Happy Birthday, Mum! [One Bowl Chocolate Cake]

If it’s true that daughters turn into their mothers, I think I’m OK with that.  I admire my mum a ton. As far as mums & daughters go, I think we get along pretty darn well. And I’m really glad we do, I know I’m a lucky kid! She embarrasses me every once and a while, but isn’t that kind of the point of being a parent? (Ha! Shows what I know about parenting! And more likely, I embarrass her right back…)

“Octopus Arms”

When it comes to working in the kitchen, we couldn’t be more different.  My mum is the type of person who cleans up as they go along, so by the time her recipe is done the kitchen is as clean as it was when she started.  If I’m baking, there’s usually a fine layer of flour that’s settled over the kitchen and the task of cleaning up after myself can often seem daunting. (As my mum points out, if I just cleaned up as I went, this wouldn’t happen…)

My mum’s birthday was actually a little over a month ago now and I totally meant to post this for the occasion — it’s the thought that counts, right? I’d talk about blaming my disorganization, but I feel like I do that often here…
Anyway, whether you fall into the same category as my mum of domestic & organized goddess, or mine, of scrappy kitchen forager, this cake is a winner.

Happy Belated Birthday, Mummy! — mama circa 1987

With the help of my mum, this cake was the first I ever made.  Incidentally, I made it for my mum’s birthday several years ago and it actually didn’t turn out so well: my brother and I forgot to grease the pan, so we just served the cake in the pan.  We wanted to refrigerate it once we had iced it (with really, really thick chocolate ganache) so we put some (unlit) candles in it and popped it into the refrigerator until dessert…when it came time to serve it the ganache had become so hard it was impossible to cut the cake (or get it out of the pan), and the candles were pretty much cemented in there. …it still tasted really good, though!
Since then, I’ve used this recipe so often I think I have it down to 10 minutes of prep time — pretty handy for a dessert that can actually look pretty fancy if you don’t bring robots into the equation (not that there’s anything wrong with them!).

This is the cake that comes up in my house for practically every birthday or occasion — just because it’s so easy to make doesn’t mean it isn’t decadent! Rich, moist, and intensely chocolatey, this cake is the bomb…I got it from my mama!  Mum’s One Bowl Chocolate Cake

(don’t even try to steal my) Fig Gallette

Well hey there! I do still exist, I’ve just been having too much fun and a tad disorganized. My mum said that I’m going to “socially exhaust” myself…I laughed at her, but I’ve been battling a runny nose&sore throat combo that just won’t go away so maybe she’s right (as usual!). Amidst all the fun I’ve been having there was a bit of a bummer a couple weeks ago: my iPad and wallet were stolen from under my desk at work while I was at a short meeting.  Several other people on my floor were also unlucky victims of this thief who made off with some extra cash, iPhones and Blackberries; it wasn’t a fun day at the office. It’s unfortunate because everyone is just so comfortable at work and security is good (you need a key card to get in on each floor) so I never really thought to worry, but now I have a locked drawer and that’s where all my stuff will stay. Anyway, I’m only writing about this because the story has an almost-happy ending! The next day one of my super nice supervisors dug through garbage cans outside of our office building to see if the thief had dumped some stuff in there.  Indeed, he had!  I was able to get my nice wallet back (although it was really stinky), and all my cards/ID/license, which saved a lot of hassle. So just goes to show that there are some supremely nice people out there (I mean, he went through downtown garbage cans with his bare hands, what a guy!). I lost some cash and my iPad which really blows, but it’s not the end of the world. 

That day I had lunch with some great gals who watched me cry and ranted with me about how low some people are which made me feel a lot better (thanks, girls!).  I was also lucky to be having another great gal over for dinner that night! My brother made chow mein and Angela brought over a delicious cheesecake, so this fig gallette that I made may have been superfluous to our meal but I had fun making it, and by the end of the theft-day that was what I really needed.

Gallettes are lovely since they really let the sumptuous fruit shine through with a flaky, buttery crust for a bit of a treat. This recipe from franish nonspeaker was easy to whip up and perfectly nut-free for both Angela and my twin; hurrah! The simplicity of baked figs with a drizzle of honey is a perfect combination (even without the dough if you are so inclined). Bon appetit! And if you happen to buy an iPad with “KShap” engraved on the back…that’s mine!

Just Trust Me [Avocado Ice Cream]

I could gobble up avocados. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll drizzle a half with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and voilà! a yummy snack. Salads, sandwiches, spring rolls, guac, tacos, breakfast, lunch or dinner, I’ll eat some avocado. With all this avocado enthusiasm, I’m surprised that I hadn’t had any for dessert until recently.
This ice cream actually only happened because my mum had stocked up on avocados recently, and I hadn’t been at home much so they were ripening fast without anyone taking advantage of their goodness (I guess my family needs an avocado monster around the house). To solve this conundrum, I was looking for avocado recipes that would freeze well. There don’t seem to be many of those out there — except for avocado ice cream!
I know it might sound weird, but it’s a very refreshing flavour; light and just the right amount of sweetness. Don’t knock it til you try it! 

Avocado Ice Cream

Baked French Toast

Weekday breakfasts for me are usually just something fast and simple, but weekend breakfasts can be special. Without work or school to rush off to, it’s so nice to sit and really enjoy your first meal of the day! As far as “special” breakfasts go, I’m a pretty big fan of french toast; it’s easy, delicious and you can add almost anything to it. Well, this baked french toast takes even less prep time but is still lovely enough to serve for an occasion.
You can put it all together and leave it in the fridge overnight, then all you have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven! I think everyone can handle that.Ottawa is getting it’s second weekend of beautiful weather in a row, and I can’t get enough of the sunshine (although my lobster red shoulders might disagree).   This long weekend is the perfect time for a languid breakfast in the sun — hope you can take advantage of it!

This baked French toast was part of our Mother’s Day brunch… it was a delicious morning and I have so much love for my wonderful Mum & Nana! 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day…start baking!

Spanish Sweet [Lemon Ricotta Pudding]

One of my best friends is leaving for Madrid to be an au pair for the next few months.  I am so excited for her, but selfishly I will miss having her in town this summer! She came over for an impromptu dinner the other night, and while the meal was not Spanish I thought it would be fun to serve a Spanish inspired dessert.

My parents gave me this beautiful cookbook for Christmas, The Food Of Spain, and I’ve been dying to try some of its recipes.  I’m excited I finally have!
I didn’t have a lot of time to whip up dessert when I came home from work, but this recipe actually turned out to be perfect for the occasion.  Four ingredients and almost no prep-work later, we had some delicious Spanish Cheese Pudding on our hands. (In the cookbook it is just called “cheese pudding”, but I think Lemon Ricotta Pudding sounds nicer…!)
This simple dessert is the perfect accompaniment for the colourful fruit that is starting to abound at the market and a little drizzle of honey.  The lemon flavour comes through lightly and will be great for easy breezy sunny days, this one is definitely on the “make again” list.
Love you, Laura — buen viaje!! xo

La receta

Get Him To The Greek [Tzatziki]

Mum's spanikopita, tzatziki & tortilla chips, complimentary hair colours, and a beautiful cake from our friends!

A few weeks ago some family friends of ours came over for dinner and we went with a Greek menu.  It was lovely to catch up with them and as you can imagine I always enjoy getting ready for a little feast.  I was asked for the recipe for the tzatziki and promised to send it over right away, but of course with my great organization skills during exams that didn’t happen.  So here it is, only three weeks late!

Tzatziki is a traditional Greek sauce/appetizer/dip, depending on how you serve it. We like eating it with souvlaki and grilled meat, veggies, bread and crackers, or just straight out of the bowl.   

Until today I had never actually measured what I was throwing into the tzatziki, so it’s quite easy to just make it to your own taste. If you like Greek food, you really can’t leave out the tzatziki! Tzatziki Recipe

Mum’s Best Buttermilk Pancakes

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if the meal isn’t skipped altogether we tend to just grab something we can eat on the run.  I’m not saying that we need to cook a feast every morning, but isn’t it nice to actually sit down and enjoy the first meal of the day?  These pancakes are a cinch to whip up in the morning,they’re healthier than your average pancake, and if you make extra just freeze them for later…easy!  My Mum’s Best Buttermilk Pancakes