Flight Over Mount Meringue

The Meringue Mountain Range

The Meringue Mountain Range (so-named for it’s remarkable resemblance to dreamy meringue topping) is a remote area of snow-covered glaciers and high-altitude peaks located in a seldom visited part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

In this short video, you will have an incredible flying adventure. Experience the thrill of a close-up aerial flyover of the famed Mount Meringue—the highest peak in the Meringue Mountain Range. In this exciting flight, you will see rare, never before seen aerial footage of the fabled Meringue Mountaintops.

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Heavenly Lemon Cream Tart

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My Homemade Lemon Cream Tart

Lemon Heaven

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.

A special thanks to the Danbo Brothers who enthusiastically zested lemons for this tart.

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A Beautiful Cherry Mess

DSC_1320_5206 A Taste of Summer in Late Winter

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.

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Chocolate-Covered Marzipan Balls: Another Easy and Delicious Gift Idea

 

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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.

~Erma Bombeck

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.

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Homemade Chocolate Truffles: An Easy and Delicious Gift Idea

 

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My homemade Amaretto Almond Truffles

 

“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.

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Apricot Brandy White Fruitcake

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My homemade Apricot Brandy White Fruitcake

“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.

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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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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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Chocolate Lollipops

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Fun, Festive, Flirty and Chocolitious!

These tasty chocolate lollipops couldn’t be easier to make. All you need is 16 ounces of an excellent quality chocolate, about a 1/2 cup (each) of two kinds of garnish of your choice and a playful spirit. They are especially fun to make with kids, small or big!

I like to use a combination of semi-sweet dark chocolate and milk chocolate for my lollipops, but you can use any chocolate you prefer: bitter-sweet, semi-sweet, milk chocolate (or any combination thereof) or even white chocolate. Dried fruit and toasted nuts make excellent topping choices, but go wild with any  toppings you’d like. The only goal here is to have fun with it. Also, it doesn’t hurt to get a lot of chocolate on your fingers as you clean up, just so you have to lick them.

Tempering Chocolate

Until now, I’ve always tempered my chocolate using a double boiler and I admit that my chocolate didn’t always come out perfectly. This time, I tried Jacque Torres’ microwave chocolate-tempering method (see reference links below) as outlined by Ina Garten. Somewhat hesitant to try this method (as I rarely use my microwave for anything other than softening butter or heating up leftover pizza), I decided to give it a whirl. And I’m happy to report that I’m delighted with the microwave chocolate tempering method!  It couldn’t be easier and it worked perfectly, resulting in a smooth, glossy, well-tempered chocolate. I will never use the double boiler again!

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