March 31, 2013

Easter brunch and a cocktail for spring

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Happy Easter! We don’t really celebrate, but any holiday is a chance to eat some great food. We had friends over for brunch this morning and I must say, the meal came together beautifully.

I made Quiche Lorraine with real cream! Which never happens. It also had bacon and gruyere, so triple goodness. And to really go all out, I also made the richest of rich chocolate cakes, topped with a huge billowing mound of whipped cream. Don’t worry, we had a salad too.

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The cake was truly wonderful. Flourless, rich, soft, and fudgy with a crackly, sugary top. Almost a cross between a cake and custard. And that wonderful whipped cream on top, combined with a bit of mascarpone cheese for yes, more richness. But somehow it wasn’t all too much, and I think it’s because the cake is not that sweet. I used a regular supermarket bar of dark chocolate that was probably not more than 60 percent, yet the cake had a beautiful bitterness.  The recipe comes from the March issue of Bon App├ętit. (but you can also find it here.)

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There were also grapefruit juice-whiskey cocktails that I kind of threw together after looking at a few recipes online. They were deliciously refreshing, a mix of sour and sweet, with a lovely herbal note from the rosemary simple syrup. So good I thought I’d share with you. Even though grapefruits are a winter staple, this drink made me think of spring.

Grapefruit-Whiskey Cocktails for Spring

Makes one not-very-strong drink. Add more whiskey if desired! Feel free to play around with the proportions here as much as you’d like – I was mixing with a pretty free hand.

1 oz. whiskey (I used Jack Daniel’s honey whiskey which is a bit sweet, but I’m sure regular whiskey would work fine)
1 oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 oz. rosemary simple syrup (recipe follows – you could also use mint simple syrup)
1/2 oz. (or more) lime juice
1/2 oz (or more) water

Put a couple of ice cubes in a small glass. Pour the whiskey over, followed by the grapefruit juice, syrup, and lime juice. Add the water and taste. Add more lime juice or water if desired.

Rosemary Simple Syrup

Combine 2 cups water, 1 cup sugar, and 2 rosemary sprigs in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn heat down and leave at  a simmer for a few minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Take off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes for the rosemary to infuse. Let cool, remove rosemary, and store in a jar in the fridge. This is also delicious stirred into sparkling water.

March 28, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower

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This isn’t so much a recipe as an idea. An idea you should definitely try. Every time I make this Jacques says, “Why doesn’t everybody roast their cauliflower?” And maybe you do already. But I only started doing it a few months ago after reading about it somewhere, so in case you haven’t tried it yet, do so.

As is the case with many other vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, sweet potato…) roasting brings out these amazingly sweet flavours in cauliflower. Flavours I didn’t know existed. It comes out burnished and crispy, the perfect side to a piece of meat or fish. I’m sure it would also be wonderful tossed with pasta with some parmesan, maybe fresh tomatoes and capers.

Roasted Cauliflower

Serves 2

One small head cauliflower, about 1.5 lbs.
2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
about 6 grinds black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the outer leaves and stem from the cauliflower. Chop, or break up with your hands, into small to medium-sized florets. Chops the stems into bite-sized pieces. Toss in a large bowl with the oil, salt and pepper. Taste to see if there is enough salt. You could also add herbs and spices if you like.

Spread out in an even layer on a sheet pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, checking half-way through and turning with a spatula. When done, cauliflower should be tender and golden-brown in spots.

March 25, 2013

What’s New

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Lucie is now ten months old. The moments, they are flying by fast. So fast. She crawls a mean streak, moving from room to room with ease. Standing is also a favourite activity. As is clapping her hands, and grinning.

She is eating all sorts of foods, usually whatever I cook for myself and Jacques. She’s taken a liking to pancakes and lately has eaten whole bananas in one sitting. She likes eating with her fingers more and more, often pushing the spoon away. She has an extremely cute way of pushing pieces of food into her mouth with her index finger.

When I think about having to leave her for eight hours at a time to go to work, my heart feels tight. I’m not sure I’ll be able to bear it.

I go back to work April 29th. I’m ready, and also not ready at all. This past year has been the longest and shortest of my life.  Long because it feels like about 10 years ago that I lay in that hospital bed and looked at my daughter for the first time. Short because I can’t believe how big she is already. Soon she will be walking and talking. Soon she will be a toddler. How did this happen?

Those of you who are still reading may have noticed this space really languished the past few months. I’ve struggled to regularly post about what I’m cooking and eating. Not because it’s not good - I’ve made a lot of great things in the kitchen lately. I just can’t seem to organize myself to photograph them and write about them.

Of course everyone says, “Oh, you’re a new Mom, you must be so busy, I’m sure you don’t have time to blog!” Well, yes and no, people. When I talk to other parents with kids under one I feel incredibly grateful. Of course parenting takes time – most days lunch, for example, is never finished in under an hour – but Lucie is so happy to play by herself that I usually have lots of time to accomplish my own things during the course of the day. 

So I really have no excuse. And I’m not here to make excuses anyway. I think I’m trying to figure out what this space is now that my life has changed so, so much. I feel the urge to write about Lucie, about my family life, and I don’t really want to quell that urge. Of course I still want to write about food too. I hope I can come to a happy medium.

Now that the evenings are longer there is hope for taking some decent photographs of the food I’ve been cooking. There is a wonderfully tasty and easy kale pesto I’d really like to share with you. A divine tomato sauce that we’ve been inhaling lately. Some beautiful cheese buns that are a cinch to make and addictive to eat. I hope that I will back before long with a few of these recipes to share.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the days with my daughter. Her bubbly laughs, her fierce determination, the amazing sounds she makes when she sees another baby on the street. And I’ll go from there.