Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One soup, two ways

I have started a new relationship. Yes, I am in love with a Rebel... Canon Rebel XS.

I bought it yesterday and now I can't put it down. My heart flutters every time I hold it. With each picture taken, it beats a little faster. And with every glance, the butterflies in my tummy go haywire.

Ok, ok, maybe it's not dramatic like that, but pretty close, no joke... So today, I made soup for my Rebel. Vegetable Soup Two Ways. Just to say "Welcome to the family, sit down and have a hearty soup to warm you up. Make yourself at home!" That kind of thing....

Chunky Vegetable Soup
  • A splash of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced, or chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped.
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • a pinch of (sea) salt
  • 1 cup of tomato puree (I used canned)
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1L of chicken broth (Or vegetable broth if you prefer)
  • 1 can of beans (I had pinto beans on hand) drained and rinsed
  • a pinch of dried herbs like: thym, rosemary, parsley,  
  • 1/2 cup cooking cream, or whole milk
  • a few pinches of turmeric, curry powder and cayenne pepper
Heat olive oil over medium low heat in a soup pot (big enough to hold everything you have) and throw in garlic, onions, carrots and celery. Stir around a bit, add the salt and cover. Let sweat for about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato puree and corn, stir, let cook for a few minutes. Then add the broth, turn heat up to maximum and bring to a boil.

Add the beans. Season with dried herbs.

Chunky vegetable soup

Cream of vegetable soup:
Transfer half of the chunky soup into another soup pot. Whiz everything up with a hand-held blender, or in a blender. Then use a sieve, and "filter" the soup. Bring back to a boil, add  cream, turmeric, curry powder, cayenne pepper and stir well. 

Cream of vegetable soup

And voila. All I'm missing right now is some thick slices of bread, toasted with melted cheese on top.... Hmmmm....

I am going back to my Rebel. Have a great day and Happy Holidays once again!!!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

St-Morgon spinach quiche

I had a block of Saint Morgon cheese just sitting in my fridge screaming "Spread me!" It's great on crusty bread because of its creamy smooth texture, pungent aroma and delicious taste BUT (yes... there is always a but... ) with all the hearty, rich and compact holiday meals wedged in, I just couldn't imagine myself ingesting all that. So I knew I had to make something with it...

Quiche! And just like that, it was one of the things featured on the menu for my dinner with friends. Since I was going to use the oven, I thought I might as well make two. Serve one and eat one by myself freeze one for later.

St-Morgon spinach quiche
(makes 2 pies, serves 8-10 each)

  • 2 deep dish pie crusts, home-made or store-bought.
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • A handful of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped.
  • 1 bag frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed of excess water (about 6-7 oz, a bag is 10 oz but I took out some for something else)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup table cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 wedges of La Vache qui rit cheese
  • 1 block of creamy Saint Morgan cheese (this is what I had on hand. Substitute with Brie if you want)
  • 16 big pieces of sun-dried tomatoes to decorate top if desired
Thaw pie crusts and pre-bake according to package. Let cool when done. Set oven to 350*F

In a pan over medium heat, drizzle the oil n butter, when butter melts, add the onions and cook until soft, about 10, 15 minutes, stirring once in a while. Then add the handful of chopped sun-dried tomatoes, stir around for a minute, then add the spinach, mix well and take off the heat.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs lightly. Add cream, milk, and break little pieces of La Vache Qui Rit, then whisk everything together.

Slice cheese (Saint Morgon) and put onto bottom of pie crusts, top with spinach mixture, and then egg mixture. Use a fork and nudge the spinach a bit so that the egg mixture fill up every space there is. Top with the rest of the tomatoes for decoration before putting them in the oven.

Bake until the center is just set. Mine baked for about 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes or so before serving.

***Just a little tip for the one you will be freezing. Cool it completely, cut into desired wedges then wrap individually in aluminum foil. Freeze. When you want to eat one, do not thaw, heat it as is, with the top opened, in a 350*F oven, for about 15-20 minutes, or until heated through.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

1 fail + 1 mess = 1 sinfully delicious success

I hate when my attempts go wrong.
And I love when my fails go right.

A few days ago I decided that I would make Molasses Toffee for the first time. So I pulled out the brand new candy thermometer that I bought a year ago, and put on my game face. I. AM. PREPARED.

Sugar and molasses. Check.
Cream and butter. Check.
Cocoa powder and a pinch of salt. Check.
Boil. Whisk. Boil come more. Whisk some more. Pour. Wait. Score. Wait. Cut.

Sounds easy enough, right? WRONG! One day and a half went by, it still didn't harden. I even put it in the fridge and still nothing. WTF?

And then, at the most perfect moment, the occasional light bulb lit up above my head. And just like that, I made turtles.

Now, I'm not saying this is the best way or easiest way to make turtles, but the result will have you wanting to make it. It takes a little bit of effort but you will definitely taste the love afterward.

Cocoa Molasses Toffee
(recipe from The Kitchn)
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
Line a 9x13" pan with aluminum paper that hangs over the sides (for easy lifting later) and butter bottom and sides.
In a big pot, clip you thermometer, heat the molasses and sugar over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Then boil for another 8 minutes without stirring. When the sugar starts to smoke or reaches 350*F, take it off the heat.
Meanwhile, warm the cream over medium heat but not boiling. Once the sugar caramelizes, whisk in the cream and butter. Put back to low heat, bring to a simmer and watch the temperature. Boil this for about 45 minutes to an hour, you won't have to stand next to the pot. When it hits 250 degrees F (the lower end of the hardball stage) remove from heat and immediately whisk in the cocoa and salt. Pour into the buttered pan.
Let cool completely over night, then place in the fridge until ready to use.

Buttery Crunchy Base:

(taken from the Rice Krispies recipe)
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, soften or room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar.
Heat oven to 350*F
In a mixing bowl, stir together Rice Krispies, flour, baking soda and salt.
In another mixing bowl, blend together butter and sugar. Then stir in the cereal mix until well blended and crumbly. Press into the bottom of a 9x13" pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes

Now comes the messy part... Take the toffee out of the fridge & lift it out of the pan. Carefully invert it onto the Buttery Crunchy Base so that it fit directly over it.

Layer pecan halves over the toffee. Bake again for another 10-15 minutes or so. Let cool completely. Place in the fridge again before cutting.

You should have about 100 pieces, depending on how you big you cut them. At this point, you can eat it as in if you'd like, but why stop there, right? Melt dark chocolate (or semi-sweet if you prefer) in a bain-marie, and dip each piece bottom first. Let dry on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Place in the fridge for a few minutes if need be. Then dip the top again.

My colleagues will tell you "C'est cochon!!!!" and "Hhhhhmmmmm!!!" and "OH. MY. GOD. Damn girl, them turtles be good!" so seriously, make them. You can have such a big batch, and make a lot of people happy. Bring them to work, wrap them up as Christmas presents and eat some while doing so.

Enjoy! And spread the love!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A society of gingerbread people

I have been sitting here for 20 minutes trying to figure out how am I going to write the intro to this blog, and all I can come up with, is how long I've been sitting here thinking about it....

So when this happens, the best thing to do is to keep things short and sweet. Hhmmm... sweeeeet.... Actually, we'll keep things spice and sweet today.

I present you, my society of gingerbread people:

The traditional guy (and his Christmas tree) He's old-school, but he's just as flavorful as any other. He is simple, what you see is what you get.

The fashionable crowd. These chicks know how to dress it up! They don't go anywhere without the dazzle of the color sugar

The gym nuts... Ya... Them wacky outfits... But watch out, they've got bites these sillies

Then there is the shy guy who doesn't really talk much. He seems nice, but no one knows much about him. Apparently, he is really sweet!

And last but not least, the party dude, who is always happy to funk & dunk

I found the recipe here on Joy of Baking, one of my favorite recipe sites for a lot of things. The batch yield 15 big cookies, but it all depends on the size of your cutter and how thick you roll them, you might get more than I did :)

You can use this recipe for the icing (use 1/2 cup cold water instead of half cold water and half lemon juice) Or you can also use melted white chocolate for a different taste.

Enjoy! And bring on the holiday cookies!!!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lobster, shrimp and salmon mousse waffles

I bought a variety pack of Lobster, Shrimp and Salmon Mousse Spread a couple of weeks ago with the intention of making a savory mille-crepe cake. Unfortunately, I never got around to doing so... damn lazy bone....

But then I saw this and it went *taaaaaaa!!!* in my head.... I can make waffles and mix in the mousse!!!!! *taaaaaaaa!!!*

Lobster, shrimp and salmon mousse waffles
(adapted from this recipe)
makes 8
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup lobster and/or shrimp mousse
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
In a medium mixing bowl, mix the first 3 ingredients together n set aside
In another bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients. Slowly incorporate the liquid mixture into the dry mixture while mixing well with a fork. The result will be a pasty

Heat waffle iron and make according to the instruction.

I served them with chunks of avocado and a side of string beans drizzled with home-made balsamic reduction.

The hint of the mousse is pretty subtle, so you really can't pinpoint what it is exactly, but you know it's seafood mousse in there. I'm thinking next time I would make some grilled shrimps to top them with.The whole meal was very yummy all together and I froze the rest of the waffles for next quick meals in need. Booya!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Kahlúa tiramisù

There is not much to say when it comes to tiramisù, except "hhhhhmmmmm!!!" LOL!

I think it is one of those desserts that cannot be made "light" because it just wouldn't be the same... Seriously, have a salad for dinner or something because I am speaking from experience... Light tiramisù just tastes... sad!

It is made by layering zabaglione (a custard-like mixture of egg yolks, liqueur, mascarpone cheese, cream and sugar) and savoiardi biscuits (lady fingers) soaked in espresso. Then dusted with cocoa powder and topped with grated chocolate if desired


I love my espresso machine!

When making cold/no-bake desserts, I tend to avoid raw eggs. And so, this tiramisù is no exception. It is adapted from Gordon Ramsay and is supposed to yield 4 individual portions, but I doubled it so I can fill an 11x7 dish.

You must make this, but make sure you take it away to a dinner with friends, because it is dangerous to have it laying around in your fridge...

Easy Kalhúa Tiramisù
(adapted from Gordon Ramsay's Easy Tiramisù) serves 8-10
  • 500g mascarpone
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp Kahlúa
  • 1 1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso, cooled to room temperature
  • 250ml whipping cream (30%)
  • 8 tbsp icing sugar
  • 20-30 lady fingers (savoiardi)depending on how you will try to fit them in the dish
  • Cocoa powder, to dust

Put the mascarpone, vanilla, Kahlúa and a little less than 1/2 of coffee in a medium mixing bowl, blend until everything is smoothly mixed together. In another medium bowl, beat the cream with the icing sugar until smooth, then fold in the mascarpone mix.

Place the remaining coffee into large deep plate, quickly dip the biscuits flipping sides, one by one, enough to make one layer in a 11x7 casserole dish. Spread evenly half of the mascarpone mix on top. Repeat with another layer of biscuits and the rest of the mascarpone mix. Refrigerate.

Before serving, fill a small sieve with cocoa powder and lightly dust the top. If you are fancy, grate some of bittersweet chocolate or make chocolate curls and scatter them all over.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Doctoring" instant noodle

Even when you are an obsessive cook/baker, sometimes you just want to call delivery instead. And when that isn't an option because your stomach is digesting itself, something quick is required.

Yes, I do eat instant noodle once in a blue moon... *sigh*

As a kid, I used to love eating the noodle right out of the bag as a snack. My mom didn't let me do that too often because she would say "It is bad for you!"

Unfortunately, she was right, as always. Have you ever looked at the nutrition information? Urgh...

So now as an adult, I would "doctor" the noodle to make myself feel better. And I think my artery thanks me.

I use only half a bag of noodle, and put lots of vegetables. And instead of using the soup powder, I would use chicken broth instead.

Get the broth boiling, throw in some tomatoes and string beans like I did, or basically almost any vegetable (I like using tomatoes because they add a tangy taste to the broth)

When it boils again, throw in the noodles, swirl around to loosen up the strands for a minute and pour everything in a bowl.


How many minutes did that take? Five at most.

Slurp it all up. Relax, and pour yourself a glass of red.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Amaretto Dark Secret

This passed Sunday my friend and I participated in a charity event called Cupcake Camp, where bakers, professional or amateur, donated bunches and bunches of cupcakes to raise money for a good cause.

3500 cupcakes were on site and the funds raised this year ($8000!!!!) is going to Kids Help Phone Canada.

Lots of people (about 700!!!) came to support by buying all kinds of amazingly cute cupcakes, and it was so great. There was a contest as well, for best pro design, taste, best amateur design, taste, etc. The room was hot and it was hard for me to stay focus most of the time, but it was all worth it.

I donated 48 cupcakes and they were called Amaretto Dark Secret: Amaretto cupcake, banana cream cheese frosting and an amaretto dark chocolate truffle in the middle of it all. I thought it was quite good! So I will go ahead and share the recipe with you, because I'm pretty sure some of you out there get weak in the knees when it comes to alcoholic dessert. Ya... you know who you are...

Amaretto cupcakes
(makes 24)
adapted from a recipe I found here
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk (I used skimmed milk)
  • 1/2 cup amaretto cream liquor
  • 1/4 cup amaretto liquor or a bit more ;)
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds (I didn't add this)

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Alternately add 1/3 of the flour, then the milk and the amaretto cream, then 1/3 of the flour and all of the amaretto, beating well after each addition. Add remaining flour; mix until smooth. Stir in almonds if using.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 375ºF for 14-16 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pans for a few minutes then remove and cool completely.

Cut a cone off of the top of a cupcake, slash a bit of the tip, put a little truffle inside and close it up.

tto Dark chocolate truffles
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, soften
  • a handful of dark chocolate pellets, or chips, melted
  • a shot of amaretto
  • a shot of cream of amaretto
Mix cream cheese and melted chocolate together well, then add the alcohol. Roll into 24 truffles.

Banana cream cheese frosting

  • 2 bananas, ripe, mashed
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, soften
  • 1 cup butter, soften
  • 1/2 -1 cup of powdered sugar, depending on how sweet you like your frosting (the bananas will sweeten this a lot already)
Mix the bananas with the cream cheese well. Beat in the butter until creamy, then slowly add the sugar 1/4 cup at a time, according to your taste. Frost! Or... eat some with a little spoon...?

Now, here are some of my favorites from Cupcake Camp. Enjoy!!!!

My friend's entry for Best Amateur Design. Isn't it adorable????

This one won Best Montreal Theme: Youppi jumping out of a poutine

Poutine!!!!!! Awesome!!!

This one won Best Amateur Design. So cute!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mo cookies for Movember

Do you like mustache? Which style is your favorite?

According to this chart, mine is "The Connoisseur". I don't even like mustache, but for the health of men everywhere, I am supporting it this Movember in order to raise money for Prostate Cancer Canada.

What? Yes, MOvember, the month formerly known as November... A mustache-growing charity event that takes place every November, all month, to raise awareness, support and funds for research of prostate cancer.

It kills 4400 men in Canada alone each year
One in six men in Canada will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime.
There are no noticeable symptoms.
BUT 90% of cases are curable if detected and treated at an early stage. So, we need to spread knowledge and by doing so, we will save many lives.

As a girl who, fortunately, cannot grow a mustache (knock on wood) I can help by baking. Yes, everything can be done with cookies. And what else would I put on the cookies but the awesome "Connoisseur" mustache. These will make their way to the bake-sale (along with loads of other goodies) that my friend and I are organizing this Monday at work, and I really hope everyone will come by to purchase and show their support. We are donating all proceed to Prostate Cancer Canada along with our love. All for a great cause!

Now, if you would like to do something similar, which I highly recommend, here is the recipe that I found over at Lovin' From The Oven (She's really adorable!!!)

Sugar cookies
  • 6 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. of extract of choice (I used lemon oil)
Put flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and extract and mix well. Then slowly mix in the flour, continue mixing until the dough is well incorporated.
Chill dough for an hour or so.
Roll and cut, and freeze a few minutes before baking at 350*F for about 10 minutes. Make sure it only browns a little bit on the edge.

Lemon icing:
  • 1/4 cup meringue powder
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
Beat meringue powder, lemon juice and water until peaks from, then slowly add powdered sugar until icing reaches desired consistency.

UPDATE: My friend & I each raised $250 from the bake-sale!!!!! I am so happy! Yay!!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A sweet goodbye

-Grandma, there you are!!!!!!!! Good morning grandma!!!!!!!

-Oh good morning my lovely bunch! Did you have sweet dreams????

-Yes grandma, sweet sweet dreams. What are you doing here staring out the window?

-Well, my darlings, I have been preparing myself for the trip ahead. The time has come for me, your parents, uncles and aunts to get on the road, and be useful for a dinner of friends and family. Something we were born to do.

-We don't get it... You are leaving us?

-*sigh* Oh I will miss you children! You see, we were all born for a reason, and one day, you will know what your purpose in life is. On that day, you will become the talk of the table. They will know that your legend is real. And you, just like me, will carry on our family tradition of great reputation.

-WOW!!!! Tell us more, grandma!!!

-You see, we are from a family of proud fruit tarts. We carry within us sweet luscious vanilla pastry cream. We display with extravagance, our arrays of colorful fresh fruit that come with each season of the year. Above it all, we never disappoint with our slightly sweet, buttery melt-in-their-mouth shells with the secret layer of dark chocolate.

-Awesome!!! You mean, we will get to do the same thing as you one day???

-Of course my sweets! You will be the adorable bites that they will "Oooh!" and "Aaaaw!" over at the potluck, or the work lunch gathering. You will see, the light will shine upon you, and you will know, that your name will live forever.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tuna qui rit

The Laughing Cow Wedges was the only "cheese" at one point in Vietnam when I was a kid. I used to either just eat them right out of the wrapper one after another, or spread in "banh mi" for breakfast.

After moving to Canada, most probably due to the overload of varieties of other cheeses, I forgot about The Wedges. Then I eventually started dismissing the idea of "La Vache Qui Rit" being a "real" cheese, and always ignored that "spreadable cheese" section.

Fifteen years went by without a Wedge in my life, until recently "La Vache Qui Rit Light" commercials started to pop up on TV and they suddenly got me craving it. From that day on, I haven't stopped eating them. I actually had to start buying the big boxes because I inhale them so frigging fast.

I really prefer the light version. Simply spread onto toasts alone, or accompanied by a drizzle of honey, peanut butter or jam, and I am satisfied. But why stop there? They are so low in fat, I can replace them in other things....

There are loads of recipes on their website. But here is my interpretation:

Tuna Qui Rit

  • 1 can of tuna
  • 3 wedges of Laughing Cow Light
  • 1 boiled egg, chopped
  • about 10 black oloves, pitted and sliced
  • 2 hearts of artichokes, chopped
  • 2 hearts of palm, chopped
for garnish
  • some roasted red pepper, chopped
  • toasted pecan halves

Mix tuna and cheese together well until smooth with a fork. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Serve on toasts or crackers, garnish with roasted pepper & pecan halves. Add some freshly ground black pepper if desired.