This post was created with the support of BC Blueberries (the title was too long to add Blog Flog!) – I’m a huge fan of blueberries from our next-door neighbours and as always, any words, thoughts and photos are my own. I’m almost overwhelmed by the possibilities once BC blueberries arrive and make their way to my kitchen. They were a few weeks late this season, and I found myself missing them – the big, plump, juicy highbush berries we always have a bowlful on the counter to nibble from at this time of year. I toss them in batters and on waffles, make cobblers and crisps, tarts and grunkles, pile them on a bowl of plain yogurt and granola, muddle them in drinks (try a small handful in a mojito) and simmer them into jam. BC is the biggest highbush blueberry region in the world, and they’re Canada’s biggest fruit export. I always buy more than I need, squirreling some away in the freezerContinue reading

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Early summer is fried dough season; in Calgary, the Stampede is here, and there are fairs and festivals everywhere offering up all manner of deep fried things and food on a stick. On the midway, I’ve always been semi-oblivious to funnel cakes, but have recently discovered how amazing they can be when you make them yourself. Which is a perfectly reasonable alternative to paying $7 for 7 cents’ worth of fried dough. I mean, look at these. How could you not love a funnel cake? And they’re faster and easier to make than a batch of doughnuts. Funnel cakes are made out of essentially pancake batter, run through a funnel (easier than it sounds!) into hot oil, making squiggles and blobs – it’s all crispy bits, really. And although the classic way to serve them is warm, doused in icing sugar, I’ve discovered they make a fine sundae, and judging the best food on the midway last night, the winner in the savoury category wasContinue reading

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I know it’s the height of spring and all thoughts are turning to strawberries and rhubarb (or should be), and I just harvested armloads of same to ensure baggies of frozen rhubarb will jam (pun totally not intended) all surplus freezer space for the foreseeable future, but because there were two 11 year olds in the house today, I decided to score some points with a chocolate marshmallow pie instead. (Spoiler: it worked.) It’s been on my to-do list to make something out of Renée’s new(ish) book, All the Sweet Things, since long before it hit the shelves. It’s a gorgeous book, so well photographed and designed by the talented crew at Touchwood (who also published In the Dog Kitchen and Out of the Orchard! ahem), but most importantly it’s filled with things I actually want to make (and eat).

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This is just a recipe for crêpes – I promise you don’t have to stack them, smeared with lemon curd and cream (above) or Nutella and stacked into a cake unless you want to. I consider crêpes an essential thing to know how to make – there is nothing like standing at the stove, rhythmically pouring and tilting batter in the bottom of a hot pan, then spreading hot crêpes with butter, sprinkling them with brown sugar and a shake of cinnamon, rolling them up and doling them out, to make everything feel right in the world on a weekend morning. (Lately I’ve been eating mine with large spoonfuls of cold stewed rhubarb and a blop of plain yogurt.) Everyone should know how to make a batch of crêpes, and not be intimidated by the process – the best way to learn is to practice, to get a feel for quickly tilting the pan to cover the bottom with batter as it cooks. And evenContinue reading

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This lunar rhubarb cake is a thing – do you know of it? It has made the rounds of Canadian kitchens for decades and generations, far before the internet and Pinterest made it easier to share, back when great aunts and neighbours scribbled down the formula for that cake they always make that’s so good. Everyone seems to remember this. It’s called lunar cake because its surface resembles the pocked surface of the moon, only in this case it becomes irregular and uneven because of the fruit and buttery brown sugar that sinks into the top. (Any fruit will work here – I love these recipes that you can use no matter what’s in season. I already can’t wait for plums.) I’d heard of it but never made one, thinking it was the same sort of fruit-topped cake I’d made dozens of versions of, but when it popped up in the new cookbook by Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller, whose lives I would quickly adoptContinue reading

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When I was a kid, maybe 9, I had a cupcake company. (I know, I was way ahead of myself.) I took out a $20 loan from my mom, bought ingredients and labeled them, and made the One Egg Cake out of The Joy of Cooking, and turned the batter into cupcakes to sell to neighbours on our street. After my loan was paid back, I think I made $7. (Most of the profits were eaten up.) I still have a soft spot (OK, many) for homemade cupcakes with straight-up buttercream frosting, applied in no particularly fancy order, just spread on with a knife. I think of the one-egg cake often, but have never revisited it – until late this afternoon, when I really really just needed some cake. And a short distraction from the computer. I stood and stared at the mixer beating butter, sugar, eggs, flour, milk – this is as basic a formula as they get – then poured the batter intoContinue reading

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Flapper pie! As always, I’m late to the party – I’ve made two of these in two days, and only managed to eat a slice this afternoon. I’m a sucker for recipes with unusual names, particularly Canadian ones and anything that has to do with pie – if you haven’t heard of it, flapper pie is a prairie thing, although no one can say whether or not it was invented here. It’s a graham crust filled with vanilla custard and topped with meringue, and was popular in the prairies because its ingredients are easy to find on farms and don’t depend on seasons – there is nothing more exotic than sugar, milk, eggs, cornstarch and a box of graham crackers that were easily obtained at the corner store. (In fact, some say this recipe was originally printed on the box.) There are plenty of flapper pie recipes out there, and most of them are very similar, with small tweaks to the quantity of each ingredient,Continue reading

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I made this for last week’s Swerve column, wanting to break out of my usual baking habits – the scones, loaves and cookies I’ve been making for decades – things I can play with, mix and bake in semi-sleep without a recipe but with a predictable outcome. I’ve had middle eastern flavours on my mind lately – spiced desserts made with toasted nuts and sweetened with honey – and so I baked Um Ali, an Egyptian dessert (also known as Umm Ali and Om Ali – translation: mother of Ali) people often compare to bread pudding, but I find far more interesting and complex – for starters, it’s not as heavy and doughy; it’s soft and creamy in the middle, almost like rice pudding, with chewy edges and crunchy bits of pastry and nuts poking through. It begins with a piece of puff pastry, baked while the oven is on (just unroll a piece of thawed frozen puff, that’s it) and torn into a shallowContinue reading

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It’s said that there are cooks and there are bakers. I consider myself both, but do tend to dive into dough when I’m happy/sad/stressed or otherwise in need of comfort – or when others are. The thing about baking is that you don’t do it out of necessity (as getting dinner on the table) and for the most part you don’t do it for yourself – baking is always about sharing. Pies seem to dig even deeper into our collective histories – pies of all sorts are associated with the comforts of home, of casual celebrations and being together. You only make pies for people you really love. I mean to make pies more often than I do, and I say this as someone comfortable with the thought of making pastry from scratch – the prospect of making something like an apple pie from just butter-sugar-flour-apples can be daunting – but you can do this. I always have apples on my countertop, and make aContinue reading

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