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”

Blueberry Martini

Happy New Year!  I hope yours is off to a fantastic start!  For the last few months I’ve taken a break from posting my weekly cocktail recipes, but I thought it would be fun to get back in the swing of things and start the start the year off with a new martini.  This blueberry vodka martini is made with an organic blueberry-lemon syrup, sweetened with local honey.   It reminds me of the freshness of Spring – wildflowers, sunshine, warm afternoons and cool evenings.  Here’s to longer days and the perfect cocktail to get us through the rest of winter! Continue reading “Blueberry Martini”

Creamed Spinach Tart

When it comes to food I can be very impulsive.  My mother, of course, tried to teach me how to write a meal plan.  She was a master meal-planner.  Each week she’d sit down at the kitchen table with all the local sales ads, her big envelope of coupons (which I was in charge of organizing), and her recipe boxes and books.  Then, with all the options laid out before her, she would fold a blank sheet of paper in half lengthwise and begin “The Plan.”  On the right side of the paper she’d write the mains and sides and sometimes desserts for each day of the week; the left was for her list, separated by store, by department, and denoted by coupon.  Each meal was precisely determined by what happened to be on sale at which store and by which coupons in her envelope would get her the very best deal on each and everything on her list.   Continue reading “Creamed Spinach Tart”

The Land of Enchantment

I go to New Mexico to be inspired.  The culture, the landscape, the food, the history, the textures, the colours – they’re all threads in a complex and fascinating tapestry.  At first sight New Mexico may be deceiving – a harsh, desolate wilderness where even the plethora of adobe houses somehow fade seamlessly into the landscape beyond leaving you to wonder whether they ever even existed in the first place.  Were they just mirages on the desert floor?   This is the place where dreams of the American Wild West were born and quickly went to die.  But there’s a reason New Mexico is called “The Land of Enchantment.” There’s a magic here, deep and ancient, rooted in traditions that never die. Continue reading “The Land of Enchantment”

L’art de l’omelette

The omelette, like a work of art, is something that’s never fully mastered or perfected… but it gives me great satisfaction to try.  Did Monet ever say, “I’ve painted my best garden,” and put away his brushes and easel?  Did Van Gogh ever think, “I’ve perfected the Iris, let’s move on to more important things.”?  Of course not.   Instead, when one painting was completed, he picked up his brush and began again on a new canvas.  Yes, the ingredients were the same – wispy petals, blade-like leaves on unruly stems – but Continue reading “L’art de l’omelette”

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”