Gin, Elderflower, Mint Spritz


Guys, my neighbourhood is the best. I don’t want to rub it in or anything, but it is. There is no where else in Vancouver I would rather live. In a city famous for being cold and shiny, Commercial Drive is surprisingly warm. It is full of old Italian coffee shops, parks full of drum circles, and the best butchers in the city. I know all my neighbours, all the people who work at my local green grocers. It is full of the kind of warmth I associate with small towns, but I can still bike downtown in 10 minutes. It is the best. It completely amazes me when I meet people who live anywhere else. Honestly.

The best part about Commercial Drive though, is the summer time. And the best part of the summertime on Commercial Drive, are Drive Days. It’s when nearly 20 blocks are shut down and hundreds of thousands of people flood the streets to eat grilled sardines, drink fabulous coffee, and much to much beer.

It is totally overwhelming, but the best part about our apartment is that is directly on The Drive, which means we can watch the excitement from the fire escape when it gets overwhelming. It also means, that our house is full of people coming and going, and that means, we need lots of drinks on hand.

Jordan, my resident bartender, made these super simple cocktails this time, and I’ve been drinking them every weekend since. They take almost no time to make, easily scale up so you can make them for however many people show up on your door step, and are the perfect refreshing cocktail after eating oysters and getting pushed around in the crowd.


Gin, Mint, and Elderflower Spritz

Per Drink you Need:

1 1/2 oz Gin

3/4 oz Elderflower Syrup

1/2 oz Lemon Juice

3 Mint Leaves

1 dash Lemon Bitters

Soda to Top up Glass

If you are making just a couple drinks:

At the bottom of the glass muddle 2 of the mint leaves. (Press them down with the back of a wooden spoon to release their oils)

Add in the gin, lemon, and elderflower syrup and some ice. Stir until the liquid is very cold.

Top with soda and the bitters.

If you are making these for a crowd (as we often are):

The easiest way to do it it so mix the gin, syrup, lemon, and mint with ice in a martini shaker and shake for a minute or so. Pour them into the glasses top with soda, fresh ice, and the bitters.


Stocking Stuffer Sundays- Citrus Fennel Salt Rub

Christmas, as you well know, gets expensive. Like, super expensive. And I go crazy at Christmas. Like, super crazy.

I come by it honestly, you should see the amount of things my Mom still buys for us at Christmas. We’re all adults, but she can’t help herself, and apparently I’ve got that gene, because I love buying gifts. I will max out my credit cards and spend every last penny buying things for other people. I love it, but it does me any good. No good at all. 

The good news, is that I am one crafty woman, and in the last few years I’ve learnt to use this to make very thoughtful, useful, gifts. And lately, I’ve been focussing on making things that are simple, that people will actually use, and things that definitely don’t require your visa.

And I thought that you might want to make these things too. Because I tend to think we have a lot in common, you and me. 

So for the next month I’ll be putting up a simple stocking stuffer idea every Sunday, prepping you up for Christmas, Hunukkah, or whatever you celebrate. Or, of course, for yourself.

I used to work at a wonderful trendy sandwich shop called Meat and Bread, where, along side their unbelievable porketta sandwich they sold homemade mustard, sambal, and salt rub. I had never used or thought much of salt rubs before then, but now I am hooked. I make them all the time, and I put them on everything. Fish? Chicken? Pork? Beef? Yes, yes, yes, yes. Seriously.

But it’s crazy to me that people buy them, they are so cheap to produce, and so simple to make. This is the salt rub I make most often, its full of rosemary, fennel, lemon, and a bit of chili. It’s good on just about everything, and it costs pennies to make. Win.

Fennel Citrus Salt Rub.

1L Coarse Salt

Zest of 3 Lemons

1/3 cup Fennel Seeds

1/4 cup Rosemary Seeds

2 Dried Chilis

4 Bay Leaves

Gently toast the fennel seeds in a small frying pan over low heat. Be careful not to burn them, take them out as soon as they get fragrant, not letting them get colour.

Put them in a spice grinder until it’s just cracked but not super fine.

Repeat this process with the rosemary.

Grind the chilies and bay leaves.

Mix all these tasty things with the salt and the lemon zest.

Put this mix into clean jars and label as you please!

Lemon Glazed Baked Mini Donuts

One of the best parts about being a baker is that at Christmas time instead of getting socks, or bottles of wine that only last an evening, people buy you kitchen stuff. Stuff that most people would never use, and stuff that you might not be able to justify buying yourself. Things like vintage bundt pans and ice cream scoops, or teflon scoops that are only to be used for scooping out dry ingredients. And the pans. The one use kind of pans that are hard to spend money on because you know you’ll only use them a couple times a year. I have lots of those.

I have a mini baked donut pan that I got last year. I mean the name says it all doesn’t it? You can only make it if you want baked donuts and you want them mini. I don’t think I have that urge all that often, but yesterday morning I was very happy to have such a pan because it made these little numbers.

Here’s the thing about baked donuts. People always say at the top of recipes that it’s just like the fried ones and you can’t tell the difference. And I am going to tell you these are not just like the fried ones. The fried ones are yeasted and take ages and then you have to heat up a gallon of oil on your stove top. And you can produce incredible donuts like that, but you also have to be very aware and awake at a very early time if you want donuts on Saturday morning.

I do not like frying things on my stove top that early. I just don’t.

One of these days I will do this for you, but in the meantime you can have these. These aren’t crispy and light the way a fried donut is, because it’s not fried. But it is bright and citrus-y and the hint of cinnamon makes them taste a tiny bit like the cinnamon sugar donuts you get at a fair. They are not fried but that does not stop them being delicious. Which is why you’ll notice that because their so tiny you haven’t noticed how just how many you’ve shoved in your mouth!

Lemon Glazed Baked Mini Donuts


1 cup AP Flour

1/2 cup Sugar

1 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

3 tbsp Yoghurt or Buttermilk

3 tbsp Melted Butter, plus more for pans

2 Eggs


1 cup Icing sugar

1-2 tbsp Lemon Juice

Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400F

Grease pans very well- there isn’t much fat in this recipe and they will stick.  Even if it’s a non stick pan. 

Mix the wet ingredients in a bowl and whisk until they get a bit frothy and are pretty well emulsified. Mix the dry ingredients in a larger bowl.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until barely combined. 

Put the batter in a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the end cut off and pipe the batter about half way up the pans.

Bake for 7-10 minutes until the outsides are starting to get brown and when you push the top it springs right back at you.

Let them sit in the pan for another couple minutes before carefully easing them out of the pans. Hopefully you greased yours more than me, because mine took some serious work to get them out. 

Let them cool. 

Meanwhile make the glaze:

Mix all the ingredients together. Yup, that’s it.

Once the donuts are cooled drizzle the glaze on top and dig in!


Lemon Braided Bread

It’s probably fair to say that I’m a little obsessive with baking. There are so many baked goods that I make that don’t get up on this blog because they weren’t quite fluffy enough, or moist enough or pretty enough. I’m constantly tinkering with recipes here, a little more of this, a little more of that. Or sometimes I just have to spend a little more time on the presentation, I don’t like putting things up here that don’t look great.

Which is why it’s so surprising to make a recipe and go, goodness, I don’t need to change a thing. It is rare and unusual and wonderful, and it happened this week.

The amazing Smitten Kitchen had a recipe for lemon braided bread and hot damn was it good. The bread is very moist and very butter, and the cheesy layer is the perfect amount of sweetness without really being all that sweet and the lemon sets the whole thing over the edge. And it’s shockingly easy for something that turns out as beautiful as this bread.

A girlfriend of mine was coming over for lunch and, despite us both being pretty small girls, we ate two thirds of it in one sitting. Oh just one more slice, maybe a little bit thicker, oh come on thicker still, yes there we go



6 tablespoons (3 ounces) warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/4 cup (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour


Sponge (above)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, 1 beaten for dough, 1 beaten with 1 teaspoon water for brushing bread
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

Egg Wash

1egg yolk

1 tbsp Water

Lemon Cream Cheese Filling

1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons (5/8 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (2 ounces) Lemon Curd

Mix all the sponge ingredients together and let sit until bubbly, about 15 minutes

In a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, or with some strong arms add in the dough ingredients except the salt and the butter and need until it becomes a shaggy mass. (Yes that actually is the technical term) and then add the salt.

Work it until a nice dough has formed and it pulls away from the side of the bowl.

With the motor still running add in the butter piece by piece until it’s all combined and the dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover it with a tea towel and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour or maybe a little longer until it’s doubled in size.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a long rectangle, roughly the size of the baking sheet your going to bake it on. Lightly press in two lines that divide it in thirds lengthwise.

Carefully transfer it to your lined baking sheet.

Mix together all the ingredients for your filling except the lemon curd.

Spread the sour cream layer onto the middle section of the dough, then spoon on the lemon curd.

Cut dough on either side of the lemon layer into strips, trying to get as many on both sides.

And you can either fold them over, or weave them through.

And let it proof, again, in a warm place covered with a tea towel, until it has doubled again in size.

Preheat your oven to 350F

Mix an egg yolk with a couple tablespoons of water and brush them onto of your bread.

Sprinkle with your coarse sugar and get it in the oven!

You want to, because when it comes out, it comes out like this:

And it smells like heaven and no matter what else you might serve, if you make this for brunch no one will eat anything else.

Lemon Meringue Cake

When I was about 7 or 8 and at the height of my Fimo Clay stage (before the water colour phase but after the decoupage stage, and concurrent with the make your own hair clips phase) my sister was at the height of her Martha Stewart phase.

Oh Martha.

I’m not sure an 11 year old has ever loved Martha like my sister.

So, when the Easter edition of the magazine came out that year with Peter Rabbits Garden cake on the cover, a simple carrot cake, with Oreo crumbs on top and carefully placed vegetables made out of marzipan in artful rows, we knew we had met our match.

Nina baked the cake and made the fondant white picket fence while I painstakingly dyed all the veggies (we couldn’t find paste food colouring so I would mix the colours really brightly and then let them dry out for a few hours and then go back to making them so the consistency would be better.) I painted the bottoms of cabbages a deep purple and let the edges stay a crisp green, I laboured for weeks on that cake.

When it was done we brought it over to our Aunt and Uncles house, and when it arrived to the table, my sister told them that she had done it all.

So I did what I always did in such occasions, I ran and locked myself in the bathroom crying hysterically and promising never to come out.

Which is all a long way of saying that every Easter after that my mom made a basic white cake in a cake mold shaped like a lamb and covered the whole thing with shredded coconut and called it a day.

So when I volunteered to bring desert for Easter dinner last week I had no idea what to bring. Was coconut cake traditional? There’s nothing fresh to make pies with, no fruits to fill layers of angel food cakes, no anything really. Until I realized of course that I have lemon curd in my fridge.

So it may not be overly festive but hot damn this cake was good.

It will last a day or two in the fridge so you can make it the day before and relax about it. It’s quite showy with the burnt edges but it’s really beautiful without, if you don’t have a blow torch, or the patience to do it all with a BBQ lighter. But most importantly, it’s fresh, and light, and not to sweet and not to heavy, so it makes a wonderful end to a big meal.

Lemon Meringue Layer Cake

Angel Food Cake- recipe follows

1 cup Lemon Curd- you can half this recipe for it.

Italian Meringue- Recipe follows

Angel Food cake

10 Egg whites

1 1/2 cups Sugar

1 cup Pastry Flour

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Cream of tartar

1 1/2 tsp Vanilla

Zest of 1 Lemon

Tip: when your seperating this many eggs at once, have 2 bowls for your whites and one for your yolks. As you separate them, put the yolks in the bowl and then transfer the whites over individually. That way if one of the yolks breaks and it gets in the white, you only lose one egg instead of the whole batch.


Preheat oven to 350F

Sift 1 cup of sugar with the pastry flour and the salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment whisk the egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla, and lemon zest until soft peaks.

Slowly add in the sugar teaspoon by teaspoon until all the sugar is incorporated and the when you bring the whisk up the egg stands at stiff peaks.

Carefully fold the flour into the meringue.

And pour it into an unlined ungreased 9 inch round pan without a detachable bottom.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until it has risen nicely and an inserted skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Immediately turn the cake upside down and let it cool completely inside the the cake pan, upside down. When cooled remove.

Cut the cake into 3 layers.

Spread a thick layer of curd in between each layer.

Italian Meringue

3 Egg Whites

1/2 cup Sugar

Over a small pot filled with an inch of simmering water whisk the egg whites and the sugar until it is quite hot to the touch. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this stage.)

Pour the mixture into the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk until nearly cooled and very light and glossy.

Immediately smooth over cake.

Be generous in your icing and allow for lots of artful swoops.

Then carefully with a blow torch on medium or a BBQ lighter burn the edges of the cake.

And then eat!

Lasting Lemons

While I am definately looking forward to sunshine, fresh berries and days on the beach, the one thing from winter I will miss are the beautiful citrus fruits. Limes aren’t as juicy, lemons aren’t as sweet and grapefruits are so much more bitter in the middle of july. Which is mostly okay, I’ll happily take beaches and peaches, but of course I say that now and in a few months I’ll be waxing poetic about the beauty of key limes.

Which is all to say that in preparation for my citrus withdrawal symptoms I made lemon curd this week.

I love lemon curd.

Spread on toast in the morning? Iced onto cakes? Sandwiched inside a fresh scone? Check, check and check.

Lemon curd is also one of those things thats incredibly simple to make and yet costs an absolute fortune to buy in shops. So save yourself some money and make it at home. It only takes a few ingredients and 20 minutes (seriously, thats a generous estimate, it takes me 10 minutes!) and it also makes an amazing hostess gift.

Lemon Curd

(adapted from the Tartine Bakery Cookbook)

1/2 cup Lemon Juice

5 Egg Yolks

1/4 cup Sugar

1 cup Butter, softened.

Mix together the yolks and the sugar.

Add in the lemon juice and pour it into a pot and cook at a medium heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil.

Strain it into a bowl.

Stir in the butter, piece by piece, into the curd until it is all emulsified in.

Pour it into a sterilized jar and seal, or it will last for up to 2 weeks in your fridge!


The inimitable MFK Fisher who revolutionized food writing from the 1930’s all the way to 1990’s wrote a wonderful essay about leftovers. Of course now that I am looking for it to quote it, it is lost somewhere in a book shelf and I can’t give you anything concrete but the basic idea of it was, that anyone can go to the store, buy ingredients, follow a good recipe and make a good meal. And this is true. But, she argues, it takes a good creative cook to look into her fridge and say, “Well, I’ve got a little bacon, some leftover squash, a tomato, and half a bottle of wine” and turn it into something delicious. And then, in her wonderful honest, not at all pretentious way, tells us that its a better way to cook, a more exciting way to cook, and a more satisfying way to cook.

Ever since reading that I think about it all the time. It’s so nice to make a meal out of things you thought you might throw away!

So yesterday when I looked in my fridge and saw half a bag of frozen blueberries, three quarters of a tub of ricotta that expires in 2 days, a lemon past it’s prime and 4 things of butter with a few tablespoons in each, I knew I could make it into something. In fact, I might just start keeping these things around to make this cake again but it was seriously good.

It is very very moist, not to sweet from the lemons, and the blueberries add a little something that makes it taste like summer.

So here it is, Blueberry Ricotta Bundt Cake.

3/4 cup Butter, Softened

1 1/2 cup Sugar

3 Eggs

1 cup Ricotta

1 1/2 cup AP Flour

1 tbsp  Baking Powder

1 tsp Baking Soda

Juice of 2 Lemons

Zest of 1 Lemon

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy

Add in ricotta and lemon zest.

Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition.

Add in the ricotta and the lemon zest.

Add in the lemon juice, and then the dry ingredients. Do not over mix.

Mix in the blueberries and spoon into the prepared pan.

Bake until an inserted skewer comes our with only a few moist crumbs, about 45 minutes.

Flip it out onto a a plate and let cool, slice it and eat it up!

Fresh Herbs Baking

This past week, after realizing how much money we spend on fresh basil, parsley and rosemary, we planted an herb garden. Our window in the living room is now ful lof cute pots and mason jars turned into holders for the basics like rosemary and mint but also hard to find herbs like chervil, lemon thyme, and lavender. I am thrilled.

So imagine my joy when I open my Martha Stewart and there’s a whole article on cooking with fresh herbs! Oh Martha, you always know whats best for me.

There were some good looking recipes, like the Vietnamese pork with mint, but the one I was dying to try was the rosemary pound cake. Simple and not over complicated it’s the perfect cake with tea or maybe a spoon of creme fraiche if your the sort to keep that around.

I did make some changes, I didn’t add the egg white in, mostly because I forgot but I think it turned out beautifully without, I added in some lemon zest and more vanilla, and then changed the glaze around a bit. But it was delicious.

I made it yesterday morning and brought in half of it to work and then came home and pondered what to do with the rest (for the sake of my arteries keeping it at home seems like a bad option) and then our amazing friends called us up last minute for dinner and I felt like a 50’s housewife “Oh perfect! We can bring this cake I just happened to bake this morning” And that friends, is ridiculous.


Rosemary Pound Cake

1cup Butter

2 1/4cup Sugar

2tbsp Chopped Rosemary

Zest of one lemon

1tbsp Vanilla

3 Eggs

3 3/4 cup Pastry Flour

1tbsp Baking Powder

1 cup Milk

Rosemary Honey Glaze

1/2 cup Honey

2 Springs Rosemary

1/2 Lemon

1 cup Icing Sugar

To bake cake:

Preheat oven to 325F

Butter and flour a bundt pan or 2 leaf pans

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add in rosemary and zest until completey combined.

With your mixer on medium high speed add in the eggs one at a time beating well between each addition.

Bring the mixer down to low speed and pour in 1 third of the dry ingredients. Then add half the milk and vanilla. Continue alternating until all the ingredients are mixed ending with the dry. Do not overmix.

Spoon into pan and bake until an inserted skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs, about 45 minutes.

Turn out of the pan and cool

Meanwhile For the Glaze:

Put rosemary and honey in a pot and let simmer for about 10 minutes

 Allow to cool.

Take out rosemary and add in lemon. Sift in icing sugar and stir.

Add more lemon or milk if nescassary until a good runny consistency happens.

Pour over cooled cake and eat right away.

Marmalade Muffins

It’s been mentioned a couple times recently by a certain somebody who lives in this apartment that it’s beginning to look a little like a candy shop. That maybe we eat too much cake. That perhaps I should blog about some bread or breakfast foods, or maybe make something out of something in the fridge because there is actually no space left to put vegetables. That maybe vegetables wouldn’t be such a bad idea, would they?

To which I say rubbish.

Except that there really is no room in the fridge and I would actually like to put things in the fridge, even though they are more of jam or chocolate variety.

So I’m being oh so generous and making muffins (breakfast!) with marmalade (stuff in the fridge!) but really, I’m making them because that sounds delicious to me.

These are beyond simple to make, but the glaze is really what makes them extra special. Just yogurt and marmalade in it but it elevates the muffins into fancy tea food. In fact, I made some in my mini Bundt pans to use as teacakes, because they are so delicious I don’t think I will have any trouble at all eating them once in the morning and once in the afternoon. No trouble at all.

Yogurt Muffins with Marmalade Glaze

1 ½ cup All Purpose Flour

½ tsp Salt

2 tsp Baking Powder

1cup Sugar

1 cup Yogurt

3 Eggs

1 tbsp Vanilla Extract

½ cup Butter

Zest of 1 lemon


½ cup Marmalade

¼ cup Yogurt

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter and flour 12 muffin cups or mini bundt pans, or a loaf pan if you’re feeling crazy

Melt butter

Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl to remove any lumps

Whisk together all wet ingredients until combined, I mix it all in my measuring cup so I don’t have to dirty another dish.

Mix together until just combined, a couple lumps never hurt anyone so don’t worry if there are a few.

Fill muffin cups ¾ full

Bake until an inserted skewer comes out clean, about 25 minutes



Melt marmalade over the stove

Take off heat and stir in yogurt.