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.
Continue reading “Galette des Rois aux Pommes” →
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!
Continue reading “Holiday Poppyseed Bread” →
A Christmas tradition
Of all my Christmas memories, the ones that involve food are the most vivid, timeless and magical. There are certain scents and flavours that epitomize the holidays, of which, mine were an eclectic mix. Every year my mother made caramel pecan rolls on Christmas morning and the aroma of toasted nuts and sugar would float through the house as we opened our Christmas presents. In my stocking I would find a little bag of pistachios, a tin of marrons glacés and a chocolate covered orange. Treats that only ever showed up around the holidays. We often spent Christmas in New Mexico, where piñon smoke perfumed the dessert air and my grandmother would make biscochitos, a traditional New Mexican Christmas cookie, filling the house with rich notes of anise and cinnamon. In my mind, this melange of flavours and aromas is woven into a Christmas tapestry that hangs squarely on the wall of my memories. These are the flavours that say Christmas to me. Continue reading “Cinnamon Orange Star Bread – A Christmas Tradition” →
December began in a flurry of icing sugar, clouds of winter-white whipped cream and cool peppermint candy canes. My mother’s birthday was last week and I make her a peppermint bonbon tart every single year. It’s her very favourite. The recipe has been in our family forever – or at least since the gelatin-dessert-crazed sixties – and I absolutely love it. My grandmother used to make this tart for my mom when she was a girl. The recipe was eventually passed to me, as the designated dessert enthusiast of the family. I made my typical, modern adjustments and adaptations (replacing shortening with butter; freshly whipping the cream; etc.) while keeping its vintage charm. Continue reading “Peppermint Bonbon Tart” →
These delicately embossed gingerbread cookies are the perfect way to welcome the festive season! I’ve always loved the look of embossed rolling pins, and this one from Embossed Pin is so pretty with a whimsical forest scene that’s perfect, not just for Christmas, but all winter long. And it’s really starting to feel like winter around here. The light is different, it has an iridescent quality as if the sun is shining through shards of ice, and we’ve had three major snowstorms already. But the house has never been cozier, especially when gingerbread is baking and the kitchen is filled with the blissful scent of cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Isn’t this the most magical time of year?! Continue reading “Embossed Gingerbread” →
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” →
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” →
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” →
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” →
A homesick American
On a dim side street that cut through the buildings like a crack in a rock there was a nondescript little candy shop. It wasn’t too far from our apartment on Viale Italia, in Livorno, and I passed it frequently on my way to the market. You could easily have walked right by without noticing but for the aromas that slipped beneath the door – apparitions of caramelized sugar and bittersweet cocoa. Though I didn’t often stop in to buy anything (willpower, you know), just knowing it was there was reassuring. I was quite homesick during that first winter abroad and everyone knows that a little chocolate is the best cure for homesickness. Continue reading “Pots de Crème au Chocolat” →