Sunday, September 18, 2016

Potato Gnocchi with Late Summer Vegetables

One of the more frequent blog-related questions I get asked is: "how do you feel about shortcuts?". You know what I'm talking about... Cream of mushroom soup as a base, frozen casseroles, boxed cake mixes, or powdered potatoes. As much as I believe there is a time and place for these time savers (you can pry my boxes of Kraft Dinner from my cold, dead hands!), I feel that if you have the patience and just a few minutes, you can make so many convenience foods from scratch. In most cases, the "real" thing takes only a step or two longer than the short cut.

Take, for example, gnocchi; pillowy, bite-sized pasta that is easily found in the frozen foods section of any grocery store. Or, that's at least how I always found them. I wouldn't ever imagine making these impressive little bites fresh at home, that is, until my husband did just that.... And they were delicious! And easy! My husband went from cutting board to plate, in under 20 minutes with this potato gnocchi. To say I was impressed is an understatement!

With a couple of experiments, and a few seasonal ingredients for the sauce, this Potato Gnocchi with Late Summer Vegetables is a perfect dish for the time-constrained, but gourmet minded home cook. Soft potato pasta is smothered with a sauce of blistered tomatoes, shallots, basil and fresh corn. You'll never want to buy frozen gnocchi again after making these!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Red Raspberry Jam

As the summer draws to a close, I find myself grasping for as many warm weather moments as possible. Even though I hear school buses rumbling down the street each morning, and Halloween displays are already out in the markets, I don't want to give up the beautiful golden glow of the late summer days. I don't want to stop enjoying being outside, or run out of fresh sweet raspberries from the berry patch.

Sadly, these are inevitabilities; Autumn is coming - the gold leaves that are slowly scattering across our yard prove it. There is a way to bridge the seasons, though, while the summer raspberries are still abundant.

This year I'm taking a cue from my jam-making mother-in-law, and preserving the best sweet red fruit that the late season can provide. Homemade Raspberry Jam is delicious and simple to make: A big basket of raspberries and a few cups of sugar create the best cure for the end-of-summer blues!

This jam is delicious on toast, as an add in to creamy Greek yogurt, or baked into your favorite cookie.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Watermelon Basil Margarita

I want to think of myself as a "put-together" sort of person: I schedule my hair appointments months in advance. I make lists. My hall clock runs fast so I can get out the door to the boys' school early (genius!). I even have what we affectionately call the "command center" in the kitchen - a combination huge calendar/bulletin board that maps out our daily commitments and work schedules, all in bright Crayola-approved erasable marker.

With this in mind, about two weeks after having my third baby, I got around to reserving the kids' summer camp sessions (early!). Check that one off the list, easy-peasy. Well, fast forward to the first day of camp, and the kids are excited... I'm excited too! Because, really, how often do get to have six hours of undisturbed quality time with your bed or ipad.... I mean... errr.... new baby?

With their backpacks stuffed with multiple towels & bathing suits, lunches made, and sunblock applied, we head out the door. We even arrive ten minutes early (Huzzah! The hall clock system works!). I drop the kids off calmly to their respective camp groups, feeling a great sense of, "I got this three kid thing down", and head home for a much anticipated cup of coffee & cuddle with baby. When I get... THE CALL.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

G & Tea (Gin & Green Tea Sour)

Spring has finally arrived, and thank goodness for that! My hopes for velvety green leaves, blue sunny skies, and the buzzing of honeybees were almost dashed due to a dreary start of the season. Very fortunately, it is now the perfect time for afternoons on the deck and - once the kids are asleep - cocktails enjoyed in the warm evening breeze!

With that in mind, I went searching for inspiration for a fun new sipper. Having spent the last ten months on a total alcohol ban due to pregnancy (and even now, it's very limited), I was itching to create something new. Gin is a favorite of mine, even though it gets a bad rap. The thing is, you have to be specific and find a gin that fits your tastes. Mine is the smooth & lightly herbaceous goodness called Hendrick's Gin.

After much experimentation, and a very willing tipsy taste tester in the kitchen (my husband gets all the perks!), we found a winner. We went through several iterations to find that certain something that would make this drink different... to try linking it's past as a Prohibition-Era libation, but also put on a modern twist.

A classic gin sour is a cocktail that screams speakeasies and jazz bars. Typically there are only three ingredients; gin, lemon juice, and sugar syrup. It's simple and classic. After starting there, I wanted to incorporate the refreshing and floral flavors of green tea, along with sweet elderflower liquor. This was more in line of the 'gentleman's gin cocktail'; something to drink in your top hat and tails. The one where you sidle up to the countertop and say "I'll take a G & Tea please, bartender", with a wink and a nod so they get the pun.

Presenting the Gin & Tea, if you please.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Strawberry Lemonade Cake

Well, I'm back after a looooong hiatus! Pregnancy - with all of it's joys, cravings, aches & pains - completely kicked my butt. The end result couldn't be more spectacular...our new baby boy was welcomed into the world a few weeks ago; all 8 1/2 pounds and 22 inches of him! He's definitely one of the best things I've ever made!

So, with that being said, I began looking for a comeback cooking project. My oldest son's birthday is this week, and when I asked what sort of cake he would like me to make, he totally surprised me! He replied, with his huge, gap-toothed grin (the tooth fairy has been paying a lot of visits lately!), to say "A Strawberry-Lemonade Cake, Mum!". Okey-dokey then.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Chocolate Cranberry Bundt Cake

I think most of us have a collection of family recipes; scribbly-written and faded index cards that hide in our cupboards. Those tried-and-true dishes that were a trademark of our family dinners growing up. Recipes that bear the splatters of previous cooks - the ones who jotted notes down in the margins, describing those small changes made by each generation, sometimes for new cooking methods, or ingredient availability ("Sour Salt? Where the heck can I find sour salt?").

I call these my "Grandmother Recipes", and I treasure them: Sweet & Sour Cabbage Rolls, which as a young child I loathed, but now adore. Mini cheesecakes - so deliciously creamy - but smacking of 1950's cooking shortcuts. The guarded recipe for my family's cheese blintzes, passed from one generation to the next, and NEVER shared with outsiders.