chocolate pudding cake 2

I impulsively made my mom’s chocolate pudding cake for dinner tonight. My dad was coming by to eat with us, and his presence triggered a memory of my mom cobbling together some sort of dessert at the last minute when there wasn’t a little something sweet in the house, as he opened all the cupboards in search of a square of chocolate. She had a few standbys and this was one of them. Since chocolate is his thing, I mixed it together and slid it into the oven alongside the pork tenderloin. (At the table, W asked me how long it had taken me to make it. About ten minutes, I said. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I absolutely must have this recipe!’)

Chocolate pudding cake Collage

This request was followed by a handful of others on twitter, so I thought I’d post it. Partly in order to bookmark it myself.
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Meyer lemon tarts 1

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.)

meyer lemon collage

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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flapjack 1

It’s true – I often make things just for their name. Or the fact that they’re British (as if the food itself also has an irresistible accent) – especially when they’re called something that I generally associate with another completely different thing. Also: I’m a sucker for butter and Lyle’s Golden Syrup – particularly on toast, but really how could anything made with it not be spectacular? I also have a soft spot (many, actually, mostly in the thigh area) for things made with butter, brown sugar and oats.

So. When I learned eons ago about the existence of the British flapjack – a bar cookie made without eggs or flour, making them dense and chewy and grainy, the most buttery-sugary kind of granola bar possible, they had to be made. And again. And then I realized I should probably share.

flapjack
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brussels sprout salad 2

Who needs a healthy dose of veggies after that long weekend chocopalooza? (I do.) Something crunchy and cruciferous, to give my jaw a workout. Something to provide a nutritional ballast against all that ham, all those cinnamon buns, and so many handfuls of eggies. And so it was good timing that a few food blogging friends had organized a virtual cookbook launch for our mutual pal Mairlyn, who recently launched a cookbook of Canadiana, Homegrown.

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hot cross buns 1

I didn’t think hot cross buns were in the stars for me this weekend, but -almost without thinking about it- I warmed some milk and butter and proofed some yeast as I made coffee this morning, and then suddenly they were in the works. I still had currants left over from Christmas fruitcake-baking, after all – it would be a shame not to bake a batch. Right?

Hot cross buns are essentially cinnamon-spiked dough dappled with currants or raisins and candied peel – although I usually skip the bits of peel and add grated orange zest instead. When I think about it, I have no idea why these are limited to once a year. It’s like raisin bread in soft bun form – if you have some aged cheddar or Gouda in the house, tuck some into a warm buttered bun to win friends and influence people.

hot cross buns 3

The dough is easy to mix – if they’re for breakfast, you can shape the buns, cover and refrigerate them overnight to slow the rise.

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macaroons 1

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?

macaroons 2

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spinach ricotta gnocchi

Homemade gnocchi – little dough dumplings made with potatoes or ricotta – is the sort of thing most of us would consider a special kitchen project, and yet for Italian nonnas it’s one of the shortest, easiest routes to dinner. Those with skilled hands can shape gnocchi like the wind – when my good pal Emily Richards (who also happens to be one of the most knowledgeable cooks I know) came to visit last year, she made us all a batch of gnocchi for dinner one night, and brought an extra wood gnocchi board her dad made, just for me. (If you don’t have a gnocchi board, don’t sweat it – the tines of a fork work just as well.)

gnocchi 1
gnocchi 2

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honey banana muffins 1

Have you ever had a banavalanche? A mass of frozen bananas unloading from your freezer each time you open the door? Fortunately I have a drawer freezer at the bottom of my fridge now – which means the bananas overflow into the ice cube tray, making all our ice taste like banana.

Which is a sign it’s time to bake something. I toss a few whole (solid) bananas in a bowl of warm water to thaw, then squeeze them out one end (like milking a cow) until their super soft innards slither out into the mixing bowl. But I feel as if I’ve finally hit my banana bread quota, and the two of us have to take a break for awhile – and so I dug out a recipe for muffins sweetened with honey that I made out in Tofino one time, and (possibly because we’re typically out there at this time and my subconscious self is homesick for the place) made a batch.

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Hy's cheese toast 1

Forever ago, when I was at art college, the school cafeteria sold thick slabs of cheese toast for a dollar. It was about all I could afford, which was convenient because it was also what I loved the most. Open faced grilled cheese. It reminded me of my mom’s tuna melts, minus the tuna, and my grandma’s hot dog melts on hamburger buns that would go all crackly in the oven. Cheese toast is perhaps as comforting as it’s possible to get. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you need a recipe for – and yet it’s so much more than just cheese on toast.

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