Friday, December 21, 2012

And now for something a little different

This is not the kind of post I usually make. It’s certainly not the first post I intended to make after being absent for so long. So, sorry about that. But I think it needs to be said. It feels important. So here goes.

Since I was a child Christmas has been inextricably tied to Ottawa. More specifically it was tied to a house—my grandmother’s house. It’s been quite a few years now since we had Christmas there. She moved to downsize and that last Christmas there feels distant. Yet whenever I think of going to Ottawa for Christmas the first image that comes to my mind is that front hallway, bathed in warm light as my parents, my sister, and I came inside from a snowy night after a long drive from Toronto. For some reason that image is the strongest. That and the scent of fresh cookies or recently prepared dinner, and a smell that was unique to that place—a combination of my grandmother’s soap and perfume, and the mustiness of old books. A smell that still hasn't quite permeated the house she's in now.

When I was young it felt perfect. Christmas morning still held the magic of Santa-filled stockings and reindeer hoof prints in the snow on the deck. After breakfast the house would fill with the scent of roasting turkey, of stuffing, and onions cooking to perfection. The brightly lit tree would gradually shrink behind the growing mountain of gifts as family members arrived—so many of us that the dinner tables stretched from one end of the dining room to the middle of the living room. And we would all concede to wear the silly paper crowns from our Christmas crackers. 

The best part was always after dinner though—after the gifts, after dessert, after the scramble to snatch a brandy snap before they were all eaten. Somehow we would all end up in the living room, on the sofa, the armchair, the floor, the wooden wicker stools. That’s when the music would start. Whoever reached for their guitar first would lead us with Christmas carols, until we bored of those, and then moved on to songs unrelated to the holiday season—songs like ‘Paper Rosie’ and ‘Harvest Moon’ that now bizarrely recall Christmas whenever I hear them.

The last Christmas at that house felt like the end, like that house was the Mecca we arrived at every year and without it we’d ricochet in a hundred different directions, no longer sure of where we were supposed to be. I’d be lying if I said that Christmas has never been disappointing since we left. There were times I would wake up on Boxing Day and feel an aching loss because Christmas had fallen short, and in falling short almost ceased to exist. In the frenzied build up to the day I was holding every previous Christmas as a model for the present one. So if people bickered or snapped at one another, if there was palpable tension between certain family members, if we broke off after dinner into small groups that defied what I saw as our former unit, I felt robbed. 

I used to think it was that house, that being without it had somehow changed us. Until I realized that the changes to every subsequent Christmas were merely the symptoms of growing up; until I realized that it had nothing to do with the house and everything to do with the way we remember things—selfishly, imperfectly, yet with the conviction that our memories are accurate to the last detail. 

So I worry sometimes, about the pedestal we’ve put it on, this near-sacred holiday whose past burns so much more strongly than its present. I worry that we treat it with a reverence that will prevent us from ever being able to truly appreciate it as it happens. I wish we could always be aware that we have achieved something spectacular. So many families are broken and estranged, but here we are, every year, the lot of us. 

It’s not perfect. Some years people are absent, several of whom won’t come back, but I wouldn’t change any of it. Not for anything in the world. Because there’s a miracle there. In spite of it all—the arguments, the petty grudges, the harsh judgements brought against one another—we still gather every Christmas. And every Christmas there’s a moment, a moment when no one is bickering and maybe everyone’s smiling, when everything falls into place and embodies our hazy idealized memories. That is the moment that makes all the other bullshit worth it. Because we remember in that moment that we love each other and are nearly overwhelmed by all the reasons why. It is what drives us back to that place, not a house, but that place where we’re all together, and happy, and family in the truest most intimate sense of the word.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

More than just a pear

Dessert is one of those things we often reserve for special occasions. It's not really an every day thing, and if it is it usually involves milk and cookies or a bowl of ice cream. It's not that those two things aren't delicious, and they definitely function well as weekday dessert, but sometimes you need something a little different. Something more seasonal. Something with fruit. Maybe something poached.

This week in my produce box I received some gorgeous Bosc pears. My first instinct on beholding really firm pears is to poach them. Bosc pears hold their shape beautifully as the poaching liquid sweetens and softens them, spices them up a bit with whatever ingredients you choose. And I'd forgotten how simple they are to make.

I used David Lebovitz's comprehensive instructions for poaching pears, but I'll let you know which additions I used in the poaching syrup because they turned out perfectly. They even had my dad devouring them with enthusiasm and he's not usually one for dessert.

Along with the water and sugar I added a cinnamon stick, two anise stars, a teaspoon of cloves, three slices of fresh ginger, and about six allspice berries. The star anise rounds out the flavour by adding an element counter to the typical autumn spices, while the ginger added a gentle heat that just hovered on the edge of noticeable.

Once the pears were done I scooped them out with a slotted spoon and removed the spices so I could reduce the liquid to a syrup. It was all the pears needed, though they'd also pair well with spice cake or vanilla ice cream. I'm thinking a cardamom creme anglaise would also work. 

You can make these pears ahead of time and store them in the fridge in the poaching liquid. When you're ready to serve them you can reheat them in the liquid and then reduce the syrup. The pears will stay warm while the syrup reduces.

The best thing about these pears is how satisfying they are. They're sweet enough to indulge your dessert craving, but light enough to follow a large meal. And they're so easy. They offer maximum flavour with minimal effort. They're simple enough to serve after a weekday meal, but impressive enough to serve guests at a dinner party. And they are the perfect end to a crisp autumn day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Autumn acorns (squash, that is)

This week I'm going to talk to you about acorn squash. I'd meant to talk to you about it last week, but such is my life. Anyway. I used this recipe, from the website Sprouted Kitchen (which I've talked about in a previous post), and I'm happy to report it was a success. I'm looking forward to working my way through the rest of the recipes on that site (or possibly purchasing the book they now have out).

I used acorn squash because it was what I had, but really any orange winter squash will do. Please be warned that these are very hard to cut. I'll be honest, I was expecting it to be harder after the warnings from my mom requesting that I don't cut off my fingers, but I also have a very large, very sharp, mildly terrifying chef knife of the slasher flick variety. If you have one of those, you're in luck. 

I followed the recipe for roasting the squash exactly, though I probably should have let it go in the oven a bit longer. Next time. Make sure yours is very brown and caramelized around the edges.

As for the quinoa, true to form, I was missing half the ingredients required to follow the recipe exactly. Even truer to form, I wasn't about to go the store just for the sake of getting those ingredients. 

As it happens, my sister doesn't like shallots, so I'd be leaving those out anyway, and I had a slightly overripe Macintosh apple that substituted for the pear. I left out the basil entirely because I didn't even have it dried, and I used chard instead of spinach. It was still delicious.

The cardamom adds an interesting layer of flavour against the maple-glazed squash and holds up well to the apples and the tangy lemon dressing that the whole concoction is tossed in. I wish I could pin point what exactly it is about cardamom that I like so much, but I have trouble finding other flavours to compare it to. It's one of my favourite spices, though, and maybe that's why. It's unique and distinct, but subtle, unlike, say, cilantro.

That being said. Make sure you have some ground cardamom on you. You know. The kind that's already ground. To save yourself cracking open cardamom pods and attempting to crush the solid little seed-like insides. Definitely not my typical lazy chef route.   

Another note regarding my recipe alterations. The original calls for baby spinach and says not to add it until your quinoa has cooled a bit. I disregarded that instruction with the chard. Chard, like kale and full-grown spinach, benefits from being cooked so it's not as tough and the flavours mellow out a bit. So I mixed it in right off the bat letting the remnant heat from the quinoa wilt it. 

It turned out better than I expected, to be honest, what with all the changes I made, and what I really want to emphasize with this post is the wiggle room you have with recipes. Especially when it comes to cooking. 

Baking is more precise, and I wouldn't recommend playing with your flour, butter, sugar, and leavening ratios if you don't have a solid grounding in how they work together, but something like quinoa salad, or stir fry, or pasta sauce, is just begging to be played with. To be altered to your tastes. Yes, there are classic combinations. But more often than not you'll be able to find a suitable, similar replacement for an ingredient you don't have.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Simple little things

This week I got my first delivery of produce from Fresh City Farms. So far it's been great. The spinach has been a tasty accompaniment to scrambled eggs and starred alongside a vibrant red tomato in last night's bacon and tomato sandwich (bacon from Rowe Farms, of course). I have an acorn squash waiting to be doused in maple syrup for roasting, some rainbow carrots whose fate will also likely involve maple syrup (guess what my next food purchase will be), and kale that I will without a doubt turn into more kale chips.

However, the true star of this bundle of produce so far has been the grapes. I know. I was surprised too. I had been meandering through life only ever eating your standard issue red and green grapes. So when I saw the basket of purple Coronation grapes, the only interesting thing I noticed about them was that they resembled every depiction of grapes I've ever seen in still life paintings and portraits of Greek gods. 

Well. There is a reason Greek gods were eating them in such copious amounts. 

Okay, so actually they're a specifically Canadian grape related to the Concord grape, but they're easily the best grapes I've ever eaten. Suddenly I understand where the grape flavour in candy comes from. Only this version isn't drowned out by cloying sweetness. They have a pleasant tanginess and are bursting with juice. I've been grabbing a handful every time I go into the fridge. I just can't resist them.

So my suggestion to you is, go find some Ontario Coronation grapes. If you happen to like grapes, you won't be disappointed.

Alongside the grapes I also received a little bag of organic cranberries from Quebec. Since Thanksgiving is on Monday, I thought I'd give you this recipe for cranberry sauce. It is almost stupidly easy. As I was making it my sister wondered why everyone doesn't make their own cranberry sauce. She poses an interesting question.

It's actually so easy that I can't come up with any logical, satisfying reason why people buy canned cranberry sauce. At this point I think it's just something we assume comes in a can. It's how we know it, and maybe our grandparents still make it from scratch, but we're used to it being in a can, so that's how we buy it. However, since frozen cranberries are available year-round, you have no excuse once I give you this recipe. Are you ready for it?

The Easiest Cranberry Sauce

8 oz (about 2 cups) cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
zest of one orange (optional)

Throw it all in a pot, bring it to a boil, and turn down the heat to cook it for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it looks like cranberry sauce.

That's it. Seriously. That's it. You don't even have to do anything to the cranberries. The most difficult part of this is zesting the orange and I'm giving you full permission to skip that step if you want. It would easily double (or triple even if you have a giant family who can't get enough of their cranberry sauce), but this would probably be plenty for your average sized dinner of about eight people.

Since I got a few oranges with my delivery, the only thing not organic about this cranberry sauce is the sugar. Not too bad I'd say. And did I mention it's delicious? Bright and tangy, with just the right amount of underlying sweetness and the subtlest hint of citrus. I will never purchase cranberry sauce again as long as I live.

Hopefully you get a chance to try it this weekend. I promise it will only take about 15 minutes of your time. And lets face it, it earns some bragging rights, doesn't it? Homemade cranberry sauce. 

Anyway. Enjoy the weekend. Enjoy the weather. Enjoy the turkey feast. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Now more sustainable

Well. It has been a while. Sorry about that folks. Really and truly. Life has been a bit crazy of late, but things seems to be leveling out now, so hopefully that will put things back on track. 

One of the reasons was TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival), and while I was there, keeping my eyes peeled for possible celebrity sightings, I saw a documentary called Revolution. Anyone who saw Sharkwater, the documentary about shark-fin soup that lead to a ban on the soup in a number of countries around the world, might remember Rob Stewart, environmental activist and film-maker. He's passionate, and dedicated, and his work on Sharkwater lead him to realize that this goes far beyond the sharks. Revolution focuses on the oceans specifically, but examines the larger impact their decline will have on the world we live in.

I'm not here to give it a review, though it is fantastic and I recommend everyone see it when it goes to wide release this coming March. Mostly I just wanted to tell you where my renewed environmentalism has come from. I'm greening everything. Slowly, since it's quite the process, but I'll get there.

Of course this is a food blog. So I'm going to focus on how I'm working to eat more sustainably. So far I've signed up with Fresh City Farms, which delivers fresh, locally sourced (no less than 80% is locally grown) produce right to your door. I'm also getting ethically and sustainably produced milk and eggs from them. More on that when I finish reading The Omnivore's Dilemma. I'll give you a full rundown. And I'm off all meat that isn't sustainably farmed. The wonderful Rowe Farms will be available for all my meaty needs, not that I really have many. 

I'm linking to all these because I really want everyone to check them out. Seriously. As Michael Pollen points out in his above-mentioned book, we talk about 'sustainable' and often forget the true meaning of 'unsustainable' as it describes our current food system, and that is, "Sooner or later it must collapse." (emphasis Pollen's)* 

Don't worry. This will continue to be a blog about awesome things that I eat and make. It will also occasionally have some advice for sustainable eating. I'm going to be receiving a bunch of produce that I don't normally eat, so I'm going to have to experiment with some recipes (what does one do with a beet, anyway? I'll find out). Those recipes will find their way here. 

On that note, I have two words for you: kale chips. Until last week I had never eaten kale. However, it's on the list of Produce I Will Be Receiving In Future and I had some in the fridge that my mom had given me. True to form I searched for a way to use it that required the least amount of effort. (I may be putting effort into sustainability, but I'm still lazy.) Turns out kale chips are exactly that.

Are you ready for it? Preheat oven to 325F. Tear kale into bite-sized pieces, keeping in mind that they will shrink up a bit in the oven. Also keep that in mind as you lay these bite-sized pieces on your baking tray. You can fit more on there than you think. Pack it full. Drizzle it with a couple tablespoons of olive oil (roughly, I didn't measure) and a bit of salt. You could throw some finely grated cheese on there too, or maybe some chili powder. Anything that you think might taste good. But salt is a good starter seasoning. Bake them for about 10 minutes, until the edges start to brown and they're crispy.

That's all folks. Then you eat them. Dear lord, never stop eating them. They are so good. I made a whole tray and intended to leave some for my sister to try. Next thing I knew, I'd eaten them all. Oops. I would have felt guilty for eating so many chips, but it's really just greens and olive oil. You know. A salad. That feels nothing like eating a salad. These are my new go-to snack. I'm pretty excited about it. I can hardly wait for the rest of my new produce. 

*Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma. New York: Penguin Group, 2006. 183.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Monthly Moonshine: Red Passion

As it turns out, I'm a bit old fashioned when it comes to my taste in alcohol. I should have realized this when I started drinking gin in university and several people asked if I was secretly an eighty-year-old man. This was usually followed by a remark about drinking pine trees (which, okay, fair, juniper has a distinctly pine-y scent to it). On the plus side, no one ever wanted to drink my alcohol at a party.

The next time I should have realized it was my discovery of the sidecar, the classic cocktail invented c. 1920. But no. I didn't even realize it when I fell hard for Pimm's on a hot summer day. It took a taste of Campari for me to really see it.

I was out with some members of my food writing class at Acadia restaurant in Toronto. We were there for the cocktails because the bar tender there is superb and very knowledgeable in what seem to be the forgotten arts of the cocktail (bitters, flavour complexity, syrups, etc.). I had a drink whose name I can't recall but whose flavour was strong with Camapri. I didn't know what the flavour was at first. Just that it had a sharp bitterness and a bit of spiciness smoothed out by subtle, underlying sweetness. 

I fell in love with Campari then and there. I also realized that Campari is a bit of an older drink: a lot of friends didn't even know what it was, and if they did it was only due to one the iconic vintage posters such as this one.

Campari has a distinct, vibrant red colour and is a staple in such classic cocktails as the Negroni and the Americano. It falls into the category of bitters, like angostura bitters, but unlike angostura bitters, which are used only in dashes, Campari is a potable bitter. Most people just call it an aperatif. 

Campari was invented in 1860 in Novara, Italy by Gaspare Campari and is made of an infusion of herbs, aromatic plants, fruit, alcohol and water. The recipe, like that of Pimm's and so many other herbal-based liqueurs, is top secret and apparently only known by very few people. 

I'll be honest, if you don't like bitter, you probably won't like Campari. I have an affinity for all things herbal and floral (lavender and rose are a couple of my favourite flavours), so I don't mind that it has a flavour some might liken to that of perfume. It's almost astringent in its bitterness, like biting into orange peel or the lingering tang of over-steeped black tea. It's just about my favourite thing right now.

This love of bitterness may also be why I prefer more classic cocktails. Older recipes tend to include a bitter element, whether in the form of cocktail bitters, like angostura; potable bitters, like Campari; or bitter alcohol, like gin. Today's cocktails slide much closer to the cloyingly sweet and syrupy, the headache-in-a-glass variety.

But that's okay. Now I not only have gin and Pimm's, but Campari. Cheers.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Don't Panic

So over the weekend I made 4 1/2 dozen cupcakes for a bridal shower. 1 1/2 dozen each of vanilla, lemon, and red velvet. I was so proud of myself for being hyper-organized. Normally I'm such a mess with these things and leave everything to the last minute and I'd wanted to avoid that this time. 

I had all my dry ingredients pre-measured in ziploc bags (labelled according to recipe) the day before I was baking them so I wouldn't have to contend with a mess of flour. I made the icing a couple days ahead and put it in the fridge so that it was ready to go for decorating. 

The cupcakes came out beautifully: all of equal shape and size (honestly ice cream scoops are the greatest way to fill cupcakes pans). And then I put the icing in my mixer to smooth it out and restore it to a spreadable consistency. 

It's possible I should have let it come up to room temperature a bit more before throwing it on the mixer because the unthinkable happened. It broke. It broke and I found myself staring at a curdled soupy mess in my mixing bowl.

My first reaction was full blown panic. My second was an impulse to sit on the floor and cry. Because I had exactly and hour and a half to decorate the cupcakes before they were being picked up. (In my defense, this had more to do with my desire to maintain the integrity of the icing in my too-warm apartment than with my leaving things to the last minute.)

So I'm here to tell you how to save your buttercream if it breaks on you.

1. Set a pot of water on the stove to use as a double boiler. Put the broken buttercream in a metal bowl and set it on top of the simmering water. Keep some unbroken buttercream that you haven't tried re-whipping yet to add after.

2. Heat slowly, stirring constantly. Don't leave it over the water for more than a minute at a time. You'll be pulling it off and putting it back on repeatedly, but you don't want the butter to melt completely or it will never come back.

3. Once you have something that resembles creamy soup with minimal lumps, throw it back on the mixer with a whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer) and whip it on high. Just whip the hell out of it.

4. At first it will do nothing. DON'T PANIC! (or, you know, panic a little, but don't lose faith) Eventually it will start to come together and form peaks as it thickens. It's going to be looser than when you first made the icing. 

5. Take some of the still-together, just-out-of-the-fridge buttercream you haven't tried to smooth out yet and add it slowly to your mixer. It should work in smoothly without breaking. Just don't add too much at once and make sure all the lumps are gone after each addition before adding more. 

Voila! Ready-to-use, good-as-new buttercream! Aren't you glad you didn't panic?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Tragedy of the Fallen Ice Cream

Oh dear. It's the middle of August already. Apologies. Time seems to be getting away from me this month. It's been busy and shows no sign of letting up. 

In any case I decided to treat myself to an ice cream cone today. Unfortunately, as I was walking the rest of the way home, the scoop toppled from the cone mid-lick and landed on the sidewalk. I stared at it for a moment, had a bit of a resigned chuckle with a man standing in his driveway who saw the whole thing, and then continued on my way. It's just been that kind of day.

Up until the Tragedy of The Fallen Ice Cream (to which the incident will now be referred), I was enjoying it immensely. I have the good fortune of living down the street from Xococava (Cava's confectionery counterpart), which not only boasts some of the best chocolate in the city, but also serves a mean scoop of homemade ice cream.

Today's treat was peach and sour cream, smooth and tangy with bits of real peach scattered throughout. It was perfect for a hot day, especially during a month that so readily calls to mind the fresh flavour of peaches. 

Now I'm lamenting that fallen scoop all over again.

Anyway, I've been wanting to talk about Xococava's ice cream for a while now and, tragic mishaps aside, this seemed like a good opportunity. 

They have a substantial variety of both ice cream and sorbet that changes on a seasonal basis. The flavours are written on a chalk board behind the counter on the far right. If you have trouble choosing (and I almost guarantee you will), you can ask to sample some. And you'll likely want to make sure you're going to enjoy it at $4.20 for a small cone. So it's a little on the pricier side, but I promise it's worth it. And as you can see from the above picture, small is still pretty sizeable.

If peaches aren't your thing I'd also recommend the hazelnut caramel. It tastes like a higher quality Fererro Rocher smoothed into ice cream. My god it's good. There's also a chocolate Guinness cashew ice cream that has a lot going for it. If you're hanging around midtown on a hot day (or even a cold one), it's definitely worth a stop.

1560 Yonge St (corner of Yonge and Heath, just north of St. Clair)
Mon to Sat 10 am to 10 pm
Sun 10 am to 9 pm

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chocolate for lunch (and maybe breakfast too)

When I was a kid, one of my favourite sandwiches involved peanut butter and chocolate sprinkles. Yes. Chocolate sprinkles. But not the cheap candy ones you can get anywhere. I grew up with Dutch chocolate hagelslag, which have a richer chocolate flavour and are required to contain at least 35% cocoa to bear the name. Like just about everything in your life when you’re a kid, this seemed completely normal. I’d eat them on sandwiches, on toast, or on Dutch beschuit rusks (twice-baked, crunchy bread).  It wasn’t until I brought one of these sandwiches to school and was met by confused stares that I realized it wasn’t the norm for most people.

This is probably a good time to mention that I’m not even Dutch, a fact that only added to my classmates’ confusion. My grandfather worked for the Canadian government and as a result my mom’s family lived all over the world. The Netherlands happened to be one of those places and for one reason or another, those traditions stuck more than others. We snack on hagelslag and stroopwafels (thin waffle cookies pressed together with a syrupy center), receive chocolate letters in our stockings at Christmas, sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in Dutch, and those with underdeveloped taste buds devour double salt—dubbel zout—licorice. (I am not one of them. Imagine a black licorice jujube, but throw in a teaspoon of salt. Disgusting.) 

But back to the chocolate sprinkle sandwiches. In the Netherlands people eat hagelslag on bread for breakfast the way other people eat toast with jam. The website for De Ruijter, makers of fine hagelslag since 1860, will tell you that the average Dutch person consumes about 1 kilogram of chocolate hagelslag per year, that it’s the most popular condiment in the country, and that said country will eat more than 600 million chocolate hagelslag sandwiches a year. I would fit right in.

It seems to have developed out of nowhere, and for a country whose food culture was born of fishing and farming, it’s a bit of an anomaly. With meals heavy on pea soup, meat, potatoes, and the occasional cheese, the chocolate sprinkles look wildly out of place.

Yet with that in mind, another kind of sprinkle made of anise seeds coated in sugar (muisjes) appeared in Dutch tradition as early as the 17th century. Anise was believed to promote lactation, so muisjes were eaten to celebrate the birth of a child, and coloured pink and blue accordingly. Muisjes translates to mice and the name comes from the anise stem that sticks out of the tiny sugar ball like a tail. And, yes, they were eaten just as their chocolate counterparts—on a slice of bread or a beschuit. Who needs cigars when you have sprinkles on toast?

Whatever the origin, they still make a fantastic sandwich. I’ve eaten my fair share of muisjes as well, but the chocolate remains my favourite. There’s something that feels a bit naughty about eating chocolate sprinkles as part of a meal that isn’t dessert, something satisfying and playful. And maybe that’s the key to their origin. In a country with such practical staple foods, people wanted something a bit more fun.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An old standby

Today I'm going to tell you about couscous. It's easily one of my favourite things to eat. It's versatile, delicious, and--you guessed it--real easy. One of the greatest things about couscous, assuming you're using the instant variety typically found at your local grocery store, is it can be ready in less than ten minutes. 

Instant couscous is pre-steamed and dried and only requires boiling water. You pour 2/3 cup of couscous into every 1 cup of water, stir, cover, remove from heat, and let stand for five minutes. Voila! Couscous. Ready to eat once you fluff it with a fork.

Now couscous by itself, boiled in plain water, can be rather bland, but this is where its versatility comes in. You can cook it in vegetable stock, chicken stock, beef stock (any stock really), orange juice, and the list goes on. I think you could probably cook it in any potable liquid. It will take on the flavours it's cooked in.

Made of semolina, couscous is an important food in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya, where it is steamed, rather than boiled like the instant variety. In this case the vegetables and meat are cooked as a stew while the couscous sits in a steamer above it, absorbing the flavours. The pairing with meat and vegetables is common in the above countries, though in Egypt it is often served as dessert with sugar, cinnamon, raisins, nuts, and cream. It also makes a great salad.

Like I said: versatile.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures for you today. The salad I made was eaten so quickly that by the time I remembered to take one, it was gone. This salad is perfect in the summer when it's too hot to really cook anything, and you're looking for something light. It's made with oranges which serves to add a tangy, refreshing quality to it.

I wish I had a more clear-cut recipe for you, but it's one of those things that I kind of just throw together with whatever I happen to have lying around. So I'll give you my best estimates, but just know that you should adjust them however you see fit. The dressing is more accurate.

Orange Couscous Salad

2/3 cup couscous, uncooked
1 cup chicken stock

1 can mandarin oranges or 1 fresh orange
1 or 2 large carrots, grated
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2/3 cup dried raisins or cranberries


1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp minced gingerroot
1/8 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Cook couscous according to directions on the box. If the ratios are different than what I listed above, use those ones.

Toss cooked couscous with oranges, grated carrots, almonds, and cranberries.

Whisk together all ingredients for dressing and add to salad. The recipe may provide more dressing than you need, so add a little at a time to ensure you don't drown your salad. It should coat it and add flavour, not turn it into soup. 

And that's it. Easier than pie. Change up any of the elements as you will. Try pine nuts or currants. Oftentimes I'm missing one of the ingredients above so I just make it without. It'll taste good anyway.

As for other recipes, there are plenty of them out there, so take a look around. It's great in place of rice or pasta with a meal. As for me I think I'd like to check out that Egyptian dessert couscous. I'll let you know if I find something worth sharing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cilantro Manifesto

There are few ingredients that receive hatred as vehement as that directed at cilantro. While many love it, there are those who would rejoice in its mass global extinction, would revel in watching it shrivel and burn to ashes. There’s even a blog dedicated to the loathing of cilantro ( And that is the real difference between hatred of cilantro and hatred of other oft-abhorred foods. People dislike Brussels sprouts, anchovies, and liver, but never as vocally and passionately as those who hate cilantro. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those who love it. Very few people fall into the indifferent middle ground.

Cilantro has several aliases, one of them being Chinese parsley, and another being coriander, though the latter tends to refer to the milder seeds, which aren’t subject to the same level of aversion. This Mediterranean native is common in South American, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Chinese cooking, and considered one of the most global herbs. It is found in a number of chutneys, curries, salads, and the ever-popular guacamole, bringing with it a distinct and citrusy flavour.

So why then, do people hate it so much? Why can you find negative comments on this herb as far back as 1600, lingering in the pages of English garden books and French farming books? What exactly inspired Julia Child’s desire to, as she put it, “throw it on the floor”?

One common complaint is that cilantro smells and tastes like soap. Or stinkbugs, depending on how disparaging the critical person wants to be. In fact, some of the aldehydes (organic compounds) that make up cilantro’s fragrance are the same as those found in soap and the odour given off by some bugs. Scent, apparently, has a lot to do with it, more than the actual flavour. And it may not be that cilantro-haters simply dislike the smell; it may be that they can’t smell certain aromas, so whatever makes people love it is simply not present to those who hate it. Some studies even suggest that people may be genetically predisposed to finding it repulsive. So despising cilantro could be as much a fluke as whether or not you can roll your tongue.

Personally, I love cilantro. I love its distinct, sharp flavour, the way it announces its presence in a dish and contributes to a complexity that more than justifies its inclusion. I know plenty of people who would disagree. Vehemently. This weird food divide isn't likely to change anytime soon, but at least there's some explanation as to why.

Check out this article that was in the New York Times if you want to read more.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Simple yet satisfying

As someone who loves food, I actually do a pretty terrible job of feeding myself sometimes. Cooking for one can be difficult, especially if you don't want to be eating the same meal four days in a row in the form of leftovers. More often than not I find myself eating pasta with butter and parmesan cheese with an apple on the side or soft boiled eggs with toast. Not that I don't enjoy eating those things, it's just not very exciting. 

So every once in a while, when I find myself with a bunch of asparagus or some nice summer tomatoes, I endeavor to make myself something a little more interesting. That something will inevitably still be fast and easy and conducive to a single serving, but there will be a few more flavours at work.

A few days ago I roasted some asparagus. It's my favourite way to eat it. If you're careful not to leave it in the oven too long it retains a lot of its satisfying crunch. And I love when the heads of the spears get a bit crispy. Plus it's so, so easy. Drizzle with some olive oil, a bit of balsamic vinegar, some lemon juice if you feel like it, sprinkle with salt and pepper, even throw in a bit of sliced garlic if you happen to have some lying around. Put it in the oven at 350F and roast for about 5 or 10 minutes depending on your oven and depending on how cooked you like your asparagus.

I cut it into smaller pieces and threw it over spaghetti (which you don't need to butter due to the oil from the asparagus). What really made it though was the sauce I topped it off with. It was a tangy mustard concoction that brightened the whole thing, lifting it out of its rather mundane status of pasta with vegetables and turning it into something that actually felt like a proper meal.

To make the sauce, combine 3 tbsp of Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup of honey, 3 tbsp of lemon juice, and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Whisk it together and voila! Sauce for your asparagus. It could be used just over the asparagus as a side dish, but it works really well as a pasta sauce if used sparingly. And it keeps well in the fridge for several days.

So next time you're in a bind trying to make yourself a meal that is quick and delicious, simple yet satisfying, look no further than roasted asparagus with mustard sauce. You're going to love it. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

The love of food

Gluttony is an ugly word. It even sounds heavy; clunky and stunted on the tongue. And, sloth aside, it's cousins--wrath, lust, avarice, envy, and pride--are decidedly more glamorous. They offer far more romantic options to aid in a tumbling from grace.

And yet. Is there much that is more pleasurable than a truly delicious meal? The kind that has you savouring every bite as long as possible, holding it in your mouth to make the flavour last. The kind that compels you to shut your eyes and groan. The kind that has you scraping up every last morsel long after you're sated. 

Well. It would seem that gluttony and lust have a tag team on human pleasure. We've even gone so far as to label particularly spectacular pictures of food as "food porn". We, as a species, love food.

Somehow, though, maybe because of gluttony's position as a deadly sin, maybe because the word "pleasure" is so often paired with the word "guilty", we've come to feel, well, guilt-ridden when we eat good food. We've bought into the false notion that healthy food can't be delicious food, that if we're enjoying it there must be something inherently wrong about it.

To be fair, I think that is well on it's way to changing. We're becoming more knowledgeable about what we eat and what makes it taste good. We no longer rely solely on salt as a flavour additive, we're developing a sound wariness of excess sugar, and I know an impressive number of people who fall to pieces over their love of certain vegetables. So we're getting there. 

And let's be honest, we're never going to stop loving food. This is a good thing. If we love food we're more open to trying new things, more willing to search out the next spectacular flavour, more excited when we find that dish that is both mouthwatering and genuinely healthful. 

Speaking of excited, while perusing Orangette today (the blog that inspired me to start this one), I stumbled across Sprouted Kitchen. This food blog is dedicated to better tasting wholesome food. And oh is it gorgeous. The photography is nothing short of stunning, making me lament my lack of a better camera. Canon PowerShot, you're not cutting it. 

Sometimes that many photographs is a mark of inferior content, but in this case it isn't. Sara Forte writes with a casual elegance that is at once entertaining and accessible. The recipe instructions are clear and she offers them up as one method of doing things rather than as hard and fast rules. 

Since I only just discovered this wonderful source of whole food recipes, I haven't had a chance to try any of them yet. These lemon pancakes might be where I dive in. They look incredible, and they're gluten-free. Even though I can eat gluten 'til the cows come home without adverse effects, I know a few people that can't, so I'm always excited when I come across a gluten-free recipe that looks promising. 

My point here, if there is one, is don't feel bad about eating. Food should be enjoyable, pleasure without it's guilty associate. And if you want to treat yourself to a slice of chocolate cake or a box of donuts, find someone to share it with. Spread the love and cut the calories in half. And maybe don't eat the entire box in one sitting.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Monthly Moonshine: It's Pimm's O'Clock!

The first time I had Pimm's I was, appropriately, in London. I was there with my family and we'd just had a whirlwind of a day that involved Hyde Park, the Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace. We were tired, we were hungry, we were hot, and we were desperately in need of a drink. After some squabbling we ended up at a little pub where we ordered fish and chips. 

Normally I'm the type to order beer, especially at a pub in London, but neither my mom nor my sister drank beer at the time so they asked the waiter what else he might recommend. He suggested Pimm's No.1 Cup. He was then met with looks of mild confusion.

Until this point I had gone through life tragically unaware that Pimm's existed. He went on to explain that it was a mild summer drink, typically British and kind of like punch, made with a gin-based liqueur, lemonade and various fruits. We figured "When in London..." and gave it a try. And we were truly not disappointed.

Pimm's was created in London in the 1840s by James Pimm. He owned an oyster bar in the city and developed the drink as a more palatable form of gin, which could be sipped rather than knocked back like a shot. The gin is sweetened and flavoured with liqueurs and fruit extracts, giving it its dark amber colour. The recipe is closely guarded and allegedly only known to six people. At least that's what they claim on the back of the bottle. 

It is truly the perfect summer drink, especially if you don't like beer and you're not partial to the overly sweet Mike's Hard style of coolers. Pimm's Original, the recipe featured on the homepage of their website, is made up of three parts lemonade, one part Pimm's No.1 Cup, strawberries, cucumber, orange, and mint. Mix it all together, pour it over ice, and there you have it. It's commonly served in a jug, making it perfect for backyard barbecues and summer parties.

There is a subtle bitterness underlying its sweetness and the mint acts as a natural coolant that cuts through the medley of flavours to leave you with a fresh, almost earthy taste. The more you let it sit, the more the flavours mingle together lending a complexity that no run-of-the-mill punch could accomplish. 

Traditionally, Pimm's is made with English-style lemonade, which is clear and carbonated, but it's not uncommon for people to substitute ginger ale. The herb borage was often used instead of mint in the drink's earliest incarnation, as it has similar cooling properties and a cucumber-like flavour. However, due to the fact that mint is a more common herb it has come to replace it as standard.  

For me, Pimm's is summer in a glass. It tastes like slipping into the cool water of a pool on the hottest day of the year. It evokes lazy summer afternoons basking outside as the heat of the sun hangs around you, your glass dripping a ring of condensation on the table, with the lingering scent of summer flowers and freshly cut grass heavy in the air. And it's promising to be a long beautiful summer, so grab a bottle and sink in.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Simple Salads

Once upon a time I hated broccoli. Emphatically. I used to wonder what ever possessed anyone to eat it in the first place, let alone have them coming back for more. I don't hate broccoli anymore, though I couldn't tell you what changed my mind, couldn't tell you the precise moment of epiphany that lead to my current, ardent love for broccoli.

I can tell you how to make the broccoli salad that I made yesterday. Lucky for me, and for you if you make it, broccoli salad is stupidly easy. 

You will need the following:
- broccoli, broken into bite-sized pieces
- bacon, cooked and crispy, also broken into bite-sized pieces
- sesame seeds

For the dressing:
1 cup of mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp vinegar

Toss the broccoli with the bacon bits and sesame seeds. I used a bunch of broccoli the size of the bundles you can buy at the grocery store. I am going to guess that I used about 2 tbsp of sesame seeds. What I actually did was sprinkle sesame seeds on the broccoli until I thought there was enough. I recommend you do the same.

As for the dressing, mix it all together and toss it into the salad. Use just enough to coat everything. The above recipe was more than I needed, so be careful not to drown your salad in a sea of mayonnaise. 

I should probably tell you that the measurements given in the above recipe are very rough. By which I mean I didn't actually measure when I made my dressing, much like the sesame seeds. Why? you ask. Well. I'm lazy. One of these days you'll wander over to this blog and find I've renamed it. Lazy Girl in the Kitchen maybe, Adventures in cutting culinary corners. It's even alliterative. 

But that's off topic. The point is this salad is so easy and so delicious and you should go make it right now. Throw in some dried cranberries or toasted slivered almonds if you feel like it. What are you waiting for?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

And red all over

This is a post about strawberries. Specifically, Ontario strawberries. Because it's that time of year again, when the strawberries are fresh and out to ruin you for all other strawberries. 

I adore summer strawberries. The ones that are a little bit on the smaller side, soft and ripe and dripping with juice. Red all the way through. After a winter of strawberries that crunch and leave you with a white, tasteless interior, these ones are nothing short of divine.

Their sweetness is fuller, lingering on your tongue with tangy under-notes, begging you to eat just one more. I like them best when they're on the cusp of being overripe. Maybe there's a small bruise on one side, marred so that other people pass it over for a prettier one. But that's when they're at their best, their sweetest, their most flavourful. And you can taste an earthiness underneath it all, something of the soil they were grown in, something of the spring rains that coaxed them into being.

This is the way strawberries were always supposed to taste. Of early summer's gentle warmth and sun-drenched days that never seem to end.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Malted Milk

Lately I've been drinking malted milk. I have terrible insomnia most nights and more often than not I wake up during the night, about once every hour, usually with my sheets twisted around my legs like I've been wrestling with my entire bed. So my mom suggested drinking warm milk. I wasn't overly fond of the idea, so one night when she came to visit she brought a container of Horlicks malted milk powder. I figured it couldn't hurt to try.

I think I've had it before bed for five nights now, but I'm not sure if I'm sleeping because of the milk, or because I've been inordinately tired lately (which is the only other way I seem able to get a full night's rest). For now I'm going to go ahead and give credit to the milk.

I'm not going to lie--I was skeptical. Not only about its ability to aid in sleep, but about the taste. As much as malt brings to mind Maltesers and malted milk shakes, it didn't sound very good as a hot beverage. I was pleasantly surprised.

If I had to compare it to anything I would have to say it reminds me of the milk leftover after eating a bowl of Shreddies, but warmed up. That probably sounds terribly unappealing, but I swear it's actually delicious. There's something oddly comforting about it, something that tastes like home and childhood and winter evenings spent reading a book or watching a movie. And maybe that is exactly where the appeal lies, less with its oddly post-cereal flavour and more with the nostalgia attached to it.

Regardless, I've been enjoying it, so I'm going to keep drinking it. Whether it's the effects of the hot milk that are helping me sleep or just a psychological calming effect that comes from feeling at home, it seems to be working.

And it's easy enough to make, just mix the powder with a bit of water to make a paste and add hot milk (detailed instructions are on the container). I usually heat up my milk on the stove top. If you read my post about chai tea, then you already know that I have a tendency to boil milk over. For the love of God! Watch your milk while it's heating! It makes such an awful mess if you don't. Trust me. I've done it enough times to know. 

And in case you were wondering, yes, that mug reads 'I solemnly swear that I am up to no good' scrawled over the Marauder's Map. I got it at the Science Center when they had their Harry Potter exhibit. The map only appears when the mug is hot. It might be my favourite thing ever. 

Stay tuned for an upcoming post where I will wax poetic about Ontario strawberries. Until then, malted milk--Hogwarts style.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I scream, you scream

The other day while I was perusing Pinterest (as one is wont to do when there are countless other things that need to be done), I came across a recipe for single ingredient banana "ice cream". It is literally made with pureed frozen bananas and nothing else. Well, okay, with peanut butter and cocoa powder as well, if you choose to amp it up a bit, but you don't need to add those.

'What is this?' I thought. 'Ice cream made with just bananas? Guilt-free ice cream???

Oh yeah. 

And since it's just about the easiest thing in the world to make (does it even merit the word 'recipe'?) I tried it as soon as possible. And you know what? It's delicious! Definitely comparable to ice cream. The texture is a bit more gooey, for lack of a better word, but not in an off-putting way, and I'm nearly positive a kid wouldn't know the difference.

Let your bananas get just a bit spotty, but not so ripe that they're brown. Chop them (I used four here) and then freeze for about a couple hours. Do chop them; trying to puree a whole frozen banana will not be fun.

Now, if your blender is anything like mine (ie. the worst appliance known to mankind) I would suggest using a food processor. Actually, I suggest using a food processor anyway, I just don't have one. I'm going to have to rectify that soon so I can make endless batches of this without undue frustration. (Really, it's the worst.)

Once it's smooth and whipped up, and you've scraped the sides down ad infinitum, toss in some peanut butter and cocoa powder. Or you could just eat it as is. It's also good as plain banana, but I couldn't resist the temptation of chocolate and peanut butter. Plus, wouldn't you love to be getting potassium and protein out of your dessert?

Anyway, I just eye-balled the amount of peanut butter and cocoa powder, but if you follow the link at the beginning of the post, you'll get precise measurements.

It has something of a soft-serve consistency when it comes out of the blender. It's tasty just like that, and definitely easier to scoop, but four bananas worth of 'ice cream' is a bit much for one person, so you'll likely want to freeze the rest. Let it sit out a bit before scooping it because it's going to be pretty solid. Or if you're impatient, like me, just run your ice cream scoop under hot water.

I was actually really surprised by this. I assumed it would be good, but oh man, its similarity to ice cream is impressive. And you could eat this for breakfast, as part of your lunch, as a post-workout snack, because you're really just chowing down on some bananas. 

I still can't wrap my mind around it. This might take some time. And some different combinations: maybe add some strawberries; mangoes; coconut milk; orange juice; mix in some nuts or chocolate. This is definitely going to require an investment in a food processor.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Monthly Moonshine: Black Russian

I have to tell I was contemplating cocktails to share with you I realized I had very little alcohol to mix anything complex. So that is a problem I will rectify by the time our next Monthly Moonshine rolls around. 

And then I decided that I need to get over my bias against vodka. That, and it turns out my sister and I have three separate kinds of vodka in our freezer and it's about time we used some of that.

So I bring you the Black Russian.

The Black Russian was invented in 1949 by Gustave Tops at a hotel bar in Brussels, Belgium for American ambassador Perle Mesta. It is so named for the use of vodka, a typically Russian spirit, and the dark hue of coffee liqueur. It seems strange, given the political climate at the time and the impending Cold War, that such a drink would be created for an American diplomat, but there you have it.   

Like every cocktail ever invented, opinions vary as to the correct ratios. However, in this case I found a clear trend toward 1 1/2 oz vodka and 3/4 oz coffee liqueur. So that's how I made mine. I would recommend using Russian vodka, for obvious reasons, but I found some Grey Goose so I used that. Kahlua is probably the most common choice for the coffee liqueur, but Tia Maria is also popular. 

In an old fashioned glass pour vodka over ice followed by the coffee liqueur. Stir and enjoy! Since this cocktail has no mixers to speak of it packs a bit of a punch. The coffee flavour hits you first, but it's quickly followed by a bite of vodka. 

My inner geek is certain that this is Black Widow's cocktail of choice. It appears unassuming, almost sweet on the surface, definitely nice to look at, but don't let your guard down because it will knock you off your feet. I'm sure her fellow Avengers would agree.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A lemon named curd

For Mother's Day I made a Pink Lemonade Cake from Better Homes and Gardens. Everyone loved it. I'm sure I've said it before, but I'll say it again--I don't really like cake. As cakes go, however, this one was pretty good. It had a sharp lemon flavour and a hearty dose of sweetness. I'll be honest though. Mostly I wanted to make it because it's just so pretty.

Look how lovely and pink it is. And the layers are subtly different shades. I fell in love as soon as I saw the picture of it here. Theirs is a little nicer looking than mine, but they have food stylists, and I do not. So there.

Anyway, I wanted to talk less about the cake and more about the lemon curd I used in the middle. As per usual I deviated from the original recipe when it came to icing and filling. I used my Italian buttercream recipe from this post, adding a teaspoon of lemon extract along with the vanilla.

And for the middle layer I used Anna Olson's lemon curd recipe. I folded in a cup of whipped cream (holding stiff peaks) to turn it into a sort of impromptu mousse, but you could use it all on it's own. The curd comes from a recipe for warm lemon sponge, which I would highly recommend making in it's entirety. It's exactly how it sounds. And the curd provides a beautiful contrast of texture nestled in the middle of the individual cakes.

'Curd' is a very unfortunate word, I think. Probably because the mind immediately jumps to 'curdled' and there's not much that's more disgusting than curdled dairy. Please don't let this deter you. Think of it as lemon custard if you must. Because that is actually all it is. 

The Anna Olson recipe is my standby whenever I need lemon curd. As I'm sure you've already guessed, it's extraordinarily easy. And it's always worked out for me, which is more than I can say for just about every other recipe I've ever made. I think it's safe to say it's pretty fool proof. The trick is to whisk it the entire time so as to avoid any lumps. The butter will remain in chunks until it's heated up enough to melt, but don't worry, it will be fine.

When you chill it, just be sure you place a piece of saran wrap directly on the surface to prevent it from forming a skin. 

The lemon flavour you get out of this is divine, with just the right balance of tangy and sweet. It's bright and refreshing and so smooth and creamy. I don't even mind the bits of zest in it. That's a big deal. Just ask my mom.

So keep it in your recipe book. Use it to fill cakes, fruit tarts, cream puffs. Dip strawberries in it, spread it on toast. Or eat it right out of the bowl with a spoon. Just as long as you try it. However you might feel about the word 'curd'.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Monthly Moonshine: Belated Martini

So I missed April's Monthly Moonshine. Sadly, I'm sure no one's surprised. Oh well. I will try my best to have another one for you at the end of this month. On time, preferably. In any case, I recently fell prey to Pinterest, and all the recipes that I'll test will likely end up here if they prove worthy of sharing.

For now, I bring you the martini. 

The martini is one of those cocktails that everyone seems to know. Made famous by James Bond who preferred his shaken, it is steeped in history, romanticism, and a certain amount of swagger. Sadly, in recent times, it also seems to be made primarily with vodka. For those who enjoy vodka, I'm sure that's seen as rather an improvement, but I'm a gin girl, and I like mine better that way.

Now, you should know, there are more ways to make a martini than I can count. As I just established, the first major division is vodka or gin. Then of course dryness. 'Dry' refers to how much vermouth is used in making it. I like mine very dry, so the most I do is swirl the vermouth around the glass enough to coat it, and then dump it. Some prefer olives, and some prefer a twist of lemon. Sometimes I'll even have it dirty, which involves the addition of olive brine.

The internet is rife with different martini recipes, but I'm here to tell you how I make mine.

First, as I mentioned, swirl some vermouth around the glass to coat it and discard the excess. Then shake two ounces of gin (I prefer Bombay Sapphire) with ice in a cocktail shaker. Some people don't like shaking because they claim it 'bruises' the gin. I'm not sure what this means and I've never noticed any difference. That may be because of my unrefined palette, but if your palette can't detect minute differences, you probably won't notice this either. 

Also, I like using my cocktail shaker. It's fun. 

Strain your chilled gin into your glass and add a few olives. It's as easy as that. Of course it's best when it's cold, so you have to drink it fairly quickly. I wouldn't recommend a lot of them, and they aren't for everyone. If you prefer vodka, definitely use it instead. 

And if you ever want to order one at a bar, just ask for a gin martini, very dry, with olives.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A bit of zest

I made some rather wonderful lemon pudding cakes this weekend. As always, they're fairly easy to make, though I had a moment of panic when the batter remained stubbornly curdled until I folded in the egg whites. But they turned out beautifully, so all was well in the end. 

They stay cakey and almost souffle-like at the top while forming a sort of lemon curd at the bottom. It's delicious. Tangy without being overwhelming and refreshing after a full meal. That's the best thing about lemon desserts. There's always room for a bit more.

The recipe comes from Anna Olson, whose desserts never disappoint. So without further ado, here it is.

Lemon Pudding Cakes

6 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
4 lemons, zest and juice
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup 2% milk

Beat butter and sugar. Add zest and lemon juice, then egg yolks, one at a time. As mentioned above, it will likely curdle. Don't panic! It'll be fine.
Add flour and baking powder, then milk, a little at a time, until you have a mostly smooth mixture.
Whip egg whites to stiff peaks and then fold into batter.
Pour batter into ramekins and place into a pan. Pour boiling water into pan so that it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for 35 minutes in a 350F oven.
They should be golden brown on the top when they're done.

They're going to fall a bit once they've sat out of the oven for a bit, but they'll still taste delicious. I crushed some raspberries with a bit of sugar to add extra colour and another layer of flavour. And raspberries pair so well with lemon that I couldn't resist.