Monday, June 27, 2011

Aperol Spritz

Picture this: You're in an old piazza in Northern Italy. The sun is shining and a gentle breeze is blowing... stirring the air slightly but not disrupting the scene. Waves of beautiful people move through the piazza and their conversations twirl around you like ribbons, dancing over your skin and fading into the distance. Your companion approaches the bar and points at a striking and vibrantly orange-hued beverage spotted in the hand of one of those beautiful people. "Two, please."

As romantic and ridiculously dramatic as that scene may seem to you, it felt just that romantic and ridiculously dramatic to me when I was in Italy last... though instead of two, the order was somewhere in the forties. hahah. We had a wonderful group together to celebrate the wedding of a fantastic couple (and very dear friend of mine).

This was our spritz after a long day of moving... 
no ice, couldn't find the oranges,
but we managed to chill the Prosecco.
It was divine.

Making these spritzes at home was one way to transport myself back to those special days in Northern Italy and -in particular- Verona, without the costly airline ticket. And with the long overdue (enter: cheers of "finally!") arrival of summer, I can think of no better way to celebrate it than with a spritz!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cara's Cookies... or Vanilla Cream Cookies

Recently, on the wannafoodie facebook page, I shared the photos for some absolutely beautiful Vanilla Cream Cookies... or Cara's Cookies. The Cara of Cara's Cookies is one Cara Cotter... and she is graciously sharing the recipe and a few of her tips here with us!

I met Cara several years ago through our mutual girlfriend, Sarah (another talented woman and the brains behind STUFF). Sarah has a real knack for bringing together smart and talented women. I remember one girls night in particular... mattress on the living room floor to extend our lounge space, sweets and treats including Cara's cupcakes and Sarah's poutine with actual Quebec gravy, and Working Girl on the television... uhhh, maybe you had to be there.

Back to Cara... she is one of those women that make it all seem quite effortless. I don't doubt that a great deal of effort goes into everything that she does but, like I said, she manages to accomplish so much without -seemingly- breaking a sweat. This is one smart cookie. Raising a family of two handsome boys with her husband while growing two incredible businesses while still finding time to bake beautiful little cookies like these (with puff pastry FROM SCRATCH!)... I'm one impressed woman.

So, while these cookies bake away and fill your kitchen with that sweet satisfying aroma, please check out her other two babies... So Pretty Jewelry ("Part of the magic for me is finding gemstones that I haven't seen anywhere else... a certain cut, amazing quality, or a color that catches my eye for the current season's trends. Just like a chef that searches their local market for the best produce in season I'm constantly searching for the finest stones and materials out there.") and glass.ful (hand blown glass tumblers that "can be used as a candleholder, a vase, a drinking glass or give a splash of color to any room"). I think you'll find yourself equally impressed.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Raspberry Maple Croissant Pudding

It's quite funny... when I tweeted about making this delicious little treat, Aviv at Sidewalk Citizen Bakery (and my Momma... though not via Twitter) replied with something that I agreed wholeheartedly with... that is a sin to let croissants go stale!

It certainly wasn't the ideal situation. I love croissants. Plain and cold. Slightly warmed and crisp. With bright, tangy raspberry jam. With marmalade and fresh fruit. I ate croissant after croissant but couldn't quite get through the 12 or so that I bought before they started to go slightly stale. At that point, I decided to embrace the stale and welcome it into my kitchen with open arms... and bathe it in custard.

As is often the case for anything that I make, the inspiration often comes from what I have on hand... raspberries, stale croissants, maple syrup and cream. And a delicious sweet-treat started to take shape.

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