Thursday, June 23, 2011

Good Friends, Good Times, and Plenty of Good Food in Montreal

In  the center, my homemade mango coconut cake with lime curd. On either side ' tarte au citron'  and  'tarte aux pacanes' from two of our well known Montreal bakeries, Au Pain Doré and Prémier Moissan
Willie Nelson's lyrics, "On the Road Again" keep playing in my head as I try to sneak one last post before our move back to our place. I've missed my kitchen, as well as our beautiful view of the city that I love so much.  However I can't say I'm looking forward to the packing and unpacking involved. Funny how life works out, My friend's visit is also coming to an end as I'm about to head back to our own homestead. A Montreal hometown girl, she is heading back to the States following a whirlwind visit where we shared each other's company and indulged in good food and of course, good wine. After all, what else is to be expected when in Montreal, known for it's great food and joie de vivre!  Therefore if I may, instead of posting a recipe, I would like to share some of the photos taken by my friend Marilyn.

Just in case you don't hear from me in the next while, I will be thinking of you all.  I will take some much needed time to get things organized and sneak in some relaxation. I do hope that in my absence you continue to drop in, and delve into my blog's recipe archives. Until then, I bid you a brief  adieu.

 Marilyn's pics:

There is no better way  to enjoy the view and the company of old friends than on a terrace enjoying a 5 à 7 which is a Montreal tradition.

View from the terrace at l'Auberge du Vieux Port...Yup the circus is in town, that is Le Cirque de Soleil under the blue and yellow top.

Looking east, the Jacques Cartier Bridge and to the left the two story Bonsecours Market with its dome

More scenes taken in Old Montreal
The St. James Hotel an exclusive small boutique hotel favoured by the jet set during the Grand Prix and celebrities visiting our fair city

 Interior of the Royal Bank on Notre Dame St.

Fountain inside the Atrium at Montreal's World Trade Center

And no visit would be complete without a detour to Schwartz's Smoked Meat on rue St Laurent. Former Montrealers have been known to have the stuff shipped out of the province so they can they can get their fix of the world's best smoked meat. It's so legendary that a musical  play of the same name has played to sold out performances in Montreal

 Finally last but not least some of the dishes to celebrate good friendship....
 Roasted red peppers, made by my friend Ann. Recipe from an older post.
 Nibbles: olives, lupini beans and assorted breads
Homemade pizza with anchovies
Linguini with fresh tomatoes, spinach and fresh artisan  ricotta added at the end.

Shrimps with garlic, parsley and chili flakes

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tuscan White Bean and Sun-dried Tomato Dip

How many of you look for inspiration at your local farmer's market, grocery store or by simply rummaging through your pantry or fridge in order to come up with a recipe idea?  Spotting a jar of sun-dried tomatoes in my fridge was I all I needed to spruce up my standard Tuscan bean recipe. It's a great way to add some colour and extra flavour to this vegan friendly dish. Delicious and healthy, it's a great spread for crostini, dipping with homemade herb flavoured pita chips or veggie crudities.

1 can  (15 ounce) cannellini  white beans
8 pieces of sun dried tomatoes (marinated in herbs and oil)
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
1 small garlic clove
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Rinse and drain the beans. In a food processor, finely chop the garlic. Add the beans, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and pulse. Pour the oil in a steady stream through the feeder tube and continue processing until the required puree consistency.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chicken Dopiaza with Mayan Heirloom Squash

Mayan heirloom squash
This popular Northern India chicken curry recipe is adapted from Mridula Bajekar's book "Curry". Dopiaza typically combines two types of onions 'do' (two in Hindi) and 'piaza' (chicken). As I didn't have the chili powder nor the peppercorn called for in the original recipes readily available, I used chili flakes and ground pepper. I'm sure the chili powder would have enhanced the colour of the dopiaza. Although mine might look somewhat anemic, there were no complaints when it came to taste. To make it a more complete dish, I added some mild tasting Mayan squash. It was then served with homemade chapati and basmati rice. 
For all my vegetarian friends out there, this would probably work beautifully with tofu.

3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 small onion finely chopped
1 large Mayan onion (sweet onion) cut into large pieces (about 1")
2 bay leaves
8 cardamom pods
4 cloves
8 black pepper corns or black pepper (1/4 tsp)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
fresh ginger (about a 1"piece) finely chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp salt
4 tomatoes peeled chopped
4 Mayan squash, cut in large pieces
2 chicken breasts cut into 8 pieces

Heat about 2 tsp of oil in a large saucepan. Saute the Mayan sweet onions until soft. Remove and set aside. 

In the same pan, add the remaining oil and fry the bay leaves, the cardamon pods, cloves, chili flakes or powder if using, and pepper or peppercorns for about 2 minutes.
Add the finely chopped onion, garlic and ginger and fry for an additional 4-5 minutes. Add the remaining spices and continue cooking for a minute or two

Add the tomatoes, squash and water to the pan. Simmer for 5minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

Add the chicken and continue cooking for 15 minutes more.

Add the reserved onions and cook with the cover on for an additional 10 minutes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Best Hamburger Buns

Given it's BBQ season, I thought why not share the burger bun recipe I used for Chuck Hughes' super burgers in the"Hot Pepper Cook-off Challenge".  Many of you might say, why bother making them when burger buns are inexpensive and available everywhere?  Having made them, I can honestly say nothing compares with the taste and texture of homemade ones which have non of the unwanted additives. I also know from experience that few store bought buns will stand up to weight of the meat patty, and all the condiments we like to use on our burger. You also have the  added advantage of customizing the buns to your liking. I almost forgot to mention that they freeze well.
So if your in, here is the Canadian Living recipe I used.  Maybe these buns had a hand in helping me win the challenge?

 Suggestion: I like to sprinkle some coarse cornmeal on the baking tins before placing the buns on for baking.

Canadian Living "Best Hamburger Buns":
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast (2-1/4tsp)
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups all purpose flour
1 egg yolk
sesame seeds

In a large bowl dissolve the 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm water and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let it stand for about 10 minutes, until frothy.  In a microwave or a stove top heat the milk, remaining sugar, butter and salt on low heat  just until the butter has melted. Allow to cool to lukewarm before adding the yeast mixture.
Beat the mixture with and electric mixer while adding  3 cups of flour ( 1 cup at a time).

Once the mixture is smooth, incorporate the remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface


 Knead for 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic

Form into a ball and transfer to a large bowl which has been greased. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm draft- free place for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface.

Roll out into a log and cut into 16 pieces.

Form into small balls, stretch and pinch dough underneath to smooth the tops.

Sprinkle some coarse cornmeal on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet.some. Place the the buns about 2" apart.  Flatten slightly with your hands

cover and allow to rise until double in bulk..30-60 minutes.

Gently brush each bun with egg wash (egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water). Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake in a pre-heated 400º F oven for 20-25 minutes. The buns are done when tapped on the bottom the buns sound hallow.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Baby Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Poppyseeds.. A Winning Salad Revisited

I first posted this recipe last summer. This being the peak season for salads, I  simply couldn't resist digging up this post from my blog archives in order to once again, share with you  one of my favourite salad creations.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

What is there not to like in this salad?  Delicate baby spinach tossed with my orange vinaigrette, luscious strawberries, decadent caramelized pecans, crunchy poppy seeds; and  for the crowning touch a drizzle of homemade syrupy ' black gold', to create the most amazing summer salad. By the way, homemade balsamic reduction is what I like to refer to as my ' black gold'. It will enhance any food it touches.

My recipe for the orange vinaigrette will carry you through the week.  Just refrigerate and use it on your favorite salads or vegetables.

Macerated Shallots:
1 small shallot finely chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
In a small bowl macerate you shallots in the vinegar and sugar. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad. Strain the shallots prior to adding to the salad.

Caramelized Pecans
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans
In a small frying pan melt the butter, add the sugar and pecans and on medium heat cook for about 4 minutes to caramelize the pecans. Transfer to parchment paper to cool.

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons orange juice
zest of one orange (1 tablespoon)
1/3 cup balsamic white vinegar
2/3 cup grape-seed oil
In a bowl add the Dijon mustard, honey, orange juice and balsamic vinegar and whisk together.  Continue whisking and gradually incorporate the grape-seed oil. Season to taste. Makes approximately 1 cup. Refrigerate the remaining vinaigrette in a glass jar for later use.
To assemble:
6 ounces baby spinach
1/2 pint strawberries cut into wedges
1 tablespoon blue poppy seeds
grated orange zest
In a salad bowl add the spinach,strawberries, sprinkle in the poppy seeds and toss gently. Pour in the desired amount of orange vinaigrette and add the caramelized pecans. Gently toss and plate.  Drizzle with balsamic reduction.  Serves 4

Friday, June 10, 2011

Quinoa Papaya Salad with a Curry Vinaigrette

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) the proclaimed super grain of the future, in reality has been around since the Inca civilization. Not only is it high in protein with essential amino acids and gluten free but an excellent replacement for our favourite carbs, like rice and pasta. Light and easy to digest, it works beautifully in a salad as a main dish for those lazy hazy days of summer.

The classic Waldorf salad inspired my earlier recipe, whereas this time around I wanted to pay homage to all my blogger friends across the ocean and as well as those close by whose cuisine has given us so many wonderful curry dishes. My offering is a fusion of flavours, which I think compliment the papaya and curry dressing. Some of my favourite ingredients that I couldn't resist adding were raisins, pecans and apples.

Suggestion: Although my husband loved the results, I suggest using less dressing for the salad. No worries about the left over portion, the vinaigrette will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup light olive oil

In a small bowl add the curry powder, sugar, and salt. Whisk in the vinegar. Continue whisking while pouring in the olive oil in a steady stream.

1 1/2 cup organic quinoa (will double in size once cooked)
2 cups papaya peeled and cut into 1/2" to 1" pieces
1 apple peeled and cut into small pieces
1 cup cucumber, seeded and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Thompson raisins
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans ( for better flavour roast at 350ºf  for about 3-5 minutes)

Rinse the quinoa. Add the quinoa to 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover and continue cooking for 15 minutes. The quinoa is cooked when the grains become translucent and the white germ is visible. May also be cooked in a rice cooker.
Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool before tossing in  the remaining ingredients.
Pour in the desired amount of prepared vinaigrette and toss.
Makes 7 cups

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dinner in the Sky...Flying High in Montreal!

Fly me to the moon 
Let me sing among those stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars
 lyrics from the Frank Sinatra song "Fly Me To The Moon"

"Dinner in the Sky", a novel dining concept started in Belgium, turned more than a few heads recently in Montreal when 22 dining patrons were spotted, hoisted about 50 meters ( about 160 feet) in the air feasting on a meal prepared by the popular Le Local restaurant run by celebrity chef Louis-François Marcotte. The price per person for this once in a lifetime experience on the "ultimate terrace"..$240 for a five course meal. The event ran from June 1 to June 8 with several sittings per day. Never mind that most would find this too rich for their pocket book, how about the nerves or stomach of steel needed to actually be hoisted so high off the ground.  According to Jean- François Grenier, president of the "Dinner in the", this is definitely one to add to your "bucket list". Would you be up for this trendy dining experience?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp and Where's Waldo?

I'm sorry for going AWOL on all my friends but an unexpected move threw a wrench in my blogging agenda. Yup, due to some work being done in our loft, we had to pack up and move to a temporary abode. To think that in a few weeks, we will be once again be doing this same dance is somewhat disheartening. In the meantime, I'm just glad that we finally managed to set up a workable space for the computer which allows me to get back in touch.
Given our nomadic state, the kitchen accoutrements are somewhat limited so I was in quite a quandary when the urge to bake hit me. With no baking pans at my disposal, I settled on a traditional a fuss free fruit crisp, which could be easily baked in a casserole dish. As for the crispy topping your hands are the best tools for mashing the creamy butter into the oats, flour and brown sugar. Although I'm providing measurements, the great think about fruit crisps is that you can simply eyeball the amount of fruit and topping to accommodate the size of the cooking vessel at your disposal.

Fruit Filling

4 cups rhubarb cut into inch pieces
2 cups strawberries cut into large wedges
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cold butter cut into pieces
1/2 cup pecans roughly chopped
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl combine sugar and flour. Add the rhubarb and strawberries. Toss to combine.Transfer to a greased 9"inch pan or  a 2 qt. casserole dish.
In a separate bowl combine the oats, flour, pecans, salt and cold butter. Using your fingers or potato masher, cut in the butter into the flour oats mixture. The mixture will be clumpy. Spread the topping on the fruit filling and bake in a pre-heated 350ºF oven for 40-45 minutes. The topping should be golden brown.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Christmas in May...The Loot from the Food Challenge Win!


For all my friends who kept on asking me what the prizes were in the Chuck Hughes' SUPER BURGER cook-off challenge, I finally have the answer. I recently received this bag of goodies from the kind people at Food Network Canada. As you can see from the numerous cooking books included in my goodie bag, I'm going to be pretty busy trying out new recipes. The package also included some fun items like a potholder, a thermal lunch bag, bottle opener, note pads and even a CHUCK mug. 
A special thank-you goes out to Val Outmetzquine, community organizer at  for making all this possible. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Time to Celebrate My Hot Pepper Win!!...Lemon Chiffon Cake with Lemon Curd and Raspberry Filling


It's time to celebrate!  Thanks to your wonderful support I was honoured to be voted Chuck Hughes' Hot Pepper Challenge winner. I can't thank you enough for voting on my Super Burger. I  was in the company of two formidable competitors, AvaDJ and Alley_bee who did an amazing job on their burgers. Thanks to both of you for such a fun experience!
So then, what better way to celebrate than with a cake recipe post! The cake I chose for the occasion is one of my favourites.  It's an adaptation of Canadian Living's orange chiffon cake recipe.  Instead of using orange juice, I added the juice of one lemon and enough water to arrive at the amount of liquid called for in the original recipe. The  lemon curd filling  topped with fresh raspberries and my chantilly frosting makes for a special celebratory cake. Recipes for the lemon curd and chantilly frosting can be found by clicking on the link. The adapted cake recipe can be found below.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Tina of  Pinay in Texas Cooking Corner  for the awards she bestowed on my blog recently. I  invite you to check out her  authentic and delicious Filipino recipes  on her blog by simply clicking: Pinay In Texas Cooking Corner

Cake Batter
2 1/4 cups sifted cake and pastry flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks
8 egg whites
zest of one lemon or 2 tablespoons
juice of one lemon + enough water to make 3/4 cup 
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cream of tartar

In a large bowl, sift the flour, 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar,baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl whisk 6 egg yolks, the rind, 3/4 cup water/ lemon juice mixture and the 1/2 cup of oil.  Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth.  You can also use an electric beater. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, beat the 8 egg whites until foamy and then add the cream of tartar.  Continue beating until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar ( 2 tablespoon at a time), until stiff glossy peaks form.  Gently sir in 1/4 of the egg whites into the cake batter and then fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour into 2- 9" prepared cake molds (grease and line the bottom with parchment paper for easy removal after baking.).  Bake in a pre-heated 350º F oven for 35-40  minutesThe cakes are done if a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.