Friday, 21 December 2012
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
~ ~ ~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
Monday, 15 October 2012
Friday, 5 October 2012
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
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
Monday, 9 July 2012
Friday, 29 June 2012
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
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
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
Sunday, 3 June 2012
Thursday, 24 May 2012
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
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
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
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
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
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
Thursday, 5 April 2012
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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??...in 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
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
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
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
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 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.
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.