Fall cooking and Thanksgiving menu ideas

Temperatures have dropped around here, sending us scampering to dig out warm sweaters, matching socks and windbreakers. Fall is indeed in the air; invigorating me in a way the warm summer winds never can.

I’ve taken refuge from the cooler weather in the kitchen, which is no surprise, I am sure. A quick trip to market on the first day of October was all I needed to get in the spirit of fall cooking and baking. I filled my basket with pears, leeks, winter squash, fresh cranberries, beets and sweet potatoes  – all locally grown – and rounded out the haul with herbs from my garden.

Then, I fell to menu planning: weeknight meals, recipe development, and the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. We’re hosting a small gathering for eleven people this weekend, with turkey and all the usual trimmings.

Today I’ve rounded up my favourite recipes for Thanksgiving — and fall cooking in general. Whether you are setting a holiday table for for family, or serving up Sunday dinner to friends, you’ll want these recipes within reach.

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cookbooks on bookshelf

Favourite Spring Cookbooks and Authors for Indies Events

I finally admitted to myself this week that I was missing the hustle and bustle of book tour days past.

It’s not the smell of a Sharpie or the late nights I find lacking, but getting out and connecting with you readers. That was absolutely the best part of that whole crazy month. It sure wasn’t the inflight snacks.

Meeting so many of you was such a highlight of my year to date, that I decided we should do it again soon. At least locally for now. This Saturday, May 2nd is Canadian Authors for Indies Day and I am jumping in with both feet, with events booked all day at independent bookstores around Montreal.

Read on to see where I’ll be throughout the day and to find out if I’m bringing the kids or any snacks (yes, and yes). Then, I’m sharing nine of my favourite Spring 2015 cookbooks. Books, books, books!

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Oatmeal Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel Sauce

Stew and Scones: a St. Patrick’s Day recipe round-up

During my culinary school days, I shared a loft with a girl who was half Irish.

We sipped our first Guinness together, staked out for the front row at a U2 concert, and dyed our hair green on St. Patrick’s Day. We’d show up to the Montreal parade so decked out in shamrocks and flags, it’s no surprise we landed ourselves on the front page of the local paper one year.

As enthusiastic as I was about being Irish for one day, I never delved into cooking a feast inspired by the Emerald Isle. I know Irish cuisine is spectacular (I’m admittedly addicted to the food blog, Farmette), and so this post is an attempt to showcase a handful of recipes suitable for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

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strawberry and rhubarb buttter

Q&A: Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Tell us how or why not.

Oh, Valentine’s Day. A few of us could do away with the chocolate-dipped heart-shaped holiday, others embrace the opportunity for a romantic evening with their significant other, and the majority of us fall somewhere in the middle.

Danny and I have never stated a tradition of celebrating Valentine’s Day for a simple reason: I was always working. In our days of dating and for the first five years of marriage, I worked one of the busiest nights in the restaurant industry. (Mother’s Day and New Year’s Eve also rank high on a level of insanity.)

On February 14 I was otherwise occupied plating hundreds of chocolate deserts and decorating them with raspberry coulis. When I quit work to stay at home with my boys, I continued to associate Valentine’s Day with long hours, sore feet and demanding customers. I suppose that is how it is going to be from now on and that is fine.

Instead, we’ve made our own traditions, like keeping Friday evenings work-free, mixing a cocktail and having ‘us’ time. We have a terrific babysitter that enables us to get out to our favourite restaurants on occasion. Those allotted times to connect are essential in a marriage, especially during this stage of life with young children and two careers.

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How to reheat turkey (and keep it moist) on

How to reheat turkey leftovers and keep them moist

This past weekend was the unofficial launch of the holiday season for us. There were are few small signs to note the commencement, though nothing particularly unusual for a late November day.

I planted a Christmas amaryllis and placed it on a warm window sill, to be turned each day. From deep in the walk-in closet, I unearthed strings of lights for the eves and a wreath, for the front door. While the boys rakes the last of the leaves in the back yard, I baked shortbread in the kitchen and sent out hot cocoa to warm their tummies.

In the evenings, I splashed cranberry syrup in a glass with a little gin and tonic and sat down to plan, really plan, my cookie swap, as well as make a list of holiday baking essentials. For Sunday dinner dessert I opened up a jar of mincemeat and serve mini tarts with tea. It felt like the right thing to do.

These are the day of shortbread and spice, cocoa and cranberries. It’s a time of careful list making and time-saving tricks, like today’s post for storing and reheating turkey while still keeping it moist. It’s a classic kitchen trick, nothing I can take credit for, but a solid one, nevertheless, and a tried and true method  used by my mother-in-law every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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