tickets to the symphony (or Opera… or John Legend’s Legendary Christmas Tour… you choose!).  It’s a bitter cold evening; snow is in the forecast.  The wind cuts through your jacket with its icy fingers as you walk with your lover, arm-in-arm, toward the warm lights of the theatre doors.  Your partner feels you shiver and presses closer as the doorman throws wide the massive glass doors and you step into a whirlwind of theater-goers; the room is a dizzying and disorienting blur of tuxedo blacks and showy holiday evening gowns.  You arrive a little early so your partner takes you by the hand and whisks you through the swirling crowd to the bar at the far end of the lobby where the smell of tobacco and Dior J’adore hangs in the air like the London fog.  You are handed a beautifully crafted cocktail menu, curated, you’re told, by none other than the theatre manager himself, who dabbles in the art of mixology on the side.  Each drink is designed to chase away winter’s cold and lull you into a state of ultimate contentedness against the symphonic backdrop of the evening’s performance.  The only question now is, which one will you choose? Continue reading “7 Winter Cocktails to Drink Now”

Whiskey Alexander

When it comes to dessert, I’d much rather have a glass of wine with a bit of cheese than a piece of cake.  If I’m feeling fancy, we might even make cocktails instead.  You know I love whiskey and whiskey-based cocktails and this is one of my favourites.  It’s a variation on a Brandy Alexander, made with whiskey, crème de cacao, vanilla, cream and nutmeg.  I love to entertain with this recipe.  It’s wintery and sweet, and with a touch of nutmeg, perfect for the holidays or just dessert on a Friday night.  Choose a good quality whiskey, but one that’s not too expensive.  I like to use a local whiskey from Leopold Bros, but if that’s not available, Tullamore D.E.W.  – a subtle and smooth Irish whiskey (for only about $30 USD a bottle) – is a great alternative. Continue reading “Whiskey Alexander”