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It’s nice to have go-to recipes you can pull into service on those days when you’ve been invited somewhere for dinner, or someone could use a little cheering, or you want to score a few brownie points with your editors/doctor/teachers. Most of the time, I’d choose a brownie over a cake or cookie. But it has to be the right kind of brownie – dense and fudgy, with a crackly top. Generally I prefer no nuts in mine, nor chocolate chunks or chips, or even frosting. I like my brownies straight up, preferably warm, straight from the pan.

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Those of you who have been hanging around here for awhile probably know that for the past decade or so, I’ve spent about a third of my November in Jasper for Christmas in November at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. (I also ingest about a third of my annual calorie intake during those ten days.) I don’t exaggerate when I say it’s one of the highlights of my year. How could it not be? There’s no event like it, really – like grown-up sleepover camp with gorgeous cabins and ironed sheets and endless food, wine and cocktails. I know it’s a bit early to be discussing the holidays, but then again not; I figured I’d talk about it ahead of time for those who aren’t in the know, rather than field emails from people exclaiming their regret that they have to wait until next year to join the fun. Jasper is one of the most beautiful places I know – and for the past 26Continue reading

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I feel like I’ve been neglecting you guys as much as everyone-thing else these days, and I want to bake you a batch of cookies. Perhaps it’s because the days are so long, the nights so hot and short, the birds holding their morning raves outside the window promptly at 5 am, that makes June seem so manic. I’ve had more projects on my plate than usual lately, and wound up on crutches last weekend – a totally undramatic injury triggered by standing up from the table out at Mount Engadine Lodge after dinner of bison short ribs and crispy, cheesy polenta. They’re known for their moose population out in the marsh between lodge window and Rocky Mountains, and I kept jumping up, hoping to catch one in the setting sunlight. So when people ask how it happened, rather than tell a tale of cycling or mountain climbing, I have to confess that I indeed injured myself (torn tendons or something in my knee –Continue reading

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I grew up with a strong resentment of fig Newtons -and in fact figs in general- they represented all that we were so cruelly denied as children of a doctor who seemingly valued fiber above all else. I begged for Oreos, but the packaged cookies we got were either fig Newtons or Arrowroot cookies – yes, those flavourless oval ones with the baby on the front of the box that, designed for teething toddlers, dissolved upon contact with saliva. I reluctantly ate them anyway, since they were at least cookies. Fig Newtons though – riddled with seeds, they were what dads who wore beige cardigans with elbow patches and Wallabees ate with their tea. I’ve since made my peace with figs, but have still never craved a fig Newton. Of course, if you consider what homemade chocolate chip cookies are to store-bought, you can imagine how much better these are than the fig Newtons of my youth. I think they were originally from 101 Cookbooks,Continue reading

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I have a confession to make: these. Those peanut butter-butterscotch chip-rainbow mini marshmallow lovelies that remind me of parties at my great Aunt’s house, when she put out plates of dainties that included these and Nanaimo bars – the ones I’d swipe the quickest. I still do. I used Easter as an excuse to make them – everyone needs some pastel colours in their weekend, right? – because I still haven’t managed to reconcile the fact that I’m a grownup and I can make a batch of peanut butter marshmallow squares anytime I want and eat the whole thing myself in front of the TV. It gets worse: I love them frozen. Like so many desserts of their ilk, I have in the past attempted to hide them from myself in the freezer, falsely thinking that their frozen state would deter me from eating them until they’re gone. (This doesn’t work with brownies, either.) Frozen, the marshmallows take on a chewy texture, the butter andContinue reading

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I’m a little late to the party with this one, but it’s OK if you show up late and bring cookies. We talked about tea last week on CBC, and its flavouring potential, especially when baking with it. One of my favourite combinations is Earl Grey, butter and sugar in a sandy-sweet shortbread, but I don’t like the little hard bits you wind up with when you stir dry tea leaves into baked goods, especially something like shortbread that doesn’t contain any liquid to plump it up. I happened to have just made a batch of crème brûlée, steeping the cream first with Earl Grey, and decided to use the exhausted tea leaves in the shortbread. Opening them up first not only helps them release more flavour, but softens them, eliminating those nasty bits. You can then blitz the soft leaves with the butter and sugar in the food processor, obliterating them further. This is not only a great way to flavour cookies and cakesContinue reading

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I made this last year (as you’ll see by my old kitchen table) and then forgot to post it until it was well past mincemeat season. And although I only have one mediocre photo I didn’t want to lose it altogether – it’s so delicious, and different from any other cookie or bar I’ve made. It’s more bar than pie, despite its wedge shape, and the rubble of butter, sugar, flour and almonds that make up the base and topping is the perfect vehicle for all kinds of preserves, lemon curd, fig jam – you name it. But I particularly like it as a means of getting mincemeat to my mouth without having to bother with tarts. And I imagine it’s not just me left with half a jar of mincemeat in my fridge this week.

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This is my idea of cookie decorating right now. When Meyer lemons are in, I can’t resist buying a bag. They’re much milder than regular lemons; a hybrid between a lemon and a mandarin orange. Delicious, right? A plain lemon would be fine too. I used the zest and the juice in the biscotti, and more juice in the drizzle, but melted white chocolate would be divine instead – the combination of lemon and chocolate seems to be a thing right now. It’s not too late to make a batch of something delicious to leave on the doorstep of someone you like.

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