dessert

Salted Caramel Walnut Tart

Rustic French Cooking Made Easy: Authentic, Regional Flavors from Provence, Brittany, Alsace and Beyond , Salted Caramel Walnut Tart, Photography by Audrey Le Goff and Karly Schaefer.

Rustic French Cooking Made Easy: Authentic, Regional Flavors from Provence, Brittany, Alsace and Beyond , Salted Caramel Walnut Tart, Photography by Audrey Le Goff and Karly Schaefer.

This collection of 60 unbelievably easy, delicious recipes represents the best of essential French home cooking, with an amazing variety of dishes from traditional regional cuisines.

Leave haute cuisine to fussy French restaurants, and dive into simple, comforting classics. Audrey Le Goff, founder of the blog Pardon Your French, dispels the myth that real French cooking is tricky and complicated. Home cooks interested in the popular French approach to cooking for health and happiness, will delight in these authentic, approachable recipes, while devoted French cooking fans will discover delicious staples rarely tasted outside of the French family kitchen.

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The best thing I ate this month – February 2016

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Photograph by Carl Tremblay – America’s Test Kitchen

A two layer cake with one batter? Lemon pudding cakes are a desert that should be beset with any number of issues. Yet during baking, the egg whites miraculously rise to the top in soufflé fashion, while the lemon pudding skillfully sinks to the bottom—just like magic! But how is this achieved? Carefully and with expert guidance from the fine folks at America’s Test Kitchen.

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Book Review: Williams-Sonoma Gluten-Free Baking

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I know what you’re thinking. I’ve succumbed to the ever-present fad that is gluten-free. Let me assure you that I have done no such thing. But for many people, living with a gluten intolerance or sensitivity is serious business.

According to the CDHF, more than 330,000 Canadians are believed to be affected by celiac disease (a condition where people’s immune systems react to gluten found in wheat, rye and barley). In the U.S., that number is a staggering 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population (according to the NFCA).

With the help of Williams-Sonoma, gluten-­free expert and author Kristine Kidd released her eighth book, Gluten-Free Baking, featuring 80 recipes that are naturally gluten-free. Ms. Kidd is a gourmet chef and was the food editor at Bon Appétit magazine for 20 years. After adopting a gluten-­free diet due to an intolerance, she set to work developing recipes in her own kitchen, exploring an array of gluten-free whole grains with the goal to create baked goods with great flavour and texture.

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Boston Birthday Bash

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There is some inexplicable and subconscious comfort in being around good friends.  Especially ones that are full of generosity, good humour and affability. Friends who will honour your birthday with a night centered around your favourite team even when it is not theirs.

Recently, I was feted with a Boston-themed soiree by these friends of mine and treated to a meal of staggering proportions, a ‘Best of New England’ menu accessorized with Red Sox napkins, balloons, plates and cups. The crab salad was fresh, fragrant, zingy, crunchy with equal parts sweet and creamy. The chowdah was the best I’ve ever had. And I’ve had plenty. The broth was clean and allowed the palate to fully access all the flavours of the ingredients with the corn and the chives providing a boost of flavour. The risotto was decadent and flawless. Hefty chunks of perfectly cooked lobster surrounded by tender rice in the most tasty of broths accented by a side of fresh greens.

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Southern Dinner 2014

The nature/nurture debate ends right here. I’ve had a full-on obsession with Southern cuisine as far back as I can remember. It is my favourite food. If I ever have the misfortune of being on death row, my last meal request will be Leah Chase’s Fried Chicken, Patti LaBelle’s Over-The-Rainbow Mac ‘N Cheese, Lee Bros. Fried Green Tomatoes, James Villas’ Candied Sweet Potatoes, Mrs. Wilkes’ Boardinghouse-style Biscuits and some sweet tea with bourbon. I could then die in peace.

But where did I develop my admiration for Southern food? I mean, it’s a reasonable question and one that’s often asked. I’m a French-Canadian dude who lives far north of the Mason-Dixon line. I didn’t grow up under a cypress tree in Charleston nor did I visit any relatives in Augusta during summer break. I was raised squarely on escargots, soupe à l’oignon and Coquilles St-Jacques. Not a biscuit to be found for kilometers. So really, there is no explanation other than I’ve coveted fried okra and peach cobbler since my beginnings. I’ve long ago surrendered to the fact that I was just born with smothered chicken gravy running through my veins. And why should I fight it? There are worse fates than having an innate ability to cook fried chicken and shrimp & grits. When it comes down to it, I am drawn by the cuisine’s hallowed traditions and unique cooking styles, its use of fresh ingredients, but mostly to its ability to provide feel-good old-fashioned comfort.

It is for this reason that every year I play host to a group of friends who indulge me in my zeal to create a Southern tradition north of the border. And I’m more than happy to be their comfort food ambassador. Here are some pics from this year’s “Southern Dinner.”

Bon Appétit Skillet-Fried Chicken
Light, crispy, juicy, tender and delicious. This best describes Bon Appétit Skillet-Fried Chicken or as the magazine describes it, “the only fried chicken recipe you’ll ever need.”

Tart and brimming with brisk flavour and apple-like crunch, these fried tomatoes are topped with a refreshingly creamy butter-milk lime herb dressing. This dish is unusual and one that my friends clamor for every year.

Lee Bros. Cherry Tomato and Soybean Salad 
Soybeans are married with sweet cherry tomatoes and tossed with a buttermilk-basil dressing. A good, fresh-tasting complement to any Southern meal.

Lemon Meringue Pots de Crème
Light, airy and tangy with a delicate lemony flavour, these pots de crèmes were the perfect ending to the feast.

Southern Dinner 2013

This blog entry is as much about friendship as it is about food.  I have been blessed with some of the most supportive and lovesome friends. Forever there to help, to lean on and to let me be me.  Elbert Hubbard once said, “The friend is the person who knows all about you, and still likes you.” And for that I am ever so grateful. And tis no better way to give thanks to my inner circle of most beloved than with the annual Southern Dinner.

For me, life without fried chicken would be an unworthy existence. I’m confident that I was raised as a southern boy in a previous life. And I find solace in the fact that this type of food provides the ultimate comfort, to me and to my pals.

Behold this year’s feast which consisted of fried green tomatoes, followed by fried chicken, mac n’ cheese, salad, whipped sweet potatoes with pecan topping and for desert, a lemon layer cake.

Celebratory Mousse

My employees get to keep their jobs. Thank you Baby Jesus! They made it through the months-long job cutting process and were ultimately retained. Our long national nightmare is over. I made chocolate mousse to celebrate. I whipped it up the night before the big reveal so this could just as well have been angry-dejected-soak-up-their-tears-throw-it-in-my-face mousse. Thankfully it was stoked-they-get-to-keep-their-job-so-they-can-continue-paying-their-bills-I’m-pumped-they’ll-be-sticking-around-cause-I-love-these-people mousse. Or as Cook’s Illustrated likes to call it, Dark Chocolate Mousse.