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I forgot how much I love a creamy, sloshy rice pudding. It’s the sort of thing I make semi-regularly, but never with a recipe; I resurrect leftover cooked long grain rice, or use short grain if I make it from the beginning, but it’s always thick and diner-style, and I’m usually the only one to eat it. I forgot how delicious a runny rice pudding is when it’s ice cold; like melted ice cream, sweet and rice-flavoured, and in this case spiked with cardamom. It’s fantastic. The recipe comes from Noorbanu Nimji and Karen Anderson, a couple of gems who just released a new cookbook – A Spicy Touch – the theme of our cookbook club (Bite Club!) the other night. It was hot, approaching 30 in the afternoon, and something in the back of my mind reminded me that cold rice pudding spiked with cardamom would be a very good idea. Of course they had a recipe for it.

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Although it hasn’t felt like winter for a long time around here (sorry, Toronto), Meyer lemons can still be found – there’s still time. Those yellow-orange, smooth-skinned lemons that came to be out of the union of a regular lemon and mandarin are milder, smoother, less harsh than a traditional lemon – but if there are none to be found, any old lemon will do. (And will in fact give your curd more pucker, if that’s what you’re after.) There is something nostalgic about a tiny lemon tart, even if you haven’t grown up with them, nor have a grandma who happened to make lemon curd. They feel like they should go with afternoon tea parties and tiny silver spoons, and yet that’s an occasion I rarely take part in, all the men in my life even less so, and yet they tend to be the ones to dive into a plate of lemon tarts as if they haven’t eaten in a week.

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I woke up yesterday morning thinking about macaroons. As one does. (You know the difference between macaroons and macarons, right? Macaroons are those chewy mounds of coconut and sugar, bound together by egg whites. Macarons are those fancy $2-per-pop French filled sandwich cookies made with ground almonds.) Macaroons and chocolate are pals – as a kid, I’d beg my mom to buy those Ruffles, which would last approximately five minutes in our house. I realize there aren’t a whole lot of Easter recipes on this site, and it occurred to me that macaroons come with an added holiday bonus: when pressed into tart shells, they resemble nests. And that little space in the middle provides an ideal chocolate delivery service. AmIright?

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Fondue seems to be a thing again – perhaps because it’s not only a dish but an event, bringing people closer together around the table and giving them something to do – fishing for hunks of bread swimming in cheese, or strawberries in chocolate… or marshmallows in warm toffee. Yup. Why should chocolate get all the attention? Swirling together some butter, sugar and cream couldn’t be easier – it’s inexpensive, and if you root through your cupboards, I’m betting 90% of the things you find would taste divine dipped in sticky toffee. (Try the cheese popcorn. Do it!) And if you’re not in the mood to have a small crowd over for fondue, you can keep a jar of it in the fridge to pour over ice cream or baked apples, or to dip into with a spoon when you’re aching for a little something sweet.

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I made these last weekend, when we were invited over at the last minute to have dinner in our friends’ back yard. I wanted to make a pie, but there wasn’t time – and my crammed freezer had half a package of frozen tart shells left over from something or other that I kept having to move so I could close it, so I decided to solve two problems at once. Most berries are sweetened and thickened with sugar and flour or cornstarch before being baked in a pie; in this case, the tart shells get a quick 10 or so minutes in the oven to get toasty while you simmer some berries on the stovetop with those same ingredients, reserving half the berries to stir in at the end so that they burst and pop and retain their juice. You then satisfyingly spoon the berry filling into the tart shells, and you’re done.

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I’ve been traveling a lot lately, and working more hours than is probably good for me (or those I live with), and there have been extra obligations that have all added up to too much of everything, and not nearly enough sleep and W. And so on Friday we spontaneously decided to hop in the car and take off somewhere where there wasn’t a computer, or a neglected garden/back yard/basement that needed work, where we could just hang out for a night and play cards and eat Cheezies and sleep in. I find car trips therapeutic – to an extent – and am particularly fond of hour-or-two long excursions during which I can either answer my email in the car as Mike drives (I get a crazy rush out of dozens of emails whooshing out of my outbox when we arrive at an internet connection), or unplug and gaze out the window at rolling fields. As much as I love the mountains, I feel comfortedContinue reading

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So yeah, it’s been a crazy week. A week ago tonight I was making pasta with Jamie Oliver in London – and shared a plate of the pasta he made with him, even – and I need to tell you about it. How, everyone asks, did I come to be in London on an otherwise regular Monday night, wilting stinging nettles to mix with ricotta and mascarpone and stuff into fresh ravioli, alongside one Jamie O? He has a partnership with Sobeys, who as part of their Better Food for All campaign launched a healthy eating/living challenge for which the grand prize was a trip to London to do a private cooking class with Jamie himself. They chose two winners from across Canada (both from out east), and then asked me to come along for the trip, just to tweet and Instagram and generally report on it all. Which, of course, I was thrilled to do. I hadn’t been to London since I was twenty-one,Continue reading

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Saskatoons are far from in season, I realize – but blueberries are close. And local saskatoons can be had by the bagful from the freezer at the farmers’ market. This is about the time of year I start wanting pie – more so than my usual every day pie craving, that is – and berry pie in particular; one that will preferably release purple juices into my vanilla ice cream. A saskatoon pie also makes for a nostalgic sweet for mothers in law in the hospital, where the desserts that arrive on the nightly dinner tray rhymes with hell-O and comes in a plastic cup. This isn’t the prettiest pie I’ve made – I had slightly less pastry than I needed, left over from another baking project – but someone once said that the best kind of pie is the kind that’s on the table. I don’t worry about the oohing and aahing, so long as it tastes delicious.

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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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