coconut & grapefruit marmalade tarts

grapefruit coconut tarts

What is food blogging like in a pandemic? My blog oscillates between the asinine and, occasionally, trying to be a bit of something else. Today is another trying-to-be-a-bit-of-something-else sort of day.

You’ve probably noticed that there is a theme strung throughout the constant inundation of pandemic updates. While each individual headline isn’t a surprise, it is remarkable how clearly COVID-19 has broadly articulated inequities. Which is to say that COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the more vulnerable and marginalized.

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caramelized nut and cranberry tart

caramel, nut & cranberry tart
caramel, nut & cranberry tart
caramel, nut & cranberry tart
caramel, nut & cranberry tart

Dear future self,

There is one key piece of advice that emerged from the small group discussion we had that I think is rather important for you (and for me right now as well) to hear again (and again): no one else is going to remember your embarrassing moments.

The times that your answer is totally off in left field – or you don’t even have an answer. Or the times that you start to get nervous while presenting and you suspect that there may be a slightly audible tremor in your voice. Or the times that you respond lamely or laugh at the wrong moment or make a joke that falls flat.

Maybe if it happens all the time they will remember (I suppose the flat jokes are my only jokes), but the single fleeting moments will be forgotten because, to be quite honest, they are utterly inconsequential!

No one will remember them. Except you, that is. You who does tend to run these select memories over and over in your head like a mobius strip-cassette tape… all while liberally imagining other’s thoughts to feed the part of you that relishes feeling terribly bad about yourself. You remember way more than enough for everyone.

You know what? You can probably let it go. And embarrassing moments will continue happening so often as you go forwards that your only option will be to let it go – and if you can do so a bit faster, everything will go a bit easier.

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golden beet cheesecake tart with cranberries

cardamom-spiced golden beet cheesecake, crumbly spelt flour crust, and tart rooibos-stewed cranberries – and just what is a self-directed theatrical play?

golden beet cheesecakegolden beet cheesecake

I recently attended Here are the Fragments, an immersive, self-directed theatre experience at the Theatre Centre about Dr Chauvet, a black immigrant psychiatrist who is diagnosed with schizophrenia later in life. It tackles topics of intersecting identities, as a racialized minority, as a psychiatrist and as a patient, all while bringing attention to the underlying impacts that colonialism and racism can have on health and the treatment patients receive in the health care system.

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olive oil panna cotta tart with figs

an olive oil panna cotta tart flavoured with honey and vanilla to reinforce its dessert allegiance, plus figs. 

olive oil panna cotta tartolive oil panna cotta tart

Sometimes I question myself – how do I still not have a go-to recipe for most things…such as a pate sucree? Every time I tend to use something a bit different – either because I start looking at different reference recipes or I start making up my own based on ratios (which themselves change, varying from 3:2 flour to butter like a shortbread to 2:1 flour to butter). Or I look at my previous posts and then start adapting those adaptations depending on what little bits of egg I have left in the fridge or how much butter I want to use…

Perhaps another reason I never settle on one recipe is because I’m constantly switching up how much whole wheat flour I use, or I try to make as little pastry as possible for the project and end up needing to roll it very thin– which works better some times than other times. I’ve been making more tarts recently though, so perhaps that will push me to finally settle on a tart dough.

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caramelized white chocolate, rose and raspberry tart with pistachio praline

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A surreal night began when a man walked onto the subway carrying a small coffin, taped shut. He sat down, nestling it upright between his legs where it reached the level of chin. Indeed, people need to transport coffins somehow, and public transit is an accessible choice.

In a story this would be a premonition of something. This being my life, I thought that was all it was to be.

Then I encountered Eva. An hour before midnight, on the walk home from the subway station, she nearly slipped on a patch of ice several steps ahead of me, then turned and waited for me to catch up.

She wore an ankle length golden brown fur coat and a matching brown-hued keffiyeh on her head. Her birdlike face was small, pale, thin, and wrinkled, and she peered at me with wide blue eyes.

Did she ever blink? Now I can’t remember.

“This dreadful ice! I was just telling those lovely folks about it—” she flung her hand in the direction of the corner store behind her—”They’re Chinese. Are you Chinese?” she turned to look at me, then a second later smiled widely, “Am I Chinese? No! I’m Scottish!” she declared. “By ancestry.”

Then she returned to the ice, continuing, “This reminds me of that dreadful year with all the ice. I fell and broke my foot right here.”

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chocolate red beet tarts

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Thanksgiving was never really induced much of holiday-sentimentality. It always took me by surprise (first realizing that there was a day off, and then realizing it was Thanksgiving) and nothing much seemed to happen apart from the rare year when my grandpa bought a cheap turkey–though that often happened after Thanksgiving when the sales started–and then we were having turkey broth (oh the horror) for months.

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windfall tarte tatin

Urban gardens and community orchards are never quite how I envision they should be–something like an orchard out of a juice commercial on television, laden with ripe fruit. The reality is that most ripe apples are out of reach, the remainder are green, mainly nibbled and even more loll at the foot of the trunk, hidden in the grass or nearby bushes.

What make these orchards different is the closeness. The fruit, though sometimes it may be difficult to nice, is quite abruptly there. It is a closeness that extends not only to hidden strawberries and dry saskatoon berries, but to the  hail-pockmarked and bruised apples littering the ground. It’s probably only something I started appreciating recently when the kind lady who lends her time at the community orchard passed us a bag full of windfall apples she had collected from the ground this past fall.

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chocolate walnut tart with pomegranate

Lately it’s been buckwheat (and well, pictures taken a bit too late in the evening). There have been these pancakes, this other tart and plenty more in the drafts. What I really love about buckwheat is how much you can taste it. It’s so satisfying to choose a certain flour because you want to taste said flour, and then actually be able to taste it.

My introduction to the taste of buckwheat was rather ambiguous. My sister made these cookies. They tasted so very very good but I couldn’t tell where the bitterness and earthyness of chocolate ended and the buckwheat began.

That might be the point–the flavours go together just so well that one can seamlessly slip into the other.

I still really wanted to be able to taste the buckwheat. I’m not the most perceptive and sensitive when it comes to taste, but I also want to blame a bit of it on the particular batch of flour–at the time I had some one year-old buckwheat flour from Bulk Barn. I’ve been using Bob’s Red Mill flour lately, and it is surprisingly different. Even the colour of the flour is darker, and once moistened, the it becomes hearty and deep grey compared to the slightly more pallid bulk flour. I think the taste comes out a bit more as well (though without a side-by-side I can’t say).

Edit: The difference likely stems from different types of buckwheat –  “dark buckwheat” most likely explains the difference I saw between the two flours, not the source.

Anyhow, I tried the chocolate-buckwheat combination again in the crust, and this time the buckwheat taste is quite a bit more apparent (though somewhat lost with the walnuts and the pomegranates).

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pomelo mint and rose tart

I used to usually just have this impression of mint as a garnish. Something like a sprig of mint and a dusting of icing sugar.

That changed with this tart. Now every time I imagine a cake or a tart or any dessert really (all frequent fantasies), they always seem to come heaping with mint.

The most recent was a layered blueberry (we have some frozen blueberries right now and they’ve been dwelling heavily on my mind) meringue cake with chamomile cream, lemon and ack! piles of mint. Oh well. I’ll grow out of it–maybe.

Mint is so lovely and works with anything; I can understand why one might want to put a few leaves on any sort of dessert. At the same time, mint is so flavourful, it can’t always be relegated to just a garnish, with only a small sprig. It’s so refreshing to have a generous amount of fresh mint in anything–savoury or sweet. (Another thing: I would take piles of basil on anything, sweet or savoury, if we had any.)

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