My Dream Apples: The Delicious Ambrosia

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The spoils of the autumn harvest are overflowing the stalls of our local farmers market like a giant cornucopia: cabbages, kohlrabi, kale, all varieties of winter squash, pumpkins, beets, parsnips, carrots, onions, potatoes, cauliflowers, brussel sprouts, broccoli and cases of Roma tomatoes. But, while I love all of those veggies, it’s the apples and pears arriving directly from the orchards of British Columbia that excite me most.

Although apples keep incredibly well all winter, harvest time is the best time to eat an apple. There is no better tasting apple than one which has been recently picked from the sprawling, cradling arms of the apple tree, one still fresh with memories—memories of singing in the spring rain, of greeting the fiery dawn, of snoozing contentedly in the dappled summer afternoon sunlight to the humming of happy bees, of basking in the magical starry light of the Milky Way, dreaming sweet apple dreams. Newly harvested apples are loaded with such sweet memories, vivid memories not yet faded—memories they will generously convey to anyone who is ready to receive them.

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Decadent Almond Layer Cake with Orange White Chocolate Ganache

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“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy.
And cooking done with care is an act of love.”

~ Craig Claiborne

Almond Layer Cake with Orange White Chocolate Ganache Filling and Frosting

If you’re as crazy about anything with almond paste in it as I am, then this Almond Cake is definitely the cake for you. This dense, extremely moist cake is to-die-for delicious and it’s super easy to make. I’ve baked this cake many times and it has turned out perfectly every time. While I’m normally not attracted to cakes, especially frosted cakes, I’m nuts about this cake—the first morsel always makes me swoon.

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Dried Cherry & Almond Biscotti

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A Tasty Little Snack

These no fat, low sugar biscotti are one of my favourite little snacks. They go great with coffee or tea. While I love to bake, I’m not usually attracted to overly sweet things, so these cookies are the perfect little treat for when I do feel like something just a little sweetish. There is no butter or oil in these traditional Italian cookies. Biscotti—so named because they are “twice cooked”—are easy and fun to make and they store well in an airtight container for up to a month at room temperature (though I doubt that they’ll last you as long as that). Continue reading

Can the Average Joe Make Decent Homemade Soba Noodles?

This post is humbly dedicated to my Japanese friend, Takami

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“Love learning for its own sake,
and connect a wide array of ideas
from different fields of study and disciplines.

~ Robert Green

A Culinary Experiment: Making Soba Noodles

My partner and I are not professional cooks, but we do enjoy a fun culinary challenge. We’ve wanted to try making fresh homemade soba noodles since we came across a recipe for them in our pasta-making cookbook. Soba (そば or 蕎麦?) is the Japanese name for buckwheat. It is synonymous with a type of thin noodle made from buckwheat flour. Soba noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup (Wikipedia).

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How to Enjoy a Perfect Peach

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 One does a whole painting for one peach
and people think just the opposite—
that the particular peach is but a detail.

~ Pablo Picasso

The Perfect Peach

Peaches are my favourite stonefruit. The perfect peach, for me, is tree-ripened and has never been refrigerated. Oh, it is so heavenly to eat—so juicy and succulent, it drips like honey when you bite into it. Best to enjoy one of these luscious fruits over the sink and not worry about the sweet honey nectar dripping down your beautiful face.

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Put a Bit of Summer Away for Winter: Cherry Compote

 

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Putting Up Cherries for the Winter

Cherry season is nearly at an end. But just before the cherries completely disappear from the markets, I like to put some up so that we can enjoy a bit of the summer sunshine embodied in those sweet fleshy red orbs come winter.

My favourite way to preserve cherries is to either candy them or make a cherry compote. Candied cherries have a higher sugar content and have a more concentrated, candied flavour, whereas cherry compote uses less sugar and has more of a fresh fruit flavour. Both are delicious, both are super easy to make (see my post on Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream for candied cherries), and both freeze incredibly well. If you love cherries, I recommend checking this recipe out and putting up some cherries—it’s such a treat to have in the middle of a cold winter.

Since everyone who tastes my cherry compote wants the recipe, I thought I’d post it. If you love cherries and still have some available where you live, do try making this—you’ll be glad you did. If you’ve already missed the fresh cherries for this season, you can make this compote any time of the year using frozen whole cherries from the supermarket.

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The Jewels of Summer: Fresh Berry Fruit Salad

 

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Ah…. summertime. I love it! And this summer has been an unusually gorgeous one, exactly my idea of a perfect summer: an endless string of warm, blue sky days accentuated by a few hot days and the occasional dramatic thunderstorm here and there (bringing us much needed moisture and some spectacular lightning shows). We don’t have much in the way of humidity here in Calgary, so the dry heat is very pleasant.

For me, a perfect treat on these wonderfully languid, hot August days is my summer berry fruit salad made of freshly picked seasonal berries. For weeks now, countless flats of raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries and blueberries have been flying out of the farmers markets and finding their way into kitchens all over Calgary.

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Summer Green Peas: Happy Thoughts

DSC_0593_4436_5AE-EditFresh Green Pea Season

It’s Pea Season! And we’ve been hauling huge bags of them home from the farmers market every week. My favourite way to enjoy summer peas is to simply fill a large bowl with fresh, cold, crunchy pea pods, shell one, pop the succulent little morsels straight into my mouth, savour them thoroughly, and gluttonously carry on until the whole bowl is empty. Mmmmm… they are such a delicious summer treat.

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Fresh Cherries and Homemade Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream

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Summertime is Here!

Ah… it’s summer! The skies have been sunny and blue, blue, blue for-seemingly-ever, and the weather is perfectly and deliciously hot—like it should be in the summer; like you want to find some shade and sip on a cool drink; like you want to purposely walk right through that spray of sprinkler water arching across the sidewalk; like summer is finally here!

Feasting on Fresh B.C. Cherries

It’s hot, but not blistering hot; it’s a perfect kind of hot—just on the edge of being too hot—but not. The kind of hot that’s perfect for enjoying all the fresh cherries pouring in from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Western Canada’s fruit-growing region (happily only seven hours west of Calgary, so we have a direct supply line).

Thousands of pounds of plump, sweet, fresh cherries arrive daily at our farmers markets and we are buying huge bags of them. My favourite way to enjoy cherries is simply as they are: cool, refreshing fleshy orbs filled with sweet cherry goodness.

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Summertime Fresh Basil: Homemade Pesto

112233464-2Basil: Heavenly Scent

I’m in heaven. Huge aromatic bouquets of fresh, locally grown basil are now available at our farmers market. I am certain that basil was heavenly sent (ha, ha… pun intended) for our pure pleasure. I’m under its magic spell the moment I lay it in my shopping bag at the farmers market, where it instantly releases its intoxicating, sweet, herbaceous aroma. I would follow it anywhere.

Happily, it follows me into our kitchen, where I use it in everything I can think of: tomato and basil bruschetta, Caprese salad, basil butter on freshly baked bread, pasta sauces, pizza, Thai basil chicken, and my favourite way to enjoy it: basil pesto on fresh homemade spinach fettuccine.

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Photo Essay: Fresh Homemade Spinach Fettuccine

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“The trouble with eating Italian food
is that five or six days later, you’re hungry again.”

~ George Miller

A Marriage of Interests

I really enjoy photography. And my partner and I love cooking together. So it seems a perfect marriage of two of my favourite interests to photograph some of the food we enjoy making together. Continue reading