Baklava is one of my favourite things—I love honey, and crisp phyllo as a carrier, with layers of chopped nuts. It’s something few of us consider making from scratch… it seems like a fancy, finicky thing, but the truth is, it’s not. Phyllo is very forgivable, so you can layer it with butter, honey, nuts and spices and however you shape and cut it, it will be delicious. (If it looks like a disaster, call it baklava mess, and serve it in a dish, with a fork and an extra drizzle of honey, as if you intended to do it that way all along.)
It’s a sure sign we’re solidly into summer when the first cherries arrive from BC. The other day a small grocery store by the dog park had an enormous bowl of them at the checkout, and people were milling about far after they had their groceries bagged, chatting, downing as many as they could. BC cherries always arrive bigger, juicier and meatier than I remember, and the action of working out a cherry pit with your tongue and spitting it into the grass channels decades worth of summer nostalgia.
This is what happens when I come home with leftover whipping cream in a can… I need to come up with a use for it to prevent myself from spraying it all directly into my mouth. Also: I have a container of the most brilliant raspberry-rhubarb compote in the fridge, which I love to eat cold with yogurt and granola, but lets face it – a crunchy-edged biscuit and whipped cream makes even better use of it. If dessert was a sandwich, this might be it. Somehow, someone somewhere decided that shortcakes were the ultimate vehicle for strawberries… so much so that someone else invented those little yellow sweet sponges to sell alongside the berries in grocery stores during the summer. And yes, strawberry shortcake is a good thing… such a good thing that they named a cartoon character after it. But honestly, any juicy seasonal fruit does just as well – you need it to be juicy so that the shortcakes can absorb someContinue reading
There are few new ideas in the culinary world – most recipes out there are tweaks of existing things or creative new versions of same, and I suppose this is no different. But when someone on Twitter questioned why no ice cream version of the Nanaimo bar exists – beyond, yes, an ice cream pie (though I wonder about the vanilla ice cream filling with dry custard powder stirred in…) – in response to the conversation about the new Canadian dessert stamps and how the Nanaimo bar stamp looks more like an ice cream bar, ratio-wise, I leapt at the challenge. And so I give you Nanaimo ice cream bars with a Nanaimo bar base and frozen custard ice cream made with Bird’s custard powder. Oh yes.
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 aContinue reading
I’ve been bombarded with requests – and rightly so! – for this ermine frosting since posting it in stories last night. Honestly, my world has forever changed. I’m what you might call a frosting fanatic – the one who seeks out the corner piece with the most flowers it can structurally tolerate – and yet it can be altogether too much sweet. Enter Ermine: an old-school frosting that was apparently the original frosting paired with red velvet cakes—the somewhat unorthodox method of boiling milk and flour into a thick, pasty pudding and then spooning congealed blobs into whipped butter and sugar miraculously produces an over-the-top smooth and fluffy, not-too sweet frosting that’s a dream to work with. I know, it doesn’t sound delicious. But it is.
Before we all move on to apples and pumpkin, lets make the most of the last stone fruits-apricots, peaches and plums, the former and the latter so delicious in cakes and tarts, and so often overlooked in favour of the almighty apple pie. This beauty comes from one of my favourite new books of the summer, How to Eat a Peach, by the great British food writer Diana Henry. (The title was inspired by a night in Italy when the author was in her twenties, and a couple at the next table at the outdoor trattoria she was dining at were served a bowl of ripe peaches, which they sliced into glasses of cold moscato; they’d then sip the bubbly wine, now infused with peach, and eat the peach slices, now imbued with the flavour of the wine.)
I realize plums aren’t in season right now, but focus on what’s underneath: a crunchy shredded phyllo-wrapped ricotta cheesecake of sorts, which like other cheesecakes can be topped with just about anything, including whatever fruit you currently have in the freezer, simmered with a bit of sugar or honey and spooned overtop. I wasn’t sure what to call this – it’s not really pie, nor cake; I settled on torte (as have others) because it’s a sort of blanket term for a dense cake, and it is baked in a pan and served in wedges. What makes it unique is the kataifi, finely shredded phyllo pastry you can find alongside the frozen phyllo at any Middle Eastern grocery, and even in some grocery stores. It’s lovely to work with.
Chocolate should really be declared the official food of February, since at some point long ago someone decided it defined love, or professed it, or otherwise made people feel as good as love does. It’s always chocolate season, of course – but in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day I tend to want it more. The power of suggestion is strong with me. Of course Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the things you love with the ones you love. The folks at Green & Black’s asked if I’d play around with some of their bars and make a fondue for two, and I was more than happy to oblige. You hardly need a recipe for chocolate fondue, but a little guidance helps, and the ratios of cream:chocolate vary from bar to bar. Once you get the formula down – heat cream, add chopped chocolate, stir – you can play around with it a bit, adding a shot of booze to the cream, orContinue reading
Cook, cookbook author, writer, eater. Food columnist on CBC radio, contributing food editor for the Globe + Mail. ❤️ feeding people.