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These don’t have to be sprinkle doughnuts, but since the cousins were over this weekend, I thought there ought to be sprinkles. I figured their young minds were at their memory-storing prime, and if I was to instill fond memories of making doughnuts from scratch at their aunt’s house, who let them cook the holes and scraps and douse them in cinnamon sugar to eat while the doughnuts were cooking, I’d better get on it. Doughnuts aren’t difficult; the yeast-raised kind (these) are made with a simple dough enriched with butter and eggs, then patted and cut (I can’t resist doughnut cutters when I see them) and cooked in a shallow pot of oil – no need for more than an inch or so. Some grandmothers cook theirs in lard or shortening; I’ve never done this, but someday I’ll give it a go just to say I did. For now, I find canola works perfectly.

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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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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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bacon caramel apple 3

It’s tough not to subsist on midway food during Stampede week – which isn’t to say I’ve been gorging on the stuff, just that you tend to absorb bites of this and that when you’re on the grounds and at events trying to be patriotic, as it were. I was introduced to the fudge apple this week – a tart green apple dipped in fudge instead of candy or caramel – and it occurred to me that I may not have shared this particular baconized item with you yet, and I’d better get it in while everyone is still enamoured with over-the-top food on a stick. If there’s a party in your future, these are a total hit – with grown-ups even more so than kids. (You can always swap chopped salted peanuts or mini M&Ms or broken pretzels or sprinkles for the bacon.) The recipe can be easily doubled (or tripled) for a party – because really, what’s better for a summer party thanContinue reading

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Snow in May calls for a sweet, doughy consolation prize. Eat your heart out Hef. Could there be anything sexier? This doughnut could be a cover model. Or a centrefold. Do they even have centrefolds anymore? It wouldn’t need any photoshopping, anyway. Age has brought with it a certain persnicketiness in the doughnut department. At one time I would have been thrilled with Timbits, but I’ve become spoiled – if I’m going to eat a doughnut it might as well be a really fantastically great one. This is not to say I easily shun a box of coffee shop doughnuts should I discover one in my vicinity. Warm ones, made from scratch with real vanilla, are a little more difficult to resist. But why would you want to, when slush is falling from the sky and you’ve pulled out your woolly socks again? I buy this vanilla bean paste from the Cookbook Company Cooks for applications such as this, where the flavour is predominant andContinue reading

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Or as Mike called it, “The New Best Thing Ever”, “Heaven in a Bowl”, and “OMGooooooood!!” I know, it doesn’t look like much. It wasn’t planned, and then when it turned out so well I had to grab a bunch out of Mike’s fist in order to document it. I’m not sure how to convey how much better this tastes than it looks. The spur-of-the-moment red tissue may have been a mistake. I’ll take more photos next time – and there will be a next time. We ate the entire batch tonight while decorating the tree. I was just playing, distracted by thoughts of the sugary top of that Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch I told you about. I wanted to make it maple: ditch the ginger, swap the golden syrup for pure maple. Which made me want to add toasted walnuts. I put a slab of butter into a small pot to melt, intending to add another layer to an existing batch, just to try.Continue reading

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Yes, I shared. Honestly, I have no idea why my pants are getting so tight. But first: Plantain fritters! I wish I would have figured this out on Monday. Then again, best that I didn’t – the house smelled like mini donuts and the Stampede all day. They were fantastic. And easy to make. They brought out the banananess of the plantains – as fritters, they tasted more of bananas than I think bananas would have. And they held up to the heat – when you bit into one, it wasn’t mush. I love that this week I was forced to make my acquaintance with something that has been available to me for most of my life, and yet I never bothered getting to know. I still have enough left to take a stab at a curry next week. Which, ahem, brings me to a small confession. I assumed that since we started on Monday, Sunday night we’d be wrapping up the Week in TheirContinue reading

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I subscribe to the Nike school of thought when it comes to entertaining:Just Do It. Or Just Send Out An Email, and by hitting send you’ve instantaneously committed yourself to having people show up at your door, and you’ll figure it out, and everyone will have a great time even though you haven’t managed to tidy up the dust and dog hair rhinos that have collected in every corner and on the sides of each hardwood stair. Because really, no one cares about that stuff. And I’m convinced that everyone else will feel a little bit better about themselves if they see what a disaster my house is. The point is, if you wait until you have time, or worry about schedules and menu planning and all the things that might stress you out about having people over, it might never happen. So although I should have been working on my manuscript today, I knew much of the neighbourhood would be out chipping in forContinue reading

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No, not for dinner – but you don’t really want to hear about how I ate chateaubriand all over again, do you? (That’s beef tenderloin with b√©arnaise sauce – like hollandaise, made with egg yolk and clarified butter. Oh yes. I’m a bit ashamed of myself for how much of it I ate. On everything. Turns out it’s pretty damn yummy on bread, too. And vegetables. And fingers. I gave my dessert to Mike, but downed a few chocolate truffles and fancy martinis. It snowed all day today – thick, slow, quiet snow so ideal for the holidays that I fully expected to see a bunch of JPL elves on the roof outside my session dumping bagsful of fluff over the edge. (You know The Snowman by Raymond Briggs? Like that.) We snuck out for an hour in the afternoon and made snowmen and threw rocks through the thin ice at the edge of the lake. I don’t want to go home tomorrow. How couldContinue reading

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