I mostly cook from scratch which is my my way of making sure my family eats healthy foods. My bechamel doesn’t come from an envelope and my—killer—tomato sauce is homemade. Once in a while, like any harried mom, I will open a jar of something or other to improvise a quick supper. Which [...]
In a previous post, I reviewed one of the books that made me yearn for the world to stop for like, hum, a year (?) just so I could cook my days away: Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America by Maricel E. Presilla. The definitive, encyclopedic resource for latin food lovers, it [...]
Disclosure: A shortened review of this book was submitted to Food52 as part of its “Community Picks” Contest. I didn’t win, but this reviewer did. Couldn’t have said it better myself. My hometown of Montreal is the furthest thing imaginable from a Latin American food mecca. Our summer is too short to grow [...]
Should you take a trip down memory line and visit this blog’s archive, you will discover quite a few cream of vegetable soups, courtesy of my picky eaters. Soup has long been a necessary means to an end around these parts as I try to entice kiddo to eat his vegetables. Add a chunk [...]
These days it feels like every new post should start with a great big Mea Culpa. I have not been fair to this blog, ignoring it for weeks at a time. In my defense, I am working on 4 different cookbooks this year alone, some as a ghostwriter (translation: no can talk about it), some [...]
I first discovered Boreal spices d’Origina through chef Martin Gagné of Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations in Wendake, Quebec. One of 80 chefs featured in my À la bonne franquette cookbook, he chose these indigeneous spices from Canada’s forests as his “coup de coeur” or fave local product. From Labrador tea to sweet gale [...]
It was the kind of challenge I relish: convince 10 of Quebec’s top chefs to play the healthy card by creating gourmet recipes for the Montreal Heart Institute and the nutritionists at its EPIC Centre. A unique cookbook that could also serve to raise funds for the Institute’s well-respected and much-needed Foundation. The [...]
Own-up time: I had multiple posts planned to launch the new year. I wanted to talk to you about eggs, French toast, raisin bread and, best of all, my fave iPad apps (thanks to Monsieur for the Christmas present). Then, family issues got in the way. Forgive me for not expounding, I’m a little [...]
Our family has a thing for octopus. As in we love it, tenderly so. In a salad or a stirfry, roasted on the barbecue, name it, one look at those tentacles and we are primed for a group hug. From the Sichuan Octopus at Chinatown’s Chuan Xiang Qing (top photograph but maybe closed?) to the [...]
Su, La cuisine turque de Fisun Ercan60 recettes de mezePublisher: Éditions TrécarréPublished Fall 2011 27,95 $ Newly published, you will find it on Amazon. In French only. __________________________________________________________ >>>Why meze? For this 1st post of 2012, how about we look back at the Christmas Eve dinner that was served at our house? Since [...]
People often ask what’s my favourite cuisine. Do I prefer Indian, Greek or Mexican food? Could I live without curry, feta cheese or avocado? Truth is, I could never choose. When in Mexico, I will suddently crave the saltiness of soy sauce or the chewiness of bagel, even though I love flank steak smothered in [...]
Market Chronicles:Stories & Recipes from Montreal’s Marché Jean TalonÉditions CardinalPublished: Fall 2011$39.95 Newly published, you can find it everywhere and on Amazon.ca in French only (!). For an English version, ask a local bookstore or friend. __________________________ Why this book? • For once, I can present to my English readers a Québec cookbook in their [...]
I still remember when my son would eat anything you put on his plate, a 2 year-old on a holy quest for the grail of new taste sensations.Then, he entered the picky years and everything pretty much screeched to a halt. Although he is slowly outgrowing his NO period, you should see the shocked look [...]
If you read this blog regularly, then you know that I live with two picky eaters: my son and his dad. One is 5 years old, the other 42. Call it genetics or bad luck, they can both get pretty stubborn about what they will or won’t agree to even taste. As a foodie mom [...]
Les recettes secrètes de nos mères 200 mets réconfortants qui nous rappellent notre enfance Magazine Coup de Pouce/Les Éditions Transcontinental Published: Fall 2011 $29.95 In the French section of this blog, I review the newest cookbook by magazine Coup de Pouce devoted to family homecooking Québec-style. Beyond the iconic dishes of our past, such [...]
Just in time for that week-end cooking spree because you wisely (!) wish to capitalize on squash season, here’s the 3rd recipe excerpted from the new Québec cookbook Sous le charme des courges et des citrouilles (“Charmed by squash and pumpkin”) by Chatelaine food writer Louise Gagnon. I reviewed it here, in French only, in [...]
When asked, my cheese-phobic 5 year-old usually identifies Mac’n Cheese as his favourite dish. I know he loved the version served at his daycare, responsible among other things for introducing him to ketchup and grilled cheese made in the oven… So whenever I make Mac’n Cheese, he looks completely delighted, until he takes a bite. [...]
Sous le charme des courges et des citrouilles Louise Gagnon Les Éditions de l’homme Published: Fall 2011 Cost: $34.95 Newly published, you can find it in library and on Amazon.ca. ______________ On the French side of this blog, I review this new Québec cookbook devoted to everything squash and pumpkin. I give it a thumbs-up. [...]
Corn on the cob boiled simply, smothered in butter and salt, has to be one of my favourite meals as a kid. Young, I spent all my summers in Vermont and can still remember when my father would load the trunk with heavy bags of fresh corn for the annual corn party. The corn would [...]
Apollo2 Improvisations culinaires signées Giovanni Les Éditions Transcontinental Published September 2011 $34.95 In the French side of my blog, I review this cookbook, which may or may not interest English readers. (By the way, I give it a thumbs-up.) Here you will find 2 of the recipes tested in judging the book. If you [...]
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to the launch of Weston’s Première Fournée breads along with several Montreal bloggers and journalists. In the “it’s a small world” category, I also happen to freelance for the bakery, which the inviting promotional agency didn’t know. Maybe you’ve found yourself comatose at the breakfast table, sleepily [...]
In the last year, multiple vegetarian cookbooks were published worldwide as more and more of us flirted with flexitarianism*. Quebec followed suit with at least 5 cookbooks that I can think of, 3 of which I bought. It’s not surprising. Truth is, I was a vegetarian for 7 years before I met a hardened carnivore [...]
A few months ago, I sort of reviewed here a Quebec cookbook: Deux folles et un fouet by Jessica Barker and Rafaële Germain, that I quite liked. Why? Because the recipes are simple yet company-worthy, and quite tasty despite the fact they often require few ingredients. I had given myself one guideline when [...]
A stainless steel monster on our worn-down backyard deck, there it stands: the new President’s Choice barbecue grill, bought on the spur of the moment at discount chain Maxi. Its lower-than-low price explained itself as soon as we opened the box: we had found and without searching, thank you very much, the Ikea of barbecue [...]
There are few dishes that can put our whole family on the same page. With a food writer mom always looking to try something new; an African dad who never outgrew his pickiness; and a 5 year-old who mostly swears by plain pasta and peanut butter, the dining table can turn into quite the battleground. [...]
I must confess, Deux folles et un fouet (Two crazy women and a whisk), the cookbook from Rafaëlle Germain and Jessica Barker talked to me from the get-go. Unabashedly pink, pro-joy of life and addicted to fat and salt, it’s got a cool, friendly vibe. But let’s face it, everybody and her mother seems to [...]
The book is called Kuizto, a fund-raising initiative by Québec’s La Tablée des chefs which has for mission to feed needy families and teach food autonomy to future generations, most notably through cool chef workshops. I received the book from my own publisher, Éditions Transcontinental, who wanted me to provide some good publicity, given that [...]
Truth be told, I’m not sure I am doing you any favour by sharing this quick & easy dip for your next party—or maybe just to get the kids snacking on crudites (I am allowed to dream, right?). Because, as the title says, it is downright addictive. I have seen friends slather it on burgers, [...]
Monsieur and I love Indian food, the kiddo not so much. I still remember how, as a two-year-old, he would moan with delight while eating a mild chicken curry, all my friends were astounded. But Indian fare became a total no-no when Junior entered his picky phase and the Cilantro-crazy Quickie Shrimp Curry I made [...]
The Eggplant Saga inspired by Stefano Faita’s Entre cuisine et quincaillerie cookbook ends here with his Eggplant caviar bruschetta. In his book, the chef reveals that this recipe was first published in the March 2006 issue of dearly-departed Gourmet magazine devoted to the Montreal food scene. In his tips, Stefano Faita suggests that you serve [...]
Our family is ratatouille-obsessed from kid to dad. For my 4 year-old, Ratatouille is first and foremost a cute rat who, nothing there, cooks in a grand Paris restaurant. He has watched the movie so often that whenever he sees anything resembling the Eiffel Tower, say a church spire or power line tower, he squeals: [...]
Recipe adapted from “Entre cuisine et quincaillerie” from Québec chef Stefano Faita Éditions Trécarré Published in 2007 $27.95 The book is sold out but, according to a Québec bookstore, it may be in reprint. _______________________ If I told you that, of all the Quebec cookbooks in my library, the one I’ve cooked from the most [...]
The story reeks of déjà heard. You do a special grocery after work just to buy the required ingredients. Finicky as heck, you double check that the boneless shoulder roast weighs 3.5 lbs as dictated, no more, no less. Once home, it’s everybody out of the way cause YOU are cooking. You start by searing [...]
It’s the Deluxe Edition printed in 1975. The only cookbook my mother owned, that and a Five Roses Flour spiral guide. It’s covered in plastic wrap like my old school books, most probably the victim of a back-to-school afternoon of textbook-covering frenzy that got out of hand. The title is an indicator of the times: [...]
After cooking Québec chef Jérôme Ferrer’s Celeriac-Butternut Millefeuille, from Les secrets des légumes, I was left with half a squash. The mother in me thought “If I leave that half-butternut in the fridge, I’ll lose it”, so I decided to cook a second squash recipe from the same book. (If you speak French, my review [...]
English blogs that test recipes for you are a dime a dozen. From Cookthebook.ca to Magazine Mondays Club and food blogs that “adapt” recipes from both books and magazines (think SmittenKitchen.com), many bloggers provide opinion, insight and recipes from recent publications. In Quebec, I have found no such equivalent. Yet we publish many cookbooks and [...]
When I was a kid, my mom would often serve me my best food: Velveeta Spaghetti. Cooked pasta mixed with 1 can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup for sauce and enough Velveeta Cheese to make the creamiest, cheesiest, richest mac’n cheese you could dream of. I’d eat at least two plates of it, then return before [...]
In a town where good food is celebrated, cooking schools abound. There was a time when Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, the professional chef school, was open to the public. While its teachers relished the opportunity to share their food mojo in a more fun-driven, relaxed atmosphere, those days are over, I’m told [...]
I’m not a Crockpot Diva. As a home-based freelancer I’m generally on hand to supervise whatever is simmering away on the stove. But I do have my faithful crockpot parked in the basement, which I take out for a spin once in a while. Or to save a near-death kielbasa like here. So when I [...]
Making my peace with Martha Stewart
I long associated Martha Stewart with Superwoman, someone I tried hard NOT to be. I’m a lousy housekeeper who can’t survive without a cleaning lady. I cook but let my husband do the dishes. I even pile dirty clothes in a corner of our bedroom like a teenager at heart. In other words, I may be the anti-Martha.
I remember watching her show years ago when Martha was showing us how to make a three-tier wedding cake from scratch, including pretty little marzipan flowers. I freaked. Not only did it feel out of my comfort zone; it felt out-of-touch with the real lives of real women. So I never watched the show again.
Years passed during which I became a full-time food writer always on the lookout for interesting recipes. And so it happened one day that, preparing for a get-together, I pulled a recipe for spicy ginger cocktail nuts out of my Filemaker 8,000+ recipe database. A Martha recipe. I may have snorted “yeah right” and certainly I hesitated, my bias was that strong. But I am both pecan and ginger crazy, so I put my reservations aside and cooked the best darn cocktail nuts of my life. Thus started my Martha rehab.
When I started to Twitter a year ago, only a few weeks had passed before I received notification that Martha Stewart was following me. I fell off my chair. I was stunned, excited and, dare I say, humbled. I’m not star struck, believe me. I have worked with Québec artists on various advertising projects, I even crossed path late at night in a Montreal park with my personal idol — theatre guru Robert Lepage — and never even stopped him to say hi. Still, given the blood rushing to my head, Martha following me on Twitter meant… something… (I actually received congratulatory tweets from people, so obviously it also meant something in the larger realm of things.)
I have never cooked a complicated Martha Stewart recipe. Baby steps, baby steps. But here are two favourites, the cocktail pecans of course, and the sour cream banana bread. A certain 4 year old helped his mom bake it last night. By the way, you know that thing experts say: when a child helps to choose or prepare the food, he is more likely to eat it. Sorry, Martha, kiddo baked but refused to taste. I may not be a Superwoman but he remains Superpicky.
Sour cream banana bread
Adapted (lawyer-speak…) from Martha Stewart
Makes 1 loaf
• 125 ml (1/2 cup/1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan (I used unsalted, that’s all we ever buy)
• 250 ml (1 cup) granulated sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) unbleached flour
• 5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda
• 5 ml (1 tsp) salt
• 250 ml (1 cup) mashed very ripe bananas
• 125 ml (1/2 cup) sour cream
• 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla
• 125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped walnuts or pecans (I used walnuts)
1. First preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and butter a standard loaf pan.
2. With a hand or electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar, then beat in eggs.
3. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix into butter mixture until just combined. Add in bananas, sour cream, and vanilla, mixing just enough.
4. Incorporate nuts, then pour into loaf pan.
5. Bake about 1 hour 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean (with my oven, it took 1 hour).
6. Rest in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.
Cocktail hour ginger pecans
Makes 5 cups
Note: I usually make these with a rosemary honey, an idiosyncrasy, does it really impact taste, do I know? For the reason to that, see here.)
• 1.25L (5 cups) pecan halves
• 125 ml (1/2 cup) sugar
• 10 ml (2 tsp) salt
• 5 ml (1 tsp) ground ginger
• 10 ml (2 tbsp) honey
• 30 ml (2 tbsp) water
• 10 ml (2 tsp) canola oil
1. Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F).
2. Place pecans in a single layer using two large baking sheets. Toast 10 to 15 minutes until nuts are fragrant. (Martha says to rotate the pans halfway through but, hum, I just realized blogging this that I never do.)
3. While nuts are roasting, mix sugar, salt, and ginger in a large bowl.
4. In a saucepan large enough to fit all the nuts, combine honey, water and oil, then bring to a boil over high heat.
4. Reduce heat to medium and add pecans. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Stir a couple of times.
5. Transfer nuts into sugar mixture bowl and toss until nuts are dusted all over. Place nuts in a single layer on parchment paper or a silpat, and let cool.
P.S. Store in an airtight container. They should keep 1 week or so. I can’t testify to that, in my house, they last only a couple of days. These pecans are perfect with drinks before supper or with mint-ginger ice tea on a summer day.
Getting a picky 4 year old to eat vegetables can be daunting. I have tried telling mine that eagles eat carrots to see in the distance—and that rabbits are pissed off at them for stealing their favourite food—nothing gives: kiddo likes cream of vegetable soup but, beyond that, he needs six degrees of separation between [...]
Life is funny. You cook up Marcella Hazan’s Chicken fricassee with extra pungent porcini all the while expecting your family to hate it and everybody drools over the food. Then you make her classic Pasta e Fagioli soup with high hopes, no way can you miss with that list of ingredients, and it’s a little [...]
I have made it. My 3rd post for the Cooking Italy club, and on time to boot. This week’s challenge was easy, courtesy of Marcella Hazan’s Chicken Fricassee. When I told hubby that I was making chicken again, he rolled his eyes (he’s not found of chicken if it’s not in a nugget, that’s the [...]
Be still my heart. I have finally made it to my second post for the Cooking Italy Club, the foodie haven devoted to the cuisine of the great Marcella Hazan. In my defense, I have been redoing my website, learning how to point and shoot with the new Canon Rebel (playing with the ISO button [...]
At least once a month, I save the day with this recipe. THE recipe. My go-to saviour, so delicious that I even serve it to company in a rush. Friends usually leave with the recipe too. A fake tagine, you might say, ready in 30 minutes or so and bursting with deep flavours despite the [...]
Fall 2009 — Here I was, at Ô Chalet Restaurant near Montreal’s CBC tower, celebrating with a good friend and colleague the launch of 100 recettes, 100 vedettes Centraide, my third collective cookbook as a ghost writer. From Cercles de Fermières’ Qu’est-ce qu’on mange ? cookbook to TV show Des kiwis et des hommes’ culinary [...]
Agrotourism: Madame La Courge When fall comes to Montreal, apple lovers and friends can usually be found stuck in traffic as they escape to the Rougemont or Laurentians orchards for a basketful of fresh air and an orgy of apple nibbling, picking and tractor a-ridin’. Since Junior’s daycare had already planned such an outing, our [...]
Becoming a mom means you will learn to cook pasta 1001 ways since kids loooove starchy foods. That’s because: 1) starch has a fairly sweet yet neutral taste; and 2) it relieves hunger pangs faster than any other food, something munchkins quickly catch on to. Mind you, anything that fills you up pronto clinches the [...]
It’s lobster season. And although I had no expectation as to kiddo’s open-mindedness, impossible to resist the need to broaden his horizons. So on a rainy Saturday afternoon, we jumped into the car, headed for Homard des Iles in Saint-Eustache, a suburb of Montreal. Yes, you heard right, a direct-sale outlet in the middle of [...]
I hear you. You are silently wondering who would ever dream of taking out the crockpot just as spring has finally arrived, bringing with it veggie — not comfort food — cravings. Especially since winter came and went without said crockpot ever leaving its shelf. Monsieur labels it my rebellious side. Duh. So why exactly [...]
Soup-Soupe Trilogy: To post or not to post all the comforting homemade soups I served my half-pint? Probably not. Which is why you are reading the latest-last instalment of my weekly trilogy (yes, you heard right, 3 soups in 1 week, soupy little bugger wouldn’t you say). For each soup, I played up different vegetables [...]
Soup Take 2: The Cream of Vegetable Saga goes on with Junior still enamoured with soup & baguette suppers. And mama gratefully cooking great batches of the stuff. So much for Deceptively Delicious, let the vegetables reign! Since the half-pint has a thing for pasta in rosée sauce, admittedly, this cream of tomato soup was [...]
I discovered scottiglia thanks to a recipe book by Québec cook Stefano Faita, Entre cuisine et quincaillerie (translation: Between hardware store and kitchen). The Faitas own Dante Hardware Store, one of Montreal’s quaintest establishments, where clients can find trendy European cookware, hunting rifles…but no hardware knickknacks, despite the name. Scottiglia is a Tuscan-style stew combining [...]
Halleluia! Junior is slowly emerging from his “peanut butter toast obsession” and moving on to cream of vegetable soup with lots of crusty French bread. Hold while I pinch myself, yes, you heard me… vegetable! Any mother’s favourite word when not preceded by “hates his”. So said mother (moi) is more than happy to cook [...]
A word from the cook: Yes, I do cook more complex recipes. But this blog is more about the day-to-day challenges of a busy mom who wants to cook home food despite a crazazy schedule. So the recipes to be found here are easy on purpose. _________________ Variation on coleslaw: Québec-style Theoretically speaking, I am [...]
Please meet Cooking Italy’s most delinquent member, me. This wonderful cooking club is dedicated to the earthy Italian cuisine of the great Marcella Hazan. Every month, 4 recipes or so from Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cuisine are tested by club members who then post the results online. Wonderful cooks and bloggers from all over the [...]