Here at RecipeGeek.com we love to celebrate notable Canadian food personalities and Laura Calder tops that list for us. We were thrilled to get the opportunity to chat with Laura about her cooking philosophy, her favourite food product and get the dish on her latest (and dare we say greatest) cookbook, Paris Express.
Can you describe your cooking philosophy in one sentence?
Food tastes best when you cook for people you love.
What kitchen gadget or tool do you swear by?
A microplane grater is indispensable. I'm also warming up to my food processor.
What is your favourite food product right now?
I'm a great fan of the luxury tinned sardine.
What is the one pantry ingredient you couldn’t live without?
Dijon mustard is something I use pretty much every day, although that's a rather dull answer.
What is your busy weeknight go-to meal?
I like a spicy red lentil dish from Dinner Chez Moi and the Curried Blanquette of Scallops from Paris Express.
What is the best meal you have eaten at a restaurant?
It was a summer dinner on a terrace in Provence in the countryside. We ordered nothing, the food just kept coming and coming for hours.
What is your necessary indulgence(s)?
What is your favourite cookbook?
I have a few...a funny one that I always find myself going back to is Creative Cooking, published by The Reader's Digest in 1973. The Time Life Series was - still is - also excellent.
What is your favourite ingredient to buy when you are at a local market in Paris?
I love buying fish because the displays are downright thrilling.
What is the best thing about French food and cooking (in your opinion)?
The eating. The French know how to make it a true pleasure.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your new cookbook, Paris Express?
My inspiration was how the French take food so seriously and make good eating a priority in their day, even when they're strapped for time.
One of your favourite recipes from this most recent cookbook?
The speedy rum baba - recipe below!
Speedy Rum Baba
Makes: 8 servings
This isn’t a classic baba, because there is no yeast. However, despite the lack of yeasty taste, this does yield an impeccably textured rum-soaked cake that I can’t get enough of. Serve with whipped cream, and pass the bottle o’ rum for any bon vivant who’d relish an extra splash. For a crowd, double the cake and use an extra-large ring mould. It may take slightly longer to bake, but keep an eye on it and you’ll have no troubles.
For the cake
1 cup (125 g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (125 g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the rum syrup
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1-1/2 cups (375 ml) water
¼ cup (60 ml) dark rum
Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour a 9-inch (23 cm) savarin mould or other ring pan. (In a pinch, a loaf pan works, too.)
For the cake, sift together the flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then beat in the sugar until thick and frothy. Stir in the vanilla, followed by the dry ingredients, to make a smooth batter. Pour into the baking pan. Bake until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
About 10 minutes before the cake comes out of the oven, make the syrup. Put the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum.
Turn the cake out onto a serving plate. Spoon the syrup slowly over the cake. It looks like a lot of syrup, but don’t worry, the cake will absorb it all. Cool completely. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream.
Recipes from Paris Express by Laura Calder ©2014. Photography by Ancuţa Iordăchescu © 2014. Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
An award-winning television personality, Laura hosted French Food at Home, which won the prestigious James Beard Award, and was a judge for two seasons of Recipe to Riches. Laura’s television specials include Chefography, The Château Dinner, Laura Calder Explores The French Alps, and ‘Twas The Night Before Dinner. She has also appeared on Iron Chef America and Top Chef Canada. A best-selling cookbook author, Laura has written French Food at Home, French Taste: elegant, everyday eating, Dinner Chez Moi: the fine art of feeding friends and Paris Express.
Follow Laura on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/calderlaura Twitter @lauracalder and Instagram http://instagram.com/lauracalder21