Easy Homemade Harissa Recipe || Simple Bites

Quick Homemade Harissa from ‘Whole Bowls’

Step into any book shop these days and you will be greeted by a fresh array of new spring cookbooks. It’s hard to know which ones are keepers amid the wide selection.

A large percentage of these books come across my desk, and I spend many evenings reading them cover to cover. In spring and in fall, the busiest times for publication, cookbooks are my novels. I binge on them like a cult Nexflix show. A few make it to my kitchen, a handful more remain on my shelf, and the rest go on a pile to give away.

Fellow Canadian food blogger Allison Day has a new cookbook, Whole Bowls, and it landed in my hands a few short days before my Noah was diagnosed with pneumonia. This was a few weeks ago, when I was sufficiently ‘done’ with winter produce, yet I became excited to cook while reading Whole Bowls – the first sign of a great cookbook.

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Easy Maple Mustard Chicken Drumsticks with Roasted Radishes & Asparagus :: Simple Bites

Easy Maple Mustard Chicken Drumsticks with Roasted Radishes & Asparagus

If you make it past the little family table anecdote I am about to recount, then you will find a simple dinner recipe that needs to go on your week’s menu plan.

It’s inspired by maple season, of course, but combines classic French flavours – lemon, garlic, mustard and tarragon – into a sticky glaze for pan-roasted chicken drumsticks. Spring vegetables roast alongside the chicken and are tossed in the pan juices just before serving.

We’ve been loving it with roasted radishes, potatoes, asparagus and sweet potatoes; basically, whatever we can get our hands on this time of year.

On a side note, I had forgotten how much I enjoy chicken with tarragon and now I must remake an old favourite for entertaining, Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. The roasted garlic perfumes the whole house and marries with cream and tarragon for a sauce that garners your guests’ full attention.

But back to my story, and then the recipe. Read on!

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Make-Ahead Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Maple-Stewed Berries :: Simple Bites

Make-Ahead Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Maple-Stewed Berries

This past week offered the opportunity to actually get outside and tromp around the homestead a bit. Hello Spring!

Among my discoveries, I noticed that the snow melted from the raised beds and small scarlet nubs of rhubarb are pushing through the mulch. The oregano patch is starting to show some green underneath the tangle of brambles and the raspberry canes are finally free of ice. Life is returning.

We’ve ordered our pullet hens from the farm and next weekend we’ll make repairs on the coop. Small brown eggs are synonymous with spring around here and in a few weeks production will start.

Say, if you haven’t toured our homestead yet, why not take a peek? And of course, find the expanded version, with recipes, stories and urban homesteading tips in my recent cookbook.

I’m holding out for local berries and our homegrown raspberries and (so far) have not been tempted by the imports from Mexico. Thankfully I still have a stash of Quebec strawberries and blueberries in the freezer from last summer. Gently stewed with some of this-season’s maple syrup, they make a delicious topping for nutty oatmeal.

Speaking of oatmeal, my favourite variety just became a lot more easily available, thanks to a new do-ahead method that I have been playing with for weeks.
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Weekend Links & Photos

So far my weekend is shaping up to be the complete opposite to our drawn out Easter break, meaning: tranquil.

A drive in the country, a game night with friends and tonight, a re-watch of this film. (by the way, have you seen it? much more than your average romcom)

Easter was lovely, though, and below I’m sharing a few photos from the weekend. As busy as it was, we are blessed to have our family healthy and whole.

I’ve got a great line up of recipes coming to the blog in April – a nourishing do-ahead breakfast, a fast family dinner, and a creative vegetarian ‘whole bowl’ inspired the new cookbook that is about to drop from my friend Allison.

But in the meantime, here’s what I’ve been reading and loving this week:

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Feed-a-Crowd Perfect Chocolate Layer Cake || Simple Bites

Feed-a-Crowd Perfect Chocolate Cake

We’ve just come through our birthday season, celebrating both Clara and Mateo with two different events and enough cake from both parties to feed a small army. Honestly, with the size of our extended family, there’s no such thing as too much cake.

I wasn’t planning to share this recipe here, because, well, it’s full of sugar and you, dear reader, tend to enjoy naturally sweetened recipes like the beloved Dark Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake, a Apple Spice Cake or this Banana Layer Cake.

But the practical side of me won out because this slab cake feeds a crowd with ease, and keeps them very, very happy. This is a recipe you only come across once in a lifetime, after far too many ho-hum chocolate cakes. This one makes you stop talking and pay attention to the slice on the plate in front of you. It makes your guests exclaim aloud – and when the party has dwindled, make a request for a piece to take home.

In short, it’s perfect for your Easter long weekend entertaining [Read more…]