Cranberry Shortbread


Getting into the last week before Christmas, the excitement builds and the rush heightens. I can’t help but get those butterflies like I had when I was a kid. A staple at our Christmas sweets table, this version of shortbread is certainly a family tradition just as Santa and snowflakes. Soft and tender, they simply melt in your mouth. Wonderful all alone, but for the Hoildays the addition of toffee or dried cranberries is an extra special treat.

I had originally made give aways of this cookie mix for the Holidays, just needing to add the margarine but the simple layer of sugared cranberries seemed lost in the sifted white ingredients, so I opted to just spare recipients the time of baking and bring them the finished products instead, minus the ones I had to test for doneness, of course.


Continue reading Cranberry Shortbread

Red Borscht With Porcini Mushroom Pierogies


From my fractional polish heritage, I was so lucky to have been included in my sister in laws family Christmas Eve tradition.

Once horrified by the memories of beet soup with homogonized milk, that puce nightmare was no comparison to the hard work and detail which had been presented before us to gobble up.

The bright colour and warmth of this simple, smooth broth sets the perfect stage for the celebration ahead. Borscht is may be peasant food, but like it’s counterparts, it is pure comfort. Served as the first course during the Christmas Eve feast with miniature mushroom filled pierogi packages called uszka, this wonderful tradition becomes the delight of the Holiday table.
Continue reading Red Borscht With Porcini Mushroom Pierogies

Chambord Poached Pear Tart


As fantastic as it is shaken in a French Martini, upon discovering the delightful liquor of Chambord*, I could hardly wait to also cook with it. Chambord is a deep red black raspberry liquor which dates back to the rein of Louis XIV in 1685.

It is a concentrated fruit flavour with raspberries, currants and hints of spice which I thought would match with pear and of course, chocolate. I chose the Asian pears since I just love the juiciness and texture. I don’t find them to be as grainy as some varieties and I really wanted the softness of the poaching and satiny jelly of the raspberry reduction to combine well.

The dessert is rich yet light and not too sweet. If I had the tins and the time, I think this recipe would be a elegant as individual tartlettes. Large or small it’s a great way to end a Holiday meal.


Continue reading Chambord Poached Pear Tart

Satsuma Almond Sammich Cookies


It was amazing I had a chance to fill these cookies. Fresh and plain, the almond biscuits coming straight from the oven proved pretty popular. I almost would have thought to leave them just for snacking although it is Christmas cookie season, so I figured a little extra sparkle was in order.

Setting off with an original idea to use up the finally ripe hachiya persimmon sinking into my window sill, I was thinking of a swankier jelly thumb print. All I needed was the cookie to dab my thumb downward.

Looking for a cookie base to stuff, ice or otherwise decorate wasn’t too tough. I wanted versatility and these cookies have it. Delicately flavoured with almonds these cookies are also nice and crisp, able to hold up a sweet orangy center.

This, I guess is where inspiration meets evolution; or laziness meets versatility – can’t decide.
No matter which, the cookie base is a great canvas and here are two works for it.
Let me know what you come up with.


Continue reading Satsuma Almond Sammich Cookies

Latkes With Pomegranate Quince Chutney


I love latkes. It’s almost bad, how much I like latkes. A holiday tradition usually brings sharing and that might be my biggest problem. To date the best solution I’ve had is to make them smaller so I have more. That way it takes me a little longer to eat them and gives others a chance to snag one.

Usually served on their own with a choice of apple sauce or sour cream on the side, I wanted to offer something with them to dress them up, especially when served as an appetizer. Slathered on a plate, I like the sour cream option, but there’s something about the salty grease that goes so well with a little tartness.

For platter passing, otherwise known as sharing, I conjured up my own applish sauce, just a little fancier for the Hoildays. I added the glimmer of pomegranate to quince to make this tart and spicy relish.

It was pretty good. I ate the whole plate.
… But after I was done, I thought I might just make another batch, maybe even double it – to share.
The relish in a little jar tied with a red bow, might just make a pretty sweet hostess gift.


Continue reading Latkes With Pomegranate Quince Chutney

Chocolate Chestnut Biscotti with Candied Clementine


Not that I’m the authority but I think that it’s safe to say that Holiday baking is may “officially” begin, now that it’s actually December.

Be it that we took our kids to the community Santa Claus parade or that was today was the first of December, Holidays get me to hum classic carols and remember highlights of Christmas Past. With my brain swirling of roasting chestnuts and the clementine I almost mistook as a lump of coal down in the depths of my stocking toe, I decided the first cookie of the year should be able to last as long as that heart wrenching childhood memory.

Memory aside, it’s always a thrill to bring home the first box of “Christmas Oranges”, as my daughter refers to them. Cracking into them fills a room with a special kind of happiness only little orange packages can bring.

With clementines and cookies on my mind, it wasn’t too tough a decision to get that this biscotti would be the first cookie of the season.

Biscotti is a double baked, super crunchy cookie, perfect for packing in just about any flavour combination and, of course, dipping into mulled wine, coffee or nog.


Continue reading Chocolate Chestnut Biscotti with Candied Clementine