Carrot and Pineapple Sheet Cake

I do think there’s something so comfortingly nostalgic in a simple sheet cake. Like the cakes our mothers use to make before Instagram, when it didn’t really matter how pretty or trendy or photogenic or impeccably styled the food was. There was no such thing as an ombré, eight-layer, tiered, naked cake because, in those days, a cake was as much a frosting delivery device as it was a celebratory exclamation point. Don’t get me wrong, I love the creative cake movement.  But in the days of sheet cakes, what was really important was that there was an occasion worth celebrating, and what better way than with a thick slab of heavily frosted cake. Continue reading “Carrot and Pineapple Sheet Cake”

Cinnamon Orange Star Bread – A Christmas Tradition

A Christmas tradition

Of all my Christmas memories, the ones that involve food are the most vivid, timeless and magical.  There are certain scents and flavours that epitomize the holidays, of which, mine were an eclectic mix.  Every year my mother made caramel pecan rolls on Christmas morning and the aroma of toasted nuts and sugar would float through the house as we opened our Christmas presents.  In my stocking I would find a little bag of pistachios, a tin of marrons glacés and a chocolate covered orange.  Treats that only ever showed up around the holidays.  We often spent Christmas in New Mexico, where piñon smoke perfumed the dessert air and my grandmother would make biscochitos, a traditional New Mexican Christmas cookie, filling the house with rich notes of anise and cinnamon.  In my mind, this melange of flavours and aromas is woven into a Christmas tapestry that hangs squarely on the wall of my memories.   These are the flavours that say Christmas to me. Continue reading “Cinnamon Orange Star Bread – A Christmas Tradition”

Peppermint Bonbon Tart

December began in a flurry of icing sugar, clouds of winter-white whipped cream and cool peppermint candy canes.  My mother’s birthday was last week and I make her a peppermint bonbon tart every single year.  It’s her very favourite.  The recipe has been in our family forever – or at least since the gelatin-dessert-crazed sixties – and I absolutely love it.  My grandmother used to make this tart for my mom when she was a girl.  The recipe was eventually passed to me, as the designated dessert enthusiast of the family.   I made my typical, modern adjustments and adaptations (replacing shortening with butter; freshly whipping the cream; etc.) while keeping its vintage charm. Continue reading “Peppermint Bonbon Tart”

Embossed Gingerbread

These delicately embossed gingerbread cookies are the perfect way to welcome the festive season!  I’ve always loved the look of embossed rolling pins, and this one from Embossed Pin is so pretty with a whimsical forest scene that’s perfect, not just for Christmas, but all winter long.  And it’s really starting to feel like winter around here.  The light is different, it has an iridescent quality as if the sun is shining through shards of ice, and we’ve had three major snowstorms already.  But the house has never been cozier, especially when gingerbread is baking and the kitchen is filled with the blissful scent of cinnamon, cloves and ginger.  Isn’t this the most magical time of year?! Continue reading “Embossed Gingerbread”

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

We were snowed in for three days last week, with work closed and school canceled, which is very unusual for October in Colorado. A light dusting of snow is expected and welcomed, but it’s equally expected to melt in the sunshine the next day.  To have snow on top of snow on top of snow with subzero temperatures for days on end before Halloween is completely bizarre.  In the end, we had over a foot of snow outside our back door.  I don’t think anyone really took the weather forecast seriously.  I mean, this is Colorado and, while we are well-equipped to deal with snow in the winter (where it belongs), we also like to brag about our 300 days of sunshine every year and joke that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.  I hope this latest storm doesn’t portend a harsh winter. Continue reading “Pumpkin Black Bean Soup”

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Bourbon Bacon Jam

Butternut squash soup is one of my favourite fall dishes. It’s quintessentially autumn – from the colour, to the flavours, to the aroma of warm spices simmered together in a broth made velvety by the purée of winter squash – which stands alone as something I look forward to making all year round.   Kind of like my favourite sweater, it’s reliable, but too warm for September.  I wait patiently for the “sweater weather” of October to arrive, when I can finally pull it out of the closet on that first blissfully cool autumn night.   Though our favourite sweaters may be worn and threadbare in places, I would never suggest that they should be changed or improved upon in any way. They are perfect as they are.  That’s not the case, however, when it comes to cooking.   When I’m in the kitchen, I’m always looking for ways to kick up the flavours a bit and that’s exactly what happened with this recipe. As I was stirring the pot it was almost as if I had an Angel sitting on one shoulder and the Devil on the other. . . Continue reading “Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Bourbon Bacon Jam”

Chocola’Tita

Have you ever watched a film or read a book that spoke so deeply to you (good or bad) that you found yourself thinking about it months, even years, later? When the opening scene of a movie shows a woman giving birth on the kitchen table while the cook frantically tries to collect all the amniotic fluid in pots so that it can be dried and the remaining salt used to season the food, you know it’s going to be one of those movies. Like Water for Chocolate came out in 1992 but I only just watched the whole movie a few years ago.  To be honest, after the first scene I turn it off, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I made myself watch the entire thing, and I’m so glad I did, though I sill relive the scenes in my mind. Continue reading “Chocola’Tita”

Poussins rôtis and cookies au pépites de chocolat

A friend recently posed the question, Do people read blogs anymore?  It seems to me that the heyday of blogging has, indeed, passed, however short it was.  With all the different social media outlets, is there really a place for individual blogs, specifically food blogs? Continue reading “Poussins rôtis and cookies au pépites de chocolat”

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”

One hundred drafts, one meal

People write blogs for different reasons.  Some to make money, others to promote their business, many want to showcase their photography, and some simply have a story inside of them that needs to get out.

For me, the reason is simple.  I use this space as my own personal cookbook.  The process of cooking for me is very organic.  I’m impulsive in the kitchen.  I go with my gut, adding a pinch of this or a dash of that, all the while taking notes and writing down the steps as I go.  Most of the time all this note-taking happens right here on the blog, in a new, unpublished post where I type while in the midst of cooking.  If, in the end, the food is good, if the people around my table are happy and linger long, cleaning their plates with the last bits of bread, draining the last drops from the bottle of wine, laughing while they hold their full bellies, I’ll save the draft.  If not, I just hit “Delete.” Continue reading “One hundred drafts, one meal”