Friday 21 December 2012

Chestnut Crème Cakelets & Distillery District Christmas Market

"Please sir, do you know the Chestnut Man?" This was the question on my lips as I flitted from stall to stall at the Christmas Market in Toronto's rather Dickensian Distillery District. Some market vendors pointed me towards various cobblestoned laneways and courtyards, suggesting I follow my nose to his portable fire. Others talked about him mysteriously, as though he and his chestnuts only appeared when the wind was right. Despite my thorough combing of the entire market (with indulgent stops at the apple fritter hut and Balzac's coffee for 'sustenance'), the Chestnut Man proved elusive. I didn't mind so much, as I soaked up the festive atmosphere and happily clicked away with my camera. I was simply looking to confirm what I'd already discovered - that roasted chestnuts are delicious. This year, I decided that a roasted chestnut-inspired dessert would be my date to Christmas dinner: I wanted something naturally attractive, slightly nutty and subtly sensual. I invited some chestnuts into my kitchen boudoir and we experimented at length together. I had eyes for no other dessert until the chestnuts and I got everything just right. The result? Tender-crumbed cakelets my friends can't stop talking about - with a flavour the Chestnut Man would seek me out for.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

'French Laundry' Apple Cake & Vanilla Cream Sauce

The dining room was quiet except for the staccato duet of fork on plate. My friend T. held up his well-scraped plate and broke the silence: "This is what 'I want more' looks like."
~ ~ ~
That evening's plate-scraping was due to this simple-but-soulful apple cake; the recipe borrowed and improvised from my prized copy of Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook. The recipe originates from Sally Schmitt, who owned and ran the kitchen at The French Laundry restaurant before chef Thomas Keller bought it in 1994 and brought it to its current re-known. The recipe pays homage to their relationship, which still continues to this day: Chef Keller gets his apples for The French Laundry from The Philo Apple Farm, where Sally and her husband, Don, have retired.

Monday 29 October 2012

Vanilla Bean Latte Layer Cake

A homemade mocha torte introduced me to my first taste of coffee when I was still too young to drink it. Coffee and I continued our illicit affair in stolen bites of any dessert it graced - until we both felt we were ready and old enough to 'get serious'. With a lot of milk and sugar as a protective measure, I drank my first latte and never looked back. I still have a weakness for coffee-flavoured desserts and this triple-layer cake truly satisfies the craving: it takes all the flavours of a vanilla bean latte and translates them directly into dessert. Three, in this case, is not a crowd, but a definite crowd-pleaser: this cake, with its rich and flavourful three layers, made at least 20 people remember their 'first time'.

Monday 15 October 2012

Spiced Pear Breakfast Bread & Pear Curd

Aside from my imaginary French Patisserie, I also run an imaginary Bed & Breakfast where I treat myself like a guest in my own home and let myself wake up to something indulgent. There is nothing quite as nurturing or sensual as taking the time to get up early and whipping together a spiced pear loaf, crawling back to bed while it bakes, and drifting awake to the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. This is a breakfast-in-bed treat for eating in your robe, where crumbs fall happily past the folds to encourage a loosening of ties and a stolen moment of warm sunlight on bare skin. Pears slightly past their prime are transformed into a spiced sauce that moistens the cake as well as a creamy, silky curd to spread on top (of the cake and whatever else you fancy).

Friday 5 October 2012

Apple Flognarde

A flognarde by any other name would taste as sweet: a kissing cousin to the better-known clafoutis (which is made with cherries), this custardy-pancake dessert lets seasonal fruit shine atop a bed of pillowy batter. Flognarde comes from the Occitan words fleunhe and flaunhard, which mean 'soft' and 'downy', respectively. This apple flognarde certainly lives up to that sensual description: it has the body of a cake, the soft, inner creaminess of a custard or flan and a puffiness that holds the fruit of your choice like a sweet duvet. I chose to use apples for the fruit in this flognarde, who, nestled one atop the other, got downright delicious under the custardy covers. 

Friday 28 September 2012

Blueberry Peach Frangipane Tart

The orchards of Southern Ontario have a long-standing love affair with summer sunshine. Their union produces some of the country's sweetest, juiciest, sexiest peaches, which in turn inspire desserts so delicious, they often lead to amorous unions of their own. Blueberries and peaches are known for their summer flings: over the moon for one another in crumbles, muffins, cakes, and this tasty Blueberry Peach Frangipane Tart. I made the tart to celebrate a union of friends both new and old at a late summer dinner party inspired by Lidia Bastianich's soon-to-be-released cookbook: Lidia's Favorite Recipes. This tart tastes like summer love feels, and is gone just as quickly.  

Monday 17 September 2012

Al Fresco with Friends - Lidia Bastianich's Ziti with Roasted Eggplant & Ricotta Cheese

Nothing bonds quite like good food, cooked with love, shared amongst good company. Italian food has a particularly cohesive quality where one can sit down a stranger and rise a relation. I recently invited a number of friends to enjoy a multiple-course, Italian-themed meal inspired by renowned chef/author Lidia Bastianich. Her culinary catchphrase is "Tutti a tavola a mangiare!" (Everyone to the table to eat!). This phrase resonates with me, as both the sensual and the sacred nature of sharing food has drawn me into kitchens since I licked my first spoon. The magnetic potency of this saying is notoriously 'cooked into' the food Lidia prepares: luring hungry people to gather around their tables not just to enjoy food, but also to enjoy one another's company. My dinner guests that evening told me they were lured toward my house by the smell of chocolate. Ignoring for a moment the reality of the nearby Kit Kat factory, I indulged in the compliment that my house could be located not just geographically, but sensually. The truth is, on most nights, with the right breezes, this is entirely possible. This perfect late-summer evening was no exception: the evening's menu highlighted a tasty, seasonal pasta dish from Lidia's brand-new cookbook: Lidia's Favourite Recipes (on sale Oct. 16th). The Ziti with Roasted Eggplant and Ricotta Cheese was a standout, and judging by the friends that gathered around my table that evening, infused with exactly the right amount of 'come-hither' deliciousness.

Monday 9 July 2012

Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Bites

Some of the most seductive things in life take only two bites: one to start, and a second that leaves you wanting more. Luckily, this recipe for Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Bites makes enough to 'start again' as many times as you like. These highly addictive doughnuts are also made for sharing: I knocked on my neighbour R.'s door with a plateful of them, which prompted him to text his wife boastingly about what she was missing out on. She made him text her photos of the doughnuts periodically to ensure there were still some there when she came home!

Friday 29 June 2012

Reine de Saba - Julia Child's 'Queen of Sheba' Cake

Most accounts of the Queen of Sheba's visit to King Solomon speak of their interaction as strictly platonic - a matter of state and trade agreements, not seduction. I don't see how that's possible if this rich, dense, chocolate cake named in her honour was amongst the gifts she brought to him. It remains a mystery how this cake is actually connected to its namesake, but it's so delicious you too would give the Queen "whatsoever she desired" (1 Kings 10:13) once you had a bite.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Cherry Almond Focaccia & Nudo Olive Oil Ice Cream

Nudo, in Italian, means 'naked.' Nudo olive oil - in any language - means making what is naked taste amazing: pasta, bread, grilled vegetables, your lover... even your dessert! This past week I had the opportunity to meet Jason Gibb, the co-founder of Nudo:  a unique olive oil company where the olive trees are adopted and the yield of each tree is delivered to the adoptive 'parent's' doorstep. I was invited to attend a tasting hosted by the lovely ladies at The Siren Group at All the Best Fine Foods - a welcoming pantry of a store, stocked with the kind of fresh food, baked goods and delightful foodstuffs that satisfy any culinary fantasy. I thoroughly enjoyed bonding over food with the owner, Jane Rodmell, whom I was delighted to find is a true culinary kindred spirit.  Everything about the event was inspiring:  the atmosphere, the people, the food! There were small bites highlighting each oil (it comes in natural, lemon, basil, garlic, and Sicilian chili versions) prepared expertly and with love by Executive Chef Nicole Rumball. The oil was delicious on its own, too, seducing my bread into lingering a little longer with each dip.

Friday 15 June 2012

Coconut Cloud Cake with Pineapple Flowers

There is something rather sensual about working with eggs. As a testament to the yolk, there has been a parade of custards, curds, ice cream, pound cakes and pâte sablée in my kitchen boudoir lately that all successfully elicited moans of pleasure. I was not anticipating the extent of my attraction, however, to the dessert that came from all the whites that were left over. This light yet sumptuous 'cloud' cake, with its layers of sponge and abundance of coconut-y meringue, won my heart and the hearts of those who tried it. It prompted the licking clean of plates, adamant promises to not share with a significant other, and the comment: "This is the cake I didn't know I wanted, but I wanted it - so badly!"

Friday 8 June 2012

Almond Tart with Homemade Vanilla Mascarpone and Fresh Strawberries

Lately I've been keen to channel my inner milkmaid, for which my kitchen (and my curves) are well equipped. Having truly enjoyed the experience of making fresh ricotta, I decided to try making homemade mascarpone cheese. Mascarpone is the naughtier, creamier cousin to ricotta. Where ricotta is the cheese you'd introduce to your parents, mascarpone is the cheese you'd cheat on ricotta with. It's a rich, smooth, spreadable cheese with a light flavour that is best known for its longstanding affair with the beloved Italian dessert - tiramisu. As much as I enjoy anything creamy and coffee-flavoured, I wanted to prepare something fresh to accompany this season's local strawberries. I decided to introduce yet another tart to my imaginary patisserie. This tart has an almond crust, filled with the creamy combination of fresh homemade mascarpone, cream cheese and sour cream, speckled with flecks of vanilla bean and lemon zest. The tart is topped with macerated strawberries, which taste best au naturel with just the finest sprinkling of sugar to get their juices flowing.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Key Lime Bundt Cake with Key Lime Caramel Glaze

The longer days and shorter hemlines of the warmer weather invite time spent outdoors, and light meals prepared simply with the produce the season has to offer. In pursuing a craving for a distinctly summery dessert to accompany the unseasonably hot weather we've been having lately, I ambitiously went outside of season and inside my kitchen to bake a delicious key lime bundt cake in 30 degree heat! This cake is worth its weight in clothing removed - its dense and buttery crumb are lightly perfumed with key lime and topped with a zesty citrus and caramel glaze that is happily licked off any exposed skin it just 'happens' to land on.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Sweet Tarts with Strawberry-Rhubarb Curd

Time spent outdoors in this warmer weather brings rosy cheeks, wind-tousled hair and sun-kissed skin - nature's way of highlighting our beauty within. Like us, seasonal produce needs no further embellishment:  its beauty and flavor are best enjoyed in simple preparations that highlight the produce itself. Inspired by the juices dripping down my chin from a strawberry rhubarb gourmet ice pop I recently enjoyed at my local farmer's market (and a serendipitous encounter at Goodwill that yielded a good-as-new Braun Juicer for only $3.99!!!), I wanted to experiment with the essence of these seasonal flavors in a special dessert. My rhubarb plant is currently in its adolescent phase - a few tall, slender stalks have burst forth from the earth. There's not enough to fill out a pie yet, but there is the perfect amount to extract that bright, tart taste. I liked the idea of tarts too - individual desserts filled with a creamy strawberry-rhubarb curd that encourages lingering with one's spoon.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Mexican Chocolate Layer Cake with Cinnamon & Chili Frosting

This cake speaks Spanish. It has a sultry, seductive, chocolatey nature accented with a chili heat that teases the palate with each bite. It purrs like Penelope Cruz, asking you to follow its taste to that sensual place to which the Latin culture seems to have direct access. This is a cake of unexplored depths, layers of pleasure, and exotic flavor that elicits moans and awakens the rhythm and mystery within. My friend A. requested a chocolate cake for her teenage daughter's birthday, specifying that her daughter really likes Mexico. I envisioned a coming together of flavors I'd experienced before in a Mexican hot chocolate - cinnamon and chili - and infused the frosting with those flavors to top a dark chocolate cinnamon layer cake. I was surprised and excited by the amount of passion these flavors elicited in me, and in the cake as a result.

Thursday 10 May 2012

Springtime Breakfast Pizza with a Whole Wheat Crust

There is a very specific intimacy that accompanies working with dough in the morning that differs from other times of day. Both you and the dough are waking up at the same time, the chemistry between you fresh and vulnerable, feeling different in the early light. There is a raw sensuality to the interaction, unclouded by haste or desire, but rather an honest, honoring approach to starting off your day well-fed and satisfied. Inspired by a recent Pinterest browse and the contents of my fridge, which held odds and ends of produce from this past week’s meals, I used the dough as a meeting place for these unattached vegetables and made a delicious breakfast pizza. Usually, when I've got just a little bit of this and that, I am grateful for eggs, and will often whip up a frittata or an omelette with any remaining produce, but this morning I felt particularly indulgent and wanted to use eggs in a different way. My fridge boasted a few cherry tomatoes, some stalks of asparagus, two green onions, a handful of portobello and shiitake mushrooms, a heel of Parmesan, a bit of aged cheddar, a couple rashers of smoky bacon, and a shallot or two: ingredients just begging to come together in pizza form, with the addition of fresh organic eggs cracked on top of the pizza before it is baked. This pizza makes an ideal breakfast: fresh vegetable flavors that meld together atop a crispy-then-soft crust, the egg yolks breaking open sexily across the textured terrain of toppings. Perfect for mornings - or mornings after.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Rhubarb & Orange Fool in Meringue Nests

Intuition in the kitchen is a good thing. It helps you know when to pull something out of the oven, when to stop salting, when to go out on a limb and throw in a random ingredient that brings a dish from ordinary to proposition-inducing. Part of the joy in developing one's kitchen (and bedroom) intuition is the adventure experimentation brings. With practice, there comes a culinary confidence that opens up a whole new world of possibilities when approaching a recipe. This week's recipe came from that intuitive place - drawing upon inspiration from my garden, a ballerina, and my fondness for putting whipped cream on everything.

Thursday 26 April 2012

Caramel & Pecan Sticky Buns

When a cooking magazine cover makes you do a double take from across the room (and upon closer examination far outshines the pouting cover models on display next to it)... you buy it. Such was the case with the April 2012 issue of Bon Appétit. The cover boasts a close-up shot of a stunningly seductive caramel and pecan sticky bun that verges on the pornographic. I immediately bought the magazine and, yesterday afternoon, satiated my lust for this dessert. These sticky buns have it all:  buttery, flaky, soft dough that pulls apart; oozing honeyed caramel; roasted crunchy pecans; and a sweet cinnamon butter swirl.

Saturday 21 April 2012

NYC in Bites (with a Grand Aioli)

I love experiencing a city through its food - researching in advance, asking locals where the best places are,  or those happy accidents where you stumble upon a delicious place in a serendipitous way. I experienced a bit of all of the above last week while staying with my dear friend M. in Manhattan, and wanted to share the highlights with you. I tasted NYC's best cherry cheesecake; experienced country-style Chinese food; waited in line for free gourmet ice cream sandwiches; threw a dinner party with fresh produce from the local greenmarket and got converted to a Dough Brooklyn doughnut lover before ever having my first bite!

Friday 13 April 2012

Manhattan Floats in Manhattan

I find myself relaxing before dinner on a rooftop with friends at the southern tip of Manhattan, sipping rose, gazing north towards the city that has stimulated my appetite and my ambition since we first 'met' last year. I am here for a week over Easter - eager to experience the city, drink it all in and let it seduce me as it does: in small bites, chance encounters, glasses raised, and avenues traversed. Easter Sunday my friend M. and her husband were invited to an Easter dinner and, in true New York hospitality fashion, an extra chair for 'my friend from out of town' was added. I don't think it hurt that I was advertised as a food enthusiast who would gladly bring her famous homemade ricotta. I felt immediately welcomed into the fold of this assortment of friends. Nothing brings lawyers, writers, actors, musicians, and actuaries together quite like good food, prepared with love. And nothing cements new friendships quite like freeflowing wine, excellent cheese, and homemade Manhattan floats - cherry soda topped with a boozy bourbon ice cream, a sumptuous dollop of vermouth whipped cream and a cherry drunk on moonshine.

Thursday 5 April 2012

Heirloom Carrot Cake (Gluten-Free) with Creamy Coconut Milk Drizzle

Recently I’ve become enamored with vegetables. I can’t seem to get enough greens (kale and I are in a long-term relationship). What I love about vegetables is how they love you back when you eat them – skin glows, hair shines, energy abounds and life is digested with ease. A love affair with vegetables is the answer when balancing the equally-important occasional indulgence in buttery baked goods. I’ve been experimenting with incorporating vegetables and alternative grains into my baking. I've tried Dinner With Julie's black bean brownies, for instance, as well as Naturally Ella's pumpkin pie millet porridge. There are so many options available today to supplement or replace traditional ingredients without compromising on flavour. This Heirloom Carrot Cake is chock full of pleasantly plump raisins, golden-toasted walnuts, coconut and spice, all naturally sweetened with honey and topped with a creamy coconut milk drizzle.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Individual Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes with Coconut Whipped Cream

Should you bring these individual pineapple upside-down cakes to the office potluck, Mr. Draper may want to see you in his office and ask you huskily to close the door. In the spirit of Mad Men's return and inspired by a post by my blogging friend Jen from Juanita's Cocina, I've reinterpreted this retro dessert table staple into a single-serving mini-cake that has the ability to unfasten garters and deliciously fill out pencil skirts with its caramelized bottom. Paired with a  mound of coconut whipped cream, these little cakes are comfortingly dense and undeniably seductive. 

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Chewy Gingersnap Cookies with Candied Ginger

My friends have told me that my ginger cookies have positively changed their lives, and discerning palates have labelled them no less than "The best cookie I've ever eaten." One bite and they are intoxicated by the burst of flavour and the love baked into every chewy crumb. These cookies have such charisma, they have received fan mail and requests for the recipe have cluttered my inbox. They boast a golden crust that has the obligatory snap, but the snap yields to the soft, chewy, candied-ginger-studded centre - a combination that in my experience has lifted spirits, cemented friendships, gotten jobs and removed clothing. Picnics love these cookies - as do bake sales, study sessions and work breaks. No matter where you bring them, they are sure to lift the mood with their gingery, buttery perfection.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Scones for Gail Simmons

Last night I met the lovely Gail Simmons (Top Chef judge, host of Top Chef - Just Desserts and Special Projects Director at Food & Wine Magazine) - she's eloquent, she's inspiring, she's Canadian. This talented lady from Toronto started out with four simple words as inspiration for what to move towards after graduating from a degree that left her uninspired: Eat. Write. Travel. Cook. Now she does exactly that for a living and I wondered how? How does one go from career indecision to a career in delicious? I picked up a copy of her new book, "Talking with my Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater" and devoured it, hoping for an answer, and got one - hard work, humility, perseverance, a dash of good luck, and a willingness to do what is necessary. In Gail's case she earned her Top Chef judging credibility by interning at Toronto Life Magazine and writing for the National Post, attending culinary school, getting seasoned working the line in NYC kitchens (Le Cirque & Daniel), and doing countless hours of legwork researching and testing recipes as Jeffrey Steingarten's (Vogue's food critic extraordinaire) assistant - which she did despite knowing she did not care to be a chef! 

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Fennel Tea Frosting

Cupcakes - those tempting little cakes that send  icing to slowly cascade down their tops in a way that begs fingers to scoop and be licked, tongues to circle around and gather the excess along the corrugated terrain of the wrapper. The paper is seductively peeled back to reveal a moist cake, in this case flavoured with Meyer lemon and slightly perfumed with fennel tea - an excellent match. Meyer lemons are a new ingredient to me, and I was thrilled to discover bags of them in stock both at my local grocery store and the neighbourhood green-grocers. Meyer lemons are sweet, like an orange, with less of that acidic tartness other lemons have. Inspired by a few tea-infused desserts I've read about lately, I wanted to marry my favourite herbal brew with the sweet indulgence of a citrus cupcake. 

Wednesday 29 February 2012

Evergreen Brick Works Farmer's Market & Pizzeria Libretto

I love the intimacy of farmer's markets. You are so close to the origin of your food. You are shaking the hand of the person whose love and hard work went into the very soil that produced the harvest you are keen to seasonally indulge in and you can taste that love in the food. There is a buzz, a bustle that farmer's markets boast - a festival atmosphere full of live music, free samples, groups of people contentedly browsing the goods on display, and cooks from restaurant and home kitchens alike getting inspired for the evening's menu. I had a rare Saturday morning off, so my camera and I went on a pilgrimage to the Evergreen Farmer's Market at the Brick Works. A converted brick factory that originally opened in 1889, the space is now re-purposed and re-imagined as a community-focused environmental centre.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Fresh Cranberry Scones with Lemon & Candied Ginger

Sometimes I will be eating a baked good and a feeling will come over me like – what is happening here? How can something taste SO GOOD? How can whoever made this (even if it's me) so intimately know the cravings of my heart and mind? Noises will come out of my mouth that try to be words and…there are none that truly describe the transcendent effect of pastry done right. “Mmpf” and “Ergghh” and “Ungh” and other such guttural delicacies escape. If there is someone in the room with me also eating said baked good we will exchange knowing looks through eyelashes lowered in ecstasy. If I am alone, I catch myself still reacting. Out loud. My downstairs neighbours might have thought I was otherwise engaged this morning had I not come down and shared the wealth of what I discovered to be the best scones I have ever made. 

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Rustic Tuscan Soup

This rustic soup is the kind you eat with a loud slurp and a satisfied growl.  My friend T. and I had spent the day taking in a double-feature and thanks to a combination of time crunch, lean wallets and exorbitant movie theatre food prices, our stomachs boasted but a winning combination of Sour Patch Kids and Twizzlers. We felt lightheaded and weak. T. suggested we go to his place and make some soup to bring us back to solid ground. One of the things I love about T. is his ability to cook solely through inspiration. No recipe - just asking the food what it wants to be. Genius. 

Saturday 11 February 2012

Steeped Citrus & an Olive Oil Cake

Citrus is its own exclamation mark, boldly making its presence known punctuating countertops, fruit baskets and baked goods alike with its brilliant colour and fresh flavour. My February certainly got brighter when I spent the afternoon carefully supreming navel oranges, blood oranges, and tangerines to accompany a lemon olive oil cake that filled my kitchen boudoir with a sweet and happy scent. The recipe is one I found in a cookbook I'm rather fond of: Anna & Michael Olson Cook at Home. It sounded rather odd to me at first...olive oil?? a cake?! Perhaps this was because I was reminded of an earlier mini-chef version of Sonja who didn't know that olive oil was more savoury and flavourful than other oils and used it unconsciously in a sweet dessert and as an unconscious acting exercise for those lucky few who tried it and were kind (or cruel, depending on how you see it) enough to tell me it was 'delicious.' But this cake certainly is.

Sunday 5 February 2012

Cake Love in the Afternoon

Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread Cake. This afternoon cake is onomatopoeic in that it sounds exactly like what it is: sticky, cranberry-y, gingerbread-y and cake-y. It happened to also be sunshine-y in my kitchen boudoir the day I made it and can I just say who needs rubies if you've got cranberries soaking up sunlight? This cake not only looks pretty, but tastes delicious in the way an afternoon cake should. Btw, absolutely no judgment on my part if you happen to deem this cake a morning cake as well. Breakfast and I sure did.

Thursday 2 February 2012

The Long & the Short(Rib) of It

Winter - a season of cold, snow, packed earth, things laid to rest and freeze until the thaw of spring. It is a season of long nights, some of which are 'dark' and 'of the soul.' In order to survive the cold both inner and outer, our bodies crave warm, comforting, hearty foods to stoke our inner fires. Comfort food is often full of rich ingredients - indulgences we might otherwise not cater to in the lighter seasons: cream, cheese, cuts of meat made tender by hours of slow cooking in savory sauces. Winter vegetables boast thick skins and fleshy insides that love to luxuriate in a bath of braising liquid, or hold their own in a robust and flavorful stew. Winter is a season made for the long and the slow - and adjusting to this slowing down of life both culinarily and personally is the key to making the most of what winter has to offer. My indulgence this week was short ribs and creamy Dijon Brussels sprouts. Short ribs, funnily enough, take a long time to cook, but like all things in which time is invested, the result is well worth the wait.

Sunday 29 January 2012

What Ricotta Taught

It might sound strange that learning how to make cheese taught me something about being a woman. In fact, I think the culinary arts are an excellent touchpoint for any of us - women and men - seeking to honour the feminine within. This is the part of us that knows -  that responds to time like the liquid thing it is - with intuition and with reverence. The pursuit of a quick result often happens at the expense of honouring the process, and we miss out on the magic that occurs in the meantime. In my kitchen boudoir, I find myself learning about this sacred approach to time and recently I have made a sincere and conscious decision to let what happens in this space, this organic unfolding, seep into the rest of my world view and infuse my approach to living.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Yesterday's Panettone, Today's Bread Pudding & Tomorrow's Curves

My holiday house guests brought over a beast of a Panettone to celebrate New Year’s morning. Grateful to sleep in and not have to cook breakfast thanks to said Panettone, I was perhaps less so when we ate but a corner of it and the remainder sat on my kitchen counter like a carbohydrate coquette after my house guests left. I live alone, and carbs speak to me. Actually, they whisper huskily to me from the cupboards and I fall prey to their floury advances. The panettone purred: Mangiame, signorina. Sai che tu me desiderà! in a voice that sounded remarkably like Sophia Loren. Her having sat out on the counter for a few days, I did not care to partake, but hesitated to throw her away.

Then a solution struck me that pleased my thrifty nature and rather titillated Sophia. I looked at this panettone and said: You, my dear, would make an excellent bread pudding.

Si, she said.

Sunday 22 January 2012

To (S)tart.

To acquaint myself with blogging practice, and while I wait to get home to have access to more recent photos and posts, I wanted to upload and share some pictures of a tart I made this summer. Consider this a dry (but actually quite moist and very delicious) run!

I made this recipe from one of my go-to cookbooks, The Silver Palate Cookbook.

The recipe asks for a pastry cream - something I had never attempted before. Milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, whisked on a double boiler until deliciously thick and creamy.