Mushroom Risotto

Food as art

Let’s imagine, for a moment, that the kitchen is a world-class art gallery.  The exhibits change with the seasons, but one thing remains the same – each dish is reminiscent of a work from one of history’s most influential artists.  We could say that there are dishes that resemble the cubism of Picasso – those meticulously constructed fusions with ingredients whose union seems surprisingly controversial, yet somehow work together perfectly (think Kimchi Tacos).  There are the Michelangelos – well thought out Renaissance masterpieces.  They don’t overstep the boundaries of artistic license or realism, and their refined elements take time and a steady hand to prepare (Christmas dinner?).  There are the Jackson Pollocks – abstract impressionist dishes that evoke all the feels (butternut mac & cheese?).  And then there is Risotto. Continue reading “Mushroom Risotto”

Harvest Chicken

The kids went back to school last week.  To me, it feels a bit like sacrilege to begin in the middle of the sacred month of August.  But, over the last few days a cool fog has rolled in off the mountains and I’ve had to put extra blankets on the beds.  It’s like nature is saying, “It’s time,” and it truly feels like fall is nearly here, a little earlier than normal, as well, but who am I to argue with Mother Nature.  At night I still throw the windows open wide and by morning the house is blissfully cool – almost cold, even – and I wake, finding I’ve been dreaming of damp autumn leaves and the scent of cinnamon dancing through the kitchen air. Continue reading “Harvest Chicken”

Calvados Martini

Normandy is famous for many of the world’s most delicious delicacies: Camembert, apples, oysters, and the most luscious cream and butter, cidre and of course, Calvados -the apple brandy that has been distilled there for over five centuries.  Calvados, in a way, is made like a fine perfume, with producers meticulously combining upwards of 200 different varieties of apples ranging from sweet to tart to bittersweet and bitter into their eau de vie.  In one appellation, pears are also used in the formula.  Bitter and tart apples must make up the majority of the composition (70%), while the remainder is comprised Continue reading “Calvados Martini”

An Après-Ski Boozy Hot Cocoa Bar

In Colorado skiing is not just a sport, it’s life, and people approach it with a zeal akin to that of a religious institution.  Here in the city, ski shops line the streets and you’d be hard pressed to find a car that doesn’t have a ski rack on the roof or a bumper sticker that says something like, “White powder is my drug of choice.”  Starting around September, the meteorologists begin their daily weather forecasts with a report of the snow accumulations at the popular ski resorts, and everyone waits with baited breath for Continue reading “An Après-Ski Boozy Hot Cocoa Bar”

A French-Inspired Fall Feast

We live just on the edge of a forested wetland comprised of several little lakes and ponds that extend out from the main river like leaves from a branch.  I like to start my day there in that quiet oasis, walking among the trees and along the shores of the lakes.  For me it’s a form of “Forest Bathing” which, if you’re not familiar with traditional Japanese medicine, is a therapy based on the principle that the beneficial organic compounds released by the trees and vegetation are absorbed into our bodies when we walk through the forest.  The benefits of literally “taking in the forest” include Continue reading “A French-Inspired Fall Feast”

Beef Stroganoff with Brown-Buttered Noodles

A few days ago I heard a local meteorologist describing the future forecast as “Sweater Weather,” and I thought how nice it is that we’ve started describing the weather by what’s appropriate to wear.  But he was right!  Yesterday was, by far, the coldest day of the season.  I knew the temperature was going to drop because the normally calm afternoon winds took a turn and started swirling about harshly from the north, sending dried leaves and tumble weeds flying in all directions.  Our house happens to face north and, as much as I love its odd, old quirks, it’s very drafty.  In winter, the wind whistles and moans on the eaves above the front door and the cold air always manages to find its way inside, probably using the same hidden cracks and holes that the spiders and crickets use to find shelter from the rain. Continue reading “Beef Stroganoff with Brown-Buttered Noodles”

Dijon & Tarragon Lamb Chops

Life seems to be busier than usual…or maybe it’s just me?  I guess every season has it’s crazy days, but I honestly can’t believe that Halloween is tomorrow.  How did that happen?  I keep going back to my calendar to check if it’s true, because if it is then that means we’re diving head-first into the holiday season in just a few days and I’m simply not ready!  But that’s why I have recipes like this lamb with roasted root vegetables, which I made last week (or was it the week before?) See what it mean?  In any case, this meal will probably show up on the dinner table again next week, and then three or four times more before Christmas because Continue reading “Dijon & Tarragon Lamb Chops”

Rum Apple Cider Punch

Everyone has a rum story.  Mine starts back when I was 18… but perhaps it’s not the best way to introduce a rum cocktail…?  You don’t mind, do you?  I married my first husband on the day after I graduated from high school.  His name was Isaac and he was barely 20.  I wish I could say we were high school sweethearts, but no, we met in a smoky pool hall.  Of course, in the US you can’t legally drink until you’re 21.  The irony of being allowed to make a such a life-changing decision without being able to think on it with a drink!  We did what any responsible 18 and 20 year olds would do; we decided to spend our honeymoon in a place where we could legally have a drink to celebrate – island hopping through the Caribbean. Continue reading “Rum Apple Cider Punch”

Poached pears with whipped mascarpone

Poached pears are the most versatile dessert, don’t you think?  They’re like the perfect little black dress in a wardrobe made up of fall recipes.   Just think about it this way: Poaching them in Champagne is like stepping into a pair of satin Manolo Blahniks… the ones with the diamond swans lacing gracefully up the side of your foot.  You need nothing else to complete the outfit.  The silk hem of your black dress whispers gently around your knees as you head out the door and slide into the cool leather seat of your Mercedes, on your way to Continue reading “Poached pears with whipped mascarpone”

Espresso Madeleines

On a quiet corner in le Marais was a little café called Café des Feuilles d’Or.  I’m not sure what it’s called today, or if it still even exists.  But at the time it had a lovely patio that stretched out along the tree-lined street.   There, at a lacy, iron table, sat a man in a grey overcoat which almost perfectly matched the colour of the sky that cold, autumn morning.  Had you been walking by at the time, you surely would have missed him, as he blended in so well with the other patrons in their grey overcoats sitting on the patio.  I imagine they were all trying to pretend that Continue reading “Espresso Madeleines”