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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

 

 

 

If you are lucky enough to actually like the family you were born into, I highly recommend not leaving the city they live in. Because if you do, the chances of you falling in love are very high. With a person, or with a city, or with a job and then you will be stuck. Stuck in a city, with a person and a job that you are in love with, which is, by most measures, is a pretty fabulous situation to be in. But if you are lucky enough to actually like the family you were born into, there will always be a part that is missing.

 

That’s how it is for me at least. I absolutely love Vancouver, and I can’t put into words how wonderful Jordan is, and I get giddy every time I think about how I work for myself. But it is tough sometimes, and never more so than right after I’ve visited home.  I’ve been super lucky lately, my Mom came out to visit this summer for a whole week, and then I got to visit my whole extended family in Boston a month ago, and last weekend I was back in Toronto for a family wedding. By all accounts, I’ve seen more of my family than I usually do, but somehow that just makes it harder. It’s always so perfect when we’re all together, and now I’m here thinking about how I’m not sure when I’ll see them again, Which is a miserable situation.

 

And whenever I’m this hopeless and lonely, the only thing that does any good is to make cookies. Not fussy cookies, not fancy cookies, and not anything wild or crazy cookies. The kind of cookies I can imagine my Mom baking, the kind that you just drop on a pan and they turn into soft and caramel-y and glorious sweet bits of comfort that make everything a little bit better.

 

These cookies in particular are especially comforting. They are full of brown sugar and chocolate and copious amounts of peanut butter and sprinkled with Maldon salt on top for crunch. It will make you feel better when you’re sad, and that’s about all you can ask for from a cookie I think.

 

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Chanterelle Mushrooms with Fried Eggs on Toast

Here’s a secret- I’m really not so into Fall.

I know, I know, everybody loves fall. But I live in a city that rains 8 months of the year and when the weather gets colder I start to feel the panic of not seeing the sun for months on end and I get cranky.

The only upside to fall for me, is apples and mushrooms. Which as I write it this seems like a very strange pairing. But thems the facts; Apples and mushrooms.

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And when talking about mushrooms, I mean the foraged versions that are in all the shops in my part of town right now. Mostly, pine mushrooms and chanterelles.

The combination of which I am currently putting on everything. I’m sautéing them and tossing them into pasta, putting them on pizzas, but mostly, I’m putting them o buttered toast and topping them with a fried egg.

It’s a glorious way to start a day, but also a glorious way to eat lunch or dinner. Mushrooms, eggs, and buttered toast. It’s a beautiful thing.

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Seared Eggplant with Macedonian Feta and Za’atar

Eggplants are a wildly underestimated vegetable.

 

Here’s the thing of it: I love eggplants.

Here’s the other thing of it: I’m one of the few.

Here’s why: There are a lot of bad eggplants out there.

There are a lot of hothouse eggplants, a lot of flavourless eggplants, a lot of eggplants that pretty much just taste like soggy bitterness.

Here’s the other reason why: There are a lot of people who don’t know how to cook eggplants properly. They cook them until they get stoggy, or they don’t cook them enough. Or they cook them with water so they lose any hope of a nice texture.

And all of this may have led you to thinking that you don’t like eggplants and that it’s hard to cook, and the thing of it is, it’s super easy, the trick is lots of olive oil, high heat, and a healthy pinch of salt.

I’ve known this all for a while, but it took Jordan eating eggplant at our favourite Palestinian restaurant to convert him. There it comes grilled with halloumi, and the most puckeringly perfect lemon and za’atar dressing that you soak up with loads of extra pita. (Za’atar is a middle eastern spice mix with dried savary, thyme, sumac and sesame seeds.) It’s perfect in every way.

This is my version of that dish. I sear the eggplant instead of grilling it, because I don’t have a grill. Knock you’re socks off and use the BBQ if you have one. I also use Macedonian feta instead of halloumi, because I am royally obsessed with the Macedonian feta at my local cheese shop, and I want to put it on everything. But if you can’t find it (it’s a thousand times creamier than regular feta) feel free to use the halloumi.eggplant-6 LQeggplant-4 LQ

Eggplant with Macadonian Feta and Za’Atar

6 Small Eggplants, ot 1 Large, sliced into inch thick slices.

250g Macedonian Feta, or Halloumi

1 Lemon

¾ cup Olive Oil

¼ cup Canola or Avacado Oil

1tbsp Za’atar

1 small clove of Garlic, minced or pureed.

Salt and Pepper

Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat .

Mix together the canola oil with ¼ cup of the olive oil.

Pour a good splash of that into the pan, and put in a layer of the eggplant, salt it generously.

Let it cook until the eggplant browns then flip it and let it brown on the other side salting it too, adding more of the oil mixture if neccessary. The eggplant should now be very soft.

Remove it, add more oil into the pan and cook the remaining eggplant.

Slice the feta and layer it with the eggplant on a dish.

Make the dressing: mix the juice of half the lemon, garlic, and a good pinch of salt.  Slowly add in the remaining olive oil. Check for seasoning, and add a bit more olive oil, salt or lemon as needed.

Pour that generously over the eggplant, sprinkle the za’atar over top and serve!

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Seven Minute Eggs with Roasted Corn Butter Lettuce Salad

It has been a glutinous couple of weeks. It’s been full of stagettes and weddings and far more champagne then any one person should consume. There have been an excess of sparkly dresses, gold shoes, and red lipsticks. There have been charcuterie plates, and cheese plates, and seemingly endless amounts of pizza and I am in need of vegetables in a major way.

Which is why, after returning from a wedding this weekend I made this for breakfast the next day. It’s richly satisfying, full of flavour, but also full of the nutrients that only found their way into my diet in the form of Ceasars and Bloody Mary’s over the last few days.

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Big Changes.

Do you ever have one of those months where you blink and suddenly it’s gone. Or you feel like you turn around and out of nowhere everything has changed?

That’s been this whole summer for me.

I moved, after 7 years in my old apartment, to one that is a whole lot bigger, and lovelier. I quit my job, so now I am officially self-employed, which is so exciting and terrifying and amazing. My business is starting to get going, and I’m getting more clients and doing more markets.

It’s been a crazy time, and one that has ensured that I haven’t had time for this lovely little space here.

So I just thought I’d let you know that I’m going to becoming back with regular posts, and lots of new recipes.  I promise.

So what about you? Any big changes happening in your life this summer?

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Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes

I have not been healthy lately. Like, not even a little bit. It’s been parties, and stagettes, and friends visiting from out of town, and dinners out with said friends, and far too much wine and too many gin and tonics with the same friends. It’s been a great summer so far, but it’s not so good for my health. So I had one of those days when I was thinking that I would be super healthy, and work out, and eat vegetables , and all those other things you’re supposed to do when you’ve been eating too much cake. But then instead I thought about blueberry pancakes and healthiness went out the window. Tomorrow guys. Tomorrow I’ll be better. Today, there are pancakes, and that is good enough my friends.

And their gluten free, so it’s like healthfood right? Yep. Totally.

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Radish and Watercress Tartines with Goats Cheese

 

And… it’s wedding season.

Officially. Two weeks ago I went to the first of 4 weddings that I’m attending this year. Last year there were only 2, but the year before that there were six.  Being in your late twenties guys, you go to a lot of weddings.

The difference this year is that all of the weddings are for people who I am super close to. I’m in two bridal parties, I’m making the cakes for all of them, because they are some of my best friends. And when that happens it’s not really just the wedding, but the showers, and the engagement parties, and the stagettes.

I’m throwing a shower for my bestie next month, and she’s vegetarian, so I’ve been trying to think of cute simple tea sandwiches that will look gorgeous, be a bit different and are meat free. My local market had these beautiful little French radishes, and some lovely watercress, and with a bit of goats cheese it seemed like just the ticket.

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Sriracha +Maple Roasted Pecans

Here’s the thing: I have not been blogging enough lately. This little part of the internet has been in my thoughts so much these days, but I haven’t actually been writing and photographing and putting up here. It’s gotten a bit lost.

I’ve been writing and photographing for other people. People like Edible Vancouver and the Vancouver Observer and HelloGiggles. But not here.

And I’ve been baking a lot too, for Merchants Oyster Bar, which just got a great review in the Globe and Mail, and even if the woman reviewing it made it sound like the chef was making the pastries, it was me, and she said nice things.

But mostly I’ve been baking for Livia Sweets the company. The super-exciting-can’t-contain-my-smile-when-I talk-about-it company that I own. That I make pastries for and sell. That people buy, and say nice things about on the internet. That fills me with so much joy I can barely handle it.

I’ve also been working hard with a design team to get this website spick and span with a new look, updated pages, lots more pictures of myself (which I’m a bit self conscious of truthfully) and that’s much more user friendly. You can leave comments again now! I can update the recipe index! I can add pages about my exciting new projects! It’s a lot of big improvements.

It’s been a very busy couple of months, the kind that knock you over sideways a bit and make you so exhausted that you end up getting strep throat that makes you cough so hard you have to take all sorts of herbs, and watch an entire season of Nashville in one week just get better.

But now I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling pretty on top of things. And I’m going to ease you into a recipe with this one because it’s so painfully easy it feels like a cheat to give it to you, except you would all hate me if I didn’t because it’s so darn good. It’s crunchy and salty and spicy, but also earthy and sweet and exactly what I want in a bowl of pecans on my table. And also on my friends table because I’ve already been enlisted to bring her some after she saw my instagram picture of them only a few minutes ago. They are wonderful. And so are all of you, thank you for your patience these last few weeks.

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Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes, Smoked Mackerel and Arugula

Lately I’ve been doing that totally pathetic thing that nearly all women do in Spring, The terrible season that forces us to realize that everything we’ve eaten from Thanksgiving turkey to Valentines soufflé has taken it’s toll. And now that we’re expected to go to beaches and lie around half naked, we’re getting a little panicky.
So I’m being super boring, and eating salads and working out and pretending it’s all to make myself feel better, and that it’s for my health, instead of just being honest with myself, and admitting that it’s totally just for my ego. Don’t get me wrong, I like being active, and I love vegetables, it’s just that this whole bikini season is getting a bit on my nerves this year. I mean, I have a nice body, and it does remarkable things, like let me stand up for 16 hours a day without complaining too heavily, and let’s me go for long bike rides, and play tennis and hike up mountains. Maybe I’ve got it all right.
And as I was thinking this, I also thought about that fabulous line from Sofia Loren. The one she said after she, one of the most beautiful women to ever live, was trashed apart in magazines for having cellulite. And her response, which she was shocked to have to give, was “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.”
So today, let’s eat spaghetti, and not feel guilty. Let’s just enjoy it for what it is.
This one is especially good I think, it’s filled with roasted tomatoes and smoked mackeral and loads of fresh basil. It’s the sort of thing that feels like the perfect Spring dinner, it’s hearty but also fresh and so packed with flavour I didn’t find myself eating quite as much as normal. Small miracles, curtesy of Sofia Loren.

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Roibbos Tea Iced Latte with Almond Milk and Cinnamon

Do you ever just fall so in love with a company? You know, when you go into a shop and just love everything in it so much you wish you owned the place? And then you meet the owner and they are so lovely and you just are so thrilled to have found them?
There are only a handful of places like this for me. This great little shop on Main St., the izakaya down the street from me, the sadly closed Little Nest. The kind of places that immediately just feel perfect. Well, I’ve got a new one for the list, and I have to talk about it because I’m so royally obsessed.
A friend of mine posted something about this nut milk company on facebook, and on a whim I ordered some. And then something amazing happened, this lovely woman who makes almond milk, and hazelnut milk, and hazelnut-cocoa milk, delivered it, in a mason jar, to my door on her bicycle.
Seriously.
Is that not the cutest thing you’ve ever heard of? And, like you would imagine a bicycle riding nut milk making woman to be, she is this bubbly, bright sunshine-y person.
Not only is she lovely, but her milks are amazing. They are made from organic nuts (from California except the hazelnuts which she picks herself about an hour outside of Vancouver), and are just wildly more flavourful than the chemical laden stuff at the grocery store.
As, despite my greatest attempts to ignore it, my body doesn’t really like dairy, this is pretty wonderful for me. You can probably tell I’m excited.
So I’ve been trying out new ways to play around with her products, and what I keep finding is just how brilliant almond milk is with roibos tea. It’s the perfect match for me, hot or cold.
This is just a simple recipe, so simple I almost didn’t post it, but it’s too good I had too. Also, I had to talk about how great Nuez milks are, because I’m a little obsessed.
Roibos Almost Milk Latte with Cinnamon and Honey
Per Drink
1 tsp Roibos Tea
1 tsp Honey
½ cup Almond Milk
1 Cinnamon Stick (or a pinch of ground cinnamon)*
Ice
*if you are doubling (or tripling!) the recipe you do not need to add more cinnamon.
Boil cup of water.
Put the tea into a tea strainer and put into a teapot. Add the cinnamon stick and pour the water on top.
Let this steep for at least 5 minutes if not longer.
Pour the tea into a large cup.
Add the honey and stir until it is combined.
Add in a few ice cubes and stir until the tea is cooled completely. Add the almond milk.
Drink!

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