Artichokes with Vinaigrette

L’artichaut.

In this world of fast food and instant gratification is there a place for such a discerning vegetable? This vegetable which must be treated tenderly, approached slowly and handled as delicately and deliberately as if one were courting a mate? Each taste escalates in pleasure ever so slightly – for within the meat of the artichoke lies an enzyme that heightens the sensation of sweetness upon our tongues. Peeling back each meaty petal exposes flesh in ever increasing bites. To eat an artichoke is to play a subtle game of anticipation, building toward crescendo with the disrobing of the sacred and guarded heart. To eat an artichoke is an act more akin to making love than to dining and in so lies the mystique of l’artichaut.

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Capezzoli di Venere Truffles

I haven’t written about Italy during this health crisis, though it hasn’t been far from my mind.  The heartache of what was happening both there and here in the US was almost too great to bear and I focused my energy on those nearest to me.  Everyone’s experience through this has been so vastly different and unique. I have so many friends who’ve lost their jobs, their businesses.  I often ask myself, “How can I write about recipes and food when there are still so many people struggling to buy groceries?” I’ve remained largely quiet on the blog for that reason, and many others.  Now, with the protests and unrest occurring nightly throughout the US and across the world, I wonder, “Will there ever be a right time to share this recipe?”  The post has been written for weeks, and I contemplated waiting until next year to share the recipe, but who knows where we’ll all be then.  Really, the right time is now, while it’s still technically spring – the season of fertility, rebirth and renewal. Please don’t see my decision to share this recipe and the story behind it today as indifference to the current events. My heart is broken for all that has occurred during the past weeks and months. Continue reading “Capezzoli di Venere Truffles”

Banana Bread with Berries and Lilac Flowers

Sunday feels like the most decadent day. It’s the day we linger in bed long into the morning, watching the news and catching up on all the shows we missed during the week. Extra coffee is a must.  If you brew your coffee in a French press, try adding a tiny pinch of sea salt to the grounds before pouring in the hot water.  It neutralized the acid and brings out the flavours for a perfectly balanced cup coffee. Continue reading “Banana Bread with Berries and Lilac Flowers”

Annie’s Chicken Caesar Salad Tartines

What am I most looking forward to this spring? Picnic season!  I love to pack a quick picnic lunch, hop in the car to escape the city and head into the mountains for the day. Covid-19 quarantines and stay-at-home orders may have put our picnic plans on hold for a little while, but it won’t last forever.  In the meantime, why not prepare a picnic lunch to eat in the backyard?  Or spread a blanket on the floor, invite the kids to bring their favourite stuffed animals, and have a picnic right there in the living room.  It’s the little things, like a change in the daily routine, that make the monotony of being stuck indoors more bearable.

Today I’m partnering with Annie’s Homegrown and the FeedFeed to make preparing a picnic lunch a breeze. This Chicken Caesar Salad can be prepared entirely in advance – just serve it on toasted bread for a simple, picnic basket-friendly tartine. Continue reading “Annie’s Chicken Caesar Salad Tartines”

Dijon Mustard Roast Chicken and Roasted Mashed Potatoes

Yesterday I made a roasted chicken with Dijon mustard and I shared on Instagram the situation regarding food here in Colorado which, I am sure, is very similar across the country and around the world right now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  I’m not sure how it is where you are, but here, since the state of Colorado has issued shelter in place orders, we’re advised to only shop for groceries every other week. For someone who used to shop daily, this has been a bit of a learning experience.  It’s okay, we’re getting along just fine and I’m always up for a challenge, but add to that the fact that stores are limiting what and how much we can buy, it makes shopping for two weeks especially puzzling.  Currently we’re allowed just two chicken products and two beef products per family.  If we’re lucky there might be some pork behind the butcher’s counter, but for the most part, the shelves in the markets are bare, especially of pantry staples like beans, rice, flour and sugar, and I haven’t seen eggs in stock for weeks.  Thankfully, fresh fruit and vegetables have been plentiful. Continue reading “Dijon Mustard Roast Chicken and Roasted Mashed Potatoes”

Wild Rice and Asparagus Salad

Covid-19

This will likely be a very untraditional post.  Like everyone else in the world, we’re confined to home for the (un)foreseeable future.  When I sit down to write a blog post I often draw inspiration from past experiences, dreams, restaurant meals, what I’ve found in the farmer’s markets or at the grocery stores.  But the markets are empty, restaurants are closed, I still have my dreams, and I still find much comfort in the kitchen cooking for my family, maybe more now than before. Cooking with only what we have on hand in the pantry is a bit of a game to me.  I took time to organize the kitchen this week, rotating the old with the new.   I’ve never liked to waste food, but now, when food seems to be scarce, it’s even more unbearable.  I had a few stalks of asparagus in the fridge and half a bag of wild rice in the pantry and so this salad was born.  If you don’t have asparagus your could substitute green beans and it would be just as good. Continue reading “Wild Rice and Asparagus Salad”

White Asparagus with Vinaigrette

I often write about visiting my aunt and uncle’s farm when I was a child and how, every spring, we would forage for wild asparagus near the stream on the edge of the apple orchard.  When I moved to Europe at 18 I was enthralled by the assortment and variety of asparagus available.  The only asparagus I had ever known was that wild and wiry green variety that grew beneath the apple trees.  At the markets in Pisa there were crates full of milky white asparagus, thick stalks of green asparagus with purple tips, and even a sweet variety that was entirely purple from tip to toe.  How much fun I had learning to cook with them all! Continue reading “White Asparagus with Vinaigrette”

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream

For her tenth birthday this year, Eva asked for chocolate cupcakes with green frosting. She also asked for balayage highlights, a new purse and some tasteful pieces of jewelry, so what I thought she meant regarding the cupcakes was a very sophisticated dark chocolate cake with swirls of mint buttercream.  What she actually meant were monster cupcakes with green icing hair, googly eyes and sprinkles.  We compromised.  I made the chocolate cupcakes with mint swirls and she decorated hers with monster eyes and sprinkles.  Ten is like that.  You get to be both almost grown-up and still a child at the same time.  It’s good to be ten. Continue reading “Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream”

Lemon Meringues with Grand Marnier

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m obsessed with everything lemon + meringue.  Everything except lemon meringue pie.  It’s the texture of a partially cooked meringue that tends to weep sticky tears over a much too sweet custard, and that egg-y smell that tends to come with it.  My approach to making a lemon meringue pie is to cook everything separately, including the meringue, in the form of meringue cookies.  These can then be carefully arranged on top just before serving – no weeping or worrying that they are uncooked.  If I don’t have time, or patience, to make a full-blown lemon meringue pie, I make these instead.  Big, pillowy, delicate meringue cookies, flavoured with lemon zest and a splash of Grand Marnier. Continue reading “Lemon Meringues with Grand Marnier”

Chambord and Rose Martini

The French Martini is a vodka-based drink made with Chambord and a splash of fruit juice.  I’ve seen recipes for it made with everything from pineapple juice to lemon juice. I don’t know how “French” this martini actually is, but using Chambord makes everything a bit more elegant. Chambord is a liqueur from the Loire Valley of France and, while the brand is fairly new (founded in 1982), it’s crafted after the 17th century liqueur that was a favourite of France’s aristocracy at the time.  It’s made with blackberries, raspberries and black currants which are meticulously blended with Cognac and vanilla.   Continue reading “Chambord and Rose Martini”