Thursday, 22 February 2018

Beef Stroganoff

Last month I heard so many different languages while David and I were sitting at the Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) airport waiting for our departure to Puerto Vallarta. I’ve always liked going to airports as there’s a lot of action going on… people coming and going, travelling for business or pleasure. Long or short trips, everyone seems in a rush to catch their flights. When I look at the flight board, I daydream about all the places I can go and visit someday… yes I’m an adventurous dreamer! You should see my “bucket list”…

There are a lot of places that I find quite intriguing and one of them is definitely Russia. With its fabulous points of interest such as Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Winter Palace, The Kremlin, Lake Baikal, Hermitage Museum, Peterhof Palace, Stroganov Church, the famous Red Square and so on, this is a place I really want to go! It is a huge country with 11 (eleven) time zones, shares borders with 14 different countries and more than 160 different ethnic groups. Russia brings a vast cultural diversity with an enriched, complex history and deep folkloric traditions.

The month I’d like to go there would have to be in July because I can clearly say that I wouldn’t be able to handle the weather during its cold months unless I hang out in Sochi by the Black Sea coast… On the other hand, there’s one of its traditional dishes that I can definitely handle all year round and it is Beef Stroganoff! World famous, this is a lovely meal to enjoy; sautéed beef strips in a creamy mustard sauce and sour cream… it is incredibly delicious!

Beef Stroganoff has been in their culture since the 19th century but since its first appearance outside of  Russian borders, the recipe has many different variations depending on the country that’s making it. Now I’m sure that my version is also quite different and westernized from the original but noneless it is very delicious! By preference, I use red wine instead of white,I don’t use paprika but I’m not shy on the mustard and I do use mushrooms and onions as well which are 2 ingredients that are not from the original version. In this recipe I use sour cream but the real deal would be to use crème fraîche which I will eventually post my recipe to how to make it. I like to serve the meat and sauce over a bed of buttered egg noodles. It is such a great comfort food recipe that I enjoy making often.

Obviously going to Russia I would definitely order Beef Stroganoff (бефстроганов befstróganov) so I can enjoy the “real thing”. In the meantime, I’ll keep making my version of it until I’m sitting at my gate waiting to board the plane to Moscow!
Bon Appétit!… – Хороший аппетит!


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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Breakfast Sausage Muffin Cups

Always on the go! Running here, running over there, trying to get there on time, picking up the kids, being on time for an appointment, meeting deadlines… oh my oh my! It’s crazy when we really think about it. Whose fault is it? Our society, the media, or are we just a bunch of lunatics that want this kind of pressure? I don’t know… I just want to slow my schedule down and the more I try it seems the less successful I am at it!

I work mostly at home but I can just imagine how it is in certain people’s homes in the morning. Trying to get everyone ready can easily turn chaotic! Get everybody moving so kids are on time at school and the parents get to work… Besides dragging the family members out of their beds, shower, getting dressed and so on, I understand why many families skip breakfast in the morning. Most of the time not by choice but by not having enough time to do it all…

I’m not a breakfast person as I mentioned many, many times but I DO enjoy its food. I just don’t take the time to eat… that’s all! Give me a carafe of coffee and I’m good to go! Yes, yes , yes and yes… let’s not go there! I know about how important breakfast is and yadda-yadda-yadda! On the other hand, I believe David is better than me when it comes to eating breakfast in the morning although he doesn’t have anything to eat until a few hours after he’s up. Now that he’s back working at his warehouse doing production for the season, the most convenient food item for him to have is something he can just reheat in the microwave at his work place.

I have an amazing breakfast recipe that would help any family on the go or the ones who don’t really have an appetite until later in the morning. Here’s my Breakfast Sausage Muffin Cups! Very easy to prep, this recipe is perfect for those frenzied mornings when everyone is running in a panic! If there’s no time to enjoy these delicious muffin cups, bring them to work or school and reheat them. Another big plus with these yummy cups is you can make them ahead, freeze them and serve them later on… now that’s very convenient! This is also a perfect brunch item to serve along with a garden salad and some fresh fruits. Go ahead, get disorganized in the morning because now you don’t have to worry about skipping breakfast anymore…
Bon Appétit!


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Thursday, 15 February 2018

Wonton Soup

Anywhere above the 49th parallel in the middle of February is cold… Brrr! Snow storms, frigid and blustery weather or damp and rainy, there’s nothing about the second month of the year that says “cocktail umbrellas & sunscreen”… unless you are far below the 49th. I’m a fair-weather outdoor person which means that during winter, I mostly hibernate unless a nice sunny day tempts me to venture outside…

One of the best dishes David and I enjoy during winter is a hot bowl of soup. We either eat it as an appetizer or as a main course depending on the kind of soup as I have many recipes in my repertoire. Tomorrow is Chinese New Year and I thought it would be the perfect time to share with you my version of Wonton Soup! Being one of North America’s favorite Chinese take-out foods, this popular soup is so easy to make. With a few ingredients, you can put this comfort food together in no time!

I think the reason why many won’t even try to make this delicious soup is because of the folding which honestly is quite easy. Although I’m not an expert at it, in this video I will show you 2 ways on how I fold mine – if I can do it, you sure can as well! When it comes to the filling, I make a simple version of it using only pork but there are many other ways of making this soup. While doing business in Shanghai and Beijing back in 2001, I had what they call San Xian Wontons which is basically three proteins combined together; shrimp, chicken and pork although the last one can be replaced with minced fish. I also make a simple broth but if you want to add more spice/herbs to it, go ahead. When I have some on hand, I like to add lemongrass to my broth, it gives a nice flavor. I also like to add vegetables to my soup as well; my preferred choice is bok choy. If you opt for this option, boil some in the broth for 2 to 3 minutes and then transfer them to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain and place 1 or 2 blanched bok choy per serving bowl along with 6 wontons.

As I said, making Wonton Soup is not complicated. It’s a dish that warms you up inside out! So next time there’s a blizzard or a rainstorm outside, don’t worry, you can still enjoy one of the most popular take-out soups in North America in the comfort of your own home!
Bon Appétit!


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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Shrimp Maque Choux

I can just imagine how a teacher must feel, looking at a classroom full of children and wondering which one of these little guys or girls her/his knowledge will impact… When I went to Institut Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes which was a private school for girls offering a high school education from grade 7 to 9, I had different classes just like a regular “high school”, and my favorites were History, Geography and French. Did you know that Québec has the highest percentage of children going to private schools in North America?

All right back to my favorites which were History, Geography and French… From that first high school year, we studied the history of Acadians and the six colonial wars. Originally from France, these settlers immigrated to the Northeastern part of North America which is now known as the Maritime Provinces of Canada, including a portion of Maine in the United States. The most predominant war was the last of the six – “French and Indian War” in 1710 – which ended up deporting Acadians from the Maritimes and resulted in the dispersion of them which is also known as “The Great Upheaval” or “Le Grand Dérangement” in French. Some were deported to France, the Caribbean and England while others returned back to the Maritimes years later but there are some that actually got deported to several American colonies settling all the way to Louisiana and became known as Cajuns. Okay enough history for today…

Here’s the thing… my bucket list is quite extensive and New Orleans is one of the places on it. After studying its history and culture, now it’s time to go there physically… one day! I’ve always loved Jazz and I’m sure I’d have a heck of a good time down there! I love history… so much to see in Louisiana and to top everything off, I’m a foody… an awesome destination for a person like me, actually it’s a dream destination for a person like me! I want to visit it when it’s Mardi Gras of course, but I’ll go any other time of the year as I really want to visit it.

Although I haven’t been there yet, I’ve always been quite attracted to Cajun/Creole cuisine and have been to many restaurants that specialize in this type of cuisine. Now let’s put things in perspective… Cajun and Creole are not the same cuisine although similar. Cajun is from the Acadian settlers mentioned earlier and many of our Québec recipes are impacted by its cuisine. Now Creole is from the descendants directly from the French and Spanish upper class that were already established in New Orleans. Its cuisine is a blend of various cultures just like its people. If I can simplify it, while Creole cuisine is more “aristocratic and refined” or more “city food”, Cajun is more rural or more “homy” if I may and also has more seasoning – I’m not talking about being spicy here.

After all that history, I have an incredible recipe inspired by this lovely southern part of the United States… my Shrimp Maque Choux! It has such a beautiful combination of flavors. This is a great main course to enjoy but if you omit the shrimp, it turns into a lovely side dish. Is it Cajun or Creole? I put this dish into the Cajun cuisine section with a touch of Creole… One thing is for sure, it’s an awesome dish for you to try. This is my way of bringing Mardi Gras to my table until I’m finally able to go and visit in person…
Bon Appétit!


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Thursday, 8 February 2018

Chocolate Raspberry Cake with a Mirror Glaze

Most of us bake cakes on special occasions such as Birthdays, Holidays, Retirement, Anniversaries, dinner parties and even… for love! Yep, we lovers have our own celebration which is Valentine’s Day as you can probably guess.

When it comes to Valentines’ Day, there are all sorts of little things we like to do for each other. It can be anything from flowers, a lovely dinner at home or at a restaurant, balloons, a weekend gateway, romantic card, chocolate, opera or other concert and even jewelry just to name a few. I believe that it doesn’t really matter what you do on that day as long as we are together with our partner.

Almost every Valentine’s Day, David and I stay at home because we don’t want to deal with the craziness of that event. We cook a lovely dinner together, open a very good bottle of wine, play our favorite music, light up some candles and enjoy each other’s company. We don’t really eat dessert that often but occasionally we do on Valentine’s Day.

For today’s recipe I’ve decided to share my Chocolate Raspberry Cake with a Mirror Glaze with you. It is so lusciously moist and the beauty of this cake is its glaze…! By the way, not just you and your honey are a match made in heaven… so is chocolate and raspberry together! The two combined together is so delicious! Plus the finishing touch is a beautiful dark chocolate glaze… that looks like a mirror! Wow!
It’s like the cherry on top of the sundae… or in this case …the raspberries!

If you are celebrating Valentine’s or not, you’ll definitely be proud to serve this Chocolate Raspberry Cake with Mirror Glaze for any occasion.
Bon Appétit!


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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Salmon Pie

We’ve all grown up with traditions from our cultures. Sometimes there’s religion, a story, a historical event behind it and other times, no one’s know where, when or why it became a part of our lives. If I refer to my own culture which is Québécois, our origins are mostly from French settlers with a mix of aboriginals from different tribes along with Irish, English and other European countries. I believe that many of our dishes are from this assortment of different cultures mixed into one recipe… oh boy I can just see right now how “unpopular” my comment can be for some… relax it’s a food blog!!!

Admitting it or not, most countries cannot proclaim that a recipe is entirely theirs because of the crusades. The mix of different countries resulted in interesting flavorful traditions that each wants to claim as their own. Of course I’m not stating that all our national dishes are unjustified and not ours… To summarize there are some “dishes” that can be very hard to track their origin because they’re a combination of a few traditional recipes all together…

Today I’m sharing with you a recipe that apparently originated from Québec… Salmon Pie! The reason why I’m not totally convinced is it’s a combination of two countries that claim its origin… Ireland and Québec. When I was at high school, a boy named Mike (not Michel…) came over to my home. We had a project to do and although we were paired with two other kids, we decided that it would be done faster if we split it in half. My mother was making a salmon pie and with the aroma floating in the air, Mike was intrigued to what was cooking in the oven. When he found out, he proudly said that this is one of his family’s traditional dishes, a great Irish recipe. My mother invited him to stay for dinner. During dinner, he explain that my mothers’ and his family’s dish were quite different from each other. How different could a Salmon Pie be?

Later on when I was living in Toronto, I went to an Irish pub and ordered a Salmon Pie, something I haven’t had for years. I was surprised to see how different it was. It resembled a Pâté Chinois or a Cottage Pie with salmon in it! Then I got it… I realized what that boy was saying about my mom’s salmon pie being unlike his family’s…

Irish or Québec origin, I’m glad that after many years of not making it, I finally brought it back to my menu. It’s a quick and easy dish to put together. David never had it before and he was surprised and happy with the results. My mother served it with a Béchamel Sauce aka White Sauce on top while I’m serving it simply with a side of steamed veggies or a fresh garden salad. For the ones who are not too keen on eating fish, this is a great way to make them eat some without that “fishy” taste. It is a simple recipe and yet quite delicious… give it a try!
Bon Appétit!


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Thursday, 1 February 2018

Pumpernickel Spinach Dip

The 2018 Super Bowl is coming up this weekend. If you are a football fanatic, you’ll probably get together with your friends to eat and drink while enjoying the game. If you’re not into football at all (what’s wrong with you?… lol!), what the heck, it’s a good reason to throw a party anyway…!

When hosting a sporting event party, there’s no “proper” sit down dinner. There are only finger foods, finger foods and more finger foods placed in every room where there’s a TV… okay maybe not in the bedrooms or bathrooms. There’s sure to be a lot of fried food served so maybe making something not “fried” is a good add on to the menu – is there really a menu going on that day? There’s a party food recipe that I like making when I have a large group of friends over and it is my Pumpernickel Spinach Dip! Everyone enjoys it!

The first time I was introduced to it was to celebrate my godchild Emily’s baptism. My friends Isabelle and Bill from Mt Pleasant Michigan had a big reception at their place after church. There was so much food around and if it wasn’t the fact that her side of the family including myself were from Canada, this party would’ve ended up with even more food (not very convenient to bring food from Toronto to Michigan while crossing the border). This dip was sitting there on the dining room table along with others and what caught my attention were all the little pieces of bread surrounding the loaf that was the food vessel for the dip. I took a bit and right away I just had to know what it was. Isabelle told me and I took a mental note to make it for my next big party…

The last time I served this delicious dip was last year for our House Warming party at the end of September and as always, it was well received and disappeared fast! It is an easy and quick recipe to make for any occasion therefore next time you have a big party – like this coming weekend – with lots of friends, you’ll know exactly what to make.
Bon Appétit!


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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Texas BBQ Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Most of us all have crazy schedules and the ones who don’t are blessed… lol! With my Club Foody cooking website, creating recipes, filming, editing, writing, publishing/promoting, this is 2 full time jobs combined in 1 plus I also work as a manager at a store. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining but I sure would like to have 48 hours instead of 24 in a day so I would have some time to relax!

Where was I going with all this? Oh yeah… being busy! To compensate for a lack of time, some will compromise by skipping some tasks. Interestingly enough more often than not, it will be on cooking. People will go and buy prepared food (yuck!) or even worse, go to a fast food joint (now that’s gross). In my book taking the time to cook a nice decent meal is more important than anything else. Eating the right food has a big impact on people’s health so that’s why good home style meals are important… you know what goes in them.

All right enough about that… So not enough time to cook…time to dust off your crock pot and start cooking more often with it (I’m still lecturing). I’m serious though… there are so many great slow cooker recipes out there including… my Texas BBQ Slow Cooker Pulled Pork!

Just saying it makes my mouth water! Pulled pork is so versatile and can be used in many different recipes. After combining your ingredients and placing them in the slow cooker, your job is almost done. You can go run errands, do your laundry, go to your son’s hockey game, clean the house or just relax (sigh)! Stop finding excuses for not cooking a nice meal at home (yep I’m lecturing all the way to the end…), take your crock pot out from the pantry and try this amazing recipe…
Bon Appétit!


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Thursday, 25 January 2018

Béchamel Sauce aka White Sauce

I think that one thing all kids around the world like to do when getting home from school is to run to the kitchen to see what their parents are cooking. I was lucky that my mother didn’t have to work outside and was at home every day. She was always in the kitchen (like mother like daughter) cooking something and baking some yummy desserts and snacks. Although I had a serious sweet tooth as a child, I always enjoyed the main course. I’m not too sure if it’s because we are French Canadian but many dishes were cooked in or with sauces. It seems like there was always a sauce accompanying the meal.

When I first went out on my own, cooking was very challenging. For some reason I never really paid attention when my mother was cooking – I just didn’t have any desire to learn. I was a “tomboy” and being outside playing was my thing. My only chore in the kitchen was to wash the dishes (not by choice) and licking the beaters (totally my idea) when she was making a cake batter. Other than that I had no interest in cooking or baking.

So back when I got my first place, I started making very simple dishes although I screwed up a few and then moved on to slightly more complicated recipes. One thing I got pretty good at was making sauces. These were my savior because if I didn’t cook my dish properly, the sauce would help to cover it up… well that was my way of thinking until I became good in the kitchen.

There was a sauce my mother made often and it is Béchamel Sauce also known as White Sauce. It was used in many different dishes. It was later on that I found out that Béchamel is one of the “mother” of sauces in French cuisine. It is a very simple “basic” sauce that can be altered to other sauces such as Mornay (it’s béchamel with cheese) which I love to use quite often especially for my Macaroni & Cheese recipe, Soubise (onion sauce), Mustard, and so on. This is a sauce that every home cook should master and the technique to achieve a good Béchamel is very simple.
Bon Appétit!


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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Butterscotch Pudding

Ever since I was a child, I always preferred caramel or butterscotch over chocolate. WHAT? Yep, that’s right! Hey don’t get me wrong, I enjoy chocolate very much but I get weak when there’s butterscotch or caramel around. I can go through a whole bag of butterscotch candy in no time and when I make my Salted Caramel Sauce , I find all kinds of excuses to scoop some from the jar.

The difference between butterscotch and caramel is not too far apart. Butterscotch is made with brown sugar while caramel is made with granulated sugar plus butter and milk or cream for both.
Although pretty similar, their tastes are distinctly different.

I have many recipes that use both butterscotch and caramel but today there’s only one… Butterscotch Pudding! OMG! The taste of this dessert is insane… It is so simple to make and yet incredibly flavorful! Using just a handful of ingredients, this is a recipe that everyone will enjoy.

There’s a key ingredient that elevates this dessert that you just CANNOT substitute and it is vanilla bean! I don’t care if you have to order them on line or fly to Madagascar (okay maybe a little too extreme)) but there’s nothing to replace it. You can always use vanilla paste but it’s not the same and definitely the pure vanilla extract can be substitute but… it’s okay. It is pricier but it will make your pudding “sublime”. Also let’s not forget about the butterscotch chips… do yourself a favor and buy a very good quality brand – I use Guittard®.

When you have a dinner party at home and are not too sure what to serve for dessert, this is a tasty one to make. Just keep in mind that the pudding needs to sit about 4 hours in the refrigerator to set up. Other than that, it takes only 10 minutes or less to make… c’mon how much easier could something so delicious be?
Bon Appétit!


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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Ultimate 8 Cheese Vegetable Lasagna

Years ago, when I was visiting my mother for a week, I would take her out for dinner often but we also enjoyed cooking together. The odd time – you know “once in a blue moon” – we ate something already prepared but as I said, rarely! Well on this trip, we had a frozen dinner…

Back then, she owned a couple of hair salons and was quite busy running them both. One day she called me from work to let me know she was too tired to let me take her to a restaurant that evening. She just wanted to take a bath, put her comfy clothes on and chill out at home. I understood and then she asked me to take a Vegetable Lasagna from the freezer and pop it in the oven. It was prepared food… yuk! I insisted we go out for dinner instead but she was firm on her decision. Till this day, I’m totally not a fan of prepared food. Anyway, I made a fresh garden salad – at least something healthy – and by the time she got home, bathed, changed and sat down, dinner (from the box) was ready. It was a shocking surprise when I took my first bite… it was actually quite good although slightly too salty for my liking. When I returned home after my week spent with my mother, I actually believe it or not, went to the supermarket and bought the same frozen lasagna. Being single at the time it was convenient for me to enjoy lasagna once in a while although I probably only had it once every two years…

It is only when David and I moved in together that I decided to make homemade lasagna instead of buying it. It is always more fun to cook for 2 or more than for one person especially when it comes to lasagna. So making my own, I was in control of the sodium level and the spiciness of the dish plus buying fresh produce that I personally picked…

This Ultimate 8-Cheese Vegetable Lasagna is sooooo delicious! It is a simple dish packed with yumminess! Although pretty easy to make, be aware that it takes time to put this together. This is a recipe that you want to start prepping in mid-afternoon so it is ready for dinner time. Is it worth it? Absolutely! Play your favorite music and enjoy a cup of joe while making it. This is the kind of dish that you’ll want in your repertoire especially if you have some picky eaters at home who don’t like veggies… they will love it!
Bon Appétit!


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