Tart Tatin

Tart Tatin

I'm afraid to say it out loud for fear that I might jinx my good fortune, but in just one week I'm heading over to France to start getting my first culinary tour organized. The last few months of herding French producers into setting defined agendas (a similar process to ushering a hundred children through a candy store), over-analyzing every possible thing which could go wrong, quadruple checking logistics, and recipe testing ALL the foods are about to come to an end.

The recipe testing has been particularly interesting because I'm 100% sure that I'll get to Provence and realize I need to make some ingredient substitutions based on what's in the markets, or, conversely, not available as a grocery staple. That's how I like to cook anyways, so I'm not too stressed about it, but does make creating guides for everyone else significantly more difficult.

So let's start with an easy one: Tart Tatin. A classic French dessert if I ever saw one. You'll easily be able to find all of the ingredients for this tart at any market. And if you're lucky you'll even be able to snag the apples from a neglected roadside tree (there were many musings on whether roadside trees spring up predominantly from people throwing cores out of moving vehicles while we were driving through Oregon and California last week).

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Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler

Let's put everyone on the straight and narrow right here and right now: peaches are not as good as nectarines. Sure, they taste AMAZING, but the fuzz kind of makes my lips tingle and always gets stuck on my lip gloss for ages afterwards. This is why, hands down, nectarines should be eaten fresh and peaches should shine in all their cooked, skinless glory.

Enter: peach cobbler. Cobbler feels like the fancier cousin of crumble. It's approximately 30 seconds more effort but has clouds of biscuits with bubbly, caramelized fruit juices sticking to them! What's not to love about that? My new favourite thing is baking this in a pie dish so the ratio of peach (or whatever other fruit) to biscuit is just right.

This makes enough to fill an 8-inch pie plate and serves 5 small dishes. You could easily double everything and use a 12-inch pie plate or ceramic dish.

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Root Beer Syrup

Root Beer Syrup

I'm not a huge fan of pops. For the most part I find them too sweet, to the point where they kind of make my teeth hurt. I find exception, however, in ginger beer and root beer. The combination of extreme aromatics and the tingling sensation of bubbles is so satisfying on a hot day.

Root beer in particular holds a special place in my heart. I have memories spanning well into adulthood of getting foam on my nose while drinking floats with my grandpa. It felt right, then, when I moved in with Matthew to find that he had a whole container in the cupboard dedicated to root beer making roots. It's amazing it's taken this long to get around to trying my hand at a homemade syrup, but boy was it worth the wait.

Use a tablespoon of this syrup mixed with a glass of sparkling water. Or go crazy and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the mix. I trust you to make the right decision.

* all of these ingredients are available at Famous Foods in Vancouver or most health food stores

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Tahini Banana Bread

Tahini Banana Bread

I'm all about peanut butter on banana bread. The hit of protein turns it into a substantial enough meal that it can be eaten on the way out the door or as a portable late-morning snack (if folded in half to protect the peanut butter, like my mom always would). I've had some misses when it comes to baking peanut butter right in though, usually because the batter gets too dense and greasy. And so: tahini; the nuttiness makes the bananas shine while lending a savoury edge to the loaf. Feel free to eat this with butter and jam like mmmmmmmmm.......

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Cocoa Puff Granola for Grown-ups

Cocoa Puff Granola for Grown-ups

I was allowed to have sugary cereal exactly ONCE per year as a kid. When we went up to the cabin my mom would go to Costco and buy a multi-pack of the individual serving boxes. My brothers and I would fight over the Corn Pops and Fruit Loops; Rice Krispies weren't enough of a treat to be very exciting. But Cocoa Puffs... that was a chocolaty wonder I didn't discover until university. Sure, they're a gross sugar bomb, but there's something nostalgic about chocolate milk left in the bottom of the bowl. This granola gives you that joy without rotting your teeth out.

PS - believe me when I say the black cocoa powder makes all the difference here.

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