The influence of French cuisine has always been very predominant in my culture. Although in Québec we have our own traditional recipes, it wasn’t uncommon to eat classic French dishes such as Escargot au beurre à l’ail, Pain au Chocolat, Vichyssoise, Chateaubriand, Coquilles Saint Jacques, terrine, Crêpes Suzette, Rillettes, Navarin d’Agneau, Chocolate Eclairs, Bourride and so on…
One dish my mother made every year that was well received with so much enthusiasm was her Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Bourguignon). Oh my! The aroma floating in the air from the beautiful cubed beef slowly cooked for hours in a dark rich wine sauce with fresh herbs and spices, made everyones mouth water with anticipation! In our family we loved to serve this scrumptious dish over creamy mashed potatoes with crusty bread…
Every year it seems that David and I entertain more and more. There are soooooo many recipes that I created with or without his input and nonetheless I love to go back to my roots and serve what means the most to me… my family’s own traditions! Growing up in the suburbs of Montréal, I had a pretty good life as a child. The only missing link was that we were so far away from the rest of our family. Both of my parents grew up in the region of Québec city. Back then, the 3 ½ hours of driving seemed like a 5 day trip. For some reason, going to visit family was an adventure. When I was younger, I remember going often but as years went by, we barely went there therefore my brother and I never really connected with our cousins … we were the “outsiders”! Although some of them tried slightly to bind over the years, the “deep” connection won’t ever be there… sad to say!
But let’s not drift away from the initial subject… Boeuf Bourguignon! Oh lala! My mother served this dish on very special occasions and the Holidays were one of them. One time, we went to Québec (okay it was Lévis which is on the South shore of the capital city) to visit the family. My grandmother Juliette (on my mother’s side) was an incredible cook as well as a talented musician and an extremely smart woman. She had us over for dinner and served her Boeuf Bourguignon. I was surprised about the taste as it was slightly different from my mother’s version. When I had a chance to ask my mother why hers is not quite like my grandmothers, she replied that hers needed a little improvement. Was she cocky? Maybe or maybe not … I did the same with her recipe… lol!
If you compare my recipe to my mother’s, many ingredients have been added. Now if you compare mine to my granny, it might be a little closer but at the same time pretty far apart when it comes to ingredients. I believe the recipe hasn’t changed much until three generations ago… thanks to a few stubborn women who thought their way was the better way… mine included!
With a few changes (or maybe more than I think it is), here’s a recipe from my family’s ancestors who brought their culture to the “New World”. Leaving France and crossing the very big pond separating Europe to Canada, my ancestors brought something very important along with them… their traditions! Because of them, I’m sharing a part of “me” with you, somehow bringing my culture and traditions to you during this special time of the year which is the Holidays! From the bottom of my heart, please let me pass on a very precious piece of me… my roots! Happy Holidays!
During the Holidays, we bake a lot more especially when we are hosting a dinner. Many baked goods can be great to bring to a party or to give as a gift. The list of baked recipes is almost endless and can be hard to choose from…
Since I’ve been living on my own, I always loved having dinner parties at my place and more so during this time of year. Having people around, laughing and telling stories while music is playing in the background with flavorful aromas of cooked food floating through the air, makes the entire evening a beautiful memory to cherish!
Like everyone else, I obviously bake more during the Holidays. There are cookies, cakes, breads, pies everywhere… no wonder I gain weight! It’s all good because it wouldn’t be the same without the baked goods – I’ve heard that Santa has a sweet tooth!
I particularly remember my second Christmas when I was hosting a large group for dinner. I wanted to start ahead of time and make my cookies, pies, breads, fruitcakes and so on. When I went to the supermarket, after adding all the ingredients I needed to my shopping cart, there was one item I couldn’t find… candied fruits! I went to other stores with same scenario… no candied fruits. I started to panic! I was going to make a fruit cake but without the fruits, there’s no “fruitcake”! As soon as I returned home, I called my mother to tell her about the situation. To my astonishment, she told me over the phone how to make them… After all the running around, the frustration along with the stress, I discovered how simply and easy it was to make candied fruits!
This recipe is for all you bakers… It is such a simple method to make them and in my opinion, they taste better than the ones from the store. This is an ingredient that you need to have around especially when there’s a lot of baking involved. Thanks to my mom, I was able to make my fruitcake and learn another recipe. After preserving them and storing them in an airtight container, I can enjoy them for a whole year and there’s no need to go to the supermarket… Happy Baking and… Bon Appétit!
It doesn’t matter where you are from, we all grew up with recipes from our cultures, our nation and of course from our family circle. This is how traditions are made… with simple little things like favorite foods and recipes!
In case some of you don’t know where I’m from originally, I was born and raised in Montréal. I was in my early 20s when I first moved to Ontario, returned briefly to Québec and then moved back to Ontario again. I’ve been living outside of the province of Québec for most of my life (almost 30 years) and yet, I still carry on my traditions. This is who I am… a French lady from Québec.
All the kids in my neighborhood grew up eating almost the same foods. When the Holidays were around the corner, we were anticipating all the dishes that would be served during those “special occasions”. Besides the traditional turkey dinner, there were other food staples that hit most Québécois family tables during that time of year and ours wasn’t any different!
Tourtière was always on the menu… tourt… iere… what? Yes tourtière! What is it, you ask? It’s simply a meat pie packed with flavor. Cooked with different types of meat and added spices, herbs and other ingredients, this dish is such an important staple in Québec during the Holidays! It has been around for 400 years in our French Canadian culture… now that should tell you something about tradition…! If there’s no tourtière on the menu, then something quite important is missing from the dinner table. I personally prefer to have tourtière over turkey and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Of course from one family to another, everyone adds their own personal touch. I’m sure mine can be slightly different than someone else’s. For an example, my mother and I don’t cook the same tourtière. I add potatoes to mine while she doesn’t. The taste and texture of mine is different but not to the point that our tourtières are far apart.
Just a quick story here… I was telling our friends Nitsa and Les about the Holidays and that I’d love to have them over for dinner. Right away Les asked me if I knew how to make tourtière. I was shocked that he’d even heard about it. I had a smirk on my face when I said – “Of course I know how to make it! ” – and before he continued, I had the feeling that he would ask me to make some for him…! Sure enough, he requested that I make him a few pies. There’s also other friends of ours, Louise and Tim, where the same scenario repeated – Tim loves tourtière and wanted some as well… perhaps there’s a business opportunity here…lol!
Anyway, this just tells you how much people enjoy the taste of it and just like the French Canadians, this is a well anticipated dish that everyone loves! It is a delicious Holiday staple to have on your table during this time of year. It freezes well so it can be enjoyed later on during the year. This is a dish that is served along with turkey and can be relished with gravy or ketchup… seriously! I love mine with a couple dollops of ketchup. So if you want to add a new taste sensation to your festive menu, this is the perfect choice… Happy Holidays!
I like to look back and see how much I’ve improved in the kitchen through the years. When I just moved out on my own, I cooked very little. My cooking knowledge was frightening! If it would be possible, I would’ve been able to burn water… silly but not too far from the truth… lol! I knew that I had to start somewhere and then eventually with practice (a lot), I would get better… thanks to my positive outlook…
Back then I was “trying” to come up with a lot of canned sardines as well as canned tuna recipes which were not always a success, trust me on that one! Then one day after mixing a few ingredients together that I found in my empty pantry, I thought I just created an amazing recipe until I realized later on that it was the barebones of what is called a “Tuna Melt”. Nonetheless, that recipe gave me enough courage to continue cooking and eventually create my own recipes.
Here are the reasons why I’m sharing this recipe with you today. It has a great combination of ingredients that makes it delicious and it is a very quick meal to put together.. Also this Tuna Melt can be served as a canapé (it means bite-size hors d’oeuvre in French that it's served during an event or a soirée). All you have to do is to make it fancier by spooning the tuna mixture on miniature pieces of bread of your choice and then garnish it with fresh chives… Voilà! Either as a meal or “amuse-gueule”, this recipe is simply tasty and quick to make… all great reasons to keep it in your recipe binder! Bon Appétit!
I’ve been quite fortunate all my life. I’ve met great people from different backgrounds as well as very well-known people throughout my life… a long list of them! One of them became good friends of mine and it all started when I was studying to become a reporter. One late afternoon I went to a bar-lounge in downtown Montréal and sat at the bar. Not far from me maybe 3 to 4 stools away, was sitting a man in his 30s’. He was loud, funny and quite interesting. When he noticed me, he bought me a drink and then we started talking about a bunch of things with one of the topics being my desire to become a reporter and taking it as my major. He looked at me, and burst out laughing… “What’s so funny?” I asked. “Is it really what you want to do young lady?” he replied. “Of course!” I said. He then said “Because I work at the Gazette!
That night he told me about himself and his friend, who worked at the same place as a sports editor, and about a board game they both invented and were hoping to get a big contract for. After telling me more about it, talking more about nothing and everything, exchanging phone numbers, we left the bar then he kissed the top of my hand and we both took off in different directions. Only years and years later I ran into him through another friend of mine who was a member at a private golf course – The Devil’s Pulpit in Caledon, Ontario.
I remembered sitting at the bar of the Club House with my friend “Big Richard” also known as “Red Dog”, a few stools away from that very loud man. He turned towards us, greeted Richard and suddenly my mouth dropped. It was that man from that bar… it was Chris! At first he didn’t recognized me and didn’t for a while until maybe a month later, he played golf with Richard and told him “Yep I remember her now… she wanted to become a reporter… Did her dream ever come through?”
No my dream never came through although I ended up working for a short period in the newsroom of Radio-Canada before the budget cuts which laid me off. The next time I went back to the Pulpit, Chris and I sat together and he told me how well Scott (the sport editor) and he did with their board game… Trivial Pursuit! He also introduced me shortly afterward to his fiancé Hiam. Unfortunately I don’t remember exactly where she came from but she and I got along very well. She was so sophisticated and well-educated. She spoke many different languages with French being one of them. She was absolutely incredible!
One night Richard and I were invited to their place and on the kitchen island was a jar with a handwritten label of “Pomegranate Molasses”. I asked Hiam what this condiment was for and she said she uses it to enhance the flavor in many of her recipes. After tasting it, I was “hooked”! It was an “OMG” reaction. I couldn’t believe how amazing this molasses was. That night she cooked a lovely meal using this condiment and before I left (Richard was staying there), she gave me the recipe.
Through the years, I was lucky to spend more time with Chris and his lovely fiancé Hiam but sometimes circumstances – or just life – separate people. I got busy with my event planning company until 9-11 and then my life took another turn. Unfortunately I saw them less and less to the point that years went by. Next thing, I met David and moved to the West Coast. The year after I got here, I sadly found out about Chris’ death and although I tried to find Hiam, I couldn’t.
Because of this lady, I’m sharing this fabulous Pomegranate Molasses recipe with you! I’ve been using it in so many dishes and one of them will be posted next year in 2018 – I haven’t decided which month yet but please pencil it in… It is called Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Dates & Pomegranate Molasses. I also use the molasses as a Balsamic Vinegar substitute. I’m also working on creating a dessert with it – I know I shouldn’t spill the beans. After you make this condiment, you’ll be happily surprised by how incredibly versatile it is and how you can use this molasses in many of your favorite recipes.
This recipe means a lot to me. Not only is it a fabulous condiment that EVERYONE should have in their kitchen but it is also a reminder of these two great human beings I was fortunate to have in my life… Chris and Hiam! Bon Appétit!
This coming weekend, many countries around the world will have Easter as a public holiday. Many places will be closed on “Good Friday” as well as on Easter Monday. I’m not sure how other nations enjoy this particular holiday but I’m sure all those will have a couple things in common: a long weekend to rest and an occasion to get together with family and friends.
If you are hosting dinner over this weekend, you might want to make something easy, delicious and doesn’t require that much attention… after all you want to spend time with your guests. The best answer that checks all the boxes is a roast!
When it comes to this particular cut of beef, there are many options to choose from. The prime rib with bone-in, also known as rib roast, is the best cut you can get. It has nice marbling and some fat. The next best one is a top sirloin roast which the cut is from the butt and is absolutely tender. Both of them are quite pricey but definitely worth every penny. You can also go with cheaper cuts but if you are hosting a dinner, spend the extra money and get a nice tender one!
Prepping a roast is definitely not complicated. To make it tastier, you’ve got the right recipe right here! With fresh herbs, this roast will turn out to be not only juicy but also flavorful. To me Easter is pretty much a holiday that welcomes spring and summer and by adding fresh herbs to this recipe it’s a good teaser for all the freshness ahead of us. Bon Appétit!
After vacationing for 5 weeks in the Palm Springs area, getting back to cold, damp, grey, rainy weather is no fun! It took almost a week for us to get adjusted because we dropped about 30º Celsius in temperature… One recipe that I’ve made a lot upon our return was soup. It is a great way to warm up your body. It is something I like to have around especially during the coldest months of the year!
With Thanksgiving and the Holidays around the corner, people tend to entertain more at home therefore getting stuck with lots of leftovers. One of the things we have often is mashed potatoes. Of course they can be reheated but a great thing about leftovers is they can also be re-used in other recipes…
Now back to soups!
I have made my Carrot Soup recipe for decades now and it was only last year that I made a big change to the recipe… I added some of my Mixed Mashed Potato leftovers to it. Although I always thought the soup tasted amazingly good, the added ingredient made it even better!
Before I switched to using leftovers, I used to add raw russet potatoes cut into small cubes to the soup mixture and then proceed with the recipe. Starch is a big component as it helps thicken the soup. Now by using mashed, it makes things go faster and even more flavorful…
For some of you who are not familiar with my Mixed Mashed Potato recipe, I use 2 kinds of potatoes. If you want to find out more about it, click on this link – Mixed Mashed Potatoes. Let’s keep in mind that I’ve incorporated my Mixed Mashed Potato recipe here therefore if you are using another mashed potato recipe, your soup will definitely taste different than mine!
You can try it with my mashed recipe or stick to yours but whichever one you use, this is a great Carrot Soup recipe to have around. Another ingredient I like to add is heavy cream… just a little… not too much! Using a spoon, I gently stir it in the soup. It’s visually cute and adds that subtle “touch” to it. I usually place a small bouquet of parsley on top but I didn’t feel like going to the supermarket… it’s too cold!!! Bon Appétit!
I love the Holidays! It’s a special time to get friends and family together under the same roof to enjoy a beautiful meal while sharing stories and laughter.
When I moved in with David, I not only left my friends from Toronto behind but also had a bigger distance to travel between my family and I which are from all over the province of Québec. At first I kind of felt lonely but through the years I’ve been here, David and I started our own tradition with new friends… creating “our” new extended family! These wonderful human beings that bring so much joy into our lives are the reasons for celebrating these events!
Of course I love to serve them the traditional turkey dinner but I also enjoy bringing new flavors to the table by slightly changing the menu. Each year there’s always something new and different from the “traditional dinner” as it makes dinner for my guests more interesting. Honestly who loves monotony? I sure don’t and none of our people do… Life is too short for boring food…lol!
Last year I added a totally new food item to the table and oh boy, it was gone so fast! Everyone loved it, even the ones who are not too crazy about “spicy” food – although it’s not really spicy at all…! Now that I have your curiosity hooked, let me reveal the recipe… it’s my Mexican Cornbread!
That’s right… cornbread but not just any cornbread… This amazingly simple recipe is far from ordinary! It is super yummy with a slight zip to it – I’m not kidding… it’s not “hot” at all but it has some personality to it if you know what I mean. It is easy to make – most of my recipes are like that – and it is a delicious change from regular dinner rolls. Hey! There is nothing WRONG with dinner rolls… as a matter of fact I’m sharing my Dinner Roll recipe with you next month. It’s just a fun change for your meal and surprisingly, it goes amazingly well with turkey… no joke!
Next time you want to bring some yumminess to your dinner party, this is totally a recipe to consider. David and I also love to serve it with a large bowl of warm soup… – you know those nights when no one feels like cooking but you still want something good to eat , especially when it’s yucky outside… yep those are the ones! Anyway, this is a recipe you don’t want to miss… add it to your “must have” list and watch everyone’s reactions when you put this cornbread on the table… Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!
Although my parents were amazing home cooks, there were certain food items that they never used in their cooking. Once in a while, one of them felt adventurous and prepared a new dish with ingredients they knew.
So where do I get my desire to constantly try new ingredients and make new recipes? That I really don’t know… I never had a big interest in cooking or baking as a child besides licking the spoon when my mother was making dessert. The only reason I can find is my curiosity about other cultures and desire to find out more about them…
One food item we didn’t have when I was growing up was pumpkin and it’s only later in life that I had my first taste of it. It was a pumpkin pie and I didn’t like it. Is it because the person who made it didn’t do it properly? I’m not sure but I never wanted to try it again until my girlfriend Joanne from Toronto invited me over to join her and her family for Thanksgiving.
Jo is a fabulous cook and everything I’ve tasted of hers in the past was just amazing! Of course on her dessert menu besides other goodies was a pumpkin pie. I was reluctant to try a slice but after her scrumptious meal, I thought I should give it a try… I’m glad I did! It was simply beautiful with a nice smooth texture and the right amount of spices in the background. I devoured my slice like there was no tomorrow while Joanne was watching me with a grin on her face. That night, when it was time to leave, she gave me a couple slices to take home. The next morning they were gone…
My Pumpkin Pie recipe is based on hers of course. I made a few changes to put my personal touch on it but it’s still Jo’s recipe! It became David and my favorite and almost every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I bake this recipe. Very easy to make, this incredibly tasty pie should definitely be served at your next festive dinner. I’m not a “pumpkin pie connoisseur” by no means but I know when something is excellent… and this one is! Happy Thanksgiving!
When I started cooking as a young lady, I didn’t have any basic sauces in my repertoire but I did have many packet sauces that you just have to add water to. Please don’t crucify me… I just didn’t know how to make any. Although my mother shared a few recipes with me, for some strange reason I couldn’t ever make a good homemade sauce. The first sauce recipe she gave me was a Béchamel, then a Hollandaise sauce followed with a homemade mayonnaise. Eventually I mastered these three recipes… with time…
Back in 1988 when I went to Puerto Vallarta with my boyfriend Carlo (he proposed to me down there…), I tried dishes I never ever had before. There was one I couldn’t get enough of and it was the Enchilada with its lovely sauce. Yummy corn tortillas stuffed with meat and topped with a spicy tomato sauce. It was only later on in my life when I went back to Mexico City that I finally got a real taste of the sauce and its ingredients.
In an earlier blog ( Homemade Lemonade) I mentioned about doing business in Mexico and therefore staying there for an extended time. Although it wasn’t a YWCA, I stayed in a lady’s hostel for weeks and the “madre” of that establishment was in charge of looking after us. She is the one who taught me this video recipe… enchilada sauce! When I came back home, I made that sauce quite often because it was so easy and yet so tasty!
It is a very quick sauce recipe to make and the results are incredibly delicious! Although most will use it in the classic enchilada, this sauce can also be added to casseroles, mac & cheese, lasagna, soups, burritos and so on. This is the kind of sauce you can try as a beginner and you won’t feel overwhelmed by the technique. After you give this sauce a try, you will definitely not go back to any store-bought ones… it is exceptionally flavorful! Bon Appétit!
Summer is long gone but if you are like me, you probably bought some fresh produce during their peak and froze them…
Each year I go crazy and buy more produce than I should just in case we don’t have enough until next summer which of course, we have more than enough. One item that we have a lot of in our chest freezer is berries. There are so many recipes we can incorporate them in; from sweet to savory. I have berry recipes for spicy sauces, marinades, desserts and jams but the easiest ones are when they go in beverages…
David and I are not really breakfast people although we should be… Maybe a couple times a week we’ll have something in the morning but with our busy schedules, it has to be quick because we are always on the “go”. The perfect breakfast we can bring along with us is a smoothie. With a tasty combination of fruits, my Berry Fusion Smoothie is a great recipe to have around when there’s so little time to enjoy breakfast in the morning. Simple, fast and nutritious, this smoothie will start your day “berry” well! lol Bon Appétit!