Old-Fashioned Apple Cake

I call this an old-fashioned cake because anything cooked in a bundt pan feels old-school and vintage to me, but I was surprised the read, recently, that the modern rendition of the bundt pan has only been around since the 1950’s.  Of course, the traditional, tube-shaped cake, called Kugelhopf, that inspired its creation has been around for ages, originating in Eastern Europe, but it wasn’t until the 50’s that the design was brought to the US and the first bundt pan was cast by the founder of the Nordic Ware company in Minnesota. Continue reading “Old-Fashioned Apple Cake”

Sicilian Blood Orange Tart

Dear January.

You lovely tease, you!  Serene one day, in your white gown and jewels of ice, angry and fierce the next.  Why must you be so harsh?  For as much as I love a beautiful canvas of pure white snow, you catch me in your frozen, unforgiving grasp and breathe over me in numbing gusts of wind, piercing my face and hands.  January, you are the most difficult month of the year for me.  I must admit, though, that I have it pretty good here.  While, in other parts of the world, you are infinitely grey with endless rain, here the sun shines down on you nearly every single day.  Even your morning snowstorms are often met with cloudless sunsets, and for that, January, I forgive your impetuous nature. Continue reading “Sicilian Blood Orange Tart”

Kolaczki Cookies

Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a very wonderful Thanksgiving, if you celebrate… and if you don’t, I hope you had a fantastic weekend.  We discovered on Thanksgiving day that our refrigerator wasn’t keeping things as cold as it should.  Actually, I had suspected that was the case for a few weeks, when I kept having to turn the temperature down, but since I’d packed it full of food for the holiday it became very apparent that only the bottom of the fridge was maintaining a constant temperature. Continue reading “Kolaczki Cookies”

Whiskey Alexander

When it comes to dessert, I’d much rather have a glass of wine with a bit of cheese than a piece of cake.  If I’m feeling fancy, we might even make cocktails instead.  You know I love whiskey and whiskey-based cocktails and this is one of my favourites.  It’s a variation on a Brandy Alexander, made with whiskey, crème de cacao, vanilla, cream and nutmeg.  I love to entertain with this recipe.  It’s wintery and sweet, and with a touch of nutmeg, perfect for the holidays or just dessert on a Friday night.  Choose a good quality whiskey, but one that’s not too expensive.  I like to use a local whiskey from Leopold Bros, but if that’s not available, Tullamore D.E.W.  – a subtle and smooth Irish whiskey (for only about $30 USD a bottle) – is a great alternative. Continue reading “Whiskey Alexander”

Cardamom Orange Cake

On Sundays we often drive into the city to have dinner with my parents.  They still live in my childhood home in the charming neighborhood where I grew up.  I love that my children now play in my old bedroom and in the garden where I once planted flowers.   My brother selects the wine for our dinners, and I always bring dessert.  I’m lucky to have this outlet with which to dispense and disperse all of the sweets I like to make, otherwise my husband and I would be terribly fat!  This past Sunday morning we woke very late.  The sunlight that normally streams through our bedroom window and falls in a band of warmth across the bed was completely eclipsed by thick, cold November storm clouds. Continue reading “Cardamom Orange Cake”

Brown Butter Carrot Cupcakes

The feasts before the feast

Happy November!  I love these few weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving when the anticipation of the holidays begins to build from a mild hum to a full-blown roar.  November is, quite possibly, the month in which I spend the most time in the kitchen, and that couldn’t make me happier.  My thoughts of food start to shift from pumpkin-spice everything in October, to warm and wintery and extravagant meals, fit for a king.  In our house, Thanksgiving recipe-testing begins and the menu starts to take shape.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll have many “mini-feasts” as I test and try out new recipes and new combinations before finalizing the Thanksgiving menu.  November is the month of feast after feast. Continue reading “Brown Butter Carrot Cupcakes”

Maple-Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes

L’opéra d’automne

The lake is changing quickly these days.  Fall has stepped firmly into the spotlight .  I always say, Fall arrives as a whisper.  She is the Prima Donna of a grand opera.  She arrives quietly through the back door and slips into her dressing room with nothing more than the rustle of her petticoats.  In the theatre there’s a whisper of her presence, a rumor, an electricity in the air, and though no one has seen her, she is felt by everyone.  She keeps it that way for a while, perhaps only for her own vain amusement, as Prima Donnas are known to do.   She works on her own time, at her own pace, primping and prepping behind the scenes, and everyone follows suit.  No one dares to question her punctuality as she waits in hushed wings, keeping her presence secret until she, and only she, is ready to step onto the stage.  Her grand entrance is a crescendo of gold and bronze and brilliance and luster as she arranges herself in the centre of everything and all eyes fall upon her.  Though she had been there all along, the audience watches in awe and stunned silence as the music begins to swell.   Continue reading “Maple-Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes”

Pots de Crème au Chocolat

A homesick American

On a dim side street that cut through the buildings like a crack in a rock there was a nondescript little candy shop.  It wasn’t too far from our apartment on Viale Italia, in Livorno, and I passed it frequently on my way to the market. You could easily  have walked right by without noticing but for the aromas that slipped beneath the door – apparitions of caramelized sugar and bittersweet cocoa.  Though I didn’t often stop in to buy anything (willpower, you know), just knowing it was there was reassuring.  I was quite homesick during that first winter abroad and everyone knows that a little chocolate is the best cure for homesickness.   Continue reading “Pots de Crème au Chocolat”

Rum Apple Tart

As a child we would frequently drive way out in the countryside on Sunday afternoons to visit family.  My aunt and uncle owned an apple orchard, and as soon as the car pulled into their long dirt driveway my brother and I would run out into the trees, without even so much as a “Hello!” to my aunt who was waiting at the front door.  I used to love to skip between the rows of trees, imagining I was Dorothy on the yellow brick road – and there was always a dog around to play the part of Toto. Continue reading “Rum Apple Tart”

A French-Inspired Fall Feast

We live just on the edge of a forested wetland comprised of several little lakes and ponds that extend out from the main river like leaves from a branch.  I like to start my day there in that quiet oasis, walking among the trees and along the shores of the lakes.  For me it’s a form of “Forest Bathing” which, if you’re not familiar with traditional Japanese medicine, is a therapy based on the principle that the beneficial organic compounds released by the trees and vegetation are absorbed into our bodies when we walk through the forest.  The benefits of literally “taking in the forest” include Continue reading “A French-Inspired Fall Feast”