What’s the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had? I can remember mine, no problem. It was at the house of some family friends in upstate New York one fall. It’s a five hour drive from New York City, and I’d spent the afternoon sitting on the floor of Penn Station, waiting for my family to get in on a delayed train from DC. In the end, we only left the City in the late afternoon, so the tree-lined road fell dark quickly. We stopped once at a beaten-up service station, but all it had was a fast food counter and a small Starbucks selling pumpkin spice everything. By the time we reached their house it was pitch black and late, and since that area doesn’t seem to believe in street lights we circled around for a long time before finding the house we’d been to only once, seventeen years before.

It was the first time I’d seen my family in months, and we were greeted by our friends with hot oven-fresh cookies and the only decent cups of tea I’ve ever had that side of the Atlantic. Tired, happy, and full of tea and cookies, I fell asleep in the comfiest bed I’d slept in for a long time, covered by a thick homemade quilt. The corridors of Princeton had never been quiet; a few dorms down always seemed to have parties that involved playing Mr Brightside multiple times a night, always whilst chugging beers, and 1am seemed to be the most popular time to use the laundry room. But there on the shores of Schroon Lake, surrounded by what daylight would reveal to be brightly-coloured woodland, the night was silent, and cosy, and beautiful. I slept deeply and fully, and woke dreamy-eyed to a breakfast of blueberry pancakes and fresh coffee in a conservatory that overlooked the lake.

What does this have to do with anything, though? I’m not really sure, other than that since then sleep, cookies and autumn have become irreversibly fused in my mind. And so, naturally, I wanted a cookie that encapsulated that feeling of autumnal cosiness, but without the dreaded, ubiquitous pumpkin. I gave it my best shot, and I hope you like it. View Full Post

COURGETTE CAKE | MAGPIE & MAPLE

It’s courgette season, and our garden produced so many this year that for a while we seemed to be eating them at every meal. Although we’re at the tail end of the glut now, I thought I’d experiment with ways to use up the healthy vegetable while they’re still in season. After all, there’s only so many times you can add it to pasta.

Although it isn’t a novel idea to add courgette to baked goods like cakes, loaves and brownies,  it’s not something I’d ever tried before. Much as I love vegetables and advocate eating them in abundance, I’m not a fan of them sneaking in where they’re not welcome. In my experience, ‘healthy’ cake made with things like sweet potato/ beetroot/ spinach/ [insert vegetable here] just don’t taste right and the only people who think they do are those who haven’t eaten proper cake in a decade. Baked goods are never going to be superfoods, so if you’re going to indulge it should at least taste nice.

The one exception, however, is carrot cake; everyone likes carrot cake. Somehow, it just works. So I thought I’d be brave with the courgette, remodelling a Hummingbird Bakery recipe to make it a little more wholesome (and vegan friendly) and I’m pleased to repot that it operates far more according to the carrot cake model than the sweet potato brownie model — i.e., the courgette flavour is undetectable and it just contributes to making a beautifully moist, delicately spiced cake. I’m pleased to report that everyone who tried it loved it, and no one came close to guessing what was in it. View Full Post

SINGLE SERVE STOVETOP GRANOLA | MAGPIE & MAPLE

Does your morning routine change with the seasons? I find mine does. I’m not one to leap chirpily out of bed at any time of year, but the darker mornings make me even less inclined to do so. Whereas in summer I’m content to wander downstairs in light pyjamas and blend up a cold smoothie, even drinking it outside on the patio on particularly sunny days, the chillier autumn mornings mean that getting from duvet to dressing gown is a test of mental strength and the journey to the kitchen can only be undertaken when well wrapped up.

I know you’re probably thinking that it isn’t even that cold yet and I’m being overdramatic. Well, maybe. But either way, icy smoothies and fridge-based breakfasts are dead to me until next spring. And yet it’s not quite porridge season either. Granola is a happy middle ground, but the problem is that I don’t always have granola on hand and when I do, it doesn’t last very long. It’s a perpetual temptation, sitting in the cupboard and asking to be snacked on whenever I’m in the vicinity. Which is why this single portion is perfect — especially as it only takes a few minutes. This, served with almond milk and accompanied by hot coffee, is the perfect autumn morning in a nutshell. Whilst wearing a warm dressing gown, obviously. View Full Post

GREEN JUICE SMOOTHIE | MAGPIE & MAPLE This is a smoothie for green juice lovers who don’t have juicers. Or maybe you have a juicer, but you prefer to consume the fruit and veg in its entirety to get maximum goodness rather than bleeding out its juice. Or maybe you just don’t like the cleanup associated with juicing.

Whatever your reasoning, this smoothie has the earthy, ultra-green, not-very-sweet taste of a juice, but it’s made by throwing everything into a blender. If you’re not a hardcore green juice person, this isn’t for you. But if you want an easy way to get the goodness and flavour of a green juice, this is probably as close as it’s possible to get without, you know, actually making a juice.  View Full Post