At this time of year, I’m typically working through my stash of frozen rhubarb as the new crown starts to unfurl again in the back yard. I’ve already used it up during the past month, but managed to squirrel away bags of frozen raspberries and blueberries before grocery shopping became a Big Thing.

I’ve been making this crumb cake, or something like it, for decades—it has become my go-to when I want a buttery, not-to-sweet sort of a cake, layered with whatever fruit happens to be in season (or in the freezer). It’s perfect with rhubarb in the spring, berries in early summer, stone fruit (peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines) in late summer, and apples or pears in the fall. You can mix up the fruit, play around with citrus zest or spices in the batter or crumble, and make use of the last of the yogurt or sour cream. It’s the sort of cake you’ll get to know from memory and mix up whenever you need one, which is quite regularly for me. It’s altogether the epitome of a useful recipe.


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Dirty Blondies

“Dirty” doesn’t have the same edgy cache it did last fall, what with all the hand washing and not touching things, but dirty blondies remain in regular rotation around here nonetheless. W has developed a habit of making these when he wants something cookie-like; they’re like chocolate chip cookies in bar form – blondies with a bit of a chocolate edge that take approximately three minutes to stir together.


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I’ve been making these sticky biscuits for decades (literally!) and somehow haven’t managed to share them here. It’s a ridiculously simple recipe – the dough is stirred together with oil and milk, no butter – and yet they’re far more delicious than I make it sound. Far better than the photo would suggest – I took it with my phone (and missed stills of the process because I was sharing it on Instagram stories!) but truly, I make them over and over. They remind me of the emergency cinnamon biscuits my mom made when we were kids, when my dad was itching for something for dessert. (They don’t seem like an after dinner thing for me now, but there you go.) They’re fantastic as a sort of cobbler topping too – cut the biscuits about half as thick and layer on fresh or frozen fruit (any kind!), tossed with sugar, until bubbly and golden.
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Ice cream cake was my birthday “cake” of choice growing up, and still it’s funny how people get excited over an ice cream cake or pie – I made a few last summer for my latest cookbook, and each time, everyone was thrilled. And yet they’re as easy as it gets – I enlisted my five year old grand-niece to help assemble one, scooping soft ice cream in alternating flavours into a cookie crust, and sprinkling chopped chocolate bars and mini peanut butter cups in between. As it firmed up in the freezer we made a batch of ganache – warmed cream and chocolate that tastes like a smooth melted truffle – to pour overtop. It was a blast, everyone was thrilled, and we didn’t even need to turn on the oven.
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A very wise person with obvious taste over on Twitter had the brilliant idea to make a butter tart pie yesterday, and so naturally I had to drop everything and make one immediately. I know they exist… I don’t think it’s a new idea, though I seem to recall rejecting the idea of a butter tart that wasn’t an actual tart, believing its texture and subtle runniness might be disturbed in pie form – that somehow the ratio of pastry to filling would be thrown off. I was wrong.
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Pasta and beans (pronounced pasta fazh-e-ohl-eh, and sometimes referred to as pasta fazool) is a classic Italian dish that couldn’t be much faster, easier or more inexpensive; it can also be made without precision, and you can take liberties with the ingredients: a bit of sausage with the onion, carrot and celery is delicious, you could add some thyme, rosemary or Italian seasoning to the pot, and though small pasta shapes are traditional, a diced potato or even some rice or other grain would be tasty as well. With more stock, tomato juice or other liquid, it’s more like minestrone; with less it’s a thicker, stewier pasta dish. If you happen to save your Parmesan rinds, this is a good use for it.
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I recently came across food writer Julia Turshen’s simple lasagna — what she calls “a nice lasagna”, and was instantly drawn to its simplicity—there’s no meat, no layers of roasted veg or ricotta, just a rosé tomato sauce and fresh basil, and plenty of cheese. Best of all, it utilizes fresh pasta sheets, which you can mix up and roll with a rolling pin—no pasta machine required! (Though they are a lot of fun.) And then you just go ahead and layer the rolled-out pasta dough directly in the pan with the sauce and cheese, no need to boil it first, which is ridiculously satisfying. You could, of course, add all manner of meat and veg sauce, or ricotta, or anything else you like, but I love that this is not at all over the top- a big spoonful of crème fraîche or sour cream turns the sauce into a rosé that takes care of my craving for tomato and cheese that ricotta usually satisfies.
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Who has leftover roasted turkey in their freezer from the holidays? I do. For the past few years, I’ve turned some of those leftovers into cheesy baked buffalo turkey dip, and it generally coincides with a TV event that calls for extra snacks. Of course, baked dips don’t require any particular occasion – Netflix is a totally legit excuse to make a gooey, cheesy dip too. It’s so fantastic—the very best kind of curl-up-on-the-couch food.

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Sourdough Biscuits

I found myself experimenting with sourdough starter yesterday – more specifically, the discard you typically toss when you feed your starter, to prevent it from turning into sourzilla and taking over your kitchen. Sourdough loaves are generally baked at a specific point in the feeding cycle, when the starter is at its most robust, but often when you’re discarding half, you’re not necessarily ready to bake bread, or it may be too weak and not have the leavening power to leaven a whole loaf. It still seems like a waste to throw it away though – and it has all the sour tang of sourdough, so I thought I’d stir some into a batch of biscuits. Not to rely on for their lift, but to add flavour and make use of the discard, which has the same consistency as buttermilk or cream. Verdict: I’m calling it a win.

Sourdough Starter
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