Thursday, June 30, 2011

Food Memories: Blackberry jam

They say that a person's sense of smell is able to evoke the strongest memories, but I think one's sense of taste comes in a close second.

Growing up, I would get sent to stay with my grandparents for a week each summer (being the only child in the neighborhood certainly tested my ability to entertain myself!). The one thing I remember most is my grandmother's boysenberry jam.

Photo credit: Merced Sun-Star - Mark Crosse

Monday, June 27, 2011

DIY Mayonnaise

I'll ruin the suspense right away here... this one was a flop. I've made homemade mayonnaise before and it came out fine, but it's been so long I'm not sure what I did different.

Dinner was to be sandwiches with market-fresh tomatoes, lettuce and vége-pâté (which I would also like to try my hand at making one of these days... the stuff is crazy good). Only, we didn't have any mayo in the house, so I turned to The Kitchn for help...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Valuable lessons: Label your mystery meat

We've all heard the same bit of advice at some point... label what you put in the freezer. I, for one, often ignore that bit of advice. Our freezer is fairly small, and what goes in it is pretty easy to identify... frozen veggies, the occasional loaf of bread, tub of ice cream... you know, the usual suspects.

But in keeping with my inability to cook for just two people, I often find myself with leftovers of soups, stews and sauces that also get bundled into the freezer for a later date. On thawing, these items aren't always as easy to identify as a bag of frozen peas might be. We've had our fair share of pasta with "mystery sauce" dinners:

"The sauce is good... *holding up a forkful* Is this chicken or fish?"

"I think it's cauliflower, actually... *tentative sniff*"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Field Trip! Marché Jean-Talon

The Marché Jean-Talon is one of my favorite places in Montreal, hands down. One might even say it is the market this monkey likes to go to! ;) It is an open air farmers' market in the Little Italy neighborhood. B and I will happily haul our cookies up there on our day off to wander up and down the aisles, even if we have nothing we need to buy. Once the summer is in full swing, we often do our entire week's worth of groceries there. 

But rather than flap my jaws, I'll let the pictures do the talking :) 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Good to know: baking tips

Baking can seem like a rather fussy, exact science at times. Precise measurements, mysterious chemical reactions and such... it can be very frustrating for those of us who are neither exact nor patient ;) So when I come across useful baking tips, I cling to them tightly!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Puttin' the "mmm" in mojo

We're getting into the summer months now and all those things we missed over the winter are starting to come into season. One of the items I enjoy most during the summer is cilantro. Big, fragrant, bushy bunches of it heaped up sky-high at the farmers market. I love to stand there, close my eyes and just breathe deeply... to me, the smell and taste of fresh cilantro defines summer.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Minimal-Impact Chai Oatmeal cookies

I was watching the "No Impact Man" documentary when I was struck with the need for something dessert-y, so I raided the pantry to see what I could make. It's getting close to grocery day which means there's precious little bumping around in the fridge. I poked around in my bookmarked recipes for something I could make with what I had on hand. The recipe for Chai Oatmeal Raisin cookies over at Serious Eats caught my eye.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cake wrecks

Easily amused as I am, I find this site highly entertaining:

Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Horribly, Hilariously Wrong

I'm especially amused by the haikus...

"A fish in the sky.
She turned me into a newt!
But... I got better."

Ahh... humor at the expense of others' desserts. So good.

(this, by the way, plays no small part in why I have never attempted cake decorating myself)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Things I Love: stick/immersion blenders

Every now and then you stumble across something that makes you think "Where has this been all my life?!?", and it's usually something you never thought you needed. I had one of those moments this past Christmas when I unwrapped a package and found one of these inside:

Image source:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Farmhouse Apple Cake

I am madly in love with this cake. Seriously. Unless you are horribly allergic to apples (even then, you could probably use pears instead ;), you must make it! I ran across the recipe over at A Soft Place to Land and bookmarked it as interesting, then kind of forgot about it.

Then the other night I realized I had a few apples in the fridge that were looking rather sad and needed to find something to make with them. Didn't feel like applesauce, didn't have any puff pastry on hand... but I did have all the ingredients for Farmhouse Apple Cake (I love it when that happens!), so decided to give it a whirl.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Basics: Maple vinaigrette

So the other night we had salad for dinner. I'm not usually a big salad-and-salad-only fan, but our mini-heatwave twisted my arm into not cooking anything for dinner. Instead, we had a nice little salade Niçoise (sans anchovies, though one of these days I'll have to try the really traditional recipe and see how it is).

This type of salad is really easy to put together; it's a composed salad with large chunks of a variety of veggies. You can adjust what you put in it based on your tastes, but I often include: