Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Bourbon Bacon Jam

Butternut squash soup is one of my favourite fall dishes. It’s quintessentially autumn – from the colour, to the flavours, to the aroma of warm spices simmered together in a broth made velvety by the purée of winter squash – which stands alone as something I look forward to making all year round.   Kind of like my favourite sweater, it’s reliable, but too warm for September.  I wait patiently for the “sweater weather” of October to arrive, when I can finally pull it out of the closet on that first blissfully cool autumn night.   Though our favourite sweaters may be worn and threadbare in places, I would never suggest that they should be changed or improved upon in any way. They are perfect as they are.  That’s not the case, however, when it comes to cooking.   When I’m in the kitchen, I’m always looking for ways to kick up the flavours a bit and that’s exactly what happened with this recipe. As I was stirring the pot it was almost as if I had an Angel sitting on one shoulder and the Devil on the other. . . Continue reading “Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Bourbon Bacon Jam”

Earl Grey Hot Toddy

I’m kicking off the weekend with an Earl Grey Hot Toddy and a few good books.  Old books are my weakness.  I can’t resist. Sorry e-readers, nothing beats holding a real, hardbound book in your hands.  The weight.  The texture of each page between your fingers.  The smell of a time long forgotten, pressed between the pages and preserved in the spine.

It’s been my dream, ever since I was a little girl, to have my own library, overflowing with antique books.  All of the classics – Hemingway, Twain, Longfellow, Capote, Hugo, Verne, Mitchell – really, I could go on forever! Continue reading “Earl Grey Hot Toddy”

Pork Tenderloin with Plums

One of the easiest ways to elevate an everyday dish to something elegant and refined is by adding a little dried fruit.  I love to cook with fruit in both savory and sweet dishes.  When paired with roasted meat, it brings a subtle richness and a depth of sweetness that you can’t get from anything else, especially when using dark dried fruits like raisins or prunes. Continue reading “Pork Tenderloin with Plums”

Old-Fashioned Apple Cake

I call this an old-fashioned cake because anything cooked in a bundt pan feels old-school and vintage to me, but I was surprised the read, recently, that the modern rendition of the bundt pan has only been around since the 1950’s.  Of course, the traditional, tube-shaped cake, called Kugelhopf, that inspired its creation has been around for ages, originating in Eastern Europe, but it wasn’t until the 50’s that the design was brought to the US and the first bundt pan was cast by the founder of the Nordic Ware company in Minnesota. Continue reading “Old-Fashioned Apple Cake”

Zucchini pain d’épices

Pain d’épices is a traditional French quick bread, rich with honey and warm spices. It’s often served around the holidays but, since it bears such a noticeable resemblance to American banana bread and zucchini bread, I love to serve a variation of it in late summer when the garden is overflowing with zucchini. Continue reading “Zucchini pain d’épices”

Zucchini Vichyssoise with Sweet Corn Relish

French country cooking meets a mid-century American past-time.

Yesterday I made one of my favorite summer soups: a zucchini vichyssoise, loosely based on Ina Garten’s recipe from her book, Barefoot in Paris.  It’s an old stand by in my kitchen during the summer months for two reasons: 1) it’s a great way to use up all the zucchini that’s coming out of the garden and 2) it’s delicious!  It looks lovely garnished with green ribbons of julienned zucchini or with fresh snipped chives, as Ina suggests in the book,  but yesterday, as I stood at the stove and watched it simmer I realized that the soup alone wasn’t going to satisfy my craving for something cool and fresh the way it usually does. Continue reading “Zucchini Vichyssoise with Sweet Corn Relish”

Lavender Gelato

There are places in this world that seem to radiate a magic not found elsewhere. It’s not, at first, apparent, but is perceptible as something of an electric hum. A sparkle of vivacity, a reverberation like the resonance of a drum.  New Mexico is one of these places.  What looks, to one just passing through, like desert – harsh and unforgiving – in fact, hides a treasure trove of secrets found only if you take the time to explore the region a little more deeply. There’s an energy here and it manifests in the food they produce, in the soil, laced with minerals and metals, in the water, so scarce in places, and in the terroir.  I can’t think of any place in the world that is quite like New Mexico, except for just one. Provence. Continue reading “Lavender Gelato”

Tortellini Salad

I have a fondness for formulas – mathematic formulas, scientific formulas, photographic formulas, and, of course, kitchen formulas.  I feel that if I follow a formula, nothing too bad can happen.  If I you think about it, living “the good life” is one huge formula waiting for us to figure out.  The key is knowing that formulas build on one another. Like a pyramid, the most highly specialized ones – recipes, techniques, ratios, etc. – form the foundation. I think many people equate a formula to something that is dull and predictable. “That novel was so formulaic, it bored me to tears,” someone might say. But on the contrary, I see formulas as a road maps of sorts.  They are the best and fastest way to live the life to which we aspire with the least amount of interruptions or obstacles . No one would ever consider planning for retirement or purchasing a home without a reliable formula to consult first.  There is a reason we have the phrase “a recipe for success.”  . . .  And while I don’t often cook with recipes, formulas are something from which I never stray.

Continue reading “Tortellini Salad”

Vanilla Raspberry Cake

This past Monday was my birthday.  I always bake my own birthday cake, and this year I took the occasion to make my favourite – a vanilla butter cake with the most luscious salted, brown butter icing. Not that we should ever need an excuse to bake a cake, especially this one, but if we do, a birthday is a pretty good one.  I love that this is a small, single layer cake, perfect for serving 6 – 8 people, with no leftovers.  And though it’s small, it’s decadent in its simplicity.   The crumb is moist and airy, but the real treat is pouring over the brown butter glaze in thick ribbons, flecked with vanilla beans and sea salt. Continue reading “Vanilla Raspberry Cake”