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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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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I think perhaps those who say it’s too expensive to eat properly don’t know about latkes. I don’t understand myself why it requires Hannukah to remind me of their delicious existence once a year. There are plenty of ways to make a latke – you can mix your grated potatoes with egg or toss them with flour, or both. You could use sweet potatoes and spike them with curry powder. But if what you’re after is a simple, crispy-edged potato cake, all you need to do is wash a thin-skinned potato (don’t bother peeling it), grate it onto a paper towel or two, sprinkle with salt, squeeze out as much moisture as you can (this will keep them crisp) and cook flattened spoonfuls in a hot pan, drizzled with oil. A dab of butter doesn’t hurt. Who doesn’t love crispy potatoes with butter? Flattening them with a fork until you can almost see through them will help them cook through without being gummy on theContinue reading

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