here and there

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tongue in Cheek: Raspberry Macaroon

Tongue in Cheek: Raspberry Macaroon

So much more than a cookbook

Yesterday, I sadly closed Madame Benoit book after reading it all.  Her cookbook featured recipes of her grandparents,her mom's along with her daughter, Monique's recipes which she proudly featured.  It was a beautiful way to spend a snowy winter weekend as in reading the book , as it brought many memories of Mom and her culinary skills and life on the farm.. As I was reading Benoit's book, I was also listening to Mavis Staples being interviews by Holger Peterson  who thanked him for the memories that were rekindled for her by the interview.. I also thank Madame Benoit for the memories that I she has stirred up for me.  Hmmm..who shall I lend the book to enjoy- JF or Jonathan???

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Madame Benoit cooks at home

Yesterday, I popped into Chapters and then Value Village to see if there were any  classic cookbooks and to my delight I found  a copy of Madame Benoit cooks at home (1978).. for $3.99..It was a Christmas Gift in 1982 and it looks like it has never been  used or read.. I love her books as she writes a little about each recipe as to the origin or history.. In this book she talks about the influences on her life and her cooking career.. Her greatest influence was Doctor de pomaine who worked as a physician at the Institute Pasteur  in  Paris  and also wrote books on cooking where you are seeing and smelling as you follow his recipe. He believed that one needed to understand food chemistry to understand food transformation and what it does to one's body. In the early1900, he also felt as distance between places shorten that we would come to know all the  cuisines of the world. How remarkable a statement that was!  In her introduction shealso talks of the influences of her parents and grandparents in her love of food.

Of note, Madame graduated from Le Cordon Bleu 25 years before Julia Childs
In checking reviews on her books, I came across the following Blog and this particular book.

I look forward to reading  this book that is so much more than a cookbook 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Clay Hot Pot

I am a proud owner of a clay pot that I purchased at Pacific Mall a couple of days ago. I am am anxious to use this new pot! However, I am following the instructions of preparing the clay pot before using it for cooking by soaking it in water for three days. Today, I can use this pot that looks like a covered casserole dish, but that you can also use on your stove top.

Not too sure if it’s a Sand Pot as it is glazed. For first time usage of the pot it suggests starting with minimum temperature and increase the temperature gradually.

The recipes I was able to find on the net used the stove top method to first cook the rice and then add meat and veggies in steps to cook on the stove. I decided to cook all of the stuff in one go in the oven. I used a multigrain rice that had six grains in the mix. I first marinaded skinned chicken breast and turkey sausages in soya sauce, fresh grated ginger and garlic for about an hour. . ..


I popped in the Hot Pot into a cold oven and after an hour at 325 the liquid was not even warm so I increased the temperature to 375and baked for another hour.

I served this with lightly sautéed long green beans

The dish was tasty, however the chicken was dry and over cooked.. I think that chicken thighs would have worked better here. The dish lacked color. I had planned on added Shrimp and Baby Bok Choy for a few minutes at the end of the cooking time, but since the chicken seemed over done,I did not. Although less cooking time was needed for the meat, which was thawed, it was correct timing for the rice. Overall I was disappointed as although tasty, the dish not only needed color, but also acidity like lime. A soup dish may have been more enjoyable.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

langostinos a la gitana

langostinos a la gitana (grilled shrimp on roasted red peppers)

This shrimp pintxo is still on the Restaurant menu and translated in English as “grilled shrimp on roasted red peppers”.   
Since “a la gitana” means a female gypsy, I think the chef is having fun with this dish.   Mystery and enchantment of the gypsy culture has always added charm to the Spanish culture.  Furthermore, the beauty of a Spanish Flamenco gypsy dance adds to this mystic.  

Grilled shrimp is a favourite tapas in Spanish Tapas bars while drinking a glass of chilled fino sherry or beer.
The presentation of this Pintxo captures the image of a flamenco Dancer.


Roasted Red Pepper.
Toss red peppers in olive oil and bake in a preheat oven of 450 degrees.  Roast the peppers until partially charred, turn peppers often.  Place peppers into a bowl and cover with saran wrap, the skin will remove easily after sweating in the covered. 

For this dish, puree the roasted peppers in food processor.  Add a drizzle of Olive oil, roasted garlic and lemon juice to taste and pulse in food processor until mixed.  Season with salt and pepper.  Garlic that has been rubbed in Olive oil can be roasted along with Peppers in the oven. 

Grilled Shrimp
Whisk together ½ cup of olive oil, juice of one lemon and 1 -2 tsp of sea salt.  Mix unpeeled shrimp with heads intact in marinade mixture for a couple of minutes.  Do not leave the shrimp in the marinade longer as the shrimp will cook in the lemon juice.  Grill or sauté in a hot frying pan for about 1-2 minutes, turn and sear the other side until cooked.  Keep warm 

 In to a small individual serving dish or Tasting Spoon , add a dollop of red pepper puree, position the grilled shrimp on top, drizzle with Olive Oil and sprinkle finely chopped parsley around the shrimp- Voila , Enjoy !.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tarta de queso con su culis de frutas del bosque

The translation of Tarta de queso  is cheesecake
 con is "with"  fruit coulis or  a fruit puree
del Bosque means "of wood"  

 perhaps it means cheesecake with wild berry coulis

Tarta de queso con su culis de frutas del bosque

Oh great! .Here is my search for this tapas..
Which is in Spanish but does not give you a translation of what the video is   It is a video of


(YouTube) that shows how to make this  delicious recipe for cheesecake with berries.  Having looked at a recipe for this Tart that included an English translation the video makes sense. 

For the base:
2 packages of oatmeal cookies or 1 1/2 cups of graham wafer crumbs
30 gr (1/3 cup) butter

400 gr. creamy fresh cheese or Philadelphia cheese or 2 (8 ounces)packages of cream cheese.,
700 dl. whipping cream (or 2cups)
100 gr. sugar (or 1/3 cup)

2 tsp of lemon juice   
For coverage: berry coulis.   

250 grams( 1 cup) of raspberries, 250 grams( 1 cup) of blueberries, 2 tsp sugar, lemon juice

A classic coulis is usually berries that have been seasoned with sugar and lemon juice to bring out the flavour of the berries.  Some of the recipes have you puree the fruit and then strain the mixture to remove any seeds.  This mixture when stored in a non metal container will keep for a few days in the refrigerate.. My thoughts are that you may not need to puree the berries as once the sugar is added the juice from the fruit is released and the mixture can be pressed through the sieve.   However, I would think that the mixture may be too thin to place on the cheese cake mixture and may need to be thicken with Corn starch.  Cooking this will change the flavour of this coulis
Use fruits such as raspberries and blueberries but also coulis could be made with currants, blackberries, etc

A New York style of Cheesecake topped with wild berries and drizzled on top with Blueberry Coulis  is pictured below 

  • Melt the butter
  • Place cookies into a plastic bag.  Roll with a rolling pin until finely crushed. Mix Butter and cookie crumbs.  Press mixture into desired pan or form.
  • Beat the cream cheese, cream and sugar mixture until smooth. Spread over the crust.  Fridge for 3 hours minimum.
  • Pour coulis over the cheese mixture..
  • Run the spatula around the cake to unmold and remove the pan rim
  • Decorate the top with the fresh berries used in the Coulis and fresh mint.

To make the little Pintxo that was served in the restaurant, one needs miniature mold to achieve the look.  A similar cheesecake appears on the Cape Food Services web site ,the picture from that site  is included in this posting

Monday, January 18, 2010

2010 Jan 17 Raclette Birthday Celebration

Raclette is a dish indigenous to parts of Switzerland and France. The Raclette cheese, from the French word “to scrape”, is heated in front of a fire or on a special grill and then scraped on to small boiled potatoes when the cheese is melted and dusted with paprika and fresh-ground black pepper.

Condiments that are served with this meal are a variety of sour pickles such as gherkins, picked onions and pickled beets.

When Mary- An and I had Raclette in Switzerland, each home had their own variety of condiments. Here in Calgary, our friends serve sliced canned pineapple and small cubes of chicken breast that need to be grilled. In the past years, they have increased the amount of salads served such as iceberg salad, spinach and mushroom and grated carrot salad. The nicest variety of pickles served was in Lucerne in particular the pickled zucchini in white wine was delicious. Last night, shrimp was a nice addition to the meal.

I first heard about Raclette on a cooking show in Winnipeg in the seventies when Brain Little grilled in a frying pan ½ thick cheese slices until the outside was crisp and the cheese was gooey soft in the middle. These cheese slices were served with boiled potato, pickles and a green salad.

Raclette can simply be melted by placing slices of cheeses on ovenproof plates into a very hot oven or microwaving the cheese for a few minutes. He discussed how the oldest method of melting and serving Raclette was the fireplace as the cheese round facing the glowing coals melted, it was scraped on to heated plates. Nomadic Swiss herders could easily prepare this meal around a campfire.

The modern electric grill melts the cheese in small pans and grills meat, seafood and vegetables on the top grill. This is a leisurely meal and ideal for a cold winter days. Raclette cheese that is already sliced can be purchased in Calgary .  On you tube, I found a candle heated raclette which would work beautiful on a ski hill!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hot Pot Celebration

Well this is my birthday meal!! It has been such since moving to Calgary. Mainly because after cooking for all the fall birthdays of my family, I would rather stay at home then go out for a birthday meal and frankly I do not want to cook for myself, so this became the perfect solution.  Secretly I feel slighted as my birthday fall on a feast day of great importance when we were on the old calendar (Jan 18th).  My grandmother Anna would prepare the twelve meatless dishes for this “vechera”.  All of her children and their children would drive from all parts of Manitoba to be part of celebration some called Little Christmas or Schedrij Vechir.  My birthday was never the focus when everyone was there, in fact I don’t ever remember it even being mentioned.  But when we began to celebrate Christmas on the new calendar, I truly missed this family celebration at my grandparents’ home. 

I must add that after Sean worked in Japanese restaurant in Canmore, Alberta while training at the Nordic centre, he had no tolerance for the slow, leisurely place of the Hot Pot and ended up throwing everything in at the same time! In my Hot Pot, I prefer pork, chicken, shrimp and scallops and lots of vegetables.  

Hot Pot is believed to have originated over 1000 years ago and spread to Northern China during the Tang Dynasty.  Hot Pot consists of a metal pot filled with a broth which is placed in the centre of the table and kept simmering over a heat source. A variety of meats, seafood and vegetables which have been chopped and prepared for quick cooking are cooked in the broth at a leisurely pace at the table..  Noodles, dumplings and wontons can also be added to the broth.  The cooked food is dipped into dipping sauce for extra flavour. 

In most areas, a hot pot meal is often eaten in the winter and thus has become a ideal Birthday meal for me!

Yesterday, Bill and I went driving to Forest Lawn to see if I could find a Mongolian pot for the celebration.  Hong Kong Market did not have any Mongolian Pots.  They did have a Hot Pot that was called Lovers Hot Pot, and I not too sure why it is called that!  It is a shallow stainless steel pot with a separation in the middle.  In other words two separate compartments. We did not buy this as the handles were rough to the touch.

What we found at Pacific Fish Mall is a similar stainless steel pot but with a separate centerpiece.  

          The combinations are endless for a Hot Pot!  Last night, Sora and Jonathan brought lamb thinly sliced, meatballs, enoki mushrooms, baby bok choy and noodles along with chicken broth as the base.  I had bought long beans and fresh basil at Hong Kong Market and I also added shrimp.  Sora set out small bowls of soya sauce for dipping the cooking meat.

The following the recipe posted on BBC wed site has good ideas for a spicy and seasoned soup base for all the vegetables and meat. 

Make sure you have separate utensils for your guests to use to transfer the raw ingredients into the stockpot, and clean utensils for eating - this reduces the chance of cross contamination from the raw ingredients and your guests' serving plates.


For the spicy soup stock base
2 tbsp groundnut oil
3-4 long dried Sichuan chillies or long dried chillies
50g/2oz whole Sichuan peppercorns
1 tbsp chilli bean sauce (available from Asian grocers)
1 tbsp chilli sauce
1.7 litres/3 pints hot vegetable stock
2 whole star anise
6 dried Chinese mushrooms
1 small handful dried tangerine peel (available from Asian grocers, or subtitute with the zest of 1 orange)
1 large spring onion, roughly chopped
250ml/9fl oz chilli oil
2.5cm/1in piece fresh root ginger, peeled
2 red chillies, de-seeded, sliced
250g/9oz ready-made fish balls (available from Asian grocers) (optional)
1 small handful Chinese cabbage, thickly sliced
1 small handful deep-fried tofu
1 small handful fresh tofu, cut into 2.5cm/1in chunks

For the vinegar, chilli and soy dipping sauce
3 tbsp Chinkiang black rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 red chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped

For the Taiwanese dipping sauce
1 free-range egg, yolk only
1 tbsp oriental satay or barbecue sauce (available from Asian grocers)
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp finely sliced spring onion

To serve
lamb fillet, thinly sliced raw prawns, shelled and de-veined firm tofu, cut into chunks enoki mushrooms, baby sweet corn, sliced 250g/9oz ready-made fishcakes (available from Asian grocers)


1. For the spicy soup base, heat a 2 litre/3½ pint capacity wok until smoking and add the groundnut oil. Add the chillies and Sichuan peppercorns and stir fry for a few seconds, or until fragrant.
2. Stir in the chilli bean sauce and chilli sauce and then pour in the vegetable stock. Add the star anise, Chinese mushrooms, tangerine peel, spring onion, ginger and chillies and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Ten minutes before serving, add the chilli oil, the sliced Chinese cabbage, deep-fried tofu, fresh tofu and fish balls, if using.
4. For the vinegar, chilli and soy dipping sauce combine all the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set to one side.
5. For the Taiwanese dipping sauce, combine all of the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set to one side.
6. To serve, arrange the lamb, prawns, tofu, mushrooms and fishcakes on separate plates. Transfer the soup base to an electric wok or fondue and set it up in the centre of the table. Let guests help themselves and cook the ingredients in the spicy broth. Serve with the dipping sauces.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kitchen out of commission

Since my Kitchen is out of commission and there are tradesmen in house. I have decided to take up a challenge of translating the names the appetizers along with finding or developing a recipe for the ones they have pictured on their website that are on the menu of Pintxo. Pintxo is a restaurant in Montreal’s trendy Plateau on 256 Roy St. We have eaten in this quaint restaurant for my son’s birthday.. Yes, muy caro or very expensive, but very interesting as the pintxos or Tapas in Basque style served were a work of art in miniature and delicious. The tasting menu presented in a leisurely pace would continue until everyone was satisfied. An article in the Montreal Gazette on Dec 5, 2009 on this restaurant by Lesley Chesterman "The Look,and flavour, of love" that my son gave to me to read and the lack of a kitchen has prompted me to write these postings.

Read more at Suite101:

In the north of Spain in the Basque area, barhopping is a favourite pastime, where each bar counter has displaced various pintxosas. One pops into several bars for pintox and a small glass of wine, a txikito, visiting with acquaintances before a proper meal at home.

Here is the first picture on their web site

Txipirones a lo Pelayo

I have been able to translate Txipirones as being squid.. I have looked at the preparation of squid online and don't know if I have the stomach to clean Squid.

In a suite 101 article, this pintox is described a “tender piece of calamari served on a firm, cooked round of potato with onion confit caramelized to aromatic sweetness” by those who had sampled this pintox in the Montreal restaurant.

Interesting the use of potato with Calamari, but I have found many tapas recipes that use potatoes. Now I do need to translate the spanish recipe below to learn how to prepare the squid.. Not to sure as to how the potato is prepared as it does look white in the pictures. My thoughts are that crisping the potato would add color and flavor.

The onion confit or preserve should be a balance between tardiness, salt and sugar. Slow sauté in Olive oil the onion until soft and caramelized and light brown in color, add salt and vinegar to taste

From a Spain site, I did find the Metodo or method to prepare this squid dish:

Método: Pon a pochar en una cazuela abundante cebolla y pimiento verde, todo cortado en juliana (tiras alargadas) con un poco de aceite de oliva y sal, muy pero que muy despacio, removiendo constantemente para que no se pegue. Mientras, separad las cabezas del cuerpo, vaciar su contenido, quitar la telilla que tiene en su superficie, separando las aletas - que reservaréis- , hasta que la piel quede blanca. Dar la vuelta al saco como si de un calcetín se tratara y terminar de limpiar al chorro del grifo. A la cabeza arrancarle los ojos y el pico que se encuentra entre los tentáculos, restregad estos bien, para eliminar la bolitas que se desprenden de las ventosas. Cuando la verdura esté bien pochada, añadid las aletas, tentáculos y cuerpos, removed y mantened unos 15 minutos.

Este plato se prepara con txipirones de bocado, pero si son grandes, troceados salen muy bien.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Well it Jan 15th and renovations have begun on the house again. Still stage one! Completion of the kitchen needs to be done.

The contractor was here on Wednesday for a couple of hours as he and Nathan moved the appliances out of the kitchen- again and cleared the extension for the floor tiles and back splash tiles. ..What is left is: the tiling of the extension floor and back splash, repair of the tiles that have been broken during construction, glass for the cabinet doors, repair of the large drawer in the island as it is not opening or shutting properly, painting of the unpainted cabinet doors, placement of cabinet doors that are still without doors. The back splash and rest of the kitchen floor was tilted yesterday, today the tiles will be grouted.
The kitchen looks amazing !
By noon today, the grouting was done. What is left is the following:
The laundry room is half completed, painting of the laundry room walls, the washer and dryer need to be switched as the doors open opposite to one another and not the easiest to work with while doing the laundry, still need some cabinet doors in Kitchen and laundry and painting of these doors, glass panes for the cabinets have been ordered. Looks like they will be sanding the family room on Jan 18th, so all of the furniture has been moved into the living room.. Oh joy!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

As a member of Craft and Chat which is part of Newcomers Club in Regina, Isobel made this recipe for the group. Probably for our wind up party in June as the dessert is great when there is an abundance of fresh fruit, although it can also be made with canned fruit such as canned peaches or pears. As part of the Christmas gifts for the Harnish family, I bought Allison a flan pan and included this recipe for her. . The recipe is written up in layers as layer one is the cookie layer, then a filling, fruit arrangement ending with a glaze. Any cookie recipe would work, but this recipe using coconut and rolled oats is very nice and compliments the fruit base.. 1/4- 1/2 cups of chopped walnuts would work nicely in this cookie recipe
Layer# 1
1 cup coconut
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cup rolled oats
½ tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour
1 egg
¾ cup sugar
1 cup margarine

Prepare pan first. Lightly grease well

Mix all of dry ingredients together in one bowl. Mix all of the wet ingredients in another bowl. .then mix together and press into you brand new Christmas gift from the Kennedys. Bake at 350 until brown. Bake for about 10- 12 – 14 minutes or until lightly brown. Every oven is a bit different

Layer #2- optional
Soften marshmallow cream

In some of the recipes on the net they use cream cheese as their 2nd layer
1 package (250 g) light cream cheese - regular or spreadable
1/3 cup (80 mL) icing sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
NOTE: Your cream cheese layer will prevent your cookie from getting soggy by the fruit & glaze. Try to spread the cream cheese to the outside of the cookie, and pour the glaze when it is thick enough to not just run over the fruit, but coat the fruit.

Layer # 3
Fresh Fruit

Wash, dry & cut fruit as necessary. Arrange on top of cream cheese layer in a circle pattern, starting from the outside and going in. Just have fun being creative! Check out this site. /

Layer #4 Glaze
1 ½ tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup water
½ cup Sugar
½ cup orange juice

In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt, cornstarch, orange juice, lemon juice and water. Cook and stir over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat, and add grated orange rind. Allow to cool, but not set up. Spoon over fruit. Chill for at least 2 hours, then cut into wedges and serve.