My go-to lemon squares recipe

lemon squares littlekokomo.com

Lemon squares are the kind of treat I crave year round. They brighten up dull winter days and are equally refreshing when a heat wave hits in the summer. I’ve been using this Smitten Kitchen + Barefoot Contessa recipe for a few years now and they never fail to turn out AMAZING. Please be warned: like most good things, they require quite a bit of prep time, so make sure you have the energy and nothing to do for at least an hour. I like the tartness of regular lemons, but you can also try this with meyer lemons, or adding a little lime juice to mix it up. Here is Deb Perelman’s recipe, with a few slight variations (I mainly cut back on the sugar):
lemon squares littlekokomo.comFor the crust: 
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the lemon layer: 
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill for about 15 minutes.
lemon squares littlekokomo.comBake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until just golden. Let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, (you can keep the oven on).

For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, just until it’s set (make sure the centre isn’t too gooey). Let cool to room temperature. Cut into rectangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar using a fine mesh sieve. Enjoy!
lemon squares littlekokomo.com

Bar Kabinet

When it comes going out, I’m not really a club person (long line-ups, bottle service, painful high heels… enough said). I’ll go to the occasional pub once in a while, but I’m not crazy about the ambiance of sports fans and being surrounded by TV screens. Bar Kabinet is my kinda place.  Last fall, the inviting glow attracted me into this little nook of a bar, and I have been drawn to it ever since. Located in the Plateau/Mile End area of Montreal, it’s easily accessible and makes for the perfect after-dinner drinks spot. Luckily the inside is just as cozy as the exterior promises.
Bar Kabinet Montreal

Bar KabinetBar Kabinet is inspired by Imperial Russia, both in the drinks and the decor. With ambient lighting and framed pictures of Tolstoy and Rasputin, it feels like you’ve discovered a secret time portal, à la Midnight in Paris, except in Moscow. They import foreign liquors such as Cachaça and Fernet to give their drinks a unique twist. I really loved the Casarah drink: a sweet mix of pureed strawberries, lime and mint with distilled sugarcane syrup. I’d also recommend the Filoettovvy (which translates to violet-coloured, since it’s tinted with beet juice) and the Chay Kabinet II (a cocktail with a splash of black tea for flavour). Be sure to check it out if you’re in the Montreal area. Take note that it is the size of a shoebox, so best to keep it to one-on-one dates or small groups.

Casarah on left, Yuri Havana on right

Casarah on left, Yuri Havana on right

Bar Kabinet Montreal

Vintage fringe lamps complete the decor

Website: bardatcha.com/kabinet
Address: 98 Avenue Laurier W, Montreal QC

Illustrated Recipe: Mushroom Paté

I’m extra excited to share my latest illustration, mainly because it’s a recipe by an awesome and inspiring friend of mine. Danielle Levy is a nutritionist based in Montreal who has taught me so much about health and food and how they are related. I went to get a consultation from her a few years ago after having been on antibiotics for about 9 months. My immune system was hit pretty bad, my skin was developing rashes non-stop, my energy was low and I had frequent heartburn. Doctors didn’t seem to listen to my issues at the time, but rather prescribe me more antibiotics which just added to the unhealthy cycle. Danielle helped me turn things around gradually while still maintaining a positive relationship with food. Food is, after all, one of the greatest pleasures in life, right?

I encourage you to check out her nutrition blog here to see her inspirational posts and recipes!

Sweet Potato Nachos

Littlekokomo.com sweet potato nachos

Recently I was craving cheese-covered nachos, but wanted something more substantial and less of a junk-food snack. I remembered this recipe I saw a while back, which uses sweet potato fries rather than corn tortilla chips and decided to try it. The result: healthy AND satisfying! It even works as a side dish or light meal. Here is my lightly modified recipe:

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes
1 large tomato
½ can black beans
1 cup shredded cheese, or more to taste
salt + pepper
dried spices of your choice: garlic, onion, cumin, paprika, etc

optional (but very recommended!):
chopped avocado
hot peppers
salsa
2 limes
cilantro
whatever you have in your fridge/pantry that can work as a topping! ½ cup corn kernels? do itttt

You will need a baking tray and parchment paper.  Continue Reading ›

Genius idea: Coffee Ice Cubes

coffeeicecubes

I’ve tried making iced coffee in the past and it just didn’t turn out right; too watery, not enough flavour, somewhat lukewarm and the sugar still grainy at the bottom. Last summer, I finally found the right formula that lets me enjoy gourmet iced coffee without leaving the house: coffee ice cubes! They keep your coffee strong as they melt, so you can sip at your own pace with losing that bold delicious flavour.

Note: this requires freezing time, so plan it a day ahead

What you will need:
-Good quality strong coffee
-Espresso maker (I use a stovetop Bialetti: cheap and makes a strong cup) *If you don’t have an espresso maker, a strong batch of filtered coffee will do)
-Ice cube tray + freezer
coffeecollage
Directions: Make the coffee in the espresso maker as you normally would. Let it cool. Pour it into the ice cube tray and freeze it for several hours. One cup of coffee makes about 8 large/standard ice cubes. I used 4 ice cubes per serving.

When you want your coffee in the morning, heat some on the stove again. If you are adding sugar, put it in your glass and stir in a little bit of hot coffee so that it dissolves. Next, add the coffee ice cubes (as many as you can fit – I used 3 at first) and then add the rest of the coffee. Then one more ice cube (the others will start to melt). Stir carefully, add milk if you wish. Top with whip cream and cocoa powder if you’re feeling extra fancy. Enjoy!
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My favourite cappucino cookies

IMG_1711Come to think of it, I should just change the title to “My Favourite Cookies in the World”. Especially lately with all the spring rain. What’s better on a rainy day than drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee? The answer is eating coffee-flavoured cookies from Joy the Baker. Think of the best frappucino you’ve ever had, and then picture it in edible form.

I’ve made these more than any other cookie recipe, and usually like to freeze a portion of raw dough and save it for another day. Before you commit to making this amazing treat, just consider:
-This recipe requires a mixer (mine isn’t fancy, has no paddle attachment and does the trick just fine)
-You need to chill the dough for at least 45 minutes (I did it overnight)
-They taste best underbaked (10 minutes in the oven for a soft cookie)
-Make sure your espresso powder is well ground up (no chunks), either through a fine-mesh sieve or with the back of a spoon
-Do not forgo the parchment paper! Or grease the hell out of your baking pan. A burnt cookie is a sad cookie.

Here are Joy the Baker’s instructions paired with my (less pretty) photos:

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons instant espresso or coffee powder
1 cup white chocolate chunks (chips are good too)

“Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside and we’ll preheat the oven after we chill the dough.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and instant espresso powder.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the butter mixture with a spatula.  Add the egg and egg yolk and beat on medium speed until mixture is fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla extract. Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients, all at once to the butter mixture.  Beat on low speed until just combined.  Stop the mixer, add the chocolate chunks and fold together with a  spatula until well combined.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

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Into the fridge you go!

Just before you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Scoop cookie dough by the heaping tablespoonful onto the prepared baking pans.  Bake for about 12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.”

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DIY gift idea: baking mix in a jar

As promised, here is the DIY gift based on yesterday’s recipe. Whether you need a gift for a host, a friend who loves baked goods, or a person who is always on the run, I’m sure you know someone who would appreciate this.

You will need:
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unrefined light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips Continue Reading ›