You guys, I adore baked Alaska, and I’m not sure why it’s not made more often, so I am here to take any scariness out of the process. It’s one of the most fun, and most delicious, and most celebratory – not only because you get to torch it, which is perhaps the most satisfying culinary endeavour there is, but because it has just the right ratio of ice cream to cake (at least double), is topped with Italian meringue, and you can do just about anything you want with it, flavour-wise. I’ve happily shared a couple wedges at restaurants this week, which reminded me that it really isn’t that tricky to make at home, and is what one might in magazine and internet lingo be described as a show-stopper. (But… who wants to stop a show??) Just imagine, if you will, this baked Alaska with sparklers stuck all over it for a birthday. It looks stunning, and yet there’s no pressure to decorate a cake! Bonus!
The folks at Chapman’s (who are based in Ontario) asked if I’d come up with a recipe using their products, and because a) mango sorbet is W’s favourite, b) I appreciate all support that helps offset the cost of keeping this website designed, hosted and mostly functioning, and c) it gives me a legit excuse to make a baked Alaska on a regular Thursday, I sent Mike out for sorbet immediately.
I know it’s sometimes uninspiring to cook for one, and cereal is the solo meal of choice for those who would rather not have dishes to do, but I get a lot of satisfaction from single skillet meals that take under ten minutes and don’t stick you with a ton of leftovers.
This chicken thigh piccata is almost as easy as cereal: douse a couple chicken thighs in a shallow dish of flour and cook them in butter with a slice or two of lemon in the pan until they’re crisp and golden. If there are any leftover cooked veggies or quick-cooking ones in the fridge – I had half a baked potato and a bunch of broccolini – they take just a few minutes to reheat alongside. When your chicken is cooked, you can squeeze the soft lemon overtop with tongs, then add a splash of stock or wine to the pan along with a dab of butter and forkful of capers, swirl it around to loosen any browned bits, and pour overtop. SO GOOD.
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I know, it seems particularly hardcore to make your own candied peel for things like fancy breads and buns, but when you realize how simple it is, and that every orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit literally comes with an almost-free batch of candied peel, you may be a convert. And beyond the simplicity and economy of it (good candied citron is expensive, man), the homemade version is leaps and bounds better than anything you’ll buy at the store, even the expensive stuff, even more so than just about any other product I can think of – consider homemade vs store bought chocolate chip cookies, and you’ll be in the right ballpark.
I will never outgrow Easter egg hunts. Nor will I ever tire of Nanaimo bars, even though their sweetness level is high enough to turn off a lot of grown ups. How to bump them up a notch? combine the two – hide a few Cadbury’s Easter Creme Eggs in the middle frosting layer. I did this for the Eyeopener this week. Oh yes.
My three favourite ways to eat hot cross buns are as follows: 1) warm, straight from the oven, with butter. 2) pulled in half (not sliced, so you get the craggy edges) and toasted, with butter. 3) buttered and stuffed with aged cheddar or Gouda or whatever cheese you happen to be loving at the moment, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
It occurred to me yesterday, when I realized it was a week from Easter and spontaneously decided to make a batch of hot cross buns, that there aren’t a huge number of recipes out there for them – it doesn’t seem to be a staple in baking books, so I went back to my old standby. They’re fairly simple to mix together, as yeast doughs go-it’s a nice buttery one, flavoured with orange zest and studded with currants or raisins. If you like candied peel, and can find some good stuff, go for it-I tend to leave it out and rely on lots of cinnamon and orange zest or even a big spoonful of chunky orange marmalade in the dough (replace some of the sugar).
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A few weeks ago, Jann Arden invited me over for lunch – she made Beyond Meat burgers, and we chatted about life and food and how she’s navigating being vegan, and I recorded it all and whittled it down into a podcast. It was my first time recording one on my own – no one was standing by with headphones, watching the levels on the laptop… it was just Jann and I and a single hand-held mic with a really long cord – almost long enough to reach around her 8×10 foot kitchen island. (If I was to be stranded on an island, it would be that one.) Give it a listen… huge thanks to Jann for taking the time to make me lunch, for letting me use one of her songs, and just generally being an amazing human and positive influence on the world.
We all seem to want more protein in the morning, don’t we? Without necessarily committing to bacon and eggs… or even to Greek yogurt or anything more substantial than something that can be grabbed and nibbled with coffee. I tend to like carby, sweet-ish things with my coffee, and I feel like biscotti has more potential then it’s often given credit for. It feels so 90s to me – those big glass jars of awkwardly long cookies, often dunked lengthwise in waxy chocolate, on the counters of coffee shops that were just starting to multiply. I think some people decided that biscotti should be hard, and as such let them sit out forever, hardening. But in my mind they should be crisp and not an effort to bite into without softening them first in your coffee.
So back in February, when my friend Jan’s new cookbook came out, I was so diligent in making sure I made one of the recipes in a timely manner to post on the day of her official launch. I made a pot of beefaroni on a Sunday night when everyone was over for dinner – I’m making an effort to do more big family Sunday suppers these days – and it was a total hit. I mean, perfect for everyone, from the new generation of littles to my Dad, who took some home for lunch the next day. I’ve made it twice since – it’s a good meal to send someone who needs it, or to have in the fridge to dip into for quick dinners and Thermos lunches, and it freezes well. And I just realized I never managed to post it here.
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