A Cake Fit for the King (of Rock ‘n’ Roll)

I was reading an article recently about the return of vintage desserts. Desserts from the 50’s and 60’s are making a huge comeback right now, which makes me extremely happy, as I have a penchant for vintage recipes (vintage anything, really!). I think the pandemic played a huge role in their return – not only were we dealing with ingredient shortages last year (specifically flour), and making few and far between shopping trips, but we were also craving comfort food. The dishes that might have come out of our grandmothers’ kitchens. While we are dealing with a global pandemic, most of our grandparents were enduring the Great Depression and rationing of WWII – not too dissimilar crises. After reading the article I took a moment to glance at the comments section and saw that a cake called, “Elvis Presley’s Favorite Pound Cake,” from Epicurious.com, was mentioned several times. It’s a whipping cream cake – essentially a pound cake made with heavy cream in place of milk or buttermilk. All pound cakes, by nature, are decadent, but this one is over the top! Not only is it made with heavy cream, it also uses seven eggs which provide lift so that no other leavening is needed. I can see why it was the King’s favourite!

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Thai-Inspired Noodles with Sunflower Butter and Chicken

June is turning out to be hot, hot, HOT. Heat records are being set all across the US southwest. We reached 102F (39C) yesterday! Historically, Colorado doesn’t hit the 100s until July and August, so this summer is turning out to be quite unusual. I, for one, really enjoy the heat, especially after our long, cold mountain winters. But all I’m craving is cool, crunchy fresh veggies. I’ve been making these Thai-inspired noodles for years. Before my daughter was born, I made them with peanut butter, which is traditional but, because of her food allergies, I now use sunflower seed butter. Either is just fine. If you really don’t want to cook in the heat, you can use a Rotisserie chicken. If using fresh chicken breasts, I like to cook them early in the morning to prevent the kitchen from getting too hot (season well with salt and pepper and bake at 400F/200C for 25-30 minutes). Then I let them chill in the fridge all day. At dinnertime, it’s just a matter of boiling the noodles and whipping up the sauce which is made in the blender. No fuss, no sweat – just how a summer weeknight meal should be! 

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5 Ice Cream Recipes for the (Unofficial) Start of Summer

Yesterday was Memorial Day here in the US, which is also what we like to call the “unofficial start of summer.” My kids just finished their school years last week, the weather is finally warm, we lit the grill for the first time last night, and it truly does feel like summer. I have my mind on light and easy summer recipes, fresh salads and cool, sweet treats. Of course, that means ice cream.

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Birthday Brownies

Yesterday was Connor’s birthday. Fourteen years old! I can’t believe it. I remember when my children were younger. I would often get together with other moms and let the kids play. Frequent topics of conversation included comparing our experiences of the ages and stages our kids seemed to be flying through. “This age is my favorite!” someone would remark. “No, last year when he still let me rock him to sleep – that stage was my favorite,” someone else might interject. I have to say, truthfully, I love every single age and every stage – from birth to teenage-hood, there hasn’t been one I would wish away! Each year is exciting, full of growth and surprises. Like turning the pages in an enthralling novel, I’m looking forward to the future as much and I treasure the memories of the past. Being a mom is the single most fulfilling job on this planet.

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Summer Gazpacho with Feta and Oregano

I adore soup, and not only in the winter! I make so many different varieties of chilled summer soups – from Zucchini Vichyssoise, to carrot soup, to cucumber and yogurt soup – but the King of all summer soups has to be Gazpacho. And it’s my favourite, too – not only because the leftovers make a killer Bloody Mary. (Just add 2 ounces of vodka to a tall glass and pour in the soup. Then garnish with any of your favourite Bloody Mary accoutrements!)

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Lemon-Vanilla Gelato

Happy Summer! I love making different varieties of gelato, ice cream and sorbet at home during these hot, dry months. When I was a kid, we had one of those hand crank ice cream makers. Every Fourth of July my parents would drag it out from the closet beneath our stairs, dust it off and fill it with ice and rock salt. It was my brother’s and my job to crank it, taking turns until our arms felt like jelly and it became impossible to turn. Then my father would take over and finish it off. It was such a special treat, but such an ordeal to make that we only got to enjoy homemade ice cream once or twice a year. Thank goodness for modern ice cream makers! Mine is, by far, one of my favourite small appliances – no joke!

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Pain Perdu (French Toast)

Our typical weekend breakfast rotation used to go a little like this: pancakes, waffles, French toast, eggs and bacon, on repeat.  Recently, however, it looks more like this: French toast with berries, French toast with whipped cream, French toast with maple syrup, French toast with apples, etc. It seems like the kids ask for French toast almost every day. I don’t blame them – if there was a definitive list of the most heart-warming “Comfort Foods,” this would certainly be near the top.

There’s no shortage of recipes and variations on French Toast out there.  It’s one of the most searched-for recipes on Google. Most of us have grown up eating some form of this treat, whether for breakfast or for dessert. French toast’s appeal comes from its ability to blur the lines between these two meals. In France, French toast, or pain perdu, is almost always served as a dessert. The name literally means “lost bread” because it was a way to salvage stale bread that would otherwise have gone to waste. But is French toast really? Mais non! Almost every country and culture has a method for reinvigorating stale bread with a mixture of eggs and milk.  With most things that are falsely attributed to France (French fries, French doors or le French kiss) the adjective only serves to make this dish all the more appealing. Continue reading “Pain Perdu (French Toast)”

Chambord Rosé

Chambord with Rosé is a beautiful variation on the more traditional Kir which is simply made by combining Crème de Cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur, with leftover dry white wine and swirling the two together in the glass. When making Kir or its more elegant cousin, Kir Royale (which is made with champagne), I often substitute Chambord, a black raspberry liqueur, for the standard Crème de Cassis.  The two liqueurs are very similar in taste, with the exception being that Crème de Cassis is slightly sweeter and syrupy in texture, whereas Chambord is more refined in flavour, with notes of blackberries, Moroccan vanilla, honey and citrus playing off the predominate raspberry flavour.  It’s not quite as sweet as Cassis and is a bit thinner in texture making it easier to swirl into the wine.  In my opinion, the two can be used almost interchangeably but, since raspberries are my favourite summer berry, I always have a bottle of Chambord in liqueur cabinet.  Continue reading “Chambord Rosé”

Zucchini Vichyssoise with Sweet Corn Relish

French country cooking meets a mid-century American past-time.

Yesterday I made one of my favorite summer soups: a zucchini vichyssoise, loosely based on Ina Garten’s recipe from her book, Barefoot in Paris.  It’s an old stand by in my kitchen during the summer months for two reasons: 1) it’s a great way to use up all the zucchini that’s coming out of the garden and 2) it’s delicious!  It looks lovely garnished with green ribbons of julienned zucchini or with fresh snipped chives, as Ina suggests in the book,  but yesterday, as I stood at the stove and watched it simmer I realized that the soup alone wasn’t going to satisfy my craving for something cool and fresh the way it usually does. Continue reading “Zucchini Vichyssoise with Sweet Corn Relish”