Here’s a delicious way to ring out 2012. I adore profiteroles – I used to choose chocolate-covered cream puffs instead of a birthday cake. I sometimes succumb to the frozen tubs at the grocery store (perfect for chocolate fondue, by the way), but they’re not at all hard to make from scratch. My friend Shaina’s new book, Desserts in Jars, has a recipe for profiteroles in jars, which is kind of a fun presentation. I still have a plethora of jars in the basement. Fill the cooled profiteroles with cream or ice cream – peppermint ice cream would be pretty fab, no? – then top with warm chocolate or hot fudge sauce. I’ve taken to making a quick ganache by simmering a cup of cream, then adding 8 oz. chopped dark chocolate, letting it sit, then stirring until smooth.

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I’ve always wanted to make my own Irish cream – and now I have, thanks to the dregs of the whisky bottle left over from a pre-Christmas party. It took about five minutes, as I made dinner – you just dump everything into a blender and hit blend. A good thing to have in the fridge over the holidays to add to your coffee, or save to sip over ice on New Year’s Eve. May as well get that chocolate and cream into your system while you still can.

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Photo courtesy of my new iPad mini! On my to-do list this week: veg on the couch and go through the yellow milk crate overflowing with torn-out recipes I’ve accumulated over the past ten years or so. I miss the days of the torn-out recipe; looking through it’s interesting to see what I found worthy of tearing out and keeping years ago. What’s trending in my milk crate: doughnuts and shrimp dishes. Weird. These muffins caught my eye because I had a little dish of chopped figs leftover from whoknowswhat sitting on my counter, and pecans for the fruitcake I never made. But the great thing about muffins is that anything goes – and when it came time to mix them up I didn’t feel like rooting around for wheat bran and germ, and added oat flour and oat bran instead, and they turned out divine; wonderfully tender on account of some of the flour being gluten-free. Of course these could be made with anyContinue reading

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Every Christmas I get the urge to bake stollen, that rich holiday bread folded over itself and loaded with fruit. Sometimes I do, but mostly I don’t. Still I’m determined to come up with a recipe to make from year to year and bring to friends and neighbours. This year, only one loaf left the house, as it got dark on Christmas eve, and only made it as far as next door. The rest had to be immediately tested as we wrapped presents. I looked to Sarabeth’s Bakery in NY for this recipe; it needed much tweaking (not least of all double the milk in order to make a smooth, tacky dough), but I love the results. Leftovers will be breakfast, toasted with coffee, tomorrow morning. Merry Christmas all!

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Ken Lima-Coelho of the Heebee-Jeebees is one of my favourite people at CBC. When he raved about his wife’s amazing whipped shortbread-a variety I tend to not make myself-I had to give them a go. If there was one single quintessential North American Christmas cookie, this light, sandy-textured shortbread with the little bit of glacé cherry on top might just beat out the gingerbread man. It’s been at least ten years since I’ve whipped shortbread; I tend to default to the dense, Scottish kind. But Ken and Tara persuaded me to give it a go this year. You make it by beating the butter until it’s very light, then adding icing sugar (which amounts to 1/4 cup of regular sugar so really lower in sugar than most cookies, although they don’t taste it) and a high quantity of cornstarch, which lacking gluten, gives it a chalky, as Ken put it, texture. In a good way. The formula for whipped shortbread is pretty standard: butter, sugar,Continue reading

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In honour of the winter solstice and a 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar wrapping up and starting anew (my youngest sister -not the one across the street- and her family were actually at a the ancient city of Tikal for the sunrise this morning), I made a drink – not a boozy one (although it does have potential) but a Mexican rice-based beverage that tastes like liquid rice pudding, and works as sort of lighter version of eggnog without the thick heaviness. You whiz dry rice in the blender, cover it with water overnight and then strain it to make a ricey base – the whole process took about 5 minutes of actual kitchen counter time, and I’m certain it will be on our regular holiday rotation from now on. It has the consistency of milk, and yes – tastes just like rice pud. Sorry to have skipped out on documenting the process, but it would have required me to shoot dry, blended riceContinue reading

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