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”

Bone Broth Beauty Elixir

We all know that beauty starts with good health.  The first signs of disease or imbalance in the body often reveal themselves through our skin.  And good health starts in the kitchen, so it’s safe to say, then, that beauty starts in the kitchen. Continue reading “Bone Broth Beauty Elixir”

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”

The Land of Enchantment

I go to New Mexico to be inspired.  The culture, the landscape, the food, the history, the textures, the colours – they’re all threads in a complex and fascinating tapestry.  At first sight New Mexico may be deceiving – a harsh, desolate wilderness where even the plethora of adobe houses somehow fade seamlessly into the landscape beyond leaving you to wonder whether they ever even existed in the first place.  Were they just mirages on the desert floor?   This is the place where dreams of the American Wild West were born and quickly went to die.  But there’s a reason New Mexico is called “The Land of Enchantment.” There’s a magic here, deep and ancient, rooted in traditions that never die. Continue reading “The Land of Enchantment”

Calvados Martini

Normandy is famous for many of the world’s most delicious delicacies: Camembert, apples, oysters, and the most luscious cream and butter, cidre and of course, Calvados -the apple brandy that has been distilled there for over five centuries.  Calvados, in a way, is made like a fine perfume, with producers meticulously combining upwards of 200 different varieties of apples ranging from sweet to tart to bittersweet and bitter into their eau de vie.  In one appellation, pears are also used in the formula.  Bitter and tart apples must make up the majority of the composition (70%), while the remainder is comprised Continue reading “Calvados Martini”

On being Irish, sort of, and Irish Coffee

I spent my life believing I was Irish.  My grandmother’s family immigrated from Ireland and the proof hung proudly in a frame on the wall in her brother’s living room – County Cork to New York, New York; 1922.  I stood looking at it once, this yellowing paper in a frame – finding it incredibly strange that something like a government issued form would be considered a work of art.  But, to our family, it was.  It was proof of how far they had come, and a reminder to never forget where their roots were planted.  It’s a conflict that perhaps all immigrant families feel, this pull of two different lands, two different homes.  Continue reading “On being Irish, sort of, and Irish Coffee”

Garlic-Turmeric Soup and Ginger Tea

I try not to worry about little things like the cold and flu season.  I tell myself, kids get sick.  It’s just a fact of life.  It strengthens their immune systems when they’re young so that they are healthier as adults.  Little colds here and there I can manage, but this flu season has been rough, and when there are so many teachers out sick at school that the children cannot even go out to recess because there aren’t enough adults to watch them, then I start to worry.  I’m a worrier by nature, thanks to my grandmother who worried herself into four heart attacks.  The best way, I believe, to stave off worry is by Continue reading “Garlic-Turmeric Soup and Ginger Tea”

The Vesper Martini

In the world of martinis I like to think of a vodka martini as sort of an entry-level martini.  A martini with training wheels.  It can be jazzed up or dressed down. Shaken or stirred. It’s easy and fun and fairly forgiving.  Then there’s the gin martini.  This is the grown-up martini.  It’s like a family sedan.  Safe and reliable, and you can run it through the car wash when it gets a little “dirty”…  Then there is this.  The Vesper.  This is not for the casual martini drinker.  This is a midlife crisis Aston Martin bought on a whim and driven backwards down a hill in Monaco while trying to escape your lover’s enraged husband.  It’s not for the faint of heart. Continue reading “The Vesper Martini”

Linguine with Chard and Bacon

While many people become depressed in the dark months of mid-winter because of the lack of sunlight, I become depressed by the absence of green.  In Colorado we have plenty of sunshine year round, a photographer’s dream, really, but in winter, nearly every where you look nature is dead, brown or sleeping.  This, I have to tell myself, is the price you pay for living in place where the light is so pure and the air crystal clean, but Colorado is essentially a high desert with a lot of wind and little moisture, leaving everything parched and dry in wintertime. Continue reading “Linguine with Chard and Bacon”