Sunday, 27 March 2011

Dipping Oil for Baguette

I like to serve dipping oils for bread with heavy stews or lasagnes. I love the way the oil infused with herbs caresses my tongue, flavours soft bread and fragrances each bite with combinations of earthy aromas. I infuse my oils for dipping with whatever I can find in my cabinets or refrigerator. It’s all about finding flavours that complement each other. I also use this recipe for toasted croutes of baguette. I simply brush flavoured oil on small pieces of baguette and then toast them.  If you decide to serve the oil as a dip for bread, pour the oil into separate ramekins so each guest would have their own. Garnish it with a sprig of rosemary floating on top.

Ingredients:1 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar,1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese,1 1/2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 4 -5 cloves garlic, minced, pinch of cayenne pepper. 


Whist all ingredients in a bowl, leave in the refrigerator for an hour or two.  Slice or tear baguette into pieces and serve.

My Favourite Cheesecake

Cheesecake is always a safe bet when you’re entertaining.  I usually turn to this elegant dessert when I’m not familiar with what my company likes. It has a rich, smooth but far from heavy consistency. I serve it after a heavy main course and my guests usually cannot refuse a second piece. Since this recipe requires sour cream, it can be frozen.  I like to top my cheesecake with cherries in syrup or with a drizzle of dolce de leche.


1-1/4 cups HONEY MAID Graham Crumbs, 1/4 cup butter, melted, 5 pkg. (250 g each) Brick Cream Cheese, softened, 1 cup sugar, 3 Tbsp. flour, 1 Tbsp. vanilla, 1 cup sour cream, 4 eggs.


Preheat oven to 325°F if using a silver 9-inch springform pan (or to 300°F if using a dark nonstick 9-inch springform pan). Mix crumbs and butter; press firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 min.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake 1 hour 10 min. or until centre is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Caprise de Femme Tartlets

These tartlets do not take fancy ingredients or hours of preparation. They are simple to make and your guests will never know how quickly you put this h'orderve together. I love the contrast of textures and flavours in each tartlet. Crispiness of toasted bread and softness of cream cheese, sweetness of tomato and delicate tang of red wine vinegar... Perfect balance in small bites of tasty, elegant delight.


8 slices white bread, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon dried basil, fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper,
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced, 4 ounces fresh mozzarella (approximately 2-inch ball), thinly sliced, red wine vinegar, for drizzling, optional, 8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the crusts from the bread and using a large spoon or rolling pin, gently press the slices of bread down flat until they are thin and almost doughy. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Press the slices in the muffin tin, to form tartlet shells. Set aside.

In a small bowl, using a fork to combine, mix together the cream cheese, garlic powder, dried basil, salt, and pepper until smooth and creamy. Drop about a teaspoon of the cream cheese into the bottom of each muffin tin. Bake the tartlets until golden and crusty, 12 to 13 minutes.

Meanwhile, liberally salt the tomato slices. Once the tartlet shells are golden, remove them from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Place a slice of mozzarella on top of the cream cheese, then layer on a tomato slice or two. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste and a drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar, if using. Garnish with basil chiffonade.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Raspberry Ricotta Mousse

This raspberry mousse is light as a cloud. Fresh ricotta, raspberry jam and few other ingredients come together in a perfect marriage, to give your taste buds the gentlest kisses of sweet satisfaction. I like to serve it in martini glasses and garnish it with few fresh raspberries that sink in airy texture of pink goodness.


1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup raspberry jam, 1 cup whipping cream, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 cup fresh raspberries.


In a food processor, blend the ricotta cheese until light and fluffy, about 20 seconds. Add the jam and pulse until combined. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream until thick. Add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until the cream holds stiff peaks. Working in batches, carefully fold the cream mixture into the
ricotta mixture. Spoon the mousse into serving bowls and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Lunch Feature, Chabichou

My news feature about the importance of lunch and interview with Ludovic Mas, the manager of my favourite French gourmet shop CHABICHOU in Toronto. 196 Borden Street (at Harbord), Toronto.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Aperitif Cake

In France Aperitifs are usually served before meals to stimulate the appetite. This cake is amazingly flavourful. Aperitifs are commonly accompanied by small snacks like pates, crackers, cheeses or olives. Saltiness of bacon and olives, piquant cheese inside of every bite are sure to prepare your guests for the rest of the evening’s menu. Serve it with wine, dry champagne or a good liqueur.

1-1/2 cups flour, 1-1/2 tsps baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, 3 eggs, lightly beaten, 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp butter, melted, 2/3 cup olives, pitted and sliced, 4 ounces bacon, about 4 slices, cut into lardoons and fried, 1 cup Grated Gruyere cheese or grated Parmesan, pinch of salt, to taste, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary.

Preparation:Heat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Butter and flour a loaf pan. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl, and stir the pepper through. Beat the eggs into the flour. Beat in the melted butter. Stir through the remaining ingredients to distribute evenly. Spoon the batter into the pan and bake 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool slightly. Remove from pan. Slice, and serve with wine.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine is a light and very satisfying dish. It is popular for breakfast, lunch or dinner in the south of France where warm climate calls for lighter meals. Served with soup or a simple green salad, Quiche Lorraine makes a perfect meal to enjoy with your family and friends. There is also plenty of room to add your twist to any quiche. I, personally, like to add some chilli flakes to give my Quiche Lorraine a touch of sweet heat.


1 single pastry shell, 3/4 lb bacon (uncooked), 1/2 lb Gruyere (grated), 4 eggs, 1 tsp. Flour, 1/2 tsp. salt,1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg, 2 cups milk,1 tsp. melted butter.


Line a 9” pan with pastry. Fry lardoons of bacon until crisp. Grate cheese, and then mix cheese and fried bacon in a bowl. Beat eggs in a bowl. Add flour, salt, cayenne and nutmeg, mix lightly. Add milk, melted butter, mix lightly. Layer the grated cheese and bacon into the pastry. Pour the custard over the cheese and bacon. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes until set. It should get a little brown on the top.


This desert looks very elegant and is very easy to prepare. Profiteroles are made of a Choux pastry (Pâte à choux), also used to make croquembouches and eclairs. Profiterole puffs can be filled with pastry cream or served whole with a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce. I love the contrast of temperatures and textures that ice cream filling creates. The chocolate sauce can be substituted with a light dusting of icing sugar or you can choose between any fruit coulis. 

Ingredients: 1 cup water, 1/2 cup butter,1 pinch salt, 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 4 eggs, beaten, 6 cups of vanilla ice cream.
Glaze: 1 egg, 1 tbsp water.
Chocolate Sauce: 3/4 cup whipping cream, 6 oz semisweet chocolate , chopped.


In heavy saucepan, bring water, butter and salt just to boil; remove from heat. Add flour all at once; stir vigorously with wooden spoon until mixture comes away from side of pan in smooth ball.

Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring constantly, until coating begins to form on bottom of pan, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to large bowl; stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly.

Make well in centre of flour mixture. Using electric mixer, beat in eggs, one-quarter at a time and beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth, shiny and pastry holds its shape in bowl.

Fill pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch (1 cm) plain tip with pastry, or use spoon; pipe pastry into twenty-four 2-inch (5 cm) wide by 1-inch (2.5 cm) high mounds onto 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

Glaze: Beat egg with water; lightly brush over mounds, flattening tips and making sure glaze doesn't drip onto paper.

Bake in top and bottom thirds of 425°F (220°C) oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F (190°C); switch and rotate pans. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and crisp. Turn off oven; let stand in oven for 10 minutes to dry. Transfer to rack; let cool.

Chocolate Sauce: In saucepan, bring cream to boil; pour over chocolate in bowl. Whisk until melted.

Friday, 18 March 2011

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup (Soupe à l'oignon) must be the most well known soup in French cuisine. This flavourful dish is now enjoyed all over the world but was once known as the food of the poor since onions were cheap and simple to farm. This recipe requires quite a lot of patience since sweating and caramelizing onions can take a while. Patience, however, is rewarding. It guarantees a balanced rich flavour and beautiful silky texture. To add more aroma I suggest using an extra teaspoon of Herbes Du Provence; it never fails to give the soup an additional layer of warm earthy taste.


    2 onions (unpeeled) 1 clove garlic 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter 2 tsp (10 mL) granulated_sugar 1/2 tsp (2 mL) Herbes Du Provence  1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper Pinch salt 4 cups (1 L) beef stock 1 tbsp (15 mL) balsamic or red_wine_vinegar 4 slices French_bread 3/4 cup (175 mL) shredded Swiss_cheese


On cutting board and using small knife, cut onions in half from stem to root end. Cut thin slice off stem end. Peel off outer skin. Place cut side down; cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Peel off outer skin from garlic; chop finely.

In large heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until starting to bubble. Add onions, garlic, sugar, Herbes du Provence, pepper and salt. Stir with wooden spoon until onions are coated with butter. Cover pan with lid; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes or until onions are limp.
Pour in beef stock and balsamic vinegar; increase heat to high, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place oven rack on second rung from top. Preheat broiler for 5 minutes. Toast bread in toaster or under broiler until golden brown; set aside. Place 4 ovenproof soup bowls on baking sheet or pan. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with toast slices. Sprinkle cheese evenly over top.
Wearing oven mitts, place tray of bowls under broiler; broil for about 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden.