A Royal Tea Party and Vanilla Cream Scones

We never need a reason to throw a tea party, but if you are looking for an excuse, next week offers two prime occasions: Mother’s Day on Sunday and the Royal Wedding the following Saturday.

In a May Day celebration, and in anticipation of the upcoming Royal nuptials, a few friends and I collaborated on a splendid outdoor tea party last week. Local food photographer Alison was there to capture it all on camera, which meant I could sit down, pour tea and serve cake.

If that sounds ideal, it rather was; and I hope these images inspire you to invite a troop of tea drinkers over and bake a batch of vanilla cream scones for the party.

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Simple No-Cook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

There’s a good reason why it has taken me over five years to post an ice cream recipe in this space: I don’t want to assume that each and every one of you has method for churning ice cream, you know what I mean?

I tend to stick with recipes that can be made with basic kitchen tools and appliances, and an ice cream machine is not a necessity – or is it? Considering we mostly use a second-hand, beat-up churn that I picked up for $5 at a garage sale, I’m gong to take a risk and state that if you want homemade ice cream badly enough, you can probably get your hands on a churn.

Because let’s face it, there is nothing better on a sweltering summer day. Sure you can make a no-churn frozen dessert, like this Fresh Strawberry Granita, but when you can also have the option for Salted Cantaloup Honey Sorbet or today’s vanilla bean ice cream, let the heat wave come.

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Blood Orange Panna Cotta

Here’s a dessert I’ve never written about but has been a favourite of mine since I first learned to make it in a small bistro kitchen: Panna Cotta. Ironically, it was a French chef who taught me this classic Italian dessert, during my short stint as a pastry chef in my twentes.

I’ve always loved the Panna Cotta for it simplicity. It was one of the items on my daily prep list that I could breeze through and let my mind drift out of the cramped kitchen in the process. I’d open carton after carton of heavy cream, warm it slowly with sugar and vanilla bean and then whisk the hot cream into bloomed gelatine. From there I would pour the vanilla-scented cream into dozens and dozens of martini glasses and set them on racks in the refrigerator to chill.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)

Whipping cream into soft peeks, spreading frosting on cookies, or dusting the fruitcake with powdered sugar, holiday baking has to be the ultimate opportunity to welcome the children into the kitchen and let them stir, mix and roll alongside you.

In doing so, you are making memories together and creating traditions that just might last through generations. Perhaps it is just a simple batch of shortbread, prepared a few different ways and loved by all, or cut-out gingerbread cookies, our annual holiday cookie of choice. But whatever the recipe, make sure to include little helpers when you bake – it will have a lasting impression on them.

We recently sweetened up a Saturday afternoon preparing something extra special for our weekly Sunday dinner. It was enormous fun to make with my Mateo, which is why we decided to share it here with you.

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Creamy Cauliflower Capellini

A flock of Canadian geese woke me from my slumbers early this morning; their trumpeting infiltrating my dream until I roused myself and went to the window.

The flock was so low, it seemed as though their wings would touch the tops of our maple trees. On and on they swept past, their downy undersides casting shadows over the homestead as they headed south. I heard them loud and clear: fall is here.

I’m ready for autumn. We’ve made peace with the return to school (what other option is there?), we harvested loads of berries, and the pantry is well stocked with pickles. I’ve invited friends over for a corn roast this upcoming weekend and plan on bobbing for apples and decorating with pumpkins. Let the sweater weather come; I’ll be watching the leaves turn and the geese leave us behind.

I’m also ready for comfort food, and it starts with today’s simple recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Capellini that comes together in under ten minutes.

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