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”

Sicilian Blood Orange Tart

Dear January.

You lovely tease, you!  Serene one day, in your white gown and jewels of ice, angry and fierce the next.  Why must you be so harsh?  For as much as I love a beautiful canvas of pure white snow, you catch me in your frozen, unforgiving grasp and breathe over me in numbing gusts of wind, piercing my face and hands.  January, you are the most difficult month of the year for me.  I must admit, though, that I have it pretty good here.  While, in other parts of the world, you are infinitely grey with endless rain, here the sun shines down on you nearly every single day.  Even your morning snowstorms are often met with cloudless sunsets, and for that, January, I forgive your impetuous nature. Continue reading “Sicilian Blood Orange Tart”

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”