Monday, September 3, 2012


You would think that watching MasterChef Season this season would entice me to blog more regularly.  The truth is, I've been watching the show as well as cooking new dishes every single day, but have also been enjoying the outdoors more than anything.  Glorious sunny days just flew by as we've been barbecuing, picnicking, swimming and biking outside over the last 3 months.  Lazy hot summer days are also wonderful to catch up with reading and writing in journals.  Now that Fall is just around the corner, I'm getting my blog ready for some new hearty comfort food.

Though it doesn't feel like it quite yet, summer is soon coming to a close and taking along with it the fresh local summer produce.  As I see local summer peaches slowly disappearing from the shelves of fruit markets, I salvage the last of them for breakfast and dessert.

One of my favorite new discovered recipes can be eaten as a pleasant summery sweet treat that can be easily prepared and served at brunch get-togethers and dinner parties.

All you need are fresh and ripe peaches, fresh mint leaves, grated ginger and mascarpone.  The result is phenomenal.  What a great treat especially if peaches are your favorite summer fruits like they are mine.

Recipe "au pif":
6 fresh and ripe peaches, cut in half, pitted
2 tbsp raw cane sugar
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp honey (optional)
2 tbsp rum (optional)
6 mint leaves, finely minced
1 dollop (about 2 tsp) fresh mascarpone

Sprinkle sugar on the flat surface of each peach half

Grill the peaches on the BBQ or a hot indoor grill or skillet about 2 minutes each half

Remove peaches from the grill and drizzle with either a little bit of honey or rum (optional) and sprinkle some of the freshly grated ginger

Top each half with mascarpone and sprinkle with a pinch of fresh mint

Serve with ice cream as a dessert or as a side dish for brunch.

Serves 6 people.

Share and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Frozen Cherries Are Cool Summer Treats

Like I've been telling almost everyone I know, summer is definitely my favorite season of the year.  The sun is out, the birds are chirping, parents and children are enjoying music and merriment with a variety of free live shows outside, and Instagram addicts around the world are clicking away at the first sight of beautiful sunsets.  Around this time, I feel the world is definitely alive! 

It's hot and humid and no one is complaining about the glorious summer we're having this year. In this heat, we all have a need to rehydrate ourselves by sipping cold drinks, eating refreshing salads and nibbling on frozen fruitcicles.  Often enough, I scrounge around for something to eat that's simple to make and that won't make me sweat more than I already am.  Thankfully, I share my work days with extraordinary people who love to eat and cook as much as I do.  Last week, my dear friend Maggie gave me a one-ingredient and two-step recipe for a snack that everyone is guaranteed to like : frozen sweet cherries.  
I have to thank Maggie for this awesome idea.  It is the perfect refreshing summer snack/dessert.  

All you need are fresh sweet cherries.  And. That's. It.

The hardest part is to pit the cherries and to wait for them to freeze until they become these delectable frozen snacks.

Of course, there are always tricks to pit small fruits like cherries, without pain.   Check this out from CHOW and you'll thank yourself for saving those paper clips.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer Lentil and Pasta Salad with Garlic, Eggs, Roasted Eggplants and Caramelized Onions

It's been a very good 3 months since my last blog post.  Taking a break from blogging allowed me to experiment in the kitchen with new ingredients and new flavours without the company of a camera or a tripod.   During that time, most of my recipes has languished over my kitchen counter, waiting to be typed and published on the web.

Today, I'm motivated to share a few exciting and easy recipes that are not only ultra-healthy, low in sodium and have zero saturated fat, they are also remarkably savoury.  This summer salad is one of the first instalments of healthy and easy recipes I created.  On a hot and humid summer's day, it's a great dish to try out as it is refreshing and will certainly gratify the hungry ones.  Packed with proteins and healthy ingredients, this dish bursts with flavour and will surely stimulate your appetite.  

Here at home with 4 guests, the salad disappeared in no time.

Recipe "au pif" of the summer lentil and Pasta salad:
The salad:
1lb (450g) dried pasta (I chose mini macaroni for this salad)
1 can (540ml or 19oz) unsalted or low-sodium cooked lentils
5 garlic cloves - peeled and finely minced
1/2 green bell pepper - finely diced
2 ripe tomatoes - finely diced
1 handful of coarsely chopped fresh coriander - set aside

4 hardboiled eggs - thinly sliced - put aside to garnish
2 asian eggplants (link) - thinly sliced - sprinkled with a pinch of coarse salt, a pinch of turmeric and drizzled with olive oil - roast for about 20 minutes at 350F until golden and tender
1 large onion - finely sliced then sauteed in a little bit of oil until brown and caramelized - set aside
4 lemon wedges

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp plain greek style yogurt
1 tbsp mayonnaise
pinch of salt
ground black pepper to taste

In a large salad bowl, prepare the vinaigrette by mixing all the ingredients except for the yogurt and mayonnaise.

Through in the salad ingredients and mix well.

Stir in the yogurt and mayonnaise, add salt and pepper.  Stir well.

Garnish with the roasted slices of eggplants, hard-boiled eggs, lemon wedges and the caramelized onions.

Chill for about 20-30 minutes and serve!

Serves 4-6 people

Share and enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easy Chocolate Mousse - Weekday Recipe

To make up for my silence from the past couple of weeks, I'd like to share with you a fun way to can consume leftover chocolate from the Easter holidays.  What leftover?  At some point, we eat too much of the good stuff that we do tend to get sick of it. At least, I do.

There are endless ways to use chocolate.  For most, is to eat it until their belt snaps open.  For others, is to cook with it.

Here is a very easy chocolate mousse recipe which I tried this evening and was amazed with the results.   It was not only easy to make, but the texture was smooth, velvety and decadent.  It's worth the try.

Preparation time : 10 minutes     Cooking time : 10 minutes, Refrigeration time : at least 1 hour

Recipe "au pif"
100 g dark chocolate (or leftover bitter sweet chocolate), diced coarsely
2 tbsp  unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream (35%)
2 egg yolks (use the egg whites to make a meringue)
2 tbsp raw cane sugar
2 fresh vanilla pods, seeds removed and set aside (stems discarded)

Using a bain-marie, slowly stir and melt the chocolate and butter. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes. 

Whisk in the two egg yolks. Cover and refrigerate for a few minutes.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with 1 tbsp sugar until stiff peaks are formed. Set aside.

In separate bowl, whip the heavy cream, the remaining tbsp of sugar and the vanilla seeds for about 1 minute.

Gently stir a couple of spoonfuls of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, and then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the whipped cream.

Serve in individual cups. Cover and refrigerate until the mousse sets.
Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. 

Serve chilled with fresh fruits.

Serves 6.

Share and enjoy.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Braised Beef in Tajine with Pumpkin, Prunes and Almonds

Perhaps I should rename my blog slogan, "Quick Tajine Recipes For People On the Go".  I've developed an attachment to my Tajine that I can't seem to not have a weekend go by without using it.

I'm amazed how ceramic and clay pots can turn simple recipes into succulent meals.  As I mentioned in previous posts, the cone-shaped dome takes cooking to a whole new level. Need I admit that I was very reluctant to use it the first time I received it.  Like any other new kitchen tools, the Tajine is one that took me a bit of time to understand how to use it carefully. If you have a Tajine with a heavy cast-iron bottom that can be heated on a cooking stove to a high temperaturelike the one I have, you'll be able to brown your meats and vegetables before cooking.  On the other hand, if you have one with a base unit made of heavy clay, you'll need to be more careful when cooking with it by browning your food in a regular pan first, then slow cooking it on low heat in the oven.  The results would be the same as using a Tajine with a cast-iron bottom, but the cooking time would be doubled.
It really is all about a personal choice.  Having a busy schedule, it's best to opt for a Tajine with a cast-iron base.   You'll be able to use it just like a regular pan and cook your foods before simmering your meal in the oven, which would take 15-20 minutes at most.

For this braised beef recipe, I cut the beef in small cubes so as to accelerate the cooking process of the meat.   The prunes gave the meat a sweet flavour, while the other spices gave it a savoury taste.

That being said, if you love food cooked in clay pots, a Tajine is worth the investment. 

Preparation time : 10 minutes, Cooking time : 25-30 minutes

Recipe "au pif":
1 lb rib-eye steak, cut in 2 inch pieces
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of saffron
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
1 large winter squash, or 2 cups of pumpkin diced 1 inch chunks (I used a carnival squash)
6 prunes, pitted
1 orange peel
handful of fresh coriander to garnish, coarsely chopped
roasted slivered almonds to garnish (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven at 350F

Heat oil in the tajine base and stir in the onions, garlic, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon and saffron for about 2 minutes or until the until have softened a little

Gently add the beef and stir until all sides are lightly browned

Slowly pour in the chicken stock and lower the heat the medium, cover with Tajine lid (dome), and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the squash or pumpkin by carefully peeling and dicing it.

Remove dome and add in the diced squash, the orange peel and the prunes.

Put the lid back on and carefully place the tajine in the oven to bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Spices should slowly infuse in the beef and squash or pumpkin giving the dish incredible flavour.

When done, remove from the oven, slowly remove the lid and sprinkle the coriander and almonds.

Serve with coucous, rice or a side dish of vegetables.

Serves 4 people (or 2 very hungry people, that would be us!)

If you do try this recipe, please do let me know how you liked it.

Share and enjoy!