Archive for January, 2010


Look no further, this is it; the fast, easy-to-make, moist and fudgy chocolate cake of your dreams. Since I first discovered the recipe two months ago, I’ve made it three times. The F.C. (a pathological chocolate addict) now requests it. The cake is ideal for dinner parties, it’s so potent and satisfying, you don’t need much to feel the buzz. I also like this cake because the butter and egg content is less than in other similar recipes I found. It doesn’t rise much (as you can see in the photo) which gives it a modest elegance. I just love having a recipe like this in my arsenal. When I’m in a pinch for a quick but classy dessert, I can always turn to this one. (It’s the “little black dress” dessert equivalent.) Your dining companions will also be intrigued when you tell them it’s flourless. High density chocolate heaven.


Flourless Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Gourmet (as posted on Epicurious.)




5 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs (for a slightly higher cake, you can 1 more egg, but 3’s fine too)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling




Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper.


Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth.


Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Beat eggs then whisk into mixture well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.


Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven for 15 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Invert onto a serving plate. Serve with whipped cream, rasberry coulis or a simple sift of cocoa powder or icing sugar. Divine! Serves eight.

January 29th, 2010 Uncategorized | Leave a comment !



The FC and I finally made our first big “renovation purchase” on the new cottage: the windows. We chose simple but classic black guillotines (no fake panes) and two modern black doors with full length glass windows. The cost will be $1000 under our initial budget. (Yay!) Though the pressure (and cost) is mounting, the relationship is holding strong. Touch wood.


Speaking of wood, besides the leaky roof (which we can’t evaluate until the snow clears) another big choice is flooring. We’ve decided to install hard wood throughout, and though we know any wood will be great we still want to pick the perfect one, the one that will bring out the cottage’s very best (as the FC brings out mine.) We want the wood floors to make fast friends with our furniture, snuggle up with our throw rugs, inspire our walls and make love to our open-concept kitchen. We want Nirvana in a floor, that’s what we want.


Last night while visiting a wholesale outlet, we fell for the Jatoba hardwood and its patchwork quilt of light wheat colours and warm reddish browns. (Apparently these are the natural colours of the wood, it’s not stained. But it says Brazillian. Does that mean rainforest? That can’t be good, right? Best to stay local.) I’m also into light maple because it’s airy and bright and the neutralness goes well with other wood furnishing. But my friend Brent, who’s decorative taste always impresses me, champions an extreme dark stain (like a coffee oak) arguing that it reflects light, so I now find myself in a war of the woods.


What wood will win?

January 27th, 2010 Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Due to the French Cutiepie’s blatant disregard for a warning message from my host, cookingforcock is experiencing technical difficulties. The last two months of posts and recipes have either been lost or compromised (no photos, comments missing from posts, formatting gone, and my precious list of subscribers vaporized.)


The French Cutiepie is trying to fix the situation but the timing couldn’t be worse (the roof on our new coachhouse is leaking and my Producing Parker Season Two script deadlines are suddenly overwhelming.)


So many recipes to share, so many stories to recount… Be patient and I’ll have you up to date soon enough.


In the mean time, my friend Brent (and cfc contributor) shared this link with me. Pies in a jar! What a great idea.

January 19th, 2010 Uncategorized | 2 Comments


In less than two months, the FC and I will be renovating the new coachouse. It’s exciting and confusing as this perfectionist Libra ponders the endless options. Tiles and countertops and flooring, oh my!


Nailing the kitchen layout will be key. It’s a narrow space so we’ll have to keep things efficient and streamlined. For inspiration, I looked up Julie Child’s Paris kitchen. (Pictured above.) See the peg board on the wall in the background? It’s like a garage or carpenter’s workshop, so masculine and practical. But unless we tear down walls, we have much less space to work with. I also want something more modern and fun. (Ms Child’s kitchen is on the dowdy side or is that sacreligious to say?) The FC hopes we can track down some interesting secondhand cupboards — he likes to keep things vintage (ie, cheap) when possible. And I don’t disagree.


So if you stumble upon a small kitchen design you like, or just want to share a cool idea or kitchen product,  please let me know. We need all the help we can get. (I’ll be posting the dimensions and layout of the cottage soon so stay tuned.)


January 14th, 2010 Uncategorized | 2 Comments


When a good friend recommended I see The Young Victoria, I balked.  Vapid
period drivel!  Aspirational escapism for teens!  My friend shrugged, “Think of
it like a Starbucks muffin.”   I pondered this comparison.  (I go to Starbucks
for the coffee, not the muffins.) Determined to find out what a “Starbucks
muffin movie” looked like, I decided to see the film.  What harm could it do?

I was pleasantly surprised. The story, which follows the life of the young
Queen Victoria (Emily Blunt) and her marriage to Prince Albert, was just what I
craved.  Romantic, with stunning visuals (Blunt’s shimmering period dresses make
me want to rush out and buy a corset) the film drew me in.  Something about the
way the newly crowned monarch learns to manage her power and independence while
also including love and companionship felt modern and relevant to me.

Sweet, engineered, with some nutritional value, The Young Victoria is probably
very much like a Starbucks muffin– not gourmet, but sometimes it hits the

January 11th, 2010 Uncategorized | Leave a comment !


I may be late to the party but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a good time.

That’s how I feel about True Love and also Sweet Smoked Paprika.  The sassy

Spanish spice made culinary headlines a while ago but I’m just discovering it

now. Unlike regular paprika, Smoked Sweet Paprika has a smokey, pleasingly

bitter barbeque flavour.  I used it recently in a beef stew and it was

revelatory. I love how it made a healthy homespun dish seem so edgy and hip.

Like accessorizing a plain dress with chunky boots or a sparkly belt, this spice

makes a simple stew go from humdrum to Holy Crap!


Smokey Beef and Sweet Potato Stew


(Adapted from Alive Magazine in an article about the benefits of eating Low GI


A smokey nutritious wintertime warm up, this stew is elegant for dinner parties

but also low key enough for an apres ski meal for you and your favourite

rooster.  The smoked sweet paprika really makes it hop. (I made it for a dinner

party Friday night for Louisa and Georgia, then served the leftovers to the FC

the following day as an apres ski supper. Everyone loved it.)




2 lbs (1 kilo) stewing beef (choose leaner-looking beef to keep this dish as healthy as intended)
1/4 cup diced pancetta (optional because it amps up the fat)
1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp each dried oregano and thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2-3 cups beef broth (I went with organic, but if you’re penny pinching,
regular is okay too)
1 cup water
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks/cubes
1 orange (optional, the dish totally works without it)




Place beef in a bowl and coat with dried spices and salt.


Heat 1 tsp oil in Dutch oven (big saucepan with lid) and brown beef on both

sides. Remove beef and set aside.


Heat 2nd tsp oil in the same pan, adding onion and celery. Cook over medium

heat until softened (about  five minutes.)  Add pancetta and garlic. stir for

one minute.


Return beef to the pan, half the stock, cover and let simmer for 2 hours,

stirring occasionally and adding a bit of water (another 1/2 cup.)


Meanwhile, cut potatoes into chunks. With vegetable peeler, skin 3 thick strips of peel

from the orange. Cut remaining peel from orange and discard. Slice orange cross

wise into thick pieces, then cut into quarters. (Note: This dish is just as

yummy without the addition of any orange.)


When beef has simmered for 2 hours, stir in sweet potatoes, orange peel and

remaining 1 cup broth and 1/2 cup water. (You can add more broth for more



Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer, stirring

occasionally, until meat and potatoes are tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.

(Longer cooking time means more tender beef, just add sweet potatoes a little

later if you plan on letting the dish simmer a little longer.)


Serve stew on a bed of couscous (or pasta or rice) and garnish with orange

cubes.  Serves 4-6 (4 generously, 6 modestly.)

January 7th, 2010 Uncategorized | Leave a comment !


Today the FC and I just signed the papers on our new love nest, a cozy two bedroom coachhouse we’re going to renovate in the Spring. Living in my current apartment — as much as I love it — the FC can never really call it his. Having a new place together where we share in the decisions and responsibilities solves that problem.


Co-ownership: another ingredient in the recipe for love? Or a recipe for disaster? We’ll soon find out.  (Our renovation starts in March, so stay tuned.)


January 4th, 2010 Uncategorized | Leave a comment !


When the FC and I returned from Europe Saturday night, I decided to get
all-homey and bake some bread. (We had none in the freezer and after traveling
for more then two weeks I didn’t want to leave the house, not even for a trip to
the bakery. I also wanted to test drive my new apron. (The FC bought me an
adorable one for Christmas, which was a total surprise. Though I had dropped a
hint in the blog a few months ago, I never thought he’d take note. So now I’d
like to mention how much I’d like an orange Rachel Ray casserole, a basting
brush, and some colourful Ikea oven mits…  After all, Valentine’s Day is just
around the corner!)


Simple Soda Bread


Basic soda bread recipe adapted from Jane Brody’s “Good Food Gourmet”

Something about baking a loaf of bread makes you feel like you’re a magician,
like you’ve really made something substantial, and from nothing, just water and


Until now, I’ve always been afraid of baking bread, but this simple low fat
soda bread has changed my mind forever.  Who needs yeast when there’s baking
soda and powder?  This is actually the first time I’ve ever made the recipe and
I’m so damm proud of myself. Despite the simplicity, this isn’t a cake-y
breakfast bread that gets wolfed down in a day, this loaf of bread sticks
around. It’s sustenance. It also goes with anything; cheese, pate, butter or jam
— spread it on! Even better, with this basic recipe you can pretty much design your own bread.
I added  1/4 cup of oatmeal,  1/4 cup of sesame seeds, 1/4 cup of sugar and
two teaspoons of cinnamon to mine, but the options are endless. You can add
chopped dried fruit, sunflower seeds or wheat germ; you can do half white
flour-half whole wheat, you can make it sweet or savoury — whatever your
culinary heart desires. No gizmos required either, just a baking sheet for the
bread (though I wouldn’t have minded a brush for glazing the crust with butter
at the end.)




2 cups whole wheat flour (I used all white flour because I was out of whole
wheat, and it was great)=
1 cup all purpose flour
optional ingredients ( I added 1/4 cup of oatmeal,  2 teaspoons cinnamon,
1/4 brown sugar and 1/4 sesame seeds)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or more if you use the extra “optional” ingredients)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted




1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.


2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and
salt.  Add in your “extras” like 1/4 cup of oatmeal,  sesame seeds, brown
sugar,  2 teaspoons of cinnamon, or whatever you have on hand and that seems


3. Stir in the buttermilk, mixing the ingredients until the dry ingredients are
just moistened.


4.  Turn dough onto a floured board and knead dough for 2 minutes or until
dough is  (relatively) smooth. Then shape into a ball.


5. Place the dough on a greased baking sheet (I put mine on a buttered
parchement paper) and flatten into a 7 inch round, about 1 1/2 inches thick.
What a floured knife, cut a 1/2 inch X across the top of the loaf. (It may not
look pretty when the dough is rough, but trust me, it resolves well in the


6. Place the baking sheet in the hot oven and bake the loaf for 40 minutes or
until the loaf sounds hollow when it is tapped on the bottom. Turn the bread out
onto a rack to cool (I use the removable centre rack from on top of my stove)
and brush the loaf with melted butter or maragine (this gives the crust a nice
shine and extra flavour boost.)


Serve warm with butter, paté, jam, cheese or just plain.  So easy, so
satisfying.  What bread can I make next?