Melon au Lillet

Of monks and melons

The story goes that the tradition of serving Port wine in the hollowed-out cavity of a summer melon was first started by Spanish monks who would fill local piel de sapo melons, likely grown in the monastery garden, with equally local Port from the monastery cellar.  The aperitif was likely enjoyed in the cool shade of the garden before the evening meal.  Melons were considered a symbol of earthly delights by the monks.  And how fitting that something with such a rough and arguably ugly exterior would yield one of earth’s most delicious treats.  A geode of the garden – rocky on the outside, a treasure within. Continue reading “Melon au Lillet”

Peach & Blueberry Crisp

In all the busyness of recipe development, food-styling and creating that perfect, Instagram-worthy pie crust, I forget that the simplest recipes are often the most loved.  Take, for instance, a fruit crisp.  It’s by far one of the easiest things to prepare, and “comforting” doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings it evokes when I take a bite (with a little vanilla ice cream).  Nostalgic, soothing, consoling, loved.   This is the kind of dessert my mother would make when there wasn’t time to make anything fancy.  Of course, we could have skipped dessert altogether.  It’s not a required Continue reading “Peach & Blueberry Crisp”

Swiss Chard & Potato Galette

I love the trend of returning to our culinary roots.  That’s not to say that I don’t respect the innovative chefs creating modern and exciting new adaptations of our old favourites,  but the slow living movement, the trend to cook like our grandmothers once did is where my heart lies when I’m in the kitchen.  Cooking real food with natural, wholesome ingredients that have names even our grandmothers would recognize.  Tried and true recipe that have stood the test of time.  However, there is one thing that I absolutely will not cook the way my grandmother did.  Pie crust.  My grandmother came from the generation of cooks who, in the 40s and 50s, embraced shortening as a better alternative to butter and used it for just about everything from hand cream to pastry dough. Continue reading “Swiss Chard & Potato Galette”

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”

Strawberry-Balsamic Shrub Cocktail

A cocktail is a little like a blank slate, an empty canvas.  At least it is to me.  A base spirit on which you can write whatever story you would like.  There are so many possibilities with which to fill all that blank space, and sometimes I don’t even have to think about it – a gin and tonic, a dirty martini, an old-fashioned are all on repeat.  But some days I want to break from the mold, create something unusual, write something that’s never been written before.  And that’s when I sometimes suffer from what could be akin to writer’s block (“cocktail block”??).   Continue reading “Strawberry-Balsamic Shrub Cocktail”

White Bean Salad with Asparagus

Cold summer salads are a staple in my kitchen.  We have them nearly every single day when the weather heats up.  In fact they’re one of the first things I start making when I’m impatient for the lazy days of summer to arrive.  Perhaps it’s my way of trying to usher in the warmth and sunshine that seems so long overdue.  I usually make them with pasta, but this bean salad is a great alternative that I’ve made several times already this spring.  It’s packed full of protein and is something I can bring along on a picnic or serve as a side with grilled meat for dinner.  It is best when made a few hours ahead, Continue reading “White Bean Salad with Asparagus”

Vanilla-Ginger Mojito

This drink makes me think of the saying, “They go together like _____ & _____!”  Of course, you get to fill in the blanks with just about anything – everyone has their favorite combinations.  They go together like bacon and eggs!  Like salt and pepper!  Like copy and paste… or peanut butter and jelly… or Fred and Ginger…  Speaking of Ginger, I have a new combination to add to that list! Continue reading “Vanilla-Ginger Mojito”