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  Most of the time all this note-taking happens right here on the blog, in a new, unpublished post where I type while in the midst of cooking.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”

Raisin-Stuffed Baked Apples

This weekend, the dishwasher worked overtime, as did the oven.  The kitchen bustled with holiday excitement and children sneaking tastes and dogs underfoot and enticing aromas drifting into every corner of the house…. And my camera stayed put, tucked away in its case in the closet the whole time.  I took almost no photos of any of it, aside from a few on my phone because, the truth is, there are days when I just want to cook – messily, in all directions, with flour in my hair, dishes on the counter, crumbs on the floor, towels draped over the chair, and plastic cookie cutters strewn across the table (so NOT photogenic!).  Would I be amiss to say that I think all food bloggers, photographers and recipe developers go through this at some point? Continue reading “Raisin-Stuffed Baked Apples”

Black Truffle Butter Chicken

Last night I roasted a chicken in black truffle butter for no reason other than it was Monday, and Mondays often call for little indulgences.  And what a Monday it was!  By the time dinner was served we were all so frazzled that nothing but good comfort food would do – and by comfort food I mean mounds of tender, juicy chicken, studded with earthy truffle pieces, swimming in a pool of butter.   I roasted potatoes in the same pan so they could absorb all the decadent flavours, and served them alongside a simple green salad, Nigella-style, which is to say everything was pulled apart at the table and devoured greedily and unpretentiously.  It was the perfect busy weeknight meal, and before you say, “Wait!  There’s never enough time to roast a whole chicken on a weeknight!” let me tell you about this recipe. Continue reading “Black Truffle Butter Chicken”

Biscuits de Noël

I don’t bake cookies very often.  There are so many more exciting desserts to be made this time of year – chewy fruit-filled meringues, fancy tarts, densely rich pies and, of course, the boûche de Noël.  Cookies seem so… dare I say, ordinary.  And, with so many store-bought varieties, well, sometimes I think, why bother?  But that is a very one-sided way of looking at it, isn’t it.  Cookies are exciting, both in their own right, but more so in feelings they evoke and the excitement of what they represent.  Especially if they are the biscuits de Noël.  In that case, there really is no choice – they must be homemade. Continue reading “Biscuits de Noël”

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”

Kolaczki Cookies

Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a very wonderful Thanksgiving, if you celebrate… and if you don’t, I hope you had a fantastic weekend.  We discovered on Thanksgiving day that our refrigerator wasn’t keeping things as cold as it should.  Actually, I had suspected that was the case for a few weeks, when I kept having to turn the temperature down, but since I’d packed it full of food for the holiday it became very apparent that only the bottom of the fridge was maintaining a constant temperature. Continue reading “Kolaczki Cookies”

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”

Cardamom Orange Cake

On Sundays we often drive into the city to have dinner with my parents.  They still live in my childhood home in the charming neighborhood where I grew up.  I love that my children now play in my old bedroom and in the garden where I once planted flowers.   My brother selects the wine for our dinners, and I always bring dessert.  I’m lucky to have this outlet with which to dispense and disperse all of the sweets I like to make, otherwise my husband and I would be terribly fat!  This past Sunday morning we woke very late.  The sunlight that normally streams through our bedroom window and falls in a band of warmth across the bed was completely eclipsed by thick, cold November storm clouds. Continue reading “Cardamom Orange Cake”

Brown Butter Carrot Cupcakes

The feasts before the feast

Happy November!  I love these few weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving when the anticipation of the holidays begins to build from a mild hum to a full-blown roar.  November is, quite possibly, the month in which I spend the most time in the kitchen, and that couldn’t make me happier.  My thoughts of food start to shift from pumpkin-spice everything in October, to warm and wintery and extravagant meals, fit for a king.  In our house, Thanksgiving recipe-testing begins and the menu starts to take shape.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll have many “mini-feasts” as I test and try out new recipes and new combinations before finalizing the Thanksgiving menu.  November is the month of feast after feast. Continue reading “Brown Butter Carrot Cupcakes”