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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Coconut Meringues

This is a little late for the Christmas baking section but I got a little busy with preparations for Réveillon (Christmas Eve) which we were hosting for my family at a cottage in St-Sauveur, part of the Laurentian Mountains one hour north of Montreal.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Famous Secret Chocolate Chip Crisps

This is a secret recipe in our family.  I have never given it away because people loved the cookies so much that it gave me a chance to make them something special for birthdays, Christmas, etc.  However, I am finding that I can access my favorite recipes very easily on this blog no matter where I am in the world.  This is very convenient.  As we are going home for the Holidays, my daughter, Sarah, wants to make the cookies for her boyfriend and his family and therefore, to avoid transporting of the recipe, I have decided to post it so she can have it on hand.  It is a recipe that I found quite a while ago and modified a little to be more Canadian.  So here it is - this may be here for the Holidays only!  Enjoy!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tortellini in Brodo

I love to cook and the best days are those when I have hours to spend in the kitchen, trying new things and listening to music.   They say that living in the present moment is the way to find true happiness and if I am cooking, I can usually get there.   I think this is why so many people love to cook.  You have to be present and focused on what is happening; the smells, the colours, the sounds and finally the coming together of the end result.  A meal does not have to be complicated or expensive to be good.  But, I do think that it must be made with attention and love (of the people you are serving it to, of food, of simple pleasures, etc.) and this will invariably come through in the end.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Port and Pepper Sauce

 Angus beef patties with port and pepper sauce - easy weekday meal

A simple, plain meal can turn into something quite elegant and delicious with the addition of a great sauce.

Mike made this sauce that he served with a barbecued steak and got rave reviews - something along the lines of ''wow - you cook like a chef''.   It is pretty versatile and goes well with so many dishes (I leave out the pepper and use it with tourtière or replace the beef stock with veal stock and serve it with veal Schnitzel) - the technique remains the same.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

French Onion Soup

Ski season is just around the corner and nothing is better than coming home after a day out in the cold to a bowl of French onion soup.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thai Green Chicken Curry

I love Thai food.  I think that what makes it so good is the perfect balance of flavours and textures (sour, sweet, salty, bitter, crunchy and creamy). 

Green chicken curry has this combination yet it is another easy to go to recipe when I am not sure what to make for dinner.  The pantry is stocked with coconut milk, fish sauce (nuoc mam), green curry paste, peanuts, dried basil and chicken stock.  I try to always have frozen green beans (you can also use fresh) and boneless chicken breasts.  You can add your choice of fresh vegetables like carrots and red peppers for color and fresh basil.  It is best served with sticky rice (sushi type) to help absorb all the wonderful sauce.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Homemade Mac and Cheese

With garlic Naan bread

This is such good comfort food.  What makes homemade mac and cheese so good is that you can use any cheese that you like or a combination of cheeses to suit your tastes.  I am a big fan of jalapeno havarti and next time I will use it to make this recipe and give it some extra heat.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

I think that this is my favourite video.  The magic and the work of so many different forces are needed to create fruits, vegetables, nuts and beautiful flowers for us and I think we sometimes forget or take it for granted.  

That an apple tree yielding so much delicious fruit started as a single seed is truly magic.  It reminds me of this wonderful quote: 

“You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can't count the apples in a seed."

Enjoy!  This is truly beautiful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Red Snapper with Gingered Butternut Squash Sauce

I had some butternut squash soup and fork mashed potatoes as leftovers the other day in the fridge:

Adapting the soup to make a sauce to accompany fish is really quite easy and you can pretty much do this with any puréed vegetable soup (carrot, pea, etc.).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Breakfast Cake

I am always trying to come up with a healthy version of the recipes I make for Sarah. She is careful about gluten and sugar and these two conditions serve as my guide. The Sour Cream Pumpkin Bread is very popular in our house and everyone loves to eat it for breakfast. It's quick, not too sweet and loaded with pecans for protein and fibre (to hopefully tide you over till lunch).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Glazed Ham with Scalloped Potatoes

I really enjoy cooking but have to admit that planning what to prepare on a daily basis can be difficult.   It can be somewhat challenging to come up with new ideas for weekday meals.  Some variety is important, but ease of preparation and availability of ingredients in the kitchen (thus avoiding a stop at the grocery store on the way home) must be taken into consideration.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Favorite Quotes - Pinterest ♥♥♥

I recently discovered Pinterest and am completely hooked on it (thanks to my online mentors - Sarah & Kat).   I share things from my generation, i.e. recipes - and they teach me about amazing new things they know about, i.e. cool internet stuff.  Basically, this is an online bulletin board where you keep things that you like and that inspire you.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Montreal Restaurants and Friendship at L'Atelier

Beautiful friends Donna and Michèle (with Mike ♥)

It's good to be home!  We have spent 5 years abroad and the experiences we had were wonderful!  How lucky we have been to see some beautiful places, learn about different cultures and meet some amazing people.  During some of our best adventures:  skiing in the Alps, picking grapes in the Loire Valley, eating pasta in Italy, etc., we would always stop a moment in appreciation and invariably say:  ''Our friends would love this.  Wish they were here''.  Wonderful moments are just that much better when shared with friends!

We are back living in Montreal now and we are picking up where we left off five years ago (this is another sign of great friendships).  We love great food, great wine and trying out new things.  I don't remember Montreal having such a vibrant restaurant scene but am very pleasantly surprised.  Young, talented chefs are now offering a wonderful selection of culinary stops to fit every budget and taste.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Saffron Seafood Blanquette

Served with fennel, dill rice pilaf

A little crushed red pepper for colour

A good friend recently asked if I had a easy seafood recipe that would work well for a dinner party.

I don't cook a lot of seafood dishes but had made a coquille St-Jacques recipe a while back that was well liked.   The technique used for that recipe was my starting point but I wanted to give it a little bit of a Canadian twist.

Fennel, Dill Rice Pilaf

Simple rice preparation that goes well with any fish dish.  You can replace the fennel with another vegetable if you prefer.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

French Canadian Pea Soup

The soup with croutons and roasted beet, shallot and goat cheese toast

The other day, we discovered a wonderful old school type diner on Greene Avenue in Montreal called Chez Nick.

It was the kind of place that you feel instantly comfortable in.  The staff is friendly and it is without pretension - a place where you know it is all about simple, good food (and a great breakfast  -   a good diner has to have a great, cheap breakfast).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Apple Soup for Sarah

Happy birthday luv! xo

It was Sarah's birthday on the weekend and we were finally all together to celebrate with family and friends. 

I asked her what she wanted to eat for her celebration dinner and she said she didn't care as long as she could have pumpkin soup. Pretty simple but there were, however, some conditions:  it had to be healthy soup, no cream, butter, sugar, etc.  

The soup, therefore, had to have lots of natural flavor and the best way to do this was to roast the pumpkin.  This helps to concentrate the flavor by evaporating water and caramelizes its natural sugar.  The other challenge, was the texture.  By adding a little butter and cream, the soup becomes velvety smooth.  I had to find another way to do this.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Instead of throwing these out when you clean out your pumpkins, you can roast them with some spices and they make a great snack.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pepper Boursin Soufflé with Cherry, Pumpkin & Sunflower Seed Tuiles

One of my many wonderful discoveries in Switzerland was the gourmet food market at Globus (this is a high end department store).  Knowing I was into food, my friends recommended I go there to get the best local and imported products available.  It was great.

One of the finds I made was a cherry and flax seed cracker (I think it was from Italy).  I thought this would lend itself well to a cheese platter when we had guests.  When I got home, I wanted to try it and the only cheese I had on hand was Pepper Boursin cheese.  It turns out the the combination of two was really, really good.  The creamy and peppery texture of the cheese with the slightly sweet and crunchy texture of the cracker was amazing.  

Cherry, Pumpkin/Sunflower Seed Tuile

Very easy recipe than can be adapted to whatever you would like to serve them with.  Be creative with what you sprinkle on them.  Parmesan and fresh ground pepper is another great combination.  These are great as an appetizer with glass of wine.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sheppard's Pie (Our version)

Everyone has their own take on this classic.  This is an easy weekday meal to prepare and there are usually leftovers that can be brought to the office (or school) for lunch the next day.

In France, this is called hachi parmentier and it is made with duck confit and buttery mashed potatoes (great as a weekend version when entertaining and really easy to make - I'll try to make it for the next post).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Spicy Chicken Salad on Toasted Naan

Every once in a while I crave a chicken salad or club sandwich.  When this happens, I go to the grocery store and buy a roasted chicken and within minutes after arriving home I can sit and enjoy a little of what I consider one of my favorite comfort foods.

This sandwich is a little different in texture because of the Naan bread.  You can now find this leavened, oven baked flat bread at most grocery stores.  It is oval or round in shape and I cut in quarters and toast it to add a little crunch to the sandwich (it also makes this open faced version easy to eat).

Friday, September 14, 2012

Braised Pulled Short Ribs with Glazed Vegetables

The cooler weather is just around the corner and I have to admit that the Fall is my favourite time of the year.  

The best days are weekends spent at home relaxing while something slow cooks in the oven.  If there is a fire going, music playing and the house smells wonderful, I am truly happy.

I found some short ribs at the market the other day and was inspired to cook an end-of-Summer, pre-Fall slow roasted meal.  I was going to freeze it for Kat to bring back to school but we ended up having it for dinner because everyone was home (this also makes me very happy).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summertime Chocolate Fondue

It's summertime and the fruit is amazing.  Recently, when we were invited to a party and I asked if I could bring something, this idea came to mind.  Actually, it was inspired by my husband who suggested we buy a wonderful chocolate fondue that we found in Switzerland (that is actually from France) to bring back as gifts for friends and family in Montreal.

The fondue preparation itself is presented in clay jars that stay very warm once heated and work extremely well to keep the chocolate melted and at the right temperature.  We bought two flavours:  Dark Chocolate 70% cocoa with red pepper aroma (actually quite spicy and really good) and Dark Chocolate 70% cocoa with sea salt.  Both were amazing and added a little twist to the traditional basic chocolate fondue.  The jar needs to be heated on medium power in the microwave for two minutes at a time until the chocolate is the right temperature and consistency.  Very easy.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Salmon Tartar - Asian Style

Served here with baked Lays potato chips or toasted baguette

In our family we use the expression ''mish mash'' to describe a dinner when we will just go through the fridge and freezer and put a bunch of easy (but good) things together to create a meal.  Actually, this is one of our favorite ways to eat because everyone prepares their favorite item and it all comes together buffet (or tapas) style.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Galettes à la mélasse - Family Favorite!!!!

A little while back, I asked my mother to send me our favorite family recipes so I could put them on the blog.  She quickly obliged and sat down at the kitchen table to neatly and clearly write them out for me.  I received them a few days later in the mail with a lovely note (it still makes me happy to receive something in the mail - thanks mom).

Monday, July 9, 2012


For some reason, all the men I know seem to have a soft spot for these crisp gingerbread cookies.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bacon, Chive and Cheese Gougères

One of the most difficult parts of moving to a new place is establishing a new social network.  I have been lucky enough to find the International Women's Club of Lucerne here and it has truly helped me with the integration. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Asparagus Vichyssoise with Grison Beef Shavings

Served at room temperature, this is an easy summer appetizer to prepare ahead of time.

Weekend version:  Asparagus
Vichyssoise Verrine with Sweet
Onion Cream and Tarragon Gelée

It's asparagus season here in Switzerland and they are beautiful!

I have a moment of great joy when I see the first asparagus arrive at the market. It is one of Spring's ephemeral gifts that must be enjoyed during the short time that it will be available.  I also know that it is just the beginning of what nature will have to offer during the upcoming weeks.  Wonderful cherries are just beginning to show up and will soon be followed by sweet strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.  Life is good!

My cousin, her husband and dear friend were visiting last night from Quebec City.  It is always a joy for us to have family and friends over.  We enjoy hearing the news of what is happening back home and it gives us a chance to reconnect with our Canadian traditions, memories and way of life.  We reminisced about our youth and as usual, every fond memory had an association with food.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Marinated Beef or Chicken Brochettes

Served with grilled vegetables, smoky grilled garlic bread and a glass of proseco.  Summer ♥
I recently came back from a quick trip to Montreal to help my daughter move out of her residence after her first year at University.   As her summer job, she has decided to go participate in a reforestation project in Northern Ontario, A & M Reforestation, which will involve a lot of demanding and hard work.   She likes to challenge herself that way.  Go Kat!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Guiness Bread with Smoked Salmon

When I started researching how to make Guinness bread, I read many posts that suggested serving it topped with smoked salmon.  Ireland also produces wonderful smoked salmon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Milan: Mushroom, Pine Nut Rotondo with Pesto Parmesan Froth

Served with a small mesclun salad and pepper Parmesan tuile
This is a 2nd take on the mushroom pasta recipe from the last post mushroom tagliatelle.  It has a few more steps but is not overly complicated.  It's great as a weekend meal when you have more time in the kitchen to enjoy the whole creative cooking process.  

Note:  The frothy sauce for this recipe is just a basic sauce which is whipped just before serving.  This allows you to keep the sauce light but give it a little more texture.  The cream (fat) ensures that it will stay frothed a little while, but it does not last long so it has to be done right before serving. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Milan: Relaxed Elegance and Mushroom Pasta

Weekday version:  Mushroom Tagliatelle

Weekend Version:  Mushroom, Pine Nut Rotondo with Pesto Parmesan Froth
I am blessed to have many Italian friends and they represent generosity and passion for me.  Again, this is reflected in meals we get to share with them.  The food and wine are abundant and delicious and the conversation is always lively and spirited.  It is always a joy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Weekend in Dublin: Lemon, Cranberry Scones ♧

Scones... ❤☺ - what more can I say!

When I go to Dublin, I allow myself a little indulgence.  When you have the chance to visit a place where they prepare something perfectly, it would just be wrong not to enjoy it.  I would never abstain from eating a baguette or croissant in Paris and so, when in Ireland, I allow myself this moment of pure pleasure.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Weekend in Dublin: Colcannon

The reasons I LOVE Dublin:
  1. The people are kind and generous of spirit and this is reflected in their cooking, be it at Michelin starred restaurant www.lecrivain.com/ or one of the local pubs;
  2. They speak English and I understand them - most of the time;
  3. There is music everywhere;
  4. There are wonderful traditional pubs;
  5. There is great shopping and amazing food stores;
  6. There are tons of ethnic restaurants;
  7. Guinness bread!  made with molasses - so good!
  8. Scones for breakfast - or any time of day for that matter!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Maple Syrup Time! - Pudding au Chômeur or Maple Sticky Pudding

I think that every country has a food that you associate it with.

In Canada, we are lucky and have a few great products that we are known for.  Amongst others, the West coast has wild pacific salmon and the Central provinces produce high quality beef.  I do think, however, that we are best known for our maple syrup.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Skiing and Potatoes! Swiss Rösti

I really do enjoy skiing when conditions are good and one of my favorite times of the day is when we stop for lunch.  I am always amazed that ski hills in the Alps offer such a great variety of restaurants at different altitudes (seriously, you have to get all the food up there).