7 festive hot and cold beverages for the holidays

As I write this post, a steaming cup of honey-sweetened roasted apple tisane perches on my desk, brewed from a couple of withering Cortlands plucked from my cold room stash.

It’s infused with ginger and a little tumeric because I’m fighting a mild cold, and the fragrant tisane is just the tonic I need to stay warm and hydrated while I work. ‘Tis the season for comforting hot drinks – and a few sparkling ones too.

Yesterday we had guests for Sunday dinner, and I served my classic winter sangria with slices of clementine and pomegranate seeds. This weekend my annual cookie swap is happening and I’ll be mixing up big pitchers of spiced eggnog and sparkling apple cider punch. And on the coldest days this week, I’ll have a fragrant pot of hot apple cider waiting for the boys when they arrive home from school.

[Read more…]

Christmas Stollen Madeleines with Preserved Lemon

Here’s a buttery, soft-spiced cake, studded with currants, slivers of almonds and a hint of candied orange peel, that makes a perfectly elegant holiday treat for breakfast, afternoon tea or dessert. Chopped preserved lemon adds a wonderfully tart touch to these stollen-inspired madeleines.

For me, Christmas preparations begin in the aisles of a gourmet bulk foods store with a wire basket slung over my arm studying arrays of tantalizing baking supplies.

I might be shopping for rolled oats and walnut halves so that we can make granola to gift to the school teachers. Other times my basket could hold a colourful assortment of candy for our after-school gingerbread project. There are always dried apricots and hazelnuts for my essential holiday fruit and nut crisps and loads of whole cloves so we can spend a snowy afternoon making orange pomander balls.

This year, I found myself stopping in front of a bin of beautiful candied orange peel that was sandwiched between the slightly more garish fruitcake mixed peel and the much-too-sweet candied pineapple chunks. My thoughts traveled back to a December afternoon long ago when Danny and I had worked side-by-side to produce a dozen stollen loaves straight out of the Joy of Cooking. We coated those beauties in powdered sugar, wrapped them in cellophane, and delivered them on Christmas Eve to loved ones. The German fruitcake makes a delicious breakfast, sliced and lightly toasted, with coffee, of course.

On an impulse, I scooped out a small bag of the perfectly cubed orange peel and added it my basket. I sought out dried currants and slivered almonds, too. Perhaps this would be the year I’d revisit a once-beloved holiday loaf.

[Read more…]

What to eat for the holidays

How did it get to be the week of Christmas? I have no clue, but here we are and it’s high time to make a plan of action.

My holiday cooking strategy has been a little helter-skelter this year. December threw us a few curveballs, but this is Life; you can’t expect things to always go according to plan.

I have a feeling I’m not the only one just sitting down now with pen and paper and wondering “What to eat for the holidays?”. If you’re asking the same thing this Monday morning, then today’s post will be right up your alley.

I’ve rounded up some of my top hits from the archives, from drinks to dessert, main event and aaaaall the sides. So pour a coffee, start a grocery list and let’s figure this out together.

[Read more…]

Chocolate Hazelnut Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)

Whipping cream into soft peaks, 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.

[Read more…]

Silent Sunday: Our Christmas in photos

I‘ve taken a week over the holidays to spend time with family and friends, but am just popping in to share a few photos from our Christmas.

Here’s hoping your holiday has been special as well, filled with peace, joy and love.

Merry Christmas from the Bourque Family

Merry Christmas from all of us, even the grumpy boy in the middle!

[Read more…]