Cook the Book Fridays – Winter Salad

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It’s been a while now, since French Fridays with Dorie wrapped up. I’ve missed our weekly check ins, but have found myself woefully inept at keeping up with everyone’s blog posts. Some of our group joined the Cottage Cooking Club and others are working through Baking Chez Moi with Tuesdays with Dorie, both of which have provided some prompts to check in.

But, the Cottage Cooking Club meets only once a month and I don’t keep up with Tuesdays with Dorie as often as I’d like, since so many of my family and friends are avoiding sweets. So, I’m happy to say that there is a new way for us all to keep in touch.

Katie, from the Prof Who Cooks, backed up by our fabulous French Fridays admins, Betsy and Mary, has set up a website called Cook the Book Fridays, so that our group of cooking friends can work our way through David LebovitzMy Paris Kitchen together – and who knows, after that? The project is similar to the one that brought us together in the first place, cooking through a Paris-inspired cookbook, full of recipes for every course.

I’m happy that there will be another excuse to visit, virtually, and I’m hoping that these adventures will be shared by cooking friends old and new.

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Today marks the beginning of the project and we’ve started with a seasonal dish that’s simple to assemble, but full of Parisian panache. This Winter Salad, with its matchsticks of Belgian endive and roquefort and Greek yogurt dressing, is delicious. It’s also a perfect example of how salads can be much more interesting when they’re viewed through the lens of seasonal eating. There’s nothing worse than a salad of limp, out-of-season greens. But, when you realize a salad can be made from whatever looks freshest and interesting at the greenmarket, things start to look up.

My take on this included gorgonzola and red pear, as I didn’t make it to the cheese store in time for roquefort. I ran over to an Italian deli instead, and picked up a mild Canadian gorgonzola. I measured the ingredients in tablespoons, instead of cups, as I was the only one eating this salad tonight. I still ended up with enough dressing to make it again tomorrow. I have a spear of endive and half a pear waiting in the refrigerator. I’m looking forward to a repeat of this dish for lunch.

I think we’ve started off on a promising note. I’ve had the book since it came out, but haven’t cooked out of it nearly as much as I’d have liked. Now, I’ll be working through the whole thing with some of my favourite bloggers.

Join us?

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz’ My Paris Kitchen.

A Piquant Tomato Tart

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I received a jar of Maille’s Honey and Modena Balsamic Vinegar mustard from Maille Canada, but received no other consideration. All opinions are my own.

I keep two kinds of mustard in my refrigerator – a Dijon mustard and a grainy mustard. I’ve tried many different grainy mustards, but the Dijon is always Maille. I use these mustards in salad dressings, slather them over lamb and other meats for roasting, and sneak them in as my secret weapon for pan sauces, dips, casseroles, or savoury pies. These dishes are all improved by mustard’s piquancy, but the very best application for quality mustard is in Dorie Greenspan‘s recipe for Gérard’s Mustard Tart. I do not come from a mustard-loving family, but they all ask for seconds when I make this dish.

Since I focus on mustard as an ingredient rather than as a condiment, I haven’t really explored flavoured mustards. So, when Maille Canada offered me the opportunity to try their Honey and Modena Balsamic Vinegar mustard, my mind turned to cooking. The first thing on my agenda was the tomato variation of Dorie’s tart. I swapped out grainy mustard for the balsamic and studded the custard with juicy grape tomatoes. I also added a touch of sage along with the rosemary called for in the recipe.

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Since I had the pastry in the freezer, already fitted into my tart pan, this dish took about 30 minutes from cracking the eggs to pulling it from the oven. This is a weeknight supper that looks like it belongs in an upscale buffet. Pair it with a winter salad and you don’t really need anything else. Since it keeps very well, this one will be making a brunch appearance tomorrow, too.

You can find the recipe here for the original version of the tart – to make the balsamic tomato version, swap out the two tablespoons of grainy mustard for balsamic mustard and use sliced tomatoes in place of the carrots and leeks.

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The balsamic mustard is mellow, with a sweetness that’s balanced by heat. It’s terrific in this tart, playing against the Dijon mustard, the herbs, and tomatoes. I might just change my mind about mustard as a condiment, if this is on offer. I can imagine putting a layer of this mustard on a bresaola tartine or, even better, a goat cheese and strawberry tartine. It’s mild enough that it’s perfect for all sorts of dishes that straddle the line between savoury and sweet. It’s also going to become a favourite for dressings and marinades.

Maille was kind enough to send along a jar of their Malossol cornichons with the balsamic mustard, but I’m unable to review them. The jar opened in transit and I reluctantly had to compost them. My partner was heartbroken – good cornichons are one of his favourite indulgences.

Luckily, Maille’s gourmet lines can be found at a number of food purveyors, including Urban Fare, which hosted a Maille pop up shop over the holidays. I hope they bring back their mustard on tap to British Columbia soon – I’ve decided that my mustard collection is in need of expansion.

Something Simple 

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There was to be a savoury tart today, but a moment of inattention led to an evening of correcting tart dough instead. My Canadian eyes insist on reading “cup” when they should see “stick” and I put exactly twice as much butter into the dough as I was meant to. Luckily, it was easy to fix, but by that time I’d decided that leftover potato and spinach curry was a better dinner idea.

Now, I have one half of the dough fitted into my tart pan and the other well-wrapped. Both are hanging out in the freezer, awaiting another day.

I was still in the mood to bake – do you find that once you’ve set your mind on it, you’ve got to do it? Perhaps that’s just me.

I decided on drop biscuits, to use up some milk and because they’re perfect for the pot of plum jelly my mother brought over last week.

On Friday, I’ll show you what I had in mind for that savoury tart, with a deliciously piquant post. Until then, I’ll be enjoying warmed biscuits slathered with jelly.

Cottage Cooking Club – January 2016

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Oh, January, you are the month of good intentions. This post represents one of mine – since I was so tardy posting last month’s CCC entry, I thought I’d post early this time around.

Late winter can start to feel like a march through a string of lacklustre meals until spring’s vegetables rescue us, but meals with warm spices and good quality canned or frozen vegetables can cure that ennui. These meals are certainly perking us up this week.

Curried red lentil soup

Lentil Soup

This soup caused a schism in the household. I gave Kevin a taster bowl of the soup when I’d first puréed it. While he ate it in the living room, I decided it needed a bit more liquid and a creamy element. So, I added a can of light coconut milk and re-adjusted the spices. Meanwhile, he thought it was thick, rich and perfect. Oops! I suppose it’s good to know it works both ways.

This soup is a variation on the Curried Sweet Potato Soup the group tackled in December, 2014. It trades out sweet potatoes for lentils and limes for lemons, while adding some carrot and celery for a little more veggie fortification. Kevin isn’t a sweet potato or yam fan, so this version was a much bigger hit for him than the original.

I was out of garam masala, so I ground another batch. There’s nothing better than cooking with freshly ground spices, is there?

This soup will last us through the week’s lunches and the flavours are so deep, there’s no chance of getting bored. Especially since I’m thinking about baking some biscuits tomorrow, which will be perfect for dipping.

Next time I make this, I’ll leave it thicker, skipping the purée and the coconut milk and serving it over rice. I think that version will mend the rift.

Chickpeas with cumin and spinach

Chickpea Curry

Most of the time, committee meeting nights are for leftovers or meals I’ve cooked and portioned for the freezer. Tonight, though, I was able to put together dinner from scratch in about the same amount of time it would have taken to prepare a pre-cooked meal. Even better, it used staples from my kitchen counter, pantry, and freezer. Paired with some basmati rice, this was practically a fifteen-minute meal. I’m slow though, so it took 20-25 minutes.

Chickpeas and spinach, seasoned with lemon, is the ne plus ultra of quick meals for Kevin, so this dish was right up his alley. Adding tomatoes, cumin, onion, and garlic was like a deluxe upgrade of a simple meal.

I was thrilled to put together a filling and flavourful meal before I had to run out the door. Kevin’s thrilled that there are leftovers for tomorrow. Since I have (yet another) meeting, I’m glad we’re covered.

If I manage to fit in any more of this month’s CCC selections, I’ll post an update. For now, I’m feeling rather happy that I’m writing about food that’s still available to me for meals this week.

At the end of the month, you’ll be able to find the rest of the group’s posts, here. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers and get some great inspiration for vegetarian eating.

Ginger Snapped

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Every year during the holidays, there’s always one treat that outshines the others. Some years it’s sucre à la crème, other years it’s Nanaimo bars or butter tarts. This year, it’s ginger cookies that everyone wanted. Early in the season, I resurrected a recipe from the copy of Company’s Coming: Cookies that I received as a gift when I moved out of my parents’ house oh-so-many years ago. I’ve been making batches nearly weekly, ever since.

It’s one of those old-fashioned cookbooks that are worth hanging onto, like the Five Roses or Betty Crocker ones. Though I won’t touch the cake-mix based recipes with a ten-foot pole, there are many reliable, delicious cookie recipes to be found there.

These cookies are sugar and butter bombs, with a deep molasses and ginger flavour and a crisp-but-tender texture that makes them perfect for dunking.

I’m going to keep making them as they are, but I’m curious to see if I can come up with a healthier version, too. Some of my favourite cookie-eaters can’t partake in something quite so indulgent. So, I’m adding it to my investigation pile, along with the perfect gluten-free, vegan peanut butter cookie. Watch this space for developments.

You can find the recipe online if you Google, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s gotten permission, so I won’t link to it here. I’d head down to your local library to check out the Company’s Coming books, instead. A librarian friend of mine says they’re some of the most perennially popular cookbooks they circulate. You might even surprise yourself and buy a copy – sometimes it’s the old-fashioned recipes that satisfy the most.

A Post-Holiday Progress Report

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I’m still not back into the post-holiday swing of things, are you? So, instead of a full post, here’s a report card of sorts – what I’m reading, what’s on my radar, where I’m aiming to be.

Book Report

I don’t have the manual dexterity to qualify as a gamer, by any stretch of the imagination. But, I do find the narrative potential of the form fascinating and gaming has also become a frontier for discussions around activism, social justice, feminism, race, and more. The State of Play: Creators and Critics on Video Game Culture by Daniel Goldberg & Linus Larsson is a good place to start if you’re interested in where progressive game culture is headed.

The next book in the pile on my nightstand is Creating a Learning Society by Joseph E. Stiglitz & Bruce C. Greenwald. In a time when learning is becoming a more and more closely guarded resource, the implications of a “learning society” for a healthy economy are intriguing.

Then, I’m on to Amy Halloran’s The New Bread Basket, exploring the rise of local grain production.

There’s also one book I finished recently that’s lingering in my mind. Sally Mann’s Hold Still is a compelling exploration of an artist’s appraisal of her work and history. It’s also a book that reminds me that misgivings about an artist’s views on some subjects shouldn’t preclude admiring their take on others. Mann’s striking honesty and openness is what stays with me, along with her sharp insights into art, photography, and memory.

Lunch Hour

I like to test-drive cookbooks by taking them out of the library. I tell myself that it keeps me from buying more and taxing my groaning bookshelves. In truth, if I like what I see, the book mysteriously appears on the shelves sooner or later. Oh, well.

Here’s what I’m currently taking out for a spin:

Oodles of Noodles by Louise Pickford could be my mother’s dream cookbook. Whenever we go out for lunch, she’s angling to try another restaurant that serves one variety of noodles or another. This book does a sort of survey of East Asian cuisines.

I’m getting a head start on next year’s holiday cookie lineup with Mindy Segal’s Cookie Love. Though, who am I kidding? Cookies are welcome every day of the year.

Modern Jewish Cooking by Leah Koenig has a world focus, rather than being grounded in one tradition. So far, I’m finding her Breads and Pastries section particularly tempting.

Social Studies

Did you find yourself wishing that Tina and Amy had taken the Golden Globes’ stage one more time? I did. Here’s one of the reasons why: Ricky Gervais‘ jokes about trans people.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the great essayists of our time, able to take on even the trickiest of subject matter.

Extreme weather is already becoming a factor in our lives and will affect how and what we eat in the future. Researchers are studying the impacts in order to adapt.

Jeff Wall’s body of work is celebrated world-wide. Even so, he harbours doubts about the direction of his artistic career.

Recess

If you think the holidays are the biggest reason to max out on sugar, you’re wrong. It’s nearly Hot Chocolate Festival time.

Or, if you have a more grown up palate, you could check out the Vancouver Whisky Festival.

I’ll probably spend some time at the Gluten Free Expo next weekend – when half the household has celiac disease, it’s a yearly must.

If you want to feed your mind instead of focusing on your stomach, the PuSh Festival starts next week. If you’re of a more urbanist bent, MOV‘s Your Future Home exhibit is starting soon.

That should give you enough to chew on until my next full-fledged post. Enjoy the rest of the week, even if it’s not incipiently spring-like where you are.

A Round Up of Recipes for the International Year of Pulses

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Did you know that the UN has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses?

What are pulses? If you’re not a follower of food blogs, which are currently exploding with posts on the subject, you might be asking yourself this question. Simply put, they are legumes that are harvested for drying – essentially beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is leading the education campaign with five messages:

  • Pulses are highly nutritious.
  • Pulses are economically accessible and contribute to food security at all levels.
  • Pulses have important health benefits.
  • Pulses foster sustainable agriculture and contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Pulses promote biodiversity.

All these points are valid and important, but my contribution to the conversation is this: pulses are delicious, versatile, and varied. Adding them into your diet isn’t a ‘health food’ style punishment, but a route to more interesting meals.

I’ve been eating a partly vegetarian diet since I moved out of my parents’ home as a young student, believing that eating less meat benefits my health and the health of the planet. My partner has been completely vegan for over a year. So, pulses have always been a regular feature in our home. They’re great in meatless meals, but can be supporting players, too.

The use of pulses crosses cultures and cuisines, so there’s an infinite variety of recipes for you to explore. Pulses show up regularly on this blog, too, so I thought I’d share a few posts that include or link to some terrific recipes.

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I’ll start out with one that most people are familiar with, chili. This is my mother’s Spicy Vegetable Chili, which is heart-healthy, easy, and delicious. It’s perfect for winter, too, as it relies on pantry staples and vegetables that are available year-round.

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Orange-Scented Lentil Soup brightens the earthiness of lentils with orange and ginger. This soup is easy to put together and elegant. (There’s a link to the recipe in the post.)

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My partner has celiac disease, so we’re often looking for meals that pack in nutrients and protein. This Tomatillo, Black Bean, and Amaranth Soup from Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook more than fits the bill.

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Lentils are the easiest of all the dry pulses to prepare. So easy that I’d never bother buying them canned (unlike beans and chickpeas). Once you have Dorie Greenspan‘s recipe for French Lentils, they’ll be as much a part of your weekly meals as potatoes or rice. These lentils are delicious as the focus of a meal or as a supporting player to all sorts of proteins. (There’s a link to the recipe in the post.)

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And here’s one more soup, full of flavour and healthful ingredients, from Decolonize Your Diet. Abuelitas’ Lentil Soup is warming and filling, exactly what’s needed to get through the winter doldrums.

These recipes are just a starting point – they don’t even begin to touch the versatility of pulses. If you’re looking for more inspiration, here are some cookbooks to try:

River Cottage Veg, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Plenty and Plenty More, by Yotam Ottolenghi
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman

The ones I’ve listed are vegetarian cookbooks, but you shouldn’t count out other cookbooks – so many chefs and food writers make beautiful use of pulses. Made In India, by Meera Sodha is a great example and two of the recipes I linked to above come from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan.

Look for news articles, food writing, and blog posts about pulses throughout 2016 – there’s sure to be plenty of creative and delicious recipes along the way. If you want to find out more about the International Year of Pulses, the FAO website is the best place to start. In Canada, the pulse industry is promoting IYP through their Pulse Canada website and there are similar efforts springing up worldwide.

I’d love to hear about your favourite ways to eat pulses (Split pea soup? Black bean brownies?) and I’ll be keeping an eye out for new favourites as the year progresses.

Cottage Cooking Club – December 2015

December

This is the week of getting back to normal, so I know I’m not alone in asking you: How were your holidays? Mine were busy and bright, full of food and cheer.

Predictably, I got sick after the holidays, so I’m only now posting my Cottage Cooking Club selections from last month. Since they’re both quite light and healthy, let’s say they’re crossing the boundary from feasting to simply eating well.

Mushroom “Stoup”

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This soup doesn’t set out to be light, but is meant to be almost a stew. It’s jam-packed with porcini and button mushrooms and includes an option for dumplings, which will absorb all the extra liquid, making it thick and rich.

I opted to skip the dumplings. I can make them gluten-free, but Kevin is not a fan of dumplings, so I decided to make a few changes. I halved the amount of porcini mushrooms, as December is an expensive month and I was splurging elsewhere. I added in extra button mushrooms, instead. I also skipped the fresh dill and added some savoury I’d dried from the garden. I used Earth Balance in place of butter, but next time I think I’ll just stick with olive oil. I didn’t like the way the Earth Balance behaved in the soup, never quite incorporating completely.

So, my version was a gluten-free, vegan, slightly soupier one. And it was a huge hit. I made a full recipe and froze half of it. I had to take one of the containers of frozen soup out of the freezer only two days later. I’ll likely have to take the other one out as soon as Kevin reads this post.

I’ll be making this one regularly.

Spicy Carrot and Chickpea Pita Pocket

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This dish is a tasty antidote to all that Christmas eating. I used gluten-free corn tortillas in place of the pita pockets, which worked very well. As much as I enjoyed this, I kept thinking I’d like to take all the components and transform them into a stew, perhaps with some potatoes for heft. I loved the combination of cumin, hot smoked paprika, and orange with carrots, but craved it in a more bowl-friendly form.

I hope everyone had a good month or so of cheer. I’m looking forward to reading all of the Cottage Cooks’ posts.

Here are the links to the rest of the group’s posts for this month. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers and get some great inspiration for vegetarian eating.

Operation Whirlwind – A Holiday Inspiration Pass Adventure

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December is a busy month, with year-end gatherings, holiday celebrations, and special events. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, baking and cooking in anticipation of Christmas, but the holidays took me out of the house just as much.

This year, though, I had an extra reason for running from one side of the city to the other. After waiting more than three years, it was finally my turn to receive Vancouver Public Library‘s Inspiration Pass. Mine came into effect on December 9th, giving me until just before Christmas to visit as many of the attractions available as possible.

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Considering the time of year, I think I did quite well. I skipped the garden tours, as the weather was stormy for most of the time I had the pass. I also skipped the Park Board offerings, choosing to concentrate on museums, exhibitions, and performances.

I went to UBC one day, Vanier Park another, then tried to fit in as many of the others as I could.

Aquarium

Some of the highlights:

Speaking of c̓əsnaʔəm, it was very instructive to visit so many exhibits on First Nations culture in a short space of time. The Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Vancouver had sister exhibitions that explored the reclamation of the c̓əsnaʔəm village site by the Musqueam people, with a third exhibit showing at the Musqueam Cultural Centre gallery (which I’ve not yet seen). The MOA and MOV exhibits centre the voices of Musqueam people, while taking responsibility for their institutions’ role in recasting the belongings of a living people as the artifacts of a dead culture.

Anthropology

At the Museum of Anthropology, in particular, there is an ever-increasing emphasis on the institution as a repository rather than a collection. On the tour I took part in, the guide emphasized that the rights and stories of the items we viewed still belonged to the families who produced them. It’s a welcome change from the museum tours of my childhood, which presented them as the remnants of a vanished culture. They’ve also transformed the way their vast holdings from around the world are presented, collecting and displaying European artifacts in a manner that does not hold them above or apart from those of any other culture.

So, when I made my way to the Vancouver Art Gallery, I was very glad to learn that there was an exhibit of coastal First Nations art there, too. The pieces displayed were part of an unexpected gift to the VAG, which has extremely limited holdings of First Nations pieces. There was an acknowledgement to that effect and on one side of the exhibition floor, strong contemporary pieces by Robert Davidson were allowed to stand alone. On the other, historical pieces were paired with vast photographs by Christos Dikeakos serving as commentary. It felt like the VAG was very much at the beginning of the process that’s been undertaken by MOV and MOA. Even the exhibition notes felt sparse in comparison to those for the exhibitions on the floors below, especially those for the show that centred artists like the Group of Seven and Emily Carr, with a number of works that were dominant culture observations of First Nations coastal communities and cultural productions.

The closeness of my visits highlighted these issues, which then followed me to Roedde House, a museum that recreates a middle class Victorian family’s environment. This was an unexpected benefit of the Inspiration Pass and a welcome one.

The downside of getting the pass when I did was that I was only able to go to one performance, as my loan period extended into the Christmas week closure of many performance groups. However, those who get the pass in the off-season can’t see performances, either, so I’m not complaining.

Victorian

I’ll end with a few observations:

  • I’d love to see the pass program extended to some of our smaller institutions, like theatre companies and repertory cinemas. One of the goals of the pass is to encourage Vancouverites to get subscriptions to our cultural institutions, so it would be nice to bring up the profile of these ones. I could envision one choice being a movie at either Vancity Theatre or The Cinamatheque and another being one play from a list of theatre companies.
  • In the same vein, I’d like to see the program stretch a little further into East Vancouver. The volunteers I spoke to at the Beatty Museum of Biodiversity had never heard of The Cultch, can you imagine? Let’s get Westsiders to cross the city, too.
  • Since performance groups largely shut down during the warmer months, it might be nice to have the option to go to a baseball or soccer game instead.
  • Finally, I’d like to see some more flexibility from some of the participating institutions on how groups of four are made up. Goh Ballet allows four adults to come to a performance, but the Vancouver Symphony insists that only two adults and two children can be allowed as a group of four. For those of us who have elderly parents and grown up children, nieces, or nephews, that’s a shame. It also doesn’t take into account non-generational families and groups of friends. I’d like to see that change.

Planetarium

Many of the people I know had no idea that the Inspiration Pass was available to any resident of Vancouver with a VPL card. I’m not sure I should have told them, because they’ve all put a hold on it. There are eight passes per library branch and the number of holds keeps creeping upward. I wouldn’t be surprised if they reach 1,000 for each branch before long.

I’ve put another hold on the Inspiration Pass at my local branch. I estimate I’ll get it again in three-and-a-half to four years. Luckily, my partner has a hold on one, too. He’ll get it in two years or so. That’s not so long to wait.

A Best of 2015

Bestof2015

I know it’s cliché (as I’ve said before), but I enjoy looking back over the year through the lens of the posts you liked best. When I think about my favourite posts of the year, it’s the process that stands out for me – a new skill mastered, a story shaped and re-shaped until it achieved the effect I was looking for, a photograph (for once) well-made.

The list of top posts, on the other hand, show me which ones intrigued people enough to click through to them. It’s not a perfect measure of quality, to be sure – comments may be a better guide there. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see what brought people here this year.

It’s also interesting to see that the top posts this year are completely different from last year’s list. I think it’s encouraging to see that the blog is at least a little dynamic, though I think the end of French Fridays with Dorie was part of the shift.

12. Made with Love

We start with a post that would count as one of my own favourites from 2015, in which I share the recipe for my mother’s spicy vegetable chili. It’s a winter dish, really, full of pantry staples and vegetables that are available year-round. But, it’s so popular, that we get requests for it through all the seasons. My mother makes enormous batches of it for the church and community gatherings she organizes. I make it for co-op meetings. We both make it for Kevin, who loves it so much that he’d happily eat it weekly.

But, it’s not really the recipe that makes the post, at least for me. It’s the story of how the recipe came to be and the love it represents.

11. Sucre à la Crème

I was surprised that this one made the list, as it’s a short post that shares two French language videos of people making a classic, homey French Canadian sweet. I’m a little fond of it, though, both for the winkingly nostalgic photo and the video of the Québécoise grand-mère.

10. French Food Revolution Friday with Dorie 2015

This year’s French Fridays with Dorie edition of Food Revolution Day was a lot of fun. I made a dish I’d missed when it came up in the rotation originally, reviewed some past favorites, and connected it all to the day’s goal of promoting cooking skills and food literacy.

9. FFWD – Holiday Card and Recipe Exchange

This post is about something that’s become a yearly tradition amongst French Fridays with Dorie alumni. We exchange cards, and often recipes, at year’s end. It’s nice to have something to look forward to when checking the mailbox, isn’t it?

8. FFWD – Marengo As You Like It

I suspect people came to this post looking for a recipe, but it’s really just a recounting of my experience with Dorie’s recipe. Though many of my French Fridays posts were designed to have wider appeal, others – like this one – were really addressed to our group. Posts like these are travel diary entries for a journey through a cookbook.

7. Eastside Coffee Culture

This post was a lot of fun to research. It’s a celebration of the coffee shops in my neighbourhood and it’s meant to be the first in a series of themed explorations. More will come along, slowly, as I gather enough intelligence on each subject.

6. Baking Chez Moi – Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

A short, fun post on a delicious cake I’ve made over and over again.

5. Holiday Book Reviews – True to Your Roots

I very much enjoy writing my cookbook review series, so I was happy that one of these posts made the list. This book intrigued a number of people and the person who won it in the giveaway was thrilled. I’m very happy, myself, that it’s now on my cookbook shelf.

4. FFWD – Brioche and Nutella Tartine

Who can resist the siren call of Nutella? (Not me.) However, my favourite part of this post is the beautiful braided brioche I made.

3. FFWD – Celebration Week #1: The AHA Moment

I’m so glad I “cheated” on our assignment for this post. As a result, it’s a lovely guided tour of my French Fridays years.

2. Spring Book Reviews – Teatime in Paris!

Another book review, for a cookbook I turn to on special occasions. Thinking about Jill’s pâte sucrée makes me want to start my holiday baking all over again.

1. Eat Local: Kin Kao

The number one spot this year goes to one of my (very occasional) restaurant reviews, for one of our favourite neighbourhood spots. I’m quite pleased that reviews took three of the top five spots. I’ve been enjoying writing them this year more than almost anything else.

So, there you have a list of some of the buzziest (in the very calm, sort of backwater way that my blog can be said to generate buzz) posts on my blog. And I have food for thought about the directions I may take the blog in 2016. I hope you enjoy clicking around the list as much as I did.

You’ll hear from once more before the close of the year. I hope the dwindling days of 2015 are treating you well!