Browsing Tag

chef and cook

GIFT IDEAS Gifts for the COOK

A Molecular Gastronomy Kit

molecular gastronomy kit

molecular gastronomy kit

What to give at Christmas to a gourmet cook who has everything can be a hard task? But, with this kit developed by Montreal-based Molécule-R Flavors, I think that you might able to cross one name from your Christmas list.

what's inside the molecular gastronomy kit

Cuisine R-evolution should satisfy cooks who are curious about the most popular techniques of molecular cuisine, like spherification, gelification and emulsification. The kit shows how to play with the texture of juices, sauces, creams and dressings. The box contains 50 recipes on a DVD, 5 food additives, a food-grade syringe, 3 silicone tubes, 5 pipettes, a slotted spoon and a set of measuring spoons.

Watch this video to get an idea of what you can learn.

You can buy it online. They ship across Canada and to the United States.

+ Cuisine R-evolution Kit $58.95 CAD / $57.86 USD at Molécule-R Flavors


Fine Cuisine at BIRONnerie

tempura tomato with its pipette of homemade soya sauce

troisieme bironnerie event at biron restaurant in Montreal

One week ago was the third BIRONnerie. This super cool event for foodies is a recurrent happening at Biron, a Montreal restautant. The concept is imaginative, fun and tasty. Biron opens their kitchen to three amateur cooks to create a five course dinner. The guest cooks will benefit from the skills and support of the kitchen staff and their Chef David Biron to produce a fine dining experience to the customers.

Each amateur cook selects a recipe from their repertoire. The other courses are composed by the Chef. The Chef and the guest cooks meet before the event to plan everything. The day of the event, the guest cook will pass the day in the kitchen, where they will learn tricks of the trade.  It was my first time but it would not be the last. As an attendee, we can sneak next to the kitchen to watch how they assemble the plates. I love that part.

Last Thursday, the menu had a Japanese touch. The five courses were:

tempura tomato with its pipette of homemade soya sauce

We began with a tempura tomato with its pipette of homemade soya sauce from Chef David Biron. It was served on a bed of julienne asparagus.

smoked salmon on a pea pancakes by mayssam samaha of will travel for food

For the second course, Mayssam Samaha of Will travel for food shared her smoked salmon on a pancake of sweet peas with crème fraîche, yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit), shiso and salmon caviar.

three pieces of brandade with its spicy mayo by dominique berube of les 2 capricieux

Then, we had three pieces of brandade (grilled cod with olive oil) served with a spicy mayonnaise and lime. The Chef adds a touch of a fancy oil (but I forgot to write it down). This was a recipe by Dominique Bérubé, which is known as the Capricieux from Les 2 Capricieux.

main course :: chicken supreme on a bed of puy lentils by chef david biron

The main was a chicken supreme cooked in a juice of olives and Moroccan lemons on its bed of two-celery Puy lentils. This recipe is by Chef David Biron.

cardamon krumkake with homemade ice cream by foodies emporium

To finish the meal in beauty, Nathalie of Foodies Emporium made a cardamon krumkake filled with a homemade ice cream of a local fruit and served with a strawberry and tarragon coulis. A krumkake is a Norwegian waffle cookie that you bake in a machine similar to a waffle maker. The krumkake maker comes with a wooden cone to shape the krumkake. The maker creates a decorative pattern of the waffle cookie.

We opted for the food-wine pairing menu. I wish to send a big thank to the three foodies and the kitchen at Biron for this wonderful dinner. It was divine! To know when is the next BIRONnerie like the restaurant Biron on Facebook.

+ Villaware Krumkake maker $34.95 USD at [Affiliate link]
+ Biron


Three Canadian Shows on the Cooking Channel Lineup

three canadian cooks and chefs now air in usa on cooking channel

three canadian cooks and chefs now air in usa on cooking channel

In case you did not hear, the Food Network  (the US one) has replaced the Fine Living channel by the Cooking Channel. And Memorial Day 2010 marks the day Cooking Channel goes on air. Since I live in Canada, this news doesn’t change anything for me except that I am proud to report that three great Canadian cooking shows will be aired in the United States.

You may recognize David Rocco and Laura Calder. I watched all the episodes of David Rocco’s Dolce Vita and French Food at Home more than once. And I spoke about them a few times on my blog. Therefore, I encourage you to watch their shows since I think they are awesome. The recipes of David and Laura represent the time of food I enjoy to enjoy at home.

Montreal restaurateur Chuck Hughes does a great job on his show. I watched several episodes with pleasures but for some unknown reasons, I connected less with him. But I have the impression that the energy and the style of cooking of Chuck’s Day Off should appeal to the American public. And Chuck’s Day Off is the type of cooking show that you can watch with your husband or boyfriend.

To learn more about these Canadian hosts, read what I said about:
+ David Rocco and His Laid-back Entertaining Philosophy – See all my posts about David Rocco
+ Salmon en Croute by Laura Calder – See all my posts about Laura Calder

If you get the new Cooking Channel, what do you think about their lineup?

FOOD + DRINK FOOD presentation

Chef’s Trick: The Bowls will Stay in Place

chef's trick :: fresh herb leaf to secure bowls to plates

chef\'s trick :: fresh herb leaf to secure bowls to plates

Do you know why there is a parsley leaf in the middle of every plate? Chef Matt Kantor of  Little Kitchen shared this trick with me. It works best with a bigger leaf like basil, but that night parsley was the only fresh herb still available.

The role of the leaf is to make sure the bowl stays in place on the plate while you bring the dish from the kitchen to the table.

I took these pictures at Alexa Clark’s tasting menu birthday. This is the party with the DIY Etched Glass Water Bottles. More to come of this delightful event.


Repurposing a Food Presentation

dishing ideas inspired from other recipes

When my eyes first saw the soft-cooked egg with caviar photo recipe of Chef David Chang, I thought “What a cool way to serve a Camembert”. The French girl in me is never very far. In the September 2009 of Bon Appetit, David Chang explained the story behind his signature dish. Like he said, eggs (caviar) in egg is funny.

momofuku by chef david chang

You can find his signature Soft-Cooked egg with Onion Soubise, Caviar, and Potato Chips recipe on Bon Appetit. It will also be published on its upcoming cookbook titled Momofuko. His cookbook will be in stores October 15th, 2009.

For my Camembert dishing idea, I still have to perfect it. It can sit on a bed of caramelized onions. You are welcome to share your ideas.

+ Momofuko by David Chang $26.40 USD


Exquisite Prosciutto Tasting Lunch

citterio prosciutto tasting at dna restaurant organized by macchi

I had a special lunch twelve days ago. Hivron and her husband Paolo Macchi received me for a tasting of their products at a local restaurant in Old Montreal. While talking to Hivron during the lunch, I discovered that we have several things in common. We both studied interior design for one thing.

Prosciutto crudo

Macchi imports and distributes the highest quality of Citterio’s prosciutto crudo (raw ham). They carry Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di San Daniele and Culatello. I invited my foodie friend Nathalie Rivard to share this experience.

prosciutto crudo tasting

The Citterio’s prosciutto crudo are all natural. They are made without additives. The curing masters created them with ham, salt, air and time. Another main difference with these prosciutto is the sweet taste of the fat. These premium prosciutto are miles away from the taste of the pre-packaged prosciutto.

We savored 5 famous types of Italian and local (meaning made in the USA) prosciutto crudo. We were able to taste each prosciutto “nature”. Plus, DNA’s chef Derek Dammann made us as a delightful appetizer dish for each type. They each have their own personality.

prosciutto crudo appetizers prepared by chef Derek Dammann at DNA

I enjoyed the food combination that Derek Dammann served us. Derek had been Chef de Cuisine at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in London, England. You know how I love Jamie Oliver. He takes great pride in serving sustainably grown and harvested produce, meats and seafood because food tastes better when its ingredients are the product of thoughtful stewardship. He was the right chef to serve us this prosciutto.

I particularly enjoyed the plate where he mixed prosciutto with a very light mustard vinaigrette. A appetizer recipe that you can do at home is to drizzle aged balsamic topped with shaves of Parmesan Reggiano. The mix of salt and sweet is delicious. Another tasty combination was to serve prosciutto with dates.

prosciutto and dates

Macchi imported directly from Italy as much as possible. It makes a difference. The pigs used in the United States are smaller than the pigs used in Italy. The Italian prosciutto is ham from a very rare bread of pigs that are bred in north-central Italy. How you cure the meat is also important. You get the best results with time. It generally produces a prosciutto that is more tender.

Shopping Tips

Look for these qualities when buying fresh prosciutto:

  • Color should be lighter rather than darker, a light to medium pink. If it’s burgundy, don’t buy it!
  • Fat colour should be white and not yellow. A fresh prosciutto should be sweet and not salty
  • Ask to taste a slice before buying prosciutto
  • Outside fat should not exceed 1/2-3/4 of an inch. Every animal is different. If it is more than 3/4 of an inch, they should trim the excess fat for you.

The Swedish-born Hivron writes a blog for Macchi where you can find recipes and food information.

+ Macchi
+ DNA restaurant


David Rocco Discussed His Laid-back Entertaining Philosophy

david rocco in his Toronto home

The October 2009 issue of Canadian House and Home let us see a glimpse of David Rocco’s house in Toronto. The decor translates a rustic, comfortable feeling. It seems that Nina and him listened to my advice on how to create a welcoming front door.

What I found most interesting is how David described his laid-back entertaining philosophy. He believes that you do not have to stress about entertaining. It’s true the host and the guests need to be flexible to have fun. He typical cooks the main course while his guests gathered in the kitchen. They mingled with appetizers and a glass of wine. That resembles many of my dinner parties.

For the cold weather that is coming our way, nothing beats a hearty soup recipe like a Tuscan Ribollita (meaning leftover soup). Besides the typical vegetables that form a soup base, prosciutto rinds, potatoes, cabbages, borlotti beans, tomato purée and bread give flavor and consistency to the soup. You can make this soup thick as you like. David likes to eat this soup with a fork at slightly warmer than room temperature. Naturally, do not forget a good drizzle of your premium extra-virgin olive oil.

As I mentioned before, the fourth season of David Rocco’s Dolce Vita premieres September 14th, 2009.

+ Canadian House and Home October 2009 – photography by Angus Fergusson
+ David Rocco


Kim’s Version of Spaghettini alla Georgio

With the holiday full schedule, I thought of delicious main dishes that can be ready in 10 minutes. Mainly dishes that I do from start to finish takes 20 to 30 minutes. But I found one recipe on my repertoire that I can prepare and cook in about 10 minutes.

Made In Italy: Food and Stories by Giorgio Locatelli

It is a pasta dish. In fact, many pasta sauces are quick to prepare but my favorite is a recipe that I called Spaghettini alla Giorgio. I discovered the recipe watching a British cooking TV show back in 2003. Tony and Giorgio played at BBC Canada. The cooking of Giorgio appeals more to me in the show. If you visit London, UK, Locanda Locatelli is Giorgio’s restaurant.

It is my version because I updated it over the years to suit our taste. It started as Spaghetti with Tuna in White wine with anchovies. I put red wine because my husband prefers red wine and we drink the rest of the bottle with our meal. I add more tomatoes because I like it and the red white can sustain it.

I googled chef Giorgio Locatelli. This is how I found on Amazon his 2007 award-winning book Made in Italy: Food and Stories. This is a 624-page brick. It is supposed to be fill with vibrantly illustrated Locatelli’s recipes, insight and historical detail about Italian food. It will be delivered early January but the price is a bargain at so I ordered it.

My Recipe for Spaghettini with Tuna, Anchovies and Caper in Red Wine (Kim’s Version of Spaghettini alla Georgio)

Tonight my husband and I will eat this for dinner. I like it because everything you need is stored in your pantry. There is bad weather in Montreal, so it feels nice not to have to go to the grocery store.

If you have picky eaters in your family, know that I served this recipe to people who typically dislike anchovies and they did not notice the anchovies. I knew they were not allergic. I guess that the fact that they do not see them makes a difference.

If you can find a jar of tuna in olive oil, go for those. They taste better than the typical canned white tuna available in North America. Amazon sells the Ortiz Bonito Del Norte Reserva De Familia Aged Tuna in Olive Oil.

Ingredients for 2-3 portions

Your favorite Italian brand Spaghettini

  • 2 cloves of garlic, pealed and sliced
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 3 big tablespoons of capers, rinsed and drained
  • 9 ounces / 250g premium solid canned tuna, ideally in olive oil.
  • 60% of large can of whole Italian tomatoes, without the juice
  • 2 to 3 ounces (about 80 ml) of red white
  • 10 basil leaves roughly chopped by hand
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Optional:
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly ground Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese as topping.

How to make it?

  1. Heat well salted water to cook your pasta. Prep your ingredients. I schedule everything so that the sauce and the pasta are ready at the same time. Start cooking the sauce once the water is boiling.
  2. Heat in a large pan the olive oil at low-medium heat. Cook the garlic for a minute. Then, put the anchovies and capers. Cook for a minute or two until the anchovies have melted.
  3. Add the tuna as a whole piece in the pan. Separate in three large parts and drizzle some olive oil on the top of each tuna piece to remove some dryness. Increase the heat at medium to medium-high and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, perforate the tomatoes to drain most of the juice. Put the drained tomatoes in a bowl. Roughly cut each tomato in 3 or 4 pieces into the bowl. Keep in the remaining juice. Reserve.
  5. Add the red wine to the pan to extract all the favors that sit at the bottle of your pan. Cook until the alcohol is evaporated. It will take 3 minutes on average.
  6. Add the tomatoes and the basil leaves. Cook until the tomatoes have warmed up – 1 to 2 minutes is plenty.
  7. Remove the pasta just before they get al dente (tender but still firm to the bite). Keep a small glass of the pasta water before draining the pasta – use it if the sauce is too thick after you mixed the pasta and the sauce (often not necessary). DO NOT RINSE your pasta.
  8. Toss the pasta to the sauce, add the basil leaves and gently mix. You can season with pepper, if you like. This recipe does not need salt due to the presence of the anchovies and capers.
  9. Serve on the pasta bowl and top with freshly ground Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Savor!

Giorgio Locatelli is really good at explaining cooking techniques. He tells us what is important and which actions make a difference.If you wish to get an idea of how good Giorgio Locatelli is at teaching cooking, check out this video which is an excerpt of a recipe in the book Made In Italy: Food and Stories.

+ Anchovy Fillets by Scalia $18.99 USD for 8.5 ounces
+ Ortiz Bonito Del Norte Reserva De Familia Aged Tuna in Olive Oil $13.99 USD
+ For Canadians: Made in Italy: Food and Stories $37.77 CAD
+ For Americans: Made in Italy: Food and Stories $59.95 USD


Hiring A Chef At Home for a Stress-free Dinner Party

hiring a chef for a dinner party

Last weekend was the birthday of a friend. Cooking an elaborate dinner for 10 persons is very demanding on the host, unless you hire help. His girlfriend opted to hire a Chef for the night. A wise choice!

Food and Wine Pairing

No proper meal should be served without harmonizing food and wine.

The Chef can suggest a list of wines that you can buy. For the no-hassle entertaining experience, let the Chef bring the wine. This way, if the menu slightly changes due to produce availability, the Chef can adjust the wine selection.

Dinnerware and Cutlery Rentals

No dishwashing for you. The Chef and his aid clean up the kitchen before they leave. For that reason, the fees will vary whether you use your own dinnerware or if you rent the dinnerware. By renting the dinnerware, glassware and cutlery, the Chef team has less cleaning to do.

Another reason for renting your tableware is that you need plenty of dinnerware and flatware for a 6-course meal. You may not own enough dishes nor have the right plates / cups / bowls to serve properly the courses.

About Our Menu

Thanks to our Chef Richard Boulay from Montreal, our group enjoyed a tasty menu:

  1. Whisky And Espelette Pepper Lobster Cappuccino
  2. Scallop With A Warn Pink Grapefruit Vinaigrette
  3. Crispy Cepes Ravioli
  4. Asian Perfumed Duck Tartar
  5. Salad With Duck Confit, Smoked Duck And Gizzard Confit
  6. Chocolate Shooter

And you do not have to shop for the food either. A key element if you wish to throw a surprise birthday party.

Guests Paying Their Share

This practice is perfectly acceptable between friends. We often meet at the restaurant for someone’s birthday with everyone paying his/her share of the bill. So this is not different.

Make sure to select a menu at a price that reasonably compared to a good restaurant meal. Simply keep it mind how much your friends are willing to pay for something like that.

Have you ever hired a Chef for an event? If so, did you enjoy the experience?

FOOD + DRINK FOOD presentation

The secrets behind the culinary creations of Pastry Chef Philippe Conticini

culinary creations of Pastry Chef Philippe ConticiniWhy French Chefs master the art of cooking? This is a question that can open many debates.

One thing for sure, the Chefs in France place a superior level of attention to the techniques, the taste and the food presentation.

The culinary creations of Philippe Conticini will not change my mind about my love affair with French cooking. Imagine the Wow factor around your guests if you were to hire a caterer that served desserts like those.

About his style, his philosophy

Philippe Conticini relies on his audacity, his techniques, the tradition and finally his intuition to invent his creations.

What distinguishes a Chef from all of us is that a true Chef knows how to play with every aspect of taste and texture. They often used a wide variety of flavors to achieve the look and taste they are looking for. For him, gastronomy is a game of flavors whether he does a dish, a terrine or a dessert.

A look at some of his creations

The balls filled with Nutella were created in 2005 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Nutella in France.

The leaf shaped pastry bites are so beautiful. The macarons look mouthwatering. And I want to sink my teeth into the fig and fruit skewers possibly topped with coconut, sesame seeds, salt and pepper.

Dishing looks that you can steal from Philippe Conticini

We reuse some of these food presentations at home. To keep things simple, make easy recipes that are popular with everyone. Add a twist in the way you present the food.

Serve honey donut balls in a paper cone. You could tie a raffia ribbon for a more finish look. This will make an ordinary dessert out of the ordinary.

Use these skewers that are widely available at Chinese shops to prepare fresh fruit brochettes. Set a couple of chocolate fondue pots and let your guests dip in the fruit brochettes. For a buffet, it is preferable to use a lower side and wider bowl than the usual chocolate fondue pot.

You can visit the Web site of Philippe Conticini to check out the rest of his photo gallery. You can find a few recipes in the Word of Mouth sections.

Learn more: Web site of Philippe Conticini


Kim gives two thumbs up to David Rocco’s Dolce Vitae Music CD

David Rocco\'s Dolce Vitae Soundtrack cover

I received the Deluxe CD that I won on blog. Wow! I like the CD a lot. December 2nd, 2008 Update: Now that his cookbook is available, go for the standard CD.

Fans of the TV series will be pleased. The vibes of David Rocco’s Dolce Vitae are all there. The style of music is broad. The selection is excellent. At some point, you feel like dancing. This is a happy album. The music is perfect for alfresco dinner parties and summer cocktails.

The album photo is splendid. If you show the Deluxe CD to someone that has never seen the show, they will grasp the spirit right away. The only thing I am missing is the ringtones, which are coming soon.

Check out the interview with David on, Cooking Fusilli with David Rocco. You can win the Olive Wood Dolce Vitae Lemon Reamer. I told you about it in my five kitchen gadgets post last week. Act now; the draw will be July 4, 2007.

+ David Rocco’s Dolce Vita Soundtrack – $17.99 CAD for the standard CD
+ Listen: David Rocco’s Dolce Vitae Music CD on his Web site
+ Recipe: Cooking Fusilli with David Rocco on – see how you can enter the contest