Thursday, 29 March 2018

Scalloped Potatoes Recipe - Easy, cheesy and delicious | Club Foody

Unless it was pasta, I really can’t remember a dinner that my mother didn’t serve potatoes as a side dish – all right the odd time like “once in a blue moon” kind of thing. My father has always been a “meat & potato” type of guy. Although I enjoy potatoes, I could easily reduce the servings down to twice a month… I’m still like that! Ironically enough David is like my father… okay perhaps not as excessive as my dad. Anyway, when we have two servings of potatoes as a side dish a week, I make sure that I serve something else. When I was living by myself, many months in a row I didn’t have any potatoes at all… I’m a big salad eater!

I guess a potato side dish is easy for most home cooks to serve along with a dish. The various ways to cook and serve potatoes gives many great choices as a meal accompaniment. From mashed, boiled, roasted to fried, there are so many recipes with potatoes as an ingredient to choose from and you are definitely at the right place, here at Club Foody! What? Of course I’m self-promoting my website… lol!

All joking aside, there’s a recipe that I really like serving to my guests because I find it quite tasty. I’m talking about my Scalloped Potatoes here! The creamy texture of this potato recipe with a nice hint of spices accompanies any dish elegantly. Yes it’s potatoes but an elevated version of it. I like to serve this with Duck à l’Orange which I’ll be posting to my recipes soon, Brown Sugar Mustard Glazed Ham, chicken and many more dishes. An uncomplicated recipe, this is a side dish you really want to keep and you’ll understand more after you make it…
Bon Appétit!


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Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Lamb Chops with Balsamic & Red Wine Reduction Recipe | Club Foody

Quick, easy, delicious and elegant recipe…

Do you like entertaining?

I sure do! David and I like having people over, sharing stories, laughs and good food along with a nice bottle of wine. Everyone is relaxed… well almost everyone! The only person who cannot fully relax until dinner is ready is the “home chef”. I love cooking but it’s always nicer to be able to spend some time with our guests. The last thing I want is to be stuck in front of the stove, cooking, sautéing and stirring food while I could be with them relaxing…

Easter is coming and then summer will be arriving soon afterward which means backyard parties, gatherings, big family dinners, celebrations, and so on… If you are like us, entertaining is fun but can be quite demanding especially when some recipes have to be prepared relatively right before serving. I try to reduce my time in front of the stove and having more time conversing and laughing with guests but I’m not always successful with my plan… lol!

A few years back, David ordered a beautiful rack of lamb for two at Metropolitan Grill in Seattle. I was surprised because he has never been a big fan of lamb. Perhaps because Michael, the general manager, who has known us for years, highly recommended this dish but we took his suggestion. I'm glad we did because the lamb was fantastic! I usually enjoy some mint jelly on the side but that time, I had it without any condiment… it was that good! What was also great was the fact that David finally gave lamb a try and he liked it. This is not his favorite meat but at least now, he’s more willing to eat some versus almost never before.

Lamb Chops… the solution!

Here’s a recipe I enjoy making for a few reasons and it is my Lamb Chops with Balsamic & Red Wine Reduction! What I like about this is it is so quick to make. Besides marinating the lamb for 30 minutes (*see note below), from cooking to serving it takes half an hour all together. Also it is an elegant dish to serve your guests. The reduction gives a nice flavorful dimension and wraps it so beautifully. The added beurre manié at the end of the reduction thickens the sauce but also brings a nice glossy finish to it which makes this dish even more appealing…

Surprisingly many people don’t enjoy the taste of lamb but if you do, this is a great lamb dish for you to try. It is the perfect quick meal to serve when you don’t want to stand in front of the stove cooking for hours. I like to serve this with steamed veggies and baby potatoes for a nice presentation as they don’t take too much time to make either – I’m definitely working on my time management… lol!
Bon Appétit!

*NOTE: You can always marinate the lamb loin chops ahead of time. Just place them in the fridge and when ready to cook, let them sit on the counter for 30 minutes like I did in the video. In my opinion, when meat is not too chilled, it cooks evenly from center to edge.

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Monday, 26 March 2018

Beurre Manié - Sauce & Soup Thickener - Tips & Tricks | Club Foody

Beurre Manié is a sauce, soup and stew thickener. In French it means literally “handled butter”.

To make beurre manié, you need an equal amounts of butter and unbleached all-purpose flour. In the video, I use 1/2 cup of each. If you want to make some ahead and freeze it, portion beurre manié in teaspoons. It is the safe way to go as it’s a standard measure when added to sauces and soups.


Beurre Manié vs. Roux…

Although beurre manié and roux are both thickening agents and made with equal amounts, the stage of cooking and other components vary from one to another.

Beurre manié is added to warm or hot liquids at the final stage of cooking. As the flour particles are coated with butter, when butter melts, it releases them which helps to thicken without getting any lumps. It also gives a nice shiny texture to sauces.

While roux seems pretty much the same, flour and fat besides butter such as other oils, are cooked right at the beginning as a base for sauces, soups or stews. The length of cooking depends on the level of brownness.

Here’s a recipe that I use this thickener in…Lamb Chops with Balsamic & Red Wine Reduction

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Pâte à Choux aka Choux Pastry

I don’t know if you had the same thing when you were a child but in my house, my mother always had dessert. It was her bargain tool (lol…) for my brother and I to finish our main course. “You guys won’t have dessert until you finish what is in your plate…” -, she used to say. I remember once I just didn’t like at all what was for dinner and after sitting a couple hours at the dining table, I was sent to bed without eating any dessert. I realized (only that night) that I was able to skip desserts… it wasn’t a big deal! Of course, this new revelation didn’t last me long because right the next evening I was back enjoying dessert again after my meal… It’s only in my teenage years that I could live without… well… that’s the theory!

Each time I host a diner party, I always have a homemade dessert for my guests. To me it ends a meal nicely. You know when I mention about “… living without dessert”, this statement is actually more in the grey area. Actually there are a few desserts that I cannot live without and I definitely don’t need the excuse to make them only when there’s company over… although it does help to don’t eat them all. Two of my favorites have the same common denominator and it is Pâte à Choux also known as Choux Pastry…

Years ago I wanted to start making Pâte à Choux and the only person I knew how to make this was my mother. After asking her, I’ve been making it since. Pâte à Choux is a base for many pastry dessert such as Cream puffs, Croquembouche, Saint-Honoré cake, Beignets, Chocolate Éclair – this recipe will be posted next month -, and so on as well as Gougères which is more a savory pastry served as an appetizer or along a main course, Pommes Dauphine, etc. It’s not complicated to make and this is definitely a recipe that you need in your binder. I love pastries with Pâte à Choux and so do my guests even when everyone is full – they’ll still find room to enjoy them…
Bon Appétit


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Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Maple Mustard Pork Tenderloin

Even as a child, I’ve never been a winter person, and the arrival of spring has always been a big deal. Knowing the mercury will finally start rising, the beginning of that season also brought a delicious reason to enjoy it even more… sugar shacks! In Québec, this is a big culinary event that everyone loves to do. Fully loaded buses taking people to these places, schools organizing day trips for students, families planning a day to drive to a nearby location… sugar shacks are the place to go during spring time!

If you’ve never been to a sugar shack, here goes. Located on acres of property surrounded with maple trees (obviously…), there’s a very large cabin, sometimes made of logs, with wood floors, long wooden tables and wood chairs… very rustic looking, nothing fancy. Not all the time, but at certain places, they have an area for patrons to dance while a violinist or accordionist plays folk music. Everything from savory to sweet is cooked with the nice light amber color collected from the sap of the trees.

Outside there can be some tours for people to see how the process of harvesting maple works. Also most of the time there’s a long half empty log where clean snow is placed and then hot maple syrup is poured over. With craft sticks, everyone gathers around to swirl maple around their sticks as it gets harder with the contact of the snow… I love that! Some places even have a sleigh pulled by horses for guests to enjoy a ride on the property. This is a sweet day that Québécois enjoy each year…

To celebrate – yes to me it is a celebration knowing that the worst is behind us and we’re moving towards warmer weather – , I am sharing an incredible recipe with you that I’ve been enjoying for years… my Maple Mustard Pork Tenderloin! This easy recipe is a great start to a new season and brings a popular culinary event from Québec to your table! The lovely combination of maple and mustard along with other ingredients gives a nice distinctive flavor to the sauce.

This is the kind of recipe you want to keep around because it doesn’t take too much time to make and is elegant to serve. This is the perfect dish for any occasion! Go buy a very good quality maple syrup and enjoy this meal as us Québécois like to highlight it as a “Spring Celebration”.
Bon Appétit!


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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Chocolate Grasshopper Martini

If your favorite color is green, you’ll be quite happy this coming weekend because of this worldwide event… St Patrick’s Day! Green signs, ribbons and other decorations will be showcased in most big cities, plus people will be wearing green hats, green clothes, and other green accessories. Not only will they wear something green but they may also consume green food or drinks as well.

A friend of mine from Toronto, Brent whose Irish descendant told me that on St Patrick’s Day he likes to drink green beer! Let’s stop right now… I’m not a beer person to begin with let alone green beer! Alright, occasionally, especially on a hot summer day, I might have a beer but I mix it with Clamato juice which is called a “red-eye”. For those of you who are not sure what that juice is all about, it’s basically similar to tomato juice but not as thick and far less tomatoey with a hint of clam flavor and some added spices. As much as a Bloody Mary (vodka & tomato juice) is very popular in the USA, a Bloody Caesar (vodka & clamato juice) is our superstar here in Canada. Okay, enough with red and let’s go back to green… All right so now that I established that green beer is not my thing, it might not be yours either but we still want to sip a green drink on Saint Patty’s Day.

I always enjoyed a Grasshopper cocktail here and there but find it a little too rich for my liking. So what I’ve decided to do is to turn it into a martini – now we’re talking! By adding vodka to this mix, it helps to cut down the creaminess from the heavy cream used in the Grasshopper. What I like about my Chocolate Grasshopper Martini is a cocktail I can serve as a digestif after a meal as well as just casually. It’s optional but sprinkling some shaved dark chocolate on top of a small dollop of whipped cream makes this drink even more delicious. It’s like savoring a chocolate mint candy in its liquid form with a grown up twist… yummy!

This is definitely a drink I won’t have a problem having on St Patrick’s Day!

P.S. Please drink responsibly otherwise you just might turn into a leprechaun!


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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Old Fashioned Baked Beans with Bacon

Both my mother and father liked to cook. It wasn’t a rigid schedule but most of the time during the week my mother did the cooking and on weekends it was my father… although many times dad didn’t cook for weeks. Between the two of them, they’ve made many great recipes. From complicated to elegant, traditional to comfort, it was a rotation of yumminess in our family kitchen!

There’s a dish we all really liked… Baked Beans!

My father was the one who made it often. When he started on Friday after work to soak the beans in water, we knew we would be having them for dinner over the weekend and if there were any leftovers, breakfast on Sunday along with eggs and toasts. After soaking the beans, the following morning, he rinsed them and slowly cooked them for hours. The whole day had that yummy aroma floating in the air… perfect on cold Canadian days!

When I moved out on my own, either I was too lazy to make them or not ready to eat beans the whole entire week (it’s a big batch…) therefore buying them at the store was more convenient. Recently I was asking my mother if those baked beans in the brown glass jar were still available at the supermarket. Apparently not although it was a cool concept! The shape was a miniature duplicate of a traditional Bean Pot just like the one I’m using in the video but the container was a dark glass… like dark amber color. The only thing we had to do was to remove the lid, follow the baking instructions and pop them in the oven. They were quite good I have to admit. The only place I could find them though was in Québec’s supermarkets so when I moved to Ontario, I had to start making my own beans from scratch… After years of practice, I tweaked the recipe quite a lot from my parents’ traditional one and now they make mine…

This is a dish that can be served as a side with chicken breasts, Brown Sugar Mustard Glazed Ham , burgers, and so on. It is also very delicious to enjoy in the morning with your eggs, pancakes, waffles or French toast. A way I like to eat them for dinner is alone with a fried egg and toast for dipping, topped with Québec maple syrup. I introduced this way of eating them to David and now he likes to eat them my way too – copycat… lol! This dish freezes well so you can have it later for lunch or a picnic. As great weather is approaching, this is an awesome recipe that you can serve for your backyard BBQ party…
Bon Appétit!


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Thursday, 8 March 2018

Mornay Sauce

Could my family roots have an impact on the way I’ve been cooking? I’d say “YES”! Being a French descendant and Québécoise, my roots definitely have had a huge influence on my cooking style. I grew up eating a lot of sauces. My mother made sauces for almost every dish. Besides a few exceptions, sauces were as common at dinner time as having a fresh baguette and butter on the family dinner table every night. It’s interesting because a friend of mine when I was just starting at junior high was impressed that each time she came over for dinner, there was always a sauce accompanying the meal – either cooked in or with sauces. Her background was Scottish and her family didn’t eat that much sauce.

As a child, I was used to eating that way and it’s only when I moved out on my own that I realized I had to learn how to make sauces… and quick! My culinary talent was minimal but one thing that saved me quite often with my amateur recipes was my sauces. I mastered the 5 mother sauces of French cuisine without knowing it. I obviously had a great culinary teacher… my mother!

Let’s go back to how our background can effect what we eat…

When David and I started to live together, after a few months he told me that he never ate so much cheese in his life – his background is German! I always have at least 7 different cheeses in my refrigerator. This is how it was at my parents so obviously I love cheese… a lot!

A couple of months ago, I showed you the technique on how to make a Béchamel Sauce aka White Sauce which is one of the 5 mother sauces of French cuisine. From this particular recipe, a few other sauces are made and they are called “secondary” sauces. One of them is Mornay.

Mornay is basically a white cheese sauce. It is used quite often in pasta recipes as well as with poultry, seafood, fish, vegetables, and so on… This is a great sauce for you to have in your repertoire because it can be used in a wide variety of your dishes. Like anything else, you have to learn how to crawl before running and this is why I first posted the Béchamel Sauce aka White Sauce so you can make sauces like Mornay and many others! It’s very easy to make and you’ll be very happy to have this recipe around…
Bon Appétit!


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Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Sardine Cups

When I’m hosting a dinner, I’m pretty meticulous about my menu. I want to make sure that from start to finish, everything goes together well. The same applies with my wine selection and my digestifs (cocktail after a meal). Although I love to serve an appetizer, I realized that often my guests were too full to enjoy the whole experience all the way to dessert after eating an “appy” plus the main course – I guess as we age, we tend to eat less! This is when I decided to cut down on what I’m serving prior to dinner, of course it always depends on your main course…

I started creating many different bite-size hors d’oeuvres because it’s so convenient! When there’s a large group of people over at your place, bringing out little “bouchés” is always fun as well as replacing that “formal appetizer” dish before dinner. With Easter and summer around the corner, there will be many gatherings, backyard parties, big family dinners, receptions and so on… I really think that this is a delicious way to go without stuffing people to the gills before the main course.

In this video, I’m going way out there… I’m sharing a sardine creation with you! Oh boy! If you are like David, just move on to the next recipe… forget about this one! Otherwise if you are like me then stick around…

I realize that sardines can be extremely “fishy” even the ones from the cans but I simply love them! My parents were eating them and as a child I was fine with sardines. I always enjoyed them without knowing that they are actually super healthy! These little guys surprisingly are one of the highest sources of omega-3s plus vitamins and minerals. They reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, have a high level of calcium and vitamin D and so on… What I like about them is they can be a great addition to so many dishes such as sandwiches, soup, salads and for today, appetizers.

Every time I mention “sardines” to David, his reaction is “eww” and then “cough, cough, cough” to finalize with him saying “kitty breath” with a lisp to it like Sylvester the cat. Yeah, yeah… funny man! Jokes aside though, not everyone likes sardines so a word of advice, please ask before serving…
Bon Appétit!


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Thursday, 1 March 2018

North African Chicken Thighs with Dates & Pomegranate Molasses

Chicken is such a popular meat worldwide. The most common parts from the chicken are breasts, and then drumsticks followed by wings/drumettes. Often the thighs are overlooked and they shouldn’t be… Thighs with bone-in and skin on are very tasty and when cooked slowly, they release so much flavor! They are also absolutely amazing on the “barbie”… yep BBQ season is coming soon…

A couple of years ago I bought a Tagine on Amazon but not by choice… I just couldn’t wait any longer. My perfect Tagine purchase would’ve been while visiting Morocco so there’d be a story behind it. The only sentimental value, and not really a positive one, I had from it was when I got my VISA statement bill the following month! Anyway being impatient, I conveniently bought it on that site because I wanted to cook so many recipes I created in this particular cooking vessel.

One thing about Tagines is it can hold so much and I found out pretty fast. I had friends coming over for dinner and after thinking about this particular recipe, a Tagine was the way to go… well that’s what I thought. After I started cooking my new creation, I ran out of space. David and I quickly transferred the ingredients into a wider skillet… Phew! The recipe still came out quite scrumptious. Why I wanted to use a Tagine at first is because I wanted to give a truly North African culinary experience to my guests…

All right I went on and on about cooking vessels which really is not what I wanted to talk about. Tagine or not, this North African Chicken Thighs with Dates & Pomegranate Molasses is an awesome recipe! The different flavors combined together give this dish quite a unique taste. As I mentioned at the beginning, the chicken thighs give a delicious layer to this dish. A few months ago, I posted how to make Pomegranate Molasses and this chicken thigh recipe is another yummy way to use this extraordinary condiment. The mix of ingredients combines so beautifully, making this exotic dish a must try. Just keep in mind that using a Tagine is awesome but it can hold only so much…
Bon Appétit!


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