Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies




If you are lucky enough to actually like the family you were born into, I highly recommend not leaving the city they live in. Because if you do, the chances of you falling in love are very high. With a person, or with a city, or with a job and then you will be stuck. Stuck in a city, with a person and a job that you are in love with, which is, by most measures, is a pretty fabulous situation to be in. But if you are lucky enough to actually like the family you were born into, there will always be a part that is missing.


That’s how it is for me at least. I absolutely love Vancouver, and I can’t put into words how wonderful Jordan is, and I get giddy every time I think about how I work for myself. But it is tough sometimes, and never more so than right after I’ve visited home.  I’ve been super lucky lately, my Mom came out to visit this summer for a whole week, and then I got to visit my whole extended family in Boston a month ago, and last weekend I was back in Toronto for a family wedding. By all accounts, I’ve seen more of my family than I usually do, but somehow that just makes it harder. It’s always so perfect when we’re all together, and now I’m here thinking about how I’m not sure when I’ll see them again, Which is a miserable situation.


And whenever I’m this hopeless and lonely, the only thing that does any good is to make cookies. Not fussy cookies, not fancy cookies, and not anything wild or crazy cookies. The kind of cookies I can imagine my Mom baking, the kind that you just drop on a pan and they turn into soft and caramel-y and glorious sweet bits of comfort that make everything a little bit better.


These cookies in particular are especially comforting. They are full of brown sugar and chocolate and copious amounts of peanut butter and sprinkled with Maldon salt on top for crunch. It will make you feel better when you’re sad, and that’s about all you can ask for from a cookie I think.




Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies


1 cup Butter, room temperature


2 cups Brown Sugar


2 Eggs


1 ¼ cup Peanut Butter


2 tbsp Vanilla Extract

2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour


2  tsp Baking Soda


1 ½ cups Chocolate Chips


Maldon Salt for sprinkling.




Preheat oven to 400F.


Cream together butter and sugar.


Add the eggs one at a time stir in between.


Slowly mix in the peanut butter until it is totally combined.


Mix in all the other ingredients except the Maldon salt. Chill dough for an hour.


Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.


Roll dough into 2 tbsp pieces. Press them down a bit on top and sprinkle them with maldon salt.


Bake for 8-10 minutes until they are slightly browned but still very soft in the inside.


Cool for at least 20 minutes before eating too many at once!

Red Wine Salt

You know that moment the morning after a couple too many drinks when you first wake up, and realize that you forgot to put the cork in the bottle of red, that you opened much too late and drank only half a glass out of?

And it’s sort of heart breaking that that lovely bottle that so many grapes died for is now just going to be thrown down the drain?

And you think, well, maybe I opened it late enough and you put the cork back in it and hope for the best, but by the time you open it up the next day (lord knows you’re not trying anything boozy that night) it’s absolutely tragically off.

I can’t be the only one who does that right?

So recently a friend of mine suggested red wine salt as a solution, and my brain nearly exploded.

There is a use for corked and terrible left over wine?

How am I only just figuring this out?

It’s a day full of questions.

Here’s what you need to know.

You take that wine, you reduce it down like crazy, and when it’s a thick syrup you stir in a whole bunch of coarse salt, and then you spread it on a tray and let it sit out overnight.

And the next day, unlike the last when you woke up knowing that you’d ruined a bottle of wine, you wake up to something wonderful. Something that will instead add a bit of depth to your steak dishes, and gussy up a piece of duck, and look tres chic on your dinner table when you’re entertaining.  Or bottle it up and give it as a hostess gift!

Just don’t tell them that really, it’s just the cheapest salt around with an old bottle of wine.

Red Wine Salt

1 bottle of Red Wine (give or take a glass)

2+ cups of Rock Salt

In a medium pot over medium heat reduce wine until it becomes a thick syrup. This will take about 30 minutes.

For every tablespoon of liquid that you have add in 1 ½ cups of salt

Mix together well and spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Allow to sit out overnight, or until very dry.

Bottle up and give as gifts, or save for you

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!

Cultured Butter At Home

If a true baguette is a French nobleman, tall and lean, a crusader for tradition and preservation, then butter is the stout and shy wife, staying home and cooking while her husband goes out and gets all the attention. But, if I’m going to keep these metaphor going, she is an unsung hero, because good proper French butter, cultured and flecked with sea salt is beautiful and delicate, and tastes better the next morning that her stale mate.

My love for butter is long stated and probably can be traced back to one of my favourite childrens book to a poem where the King is so distraught that he can’t get butter with his bread that he goes back to bed saying “No one could call me a fussy man, BUT, I do like a little bit of butter for my bread”. A trip to France a couple years ago cemented it for me, butter is a beautiful beautiful thing.

Normandy is famous for it’s butter, and rightly so, but Normandy is a long way away from my Vancouver apartment. So I’ve been looking up ways of making butter recently. I remember doing it as a kid, taking a jar and shaking it until the fat split from the liquid, and I’ve done it in restaurants when there is cream about to go off, but it always makes simple plain butter. The butter I’ve been dreaming about since Paris has a much greater flavour to it.

So when I saw this recipe on Food52 I new it was fate.

Friends, this is damn good butter, as best as I have tried on this continent. The trick is to be patient, to use the absolute best cream you can find and to have some really good bread to spread it on when it’s done.

Proper French-Style Butter

1L Whipping Cream

2 tbsp Plain Yoghurt

2 tsp Fleur de Sel

In a large bowl mix together the cream and the yoghurt. Let it sit, covered, at room temperature for at least 2 hours or longer if you wish. Check it periodically by dipping a clean finger (or spoon!) into it and tasting it. Once it gets a nice slightly cultured, sour taste to it you can start whipping it. You can do this with a standing mixer, a handheld mixer or you can put it in a well sealed jar and shake it.

In my standing mixer this stage took about 15 minutes, but the cream with thicken and then start to seperate, the fats splitting from the liquid.

While this is happening put a colander inside a bowl, and line the colander with cheese clothe or a thin tea towel.

Let it strain for half and hour or so, you can give it a squeeze periodically to help it a long.


Once nearly all of the moisture is gone and if you pinch it between your fingers it doesn’t bead out bits of water your ready to go. On a clean counter top press it down into a small square. Sprinkle the salt on top and then fold it in half, then again then again and again.

Then you can press it into a mold, or just put it in a bowl like I did, with a little more salt sprinkled on top!  

Brown Butter Apple Cake

Most people who have ever talked to me for more then 5 minutes has probably heard be complain about my landlord. He is a glorified slumlord, who fixes nothing and does nothing and is exceedingly cranky more often then not. He doesn’t do a good job when problems arise and so they keep happening over and over again and he blames you for his shotty work. 

I am not a fan.

However, since Jordan has moved in, my gay landlord has been much more open about fixing a few things up. Apparently my charm is useless on him, but my handsome man is getting things done. 

It has been a crazy couple of weeks, but my apartment is now the proud owner of new dark laminate flouring, a glorious step up from the heinous 70’s grey industrial carpeting I’ve been living with for years. But heres the thing about putting in new flouring, you basically move. Everything you own has to be put into boxes and moved somewhere else and it is a hassel my friends. 

Now we’re starting to paint and put things together and, thankfully, my kitchen is back and working, and Jordan is so good looking we even got a new fridge! Miracles do happen friends.

So a couple days ago when everything was covered in dust and it reeked of paint fumes and all my books we’re in boxes and I was starting to go crazy, I did what I always do when I’m stressed, and I baked a cake. 

A wonderful cake too, rich from brown butter and brown sugar sauteed apples on the top. Most cakes get their moist crumb from lots of butter and sugar but this cake gets it form the buttermilk so it’s not to sweet ot two heavy. It also uses whole wheat pastry flour, which is very uncommon for me, but it adds a pleasant nuttiness without feeling too healthy. The top has some coarse sugar and salt so it gets a bit of a crunch when you bite in. 

The best part though; it doesn’t need a mixer, you put it together like a muffin base, just mix wet with dry, so it doesn’t dirty up the kitchen too much.

And then, with cake in hand I cleaned, and dusted, and gathered bags and bags to give to charity and felt like things would be okay. 

Brown Butter Apple Cake

Adapted from 101cookbooks. 

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled a bit
zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 large apple, or 2 small guys, peeled and sliced.
3 tablespoons large grain raw sugar
1 teaspoon large grain salt

Preheat oven to 325F

Butter and flour an 8 inch cake pan.

In a small sauce pan on medium heat melt the butter. Keep it on the heat after it melts until it bubbles and gets frothy and starts to get a sweet nutty smell, and you can see little brown bits at the bottom. Set aside.

In the same pan add the apples and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and sautee until the apples are translucent and soft- about 10 minutes. 

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt making sure there are no lumps of brown sugar.

Mix together the butter, buttermilk, eggs, zest and vanilla and then add it to the dry ingredients being careful not to over mix. 

Pour the batter into the pan and use a spatula to level it. Carefully place the apple slices in a nice pattern on top. Sprinkle the coarse sugar and salt on top.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs. 

Pumpkin Spiced Caramels


Things I like about Halloween:

  1. Costumes- not the ridiculous slutty ones but the cool ones, the ones that let you dress up as people you admire or at least admire their style. I for one, have been Audrey Hepburn many times, and you know I love Audrey Hepburn.

  2. Candy, chocolate, caramel, toffee, caramel apples, chocolate covered marshmallows, nutty things. Candy and me, we go way back.

  3. Pumpkins, carving pumpkins, picking pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, I love me a gourd what can I say.

Things I don’t like about Halooween:

  1. Slutty costumes (I mean really, what is a slutty panda bear anyways!?).

  2. Scary movies, seriously. I am scared of everything. Harry Potter, Twilight, you know the non scary movies. I am totally scared in them. This is, needless to say, a huge disapointment to my boyfriend who’s dad had them watching the Excorsist at age 7.

  3. Halloween baked goods. I don’t want my cookies to look like spiders, I don’t want cakes with bloody fingers on them, and I don’t want bugs in my puddings. I just don’t.


Because of my love of Halloween one of my dearest friends in the world is coming over and we’re carving pumpkins, drinking mulled wine and joining the parade that happens on my street every year. I love my neighbourhood and the Parade of Lost Souls (which, before it started happening and we just saw signs we thought was an anti-abortion march. Not the case.) And because of my hatred of all things that look Halloween-y but my love of both pumpkins and candy, here is a wonderful recipe for Pumpkin Spiced Caramels, not nearly as hard as it might look, although you do need a candy thermometer. You also need friends because this makes about 100, and I have tried to get through them, and well, that’s what friends are for. Candy eating, wine drinking, and parade going right?

*Update: I recently made Gingerbread Caramels, and with that recipe wrote a bunch about the does and don’t of caramel making! You can get that information HERE if you so wish. 

Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels:

1 cup Butter

1 1/4 cup Brown Sugar

1 cup White Sugar

1 1/4 cup Corn Syrup

1x 14oz can Sweetened Condesnsed Milk

2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Numeg

1/2 tsp Cloves

Grease an 8in square pan. Line it with parchment paper , using two pieces to go both ways and then hang over the sides. then grease them too. Don’t skimp here, it will make your life easier in the long run.

In a pot with deep sides add in all the ingredients except the spices and the salt and bring it up to a boil. 


Put your candy thermometer in and, while stirring constantly, bring up to 245F.

Make sure you stir it the whole time, it will burn in a heartbeat if you let it. 

As soon as it comes to 245F add in the spices, stir to combine, make sure it’s all mixed in, and then quickly pour the mixture through a fine sieve into your prepared pan.

Sprinkle with salt, if you so wish!


Let this chill for several hours or overnight. This makes a lovely soft caramel but it is tricky to cut, so put it in the fridge for about 20 minutes before you do.


Cut into pretty little squares and wrap in your wrappers.


Rosemary Shortbread with Fleur de Sel

I don’t have much of a story here, no charming childhood memory or anything, just a very good cookie. A cookie with rosemary, a hint of lemon, and a smattering of sea salt. The kind of cookie that’s not too sweet or too heavy. Something that is light and crumbly, and buttery and lovely. The kind of cookie that keeps for a few weeks in a sweet little vintage tin, and you can just pop them out when company comes over. Or you can eat them all in one sitting. Just saying.

Rosemary Lemon Shortbread with Fleur de Sel

(loosely adapted from the Tartine Bakery)

1 cup Butter, very soft

1/2 tsp Salt

2 scant cups AP Flour

1/3 cup Sugar

2 tsp Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped.

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp Fleur de Sel.

Preheat the oven to 325F

Butter an 8inch square pan or a fancy pants shortbread pan, whatever strikes your fancy.

Mix together the butter and sugar- the butter has to be very soft. If it’s not soft enough put microwave it of put the butter in a double boiler. It should have the consistency of mayonaise.

Add in the rosemary, lemon zest and salt.

Mix in the flour until barely combined.

Press the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until it’s cooked through.

Take it out of the pan and immediately cut them. If you cut them while they’re cold they will crumble.

Sprinkle with the fleur de sel and eat eat eat!