Starting back in April, I made a cake for my dad's birthday that was a big hit: Smitten Kitchen's Red Wine Chocolate Cake:
I only had time to take a quick picture of my slice of cake before it was devoured, but there are plenty of better pictures of this cake in the original post on Smitten Kitchen (where you'll also find the recipe), or on countless other blogs that will show up in a Google search for this cake - it's really popular! And for good reason - the cake is a simple chocolate cake with a deep, intense chocolate flavour that's really enhanced by the addition of red wine. I chose to make it because my dad makes and loves red wine, and also because it was a really easy cake to throw together. We served it with a simple whipped cream (which as you can tell was a bit melted by the time we served it) and everyone loved it! I'd highly recommend the recipe if you ever need a quick but elegant chocolate cake with a grown-up flavour.
For my own birthday in April, one of the many foodie gifts I received was a microwave chip maker, and I've been enjoying testing it out lately by making healthy snacks, like these salt and chili dusted sweet potato chips:
The kit recommends trying pear and mango chips too, which I can't wait to test!
In early May, my boyfriend and I went on a wonderful, relaxing vacation to Cuba!
Everyone always talks about how bad the food in Cuba is, but everything I ate was delicious! The theme of the week for me seemed to be flambéed desserts, as I couldn't resist ordering one for every dessert; the whole lighting-your-dessert-on-fire thing just fascinated me! The picture below is of a dessert I had at the buffet one evening that looks disgusting but I promise was amazing! The chef flambéed some bananas with rum, then served them with crepes and coconut ice cream. In the words of Sophia Grace and Rosie, it was SO GOOD!
I had another flambéed banana at the Cuban restaurant, this time served with a lovely sauce and basically a plate full of rum! You can't see the flames too well in the picture below, but the server poured a glass of flaming rum all over my plate in front of me; it was pretty exciting! I felt a little tipsy by the time I finished that plate though!
The best flambéed dessert I had was at the Japanese restaurant, where I enjoyed flambéed deep-fried ice cream. Look at those flames!
The restaurants always started your meal off with flower-shaped meat amuse-bouche. I'm not a big fan of red meat, but I appreciated the beauty of these little bites that were almost too pretty to eat anyway!
My favourite meal was another dish that looks gross in the picture but tasted amazing! It was a pepper stuffed with rice, beans, and tons of goat cheese, then served with a delicious roasted red pepper sauce. I tried to eat it slowly so I could savour every bite, but in reality it was probably gone in under a minute!
My favourite restaurant was the Japanese restaurant because we got to sit at a show table and watch our meal being prepared right in front of us by our hilarious chef. It's nice to be able to see every ingredient that goes into your meal, and it tasted really good too!
My favourite dessert was this adorable little pastry swan that I found at the buffet. There were so many of them and I can't imagine the amount of time that went into making them all! Though it wasn't very memorable taste-wise, I still loved it (and the coconut ice cream you'll notice in the back had already more than satisfied my taste buds)!
I'm not going to include pictures of everything I ate in Cuba because that would take forever, but it was all really great! And finally, I couldn't complete this recap without mentioning the drinks - I enjoyed many pina coladas, strawberry daquiris, and of course, beer! Beer on the beach = heaven.
After I returned home, I was desperate to try to recreate the tastes of the tropics so I could pretend I was still on vacation. One of those attempts was this tropical kale salad from Oh She Glows, with pineapple, banana, avocado, and kale, topped with a creamy pineapple coconut dressing.
Because I was still feeling lazy from my vacation, I took a lot of shortcuts with the salad, so it didn't turn out quite as good as it should have, but I still enjoyed the tropical flavours and fresh ingredients that I didn't find much of while I was away.
Soon after I returned to Canada, I went home for Mother's Day weekend. On the Saturday night, my relatives got together to celebrate the moms in the family, and my aunt made an amazing angel food cake. She's pretty much the queen of angel food cakes, and we love finishing a big meal with a light and fluffy dessert that doesn't leave you feeling stuffed. This time she outdid herself with an angel food cake stuffed with lemon curd and topped with strawberries and mascarpone whipped cream.
I took a horrible picture of it in the dark dining room, but trust me that it was delicious! She got the recipe from Canadian Living, so if you're in need of a light spring or summer dessert for a crowd, go check it out!
On the Sunday, my sister Genevieve and I made a big brunch for our family to enjoy with some orange strawberry mimosas. I made a batch of chocolate crepes using Emeril Lagasse's recipe, and Gen made a batch of vanilla crepes using this recipe. We whipped up a bowl of fresh whipped cream, sliced some strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, then everyone could serve themselves however many crepes they liked!
It was a fun and filling breakfast that was a great start to the day!
Later in the evening, we made our mom sit outside with a pina colada (using some rum I'd just brought home from Cuba) while we gave her some gifts then got to work on dinner!
Gen made some roasted strawberry crostini with basil and goat cheese as an appetizer before dinner, and it was amazing! I'm seriously going to request this at every outdoor dinner we have for the rest of the summer; the combination of sweet roasted strawberries with the tang of goat cheese and hint of basil was so good and perfect for summer!
She also prepared one of our favourite salads for dinner, which has strawberries, toasted almonds, and goat cheese, and my dad was a huge help to us by preparing the main course for dinner: fettucine alfredo with chicken marsala (mom's request). I haven't had fettucine alfredo in ages and I'm not sure if I've ever even tried chicken marsala before, but both were delicious, especially when eaten together. Dad used recipes from Cooks Illustrated for both dishes, which I can't post here, but you can probably find very similar versions online if you're interested in the recipes!
I had known what I'd be making for Mother's Day dessert as soon as I saw Jessica from How Sweet It Is post a recipe for a gin and tonic cake! My mom's favourite summertime drink is a gin and tonic, so I knew this would be perfect! The only picture I got of it was this little blurry one, but as always, Jessica's blog has tons of gorgeous photos that you can check out to see what the cake looks like!
The cake was really easy to put together and was a great simple summertime dessert that everyone really enjoyed. Gen and I thought the gin taste was really strong but others didn't even taste it, so I guess it depends on how much you like gin!
This past weekend was a long weekend in Canada for Victoria Day, and what better place to spend it than in our nation's capital, Ottawa!
I went to Ottawa/Quebec for the weekend to attend a beautiful wedding, and I got to fit in some sightseeing as well. The weather was gorgeous and it was a great way to kick off the summer! I didn't take many food pictures over the weekend but wanted to include one picture of the dessert at the wedding because it was so good! We were served berry tarts with whipped cream and what I believe was a persimmon on top. It was a great finish to a really great meal, and got me really excited for summertime berry desserts!
I feel like I've been travelling so much lately but hope to stay put for a while now, and get back to cooking for myself!
I hope my fellow Canadians had a great long weekend and that my American friends enjoy their long weekend that's coming up!