Sweet Potato Red Lentil Biscuits || Simple Bites #lovepulses

Tender Sweet Potato Red Lentil Biscuits

If you haven’t experienced the arrival of spring through the eyes of a four-year-old, then you’ve missed out on a contagious excitement that is one hundred percent genuine.

For example, every puddle is enthusiastically tromped through – repeatedly. Each patch of earth is pointed out and tufts of new grass are greeted with shrieks of delight. Who needs an Easter egg hunt when the discovery of a simple green plant is heralded with so much joy?

It was only a few short months ago, just before Christmas, when Clara stood at the window and lamented the absence of snow. Of course it came in deep drifts soon after, much to her delight, but when you are that young, each season seems to last forever. Now she’s thrilled for spring and I’m aching to feel a warm breeze on my face every bit as much as she is.

For now, however, I’m happy that we’ve arrived at sugaring off season, which means our annual outing to the family sugar bush this weekend.

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Elegant but Easy: Pistachio and Raspberry Financiers

I’m delighted to introduce my friend Marie from Food Nouveau! Today she’s bringing us a delightful recipe to bake with the kids. Make these simple financiers over spring break or bookmark the versatile recipe for your Easter weekend. I think I’ll be making a batch for my Downton Abbey closing party next Sunday….

I love to bake, and usually, the more ambitious the project, the more I love carrying it off. But I love surprises too, such as when you discover that one of your favourite treats from the bakery is actually really easy to make at home.

I first tasted financiers as part of a mignardises plate at the end of a tasting meal at one of Quebec City’s finest restaurants. Mignardises are tiny treats that are usually served after the main dessert, and they are meant to leave you with a sweet note—and maybe make you swallow the hefty check that follows more easily.

They can be fine chocolates, candies, macarons, or small cakes, such as madeleines and financiers. I loved the moist, nutty taste and crispy, sweet edges of financiers, and following that first encounter, I indulged whenever I spotted them in a bakery display.

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Kids in the Kitchen: Mexican Garlic-Oregano Bolillo Buns || Simple Bites

Kids in the Kitchen: Mexican Garlic-Oregano Bolillo Buns

Where I grew up in the frozen Yukon Territory, winter arrived early and stayed late, so the best way to cope was to embrace the snow.

Once a year our family hosted a sledding party that lasted all day; the crunch of our guests’ tires on snow beginning after breakfast and lasting into the night, when the Northern Lights flickered overhead.

Before the party, my mother and I would make bolillos, traditional Mexican crusty rolls, to serve with my mother’s hearty soup, and the pots of chili that guests brought. It was my job to shape the buns, making sure the ends were twisted and placing them on cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheets.

After the second rising, we would slash the tops lengthwise from end to end, and slide the pans into the oven to rise gloriously and turn brown all over.

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Cinnamon Shortbread with Chocolate Ganche | Simple Bites

Cinnamon Shortbread Bars with Chocolate Ganache

It was a last-minute decision, but I cancelled my highly anticipated annual cookie swap to make a trip out East last week.

Instead of an afternoon of conversation over coffee and literally hundreds of cookies, I stood rooted to the ground in front of an incubator in the NICU of a Halifax hospital, transfixed by a wee wonder that was my new nephew.

I had traveled back to support my sister, who delivered a darling little premature boy of just over 3lbs. The days and nights we spent together were a complete blur, yet some moments replay in my thoughts as clearly as HD video clips, both the highs and the lows.

My dear friends were ever so understanding about the cancelled cookie swap. Suffice it to say, all the cookies in Canada couldn’t have enticed me away from that sweet baby. Some choices in life are easily made.

However, even though my plans to bake and exchange dozens of cookies went awry, Christmas is yet a week away and there is still enough time to break out the mixing bowls and bake a batch of these beloved shortbread bars, to share or to keep.

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Christmas Stollen Madeleines with Preserved Lemon || Simple Bites

Christmas Stollen Madeleines with Preserved Lemon

Here’s a buttery, soft-spiced cake, studded with currants, slivers of almonds and a hint of candied orange peel, that makes a perfectly elegant holiday treat for breakfast, afternoon tea or dessert. Chopped preserved lemon adds a wonderfully tart touch to these stollen-inspired madeleines.

For me, Christmas preparations begin in the aisles of a gourmet bulk foods store with a wire basket slung over my arm studying arrays of tantalizing baking supplies.

I might be shopping for rolled oats and walnut halves so that we can make granola to gift to the school teachers. Other times my basket could hold a colourful assortment of candy for our after-school gingerbread project. There are always dried apricots and hazelnuts for my essential holiday fruit and nut crisps and loads of whole cloves so we can spend a snowy afternoon making orange pomander balls.

This year, I found myself stopping in front of a bin of beautiful candied orange peel that was sandwiched between the slightly more garish fruitcake mixed peel and the much-too-sweet candied pineapple chunks. My thoughts traveled back to a December afternoon long ago when Danny and I had worked side-by-side to produce a dozen stollen loaves straight out of the Joy of Cooking. We coated those beauties in powdered sugar, wrapped them in cellophane, and delivered them on Christmas Eve to loved ones. The German fruitcake makes a delicious breakfast, sliced and lightly toasted, with coffee, of course.

On an impulse, I scooped out a small bag of the perfectly cubed orange peel and added it my basket. I sought out dried currants and slivered almonds, too. Perhaps this would be the year I’d revisit a once-beloved holiday loaf.

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