Tuesday, December 29, 2009

scallop + chorizo + olive

The holiday season is all about food. And naps. And friends.

We had our share of 'official' holiday food. no more please.
We treated ourselves to our favourite little restaurant twice (vive le Benny's Bistro!!!)
...but the best, the ultimate part of this week off for me is seeing friends and tasting new home cooked creations.

Mathieu and Roseline are a couple that always share our enthusiasm for dinner parties.
We take turns hosting, we sometimes do themed dinners and it is always delicious.
This was Mathieu's contribution to the meal last night.

I would have eaten more if we had not had cheese and paté before and were not going to have a main right after. Absolutely mouthwatering. I am a very salty person and this satisfied me like very little 'bites' have satisfied me before.

I was having a glass of white with Roseline as the men prepared this...but I think this is what Mathieu did:

-Marinate your scallops in vermouth for about 30 minutes.
-Prepare yourself a martini.
-Chop the chorizo on the bias and cook in a hot pan until crispy. Set aside.
-Zest half a lemon and fry with olives, set aside.
-Pat your scallops dry and pan fry until golden.
-Assemble the bites and drizzle with olive oil and the cooked lemon zest.

Monday, December 21, 2009

rum soaked raisin & chocolate cookies

From the first bite, I wondered: what do these remind me of?
A few bites later, I figured they tasted exactly like Glosette candies...

I did not have my kitchenaid, so they turned a bit less fluffy than they should have. Make sure you beat the butter and sugar well - but no worries, they taste just as good if you do it with a spoon and arm power.

I used Cuban dark rum, I suppose any amber or spiced rum would do. I would not use white rum though...

YIELD: 4 Dozen

1 cup butter, softened
1 cups white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 Cup raisins soaked in rum (I used Thompson raisins)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

* Set raisin in flat bowl and pour rum over them to soak in while you prepare the chocolate raisin cookie batter. You can help them out a bit by putting them on low heat, they will drink up!

* In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy.

* Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended.

* Drain off all reserved liquid from the rum soaked raisins.

* Mix in the chocolate chips, raisins and walnuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheets.

* Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or just until set.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

mini tourtières

Last night was the test run for my tourtières.

We ate these with a fabulous salad suggested by Bellsa at work - everyone was raving about this salad, so I had to try it... a mix of squash, bacon, dried cranberries, red onion and a maple based dressing.

The tourtières were great and they are now ready to pass on to the mini stage!

How I prepare mine:
I cook a mix of pork, veal and lamb. Drain off all the fat.
Then I add my spices & onion (allspice, cloves, cinnamon)
I let it cook for about 1 hour in chicken stock so that the meat gets really tender.

Then I like to top it with mashed potatoes instead of more pastry...
I mix in butter, cream and one egg so that it gets all golden crunchy on top.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

shortbread and sesame cookies

oh holiday baking.

I tried this recipe for shortbread that requires that you brown a part of the butter - it is delicious!!!
If you are going to try this, do not add all the flour at once... Use only what is needed, the dough should be slightly crumbly but should still hold together.

I also did some stuffed sesame cookies. They are quite cute.
I love the little chestnut surprise on the inside.

more cookies!!!

Brown butter shortbread

2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cornstarch
¾ cups sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
¾ cup butter

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Sift the flour and cornstarch together in a bowl. Stir in the sugar.

Melt ¼ cup of butter in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat until browned. Remove from the heat and cool in the fridge, do not let the butter solidify.

Using a mixer, cream the remaining butter. Blend in the cooled brown butter. Add the flour mixture and blend on low-medium speed until dough forms. Chill the dough for 20-30 minutes.

Form the dough into small 1 ½ inch balls. Gently press the balls down, to form a thick disk and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the extra sugar. Cool cookies fully on the cookie sheet.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lima beans

These are the 'Ron' beans.
I have been wanting to do these for a few weeks now, ever since Ron Eade posted about it on his blog.

There were two 'odd' things that I loved when I was small: sardines and lima beans.
You could open a can of sardines and give me a fork + mustard and I was a-ok.
You could open a can of lima beans, heat them with butter and I was in heaven.
What an odd 5 year old.

My mother gave me this pressure cooker. It scares me like no other kitchen tool-gizmo.
I would be more at ease with a mini chainsaw (Simon knows I want a real one for Christmas... I've been asking for it for a few years now)

The pressure cooker is your friend Marysol.

I cooked the beans in it for 10 minutes, let it cool down for another 10. I saved myself the soaking and reduced the cooking time.

I then finished cooking the lima beans on the stove top using Ron's trick: chicken stock.
in the saucepan went white wine, chicken stock (or veg stock!), roasted red pepper, dried oregano, fresh thyme, black pepper. I added yellow beans during the last minutes of cooking. Once cooled, I added white wine vinegar, olive oil and a bit of salt.

I am so pleased at how these turned out! We will bring them to the family Christmas dinner...

chocolate ginger cookies

These are so delicious.
Little chunks of ginger and soft chocolate pieces make your mouth happy.

Chocolate Ginger Cookies
Makes 5 dozen

1½ cups butter, softened
1½ cups brown sugar
1¼ cup molasses
4 tsp baking soda
2 ½ Tbsp boiling water
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp ground ginger
3 tsp gr. cinnamon
1 tsp gr. cloves
1 tsp gr. nutmeg
1 tsp mace
1 tsp all spice
¼ cup cocoa powder
3 Tbsp candied ginger
2 cups chocolate chips (I did chunks)

½ cup white sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Blend in the molasses. In a small dish mix the boiling water with the baking soda and add to the creamed butter mixture.

In a large bowl whisk the flour with all the dried spices and cocoa powder. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture. Once all the flour has been mixed in add the chopped candied ginger and chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for 20-30 minutes. Form the dough into small 1-2 inch balls. Gently press the balls down, to form a thick disk. Dip the disk into the white sugar and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake the cookies until they have a crackled look, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

lamb shanks with risotto

I craved risotto today. This side has just recently become a favourite for me...
I think I had bad risotto for quite long. Then I had really, really really good risotto at Beckta and was convinced. This is usually what pushes me to make better at home. (Yes, I am somewhat competitive and obsessive)

I left some lamb shanks to bathe in wine, homemade chicken stock, onion, peppercorns & juniper berries this morning. When it was time to cook, I added some thyme + rosemary from the garden.

I do look absolutely precious in my high heel boots going through the snowy garden to get some herbs! It is the garden that keeps on giving!!! I can't wait for spring, I this I will double the garden space...

Was yummy with rapini sauteed in garlic and lemon, simple parmesan and chicken stock risotto. (I started with 2 French shallots, white wine, a bit of fresh thyme...)

parmesan chicken...just like Jamie

This week, Simon was sent a link to a little cooking capsule with Jamie Oliver.
I have a food crush on Jamie Oliver, I 'discovered' him about a month ago leafing through a cookbook at work, it was so rustic and honest and it smelled like fresh earth. I thought he was just a pretty boy posing for a camera and charming all the ladies with his accent...

We decided to try the parmesan chicken recipe for dinner.
Of course, a few added elements: some garlic, grated, rubbed under the chicken breast & arugula leaves under the prosciutto.

The recipe worked well. The grated lemon rind was a delicious addition, every time i tasted it, it made me smile.

If we were to redo it, we would have banged the chicken a bit, then put on the ingredients, then banged it some more... It would have been good to have the crunchy topping for the whole piece, not just the middle.

Go see Jamie - it will make you want to try it too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cranberry orange loaf

I took the time last night to prep for a yummy breakfast bread. I had a choice between doing something pineapple (but I was thinking it was not quite ripe yet) or use my leftover cranberries... So the cranberries won, and what better combination than cranberry and orange?

The rum extract is not necessary, it was just a last minute whimsy.

Cranberry orange loaf

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

¾ cup sour cream (the recipe called for yoghurt, but I had none)

¾ cup fresh orange juice

½ cup unsalted butter, cool room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp rum extract

finely grated zest of 1 large orange (2-3 tablespoons)

1 cup fresh cranberries, each cut in half

1 cup lightly toasted pecans, walnuts and pistachios

1. Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven with plenty of room above it and preheat the oven to 350°.

2. Coat a loaf pan with butter, and then a light layer of flour, tapping out any excess flour that does not cling. (Or simply put parchment paper as i did!!!)

3. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Reserve.

4. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt and orange juice, rum, orange zest. Reserve.

5. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with sugar until pale and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.

6. Add the eggs gradually, beating continuously to incorporate.

7. Using the slowest speed of the mixer, add the flour mixture in three increments, alternating with the addition of 2 increments of the yogurt-orange juice mixture. The last addition should be the flour mixture. Do not over mix. Stop the mixer and finish incorporating the ingredients by folding together with a large spatula.

8. While folding, add the reserved cranberries and nuts, and incorporate gently and quickly. The batter should be well combined, but do not over mix or the bread will not be tender.

9. Spoon the batter immediately into the prepared pan, filling no more than three fourths full, level the top with a flexible spatula, set in the center of a preheated 350° oven, and bake for about 55-65 minutes. (Smaller loaves require about 40-45 minutes of baking.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

slow cooker - fail

This weekend I was so, soooooo ready to use my slow cooker.

This slow cooker has had it pretty easy.
I bought it for my mum last Christmas because her old one was too small, she longed for a larger one. So, it was my mission to find a larger model. BUT, this one was too big. She found it too heavy. She found it took up too much space. So a few weeks ago, she gave it back to me.


Simon and I decided to escape all responsibilities this weekend and go to the family cottage.
I brought much food with us and wanted to experiment and cook.
My initial plan was to test slow cooking meals that I could get started before leaving for work, and test out quick cooking meals in my pressure cooker.

The chef at work asked that I lend her my pressure cooker until midweek.
And the slow cooker just died. After 2 minutes of heating, I heard a nice crack. That was it. No more slow cooker.
So no experiments, but still good food.

I did a nice ossobuco type dish. Do you like my brownish phone pic?
My original plan was to do shanks in the slow cooker just like Ryan did - but the butcher had no shanks, rather prepared pieces for ossobuco. The veal from La Boucherie Bisson was beautiful. Such a nice color, a clean and perfect cut. Simon ate bone marrow for the first time, he hesitated for a half second, then just dug it out. We ate it with greens and a celeriac and potato mash - not traditional sides for it, but it was not my original plan... I did with what I had!

We also had nice pulled pork sandwiches for lunch today.
I did a large batch and froze the leftover for Christmas hors-d'oeuvres - I am sure it will be a hit.

Other culinary thoughts from the weekend:

*I almost finished a Julia Child biography. I did not know much about her (and have not seen THE movie), she made me smile but I was also surprised by a few sad details. Some opinions that she has voiced will stay in my mind and keep me for loving her completely.

*I held a pet rabbit. It was huge and so soft and I was in love. Then I wondered if I could eat this type of rabbit or if it would be too fatty.

Friday, December 4, 2009

banana chocolate muffins

Sometimes, I can't sleep and keep making lists in my head about the day to come - so I get up, and bake.

Chocolate and banana, Simon's favourite.

Chocolate, walnut and banana muffins

Wet Mix (this fits in a 500ml container, if you want to do it the night before and store it in the fridge...)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup apple sauce (I make my own and I like it chunky so that you have nice apple chunks in the muffins)
1 egg
1 banana, very ripe, mashed

Dry Mix
1 cup oats
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp spices - I used a tiny bit of cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, do not overmix. This made 11 small muffins.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Press down on the muffin, it should not spring back.

Monday, November 30, 2009

kohlrabi make great fries

no pictures, sorry. they all were eaten.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Moroccan inspired stew

I felt like spice, comfort. Cinnamon, star anise, persimmon, prunes, chili...

Couscous is a favorite here, we eat a lot of it in summer, simple salads with fresh ingredients. In the fall, it becomes more of a base for stews, saucy presentations.

This was a very simple dish to prepare, it took me only a couple minutes even though I had a whole chicken to put into pieces. I used the white meat as well as the legs that I deboned. The rest of the chicken was roasted and put into a stock overnight.

Moroccan inspired stew

2 chicken breasts
2 chicken legs, deboned
1 onion, rough chop
1 1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
4 cloves garlic
1 star anise
1 stick cinnamon (or 1 tsp ground)
1 chile pepper (or ground cayenne, chili paste could do also)
12 green olives, pit removed
1/2 butternut squash, cubed
1 persimmon, very ripe, pulp only
2 Tbsp chunky apple sauce
2 Tbsp tomato puree
1 cup dried prunes
1/3 cup golden raisins
Salt and pepper to taste

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, put in a hot pan with oil and cook until golden on both sides. Add onion pieces and stir with a spoon. Add the white wine, garlic, spices. Let simmer until reduced by half. Add all other ingredients, put lid on and let simmer gently.

This was perfect served on couscous with wilted garlic&lemon Swiss Chard.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

rack of pork

As Simon would say: home sweet home.
It's been awhile since I have had an evening home, as in: not arriving from work past 7-8pm, then eating horribly late.

I haven't eaten a proper dinner at home since... hmmmm... last Tuesday?
I have been alone a few nights, so that equals a veggie platter, roasted kale and cheese + crackers.
Then, I ate at work. Delicious, but I eat in a corner way too late, way too fast.
And last night I had a delightful dinner with friends at Absinthe as part of the Omnivore Supper Club.

I bought this rack of pork thinking I would cook it Saturday or Sunday, then it dawned on me that I would be at work in the evenings. blaaaah.
One good thing came out of this though, it got to absorb delicious flavors in the past few days.
Garlic, grainy mustard, a bit of white wine, herbs...

We got garlic in the CSA basket from Juniper Farm and, believe it or not, my herbs are still growing like mad in the garden. Behold the thyme, rosemary and parsley.

We ate the pork with oven roasted kale (Amy! Kale! Kale!), purple potatoes and squash from Juniper. The squash was so tender, we even ate the skin - it was roasted it with maple syrup & cayenne.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

honey, pear and hazelnut muffins

I made these with my basic muffin recipe and did a few substitutions.

For one, no pecans but rather hazelnuts. I love hazelnuts. I love them so much that I was up late last night cracking them open because I had none that were shelled.

The second substitution is the yoghurt. I had goat's milk. I love the combination of pear and goat cheese, so why not try it in a muffin?

Last but not least, I had no more brown sugar. I replaced with a combination of palm sugar and honey. Oh! And I had no more orange juice, but replace with sweet apple cider.

good morning!

honey, pear and hazelnut muffins

Wet Mix (this fits in a 500ml container, if you want to do it the night before and store it in the fridge...)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sweet apple cider
1/2 cup goat's milk yoghurt
1/2 cup apple sauce (I make my own and I like it chunky so that you have nice apple chunks in the muffins)
1 egg
1/4 cup honey

Dry Mix
1 cup oats
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp spices - I used a tiny bit of cinnamon
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 chunk palm sugar
1 pear, chopped

Preheat your oven to 350. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, do not overmix. This made 10 small muffins.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Press down on the muffin, it should not spring back.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

apple and cranberry crumble pie

I was craving this pie.

We had to pick up a storage unit for prints and large drawings today, and the lady selling it to us was 8 months pregnant and craving sweets - so I did a small one for her as well.

Apple and cranberry crumble pie

6 apples, sliced
1/2 cup cranberries, chopped
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter

Mix this set of ingredients and arrange in a pie shell (no need to prebake the shell)
Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes, then add the crumble mixture:

1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

Mix the ingredients with your fingers and crumble on top of the pie, cook for 35 minutes or until golden.

good wine

I am pretty neurotic when it comes to wine.
The sommelier who taught the first wine class I ever attended told us to always buy more than you can drink. Store it. Enjoy it when it is at its peak.

Simon must have thought I was mad when he met me... I had all these bottles with tiny little stickers on them. Price, sometimes ideal year to open. And no, you cannot pick whatever, whenever.

I open older or more expensive bottles only on special occasions. New job, good contract, big painting sold, father died... and Friday, I just needed to be cheered up. We sat on the floor and went through the bottles, trying to pick what would go best with what we were about to prepare. The meal in itself was not so special (although very very good!), but I needed a treat.

Who would have guessed that a good bottle of wine can prevent a girl from crying or getting really really mad?

We enjoyed it with pasta, a simple spicy tomato sauce with red wine salami, spinach and green peppers.

Other culinary news from the weekend:

-Never EVER go to Café Bacci. We had gift certificates and were going to a show right next to it, so we thought, heh, why not. Worst. Meal. Ever. Gross from a-z, even the antipasti platter was sad. The cheapest possible cheeses, with 4 tiny pieces of factory bread, 4-5 olives, commercial spicy eggplant for an astronomical price. Simon's pasta was so bad we couldn't even pinpoint what 'the bad' was. My Carbonara seemed to have been done by a 15 year old who poured cream on ham chunks.

-Last night we had a very chill evening with a group of friends: all were to dress in green, bring green food as part of a buffet. Projections of trees, fake grass on the concrete floor, and soft green lighting... Isn't it fun to do something out of the ordinary?

-Tonight, ta-ta-tâ!!!!! Dinner at Simon's parent. A quick hour with them, then we both get back to work on our projects.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

apple pecan muffins

these are my all time favourite.
the muffin dough is not to sweet... so you don't feel bad eating the yummy caramelly pecans on the bottom.

I used to do these every morning when I worked in Chelsea.
One thing I find comforting about restaurant work is routine. Although I do have a job now that I love, but is fit for someone with ADD, I miss the mental checklists, doing things in order that they should, the satisfaction of all food being out, done, over and out.

Being alone in a kitchen is calming, at least I found it to be. I made muffins, and scones, and pies, cakes and soup. every. single. day. variations on the same theme stimulates creativity and develops palate - i find people are often all over the place trying out too many dishes, when they should be perfecting a few, then going on to the next challenge.

These muffins you can vary, just keep the base, change the nuts and spices.
I prepare the wet mix, the dry and the sugar-butter the night before.

Apple Pecan Muffins

To prepare your pan.
Mix equal parts brown sugar and soft butter. You should need no more than 1 cup total. As a guide, I mix in a cup! Put 3 pecans on the bottom of each muffin mould, then scoop some sugar butter.

Wet Mix (this fits in a 500ml container, if you want to do it the night before and store it in the fridge...)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup yoghurt (hi fat content!!! no diet stuff.)
1/2 cup apple sauce (I make my own and I like it chunky so that you have nice apple chunks in the muffins)
1 egg

Dry Mix
1 cup oats
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp spices (I put cinnamon for this recipe)
1/2 cup dried fruits or nuts (I put roasted pecans, chopped)
1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 350. Start by putting your muffin pan in the oven with the pecans and sugar butter. Leave it for 5 minutes or until bubbling. Meanwhile, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, do not overmix. Take the muffin pan out carefully (hot butter!!!) and scoop the muffin mix into the muffin tins. You should have exactly enough for 12 small muffins or 6 big.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Press down on the muffin, it should not spring back.

Have a clean kitchen towel ready to inverse the muffin pan.

As the muffins come out of the oven, cut around each one with a knife to ensure that they will come out easily. Inverse the pan on the kitchen towel, turning the mould away from you (not to splatter yourself, that is not a fun way to start your morning...). You need to do this step as soon as the muffins are out of the oven for the caramel to remain gooey and slide out of the pan.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

mac and cheese

i've had an odd past few days, i had a horrible headache, just like a bad cold, but no runny nose, no sore throat. i was dizzy and felt like throwing up. i slept and slept.

yesterday i went to sleep as soon as i came back from work, woke up, went back to sleep, i wanted to bash my head in. then, by some kind of miracle, i found the energy to get up and do what i had wanted to do for a few days...soft, gooey mac and cheese.

then i went back to sleep.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

beef roast

Hey kids, I finally went to the grocery store! I think it has been 3 weeks since I actually took a big shopping cart to go around a store... Yay! I made time and forced Simon to come with me.

I usually stay away from meat at the grocery store, even more from meat that is on sale, but I couldn't resist this huge chunk of beef today.
The roast was so big that we cut it in half and saved for a next time.

We started dinner with arugula from our CSA fall share. always yummy.

Then, rich, satisfying, meat.

For one small roast

8 cloves garlic
4 shallots
1/2 cup red wine
3 cups beef stock
1 long sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
5 small carrots
a dozen fingerling potatoes
1 big parsnip
half a rutabaga

Sear the beef in a pan or creuset style pot. (I have major hesitation using the creuset cocotte on my glass-ceramic stove top... I need to read up a bit more on that.) Remove to a plate. Add the garlic cloves, smashed, turn around in the pot a bit, then deglaze with the red wine. Add the shallots, let reduce. Add the roast back in, or transfer it all to an oven safe dish of not using a cocotte. Pour in the stock, add the herbs and pepper to taste. Cook for at least 2.5 hours at 300F. (I think mine cooked for 3.5 hours) Add the veggies in order of cooking time - I like to add my carrots before all the rest as it gives a nice flavor. Then potatoes, then parsnips and rutabaga.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

pork loin, squash feuilleté

i left my camera at work, so it is a phone picture tonight.
we had quite a laugh taking pictures as we realized that:
a) i was dressed like i was at the cottage
b) the wooden wall behind us gave the impression of a cottage
c) there was a hunting gun leaning on our patio door.

so here is a picture of the food. just the food.

i rolled the pork loin with bread crumbs, garlic, rosemary, grainy mustard and dijon.

the flaky thing was delicious: i pan roasted some onions, butternut squash, then added garlic, pecans, cinnamon, chili flakes, balsamic vinegar.

we also had a nice arugula salad with an orange-grainy mustard dressing & roasted brussels sprouts, spinach and bacon.

piggie-porky-hog heaven.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I love pho.
I know the take out number by heart.
It is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of take out. (Although I wish I could afford take out sushi all the time...)

Tonight, I made some at home.
We were set out to make Pad Thai and discovered that we were out of tamarind... We weren't disappointed for long.

We had no meat, so I roasted some chestnuts and tofu.
I am very fond of tofu. I am very fond of veggies, and nuts, and fruit and I just can't understand why I am not vegetarian. I guess I love food, no discrimination.

My Pho

2 Tbsp whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 litres chicken stock (or vegetable)
1 3-inch chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 Tbsp sugar (I used palm sugar)
1 to 2 Tbsp fish sauce
3 cloves garlic, smashed with the back of a knife
1.5 inch piece of lemongrass, bruised
2 french shallots, sliced fine

for garnish: noodles (we had fresh egg noodles), roasted chestnuts, roasted tofu (I smothered mine in soy sauce, bird's eye chili and garlic, cooked it at 400 for 20 minutes), bean sprouts, sliced green onions, lime wedges, siracha sauce, thai basil.

-Roast the cloves, star anise and coriander in a small pan until fragrant. Add to the stock and set to simmer. Add the lemongrass, garlic and ginger. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add sugar, fish sauce, shallots - adjust seasoning to taste. Enjoy with garnishes!!


We don't eat lentils much so I thought I would make an effort this month.
I often incorporate red lentils in soups, I like them even when they are mushy, a bit shy to admit.

But as a side, I like them firm.
We ate them last night with some butterflied pork chops & root veg.

The chops I seared, then cooked with shallots, smashed garlic, rosemary. Put those in the oven, deglazed the pan with white wine, reduced, and added some butter.

For the root veg, I started off by pan roasting some sliced onions, then added these to a mix of baby potatoes, butternut squash, tiny carrots and beets.

I love beets. I love peeling beets. See. No gloves, I still have red hands this morning.

The lentils were great. Well, I love anything with bacon... Proof? I ate the leftover for breakfast.

Puy lentils with bacon, leeks and carrots

1 cup Puy lentils, rinsed
3 cups water

3 slices smoked bacon, sliced
1 leek, sliced
2 small carrots, cubed
2 cloves garlic, rough chop
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the sliced bacon for about 6-7 minutes on medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until just beginning to soften. Add the carrot and garlic, cook until leeks are tender. Set aside - do not rinse out the pot! Put the rinsed lentils into pot, add just about 3 cups of water - set on medium heat for a soft boil. Cook until al dente, remove and rinse. Put back in your pot, add wine and chicken stock, cook for about 5 minutes. Add bacon-leek mixture when liquid is almost all absorbed. Serve warm.

Monday, October 26, 2009

beef, mashed potatoes and yummy sauce

Just last week I was telling Simon that I didn't mind staying for the sauce class at work because I felt I didn't know much about sauces... He was so puzzled. What? You can make any sauce, with eyes closed. You are talking nonsense...

Well, tonight I did a sauce and it was yummy.

I had a crazy day. Mondays are always crazy but today was even more because of my (stupid) idea of posting a job offer on Kijiji and saying that it was ok to contact by phone. Oh my. I will dream of the phone ringing. I decided to leave a bit past 5pm (that is early for me...) because I just couldn't handle the constant ring and the fact that I just could not answer it with a very annoyed voice as I did not know whom it could be...

I really wanted to treat myself. A good, gooooood meal that would make me happy in a restaurant. Thick, tender, juicy, meaty, tasty beef. And mashed potatoes to make Simon happy.

Oddly, the beef (which was delicious) came from Superstore. It was Angus, at least 2 inches thick, nicely marbled. The only butcher near my job is Saslove's and I am annoyed/scared by the shopkeepers' attitudes, so I just try to keep away.

I did a quick sauce with mushroom stems & French shallots fried in butter. Then I added the wine that I took to deglaze the searing pan, reduced, strained, added butter. Heaven and just so easy.

Potatoes were also great. I kept some peel on as I boiled them, mashed them quickly, added finely chopped French shallot + fresh rosemary (that is still beautiful and growing like crazy in the garden!!!) and of course, a solid lump of butter.

ginger and lemongrass chicken soup

do you ever wonder what people do after work? what they eat?
i do, all the time.
i really have food for thought.

if you had followed me today, you would have:
left work at a reasonable time, gone to the grocery store.
***because you did not have time to do the groceries this weekend.
then gone home.
give a coat of paint on 4 paintings.
***because that make your conscience happy. you feel like you did some art... kinda.
then do some crispy kale chips
***nicole, i blame it all on you. it has become an obsession (insert here cheesy 80's song)

eat the crispy kale chips as you do:
a) a ginger and lemongrass soup with the leftover chicken and Chinese lettuce (that you don't know what to do with...CSA boxes boost your creativity)

b) a big batch of onion soup (because you have leftover baguette and you are obsessed about not wasting...)

c) bake some fish and potatoes for tomorrow's dinner (again, nothing goes to waste.)

d) prepare tonight's dinner: tenderloin, mashed potatoes and mushrooms, wine reduction sauce.

so, tomorrow's lunch, ginger and lemongrass chicken soup.

1 large chicken breast (or the equivalent... I had a lot of brown meat + some white)
1 stalk lemongrass
1 inch knob of ginger, matchsticked
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 bird's eye chili, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 large carrot, mandolined or matchsticked
1 half small Chinese lettuce
3 Tbsp chili oil
5 cups chicken stock

Cook the chicken and tear into pieces (or use leftover chicken...).
Cut lemongrass stalk in two, the bruise heavily.

Heat a bit of oil in a small stockpot, add ginger and garlic, cook for one minute. Add chicken and lemongrass, stir for a few minutes, add stock, chili. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Add the onion, let cook for 10 more minutes. Add carrot, cook for 3-4 minutes and add chili oil and Chinese lettuce, serve immediately.

acorn squash and apple soup, salty raisin croutons

We had this incredibly good but enormous raisin bread and I could not let it go to waste. Croutons are not the first thing to think about when you have sweet breads...but we should do this more often, it was delicious.

It had been awhile since we had really sat down and enjoyed 3 courses.
We started off with bread and rillettes from Philouze, little cornichons, then had the soup, extra croutons for Simon, then some roasted vegetables and peameal.

It was a very quick soup to make, not too much chopping. Acorn squash is my favourite for soups.

Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

1 acorn squash, roasted
1/4 butternut squash (because I had that on hand...), roasted
2 yellow onions, chopped
1/2 inch ginger, chopped
1 leek, cleaned and chopped, soft green part too
2 carrots, chopped
1 apple, peeled, chopped
grated nutmeg, cinnamon - start with less than one tsp each...
1 bird's eye chili
1 cup apple cider
3 cups chicken or veg stock
maple syrup to taste, water to thin out if too thick, salt and pepper...

Roast the squash with butter and pepper in the oven. (At 400, it should take about 20 minutes)
Set aside.

In a small stock pot, Cook the onions and ginger in a bit of butter or oil until slightly golden, add the spices, carrots and leek. Cook for a few minutes more. Add the apple and cook until all slightly caramelized.

Pour in the cider and stock, let simmer until vegetables are tender. Scoop in the squash flesh and blend until smooth in a mixer. Taste, adjust, add maple syrup if desired. I enjoy lots of pepper with acorn squash...

-For the salty raisin croutons, I simply cut the bread into cubes, mixed it with canola oil, a bit of cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast until perfection. Add a handful to your soup.
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