July 15, 2014

recipe: orange bundt cake + vanilla grenadine glaze

Orange Bundt Cake Orange Bundt Cake I am always anxious about something. I would guess that this is partially inherited and largely self-fabricated. As soon as I figure out how to cope with one thing, three more explode - and so I seem to find myself in a constant state of coping. Over the years my coping tactics have evolved, but one that has stood the test of time is simply just puttering around the kitchen. While anxiety totally annihilates my appetite, I can still find relaxation in the simple tasks of measuring, mixing, baking, cleaning, scraping, repeating. I’m sure this is largely influenced by all my sunny childhood food memories, primarily: dangling off my Nana’s kitchen counter as she made batches of meatballs, biscotti or preserved peaches (plucked from trees in her own backyard.)

So this morning, looking for a way to rest my racing mind, I set out to reinterpret one of the manfriend’s childhood recipes: orange muffins. I hope his grandmother would approve of my take on things. And I hope that one day I too can be remembered (in part) by the handwritten recipe cards I leave behind.

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recipe: brown butter apple tart + perspective

tart7

I’m inclined to believe that everyone has some sort of innate skill or sense – like my magical (or ‘creepy’, depending on who you ask) ability to just know when a cat is close by. It often happens as I stroll the neighbourhood – my head suddenly whips around of its own volition as my eyeballs zero in on a small corner of a house’s third-floor window where a tiny cat sits, staring back at me. If this were a skill I could cash in on, I would be so rich. But it’s not, and it brings me to something I’ve been thinking about lately: not every skill is effortless. Like, let’s see…baking!

Question: is ‘effortless baking’ a thing? Is there anyone out there who can naturally just forego the measuring cups and the step-by-step instructions and end up with flawless flans every time? Because most of the talented bakers I follow certainly make it appear that way. Meanwhile I’ve been beating myself up every time a crust is too crumbly or a filling too mooshy, cursing my natural proclivity for making things up as I go. For all of us who know what it’s like to spend hours hunched over a recipe to ensure we don’t miss a single thing, only to pull our creation out of the oven in a sorry state, perhaps the art of baking isn’t meant to be an effortless one – but is that a bad thing? I like to think it’s the failed attempts – all the collapsed soufflés, runny pies and gooey-on-the-inside-but-burnt-on-the-outside muffins – that make us more industrious, creative, stubborn bakers. Hooray for that!

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July 3, 2014

a pup’s life

Cosmo | Julia Francesca

Sometimes, while hanging out with Cosmo, I think about how easily fulfillment must come to him: poop, eat, run, bark, play, sleep, repeat. There’s no career uncertainty, no body image issues, no mutual funds to worry about, no mortgage payments. It’s entirely likely that his primary concerns include the horrible landscaping job I do on his butt every month, and whether it’s chicken or beef for dinner. Oh, what a life.

June 3, 2014

SUMMER-ISH CRISP

Summer-ish Crumble | Julia Francesca

So it finally feels like Summer in Toronto. Cue me walking home from the market with bags and bags (and more bags) stuffed with cherries, peaches, melons and berries. I knew I had to try my first ever crisp/crumble this weekend, and it was amazing. I halved and adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit (splash of maple syrup in lieu of sugar, gluten free flour, arrowroot instead of cornstarch, coconut shreds, and a mixture of cherries, peaches and berries.) Yum. Next time I’ll dollop some coconut whipped cream on top and eat it hot out of the oven.

May 14, 2014

SPRINKLES

Sometimes life is just better with chocolate and sprinkles. In other news, I recently accomplished the perfect doughnut recipe. Not the one photographed though, because that one looked way better than it tasted.

March 10, 2014

TEA WITH NANA

My little Nana was a four-foot-nothing sassy angel, so it was devastating to say the least when she slipped away suddenly last winter. We got the call a few hours before dawn, at the very cusp of the grandest snowfall of the year. By morning the city was blanketed and absolutely silent, which I like to think she somehow had something to do with.

A year later I finally unpacked some of her belongings, among them a set of treasured teacups. I wonder what laughs and gossip they’ve eavesdropped on over the decades, and whether they’ve encountered the kinds of Oolongs and herbal teas that fill my pantry…

What are your favourite family keepsakes?

March 7, 2014

coconut meyer lemon loaf

Coconut Meyer Lemon Loaf Recipe | Julia Francesca

So, this recipe is amazing. Bright and flavourful meyer lemons combine perfectly with creamy coconut and warm honey to create the most perfectly decadent yet light treat. But I’m not going to take full credit, because it’s a mashup of my own improvisational skills, a great recipe from A Feast for the Eyes and a perfect idea for icing from Joyous Health. And true to style (read: I’m impatient), this is relatively quick, simple and easy to improvise on. Ready?

Coconut Meyer Leymon Loaf
Makes a small/medium-ish size loaf (that’s clear enough, yes?)

Ingredients:

For the Loaf:
→ 2 eggs
→ 1 cup milk of your choice (I used almond)
→ Splash of vanilla extract
→ Juice of 1 or 2 lemons (depending on how lemony you like it)
→ Zest of 1 big lemon
→ 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
→ 1/3 cup maple syrup
→ 2 cups flour of your choice
→ 1 cup shredded coconut
→ 2 teaspoons baking powder
→ Sprinkling of cinnamon
→ Pinchy pinch of salt
→ 1/2 cup poppy seeds (optional)
→ 1/2 slivered almonds (optional)

For the Icing:
→ 1 cup coconut butter
→ 1/3 cup honey
→ Juice of one lemon (or less, depending on your preference)

Directions:

→ Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

→ Whisk together eggs, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, melted coconut oil and maple syrup.

→ In another bowl, mix together flour, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, poppy seeds and slivered almonds. Make a well in the centre and pour the wet ingredients in, mixing until smooth-ish. Avoid the urge to keep mixing!

→ Grab your baking dish and spread a little coconut oil around to keep things from sticking. Pour your mixture in and pop it in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until you can poke it with a skewer and have it come out clean.

→ While the loaf cooks, toss your icing ingredients into a small bowl and whip until smooth. Set aside.

→ When the loaf is done, let it cool just slightly before carving out a big chunk and smearing it with icing. Enjoy with coffee or tea, and maybe even a sprinkling of fresh fruit of your choice.

What’s your favourite loaf recipe? Would you try this one?