Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jams And Jars: Grown-Up Applesauce

With dozens of apples taking up valuable real estate in my fridge, it seemed inevitable I'd get around to making some applesauce. I'd never actually made homemade applesauce before even though it's something I've loved since childhood. I'd eat big bowlfuls of the stuff whenever I was under the weather, and it's still something I crave every so often.

This 'grown-up' version, from Fine Cooking magazine, is wonderful, especially when still slightly warm. I'm sure the fact that the apples were only a day or two off the tree had something to do with it, but let's not discount the role the butter and brandy play. The addition of half a vanilla bean, and the recommendation that the pod steep in the sauce as it cooks, also elevates this to something far greater than what you'd typically pick up in the grocery store.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

French Fridays With Dorie: Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dorie Greenspan when she was in Toronto to promote her gorgeous new cookbook, Around My French Table. The 15-minute interview flew by -- not surprising since we both love all things food and all things French -- and I couldn't wait to crack open the book at home and start cooking away.

Not long after the interview my friend Bonita told me about French Fridays With Dorie, where fans cook their way through the book each week and post about their experiences. What a great idea! I missed the first two weeks -- Gougeres (Week 1) and Gerard's Mustard Tart (Week 2) -- but I was determined to join in the fun this week, albeit a day late. And I'm glad I did, because the Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup is hands-down the best soup ever to come out of my kitchen.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Apples, Apples, Apples!

Is there anything more 'fall' than an afternoon of apple-picking? This is my favourite time of year, bar none, and having lived in the city for half my life, I appreciate the chance to escape to the country more and more, particularly in late September, early October when the leaves are changing.

So on this chilly first weekend of October, my sister and I bundled up and headed out to an orchard in Waterdown, Ont. Despite its unfortunate name and slightly maniacal looking mascot, Frootogo Orchards offers a great variety of fruit for the picking as well as a cute store packed with homemade preserves and baked goods (the apple turnovers and hot spiced cider make a great post-picking treat), a pumpkin patch, and a big kids' play area. But we were there for the apples, so we plunked two empty baskets in a wagon and headed out.