Tag Archives: brandy

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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Vanilla Zabaglione with Summer Fruit

One of the best things about baking is the actual baking part.

You just set the temperature, set a timer, check on your handiwork half-way through its baking time to make sure it’s not all going to hell in a hot oven, and then — voila! — you have cakes, cookies, pies, bread, muffins, whatever.

Easy-peasy-pudding-and-pie, right?

As a baker who thoroughly enjoys the ease of letting time and heat do all the real work, I have a bit of stove-top anxiety.

I don’t even have a real double boiler — but I should probably get a pat on the back for excellence in kitchen improvisation.

Hear that, Mr. Robert Irvine from Dinner: Impossible? I’m waiting for your call!

Anyways, if it’s not scrambling eggs or boiling pasta, nervousness can get the better of me. Sometimes it’s easy to forget what those burners are even for!

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First, a disclaimer: this isn’t real sachertorte — it couldn’t possibly be.

The real recipe is 179-year-old secret!

Often imitated, never duplicated, the real thing only comes from the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, Austria. That doesn’t stop other people (people like me) from trying to make their own, of course.

And why not? The original sachertorte was created by a teenage kitchen apprentice! Which means that you or I can definitely make it, too.

Basically, a sachertorte is a chocolate spongecake with apricot filling, a coat of apricot glaze, then covered in a rich, chocolate icing… sounds kinda awesome, right? Especially since apricots are in season again (but don’t worry — you can use jarred apricot preserves).

Fair warning: this cake is a bit of a process. Not so much in effort or difficultly, though, but in time and chilling and dirty dishes.

Definitely read through the whole recipe before you start.

Because of the time you have to put in to make it, this is definitely a good “special occasion” cake, but…

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Cherry Clafloutis

I’m back! I had a long, much needed, semi-forced hiatus.

Between catching a serious case of the flu (which then developed into a respiratory infection, antibiotics, lovely stuff) and having my Internet cut off (some kind of rewiring issues in my apartment building), I didn’t have much of a choice.

But there’s good news, too — it’s finally warm and sunny in Vancouver!

Seriously — I was beginning to think that I missed the memo on summer being cancelled!

Summer is my favourite time of the year. It’s a season of sandals and sunburns and fruit stands.

But, as much as I like wearing sandals (and loathe sunburns) on sunny summer days, I definitely like fruit stands even better.

Nothing beats fresh, local cherries and strawberries — not to mention all the peaches, plums, apricots, and apples from the Okanagan. It gets better, too, since August brings blueberries and blackberries to the markets!

The eight months of grey skies and wet weather of Vancouver are a bummer, sure — but I’ve always felt that waiting for the berry bounty of summer is totally worth it.

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Cassis & Brandy Scones

How early is too early to to spike your breakfast with a little bit of brandy?

If you ask me, it’s never too early!

Before you judge, know that brandy is an extremely humble and versatile spirit, and, like vanilla, it goes particularly well with nearly everything sweet.

It’s made by distilling fruit wine, which explains why you can put it any recipe involving fresh fruit and it will enrich the flavour of your dish.

Brandy and chocolate? Yep, you can do that, too.

Brandy and chicken and parmesan? I live by a restaurant that makes a popular fettuccine featuring those three ingredients!

I thought that a French brandy would be a perfect partner for another equally French delight, cassis, also know as blackcurrant.

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Quick Fruit Cake (Without Raisins)

So I’ve decided to try two fruit cakes this year — first I did a classic, aged fruit cake (without raisins), and now I’m doing a quick fruit cake (still without raisins).

This is a sort of test to see if fruit cake that’s aged for weeks is really better than one you can make a day or two ahead of time!

Anyways, I finally cut and served my aged fruit cake at my family’s Christmas dinner the other night.

And when my cousin asked me why I hate raisins so much, I told him that I thought raisins were “little black holes of moral fiber” and that I’d “induce vomiting if I ever ate one” — and then he looked at me like I was psychotic. Ahaha!

Although I can’t deny that I enjoy the “this girl is totally bonkers” looks I get on occasion, I often wonder why people can’t tell when I’m joking!

Of course I’d be joking. Raisins aren’t that bad.

Okay, well — maybe they are. Harr harr.

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