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”

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”

Triple Chocolate Pavlova

Can I just talk for a minute about that certain magic you find only in chocolate?  You know, the one the Mayans knew of and harnessed millennia ago?   The one that has been firmly embedded in our collective human consciousness ever since?  That craving that can be suppressed but never fully satisfied?  Chocolate is at once an aphrodisiac, an antidepressant, a stimulant to fuel passion and to excite creativity.  It’s the food of the gods that’s also known to lower cholesterol, increase life expectancy, prevent heart attacks, and boost the immune system.  Now, if you’re someone who likes to look at the facts, then you may find yourself wondering if dessert, rather than breakfast, is actually the most important meal of the day.  But, if you’re like me and tend to think with your stomach, then you already know that it is. Continue reading “Triple Chocolate Pavlova”

Pear and Honey Tart

Pears are the perfect “transition” fruit.  Ripe at the end of summer when peaches and plums are just beginning to fade but apples are still maturing on the trees.  They bridge the gap, carrying us gracefully from summer into fall.  I always have several big bowls of pears on the kitchen counters and table starting in the first days of September, both as a way to decorate and to tempt the kids into having a healthy snack when they get home from school.  I love all the different varieties and colors, and find them so captivating, so beautiful… Continue reading “Pear and Honey Tart”

Sophie’s Secrets

I’m a sucker for a good love story.  I can’t help it, there must be a hopeless romantic somewhere in me.  Here’s one from long ago; the details are a little blurry because I haven’t heard it since childhood.  It’s the story my grandmother would tell when I couldn’t sleep.  “Please, Grandma,” I would beg late at night, “tell me the story of Sophie!”

“Again?!” She’d exclaim.  She’d probably be standing at the stove, heating a small pot of milk to help me sleep.  But there was always a twinkle in her eye and I knew she love to tell it just as much as I loved Continue reading “Sophie’s Secrets”

Late Summer Berry Tart

I’m still trying to convince myself that summer’s not almost over, even as the leaves are quickly starting to blush and the nights are turning so cool that we’ve had to add extra blankets to the beds (instead of turning on the heat – it’s too soon for that!)  It started off imperceptibly enough, with just the slightest hint of yellow in the top branches of the trees that line our street.  But just yesterday, as I drove through the neighborhood I was shocked to see that the branches are suddenly more gold than green.  When did that happen?  And then the urgency struck.  To make summer Continue reading “Late Summer Berry Tart”

Champagne Poached Pears

You know that one line from that one movie that perfectly and concisely sums up the entire plot?  One of my favorites is from the Audrey Hepburn film called Love in the Afternoon, which was released in Europe under the title, Ariane.  If you haven’t seen it, you must, even just for the glamorous costumes alone!  It’s set in beautiful, mid-century Paris.  Audrey plays the very lovely, but very naïve Ariane.  She’s the daughter of a private detective specializing in affaires d’amour, played by the ever-charming Maurice Chevalier.  By a twist of fate, Ariane meets the subject of one of her father’s investigations – an extravagantly rich, handsome, (and much older) American playboy by the name of Mr. Flannagan (Gary Cooper), and when the two instantly fall for each other, Ariane coyly, and quite humorously, tries to convince him that she is just as well versed in the ways of love as he is, using all the cases in her father’s files as inspiration. Continue reading “Champagne Poached Pears”