Tag Archives: almonds

Strawberry-Almond Shortbread Bars

Okay, here it comes — cover your eyes if you’re not in for a bitch fest or if you hate delicious summer fruit (psych! no one hates delicious summer fruit).

What is up with the weather?

I’m starting to feel like we’re getting a bum deal on our yearly allotment of summer heat around here.

The markets I saw in Europe were bursting with rainbows of fresh fruit (even in May!) and reading about the “warm desserts for cold winter nights” from my foodie friends Down Under is making my eye twitch — your nightly low is my daily high!

Uh, like… hello? This is jealousy talking — can I come visit you?

I went to the local farmers market last Sunday, armed with cloth bags and cold, hard cash for bundles of berries, and what did I see? Strawberries, strawberries, strawberries!

Aaaand that was pretty much it. Just strawberries — all of our other local crops are late.

So, what do you do when life gives you strawberries? Make strawberry bars!

These sweet and sticky bars are full of fresh strawberry flavour and buttery nuttiness, all while being soft in the middle and crunchy on top — oh, and did I mention that they have a delicate and crumby base?

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Oh, god — December. Just get out already!

Now, normally I try to write about something light-hearted or historical for my blog, but lately I’ve just been sitting at my computer, anxiously blanking out at the screen, or wasting my time on memebase sites.

While most people wait in anticipation of December and relish in the Christmas season, I fear it.

Like, literally fear it.

Worrying about the Christmas season keeps me up at night — December offers me nothing in terms of relaxation and happiness.

Time off from work? Not with two jobs!

Time off from school? Not unless you count the two weeks off that I will spend working!

Buying presents that I seriously don’t want to buy and getting stuff that I seriously don’t need? Not constructive — I’d rather keep my money for bills and have my friends and family do the same!

Family dinners? Seriously awkwaaaaard.

Not to mention that there’s almost always snarkiness or fighting that breaks out.

My ideal December would involve a month of hibernation and intermittent waking periods for baking cookies and drinking wine and eating stöllen. For reals.

Anyways, enough complaining. I try not to complain, because, seriously — all I’ve got are first world problems.

If this is a season to love and be thankful, then I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

Like rum spiked nog and stöllen!

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Almond Cakelettes

So, I totally forgot to mention this in my last post, but I’ve decided that November is going to be Cake Month ’round here!

Cake is a huge part of pastry school training — aside from bread, cake is one of the most historically rich and diverse pastry traditions. In class we’ve been making chemically leavened cakes, egg foam-based cakes, cakes that rise using only steam, mousse cakes, cheesecakes, cakes, cakes, cakes.

Cakes on the braaaain.

And, while I love all cake, my favourite kind of cake tends to be “American-style” cake, which is denser and moister than French chiffon and sponges — so I bet you can guess what kind of cakes I’m going to posting all about!

Speaking of cake and pastry school, in case any of you are wondering, classes are going pretty well.

There were some serious tension that all came to a head the other day, though — mostly over the fact that not everyone has been pulling their weight when it comes to cleaning up at the end of the class (and there’s a ton of cleaning up to do).

The biggest do-nothing is this older guy in the class, who shall remain nameless, with a bad attitude.

He tends to be overly competitive, unwilling to help others, not interested in doing dishes, makes inappropriate comments towards some of the women in class, etc. He prefers to check his cell phone and pick at crusty bits on the stove top by his work station instead of pitching in.

Anyways, so we have this round table discussion about cleaning up and responsibility at the end of day and whatnot, and we (read: me and a couple other people in the class) call him out on his apparent cleaning allergy.

His reaction?

To fold his arms, deny all responsibility, and call us “lazy females” in a voice oozing with indignity and disgust!

Now, normally I’m not one to lose my cool, but when I lose it, I really lose it, and sexism is one of my only hot buttons.

Scratch that — sexism is my 5000°C rage button!

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Apricot-Almond Cobbler

One of my most favouritest cooking guides of all time is The Flavor Bible.

It’s not a recipe book, though, but rather a massive compendium of ingredients and their flavour pairings.

My boyfriend got it for me a few months ago (it was a really sweet, here’s-a-present-just-for-no-reason sorta thing), and it’s seriously one of the best gifts that anyone has ever given me.

Whenever there’s some fruit on the counter and I’m in need of a little inspiration…?

I just flip through the good book, pick out a few other ingredients, double-check to make sure I’m not heading for a kitchen disaster, and get crackin’.

That’s how I was inspired to take a warm, heavy cobbler recipe and change it to suit summer — by using sweet apricots, lightly toasted almonds, and vanilla bean ice cream.

Now, if only I had a porch, a rocking chair, and a mosquito swatter… then my life might be complete.

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Citrus Mousse & Candied Almonds

Today, I have some good news to share! The good news is… mousse.

Yes, it is!

No! Okay — the mousse was a lie… kind of.

I mean, while mousse is always good news, I have some news to share that’s even better than mousse.

The news is that I’ve been accepted to pastry school! Hooray!

Not that getting into pastry school is any sort of big, grandiose achievement or anything — like most trade schools, they pretty much check your bank account, your high school diploma, and your pulse. As long as you have those three things, then you’re good to go.

Still, I’m excited to be going — even if it’s going to involve a lot of 5am wake-ups and barking, “Yes, Chef!” all day.

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Coconut Lychee Rice Pudding

When I was a kid, I never ate rice pudding.

My mom used to by these jumbo rice pudding tubs from Costco and I’d just leave it to my siblings to demolish ’em — the rate at which my family could go through rice pudding probably would have disturbed even the most devoted of enthusiasts.

The reason, of course, as to why my 10-year-old self would never go near the rice pudding was because these enormous, pre-packed fridge-invaders from Costco were full of raisins.

Ugh. I don’t even think I need to talk about how much I hate raisins…

So, while I could go on and on about that, today I’m here to tell you that there’s rice pudding hope for raisin-haters!

Originally, I came across this recipe while browsing through an old Oprah Magazine.

My issues with Oprah’s housewife-cult-culture aside, I’ll admit that she can do good things from time to time — like print an awesomely adaptable rice pudding recipe!

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