Monday, 31 July 2017

Vietnamese Summer Rolls - Gỏi Cuốn

Finger food, also called amuse-gueule in French, is a popular way to enjoy food. There are many dishes around the world that are considered finger food. Here in North America, there are chicken wings, hot dogs, hamburgers, oysters, fries, and so on. In Italy, there’s that delicious bruschetta as well as polpette, olive all’ascolana, canolli and more. In the Middle East, it’s their popular falafel balls, in Peru their cancha and let’s not forget matryoshka eggs that look like miniature dolls that you can find on the table of Russian parties. It doesn’t matter where you are in the World, people enjoy eating with their hands! From appetizers to more substantial meals along with desserts and treats, finger foods are easy, fun and convenient!

I really don’t recall the first time I ate Summer Rolls but one thing is for sure, I’ve been eating them for years now! This popular Vietnamese finger food called Gỏi cuốn is traditionally prepared with pork, prawns, vegetables and vermicelli. It is served with a peanut sauce for dipping.

Each time I make Vietnamese Summer Rolls, my ingredients are never the same… I like to mix things up and add crab meat, beef, eggs, tofu and others. It is not a type of recipe that the culinary imagination is limited! It is fresh, light, super healthy and quite satisfying! I really enjoy making this recipe during the summer when it’s hot outside. I do use peanut sauce but in this video, I’m showing you another quite flavorful dipping sauce for your rolls. It is spicy and sweet plus with the flavors from the summer roll, it is like a firework of yumminess in your month… Watching this video should give you enough temptation to roll up your sleeves and your rice paper to make this amazing recipe!
Bon Appétit!


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Thursday, 27 July 2017


When I was a child, I loved listening to elderly people talking about their lives, experiences, comparing their past with the actual present. To me it was a lively talking book – perhaps this is how the audio books started. I never got bored because I was learning from them through their stories. They were giving me an opportunity to see the world from another time, another perspective. That was better than any library in the world!

Things never changed as I grew up to become an adult. Meeting new people with different backgrounds was always interesting. Through the places I lived, I’ve met so many captivating individuals from all around the world who shared a part of themselves. By talking about their lifestyles, customs and so on, one common thing they all had was to make sure I tasted their food. I haven’t met anyone who was not eager to share the dishes they grow up with me. This is when I realized that food was one of the most important factors in anyone’s lives.

While living in Toronto, I met a man who was originally from Lebanon. We became good friends and like the other great people I’ve met throughout my life, he shared with me the food he grew up with. This is how I discovered Levantine cuisine. These flavorful middle-east dishes were deliciously different from any other cuisine. Richard, my Lebanese friend, showed me how to cook many of his favorite recipes. He eventually met a lady and we just drifted apart… that’s life!

Since then I never really made any Levantine dishes until a couple years ago when Club Foody became a part of my life. Before I never really wrote any recipes and realized that I should have. After a few mistakes here and there, I finally was able to make a few dishes learned from Richard with, I’m sure, a slight change to them. Like I mentioned, I never wrote recipes down until recently so as much as I try to stay faithful to the original, recipes can be different.

The one recipe that was extremely easy to remember was Tabbouleh – a vegetarian dish that consists of parsley, bulgur, mint, tomatoes, onions, and seasoned with lemon juice and oil. Not only flavorful but also healthy, this dish is so perfect to serve as a side dish along with any protein. I like to treat it as a salad although I’m not too sure if it is in the culinary world. Salad or not, this is an amazing recipe you will want to keep around…
Bon Appétit!


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Tuesday, 25 July 2017


I’ve been in business for most of my life. If I worked for someone else for 7 years altogether, that’s probably it! In the late 80s’ I started my first company which was a High-end Fashion Boutique for Ladies, located on St Joseph Boulevard in Gatineau (formerly Hull), Québec. I carried big designer names such as Mondi, Marcella Priani, Le Truc, and so on as well as some very expensive lingerie such as Chantelle, Lejaby, Filodoro, etc. I also designed some clothes with my label on them.

It was quite an experience and I was blessed to have amazing ladies working for me. They worked very hard to make my boutique a successful business. Often, I was doing fashion shows and they were there helping me with them. During this time, I met a woman named Lisette who was the agent and promoter for the late Alys Robi, a popular singer from Québec. She worked as well for me promoting my store through different events. She eventually got me a spot for one of my fashion shows at The Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. We did it during day time in the Zoe’s lounge throughout Afternoon Tea, packed with ladies enjoying their three tiered plates and sipping their favorite tea while watching my models walking in between tables showcasing the clothes from my store.

After we wrapped everything, I promised myself that one day I would return there to enjoy this British tradition. Sure enough, a couple of years later just before I officially moved to Toronto, I went there one afternoon with a friend, sat in the lounge and ordered some tea and a three tiered plate filled with sandwiches, scones and other sweet treats. This is when I first experienced these traditional English mid-afternoon tea time food items… scones… those little cakey breads. They weren’t sweet as the British served them along with jam and clotted cream… definitely the real deal! Later on, I had the North American version and they were surprisingly sweet compared to the British ones!

When I was running my event planning biz in Toronto, a lady hired me for her charity funding occasion. She wanted this to take place during the afternoon with something simple, yet elegant. I suggested a traditional afternoon tea served with what I had in Ottawa. She agreed and I went off to search for a caterer as well as a pianist, florist, etc. The event was a success… well almost because many of the guests had a real British afternoon tea experience prior to this event and unfortunately the caterer didn’t deliver the “right” scones.

There is a huge difference between British and North American when it comes to scones. Recently I gave them a try and I was pleased with the results but here was the dilemma – would my scones be a hit with the British or with the North Americans? David loved them and so did my friends… now that was a success to me! I served them with my Strawberry Butter along with petite sandwiches, a few one-bite sweets and a wide variety of tea. My “get-together” event was a success. Now if you will excuse me, I have a tea party to attend…
Bon Appétit!


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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Carnival Corn Dogs

There’s a man-made island called Saint Helen, located between Montréal and Longueil that is well known for its entertainment and amusement park; La Ronde. Initially built for Expo 67 which was the most successful World Fair of the 20th century, La Ronde continues to offer amusement rides, games, entertainment and fast-food till this day. It is open from May to October and is a kid’s dream destination.

I remember going there as a child with my parents. I wanted to jump on all the rides, play all the games with the hopes of going back home with a huge stuffed animal and eating whatever I wanted. There was one food item that I really enjoyed eating at the midway and it was called “pogo”, the Québécois given name for corn dogs. With yellow mustard on it, these battered dogs on a stick were absolutely delicious!

As I became an adult, I recall buying a box of corn dogs from the frozen section of the supermarket. They were okay but had that funny, almost metallic taste that you get when foods are frozen. Although I had cravings for them once in a while, I never bought a frozen box again.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I decided to take a shot at making corn dogs from scratch. After mixing my batter with ingredients and spices, dipping the skewered hot dogs/sausages in it and then frying them, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. They were even better than I expected and so easy to make! I don’t have to get dizzy going on rides with a bunch of loud kids around and spend a lot of money to win a stuffed animal to enjoy my “pogo” with a good drizzle of yellow mustard on it and now… so can you!
Bon Appétit!


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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tomates à la Provençale (Tomatoes Provençal)

Tomayto… tomahto!

Fruit… vegetable!

These little guys can be quite a controversy but worldwide, we love them! It doesn’t matter how to pronounce them or if you treat them more like a vegetable than a fruit, tomatoes are just succulent! They are incredibly versatile; used in sauces, stews as well as desserts… that’s right, you read correctly – dessert! Tomatoes are fun to cook with!

Now this trivia will blow your mind… Did you know that there are over 20,000 varieties of tomatoes in the world? It is incredible and apparently the number just keeps growing – as well as botanically… lol! It is a plant that millions of people love to grow.

Summer is here and of course we tend to cook almost everything and anything on the BBQ. David and I have a love affair with it! Our dream is to have a big backyard with a pool and a very large BBQ area for a smoker, charcoal and pizza oven. We just love grilling food!

One side dish I’ve been making for years for its simplicity but also for its amazing freshness is “Tomates à la Provençale” or if you prefer “Tomatoes Provencal” – hey I’m French… of course I’ll say it that way… lol! With a beautiful mix of fresh herbs that I grow on the patio, this recipe pairs so well with any grilled meat. There are a lot of people who cook this in the oven… I prefer it on the barbie! Why starting the oven when it’s barbecue season?

Next time you want a delicious recipe using your garden tomatoes, think about this one. It takes 5 minutes to put the mixture together and after grilling it for another 5, you’ll have a flavorful side dish with your meal. It can’t get any fresher than that!
Bon Appétit!


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Thursday, 13 July 2017

Cantaloupe Smoothie

We all have our top favorite fruits and vegetables. To this we have our second favorites and then the ones we couldn’t care less about. I’m no different than everyone else although I make a huge effort to eat the ones at the bottom of my list. All fruits and veggies have their own nutritional properties and diversifying our diet is very beneficial for us and our bodies.

Sometimes though, there are certain produce we do like but somehow don’t eat that often. Mine is cantaloupe! I like that fruit but in the past, I could go for years before having some… strange indeed!
To compensate with not eating cantaloupe more often, I’ve decided to create a recipe that would remind me to go and buy it at least a couple of times a year.

For those who don’t know me, I’m not really a breakfast person although I really enjoy the food items. I don’t really have an appetite in the morning and working very long hours on my cooking website, the only thing I desperately want when I wake up is COFFEE! I do drink a lot of it and by the time I’m coffeed-out, it’s almost noon. I guess I still can have breakfast but I simply don’t unless David makes some for me – I know, I’m spoiled and deserve it… lol!

It seems that what I have more often than anything else in the morning is smoothies. It’s quick – I know so is a bowl of cereal – , healthy and makes me cut down a little on my caffeine consumption. So that’s how I came up with the idea to create a healthy recipe with my cantaloupe. Since then, David and I regularly enjoy this fruit and its benefits. If you are like us and want to eat cantaloupe more often, then this recipe will definitely help you do it.
Bon Appétit!


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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Maple Walnut Ice Cream

I’m originally from “La Belle Province” (the beautiful province) which is Québec’s nickname. I lived there until my early 20’s and then from there I moved to Ontario. Québec’s ethnicity sets it apart from the rest of the country. The obvious distinction is the majority of people in that province are French and speak the language. Even the culture is different compared with the other provinces and territories. It has a European flare and a more relaxing “attitude” – une joie de vivre – as we like to say!

Another facet that sets this province apart from the rest of Canada is its foods. Not only does Québec have its traditional dishes such as poutine, tourtière, creton, pouding au chômeur and many more but it is also the largest producer in the world when it comes to maple syrup! Québec is responsible for supplying over 75% worldwide… now that should tell you something.

It’s actually a big deal when the producers collect the sap from the maple trees during spring. It is a gastronomic ritual among us Québécois (Quebecers in English). Starting at the beginning of March and for nearly two months, there are sugar shacks everywhere and people gather together enjoying the harvest. With long wood tables next to each other in a very casual ambiance, the guests enjoy dishes that are cooked with or in maple syrup. Oversized plates are delivered and each person serves themselves just like they would do at home, passing each plate on to the stranger sitting next to them. The traditional meals that can be found on those tables are pea soup, scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausages in syrup, ham, salted lard crisps, creton, baked beans, meat pies, boiled potatoes, coleslaw, sugar pies, pouding au chômeur (poor man’s pudding) along with fresh bread, salt and pepper plus bottles of maple syrup to pour more on if a person wants to – like it’s not sweet enough as it is… lol! Live folk music is played and at any time during the meal – and after – , patrons can get up and dance on that rustic old wood floor.

Another fun thing to do when going to a sugar shack is to step outside and wait until one of the people working there comes along with boiling maple syrup and pours it on clean, white snow. On contact, the syrup hardens and the guests quickly roll it on a small popsicle stick. It is called maple syrup taffy or snow candy… take your pick!

There’s another dish that I’m not really sure if it originated in Québec but we sure enjoy the flavor. It is Maple Walnut Ice Cream. With all these traditional dishes cooked with maple syrup, I would presume this cold treat could’ve come from there but I won’t venture to say it affirmatively. On the other hand who cares where it came from because what really matters is how flavorful and delicious this ice cream is! With the crunchy taste from the walnuts, this lovely recipe is exactly what you need this summer. I don’t make “wet walnuts” as many recipes out there suggest because the maple flavor is already quite intense but I definitely roast them in the oven. This little step makes such a huge impact on this recipe. It elevates the taste and aroma of the nuts… definitely a must do.

Do Québécois have a sweet tooth? I guess we do but so does the rest of the world when it comes to maple syrup. This is probably the most popular food item that people who travel to Québec love to bring back home. Now if you’ve never been to Québec, this cold treat will give you a “taste” – of it.
Bon Appétit!


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Thursday, 6 July 2017

Grilled Fish Tacos

Who wants to cook inside during the summer months? NOT ME! Well it depends… if it’s not too “hot”, it doesn’t bother me BUT if the mercury rises beyond my comfort zone, cooking will definitely be done outside. Of course we all agree that grilling on the barbecue is the way to go.

One of our favorite light food items that we enjoy cooking on the “barbie” is fish. It is quick to prepare, easy to cook and there are so many versatile ways to have it. One of them is in a taco. After prepping all your ingredients, the only thing that has to be done is to grill the fish and the tacos… – a few minutes later… voilà dinner is served!

This Grilled Fish Taco recipe I’m sharing with you today is so delicious. You can use halibut (that’s the one I’m using in the video), mahi mahi, grouper, cod, snapper or flounder but the secret ingredient is the fish rub. With a blend of spices, this rub is the right touch to make your fish shine… well in this case grill is probably more appropriate… lol!

When it’s time to assemble your taco after barbecuing, you can use chopped ingredients such as avocados, red cabbage, chives and so on and there’s a nice fresh creamy dill sauce that can be drizzled on top too. This is the perfect dish to enjoy anytime but more so when you really don’t want to cook anything inside…
Bon Appétit!


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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Herbed Garlic Parmesan Croutons

I don’t really like to lecture people but… that’s right there’s a “but”… when it comes to food, I can’t resist mentioning how good it is to have a little salad at least once a day. Eating greens is very important for the function of our metabolism.

I also realize that many people force themselves to eat salads because they find them “boring”. You’ve read it right… boring! I, personally, love eating salads because I have so many versatile recipes therefore every day I can serve salads with delicious variations.

Enough with the salad…

When I go grocery shopping, I rarely buy prepared food items. I prefer to make my own as much as I can. Some would say it takes too much time. My argument is I’d rather spend some time making homemade than losing years of my life. Prepared foods are, in my opinion, poison! The food manufacturers add chemicals to food to preserve them for a longer shelf life. When you take a moment to think about it, what can 30 minutes a day do to improve your health? A lot if you think about simple changes to your lifestyle and eating habits. For example, if you like to watch TV a lot during the evening, remove one program and replace it by making something homemade instead of store-bought. Little changes like this can have a big impact on your life…

Enough with the prepared food items…

Sooo, I like to eat salad and I like to make variations each day to make it delicious and interesting. One item that can enhance a salad besides nuts, dry fruits and of course vegetables and so on is... croutons! I used to buy them at the store but I stopped doing that a long time ago and I’m glad I did. The taste of homemade croutons is far superior to the boxed stuff from the supermarket. Adding fresh ingredients makes the croutons so yummy!

Here I’m sharing my Herbed Garlic Parmesan Croutons recipe and if… only if you decide to walk from the couch to the kitchen during the commercial breaks, you can make this flavorful recipe. The time it takes to make them is short and the results are amazing!
Bon Appétit!


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