Rascal 2019 Pinot Gris and a Rotisserie-Style Roast Chicken

Wine label art has become a genre of modern art all to itself and is a topic on which whole books could be written. It’s become a fun pastime of mine to peruse the shelves of my local wine store admiring the labels on each bottle and wondering about the meaning behind each image. I like to look at labels through an analytical lens in the same way someone might decipher the meaning of a poem. While many wines have elaborately illustrated labels without mention as to what the pictures represent, there’s also much beauty in simplicity. The first is like an epic poem, so full of fluff that it struggles to keep the line and measure in its extravagance while the latter is a crisp and perfectly executed Haiku. Of course, it goes without saying that no matter how compelling the artwork on the label, the wine inside must be equally, if not more, delicious, complex, interesting. All of these properties converged perfectly in this Rascal 2019 Pinot Gris. The simplicity of the label is what first caught my eye – on the top, a dog with a halo. You know there must be a good story behind the picture. I turned the bottle over and read that Rascal Wine gives back a portion of the proceeds to animal shelters and rescue organizations across the country. It’s no secret how much I love our rescue dogs. That sealed the deal.

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Galette des Rois aux Pommes

I meant to make this Galette des Rois on Wednesday for Epiphany but we were so glued to the news of the unrest in Washington DC that I completely forgot. Yesterday morning I woke up in a bit of a panic at my blunder and made one right away.

Galette des Rois is a lovely French tradition that brings the holidays to a sweet close. The cake is served on the 12th day of Christmas (Epiphany) to represent the visit of the three wise men to baby Jesus. Yesterday may have been the 13th day of Christmas (better late than never!), but I quickly whipped together this one using store-bought puff pastry and, for the fève, a (very clean) coin which I wrapped in aluminum foil. The tradition, which goes back to Roman times, dictates that a fève – a little trinket or small, porcelain nativity figurine – is hidden in the filling of the cake before baking. Whoever finds it is crowned King or Queen for the day. As the name suggests, a dry fava bean was originally used; however, last year I baked a real bean into the cake and it was never found. (!!) I’m always on the hunt for antique porcelain fèves but so far haven’t had any luck finding them in the US. Last night, Eva was the lucky fève finder. Her first order of business as Queen was to play a board game with me. 

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Holiday Poppyseed Bread

When I got out of bed on January 1st and thought about the very first thing I wanted to eat this year, I knew it had to be this poppyseed bread. It’s a family recipe; my mom has made it for her neighbors at Christmastime for as long as I can remember – and I woke up dreaming of it. I texted her early in the morning (or at least what can be called “early” only on New Year’s Day … 9:40 am) to get the recipe. When you wake up craving something, you absolutely must eat it! Otherwise, it will haunt you like the memory of a missed opportunity and past regret. And, I decided, that’s not the best way to start a new year!

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Winter Vegetable Soup with Oxtails

I went to the butcher the other day to pick up some beef soup bones. I was craving a very wintery version a traditional beef and barley soup, my favorite as a child, with sugar pumpkin and parsnips. I couldn’t believe they were completely sold out of bones! I like to think that, because of the virus lockdowns in these uncertain times, more people than ever are leaning into homemade, slow cooked, ultra-nourishing dishes like bone broths, soups and stews. I picked up a few oxtails instead, thinking they would make a more luxurious alternative. Later, at the market, there were absolutely no pumpkins or parsnips anywhere to be found.

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Chicken Paillard with Lemon Orzo

Chicken breast is such a staple in my kitchen, but sometimes it can feel a little repetitive and a bit boring.  I compensate by trying to hide it within elaborate casseroles or stews, but there’s no reason why chicken breast can’t take the spotlight of the meal, if it’s cooked correctly.  This Chicken Paillard is an elegant dish that comes together in just minutes and showcases the chicken as the star of the show.  It’s neither bland nor boring, and is a great dish to make if you find yourself in a weeknight meal rut. Continue reading “Chicken Paillard with Lemon Orzo”

Coconut Meringue Cookies

My husband and I have never really been into the sappy Hallmark holidays.  Mushy cards and sloppy romances were never my thing.  On Valentine’s Day we play a little game, trying to out-do each other with the most inappropriate and ridiculously raunchy cards we can find, then we’ll watch a James Bond.  Instead of flowers, or in addition to, he’ll often buy me a new record to add to our vinyl collection – The Beatles or Pink Floyd or something else he knows I love – and pick up some oysters on the way home.  I’ll cook a big meal while he puts on the record.  It starts with the oysters, followed by maybe steak with béarnaise sauce (he likes his meat just barely kissed by the flame), sautéed potatoes, butternut squash bisque, with a sweet little treat at the end.

My love language is music and his is food, so it works . Continue reading “Coconut Meringue Cookies”

Gâteau au chocolat

I’ve learned not to get too attached to the idea of Spring here in Colorado.  The weather will deceive you into thinking that she’s on her way, only to spurn you with an arctic cold shoulder leaving you frozen for weeks. There are many years when we skip Spring altogether and go from winter to summer in a day’s time.  Yo-yo weather, I call it.  And what an up and down week we’ve had!

Much to the delight of the kids, school was cancelled three out of 5 days last week because of the snow.  Two came from a forecasted storm and one was a surprise when a different storm which was supposed to bring only a dusting of snow ended up dropping 5 to 6 inches on us.  C’est la vie.  At least we can rely on chocolate cake to get us through these winter months. Continue reading “Gâteau au chocolat”

Blood Orange Whiskey Sour

Blood orange season is painfully short, isn’t it?  I see them in the market one day and the next they’re gone.  Their scarcity makes me love these ruby-red beauties even more.  They’re the perfect way to brighten a grey winter’s day.

Let’s talk about whiskey sours.  This drink always makes me think of the bootlegging cowboys in the prohibition era Wild West.  I don’t know why and I’m not even sure if this was served at all in bars of the Wild West – I think, more likely, they shot their whiskey straight – but it’s an image that I love to entertain. The product of an overactive imagination, I guess, heavily influenced by Brad Pitt’s character in Legends of the Fall.  I mean, do you blame me? Continue reading “Blood Orange Whiskey Sour”

Rosemary Country Bread

Baking bread, for me, is a meditative process.  The repetition of mixing and kneading the dough helps me relax and collect my thoughts after a long day.  When I first became a mother, I read somewhere that the best way to soothe a crying baby was to rock him to the same rhythm as your heartbeat.  It’s true – it worked every time.  I’ve thought about that principle often, and find that any repetitive motion, especially kneading bread dough, is always the most soothing when done to the tempo of a heartbeat.  Speaking of that, do you remember playing with PlayDoh as a child? Perhaps not.  But if you’re a parent then maybe you remember getting out the dough for your children.  Showing them how to roll it and shape it, it’s almost impossible not to join in on the fun, and in doing so it brings you right back to your own childhood.  Even the smell is transportive.  For me, baking bread at home is the same.  The smell of wildflower honey and the warm yeast working its magic, fill the kitchen with that slightly earthy and ultra comforting aroma.  The feel of the dough as it comes together into a ball beneath my palms is so calming.  Baking bread is one of the most relaxing and satisfying experiences, and I love to repeat the process almost weekly. Continue reading “Rosemary Country Bread”

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”