the sexy fig undressed – arugula, fig, and blue cheese salad

Fig, fruit of the female mystery, covert and inward, 

Mediterranean fruit, with your covert nakedness,

Where everything happens invisible, flowering and fertilization, and fruiting
In the inwardness of your you, that eye will never see….

from “Figs” by DH Lawrence

Continue reading “the sexy fig undressed – arugula, fig, and blue cheese salad”

M.F.K. Fisher’s Tomato Soup Cake Revisited


“People ask me: Why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don’t you write about the struggle for power and security, about love, the way others do?. . . The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it. . . “

~M.K.F. Fisher

  Continue reading “M.F.K. Fisher’s Tomato Soup Cake Revisited”

rhubarb coffee cake

014I’m a huge fan of rhubarb. It’s such a useful and tenacious plant – thriving in all sorts of conditions, requiring next to no maintenance, and coming back faithfully year after year. Plant it once and you have a lifetime source of free food. The leaves are one of nature’s most potent natural pesticides. The red stalks are a cheerful harbinger of spring – generally one of the first edible things up in the garden every year. And best of all, it’s so tasty. Rhubarb just makes good sense. Continue reading “rhubarb coffee cake”

baked cheese and jalapeño dip

It was Victor Hugo who said, “There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Victor Hugo was all kinds of things. A poet, playwright, novelist, and essayist. A statesman. A human rights campaigner.  A talented visual artist.  A Catholic at odds with his faith.  A sexually charged egomaniac.  A man with a complicated and at times, incredibly tragic personal life.  And above all, a Frenchman, even though he lived for some time in exile in the Channel Islands.

Continue reading “baked cheese and jalapeño dip”

when everyone else is spring-bound…

kahlua ice cream2Homemade Kahlua Ice Cream and Dark Chocolate Gelato
sans Ice Cream Maker

This winter, a friend I met in Vermont last year, sent me a CD with a collection of the songs he had written about in his work. Amongst them was a song called After All  by songwriter Dar Williams.

I won’t forget the first moment I first heard After All – track number five on the CD. I was driving home from a cold, snowy winter hike with my dog. The roads were snow-covered and the sky was white with falling snow. From the moment Dar Williams’ voice filled my car, I felt a physical tug in my heart.  Continue reading “when everyone else is spring-bound…”

a kale, sausage, and feta frittata

I’m off to the south of France where I’m going to spend a couple of weeks locked up in an old barn. Writing.

On the eve of my departure – with approximately eleven-hundred-and-seventy-nine thousand things to do before I go – including such details as beginning and finishing packing, finding my travel documents, printing out my boarding passes, finding my train tickets to Montreal, charging all my electronics, paying bills, making food for the ones I am leaving behind, calling my mum, and making all of the last-minute arrangements – it seems like a perfect  time to write a blog post. Continue reading “a kale, sausage, and feta frittata”

baked Baileys cheesecake with a salted caramel Irish whiskey sauce

I’ve approached the salted chocolate, salted caramel, salted-everything craze with a little skepticism.

It’s not that I’m concerned about salt. In fact, quite the opposite. There’s an excellent article in the NY Times about the flimsy evidence against salt. I think salt is a pretty critical ingredient and am not adverse to placing the salt on top of something, where once upon a time – it would just have gone into the ingredients without attention being drawn to it.

This baked Baileys cheesecake has me convinced. It’s a practically perfect cheesecake – not overly sweet, dense and creamy, and the combination of flavours is beautiful.

I normally like fruity desserts but with St. Patrick’s Day looming, I thought an Irish-type cake might be in order. You can make your own inexpensive Irish cream – see the recipe by clicking here. The salted caramel Irish Whiskey sauce can be made with whatever whiskey you have on hand – and if you don’t want to use whiskey – you could just use a glug of pure vanilla essence.


Baked Baileys Cheesecake (recipe adapted from an old Harrowsmith Cookbook)

3 – 250 gram packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup Baileys Irish Cream (see recipe for homemade Irish Cream here) or for an alcohol-free version – substitute 1/2 cup of creamy coffee

Crust Ingredients:
200 grams digestive biscuits (I used about 20 Peak Frean’s LifeStyle Bran Crunch biscuits)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 300°F and place oven rack in the centre of the oven.

To make the crust – pulse the biscuits in the food processor to large crumbs. Combine crumbs and melted butter and press evenly onto the bottom of a lightly greased 8″ spring-form pan.
Place the softened cream cheese in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until there are no lumps. Add sugar and beat until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing very briefly each time (do not over mix). Stir in the Baileys Irish Cream and vanilla.
Pour into the prepared pan and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 60 minutes or until the top looks MOSTLY set. Try to resist opening the door until the 60 minutes is up. Turn the oven OFF and leave the cake in the oven for at least another hour or several until the oven has fully cooled.

Once the oven has cooled, remove the cake, run a butter knife or spatula-style-knife around the edge of the cheesecake and chill the cake in the pan for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Once the cake is well-chilled, spread with Baileys whipped cream and serve the caramel Irish Whiskey sauce on top and/or on the side.

To make the Baileys Whipped Cream – whip 250ml of whipping cream to firm peaks, then add 1-2 tbsp of Baileys Irish Cream and 1 tbsp icing sugar and whip briefly to combine.

To make the Salted Caramel Irish Whiskey Sauce

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tbsp Irish Whiskey (or whatever whiskey you have on hand)
  • sea salt or coarsely grained salt to finish

Mix the brown sugar, cream, and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while stirring gently until the mixture thickens – this will probably take about 5 minutes. Keep the heat low or the mixture will go grainy. Remove from heat and stir in the whiskey. When the sauce cools enough not to melt the whipping cream on the cake – drizzle over cake and finish with a light sprinkle of sea salt or other coarsely grained salt. 

Baked Baileys Cheesecake