Monday, May 31, 2010

Marinated Veggie Salad



This is the dressing that made me like mushrooms.
But there were none in our fridge, so you have the mushroom free version of the salad!

The oil is heated, then added to the acid and herbs. I have always liked to think that it helps the veggies marinate quicker and better.

You can play around with the dressing: in winter, use dried herbs like thyme and oregano. We put none because we had lovely fresh herbs from the newly planted garden.

It tastes much better the next day, so if you can think ahead, even better! Susbtitute Zucchini for cucumber. Roma tomatoes are fantastic because they soak up the flavours and keep their shape. Black olives are a nice finishing touch. We ate this salad with delicious sausage from William J Walter, a little shop that just opened next to our house, addictive.

Hot marinade dressing

1 cup oil of your choice (I did half canola, half Extra Virgin)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Zest of one lemon
Juice of half a lemon (to start, you may add more)
Fresh herbs (we had dill, oregano and basil)
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

In a high sided sauce pot, heat the oil(s) until very hot but not smoking. In another high sided pot, put the remaining ingredients. Carefully pour in the hot oil - it will make noise and may splatter, step away!

Pour the dressing over the veggies and put in the fridge until nicely cold. You may decide to add the herbs as you serve if you are not doing this the day of, it just looks fresher.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Coconut Petits Gâteaux




I craved coconut.
I don't know about you, but if I get stuck on a food thought, until I finally eat it, I have trouble focusing on anything else. Even if you had given me the best molten chocolate cake, I still would have been dreaming of coconut.

I don't do much baking with coconut - it is pretty much only macaroons.
A friend emailed yesterday and asked for my recipe. Earlier this week, I fell upon a recipe for a coconut and lemon cake, but this afternoon I just could not find it!!! I was getting obsessed with coconut as I tried finding it once again.

And since I did not, I did what I do best: improvised.
I took a basic muffin recipe and added more butter, more eggs and balanced it out with coconut and a bit more flour. Then, for the coconut overload, I did a coconut cream cheese filling. Then, a lovely lemon icing and finished with coconut shavings.

Coconut Petits Gâteaux
(oui, Marie-Camille, des cupcakes! mais il faudrait définir cupcake...)

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
3/4 yoghurt (10%)

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, set aside. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time. Alternately add the dry and the wet ingredients.

Filling

3/4 cup cream cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup coconut flakes

Mix all ingredients. Fill half the muffin tins with the batter, form a little volcano and put a dollop of the coconut filling. Spoon more of the batter on top and cook at 375 for about 10 minutes.

Icing.

Butter
Cream cheese
Icing sugar
Lemon zest

I usually put a bit more cream cheese than butter. A bit less for the sugar. Taste and adjust, trust yourself!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Planked!



What to do for a birthday girl who loves salmon?
Make it special.

This is so easy and gives such a nice taste.
Ever the fabulous chef, Rachelle's husband makes it often - go see this recipe if you want more inspiration. And this recipe. And this recipe.

For the 'rub'
*brown sugar
*cayenne
*cumin, ground
*garlic powder
*salt & pepper

I never measure, sorry! Taste as you mix, it should be sweet, but not too much so that you taste the salt and get a bit of bite from the cayenne.

For the basting sauce
*maple syrup
*sambal olek
*a tiny bit of oil
*soy sauce

Clean the fish and cut into portions. I let it to marinate in soy sauce, canola oil and a bit of sesame oil for about 6 hours. Soak your planks about 2 hours before grilling.

Bring the fish to room temp, pat dry and coat with the rub. Put on presoaked wooden planks (we had cedar) and cook on low heat on the bbq, basting from time to time.



The David Seal of Approval. He usually hates fish.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Lazy Cheesecake




This is my treat tonight.

I pedaled and pedaled so quickly to get home today. Two people called me at work to say that there would be a thunderstorm, so I had better be on my way quick. It was so windy on the bridge crossing over to Aylmer.



Yes, I bike to work in a dress. Thank you Victoire for always keeping me fashionable.

I love storms. After dinner, we went to the beach and watched the dark clouds and lightning. How delightful it is to live near water.



Now I am in the safety of our little house, about to devour the blackberry cheesecake. My mother used to do this very often for my father. She pretty much always made it with blueberries (I guess my father liked that...), but I also have very vivid memories of different fruit layered to make pretty patterns. Maybe that was to please me...

You need to try this. So easy. Creamy. Decadent. But still very summery.



My mum's cheesecake

1 block cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Bend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into crust. Refrigerate. Easy-Peasy.
I sometimes put a bit more cream cheese if I have it on hand so that it holds better, especially if I am doing a large tart - but if not, no worries, you just need to make sure that it gets a good 4 hours to set.

I like a graham crust. To be honest, I never measure.
Put about 1 Tbsp sugar to 1 cup graham cookie, then add melted butter until it just holds. Press down in a tart shell Bake in the oven, 325, for about 8 minutes. It should just start to golden, no more.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gazpacho & Avocado Sorbet




Ever since I went over to Rachelle's house, I have been craving gazpacho.

I am normally not a gazpacho fan, but my partner is... Gazpacho & bruschetta, they make him happy. Rachelle' husband made quite a different version than I - check it out if you like creamy soups.

This gazpacho though I like chunky, the sorbet with it was a definite hit. A must.

4 large tomatoes, seeds removed
1 large English cucumber
1 celery stalk
1 carrot, peeled
1 French shallot
2 cups tomato juice
1 cup V8 (would have wanted more tomato juice but had none, so V8 did it!)
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp Sambal
1 small bunch dill
1 small bunch cilantro
juice of one lime, one lemon
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water

Roast the red pepper, cool and peel. Blend all ingredients in a food processor. I started with the juice + garlic + carrot. Then added the celery and the rest of the ingredients (that I prefer a bit chunky)

for the avocado sorbet

1 ripe avocado, mashed
juice of 1/2 lime
cumin
lime
cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipped cream, whipped
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth and chill.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Marinated Flank Steak Tortillas with Guacamole



I love tortillas & tacos. Our trip to Mexico city a few years back was a tad motivated by this as well as corn on a stick (and, of course, the possibility of meeting Esqueleto and watching lucha libre)

Did I ever say that my dream would be to have a taco truck at my wedding, in the middle of a beautiful field... I would sit on a chair, just a wee bit away from my friends, and watch them silently from afar, crunching away on a crispy corn taco, a good enough distance so that they do not see my happy mess.

The tacos we had in Mexico were soft, just like tortillas. Also, they were quite small.
The guacamole was very, very spicy. Like, soooooo spicy, I cried.
It was quite a funny sight: we didn't see women eating at outdoor stands. Being the stubborn girl that I am, I made a beeline for my taco and generously garnished it, not caring what the men thought. One bite only, and the tears ran down my cheeks - it was worse than swallowing a large tablespoon of siracha. I finished it, more than a handful of locals watching. Pride, it makes you do silly things.

Guacamole

2 avocados, mashed
juice of 1 lime
pinch of cumin
pinch of salt
good handful of chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced

Flank Steak Marinade

1/2 cup oil
juice of 1 lime
1 French shallot, minced
2 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tsp cumin + 1 Tbsp for cooking
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp Sambal Olek (chili garlic sauce)
1 clove garlic, minced

Leave the beef to marinate overnight, this is a tough cut. Heat to BBQ to very hot and grill the beef for 3 minutes on each side - do not overcook, it will get tough. Sprinkle with cumin as you grill, if desired. Take off heat and rest for 5 minutes before cutting. Slice against the grain, very thin.

Serve with guacamole, salsa, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Warm Shallot Dressing

Sometimes I wish I was superhuman.
Even though I consider myself a pretty tough girl, I can't always manage to do all that I would want in a day, or have enough strength to do it all by myself.



Take for example the garden.
I have been procrastinating for weeks. I decided to double it in size this year.
In the last month, I worked on everything but... Tending to the flower beds, transplanting shrubs, bought a new tree, weeded the raspberry patch. And when I was done, I just went inside and baked goodies.

Yesterday I forced myself to do it. Bye bye lawn, make way for garden space.
I was at it for 45 minutes, then Simon came out to help, and he did 10 times as much as me in about 30 minutes. hmpf. boys. oh well, let me feed you...

We had a beautiful salad with greens from Rochon Farms. I love that there is dill in the mix.



I grilled some pork chops with herbs and garlic, as well as baby potatoes - we topped it all with a warm shallot dressing, it was perfect for the salad and meat - wonderful! The chops I bought at the Glebe Meat Market, it was my first visit: the service was quick and friendly, everything looked fresh, you actually had space to move around even though the space was packed. No attitude, I love it.




Warm Shallot Dressing

2 French Shallots, minced
1 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1/3 cup oil
1 Tbsp grainy mustard
1 large clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

On medium low heat, saute the shallots in butter until soft. Turn the heat down to low, add the vinegar, oil and garlic - cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat off, add the rest of the ingredients.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Raspberry and Rhubarb Tart



Can you see me?

Rhubarb is growing and growing in the garden.
Apart from the rhubarb, a few herbs also survived winter, lavender and thyme are particularly thriving.

I have been craving clafouti lately, so I thought that could inspire me for a tart.
As I grabbed some leftover dough from the freezer - because I just can't help making a quadruple batch... see? It comes in handy! - I also saw a bag of raspberries from our yard. It's about time I did something with them!! The plants are getting really big already, they are a beautiful dark shade of green and I can't wait to see little berries appear...

This is our breakfast today. Deliciously tart rhubarb, raspberries, delicately flavoured orange & maple custard.




Raspberry and Rhubarb Tart

about 8-9 stalks rhubarb
1 1/2 cups raspberries
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sugar
zest of one orange
3 egg yolks
1 egg
3/4 cup cream
1 Tbsp flour

Roast the rhubarb in the oven at 375 for about 15 minutes until soft. I kept the stalks whole as I wanted to use them in a long rectangular tart mold, but you can chop it up. Don't be surprised, it shrinks a lot.

Roll out your pie crust. Sprinkle the raspberries, then layer the roasted rhubarb.

In a bowl, mix the remaining ingredients and pour over the fruit. Cook at 400 for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 for about 15-20 minutes. The custard will rise and get slowly golden. Remove from heat and let cool before eating.
I love it cold the next morning, but can you resist?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Salads and Bicycles



I've started biking to work again, this is my favourite part of the ride home.
When I cross this bridge, I know I am close. I hear water. There is always a lovely fresh breeze.

I love how we start eating light again and how it is gets so easy with summer.
It takes less time to prepare dinner and we can eat in our backyard. Listen to birds. And soon, when the sun sets, the bats will come out. I am totally fascinated by them.

My dinner last night



A mix of avocado, red onion, orange, red pepper, balsamic, orange juice, olive oil.

The night before




Halloumi cheese tossed in flour, grilled in olive oil and finished with a splash of lemon, strawberries, cucumber, red onion, balsamic.

Yesterday's lunch?



Vermicelli noodles with tons of veggies, including my favourite: sweet peas.

...and yesterday's This-Just-Made-Me-Smile-For-15-Minutes moment:



A turtle crossing the cycle path.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jam Filled Hearts



I have a soft spot for jam filled cookies.
I used to stay in Quebec city for my summer vacation and would walk about 20-25 minutes in the quiet morning to get some at a bakery that I loved. I was a baker longing for a bakery. I walked alone, as the rest of the house slept and felt really peaceful about it, not lonely. On my way back, I ate the cookie(s) slowly, enjoying every bite, watching people around me, the sky, the city.

I made these this morning.
They were crispy, light and everything else I wanted them to be.



Sugar dough

1 1/2 cups flour (or more, your dough should just hold together)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract

Mix the flour, salt and sugar together. Incorporate into the butter and alternate with the extracts. Add just enough flour so that your dough holds. Refrigerate for 45 minutes. Roll out to a bit less than 1/4 inch and cut into desired shapes. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes until slightly golden. Cool. Spread jam on half the cookies and top with the other half. Sprinkle with icing sugar if desired.

That's my Lemon Tart!




On Black Eiffel.
I am blushing. I am so flattered. Oh my.
The recipe here.

Cilantro Lime Aioli...and pork skewers, gai lan, sweet potato fries.



This aioli was really a star at the table last night.

I initially did it for the sweet potato fries instead of a plain mayo, but Isabel started dipping her pork in it, next thing I knew, I was doing it too.



For the greens.
Wash them carefully (I hate crunching on sand!) and mix with sesame oil, lots of chopped ginger and garlic, and some salt. We cooked them on the grill in a foil pocket.

For the sweet potato fries.
Cut into matchstick and toss with garlic, sambal and a bit of oil. Pop in the oven at 350 for about 25 minutes.

For the skewers.
These were so tender - I marinated them before leaving for work in the morning...
A mix of canola oil, lots of garlic, lots of ginger, beer, soy sauce.

For the aioli.
In the bowl of a mixer, combine: 1 egg yolk, 1 large tablespoon of dijon, juice of 1 lime, 2 cloves garlic (or more!), salt and pepper. Slowly add the oil of your choice until the right consistency is reached (about 3/4 cup - one cup, taste as you go!) Start adding the oil drop by drop as the mixer is going, then add as a slow stream. Finish with chopped cilantro and more lime juice if desired.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Grilling Swiss Chard



I know. I have not been a good girl for posts lately.
Frankly, they would not have been interesting.
I ate tons of veggies, developed an unhealthy obsession for grilled corn tortillas with sharp cheese, whizzed many beans for quick dips and had more than my share of udon, soba and rice noodles.

I also ate out more this week than I did in the past 6 months.
And I don't feel comfortable talking about other people's food. You never know: bad food day, something just waited too long to get served, flash of genius that one single time...
This blog is a journal for us to remember what we ate at home, and hopefully prompting us to share recipes that others could reproduce. Inspiration.

It dawned on me this week that more people than I imagined read this blog. I was surprised, I thought I had a few handfuls of faithful readers. I don't know what you expect my dears... Nothing spectacular happening here, just honest food. I am not a chef, I am a girl who loves cooking. I live to cook. I get up in the morning and think of food. Really.

...and really, you should grill Swiss Chard.
Toss it in a bit of olive oil & salt. A few minutes on the grill, it gets nicely wilted and crispy. Then toss with more olive oil, garlic. For even more sublime results, toss with a bit of aioli.

...and really, you should grill some potatoes and make a salad.



Lightly brush some cooked potatoes (just tender) with olive oil. Grill until nicely crisp. Toss with fresh aioli, green onions and herbs. We added a bit of lime to complement our chipotle ribs.



Yes, delicious, tender, crispy on the outside, pork ribs.
Cooked in beer, spices, tomato, onion. Reduce the sauce, whizz, baste, grill, enjoy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday Morning Pancakes



2 eggs
1 cup yoghurt
1/3 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder

With a whisk, incorporate the dry into the wet. Let rest for 30 minutes. Enjoy any day of the week.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Apple and Oka Tarts

I really love Oka cheese.

There is this little breakfast place in Montreal that has a cheese and fruit plate on the menu, I always have it. They give you four generous portions of cheese and beautiful fresh fresh fruit (the restaurant is called fruit folie after all) - this is where my love for Oka really started. I love the rind, the stinky smell, and most of all the combination of it with fruit.


We are guests at a bbq tonight, so I made these little tarts for dessert as I got up this morning. Cuties.


For the filling, a simple mix of apples, butter, maple syrup and tapioca as a thickener.


The crust:


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup butter

1/4 cup grated oka cheese (or more!!!)

1/4 cup sugar

Grated rind of one orange

pinch of salt

3 egg yolks

1 cup ice water


Cut the butter into the flour, sugar and salt. Add the grated rind and the oka cheese, mix in lightly. Beat the egg yolks with the water, lightly mix into the dough, taking care not to handle too much. You may not need all the water/egg mix, add just as needed.
Serve with extra Oka melted on top, ice cream or whipped cream.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

White Bean Dip



This is so easy and it screams summer!!!

I tried fresh beans and I have to admit that I prefer canned. Oh shame on me.

1 can white beans, rinsed
Zest of one lemon
Juice of half a lemon
2 cloves garlic (although I would put more if it was simply for me, I am a garlic lover)
Basil to taste
Flat leaf parsley to taste
1/3 cup good quality olive oil (half in the blender, half to drizzle over the finished spread)
Freshly ground pepper
Sea salt

Whiz it. That's it. Serve with crostini or fresh sliced bread.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chocolate and Caramel Layer Cake



Yesterday, I packed my pots and pans & cooked dinner for a birthday girl and her partner.

Many people that I have met in my life inspire positive thoughts, it is stronger than me : I wish to do nice things for them simply because they deserve it. Either they work so hard, they are having a sad period, or they are simply a joy to be around - I always love giving back.

If you ever need a chocolate caramel layer cake recipe to make someone happy, email me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spinach Salad with Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Thighs, Dates and Bleu Bénédictine



Blue Cheese and dates is a favourite combination of ours.
When invited to a party and asked to bring a little bite, this is what Simon always thinks about first. I usually split the dates open, stuff them with blue (or a mix of blue and cream cheese) and decorate with a mint leaf. Addictive.

To prepare the chicken for this salad, I started by laying flat the thighs and seasoning them with salt and pepper. Then, pitted the dates, stuffed them with Bleu Bénédictine. Put the dates, opening side down, on one end of the chicken thigh, then roll into a bundle. Wrap with prosciutto and, if grilling these on the BBQ, pierce with skewers to secure the parcel.



We cooked them on the top grill for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat, turning from time to time, keeping the lid closed. Turn off the gas and let sit in the hot BBQ for 5 minutes before slicing. We serve on baby spinach with a simple dressing of olive oil and balsamic.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Aged Cheddar and Apple Melt



Sauteed apple, aged cheddar, tiny raisins, little bursts of sweetness - how could I not want to start my week this way?

 
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