Baba who? That’s what I said many moons ago when I first heard of Baba Ganoush. Friends had made the dish as an appetizer and I’ve been hooked ever since. Baba Ganoush is a tasty, smoky eggplant dip made from grilled or roasted eggplants, tahini (a paste made from ground raw sesame seeds), fresh lemon juice and garlic. Originating in the Middle East, the dish has (happily) found its way to North America.
“Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe
and she laughs with a harvest.”
~ Douglas Jerrold
Farmers market day is my favourite day of the week. As summer slowly winds to a close and the bountiful harvest continues to pour into our city’s farmers markets, I stand in awe of the beauty and abundance that surround me every market day. I’ve been in vegetable heaven for weeks now. But each time I get to the market and take in all the beautiful (if somewhat precarious-looking) pyramids of colorful fruits and vegetables, something strange happens—it’s as if an odd spell has been cast on me, causing me to completely forget the promise I made to myself: Do not overbuy! But I always do—I always overbuy!
This delicious dessert is the perfect finish to a long, refreshing winter weekend walk in the snow. What better way to top off an invigorating winter walk than to come back to your cozy abode knowing you will enjoy a cup of hot tea and a comforting warm dessert? Redolent of all the freshness of summer, yet belly-warming, this yummy steamed pudding floats in a pool of creamy orange buttermilk sauce. This dessert is tasty any time of year, but we especially enjoy having it in the fall or winter. Continue reading →
Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking
if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.
‘Tis the Season to Enjoy Exotic Fruit
Here in Canada, where winters are cold and “all green things cease to grow”, the holiday season has always been a time to enjoy imported exotic fruits. When I was a child, the big treat in December was mandarin oranges from Japan. While I still look forward to having a fresh mandarin (or my new favourite, the satsuma orange), I also look forward to a new exotic fruit which has become readily available over the last ten years: fresh pomegranates.
“One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A Time to Gather Strawberries
Strawberry Moon is the name the Algonquin North American Native tribes so aptly gave to June’s full moon because they knew it as the time to gather ripening strawberries. Although neither the wild mountain strawberries nor the plump green berries growing in my strawberry pot have yet ripened, our locally grown field-ripened strawberries are starting to flood the farmers markets. Each year, with my very first bite of that first red strawberry of the season, I am instantly transported back in space and time to a visit to my grandmother’s house as a little girl.
Lemons don’t grow here in Calgary but, happily for me, as soon as the first lemons of the season are picked in late January in California, bags of them start flowing into our local grocery stores. To me, lemons are like a taste of sunshine, and no more so than when I get my hands on that first fresh bag of lemons in mid-winter, as the bracing winds are still swirling the snow around—it’s a promise of the coming of spring. Isn’t it something that we have such easy access to something as amazing as a fresh lemon?
Making and enjoying a homemade Lemon Cream Tart is the perfect way to brighten up any day. Because the pastry loses some of it’s crispness after a day, this tart is best on the day you make it (not that that’s stopped anyone around here from devouring any meager leftovers). Sweet, lemony and creamy, this tart is definitely a crowd-pleaser.
My partner and I love to cook together. Neither of us have any formal culinary training but we really enjoy preparing delicious food and we both love the challenge and satisfaction of trying new recipes and learning new culinary techniques. After many years of being together, one of our favourite date nights is cooking a delicious dinner at home and watching a movie in our living room.
Technically, it’s still winter, but more and more are the days starting to feel spring-like. This is the time of year I lose my winter penchant for hot drinks and hardy desserts and start to crave something lighter, like the fresh cherries I put up late last summer. It’s the perfect time to whip up a Cherry Eton Mess, a delicious, light, airy dessert reminiscent of the taste of summer. Cherry Mess is made by creating alternating layers of cherry compote, freshly whipped cream mixed with chunks of homemade meringue, and toasted sliced almonds. Prepare to swoon: one spoon of this beautiful mess is transcendent.
My homemade marzipan balls with orange blossom water and candied orange peel, dipped in white chocolate and garnished with chopped pistachios.
Seize the moment.
Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.
Chocolate-Covered Marzipan Balls
Chocolate and marzipan pair beautifully together. And nothing could be easier than rolling marzipan balls and dipping them into the chocolate of your choice. Make some of these, throw a few into a festive bag along with some Homemade Chocolate Truffles (see my previous post) and you’ve got a great gift.
“All you need is love.
But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
~ Charles M. Schulz
A Fabulous Gift to Give and Receive
High quality chocolate truffles are a chocolate lover’s dream come true. Made from only a few simple but perfect ingredients—good chocolate, heavy cream and a bit of butter—truffles impart their pure chocolatey goodness in one perfect, creamy, heavenly bite. The other great thing about truffles, that you may not know, is that they are fun and easy to make—albeit somewhat of a sweet chocolatey mess (which, of course, is the kind of problem one wishes to encounter more of in life). If you can bear to give any away, these Dark Chocolate Truffles make a lovely gift.
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.
In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
~ Julia Child
The Great Fruitcake Debate
The ultimate fruitcake—no, I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about that ubiquitous dense cake filled with nuts and dried fruit which materializes everywhere around the holiday season. The debate about fruitcake seems to know no neutrality: most either love it or despise it. I once fell into the latter camp—the fruitcakes of my youth were all dark, dried-out spice cakes containing bits of strangely coloured unidentifiable things. I could never abide it. Naturally, I concluded that I detested all fruitcake. But I was wrong.