Apricot Clafoutis

If you ask me, apricot season is far too short.  Here in Colorado if you blink you’ll miss it.  So when I find apricots in the market I never pass them up.  Of course there are always apricots in the grocery stores, hard and bitter rocks that will never ripen to perfection and will ruin any recipe you use them in.  But if I find ripe, local, charmingly bruised apricots in the farmers’ market I buy bags and bags of them.  We eat them by the dozens and anything we don’t eat raw is transformed into a number of seasonal treats.  Perhaps because of their very short season, recipes that centre around apricots have always seemed rather exotic to me, perfumed with the most enticing and seductive spices in the world.  Apricot and Chicken Tagine from Morocco, Apricot Blatjang from South Africa, Indian Apricot Pudding with almonds and cardamom.   Continue reading “Apricot Clafoutis”

Cocoa Meringues

I get oddly excited about recipes that require only the egg yolks.  It’s similar to the way someone might start looking forward to their birthday cake a few days in advance, or how enticing a Friday evening cocktail becomes when you’re stuck at your desk on Wednesday, because when a recipe requires only the yolks it means there will be leftover egg whites, and one of the very best ways to use leftover egg whites is to make meringue cookies. Continue reading “Cocoa Meringues”

Strawberry Balsamic Hand Pies

As evening fell, I stood by the window with a glass of wine in my hand and saw her.  Opening the back door – the one that led from the kitchen – she gathered her flowered housedress and white apron in one hand.  Slowly she approached the five steps that led to the garden and very carefully, unsteady, she descended.  I always watched her, never leaving that window for fear that if her knees buckled and she fell I would have to run out to help.  But she never did fall, and once down in the garden she walked among the rows, chatting with someone unseen, perhaps a bird, perhaps a rabbit, or ghost, or maybe she talked only to herself.  I never knew. Continue reading “Strawberry Balsamic Hand Pies”

Glace aux Spéculoos

I’m a minimalist in the kitchen.  Our house is from an era when rooms were separate and small, and, as such, the kitchen is tiny, but surprisingly functional.  Though I love all the mid-century architectural details of our home — the charming cream-coloured tile window sills, the narrow hallways, the little hidden wine cellar beneath the basement staircase — the kitchen counter space is very limited.  The last thing I wanted was for this precious work space to be clutter with appliances.   I don’t own a stand mixer or even a coffee maker!  A hand mixer and a French press are much easier to stow away in the cabinets.  However, several years ago I bought an Continue reading “Glace aux Spéculoos”

An Easter Menu

Without a doubt, Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday!  I dream of turkey and dressing and cornbread and pumpkins for weeks leading up to the day.  Of course, when all the dishes are done and the tablecloth is in the washing machine, I start to realize that I like Christmas, maybe just a little more.  All the sweets, breads, nuts and big cinnamon rolls for breakfast!  I mean, how could Christmas NOT be your favourite holiday, really?  Oh, but then… Champagne and caviar and oysters and fireworks and the promise of a blank slate and a fresh start in the year to come and I’m certain that New Years is, indeed, my favorite.  But when the confetti settles, the house is cleaned, the windows are opened letting in the freshness of spring, I determine that, in fact, Easter must really be my favourite holiday. Continue reading “An Easter Menu”

On being Irish, sort of, and Irish Coffee

I spent my life believing I was Irish.  My grandmother’s family immigrated from Ireland and the proof hung proudly in a frame on the wall in her brother’s living room – County Cork to New York, New York; 1922.  I stood looking at it once, this yellowing paper in a frame – finding it incredibly strange that something like a government issued form would be considered a work of art.  But, to our family, it was.  It was proof of how far they had come, and a reminder to never forget where their roots were planted.  It’s a conflict that perhaps all immigrant families feel, this pull of two different lands, two different homes.  Continue reading “On being Irish, sort of, and Irish Coffee”

Rum Apple Tart

As a child we would frequently drive way out in the countryside on Sunday afternoons to visit family.  My aunt and uncle owned an apple orchard, and as soon as the car pulled into their long dirt driveway my brother and I would run out into the trees, without even so much as a “Hello!” to my aunt who was waiting at the front door.  I used to love to skip between the rows of trees, imagining I was Dorothy on the yellow brick road – and there was always a dog around to play the part of Toto. Continue reading “Rum Apple Tart”

Bûche de Noël

I always return to traditions during the month of December.  Throughout the rest of the year traditions have a reputation for being  “stuffy” or “old-fashioned,” but at Christmas time, when the world seems to be moving at record pace, and not necessarily in the direction we want it to, there’s nothing more comforting than falling back into the old and familiar.  Pulling out the old cookie cutters and sorting through the recipe box for those cookies we bake only once or twice a year; dusting off the boxes of decorations, digging through sheets of tissue paper to find the ornaments we packed away so carefully last year.  It’s almost like a long over-due visit with dear old friends.  (And when the dog accidentally knocks one of those ornaments off the tree, like she did today, and it shatters on the floor there are always tears as I sweep up the pieces.) Continue reading “Bûche de Noël”

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”