I don’t know if you know, but ice cream is my jam. My desert island food. I used the heat of the last couple days as an excuse to make a batch – strawberry-rhubarb, since the best part about the pie is the ice cream pairing. You can skip the pastry and the baking and get the job done all in one go. Also – there’s something about pure pink ice cream that digs deep into the best part of your childhood. It reminds me of digging the thick stripes of strawberry and chocolate out of the tub of neapolitan. I sometimes roast strawberries and rhubarb for ice cream, but that would require turning on the oven, and it hit 31 degrees at dinnertime last night. You can use fresh, uncooked strawberries, lightly mashed, but I find those combined with heat and sugar become the best form of themselves, and are easier to distribute throughout the cream. Bonus: it’s easy to simmer some rhubarb alongside.

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Warning: it’s going to be all rhubarb, all the time around here for awhile while we eat our way through the first couple armloads. This week I’ve eaten them stewed, in Eton Mess, in scones and a crisp – I’m a firm believer in rhubarb for breakfast, and its ability to get along well with all fruits, from mangoes to blackberries, makes it the ideal candidate for an easy crisp, into which you can toss whatever fruit you happen to have or need to use up because it’s starting to go wrinkly. Also it uses up armloads of rhubarb.

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When we were kids, dessert wasn’t part of our weeknight routine – my parents tried to pass off fruit as dessert, the same MacIntosh apples we’d get in our lunches if you can believe it – but on nights when my dad went squirrely hunting through kitchen cupboards for something chocolate, she’d whisk up a pot of pudding on the stovetop. Cocoa-sugar-cornstarch-milk makes a simple pudding of the sort you can get in a box (only better), but I’ve come across a few formulas that call for pouring warmed milk over chopped chocolate in a blender, then whizzing it up to melt the chocolate and incorporate just enough air to give it a sort of mousselike consistency. As a kid, I obsessed over chocolate mousse – it was chocolate in its purest form, I thought, with its airy-smooth mouthfeel, knowing it was an emulsification of two of my favourite things – chocolate and cream. I can’t recall the last time I made chocolate mousse –Continue reading

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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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