A Cake Fit for the King (of Rock ‘n’ Roll)

I was reading an article recently about the return of vintage desserts. Desserts from the 50’s and 60’s are making a huge comeback right now, which makes me extremely happy, as I have a penchant for vintage recipes (vintage anything, really!). I think the pandemic played a huge role in their return – not only were we dealing with ingredient shortages last year (specifically flour), and making few and far between shopping trips, but we were also craving comfort food. The dishes that might have come out of our grandmothers’ kitchens. While we are dealing with a global pandemic, most of our grandparents were enduring the Great Depression and rationing of WWII – not too dissimilar crises. After reading the article I took a moment to glance at the comments section and saw that a cake called, “Elvis Presley’s Favorite Pound Cake,” from Epicurious.com, was mentioned several times. It’s a whipping cream cake – essentially a pound cake made with heavy cream in place of milk or buttermilk. All pound cakes, by nature, are decadent, but this one is over the top! Not only is it made with heavy cream, it also uses seven eggs which provide lift so that no other leavening is needed. I can see why it was the King’s favourite!

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5 Ice Cream Recipes for the (Unofficial) Start of Summer

Yesterday was Memorial Day here in the US, which is also what we like to call the “unofficial start of summer.” My kids just finished their school years last week, the weather is finally warm, we lit the grill for the first time last night, and it truly does feel like summer. I have my mind on light and easy summer recipes, fresh salads and cool, sweet treats. Of course, that means ice cream.

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Clafoutis aux Framboises

There’s nothing that encapsulates the feeling of summer for me like a fresh raspberry. Each berry contains within it all the sunshine, light and floral sweetness of a summer afternoon. At my childhood home there was a split rail fence along which grew a long row of raspberry bushes. Starting in early July, my brother and I would wake up early and run out to the fence to pick the raspberries that had ripened overnight. It was a race – us against the birds – and we often lost, but when we would find a ripe, untouched berry, the reward was more than worth the effort. To this day, the taste of fresh raspberries brings me right back to those childhood summers.

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Gâteau Basque

My goal for this online space has always been to make it an inspiring and relaxing place, a bit like an an oasis for those who visit. I try to keep it light and up beat, as notes of levity are becoming scarce in this world rife with negativity. However, bad things happen to everyone, and we are no exception. “When it rains, it pours,” they say, and the past few weeks have felt as if we’re stuck in monsoon season.

On Friday, one of our dogs (Nandor) received an alarming diagnosis. While I won’t get into too much detail here, his condition is serious but can be treated; however, he will require several rounds of different medications, a couple hospitalizations, and he will need to be kept very calm and still throughout his treatment period, spanning 120 days. This, along with several other recent events, has me feeling like a dark cloud has settled over our home. Like the blog, I always try to keep my emotions and headspace very calm and zen-like. My response to stress or to circumstances that feel as if life is spiraling out of control, is to pause, take a few deep breaths to refocus, then react with grace, one step at a time.

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14 French Recipes to Welcome Spring

There’s a certain hum of excitement as spring approaches. Because of our long, snowy winters here in Colorado, the arrival of spring is always a little delayed, but over the past few weeks I’ve noticed that the quiet of winter has been replaced by the sounds of life. It starts before dawn as I rise early to make the coffee. I can hear the birds through the closed and locked windows singing to each other in the darkness and beckoning me to slide the glass open and see what all the fuss is about. Out in the potager, the chives are always the first to emerge, blooming in brilliant purple plumes that are covered in bees of all shapes and sizes. Soon the sugar peas will bloom on the garden fence. The chickens are laying again – with each egg, the noisy fanfare of celebration. Farmer’s markets are finally opening up again here, with the first asparagus, tiny strawberries, baby lettuces, radishes and turnips. I think it’s safe to say that spring is finally here.

This spring feels like butterflies of anticipation leading up to an imminent party. Tiny flowers, like traces of confetti, signaling a grand celebration. For the occasion, I wanted to revisit some of my favourite spring recipes. These are the dishes I look forward to making when the days get long and warm and the earth awakens from her quiet hibernation. After a dark winter, these bright, fresh recipes are more welcome than ever.

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A Valentine’s Day Prelude

I’ve been in a Valentine’s mood for the last few weeks. Ever since hearts and cupids started showing up in the stores right after New Years, Valentine’s Day has been playing like a love song in the back of my mind. I even impulsively bought a Valentine’s day mask and heart shaped pendant the other day and I have Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” on repeat in the kitchen. It’s funny because Valentine’s Day was never my favourite holiday. I looked at it as just another excuse for the kids to eat way too much candy. Maybe it’s the Covid quarantines, on and off lockdowns, and the fact that, through forced confinement, our family has grown even closer this past year, but this February I’m all about the hearts, roses, sweet treats, LOVE and yes, even the candy. Really, I can’t wait for a reason to celebrate. Are you feeling the same?

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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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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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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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