Holiday season or not, when you are hosting a dinner party, you want to make sure your guests have a fantastic time! From start to finish, you planned which appetizer to serve followed with your main course as well as your dessert. You probably chose your wine carefully so it pairs well with the menu. Now you think everything is faultless but there’s one thing that we often tend to forget and it is a nice digestif. This is a beautiful finishing touch to any meal. In my book, it is what defines a “successful” dinner! This is a lovely way to end a perfect evening with our loved ones. Of course let’s not forget that none of your guest should be driving after consuming alcohol…
When David and I started living together, we both enjoyed making many kinds of cocktails… from aperitif, casual drinks to digestif. As a former mixologist, it was fun experimenting with him. Just like cooking, we were also creating a few of our own. One evening though, David really surprised me… He came up with this beautiful after dinner drink that I’m about to share with you… the Golden Sunset!
The combination of these liquors is so harmonious! Not overly sweet, this elegant digestif is perfect to serve after dessert. It can also be enjoyed when serving a cheese tray after the main course instead of an Iced Wine. This digestif is what makes the difference between a good dinner and a great one! Cheers!
Probably the only time I have breakfast almost every day is when I’m on vacation. When I’m at home, I might have a decent breakfast on the rare occasion but my “every day” breakfast consists mostly of liquid… specifically “coffee”. Please don’t start to lecture me… I know that it is supposed to be the most important meal of the day.
As I mentioned many times, I DO love breakfast food! They’re fun to eat and there’s such a wide variety to choose from. Cereals, bread, pastries, eggs, fruits, smoothies and even seafood & meat, breakfast time is sure to please anyone!
Now back to when I do eat breakfast. When I stay at a hotel and they have either Eggs Benedict or Soft Boiled Eggs on the menu, I’ll definitely order some. Interesting enough, a few years ago (that was before I met my handsome partner), I went on vacation with Mary, a friend of mine, to an “all inclusive” resort in Puerto Vallarta – David and I are going there next week… can’t wait! When her and I went for breakfast, there was so much to choose from but – yes there’s a “but” – my favorite breakfast items were nowhere to be found.
One morning Mary and I decided to venture outside the resort (finally… I can’t stay in one place) and enjoy breakfast somewhere else. Well what a nice surprise when I saw a restaurant downtown that was serving Soft Boiled Eggs! We sat down and both ordered the same thing. While enjoying our eggs, Mary confessed that it was her favorite as well and only orders them when she goes out for breakfast or brunch. I assumed that she was like me, not a breakfast person but what a shock when she explained to me that she had never been able to successfully make them at home!
Soft Boiled Eggs are very “technical” but not difficult! 15 seconds can make a big difference on the end result. Not enough cooking time and your eggs will be way too runny. Too much and you’ll end up with harder yolks making it impossible to dip your piece of toast in. With the Holidays around, this is a great and elegant recipe to make when you have guests staying over. With the right technique, you can enjoy this classy breakfast anytime at home… Happy Holidays!
Who doesn’t remember their first car? I sure do! Mine was a 1981 Dodge Colt that I purchased in 86. This hatchback meant everything to me. It gave me the freedom that my adventurous side was craving. When I put the key in the ignition, I felt like there were no borders, no limitations on how far I could go – what stopped me was my disposable income… Nonetheless I planned many road trips with my friends. Because I was living in Montréal, going down the American East Coast was the right choice although my true dream was to drive along the West Coast which I finally did a little over 20 years later…
That year, with two of my girlfriends, we went to New York City during Canadian Thanksgiving. For an unexperienced driver, it was quite a challenge to drive in the big apple! I think that if it wasn’t the fact the three of us were so cute, we would probably have received more profanity from the taxi drivers. Besides that issue, the trip was a lot of fun. We had a great time exploring the city, shopping a little and going out to great restaurants. This is when we all discovered the classic Clams Casino! It was so good, we all ordered a second one. I don’t remember what else I ate during that trip except this lovely appetizer.
The other times I had the chance to savor this appetizer was when travelling to the US. I don’t recall having Clams Casino here in Canada. Anyhow, I made them a couple of times and for no particular reason, I just forgot about them. Last summer we had our friends Louise and Tim over for dinner and suddenly we started talking about classic food from the 80s that just disappeared from the restaurant menus – and Clams Casino was on the list. I remembered how flavorful they were and decided to remake them again…
In this video, I’ll show you my version of the classic Clams Casino appetizer. As I said, it’s my “version” of it! I’m not too sure if there’s cheese in the classic one but I sure do enjoy mine with some! It is an easy recipe to make and the beauty of it is the bacon mixture can be prepared the day before so when you are ready to serve them, the only thing you have to do is to steam the clams, spoon the mixture on top and broil them… tada! For the next dinner party or soirée you’ll be having, keep this delicious appetizer in mind! Bon Appétit!
I love the Holidays and I always will. It brings out the little girl in me. The Holidays are so flamboyant and magical! The houses, stores and restaurants are decorated with beautiful colored lights and Christmas trees. It seems there’s something in the air, some electric energy – or perhaps it’s because of all those lights around us… lol!
What is great about this time of the year is I can find more excuses to bake… hey it’s the Holidays, right? I love the aromas of baked food in the oven floating in the house while traditional music is playing in the background. It makes the Holiday experience so enjoyable.
Each year, there are many dishes that I just have to make for the occasion. These dishes represent my childhood and bring lovely memories and the same applies to David as we have similar backgrounds. Of course since we are together, I added a few more items to the menu that really represent us as a couple and one of them, believe it or not, is gingerbread cookies.
I made them once before when I was much younger but this is not something I had when I was a child. There were other sweets baked instead of these cookies which were equally good but now that David and I started our own tradition, each year, I bake these little guys. Last year I started to dress them up a little – they were kind of naked – but by no means is my skill perfected, au contraire! Did someone once say that practice makes perfect? I don’t care if my little guys have one eye bigger than the other. It’s just fun to decorate them with Bing Crosby singing a Christmas carol, me sipping on a nice hot cocoa and the Christmas lights twinkling all around me! Merry Christmas!
I like baking desserts but what I really love to make is bread… any kind and shape as long as it’s bread!
In the Summer time when it’s hot, there’s not many people who like to bake. To me baking is more something I enjoy doing when it’s cooler outside. The smell of fresh dough while baking in the oven is my ultimate weakness…!
From the visual perspective, the beautiful golden color helps to give that slight push over the hill to remove any willpower left in my body. It doesn’t matter if I’m hungry or not, when fresh baked bread comes out from the oven, I need to eat some right away unless it’s for dinner when having company over… then I admit, it’s simply a torture as I have to restrain myself and wait for the appropriate moment…
With many celebrations ahead, baking homemade bread is something that everyone will really appreciate! There are some bread recipes that can take days before you see the final result and also others that take a few hours to complete. One I enjoy baking is Dinner Rolls because it’s a simple recipe. It doesn’t take days to make and the results are delicious. Of course everyone can always buy them at the supermarket but c’mon… nothing beats the smell and taste of fresh homemade bread.
This extra touch will make your dinner party a success when you serve them to your guests because of the freshness, tenderness and just because you took the time to make them… Enjoy! Bon Appétit!
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!