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Yes! You can turn mashed potatoes into doughnuts. As if you needed another good reason to make more mashed potatoes than you need – these doughnuts are what you make with the leftover mashed potatoes you haven’t yet eaten with butter and salt. So… the leftover leftovers. The recipe comes from my friend Caroline, who sings and plays in a retro pop rock band called the Lovebullies, and whose family makes enormous batches of these mashed potato doughnuts every Christmas. Christmas doughnuts seem like a great idea to me – not only are they delicious, you could, if you were so inclined, probably hang them on the tree. And making doughnuts is more of a production than one would generally take on on a regular weekend – which is really what the upcoming holidays are all about. Staying in your PJs until noon, and spending an hour making homemade doughnuts, to be doused in sugar and eaten with large cups of coffee and hot chocolate.Continue reading

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Had to make this. It was Sunday, and my birthday, and I wanted to stay in my pajamas. W and I saw this on Instagram and had to make one. We put on some Bowie and did some baking. Beats scooping guck out of a pumpkin. We had blueberries and saskatoons in the freezer – perfect for dark, brooding eyes. Other than that, it was just a matter of cutting the face with the tip of a knife. I made an uncooked filling, but find that it can wind up tasting starchy – next time I’d cook the filling first, stirring in some fresh blueberries for little pops of juice. Any dark pie filling would work.

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It’s nice when things that don’t take much time accidentally turn out awesome, isn’t it? When apples are in season, they make me want to bake – pies are nice in theory, but I’m not always in the mood to make one. An apple cake is a lovely thing, especially when it’s more apple than cake, and when you have a buttery dough you can stir together in a few minutes and know by heart, so that in spring it can be berry or rhubarb cake, in summer it can be a peach or plum cake. This is the sort of cake I like best – I think most days I’d choose this over a fancy chocolate tower held together with ganache.

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It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I’ve made this pie twice. As you may know, pumpkin pie has never been my first choice – but I’m starting to change my mind about it. I make at least one a year regardless for the pumpkin pie lovers in the family – and for the most part, since I’m not really the one eating it, I stick to the same recipe. But this year, since I adore coconut milk – and coconut cream pie – and since both Mike and my dad have recently developed an intolerance to lactose, I decided to give it a try in place of the cream or evaporated milk I typically use in pumpkin pie filling. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! For pie beginners, pumpkin is about the easiest kind to manage. Stir together the pumpkin, coconut milk, sugar – I’ve been experimenting with coconut sugar, which is kind of the New Big Thing – eggs, spices – yes, pumpkinContinue reading

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This tart, hey? I discovered it’s tricky to say “cranberry curd tart” (try it) – but it turned out to be one of the most stop-in-your-tracks stunningly gorgeous things I’ve ever made. (In that it’s a brilliant pink colour, not because I made a particular effort to get fancy on its behalf.) I made it a few weeks ago for a holiday story, and wanted to share before Thanksgiving weekend, since it is the first of two annual holidays during which cranberries are crown jewels.

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If we were to compile a book of family recipes, this upside down pear gingerbread may just be on the cover. We have it every Thanksgiving – it’s our pumpkin pie – and although gingerbread in general is not my favourite, this cake is. It’s special but not fancy, with a soft interior and chewy, caramelly edge, and is one of the very best vehicles for whipped cream there is. One of the biggest selling points of an upside-down cake is the fact that it needs no decorating. When you invert the cake the pear slices end up on top, making it look gratifyingly complete with no need for frosting. It does, however, scream for ice cream or whipped cream – provide a bowl of it alongside for people to serve themselves, or put a dollop on each slice. Pear gingerbread is also perfectly suitable for breakfast – in wedges with hot coffee, or smothered in thick Greek yogurt.

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Stone fruits make the best pie. Truly. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the BC nectarines are unreal this year – better than any I’ve had. We bought a case and started rationing them toward the end – they were so sweet and juicy, we’d slice them thickly over our pancakes, and let the juices mingle with maple syrup. There were apricots, too – and some peaches, and plums. And the omnipresent blackberries, which add tartness and colour by the handful to just about any pie. I mean – look at it! The crumble top was a compromise of the best possible kind – some in the house wanted pie, and others wanted crisp – I kind of like getting the best of both worlds. And in the late summer and fall, which with all its apples and pears and stone fruits is undoubtedly crisp season, you can blend a big batch (I use equal parts brown sugar – flour – oats, with halfContinue reading

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I’m always intrigued by other peoples’ birthday cake choices. There are those who stick with tradition and get the same thing every year, and then those who are more opportunistic, seeing it as their one annual chance to request the most extravagant ice cream cake/croquembouche/peanut butter pie/tower of brownies/cupcakes/crepes/cream puffs (all previous choices of mine, yes) imaginable. Yesterday was my nephew’s 26th, and being a salty-over-sweet kind of guy, he thought about it for a few minutes, then remembered a coconut lemon tart he had had at a dinner out at Feast Tofino earlier this year, and not being able to find the source of said tart, I decided to come up with one based loosely on 1) his memory, and 2) our favourite Key lime pie out here at SoBo. And here’s something else: did you know you can whip coconut cream the same way you whip heavy cream? It’s true. And it tastes like coconut. It’s true. I’m sorry you’re welcome.

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How is it that I’ve never made a maple syrup pie? Such a Canadian thing and somehow, I hadn’t. I’ve corrected this. Maple pie is not super summery kind of pie in that it doesn’t incorporate berries or stone fruits, but it would be if you added a tumble of raspberries or blueberries over top. And it is when you consider the fact that you make it ahead and chill it in the fridge, then serve up cold slivers (or big wedges to share – it’s pretty intense) with ice cream or vanilla-scented whipped cream. Also, it’s about as easy as it gets to whisk together the eggs, cream, brown sugar and maple syrup and pour it into a crust. It could even be a store-bought crust – I won’t tell.

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