If you’ve ever been curious to know what a forest tastes like, then this recipe is for you. Each spring around this time, spruce trees put out pale green buds covered in delicate brown paper husks.
This past weekend was the first day of the season for my local farmer’s market and I came home with a basket full of treasures.
I’ve been travelling these past two months and one of the great pleasures of returning home is getting back to the ritual of making my morning smoothies again. It’s one of the things I miss the most when I’m away from my beloved blender. I tend to gravitate towards berry smoothies full of sexy add-ons like ground flax seeds and maca powder, the occasional spirulina or chlorella hit for good measure. But every now and then, it’s a rich chocolatey smoothie that I crave.
Please don’t hate me. I am one of ‘those’ people who ran away from winter this year and spent a glorious 6 weeks under the Mexican sun. But my vacation was about more than lounging on the beach. In addition to escaping a particularly brutal north-east winter and finding some quiet moments to chip away at my master’s thesis, I had one main goal that I wanted to achieve in Mexico: I wanted to learn how to make true, traditional tortillas from whole, nixtamalized corn kernels. I did that, and you can read all about it on my blog.
This aromatic gingerbread loaf is exquisite with tea or coffee. I love to make this recipe because it’s not sweetened with sugar. Instead, it uses only honey to create a moist golden dough that is not overly sweet and has the floral taste of pure honey.
When I first went to Tunisia, many years ago, my dear friend Synda often made Shakshouka for me. It consists of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce and it’s such a tasty dish that I never got tired of eating it. In fact, I adopted the recipe once I was back home because it’s so easy to make and I almost always have all the ingredients on hand. It’s now my go-to “fast-food” when I don’t know what to make for dinner. Or lunch, or breakfast, for that matter. Because it’s a dish that is suitable for any meal of the day!
This dish is classic British pub fare at its best. I always have a secret chuckle with myself when I prepare a hearty meat and potato dish like this because I grew up in a family that hardly ever had meat and potato dinners. Nope. My family was more of a tofu and zucchini stir-fry family. Though my mom did occasionally whip up an incredible Boeuf Bourguignon (which is this dish’s elegant French cousin, similar in many ways but using red wine instead of beer). But there’s something incredibly comforting about a plate of this stew served on top of a velvety heap of mashed potatoes. I can think of nothing I’d rather eat on a cold winter day. The stout loses its strong “beer taste” and melds into a richly flavorful sauce, deeply satisfying and irresistible.
The best season of all is here: the season of… chocolate!! I am the type of person who goes a little nuts for dark chocolate with bold flavor combinations. One of my favorite chocolate bars is perfumed with Earl Grey tea, and another is seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. By far the strangest chocolate I ever tried was infused with tobacco, an odd yet pleasing experience. My mom used to make a divine chocolate cake whose batter is generously speckled with fresh chopped basil, and that’s what got me thinking about trying some other herbs with chocolate. Rosemary was my hands-down winner. It lends a warm and earthy aroma to these rich rye brownies which make a sweet Valentine’s Day treat.