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Cooking in Nice: Part Two

I’m sitting here playing my own devil’s advocate, asking why I pay to take cooking classes like the one I recently took at Rosa Jackson’s Les Petits Farcis in Nice. I mean I could take that money and buy a couple of new cookbooks and some neat kitchen gadgets. After all, I do know the basics, and some stuff that goes beyond. And what do you leave with, really, beyond a handful of new recipes? Part of it is the cooking techniques. Yes, I know the basics, but every cook has little tricks that might not make it to a recipe, things that make the job easier or the...
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Cooking in Nice: Les Petits Farcis, Part One–The Market Tour

In May I spent a week with my husband in the south of France. Très élégant, n’est-ce pas? It was right at the height of all the Côte d’Azur fun—the Cannes Film Festival, the Monaco Grand Prix, and the Telemanagement Forum World Conference in Nice. Okay so that last one, while not so glamorous as the other two, is the reason my husband heads to Nice every year in May, and the reason I got to go there myself as a tag-along. I’ll take whatever way I can get to spend time in France. And the TMF World Conference, while not possessing the...
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Mom’s Strawberry Pie–Recipe Review

We all have foods that are part of our family’s history, like Grandma’s tomato sauce, or Dad’s mashed potatoes. This strawberry pie is one of our family things. While she didn’t develop the recipe, my mother perfected its execution and a June without this pie being served at least once, was just not the same. As I mentioned last week when I posted the recipe, this is the first of three versions of fresh strawberry pie that I will try out this month. When I say “fresh” strawberry pie, I mean both that the strawberries used are fresh...
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Apple Crisp–The Results

In April I tested a few versions of apple crisp. Although June is hardly the month for apple crisp, I’d like to resolve that particular recipe quest. Anna Olson’s crisp was good—the textures were all just right—but the pecan flavour took over. The recipe from the Simply Recipes blog was a disappointment, such that I can’t help thinking they must have got the size of the baking dish wrong. I managed to review both of those recipes (check out the reviews here and here.) But I never wrote up my review of Martha Stewart’s recipe, although I did try it out a...
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Leah’s Pasta alla Carbonara

At long last I’m tying up a few loose ends from my April recipe quests, way back when I was testing recipes for cod au gratin, pasta alla carbonara, molten chocolate cakes and apple crisp. Over that month, I determined that the Canadian Living recipe for cod au gratin was just fine and needed no tweaking (although you could add onions if it suits your taste). And you can read my raves about David Lebovitz’s hot chocolate (aka molten chocolate) cake recipe, which needed no improving as far I was concerned. However, none of the recipes for pasta alla carbonara or...
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Quest for the Best Fresh Strawberry Pie

Summer approaches, and even the spiders are getting excited. (If I had noticed that one before taking the picture, I probably wouldn’t have got up so close.) My son’s backyard strawberries are growing and just hinting at the vibrant and luscious ripeness to come. Despite the unseasonal heat here for the last few weeks (it’s been hotter in southern Ontario than in southern France), summer won’t really begin until the strawberries are ripe and ready for picking. When I was a kid, late June meant a trip to the pick-your-own strawberry farm. The reward, other...
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Take Two

Take Two indeed. Time to take stock and revamp. I kept up with the four-dishes-per-month times three-recipes-each testing quest for all of three weeks. Then Reality came a knockin’, all gray-skinned and sour in the mouth, telling me that it’s just not going to work out. And, damn that Reality, I’m just not deft enough to catch him with the spray tan, or toss a chocolate into the ole pie hole to sweeten him up. I can’t mask him or change his nasty expression, only take him for what he is and go from there. It’s not an utter defeat, though....
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Recipe Review: David Lebovitz’s Hot Chocolate Cakes

That David Lebovitz. He’s gotta be his own man. Most others call these molten chocolate cakes. But to Lebovitz, they are “Individual Hot Chocolate Cakes”. Well, a cake by any other name tastes as sweet, and I had only to glance at the instructions to know that we were talking about the same thing. I love David Lebovitz’s blog. I discovered it a year ago when we were in Paris on a family vacation. I was trying to find somewhere in that beloved city to buy kouign amann, or Breton butter cake, a flakey, caramelized butter and sugar concoction we...
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Recipe Review: Canadian Living’s Cod au Gratin

At last! Time to pit my old standard cod au gratin recipe against the others and see how it holds up. The recipe I usually use is from The Canadian Living Cookbook. I find the Canadian Living cookbooks to be very reliable–they are go-tos in my kitchen, kitchen encyclopedias, as it were, much like The Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook is for many people. The Canadian Living recipe for cod au gratin differs from others I have seen. The cod is oven-poached in milk until it is flakey. The milk is poured off the fish and used to make the béchamel sauce. ...
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Spring is Sprouting All Over!

Spring has sprouted! From the soil and tips of branches, buds are bursting, welcome colour after a winter barren even of snow. Brash dandelions populate our lawn, shouting testimonials to the season, proclaiming our rejection of beautifying chemicals (to the dismay of our neighbours, no doubt). As asparagus, carrots, rhubarb and spinach grow toward crispy, freshness, Ontario farmers prepare for the opening of the markets in May. And I get ready for another round of recipe quests. Hmm. What dishes to test next? Last summer, I watched the 100 Mile Challenge on...

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