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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Falafel and Lemon Tahini (Vegan)

Inspiration:  The wonderful falafel at Zyara (Montreal).

Julienne a Lebanese cucumber and raw beet as garnish as well as diced tomato.

I have been wanting to make my own falafel for a while now but just didn't seem to have the courage to tackle it until things began to align over the last few days and some people generously shared their knowledge and experience with me.  The chef from Zyara - in my opinion the best Lebanese restaurant in Montreal (actually Brossard) - came out of the kitchen when I was there with a good friend recently, to explain in great detail how he makes his delicious falafel.  I left with his little hand written note indicating what I would need to recreate his recipe.  In true chef fashion, the basic ingredients were noted but none of the actual quantities. This would require that I use my own instincts, and a little research, to come up with a falafel recipe that I felt was as good as his.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maple Churros with Rich Vanilla Cream

Inspiration:  Dinner and a shared desert with some of my wonderful girlfriends at Ottavio.   Some of life's greatest pleasures  = girlfriends, desert and dinner - in that order.

This is basically a choux pastry batter that is deep fried instead of baked.  The result is a surprisingly light beignet style desert.  I decided to dust them with maple sugar after blotting them a bit post frying (it's maple syrup time in Quebec), but you can sprinkle them with regular sugar, icing sugar or leave them as is.  Paired with this intense vanilla pastry cream, it is really hard to stop at only one.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cabane a Sucre Style Puffy Omelets (Cabane a Sucre = Maple Sugar Shack)

Inspiration:  Le temps des sucres - maple syrup time in Quebec.

As the snow begins to melt in Montreal, we inevitably start thinking of cabane à sucre (the sugar shack).

Friday, March 11, 2016

Guinness Bread ♣

We recently had one of the best meals we have had in a long time at l'écrivain in Dublin.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Irish Colcannon (Vegan)

Inspiration:  Discovering Colcannon in Dublin at KC Peaches and the excellent brunch at EVOO in St-Henri (Montreal) !  

Traditional Irish staples of potatoes and cabbage come together in this recipe. What seems like a very simple dish is really quite amazingly delicious. Roasting the cabbage and cauliflower makes them sweet and adding them to the creamy mashed potatoes creates a surprisingly good combination of flavours and textures. Try to use the Yukon Gold potato if you can - they have the best flavour.  For some reason, they seem hard to find in Montreal these days- don't know why because I used to be able to buy them at the grocery store - but I was able to find them at the Atwater market.   

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Chocolate, Orange Scones

This is a recipe I used to make a long time ago and pull out every once in a while when I am in the mood for a delicious, not too sweet, buttery scone.  It brings back memories of the wonderful scones we ate when in Dublin and as St-Patrick's day is just around the corner, I was inspired to make a quick batch.   Orange and chocolate is one of my favourite flavour combinations (I love dark chocolate covered candied orange rind).  They puff up very nicely and are crisp on the outside and fluffy and tender on the inside.   You can sprinkle them with icing sugar or drizzle extra dark chocolate on top to finish.  I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Irish Guinness Stew

Inspiration:  Helping out a friend for an upcoming St-Patrick's day celebration 🍀 and for my Irish husband (who really enjoyed this).

The addition of some coffee and dark bittersweet chocolate helps to bring out the roasted flavours of the guinness beer in this recipe - otherwise its flavour is almost all lost in the cooking process.  The result is a rich, velvety and shiny gravy with so much flavour.  A little maple syrup is added at the very end for balance - we are Irish Canadian after all!  The veggies are cooked separately, glazed and added at the end in order to preserve their texture and flavour.  A few different cuts of beef were tried to test the texture of the meat and a boneless cross rib roast yielded a perfect, tender, flavourful bite.   You have never had stew this good!  Serve with some traditional soda bread or some Guinness bread.  I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Puffed Crepes with Maple Lemon Mascarpone Butter

Inspiration:  Pannekoeken (Dutch pancakes) and Yorkshire Pudding

Alternately, you can cook the batter in a pre-heated cast iron skillet - very dramatic and so good!

It took me three tries to get these right.  Sometimes, what seems like the easiest recipes can be the most difficult to perfect.  I can now speak from experience and tell you that the right batter and a non-stick muffin tin will yield a delicious - crispy on the outside, hollow and chewy on the inside - puffed crepe.     This is my take on a sweet Yorkshire pudding and Dutch pannekoeken (or Dutch babies).  They were really good with the maple lemon marscapone butter, but they were excellent with good old butter and maple syrup.  Now you can cook a quick dozen delicious crepes for breakfast without standing by the stove (it actually made 11 for me). They are best when served straight from the oven.  I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Rich and Intense Mushroom Broth with Butternut Squash Amaretti Ravioli

Inspiration:  The pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter sauce sprinkled with crushed amaretti cookies we had at Harry's Bar in Cernobbio, Italy.  

Serve with some brown butter cooked enoki mushroom and pine nuts.  Rich and delicious.

This intensely rich mushroom broth goes so well with pasta.  Use a good store bought ravioli of your choice or create your own butternut squash amaretti raviolis if you have time.  I also use it when I make mushroom risotto - just spoon a little around the cooked risotto when plating.  Soooo good!

Butternut Squash Amaretti Ravioli

Inspiration:  Lunch at Harry's Bar, Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy

Make your own pasta (see below) or use wonton wrappers when pressed for time - both are great- create the shape you like!

Served with an intensely rich mushroom broth and brown butter enoki mushrooms and pine nuts - so incredibly good!
I have made fresh homemade pasta or used wonton wrappers, that you can find in the frozen section of your supermarket, to make these.  Both work well.  Don't be intimidated to make fresh pasta though.  Once you have done it once, you gain confidence and it becomes a great, creative way to spend a few hours.