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recipes

Work and Life

My Simple Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

strawberry shortcake recipe by kim vallee

This is the ideal dessert for time-crunched parents. In less than 10 minutes, without rushing, I had this good-looking dessert ready-to-serve yesterday. Even if you have to make a trip to the store, you will be able to put it on the table in less 30 minutes. It is that simple!

The ingredients are an Angel food cake, whipping cream, fruit sugar, pure vanilla extract, and lots of fresh strawberries. I save time by buying the cake. For purists who prefer to make the cake from scratch, I suggest to have a look at the Angel Food cake recipe by David Lebovitz. Although you can taste the difference, I prefer to spend more time with my family than in my kitchen. This is why I go store-bought for the cake.

The kitchen tools that you will need are a tall bowl to whip the cream, a hand blender with a whisk attachment, a soft spatula and a cake plate or cake stand. Continue Reading

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Holiday Baking: From Snowflake Donuts to Snowman Cake Pops

snowflake donuts

Holiday baking is as much as decorating than the actual baking. These three desserts have the look and taste to impress your guests or your kids this holiday season.

Let’s start with my favorite one. Turning the regular round donuts into a snowflake is not complicated at all. To create the pattern, make 6 shallow cuts from the edge to the center of each round with a sharp paring knife.

candy-cane marshmallows
photo credits: Lisa Hubbard for Martha Stewart

An old recipe from Martha Stewart won my heart. Her Candy-Cane Marshmallows are peppermint marshmallows that get their red swirl from a quick marbleizing technique. People who tried the recipes reported excellent results.

snowman cake pops
photo credits: Lucia Puiggros via Amy Atlas blog

Lastly, if you are still into cake pops, you may to bake these cute snowman cake pops made by Laura and Maia from All You Need is Cupcake.

+ photo credits: Chris Court for Living etc. December 2012

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

My Leek, Carrot, Turnip and Celery Soup Recipe

leek, carrot, turnip and celery soup

Every few weeks, I fill up a Le Creuset Dutch oven with fresh vegetables and make a big batch of soup. I basically redo the same soup except that I change the vegetables. I usually mix vegetables that inspire me at the store with what is in my fridge. Being French means that my soup always starts with a roughly chopped mirepoix (celery, onions and carrots). Since I will puree my vegetable soup, I don’t need to be fancy on my cutting board.

This week, my soup took shape from a big pack of leeks and 3 turnips that I bought a few days before. Here is this week recipe.

Ingredients for my Leek, Carrot, Turnip and Celery Soup:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large leeks, cut
  • 3 turnips, pealed and coarsely chopped
  • 6-7 large carrots, pealed and coarsely chopped
  • 3 crisp, leafy stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
  • optional (I put it because I had one in my fridge): 1 orange pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful of minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of origano or thym
  • 1 teaspoon of savory (my favorite herb)

Step by step instructions:

  • On low to medium heat (2 on my gas stove), heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large soup pot.
  • Add the leeks, carrots and celery to pot. Cook for 5 minutes with the cover. Stir from time to time
  • Add the turnips and orange pepper. Season the vegetables with the herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Stir. Add more olive oil. Continue to cook for 12 minutes with the cover. You want the vegetables to sweat.
  • Add the chicken stock. I want the flavour to mix together, which takes about 15 minutes of cooking.
  • Puree the soup directly from the pot with an immersion blender.
  • Enjoy now and later!

In My Freezer

I let the soup cool for 30 minutes and divide it into 12 single and double portion containers. I always store the soup in the freezer. As a mom with a young child, having a homemade soup ready to serve brings me peace of mind. I reheat it on the stove or the microwave and serve it to my hungry toddler boy while I cook dinner. Some nights, I eat a bowl of soup with him.

Feel free to experiment with my soup recipe. Possible variations would be to switch the herbs for ground ginger or ground fennel. I prefer to use fat-free chicken stock but you could use water or a vegetable stock instead. Like I said at the beginning, get inspired by what is in your pantry and your fridge.

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Pumpkin & Fennel Dukkah recipe

dukkah

Pumpkin & Fennel Dukkah recipe

I continue my series on easy holiday entertaining ideas with a Canadian twist on a popular Egyptian spice blend. This dukkah recipe replaces the traditional hazelnuts, pistachios and sesame seeds with pumpkin seeds and almonds or pine nuts.

When people asked me what they should keep in their pantry to be ready to entertain, dukkah naturally comes in mind. While your guests are enjoying a glass of wine or your welcome cocktail, cut a baguette, pour some olive oil in a large plate or an oil serving bowl, and serve dukkah in a low bowl. You dip bread into olive oil, then into the nut mixture. I have to warn you to make plenty since dukkah can become addictive. Leftovers can be stored into a airtight container for a month. Another easy to make appetizer is to cover goat cheese balls with dukkah.

Pumpkin & Fennel Dukkah recipe by Josee Robitaille

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) almonds or pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) sesame seeds
  • 4 teaspoons (20 ml) fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) sea salt

How to make it

dukkah preparation

  • Preheat your oven at 350 °F (180°C)
  • Grill the pumpkin seeds and almonds on a cookie sheet for 4 to 6 minutes (until they are lightly golden)
  • Deposit the sesame seeds into another cookie sheet and grill for 3 to 4 minutes (until they are lightly golden)
  • Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let cool completely
  • Deposit the fennel seeds into a pan and roast them 3 to 4 minutes at a medium heat. Then, remove from oven and let cool completely.
  • Pulse the pumpkin seeds and the pine nuts in the small bowl of a food processor to a coarse consistency. Be careful, it should not become a paste. Another option is to chop them with a knife.
  • Grind or place in a mortar and pestle the fennel seeds and pound until the mixture is crushed
  • Mix all the ingredients in a bowl

Voilà! Put another batch into a Mason jar, attach a gift tag and you will have a tasty hostess gift ready to bring during the holiday season.

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

The Best Pineapple Marmelade Recipe

pineapple marmelade with croissant

josee robitaille et kim vallee
photo of Josee Robitaille and Kim Vallee

Yesterday I attended a Proctor & Gamble media event where the star was Josee Robitaille, a consulting chef. I enjoyed so much her recipes that I translated them especially for you. The first recipe is a pineapple marmelade that will become the talk at your next brunch.

pineapple marmelade with croissant

It is simple to make. No special skills are required. All you need are 4 ingredients (pineapple, sugar, lime and fresh vanilla), a heavy-bottomed pot, a Microplane grater, and a food processor. I ate some this morning with a warm French croissant. Delicious! You could serve the pineapple marmelade with crepes, French toasts or on a plain yogourt.

What I like about this marmelade recipe is that it is not too sweet. If you decide to serve at a brunch, I suggest that you make a bigger batch. Your guests will be delighted to take home a small jar.

Pineapple Marmelade Recipe by Josee Robitaille

marmelade cooking
on the left side: see what is look like once it is fully cooked, on the right: get an idea of the cube size

  • After you removed the skin, split the pineapple in two lengthwise. Further divide each half lengthways and remove the heart. Then, cut into 1-inch cubes.
  • Put the pineapple cubes inside a heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) of raw sugar and the zest of one lime to the pot.
  • Cut the pod of your vanilla bean in halve, lengthwise with a paring knife. With the sharp edge of the paring knife, remove the seeds from the pods. Add the seeds to the pot. Then, cut the pod in half. Add the empty pods to the pot.
  • Bring to boiling and cook without a cover at medium temperature for 25 to 30 minutes. It will be ready when the water from the pineapple is almost all evaporated. Mix a few times during cooking.

pineapple marmelade
you aim for a puree with some textures.

  • Remove the vanilla pods and put the rest in a food processor.
  • Pulse until you obtain a coarse puree.
  • Transfer into a glass container and put it in the fridge. You can keep it for 2 weeks in your fridge.

With pineapples and citrus fruits becoming seasonal, I think that I will make my own marmelade more often.

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Thanksgiving: Revisiting Turkey Basics and Tabletop Ideas

thanksgiving truffle-scented roast chicken

thanksgiving truffle-scented roast chicken
photo credits: Home & Home October 2010, photography by Michael Graydon, prop styling by Sasha Seymour, food stylish by Ashley Denton

There will be no big Thanksgiving dinner for us this year. We will celebrate it just the three of us. Frankly, I welcome it since I was exhausted. We all feel tired lately. My hudband, my son and I had to adjust to a new schedule since Zack started day care. Yesterday, Zack slept up to 11 AM. This morning, he woke up at 8:45 AM. I start to feel refreshed.

It is a colder, bright sunny day here in Montreal. Before we go outside, I compiled a list of last-minute Thanksgiving ideas based on old posts.

For roasting your turkey, check out

For dressing your table, get inspired by

Explore the rest of my Thanksgiving posts for menu ideas and more tabletop inspirations. Lastly, do not stress out with the preparation. The most important in any event is to serve good food and to be amongst good company.

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

Simplify your Life with Soup

soup

soup
photo credits: Anjali of Eat Your Greens. Get the recipe on her blog.

We all have a go-to meal for when we are too busy, we don’t feel like cooking or to make us feel good. For me, it’s soup. I could eat it every day. I appreciate its versatility. On a 3-week trip to Portugal, I ordered a vegetable soup almost every day and none were similar. Plus, a soup can be as sophisticated or rustic as you want. You will not be proud to serve this roasted tomato, squash and coconut milk bisque to their guests.

A soup is an affordable and easy way to eat tasty, healthy food. I feel even better knowing that it helps me manage my vegetable drawer. I build my recipe from what I already have. If you are busy (we all are), keeping a supply of frozen, portion-sized homemade soups will simplify your life. I appreciate even more my supply of soups now that I have  a toddler. When he is too hungry and that supper is not ready, I serve him a bowl of soup while I continue cooking. His delight comes quickly. I keep my microwave in my kitchen just for these moments.

Early fall, with the wide choice of fresh vegetables, is the ideal time to make soup at home. Take advantage of it. If you do not know where to start, you will find recipes for broths and tasty soups in Vegetable Soups by Deborah Madison (I own it). Often, I simply start with the traditional onions, French shallots, celery, carrots base and build flavours from that. Since I work from home, a break provides me enough time for the prep work. I let the soup simmer as I continue to work. At other times, I start a big pot of soup while I cook dinner.

I’m telling you

One way to simplify your life is to keep a reserve of good homemade soup in my freezer.

BABY care FAMILY

Baby Food: Essentiels to Make Your Own Baby Purees

baby food

baby food
photo of my son at 7 months after a meal

Introducing a baby to solids can be challenging for new moms. After trying several brands of store-bought vegetable purees, it became clear that if I wanted my son to develop appetite and to stimulate his taste buds, I must cook my own vegetable purees. It is fun and if you do in batch, it will not require a lot of your time.

Before I gave birth, I wanted one of these fancy baby food machines. Let me tell you that you don’t need one. I bought a Beaba Babycook, read the manual and return it. My method is simpler, uses what you already have in your kitchen and would not become useless 6 or 7 months later. Talking to a few moms convinced me that a baby food machine didn’t worth the trouble, the cash and the extra counter space. Instead, I upgraded my 20-year old immersion blender for a sturdy model with a chopper attachment with lid. I never looked back.

Batch Cooking and Freezing

If I was making mashed potato and carrot for our dinner, I doubled the recipe. I froze the rest in ice cube trays. I use standard ice cubes (because I had them), the trays from KidCo and the PLASTIS ice cube trays from IKEA. If you need to equip yourself, buy two standard size silicone trays — it is easier to remove the food from them — and a few PLASTIS trays. The smaller size of the PLASTIS trays is practical for adjusting how much food you serve to your baby.

Season the Baby Food

My goal was that Zack could easily transition to what we eat for dinner. I developed recipes that fit my cooking style. For me, that means seasoning the food. Right from the start, I use butter, olive oil, onions, freshly ground pepper, ginger, fennel, and herbs to provide an array of flavour to my baby.

The Basis of my Recipes

I boiled the  vegetables in a marguerite. I tried roasting in the stove one or twice without success. I cut the vegetables in small pieces to reduce the boiling time. Each puree includes two or three vegetables that complement each other in taste and texture. I cooked them together.

I experimented a lot. Don’t hesitate to look at what inside your fridge or on your counter before you start. One of my yummiest recipe was a batch of caramelized onions that I mixed with boiled carrots. For inspirations, I looked at soup recipes. The list of ingredients triggered delightful mixes that became my signature purees.

Zack adored these recipes:

  • Ginger flavoured sweet potato and zucchini puree. I added a small potato to absorb the water of the zucchini.
  • Ginger flavoured carrot and red onion puree.
  • Mashed cauliflower and potatoes with a touch of fennel.

Have you cook any tasty purees lately? What is your secret?

Zack now eats like us. No more purees for him; in his mind, he is a big boy. He looks forward to lunch and dinner. He eats by himself and likes everything, except for eggs that he never cared for. We will never know if making his purees played a role in that but I am sure that it didn’t hurt. I encourage any mother to make their own baby purees. All you need is your pots and pans, a handblender, good ingredients and a little bit of imagination.

 

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

My Fourth of July Stylish Dessert Round-Up

fourth of july desserts

You will hear Wow! and see smile in your guests’ face if you serve any of these at your Fourth of July celebrations this year.

fourth of july desserts

  • Get the fresh fruit flag recipe at Family Fun. The idea is so simple that you can do it with your kids. All that you need are blackberries, strawberries, bananas and lemon juice to to keep the bananas from browning.
  • Martha Stewart did these flag cupcakes a while ago. What I like about them is that they are easy to decorate for anyone.
  • The tricolor parfaits are from Martha Stewart. Simply alternate a red fruit gelatin and a panna cotta layer to make your own.
  • Although the look like ice cream, these are frosted cakes that are topped with sugar crystals. Get the snow cone cupcake recipeat Bakerella

 

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

Two Tartine Recipes by La Tartine Gourmande

savory tartines by beatrice peltre

savory tartines by beatrice peltre

Last Friday, food blogger Beatrice Peltre of La Tartine Gourmande  was at “The Martha Stewart Show”.  Bea prepared two savory tartines from her first cookbook. Everything looks tasty!

Tartines, which are open sandwiches, make great lunch.  I love these two recipes because there are filled with colorful food. Plan ahead of time if you wish to serve them to your friends.  Rest assured that the techniques are easy to follow and the ingredients are easy to find. She made:

If you plan to serve both tartines for a stylish lunch with your girl friends this summer, start by roasting the cherry tomatoes. While the cherries are in your oven, prepare the basil oil,  blanch the green vegetables and make the ricotta spread. Toast your favorite bread; select a loaf with a nice crust. You will find on Martha Stewart’s recipe the recipes with videos where Beatrice shared more tips on how to make her tasty tartines.

Beatrice talked about her experiences at the Martha Stewart Show on her blog. If you are looking for more deliciously healthy recipes, do not forget to grab your copy of her cookbook the next time you shop at a bookstore.

la tartine gourmande cookbook

+ For Americans: La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life $19.59 USD at Amazon.com
+ For Canadians:  La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life $21.95 CAD at Amazon.ca

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

The Costco Challenge: The Making of a Stylish Cocktail Party on a Budget

stylish canapes costco challenge

stylish canapes costco challenge

This article from Town & Country is the proof that you do not need to spend a fortune to entertain in style 20 guests. Event planner David Monn bought at Costco the food he needed to make stylish canapés.

menu costco shopping list

David Monn spent $10.40 per guest. His cocktail party menu was comprehensive with 8 savoury hors d’oeuvres and 2 sweet treats. You get a nice mix of meat and seafood for that price. I’m impressed!

menu costco

I plan to make his Norwegian Smoked Salmon filled with scallion cream cheese and tied with a string of chive. Who will not love a Brie and apple on bruschetta topped with caramelized walnuts?

Get the details on the April 2012 issue of Town & Country magazine. Go to Zinio for a digital version delivered to the device of your choice.

SOURCING:
+  photos by Juliana Sohn – Courtesy of Town & Country magazine