Cedar Planked Salmon, Three Ways

Fickle summer weather!  It will be beautiful in the morning; I’ll wake up dreaming of lighting the grill, seasoning meat, pouring a glass of wine and cooking dinner outside while the kids run through the yard and the dog barks at the neighbor’s chickens, only to have the dream shattered mid-afternoon, when storms race in over the mountains and force us inside.  Other days we wake up to a cool, cloudy drizzle and I think, there’s no way I could start the grill in weather like this. Only after I’ve panned a meal inside does the sun come out and the weather becomes perfect for grilling.  The dichotomy of Colorado weather is that it can go from soggy to parched in a matter of hours, thanks to the elevation and the drying mountain winds.  Sometimes we go weeks without even a drop of rain, and everything gets so dry that just the tiniest rogue spark from the grill’s coals could ignite a wildfire.  On these days, all outdoor fires, including those in grills, are banned as a precaution.  All of this poses a problem, because I’m a planner when it comes to cooking, and grilling so often must happen spontaneously.  When the weather happens to be perfect, the stars align and I have all the essential ingredients to create a feast on the grill I have to seize the opportunity.  That is, unless, I have something that works just as well on the grill as it does in the oven.  That’s why I love this salmon.  Each of these recipes can be made in either.  Problem solved. Continue reading “Cedar Planked Salmon, Three Ways”

Moscow Mule + Ginger Beer Tonic

I’m a bit selective when it comes to bringing items into our home.  My husband would argue that I’m just paralyzingly picky. I blame it on my tendency toward perfectionism. I spent a year scouring antique shops and flea markets for a painting for our dining room.  Something with a bohemian flare to fit with the rest of the house, in soothing hues of blue and green to match the green walls in the room, which, I should mention are not yet green.  When I finally found it – an antique reproduction of a John Audubon blue heron – I knew intuitively that it was the one.  But about the green walls – that is to say, the walls which are currently just a vision of a painting project we planned three years ago. I can’t seem to find just the right shade. Green, but not too green – more of a silvery-teal, like Tuscan kale after it has just been washed.  I’ve been through dozens of paint swatches, each an infinitesimal variation on the same shade, of which my husband claims to see no difference.  I haven’t settled on the right one. Selective or just picky?  The problem, I think, lies in the curtains. Continue reading “Moscow Mule + Ginger Beer Tonic”

Green Tea and Rose Spritzer

We all know the rules: drink 8 glasses of water a day, limit alcohol and caffeine, cut out refined sugar, etc, but I believe that what we are drinking is more important than what we’re not.

I’ve written a lot about my inside-out approach to skin care.  While I try not to obsess over what I eat (or drink), and I thoroughly subscribe to the notion of everything in moderation, including moderation, I do like to make conscious decisions and choices that naturally nourish my skin from the inside out.  I don’t spring back from a day of eating junk food or a night out drinking as easily as I did in my twenties, and it shows on my skin. Continue reading “Green Tea and Rose Spritzer”

Crêpes with Strawberries and Cream

Sundays.  I spend the whole day in the kitchen – no time constraints, unhurried, set apart from the pressures of the work week – piecing together whatever we might have been craving in the days prior.  There’s often a pot of pinto beans simmering on the stove for my husband who grew up eating them with every meal.  I make a big batch that he can dip into during the week.  Meat is braising slowly in the oven with tomatoes and red wine, thyme and bacon. Continue reading “Crêpes with Strawberries and Cream”

Cerise Chérie Cocktail

August 1997.

I was in a floral print mini skirt and a black leather bomber jacket that smelled of cigarettes and musky perfume (Malibu Musk, to be exact).  The jacket matched my favourite combat boots and a scarf in the same print as the skirt held my hair back in a high pony tail in that 1950s-preppy-meets-punk-rock-grunge style that was so popular in the 90’s.  A pair of Ray-Bans perched atop my head.  I felt so grown up at 17. Continue reading “Cerise Chérie Cocktail”

Quick and Easy Garden Pickles

This warm weather has me dreaming of the garden and all the easy summer meals we’ll have out there!  My grandmother’s recipe for quick garden pickles is still one of my family’s favourite side dishes. They’re so easy, they come together in just five minutes – perfect for those busy days and hot nights when you really don’t feel like cooking at all. We all have nights like that, don’t we?  Growing up, my grandparents had a large garden where we would play as children.  There they grew many different varieties of cucumbers – Armenian, gherkins, lemon cucumbers – which my grandmother would combine when making these pickles.  If you have several varieties in the garden, it’s fun to mix and match the colours and shapes, but if not, an English cucumber works perfectly well.   Continue reading “Quick and Easy Garden Pickles”

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”