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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.