Back in March during our never-ending winter, I tackled Bon Appetit’s March cover recipe, Short Rib Pot Pie.
This recipe sounded intense: pounds of short ribs, onion and wine filling a flaky classic pie crust. I decided cooking such a beast should be celebrated. I invited over two of my dearest friends, for whom a month later I’d travel to Ireland to see married, for a pre-wedding feast.
I’m not going to lie, making the recipe was just as much fun as eating it was. Hunting down the short ribs, cooking the filling the night before and filling my house with a heavenly smell made me excited to finally eat it. The recipe certainly isn’t difficult, just a wee bit time-consuming.
The eating of the pie, on the other hand, took way too little time. Although extremely rich, both my guests and I devoured our slices. We washed the rib filling, sweetened with slowly cooked onion and enveloped in a salty crust, down with a strong Beaujolais.
The pot pie was just as good eaten cold, straight out of the fridge, the next day.
I wouldn’t have cooked this recipe without the cook the cover challenge, but boy am I glad I did. My mouth is just watering, months later, thinking about that meal.
February. The month of grey. The month of cold. The month of hearty stews.
Bon Appetit’s February cover recipe did not disappoint. I made its Chicken and Dumpling with Mushroom stew. My house smelled amazing. My mouth and stomach? So, so happy. Make it, eat it, love it. Do it!
March’s recipe? A short rib pot pie. I can’t say this is a recipe I’d be tempted to make without this challenge – it’s not quite my thing. I know I can’t eat this all on my own, and I don’t think it will freeze as well as stew. Anyone feel like a dinner party?
I don’t do new year’s resolutions. However, I do like the odd challenge.
And I think I’ve come up with a good one for 2014.
I’ve been an avid Bon Appetit reader and subscriber for years. I read them front to back and back to front. I save them. Cook and bake from them – well, the recipes that catch my eyes (and stomach) anyways.
This year? This year I’m going to cook each and every cover recipe.
Yep. I may not like the cover, or be inspired to eat it, but I want to try. Just to challenge my palate and stretch my skills in the kitchen.
And I’m going to let you know what I think!
First up? January 2014’s cover recipe: spicy pork and mustard green soup.
I made it multiple times. I LOVED it.
I subbed in ground chicken. I used kale. One time I tried soba noodles. Another time I threw in homemade peanut sauce at the end to thicken it to a stew-like consistency.
I’ll be making this soup again, and again, and again.
I’m already looking forward to February’s cover – a chicken and dumpling concoction.
I’m obsessed with Christmas. I’m allergic to real Christmas trees.
No, really. I break out in hives. So does my mum. While she suffered though decorating a live tree when I was young, the advent of artificial trees was a blessing in my house. We’ve lived and died by them since I was six.
I may be allergic to pine trees, but I adore the smell of them. The spicy fir and woodsy scent instantly gets me into the holiday spirit.
My mum, while I was growing up, would buy pine-scented candles and room sprays just to indulge me. The only problem is that they smelled awful.
Now that I have my own house I put up my massive artificial tree in early November, and I burn pine-scented candles all through the holiday season.
And they smell like Christmas.
I’ve tried a lot of fir and pine tree scented candles over the years. And I needed to share my top three. Because it can look like the holidays, and sound like the holidays, but until it smells like the holidays I’m not in the mood.
Thymes’ Frasier Fir candle is hands down my most-loved candle. These guys smell like the real deal.
Bath & Body Works’ Fresh Balsam tends to be my go-to fragrance for holiday parties, because the scent is strong and you only need to burn the candle for a short time.
Indigo’s Icy Pine is a new purchase for me. I’ve been impressed with the quality of their other scents this year, and I’m loving the smell of this candle just sitting on my counter.
I love autumn because it allows me to indulge in my morning passion: coffee.
No other season defines it more for me than the fall. The crisp days, long layers, and wet fallen leaves just scream for a pot of scalding inky coffee.
I like my coffee strong, black and piping hot year-round.
When the temperature cools however, I like to raise the bar and brew my regular beans with a pumpkin pie spice blend.
Not only does the addition of nutmeg and cinnamon smell amazing in the early morning air, but it also kicks my taste buds into high gear.
How do you celebrate the turning of the season?
I’m tired of bringing a bottle of wine as a hostess gift.
Even with a myriad of options out there, I still tend to use vino as my lazy go-to.
Why? It’s hard sometimes to decide what to bring as a guest.
For me, perishable food and flowers are a no-no. They often require extra work and stress for the host or hostess – gifting flowers in a vase would be the exception to this rule.
So what would I like to give or get? I have come up with few ideas that I’m sure will ensure that I’m asked back again.
Paper or fabric? The choice is up to you, but I love receiving beautiful napkins. They’re a simple accessory that adds a lot of dash to a table, but aren’t often something people think to spend money on for themselves.
I’m currently loving these fabric napkins from Indigo.
Candles are one of my all-time favourite gifts to give and receive. I always have a candle burning in my home.
I adore bold scents and tend to change the candles I’m burning depending on my mood and the season. Voluspa candles are one of my favourites for their range and depth of scents,
Candles can be a more personal gift. When in doubt, I like to go for a neutral scent like french vanilla.
Ice cube trays
I adore a good cocktail pre-dinner. You will have a place in my heart forever if you make me a good negroni.
After drinking far too many watery cocktails, I can admit that a slow-melting ice-cube is a must for most cocktails.
I’ve got my eye on some large ice-cube trays for the fall.
So I know that I said that I don’t want to bring wine anymore. A thoughtful locally distilled spirit however? That raises the bar.
I’m looking forward to gifting (and hopefully receiving) some spirits from Niagara Region’s Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers.
So today, during research for work (I promise) I stumbled across HomeSav – an online private shopping club for home decor.
It sells a ton of brands and is Canadian. Is there anything better?
While doing research for… uh… work… I may have placed an order.
I’ve been looking for some fantastic navy pillows to freshen up my living room. After looking for months, I happened to find pillows I adored on HomeSav.
These beauties will be shipped to me sometime in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait!
So there you go. I’ll let you know in August how the pillows look. And I’ll be sure to share future HomeSav purchases.
It’s officially summer.
I can’t think of a season I embrace more – I’m talking about evenings spent running through the sprinkler, drinking sangria on patios and plotting trips to cottages.
On this steamy Monday evening, however, I’m simply enjoying a cool breeze on my patio.
Winter isn’t leaving without a fight. Ice storm warnings began last night.
I’m sitting in my home office listening to the rap of ice pellets against my window hoping and praying that this is the last blast of cold. Spring weather has to come eventually. Right?
Here’s how I’ve been surviving this *final* brush with the cold:
Flowers are necessary! I’m a purist when it comes to my flowers. I prefer the garden variety: tulips, iris, peonies, lilies and ranunculus.
Sometimes you need something strong to get you through it. You know what I mean? Last night I decided it was time for a summery cocktail. My all-time favourite is the gin and tonic. With extra lime. You can’t go wrong.
Vegetables. I don’t know why, but eating brightly coloured vegetables assures me that spring is coming.
So that’s how I’ve been coping. How about you? What’s helping you get through this final wintry blast?
I’m all about quick snack food. Veggies and hummus? Check. Sweet potatoe fries and chile mayo? Check.
My favourite easy snack is roasted chickpeas. They are heaven. Or crack. You won’t stop eating them once you start.
I adapt this recipe depending on my mood. I love them fresh from the oven with black pepper cracked on them. Or tossed onto a salad for extra crunch. Or sprinkled in a soup.
Really, you should just eat them.
Here they are – ready to be roasted. I sprinkled them with ginger, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
Hot crispy roasted chickpeas. I ate a quarter of the tray before I managed to take a picture.