Recipes

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Watermelon Agua Fresca
Those who know me will be shocked to learn I have joined a gym. Yup. Me. In a gym. I have yet to receive confirmation, but somewhere out there a fat pink pig is soaring high above a frozen section of Hades and giggling. Thanks to my older sister's encouragement, I now have a bright red gym bag, a stainless steel water bottle and some very unsettling knowledge about my body composition. No surprise on the weight and body fat percentages, but I was flabbergasted to learn my body doesn't have enough water. And drinking large quantities of H20 throughout the day is not something I do. Tried it. Failed. Many times over. So, I figured there had to be a better way to hydrate, and it turns out watermelon just might be the answer.
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Dandelion Salad
I am quickly cementing my reputation as the neighbourhood nut. Yesterday I sat on the grass plucking dandelion heads and tossing them into a brown paper lawn bag before they could go to seed. Today? I was out there again, only this time nibbling on the leaves. Living on the windward side of a park in a no-spray municipality means we have a carpet of dandelions where our front yard used to be. When I complained about this on Facebook, in amongst all the weeding advice, my cousin Judith suggested I seek my revenge via a dandelion salad. So today, I went out and sampled the lawn. Here's what I learned.
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Orange Coffee Cake
So much for my vegetable-a-week promise. I look back at recent posts and see a carb-heavy, fat-laden series of desserts. Yes, I've been eating my greens, but not in a way that will make you beg for the recipe. I've been very plebeian about my vegetables, choosing instead to concentrate my creativity on cake. So, it's steamed broccoli, boiled beans and plain old salad while my time in the kitchen is spent searching for the perfect orange cake for my sister's wedding -- light, airy, easy to stack and and with a bright orange flavour. I've created some really tasty desserts, but so far they only hint at orange. Despite adding generous portions of rind and opting for frozen concentrate instead of juice, the cakes end up tasting as if they merely chatted to a bowl of clementines on their way to the oven.
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Lemon Meringue Pie
My father loves lemon meringue pie. Apparently, so does a certain little black cat who lives next door. I slipped the birthday pie off my mom's counter and onto the back porch for a clandestine photo shoot before the celebratory dinner. And within seconds got busted by a five-pound trouble maker. I managed to shoo the cat away before she did any damage, but I was aiming for something more like this:
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Welsh Griddle Cakes
At some point in every renovation, time grinds to a halt. And for us, that would be last week. Nothing happened. At least not structurally. Over Easter I painted the kitchen  -- first with a soul-crushing, jail cell grey tinted primer and then with a deep garnet red. Outside, the daffodils bloomed, the mourning doves hatched chicks, my patio junk gathered more dust and comments. But inside, except for a splash of colour, things remained unchanged. You see, the contractor was off site doing carpentry work. And then got the flu. And in the midst of all of this structural nothingness, the stove arrived.
Bittersweet French Chocolate Mousse
French Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse
It's official. We are the neighbourhood hillbillies. The stove, doormat, counter top, sink and fake plant have been in the back patio for two weeks -- or a fortnight as the British would say. Doesn't "Our unwanted kitchen items have been sitting about for a fortnight," sound more civilized than "we dumped our junk the backyard for a couple of weeks"? Maybe the plaster dust is affecting my brain, but the word "fortnight" conjures images of summer vacations with days spent wandering the beach and nights spent at swishy cocktail parties -- not used appliances and bits of furniture. To counteract the junk-laden karma of our reno, I made a very decadent dessert for Easter. Regan Daley's  In the Sweet Kitchen arrived just in time for the long weekend and I took it as a sign. Since I often browse cookbooks back to front, one of the first recipes I came upon (page 548) was for chocolate mousse. Real chocolate mousse. With hand-whisked egg whites,  top-end chocolate and a vanilla bean. Does this decadent dessert settle the score?
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Mixed Greens with Maple-Glazed Nuts
When it comes to salad. I've let myself go. Sure, I might dress things up with Nectarine and Plum Chicken or make an extra effort with a new dessert like Coconut Cream Pie Ice Cream.  But leafy side dishes? I'm sad to say, the spark has gone. Until recently. I admit, before this week, salad usually meant a bowlful of Mesclun mix and a splash of homemade dressing. Sure it was satisfying. Better than a wedge of iceberg doused in store-brand Thousand Island. But it was safe. Predictable. Dare I say... Boring. I knew that if I kept this up,  Andrew's eye would inevitably stray towards more exciting side dishes. Like that tart of a potato salad all decked out in bacon bits some shameless hussy brought to last year's picnic. And I can't have that. So when Jeanelle Mitchell's For the Love of Salad arrived, I was more than ready to spruce things up a bit. Scared, but ready. But there was no need for fear. Notice how her book title doesn't have a secondary heading? It's not For the Love of Salad: 99 Tempting Ways to Rekindle Your Love Affair with Lettuce. Or For the Love of Salad: Discovering the Saucy Sides of Dinner.
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Honey and Cumin Braised Carrots
Me: How much broccoli should I cook? Andrew: How much Cheez Whiz do we have? Me: How long to you want to remain married? Andrew:  [...] Okay, moving onto safer territory -- carrots. I got the idea for these after dining in a restaurant when the accompanying vegetables outshone the forgettable duck confit. While the poultry disappointed, I was so impressed with the sweet yet savory carrots I had to recreate them at home. I usually find cooked carrots a source of frustration. Plain are boring but when I jazz them up with ginger, certain extended family members complain they're too spicy. But these? They should make everyone happy -- even without Cheez Whiz.
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Chocolate Chip Mousse
Easy Chocolate Chip Mousse - TheMessyBaker.com Late on Sunday afternoon I did the unthinkable. I made chocolate mousse without high-end chocolate. Company was coming.  The oven was occupied with Apple Roasted Chicken. And I had very little time to devote to dessert. So, I opened the baking cupboard and grabbed the first thing I saw -- a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips. What can you do with chocolate chips, a stove top and half an hour kitchen time? Make mousse. And dang, if it didn't turn out more than a little okay.
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Sparkling Ginger Daisy

Sometimes things fall together so smoothly you just know it's meant to be. Months ago, Diva on a Diet told me about Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur. Alas, it is unavailable in Ontario. So when I went to the Roger Smith Food Writer's conference in New...

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