Galette des Rois aux Pommes

I meant to make this Galette des Rois on Wednesday for Epiphany but we were so glued to the news of the unrest in Washington DC that I completely forgot. Yesterday morning I woke up in a bit of a panic at my blunder and made one right away.

Galette des Rois is a lovely French tradition that brings the holidays to a sweet close. The cake is served on the 12th day of Christmas (Epiphany) to represent the visit of the three wise men to baby Jesus. Yesterday may have been the 13th day of Christmas (better late than never!), but I quickly whipped together this one using store-bought puff pastry and, for the fève, a (very clean) coin which I wrapped in aluminum foil. The tradition, which goes back to Roman times, dictates that a fève – a little trinket or small, porcelain nativity figurine – is hidden in the filling of the cake before baking. Whoever finds it is crowned King or Queen for the day. As the name suggests, a dry fava bean was originally used; however, last year I baked a real bean into the cake and it was never found. (!!) I’m always on the hunt for antique porcelain fèves but so far haven’t had any luck finding them in the US. Last night, Eva was the lucky fève finder. Her first order of business as Queen was to play a board game with me. 

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Gruet Barrel Select 2017 Chardonnay

Gruet Winery is best known for producing some of the US’s favourite Méthode Champenoise sparkling wines, but did you know that they make an exceptional collection of stills, as well? With Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes grown exclusively in New Mexico, the quality of which I have written numerous times, Gruet was established in 1984 by acclaimed French champagne maker Gilbert Gruet, and run under the expertise of his son, the winemaker, Laurent Gruet. But the state’s winemaking history goes back over 400 years, far longer than the history of the United States as a country. New Mexico’s desert landscape, high elevation, fertile soil and dramatic temperature swings provide ideal growing conditions, something Spanish monks of the 1600s recognized when they smuggled vines out of their homeland to plant in the new Americas. Today, Gruet has partnered with the local indigenous population of the Pueblo of Santa Ana and others to grow grapes to the unique specifications of the winemaker.

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Holiday Poppyseed Bread

When I got out of bed on January 1st and thought about the very first thing I wanted to eat this year, I knew it had to be this poppyseed bread. It’s a family recipe; my mom has made it for her neighbors at Christmastime for as long as I can remember – and I woke up dreaming of it. I texted her early in the morning (or at least what can be called “early” only on New Year’s Day … 9:40 am) to get the recipe. When you wake up craving something, you absolutely must eat it! Otherwise, it will haunt you like the memory of a missed opportunity and past regret. And, I decided, that’s not the best way to start a new year!

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Winter Vegetable Soup with Oxtails

I went to the butcher the other day to pick up some beef soup bones. I was craving a very wintery version a traditional beef and barley soup, my favorite as a child, with sugar pumpkin and parsnips. I couldn’t believe they were completely sold out of bones! I like to think that, because of the virus lockdowns in these uncertain times, more people than ever are leaning into homemade, slow cooked, ultra-nourishing dishes like bone broths, soups and stews. I picked up a few oxtails instead, thinking they would make a more luxurious alternative. Later, at the market, there were absolutely no pumpkins or parsnips anywhere to be found.

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Pear Clafoutis with Whipped Mascarpone

At the market last week there were these huge bins of pears. They were all so beautiful in jewel tones of ruby, emerald and topaz, I couldn’t resist buying way more than we needed. Where some have a weakness for jewelry or an addiction to well-made handbags, I have a thing for pears. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the craftsmanship of an Hermès Kelly bag, or that I would turn down a diamond if offered, but there is something so aesthetically satisfying in a bowl overflowing with pears. Like a Baroque era still life, I love to have big bowls of seasonal fruit sitting in the centre of the table and on the counter tops. It’s part of the ever-changing landscape of our kitchen. The thing about pears, though, is, like avocados, they ripen and then turn in the blink of an eye. When I saw that they were getting a little soft, I whipped together a quick batter of eggs, flour and cream, and made this pear clafoutis. It’s a delicious way to keep them from going to waste if you happened to have overindulged a bit at the market.

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Roasted Sausage, Butternut Squash and Apple Stew

A savory stew and a few fall updates

The mountains of Colorado were glowing in the warmest shades of gold, amber and ruby. Though it lasts only a few days, I look forward to this time and always like to plan a little getaway right when the leaves are at their peak. The children got an unexpected day off from school a couple weeks ago, which perfectly aligned with the changing leaves, so we packed a picnic and headed into the mountains for the day. As a little girl, I spent so much time in the mountains riding horses and foraging for chanterelles and wild rose hips which my grandmother would make into jam, I feel most at home here. The mountains are a little like a mother to me, wandering through the steep, shadowy valleys feels safe – like being held in her embrace. Of course, in the fall I always keep my eyes peeled for mushrooms and juniper berries, out of habit. It’s a little too early for the wild enoki mushrooms that grow, in the fall, beneath the thick aspen groves, but one can hope. I love to collect pinecones and acorns to decorate the house with during the fall, and we always pick up a few leave to press between the pages of books. It’s wonderful to open up an old book in the dead of winter and discover a beautifully preserved leaf that was forgotten months or years ago.

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Calvados Baked Apples with Cinnamon Ice Cream

It’s been very quiet here on the blog for the last month, so I thought I should give you an update. The kids started school several weeks ago: one in-person and the other via distance learning. The distance learner has now transitioned to a part-time hybrid schedule and since each kid is on a different schedule and the school is in the city, I’m spending a large part of my days in the car driving to and fro. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the need to be flexible and to roll with the punches.

I won’t bore you with the details of my children’s various educational models because the big, and far more exciting news of the month is this: we adopted another Belgian Malinois, our third!

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Birthday Brownies

Yesterday was Connor’s birthday. Fourteen years old! I can’t believe it. I remember when my children were younger. I would often get together with other moms and let the kids play. Frequent topics of conversation included comparing our experiences of the ages and stages our kids seemed to be flying through. “This age is my favorite!” someone would remark. “No, last year when he still let me rock him to sleep – that stage was my favorite,” someone else might interject. I have to say, truthfully, I love every single age and every stage – from birth to teenage-hood, there hasn’t been one I would wish away! Each year is exciting, full of growth and surprises. Like turning the pages in an enthralling novel, I’m looking forward to the future as much and I treasure the memories of the past. Being a mom is the single most fulfilling job on this planet.

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Artichokes with Vinaigrette

L’artichaut.

In this world of fast food and instant gratification is there a place for such a discerning vegetable? This vegetable which must be treated tenderly, approached slowly and handled as delicately and deliberately as if one were courting a mate? Each taste escalates in pleasure ever so slightly – for within the meat of the artichoke lies an enzyme that heightens the sensation of sweetness upon our tongues. Peeling back each meaty petal exposes flesh in ever increasing bites. To eat an artichoke is to play a subtle game of anticipation, building toward crescendo with the disrobing of the sacred and guarded heart. To eat an artichoke is an act more akin to making love than to dining and in so lies the mystique of l’artichaut.

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