Zucchini, yellow squash and ricotta galette

Remember how much I love zucchini? How about how much I love open-faced tarts? This was made for me.

I’m always wary of grocery shopping in Sudbury when my list involves an item that is even slightly out of the ordinary. In the past, I’ve walked five kilometres for a blood orange substitute and have searched high and low for red cabbage. Sudbury is a working class city, meaning that it isn’t even slightly logical for the grocery store to carry a product that 95% of the population probably doesn’t give a hoot about.

What I’m trying to get at here is that, my usual optimism aside, I was absolutely positively sure that I would not be able to find a yellow squash anywhere within the city limits. I love it when I prove myself wrong.

I was standing in the produce aisle at the grocery store, looking forlornly at the pile of butternut squash sitting in the designated squash section. Then something in the zucchini pile caught my eye. Beneath the dark green exterior of my cylindrical favourite food was the bright yellow flesh of, could it be – yes! – a single, medium-sized yellow squash (also known as yellow zucchini, apparently). Excitement!

As it happens, I love yellow zucchini even more than its green-with-envy companion. Like a squash, it’s a little more dense and less seedy, and still has that fresh flavour and bright colour of normal zucchini.

One of my favourite things about zucchini (and eggplant, for that matter) is that it’s not afraid to sweat. That’s right, you heard me. I love vegetables that perspire. Using a precision that can only be described as neurotic, I arranged the zucchini slices on piece of paper towel, creating a pattern that was so pretty it became the background on my iPhone. A sprinkle of salt and voila…half an hour later those slices looked like they had just come back from a day at the beach. I dabbed their forehead with more paper towel and sent them on their way.

I like making galette because the finished product is guaranteed to look rustic and low maintenance. Plus open-faced tarts always cut beautifully and they trick me into thinking I’m eating pie. The summer flavours of the zucchini matched with the creamy consistency of the ricotta was an excellent combination.

Pre-oven galette lovin’ (galetteagram)

I ate my two very large pieces of galette out on our back porch. The sweltering heat of the day had subsided and what was left was an extremely pleasant warmth that wrapped around my body like the lightest of summer sweaters. The folks in the house at the bottom of our backyard cliff were having an outdoor dinner party, and I sat back and relaxed as the music (it was the type of tune you’d play in a restaurant that Frasier would visit) and voices murmured in the distance.

I topped it all off with a refreshing glass of lemon Perrier water. Which I was going to mix with gin until I realized that mineral water is rather different than tonic water (spoiler: I did it anyways). Thanks Internets. Rookie mistake.

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Happy Pride Week, Sudbury! Homemade rainbow Oreo cookies

Please allow me to present the coolest and most colourful cookies I’ve ever made.

I’m sure by this point most of you have seen that phenomenal Oreo cookie meme that the company put out back in June.

Corporate cookie ploy aside, I knew I wanted to recreate a version of these Oreos at home (I can’t believe some other blogger hasn’t already done it). This past week was Pride Week in Sudbury, so I figured what better time to make these than now.

In terms of the online Oreo cookie photo, it was interesting to watch the public backlash. I read some of the comments left on the Facebook photo, before stopping because there were so many ignorant and offensive statements. People said they didn’t like that Nabisco was politicizing the Oreo, but you know what, I don’t like that people are homophobic, either. I am completely fine with people having their own values – and that includes those who may have traditional views on marriage and what constitutes love – but please do not use those values to outwardly try to limit or discriminate against others. Some of the most beautiful and nurturing relationships I have seen are between two men or two women.

ANYWAYS. I thought these homemade Oreos turned out super well and was so excited that you were able to see all the icing colours, even after cookie sandwich squishing occurred. The cookies even had that same, slightly-dry/slightly-crunchy texture that store-bought Oreos possess.

Warning: a cavity was born with each bite, so these are not for the faint of heart. You will be wanting to brush your teeth after these (or at the very least, drink a litre of milk).

Happy Pride Week, Sudbury! And to everyone else out there, I love you, no matter who you love.

Packed up and ready to be brought into work

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My life-long love affair with Popsicles

When I was a toddler, my mom used to freeze fruit punch into Popsicle moulds in what I expect was a clever trick used to get me to shut my face.

Case in point, I’ve always been in love with Popsicles, with the exception of a short period of disenchantment at the age of eight when I tripped while running with a Creamsicle and scraped my knee (I tried to find a picture of toddler me eating a Popsicle, I really and truly did).

Before we go any further, let’s set the record straight. Contrary to popular belief, Popsicles aren’t just for summer weather. They’re also for wintertime tunnel walking and 1 a.m. snacking. Let me explain.

It’s January 2008, the winter of my first-year as a student at Carleton University. For a handful of my friends and me, it became almost a daily tradition to walk in the underground tunnels (yes, actually a thing at Carleton) in the middle of the night to go and buy Popsicles at the residence convenience store. Wearing our leggings, oversized sweaters and flip-flops, we’d snicker at outsmarting Mother Nature and her -30° weather pounding the outside walls while we ate our iced treats in the slightly stale warmth of our underground refuge.

One of my best friends, Ariel, and I would even make videos featuring our Popsicles (just watch the first five seconds). And come on, don’t even try and pretend that you didn’t do weird things in residence too.

Fast forward two years later and my love affair with Popsicles re-emerged. I wrote a story for the Ottawa Citizen in which I interviewed Erin Kennedy, who was making homemade Popsicles to sell on her pedal-powered freezer bike. Erin introduced me to the gourmet side of Popsicles (not to mention her adorable son) – flavour combinations and colours that I never knew could be combined in iced form.

Icicle Treats (pictures taken in May 2011)

Now, in summer 2012, my childhood love has come full circle. I am making my own Popsicles.

Some things change, some remain the same. I am, for example, still using that same set of Tupperware Popsicle moulds that we used when I was a toddler. They are in miraculously good shape (I thank my mom) and, for the purpose of these experiments, completely perfect.

This first batch of strawberry-orange yogurt Popsicles was inspired by Canadian Living’s August 2012 cover, in which five gorgeous Popsicles are arranged like models on display.

I ate two Popsicles while writing this post and, since they’re made with fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, and sweetened with honey, I didn’t feel guilty at all. One more to make it a hat trick? Don’t mind if I do.

PS: a technicality that I believe should be cleared up – I use a capital “P” on Popsicle, because, just as Kleenex is a brand of tissue, Popsicles are a brand of ice pop (doesn’t this term make you feel like a jumper-wearing British child?). In these two instances, the brand name because some popular that it stole the identity (sneaky bugger) of these two products at-large. You know, just in case you were wondering.

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The letter F: Fudge flan (introducing letter dinners!)

My dad had a minor heart attack when I told him I was going to an “F” party.

Let me give you the same explanation I gave to him.

One of my colleagues, Jen, suggested a brilliant new dinner party series for the CBC/Rad-Can colleagues: letter parties. The premise is simple – each week a letter of the alphabet is chosen. Your goal as a dinner party attendee is to bring a dish that has that begins with that letter. The more words that have the letter, the better. Want to know how crazy it can get? Our first letter party featured the letter “S.” I have never seen so many strawberry spinach salads with sesame and sunflower seeds in my life.

This week, it was F’s turn. Are you feeling like we’re in an episode of Sesame Street yet?

F is a decidedly simple letter to tailor dinner and dessert around. Fruit, filet of fish, foie gras, finger foods, fennel, food for goddsake. I, however, needed an excuse to make flan. But not just any flan – a fudge flan! Double F’s for the win. Flan has a few different food meanings, but for the purpose of this blog post, please know that it is a cooked egg custard that is like an extra jiggly, not-too-sweet, half cheesecake. Read: it is awesome.

When I first saw the recipe on Tastespotting, my jaw dropped and my mouth drooled.

Making this chocolate fudge flan was a flurry of fun (see what I did there? Whether I mean to or not, the week’s chosen letter always shoves its way into my everyday conversation. I really do think my brain subconsciously looks for a way to create as many alliterations as possible).

The baking process is actually quite exciting. The cake and flan layer do a little flippity flip in the oven, with the lighter cake floating to the top and the condensed mixture sinking to the bottom.

The cake goes into the oven as a murky mess

This flan is very dense and takes its sweet time sitting in its water bath baking. I advise you to eat leftover cake batter and take sugar-induced self portraits at this time. (OKAY I’ll stop pretending it’s 2007 and I’m on Myspace)

After much breath-holding and bongo-playing on the bottom of the bundt pan, the cake came out in one piece. And that, my friends, is just Fantastic.

(but really, this was UNREAL)

Unimpressed baby brother; leaning tower of cake

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Funfetti sprinkle cookies

So these cookies were fun.

I was browsing Tastespotting on my iPad the other day (a truly enjoyable experience, it seems like this food gallery site is optimized to be viewed perfectly on a tablet) when I saw a picture of these cookies. An hour later, I was making the recipe.

I know they look fairly childish and, like nearly everything else on this blog, prepared for a maniacal troop of five-year-old birthday-goers. This is something my mom brought up with me the other week. That’s right, we had the “people at work might not want to eat colourful things” conversation. I was sad for about 10 minutes after that, before realizing that I would make whatever I wanted. Things I make – colourful or not – always seem to disappear with quite a bit of ease, and so I maintain: things can look like a rainbow and still taste delicious. Case closed.

Anyways, the result of my baking was these beautiful little morsels that I thought resembled homemade Chips Ahoy cookies. They had almond extract in them, which was absolutely the best. If I was the type of person to include weird qualities about myself in my Twitter status, one of them would definitely be “something, something LOVES ALMOND EXTRACT.”

I brought these into the newsroom on Friday so we could all pig out during story meeting. Story meetings are more productive when cookies are provided: fact.

I also made a point to wear the sprinkle headband that I made back in March. I always thought it was channeling a Tim Hortons vanilla dip doughnut, but it turns out that these cookies were the true inspiration. Check it out…matching baking and head ware – it’s all the rage!


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