Monday, September 15, 2014

Lime and Black Pepper Spaghetti Squash

Serve with roasted cherry tomatoes, parmesan, rosemary nuts and fresh basil

This recipe was inspired by a bag of chips I bought recently that were lime and black pepper flavoured. They were delicious and I quickly decided that I love anything with lime and black pepper.

My initial idea was to create a lime and black pepper risotto or pasta dish but the wonderful maintenance man in our condo left me a beautiful basket of fresh produce from his garden.  This offering included two huge spaghetti squash and so I thought I would try this idea with the squash.  This is really easy to make and the result was delicious.  This would make an excellent side dish for fish or meat as well as a surprising appetizer.  This dish is also completely vegan (without the parmesan cheese) and is loaded with lots of flavour.  Enjoy!

You will need:  for 4 - 6 servings

  • 1 medium - large spaghetti squash, halved and seeded (use a spoon to scrape out the centre flesh and seeds)
  • Olive oil
  • zest of 2 fresh limes
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) of hazelnut oil
  • fresh black pepper
  • salt
  • flavoured nuts of your choice, parmesan shavings and fresh basil as garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C);
  2. Drizzle olive oil over the flesh of the squash and place, cut side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet;
  3. Cook in the centre of the oven until the flesh is tender when pierced with a sharp knife (about 30 - 40 minutes);
  4. While the squash is cooking, mix the lime zest (2 limes), hazelnut oil (1/4 cup - 60ml) and freshly ground black pepper (to taste, but be generous as it should have a little kick) together in a small bowl;
  5. Once the squash is cooked, remove from oven and, using a fork, scrape out the flesh (it will resemble short strands of spaghetti).  Place it is a sieve and allow to strain for 5 minutes;
  6. Place the cooked squash in a bowl and gently mix in the lime, hazelnut oil and black pepper mixture;
  7. Season generously with salt.
  8. Serve with your choice of spiced nuts (I used the rosemary nuts from Noix du marché at the Atwater Market), fresh basil and parmesan shavings.

Thought and smile of the day:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Deep Dish Salted Butter Caramel Apple Pie

These are Cortland apples -very crunchy and not too sweet

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to teach a cooking class to two wonderful little girls.  They wanted to learn the technique for making one of their favourite deserts - apple pie.  

This worked out perfectly because apples are now in season.  They are plentiful at the market and we are very lucky to be able to select from a great variety of locally grown apples here in Quebec.   My preference is for the very hard (crunchy) apples that are not too sweet with Spartan, Cortland and Macintosh as my favourites.  For apple pie, I prefer the harder varieties as I like the fruit to still have a bit of texture once cooked. 

This pie is wonderful served warm with some good vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

You will need:  for one deep dish double crust pie


  • 2 cups (300g) of white flour
  • 1/4 (55g) cup of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup + 3tbsp (150g) of cold salted butter (=1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) of cold milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour (300gr - 2 cups), sugar (1/4 cup - 55g ), cinnamon (1/2 tsp) and vanilla powder (1/4 tsp);
  2. Cut cold butter (1/2 cup + 3 tbsp or 150g) into small pieces and mix into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs (a food processor, using the pulse option, works also very well to do this);
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the cold milk (1/4 cup - 60ml ) and beaten egg (you can also add 1/2 tsp of liquid vanilla here if you do not have the powdered vanilla) and stir into the flour, butter mixture with a fork.  
  4. When dough comes together, knead a few times (not too much) to create a smooth round dough - flatten it into a disk, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the apple filling:
  • 8 large apples
  • 1/4 cup (65g) of salted butter
  • 3 tbsp (23g) of flour
  • 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (90g) of brown sugar
  • 1/4 (60ml) cup of water
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 tsp of milk or cream (for egg wash)
  • granulated sugar to sprinkle over the top crust

  1. Melt the butter (1/4 cup - 60g)  in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the flour (3 tbsp - 23g) and whisk to combine and create a paste (roux).  Cook for about one minute to remove the flour taste;
  2. Add the brown sugar (1/2 cup - 90g), water (1/4 cup- 60ml), cinnamon (1 tsp) and vanilla extract (1 tsp)  and whisk to combine.  Whisk until the carmel thickens (about 2 minutes).  Remove from heat.
  3. Once the caramel is ready, you can begin to peel and slice the apples individually into the caramel mixture (avoid peeling and slicing the apples before as they will turn brown).  Once the apple is sliced, stir it gently into the caramel until it is well covered (this will also prevent the apples from browning).  Repeat this with all 8 apples.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C);
  5. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and separate into a piece that represents 2/3 of the dough for the bottom crust and 1/3 of the dough for the top crust;
  6. Roll out the dough into a circle that will fit into the bottom of the pie plate with a 1/2 inch (13mm) overlap;
  7. Separate the egg and brush the bottom dough with egg white to form a barrier that will help prevent the crust from getting soggy once the apples are cooked and have released their juice.  Return to the fridge while you are rolling out the top crust.
  8. Roll out the top crust into a circle that will cover the pie plate, cut shapes or designs (your choice) that will allow the steam to escape while the pie is cooking;
  9. Fill the bottom crust with the apple caramel mixture and brush the edge with the egg white to help seal it to the top crust;
  10. Fold the top crust in half and lift over the apples to cover one half of the pie.  Unfold to cover the apples completely and press the edges together to form a seal.  Trim the edge so that it is even all around and crimp to create the desired design (here is a wonderful video from Fine Cooking showing how to create a decorative edge).
  11. Mix the egg yolk and milk (1 tsp) together with a fork to create an egg wash and brush evenly over the top crust of the pie.  Sprinkle with the sugar and bake for 35 - 40 minutes in the bottom section of your oven.  Turn the pie around a few times to ensure an even golden crust.

Smile and thought of the day:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Smoked Trout Rillettes

Serve with a little spicy red pepper jelly

Following our wonderful road trip - we decided to buy a smoker!

The goal of our trip to Gaspésie was to rediscover what our wonderful province and its people have to offer in the way of food, beauty and inspiration.

We were not disappointed and find ourselves now richer with a knowledge and better understanding of a simple rural way of life that in no way limits, but rather inspires, great food and products.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Vegan Bridal Shower: Plum Tomato and Watermelon Bites, Fig and Mixed Olive Tapenade, Fennel and Basil Veganaise Dip, Carrot Cake, Mixed Berries with Vanilla Sugar

Plum tomato and Watermelon bites
As the big day approaches for Sarah and Kevin , it is time to begin the celebrations.  

One of the greatest things about an upcoming wedding is the opportunities it affords us to reconnect and catch up with people who have been and important part of Sarah and Kevin's lives.   Last weekend, my mother-in-law,  and Kat hosted a wonderful bridal shower for the future bride.  It was a beautiful event held on a beautiful day.  The theme was a traditional tea party and the ladies wore hats!  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Île d'Orléans, Charlevoix, Tadoussac

The views here are spectacular!

Absolute highlight so far - watching the whales surface repeatedly in the Bay in Tadoussac!

This region is rich with beautiful landscapes and kind, smiling people.  We have discovered some very good regional products here so far, with the most intriguing being the Emu.  Described a cross between goose and beef in taste, these large birds were brought in from Australia and are raised in St-Urbain in the Charlevoix region.  I have to admit I am a bit surprised but excited to try a few recipe ideas with this new ingredient - who knew - Emu from Québec!  We bought the Emu terrine and were guaranteed that this appetizer would be a surprising, resounding success:  cracker, cream cheese, Emu terrine, pepper jelly (or jelly of your choice), top with a local strawberry, raspberry or blueberry.