Monday, 28 December 2015

Escargots a la Bourguignonne

Someone once told me a story about the beginnings of the posh little delicacy called escargot. After the French Revolution, two Parisian chefs wanted to introduce something new to their menu that would intrigue tourists and subsequently make extra cash. When translated from French, escargot actually means dirty slimy bag on the ground. French may be sneaky but also incredibly creative. And when enveloped in rich garlicky butter sauce or wrapped in a steaming puff pastry, rich cream, butter and white wine sauce, the dirty slimy bags on the ground, surely transform into blissful mouthfuls of pleasure. The story also goes to say that the original escargots were picked up from the dirty streets of Paris in the rain, at the doorstep of the restaurant where the two chefs worked. They brought them to their kitchen and the rest is history. Whether the story is true or not, good news for us is that we don't have to go snail picking or experiment in order to make them edible. There are so many incredible escargot recipes out there. The only prerequisite is to be adventurous enough to try them in the first place. 

If you are, this recipe will make you fall in love with escargots, unless your love affair with snails has begun a while ago. If that's the case, then expect the spark to be rekindled. Delicate shells of escargots oozing with buttery mixture of garlic, parsley, white wine, shallots and brandy. Spiced with a touch of warm, spicy nutmeg, all immersing the tantalizing, fibrous snail in a warm bath of velvety deliciousness. I like serving it with lemon wedges and slices of baguette. It is that perfect appetizer that will intrigue your guests' taste pallets and get them excited about the next course. Here is the challenge though - try to come up with something even more memorable than your appetizer. If you don't, all your company will talk about is your escargots. On the flip side, one unforgettable dish is a great success and the gift of love (new or rekindled) is priceless. 


16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, 1⁄4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley, 1 tbsp. white wine, 1 tsp. cognac or French brandy, 3 cloves garlic, minced, 1 shallot, minced, Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and nutmeg, to taste, 24 extra-large snail shells, 24 canned extra-large snails, Rock salt, baguette, for serving.


In a bowl, whisk together butter, parsley, wine, cognac, garlic, and shallots with a fork. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to let the flavours meld.

Heat oven to 400°. Spoon about 1⁄2 tsp. of butter mixture into each snail shell. Push a snail into each shell; fill shells with remaining butter mixture. Cover bottom of a baking pan with a layer of rock salt. Arrange snail shells butter side up on bed of salt and bake until butter sizzles, 10–12 minutes.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

My philosophy behind Sensual Eating

Cooking is the only form of art that involves all five of our senses. We can hear when our favourite ingredient sizzles in a hot oil or when it boils in the most luscious of wines. We devour food with our eyes when it is extravagantly presented on a plate. We can smell its glorious aromas delicately flirting with our nostrils. We can touch it with our lips, caress it with our tongues and ultimately, we can taste it. Because cooking involves all of our senses it becomes one of the most sensual activities of our day. The only activity that can be as sensual as cooking and eating is making love. 

I discovered the sensuality of food early in life. My step-grandfather was one of the most amazing cooks I have ever met. He could spend hours in the kitchen experimenting with different ingredients, textures, colours and flavours. My step-grandfather (who I call grandpa for loving me as much as he did) was from Azerbaijan where food was a mammoth part of their culture. Every meal for him was like a little blessing from above. He would enjoy every sit down at the table as if it was his last meal on earth. One of my first food memories involves my grandpa as well. I was not older than six-years-old. I got back from school and he had two bowls of hot soup ready for the two of us to enjoy. He took a piece of black bread and tore it into small pieces that he added to the soup. He made me do the same. I spooned out one small piece of bread soaked with broth and put it in my mouth. The burst of flavour exploded as I chewed softened black bread while drinking the warm goodness of soup at the same time. Since that day food was never the same. It was a playground with so many possibilities, so many joys and so many unexplored paths that lead to a blissful pleasure of satisfaction. 

My grandfather lived in a different time. He did not work as much as the average Canadian does today and he did not have as much stress as many of us endure on regular basis. It is hard to enjoy small pleasures when working overtime, being stuck in traffic and doing loads of laundry are an inescapable part of our daily lives. Taking time while indulging in simple pleasures like eating or making love, becomes a luxury. We are too tired to embark upon a journey of cooking a meal every night so instead many of us stop at a local supermarket to buy a frozen meal. Sometimes we are too exhausted to put a frozen meal in to the oven so we bring home a take out meal. If we do decide to treat ourselves to a home cooked meal, we often do it quickly, without thinking or tasting as we are cooking. Then we promptly ingest the food, sometimes while watching TV and we move on with other things that have to be crossed out from our busy “to do” list. By the time we get to bed, we are so exhausted that having sex becomes a luxury or a treat for a special occasion. 

To me cooking and eating are like meditation or sensual love making. It completely calms my mind and I indulge in every sensation I get from touching, watching, smelling, hearing and tasting my food as it is being prepared. Just like sex, sensual cooking and eating can guide us to that blissful life filled with delight and satisfaction. The key to cooking and eating sensually is consciously putting an effort into experiencing your food with every fibre of your being. Again, imagine making love, indulging, taking time, experiencing every caress, every tickle and every touch with your entire body. Cooking and eating sensually follows the same principles of pleasure. Sensual cooking means admiring the colours of your vegetables and feeling coarse grains of salt between your fingers tips. It means letting aromas of your meal gently tickle your nose and throat. Pay attention to what happens in your mouth. Are you salivating or is there something missing? Can you smell the marriage of ingredients or can you still smell them separately? Sensual eating means enjoying the final product with your eyes, with your nose, your tongue and possibly even with your hands. Take your time. Admire it first. Try guessing what it tastes like. Let your nose tell you what the food will feel like when you put it in your mouth. When you taste it, enjoy it slowly. Feel the heat if the meal is hot and feel what it does to your taste pallets. Is it spicy? Is it tangy? How does it feel on your tongue and how does it feel when you swallow that small piece of heaven? Is there an ingredient that shines through overpowering the rest of the components of your dish? If the dish is eatable with hands, what does it feel like when you hold it in your hands? Is it hot? Does the texture feel smooth or rough to the touch?

I am inviting you to the world of sexy food. But most importantly, I am inviting you to the world of pleasure and sensuality derived from cooking and eating. Each of my recipes comes with an appetizing description that will intrigue you and guide you towards your own bliss in the kitchen. Every recipe comes with a small preview of what’s to come when you finally indulge in fruits of your “labour”. I will guide you towards experiencing food like you never experienced it before and I will direct you towards making food into the most enjoyable part of your day. I encourage you to share this experience with your partner and to possibly make your newly discovered passion as part of your foreplay. I persuade you to share it with your friends and family. Make this sensual experience of food into a game at your next dinner party. This is your key to a brand new world of sensual indulgence that will enrich your life with a delicious satisfaction and newly discovered happiness in your kitchen...

Love, Emanuela

Monday, 14 December 2015

Roasted Tomato Soup with Ginger and Mint

Imagine yourself sitting by the window and watching the first snowfall. Somewhere in the most picturesque chalet overlooking the Alps or in the comfort of your own home, curled up under a soft plush blanket, by the fire place. Not a worry in the world, just one idyllically peaceful, lazy afternoon reading a book, looking through old photographs or doing whatever makes you happy. Sounds heavenly doesn't it? You know what would make it even better? A warm bowl of velvety soup. Aromatic, healing and calming. Maybe even served in a big mug so you can drink it while curled up under that soft plush blanket. Hold that cup in your hands and it warms up your entire body. Take a sip or a spoonful and it warms up your soul. 

Roast tomatoes and peppers, perfumed with earthy thyme, olive oil and citrusy notes of sherry vinegar. A touch of ginger brings that invigorating and reviving burst of flavour while sweet chilli pepper gives your tongue little sensual bites that intrigue and energize your taste buds. And then there comes the cream. It adds that comforting richness, body and rounds out all the flavours of the soup. The tip of the flavour pyramid is mint. So familiar yet never failing to surprise your tongue with a splash of its stimulating essence. This soup is that unforgettable first course of any dinner party or your own party for one. But be warned. After you try this soup, a cup of tea on a chilly day may not do the trick anymore. You will associate the ultimate comfort and warmth with a bowl or a cup of this velvety, warm goodness. 


3 large tomatoes, 2 red bell peppers, 5 cloves of garlic, 1 full red onion, 1 sweet chilli pepper, 2 sprigs of thyme, splash of sherry vinegar, olive oil, small piece of ginger, 2 litres of chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian option), 1 cup of heavy cream (35%), salt, pepper to taste, 1 teasp. brown sugar, about 6 mint leaves. 


Cut your tomatoes and red peppers in halves, chop your onion and arrange on a baking sheet. Throw in full garlic cloves and a chilli pepper. Drizzle with olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and sprinkle with sugar. Mix so they are well coated. Add thyme. Preheat your oven to F400 and roast for about 30 minutes. 

Remove thyme and transfer your roast vegetables to a large pot. Add chicken stock, grate in some ginger (not more than 1 tsp.) and let it boil for 20 min.

Add mint and puree with a hand blender. Add cream and mix until well incorporated. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche and some chopped mint.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Dates

When I think of dates, I think of that unforgettable soft, sticky, melting texture. That dark plump skin and a hard long pit in the middle. Popping the whole date into your mouth, gently biting into it is a sensual experience if you take your time to appreciate it. But dates are not just sweet and delicious. They also store a great wealth of nutritional properties that are so important for our well-being. Dates are also considered to be powerful aphrodisiacs. Ayurveda practitioners believe that it increases the amount of sperm in men as well as its quality. Because they are filled with good sugars, they are great energy boosters. In other words, it is a great snack option before you go for a jog or before a passionate night (or day) of love making.

Using dates in savoury dishes is a common practice in Moroccan cuisine. When used in stews, they become rehydrated and plump. They release that wonderful sweetness and when paired with the right spices, create a memorable flavour profile that is almost irresistible. This dish calls for other spices that are known to have "sexy" properties. Warm, inviting cinnamon, smoky cumin, healing turmeric and invigorating ginger. All come together to complement one another and other flavours in the stew. Chicken is the star ingredient in this Moroccan stew but to me it's all about the dates. Bursting with aromatic warm broth, so sweet and so fleshy. But start with simply enjoying a raw date. Look at it, smell it, lick it, taste it and see where it takes you. Recipe is just an inspiration. How you achieve your ultimate satisfaction is entirely up to you. 


10 drumsticks, 2 onions, 15 pitted dates, 6 cloves of garlic, some parsley for garnishing. For the dry rub: 2 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. ginger, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. turmeric. 


Mix the spices together and rub over the chicken. Let it sit for 2 hours in the fridge. 

In a heavy Dutch oven seer the chicken in olive oil until brown skin forms. Remove and set aside. To the same pot add onions, garlic, dates and sauté for few minutes. Bring back the chicken and add enough water to almost cover the contents of the pot. Simmer for 40 minutes. Serve over rice or couscous. Sprinkle with parsley. 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Figs with Honey Pomegranate Reduction and Fleur de Sel

Aphrodisiacs is not a new phenomenon. People have believed in their powerful abilities to induce lust for ages. Nearly every culture has its own legends and myths surrounding certain herbs, vegetables or fruits. There have been numerous studies done around foods that are known to stimulate sexual desire. For example, chili peppers are known to boost the production of endorphins (the happiness hormones) as well as speed up your heart rate which leads to a similar feeling that comes with sexual arousal. Honey helps with regulating the estrogen and testosterone (also known as sex hormones) levels in our bodies. Figs are loaded with potassium which is a powerful agent in relieving stress and helping with muscle strength. You may or may not believe in the powers of "sexy food" but giving them a try doesn't hurt. I came up with this little "passion potion" in my own kitchen years ago. It is a great recipe to make for any occasion, particularly when you are feeling a little down. I don't believe that love remedies should be cooked only when you have a romantic partner. A healthy sex drive should be present when you are single as well. 

Ripe figs (the symbol of fertility) are drizzled with honey and pomegranate reduction. It drips over fleshy figs, bathing them in sweet and sticky hot lava of flavour. Fragrant hazelnuts add a touch pleasant roughness as your tongue licks and savours the candied fig. And then there is an unexpected surprise... A touch of flaky Fleur de Sel sprinkled over the fruit. It creates an intriguing contrast to the sweetness of the syrup. It's raw and salty but so stimulating and luscious. This dish is a fantasy. It is meant to be the foreplay you will never forget. So be carried away by the fantasy and see where it takes you. Once thing is for certain. It will satisfy all of your senses. The rest is a mystery which is yours to discover. And that is a sexy thing in itself. 


10 figs, halved, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses, splash of brandy, 10 chopped hazelnuts, 1 small chilli pepper and fleur de sel. 


Cut your figs in halves and place them fleshy side up on a cookie sheet. 

In a small pot combine your honey, pomegranate molasses, brandy, bring to a boil. Once it starts to simmer, throw in the chili pepper. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Take out the pepper and throw in your chopped hazelnuts. Once incorporated, turn off the head and drizzle the reduction over your figs. Make sure that each fig is topped with some hazelnuts. 

Preheat your oven to F400 and bake for about 10 minutes. For extra caramelized top, broil for another minute. 

Place them in individual serving plates and sprinkle with some Fleur de Sel. If you have some of your honey and brandy reduction left over, drizzle some more over your plated figs.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Maple Salmon Pâté with Blue Cheese and Fire Roasted Peppers

As a food journalist I have attended many dinner parties and gatherings. I cooked and dined with the most talented chefs from India, France, Japan, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Iran and many other parts of the world that have incredible cuisines. I ate with my hands and with silver spoons. I sat and ate on the floor and at the most meticulously set tables where "haute cuisine" was served. But here is something interesting that I have noticed. There is nothing that excites people more than Hors d'Oeuvres. Food unites people and Hors d'Oeuvres break the ice. May it be a simple a cracker topped with some cheese or a sophisticated artistic creation. People love that first bite they have before sitting down to have the main meal. And if the wine is served to go along with Hors d'Oeuvres... Well, the party is elevated to the next level. 

My Maple Salmon Pâté is a great party starter. It can be served assembled on a piece of baguette or in a bowl with slices of baguette on the side. A good chardonnay or champagne are perfect pairings to go with this starter. Holidays are fast approaching. Serve it at your holiday gathering and watch how quickly compliments to the chef turn into great conversations filled with laughter and cheer. And here is a party favour idea: print this recipe for each of your guests, roll it up and secure it with some ribbon. Let each of your guests take one before they leave your house. Trust me, they will ask you for the recipe the next day. Now they won't have to. 


3 salmon fillets, 1 fire roasted marinated red pepper (available in a jar), 2 tbsp. maple syrup, 1 tbsp. capers, 1/4 cup of blue cheese, 1/4 tsp. herbes du Provence, pinch of red pepper flakes, splash of lemon juice, 3 tbsp, crème fraiche (or sour cream). 


Boil your salmon for 6 minutes and let it sit until cool enough to handle. Break it up into small pieces with your hands and set aside.

In the food processor combine the fire-roasted red pepper, maple syrup, blue cheese, capers. herbes du provence and crème fraiche. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and some lemon juice. Pulse until combined. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Empty the contents of the food processor into a bowl and add your shredded salmon. Mix and chill overnight. Check for the seasoning and serve with toasted baguette or crackers. 

20+ Time Saving Cooking Tips

Lets be honest, many of live very busy lives. If you are a seasoned chef, you probably learned many time saving tricks in culinary school. If you aren't a trained chef and are just starting your culinary journey, here is a great article that will save you lots of time in the kitchen. If your culinary adventures have begun a long time ago, still read it. You may learn something new. Here is the link: 20+ Time Saving Cooking Tips

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Strawberry and Cream Meringue Cake

My friend Nada Rajic and I go way back. When we met, I was in my first year of university and she was the one who invited me to my very first formal dinner party. There was something magical about that evening. It was definitely very different from all the parties I attended in my freshman year of journalism school. The guests were served a three course meal, there were exquisite centerpieces on the table, plenty of wine to go around and lots of stimulating conversations. And then there was the Dessert! A spectacular, airy walnut meringue cake with strawberry and cream filling. It's been many years since that evening at Nada's. Since then I attended dozens of dinner parties and had plenty of mouth-watering sweet endings but I never forgot the cake that Nada served that night. It truly was life changing. It was like that first love or that first kiss that you never forget. Everything that comes after is great but it does not come close to that very first sensual experience. And then you spend your life wondering if you will ever go through anything like this again. 

First your dessert fork breaks up a crispy meringue filled with toasted walnuts, perfumed with essence of almond extract. It is crunchy and airy, nutty and light. Then your fork reaches sweet, ripe strawberries, enveloped by fresh, sweetened cream. It's like digging into a celestial cloud of pleasure. And then comes another layer of that perfect nutty meringue. Again, crispy, airy and delicate. And then as your eyes devour this iconic piece of heaven on your plate, your fork finally snatches a piece and you are ready to put it in your mouth. The contrasts of the cake's consistency create the bite that is impossible to forget. Plump, fleshy berries, soft cream and the crunchy crust. Have I mentioned heaven? Nada was kind enough to share this recipe with me and I couldn't be more grateful. I can go back to that wonderful sweet experience anytime I want and now you can experience it for yourself. But be prepared. You may have to scratch out your favourite dessert from the list of your guilty pleasures. This cake might become "the one." 


5 egg whites, 1 cup of sugar, few drops of almond extract, 1 tbsp of flour, 1 cup of chopped toasted walnuts, 1 tsp. cornstarch, 500ml of whipping cream (35%), 2 tsp. powdered sugar, 1 large basket of strawberries, 1/2 tsp. cream tartar (optional). 


To make 2 meringue crusts: Beat 5 egg whites with 1 cup of sugar, few drops of almond extract and some cream tartar (optional). 

In a separate bowl mix 1 tbsp. flour with chopped walnuts and 1 tsp. cornstarch. 

Mix your wet and dry ingredients together. 

Grease 2 spring form pans and lightly dust with flour. Divide the batter evenly and bake at 350F for 35-40 min. Turn off the heat and let it dry for another 30 minutes without opening the oven. 

To make the filling: Cut the strawberries in big chunks. Whip your whipping cream with 2 tbsp. powdered sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Fold in the strawberries. 

Assembly: Place one of the meringues on a serving stand and top with berry and cream mixture. Place another meringue on top and dust with powdered sugar. Do not assembly too early in advance to avoid soggy crusts.

Vegetarian Spaghetti with Black Bean and Honey Sauce

Sophia Loren once said, "Everything you see I owe to spaghetti." As an impressionable teenager, I was a big fan of Cinema Italiano and Sophia Loren so I figured, she knew what she is talking about. I ate spaghetti as if it was going out of style. Let's be honest, too much of a good thing may not do wonders for your figure but it makes you happy. It's fun to eat spaghetti. You have to wrap it around your fork, you can slurp it and it has that distinctive texture that everybody loves. And then you add cheese, sauce, some basil and... you feel euphorically satisfied. It is that comfortable feeling that is synonymous with happiness. And as tacky as that sounds, this is where beauty begins! Sophia Lauren knew what she was talking about after all. 

My family loves pasta. Even my 1.5-year-old daughter Sandrine eats pasta with no disputes or mini temper tantrums. Therefore, I always look for new ways to make it. This recipe has some Asian flavours and is probably like no pasta you have ever tried. It is also a vegetarian pasta dish so if you want to introduce a weekly "no meat dinner" policy, this is a good way to do it. Deep, rich black bean and garlic sauce meets the sweetness of honey and acidity of white balsamic vinegar. This is your sauce. As soon as it hits sizzling, roasted vegetables and al-dente pasta, it releases even more of its aromatic properties and essence. To this you add some buttery white beans, crispy snow peas and a handful of cilantro. And there it is - the most satisfying, appetizing, steamy, slurpy goodness in a bowl. I like adding some chopped peanuts over this pasta. It is unusual but it gives your dish even more textural interest and appeal. And at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is happiness. And how you achieve it in your own kitchen is nobody's business but yours. 


500 gr. spaghetti, 1 zucchini, 1 red bell pepper, 1 small package of cherry tomatoes, hand full of snow peas, 1 can of white beans, Chinese five spice. For the sauce: 3 tbsp. black bean and garlic sauce, 3 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tbsp. honey, cilantro.


Chop up your zucchini, red pepper, cherry tomatoes and arrange in a roasting pan. Drizzle with some olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and sprinkle with Chinese five spice. Bake at 375F for 30 min.

In a bowl whisk black bean and garlic sauce with vinegar, olive oil and honey. 

Once your pasta is al dente, drain it and add roasted vegetables, white beans, snow peas, cilantro and the dressing. Mix and serve.