Calisson d’Aix a Sweet Almond Candy for a Queen of Provence

Calisson is a specialty candy from Aix en Provence made with almonds. There are several versions of the story surrounding how, and when this sweet treat was first made.

The French are certain the invention was theirs. It may have been as early as 1473 in honour of the King, Roi René’s second wedding, or later on as production, trade and development expanded. The first story involves a bride who was to be queen. She appeared dour, possibly unhappy with her lot in life. The tale whether true, or not, is that she smiled when she tasted candies.

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Canistrelli Recipe Sweet Corsican Cookies to have with Coffee

It is highly probable, that Nutmeg’s nutritionist friends will not consider this practice remarkably healthy. So only do so sparingly, or when they are not watching.

There is something decadent, childish and delightful about eating cookies with your morning coffee. Ginger and Nutmeg have discovered along their travel routes to Italy and Corsica that this “sweet” tradition is decidedly a part of the routine in some areas.

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Couscous a Traditional Moroccan Recipe

Ras El Hanout is a spice blend essential to Moroccan cooking and critical for a traditional couscous recipe. The name translated literally means ‘head of the shop’ for which actual mixtures vary, and in some cases, maybe closely guarded family secrets. A less direct translation is ‘best of the shop’ a savoury combination of as many as 60 spices, ground and mixed together. These are typically found in every ras el hanout; anise, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, mace, nutmeg, ginger, black and white peppers, and turmeric.

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Claufoutis aux Cerises Recipe for When Life Gives You a Bowl of Cherries

Spring starts early in the south of France. Nutmeg was shocked to learn that the cherries on the neighbours’ tree would be ready to eat by the middle of May!! Under perfect conditions, local BC cherries only start arriving in Calgary farmers markets in mid-July. Sure enough the white flowering trees quickly turned to producing the luscious red fruit, and all of a sudden the orchards were laden with produce. The problem with cherries is you can only eat so many before they start spoiling.

Cherry SeasonThe cherry is a stone fruit within the Prunus species, related to plums and apricots. As a fruit, the cherry has been consumed for millenniums, with references even in Roman times. There are numerous varieties of cherries globally. However, the most commonly known strains in North America are the wild cherry (or sweet cherry) and the sour cherry. The red pigment in cherries is called anthocyanin, and it has been shown to provide some pain relief and reduce inflammation.

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Banana Bread Love Affair

Nutmeg is picky about her bananas. The fruit has to be perfect, not too green and certainly not a second too ripe. However, when it comes to banana bread, she has nothing but love for this sweet treat.

Most people have a banana loaf variation that they have perfected over the years, or one handed down from a relative. When this recipe landed on Nutmeg’s laptop from cyberspace, she could not resist trying it. A combination of lemons, olive oil, and bananas adapted from 101 Cookbooks, what is not to love?

Lemon Olive Oil Banana Bread

Lemon Olive Oil Banana Bread
Recipe type: Quick Breads
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 Loaf
Like most sweet loafs this one is very easy to make. The use of olive oil and lemon make it a bit more contemporary than the one you might have from your great-aunt. The trick with all banana bread is finding that perfect moment when the loaf is golden brown but it is still moist - roughly 50 minutes in the oven in this case. Thanks again to Heidi @101Cookbooks for her inspiration.

  • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar
  • ¾ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ⅓ Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1½ Cups Bananas, they should be ripe and mashed
  • ¼ Cup Plain Yogurt
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest, freshly grated
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Optional: 1 Cup Your Choice: Bittersweet Chocolate or Walnuts or Blueberries
  • Glaze:
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar
  • 4 Teaspoons Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F
  2. The oven rack should be in the centre
  3. Grease a 9 by 5 inch (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan - or in this case a Bundt pan
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt
  5. Add the chocolate pieces (or walnuts or blueberries) and combine well
  6. In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, eggs, banana, yogurt, and vanilla
  7. Fold the wet mixture into the flour mixture, do not over mix
  8. Pour the batter into your pan and bake until golden brown
  9. Cool slightly and then move onto a wire rack
  10. Prepare the glaze and run it over the top of the loaf when it is cool

Lemon Olive Oil Banana Bread

Easy Chicken Stew from the Pantry

Ginger and Nutmeg had to stay in Provence for a couple extra nights due to a Lufthansa strike. For many reasons, this was inconvenient but far from devastating, they had a comfy bed in a small corner of paradise. Less fortunate passengers had no option but to stay in the zero-star airport hotel.

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Provence’s Olives Start to Finish

Ginger has long loved olives, for their salty taste.  Nutmeg’s appreciation for olives has been acquired in recent years and certainly more so after spending time in Provence.  The olive tree is probably as old as the earth and may have even been one of the plants in the “Garden of Eden”. The Olive Story will give you more details on olives if you are interested. Nutmeg is fascinated by the olive, for its history, the tiny spring buds, the widespread use in Mediterranean cooking and of course because they taste fabulous. The following post is a photo expose and a new favourite recipe in honour of the olive.

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Aioli On Fridays in Provence

Aioli is the name of a garlic mayonnaise.  Aioli is also a traditional Provencal dish that was typically served on Fridays.  The classic dish le grand “Aïoli” Provençal is served with salted cod and potatoes. A meal suitable for the days of penance. Practised cooks would methodically re-hydrate the cod and transform it back into an edible protein. The preparation of the traditional ingredients requires time to soak and desalinate the cod. This process involves removing the excess salt, cutting the cod in pieces, and soaking in fresh water for up to 15 hours (changing the water 2-3 times). Once the salt is removed the fish is poached gently in a pot with milk and water. The cod should not boil as it becomes rubbery. Interested yet?

Aioli ProvencalYou should be!

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Sweet Memories in an Apricot Tart

Apricots will always remind Nutmeg of her grandmother, Charlotte.

Market Apricots in Provence via @GingerandNutmeg

Nutmeg never asked if her grandmother liked to cook, it was just assumed that she did as her Hungarian lineage prevailed in hearty meals and traditional sweets. It was not unusual for Charlotte to spend an entire day preparing for a meal. The group would gather around her formal table, set with family china, polished silverware and sparkling crystal to enjoy Charlotte’s paprika chicken, beef goulash, stuffed peppers, gnocchi and other classics.

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