Poussins rôtis and cookies au pépites de chocolat

A friend recently posed the question, Do people read blogs anymore?  It seems to me that the heyday of blogging has, indeed, passed, however short it was.  With all the different social media outlets, is there really a place for individual blogs, specifically food blogs? Continue reading “Poussins rôtis and cookies au pépites de chocolat”

Windmill Lattice Apple Pie

There are two different approaches to making apple pie.  The first is to toss the apples with sugar and a bit of thickener (flour, cornstarch) and place them in the crust, raw, so that they cook in the oven.  The second is to cook the apples on the stove top first, before placing them in the crust.  The first method is quick and easy, and works in a pinch, but the results are a filling that doesn’t hold together quite as well and oozes out when you slice it.  Additionally, as the pie bakes, the apples shrink, releasing their juices and creating gaps between the filling and the top crust which shatter when the pie is sliced.   By cooking the apples beforehand, they are pre-shrunk, a little like a good pair of jeans, and you can count on the crust staying intact, without gaps as the pie bakes.  This is how I like to make apple pie, and because much of the liquid is reduced and boiled away while the fruit is cooking, there’s no need for a thickening agent, which preserves the clean, fresh taste of the apples. Continue reading “Windmill Lattice Apple Pie”

Sicilian Blood Orange Tart

Dear January.

You lovely tease, you!  Serene one day, in your white gown and jewels of ice, angry and fierce the next.  Why must you be so harsh?  For as much as I love a beautiful canvas of pure white snow, you catch me in your frozen, unforgiving grasp and breathe over me in numbing gusts of wind, piercing my face and hands.  January, you are the most difficult month of the year for me.  I must admit, though, that I have it pretty good here.  While, in other parts of the world, you are infinitely grey with endless rain, here the sun shines down on you nearly every single day.  Even your morning snowstorms are often met with cloudless sunsets, and for that, January, I forgive your impetuous nature. Continue reading “Sicilian Blood Orange Tart”

One hundred drafts, one meal

People write blogs for different reasons.  Some to make money, others to promote their business, many want to showcase their photography, and some simply have a story inside of them that needs to get out.

For me, the reason is simple.  I use this space as my own personal cookbook.  The process of cooking for me is very organic.  I’m impulsive in the kitchen.  I go with my gut, adding a pinch of this or a dash of that, all the while taking notes and writing down the steps as I go.  Most of the time all this note-taking happens right here on the blog, in a new, unpublished post where I type while in the midst of cooking.  If, in the end, the food is good, if the people around my table are happy and linger long, cleaning their plates with the last bits of bread, draining the last drops from the bottle of wine, laughing while they hold their full bellies, I’ll save the draft.  If not, I just hit “Delete.” Continue reading “One hundred drafts, one meal”

Raisin-Stuffed Baked Apples

This weekend, the dishwasher worked overtime, as did the oven.  The kitchen bustled with holiday excitement and children sneaking tastes and dogs underfoot and enticing aromas drifting into every corner of the house…. And my camera stayed put, tucked away in its case in the closet the whole time.  I took almost no photos of any of it, aside from a few on my phone because, the truth is, there are days when I just want to cook – messily, in all directions, with flour in my hair, dishes on the counter, crumbs on the floor, towels draped over the chair, and plastic cookie cutters strewn across the table (so NOT photogenic!).  Would I be amiss to say that I think all food bloggers, photographers and recipe developers go through this at some point? Continue reading “Raisin-Stuffed Baked Apples”

Biscuits de Noël

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”

Kolaczki Cookies

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”

Cardamom Orange Cake

On Sundays we often drive into the city to have dinner with my parents.  They still live in my childhood home in the charming neighborhood where I grew up.  I love that my children now play in my old bedroom and in the garden where I once planted flowers.   My brother selects the wine for our dinners, and I always bring dessert.  I’m lucky to have this outlet with which to dispense and disperse all of the sweets I like to make, otherwise my husband and I would be terribly fat!  This past Sunday morning we woke very late.  The sunlight that normally streams through our bedroom window and falls in a band of warmth across the bed was completely eclipsed by thick, cold November storm clouds. Continue reading “Cardamom Orange Cake”

Brown Butter Carrot Cupcakes

The feasts before the feast

Happy November!  I love these few weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving when the anticipation of the holidays begins to build from a mild hum to a full-blown roar.  November is, quite possibly, the month in which I spend the most time in the kitchen, and that couldn’t make me happier.  My thoughts of food start to shift from pumpkin-spice everything in October, to warm and wintery and extravagant meals, fit for a king.  In our house, Thanksgiving recipe-testing begins and the menu starts to take shape.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll have many “mini-feasts” as I test and try out new recipes and new combinations before finalizing the Thanksgiving menu.  November is the month of feast after feast. Continue reading “Brown Butter Carrot Cupcakes”

Pots de Crème au Chocolat

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”