American Pale Ale beer jelly (or vanilla) infused yogurt pudding with caramelized peaches

This summer I cooked a lot of peaches …. mostly because I wanted to nail one recipe, and one only: a French tatin peach pie. Peach pie can be really soggy, this was my challenge. It took me 6 to 7 peach pies, but now I nail it. My peaches are perfectly caramelized and my tatin peach pie is not anymore soggy.

The positive aspect of this experience is the fact that I have rediscovered that caramelized peaches in sugar and butter is real yummy. It also brought back some sweet memories: my grandmother sweet indulgence made with peaches. I wanted to bring back these memories, with a little twist.

Peach with beer? Mummm, can we pair them?

Through my reading about pairing food with beer, I have learnt that American Pale Ale works well with caramel and fruits. Et voila!

it gave me the idea to try baked yogurt pudding with caramelized peaches and American Pale Ale beer jelly. And it was not a mistake, it is gorgeous!

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

Prep Time: 15 min                   Cook Time: 30 to 45 min                    Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

4 peaches, ripe but firm

30 grams (2 tablespoons) butter

40 grams (1/4 cup) sugar

250 grams (1 cup) plain yoghurt

140 grams (0.6 cup) sweetened condensed milk

80 grams (0.3 cup) cream fraîche

4 teaspoons of Imperial IPA Beer Jelly (or one teaspoon of vanilla extract as an alternative)

1 egg, lightly beaten

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Cut peaches into quarters. Pan fry them quickly in butter (be sure to use a pan large enough to have one layer of fruits) on high heat for 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the granulated sugar and mix. Lower the heat to medium heat and wait for peaches render their juice (it can take 10 to 12 minutes). Increase the heat to high and dry and simmer the peaches until there is no more juice.

It is really important to have at that point no liquid at all because the peaches will release some juice when cooking in the oven, and if this is the case, the peach pie will be soggy.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the peaches from the caramel and transfer them equitably to 4 X 250 ml glass Masson jar.

Warm up the American Pale Ale Beer Jelly using a microwave or a water bath.

Mix together the yoghurt, condensed milk, cream, beer jelly and egg in a medium bowl.

Pour the yoghurt mixture over the peaches and bake in the oven for 20–35 minutes, or until the pudding is just set. I find that 25 minutes is enough but it will all depend of your stove.

When the pudding is cooked, it will look smooth like a panna cotta, but it will still be a little wobbly. It is important not to cook it for any longer once it reaches this stage, because overcooking will make it curdle and the water separate.

Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, then serve.

The pudding will become firmer and lose its wobbliness when it is chilled in the refrigerator.

You can keep this dessert for at least 48 hours in the fridge. It is a really refreshing sweet treat.

French tomato pie with goat cheese and Imperial IPA beer jelly (or honey)

This is a classic in French cuisine – mustard, tomatoes and cheese layered on a flaky pie crust. This was my first recipe published last year in my blog: Alchimie et gourmandise. We love this pie – we call it the French pizza. I wanted to revisit this classic this summer, and add a little of “je ne sais quoi…”.

As I am working with local craft beer, my idea was to add some Imperial IPA beer jelly to the mustard and to pair this aromatic jelly with goat cheese… A must to try. I hope you will enjoy this French pie with a Canadian twist as much as us.

If you don’t have any beer jelly, don’t worry. You can use also honey or apple cider jelly.

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

Pie crust recipe

Ingredients

250 grams all-purpose organic unbleached flour

125 grams of butter, cubed and very cold

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

100 ml very cold water, plus more is needed

Directions

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture, and cut it using a pastry cutter (rubbing it in with your fingertips also works in a pinch). Keep working the butter into the dough until in coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

Scrape off any residual butter-flour mixture from the pastry cutter, and drizzle in the water.

Gently work the water into the dough with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until it becomes a shaggy but relatively cohesive mass. Give the dough a few kneads with your hands (fewer than 10) so that it forms a rough ball.

Try to work these steps as fast as you can. This is one of the secrets for a flaky crust.

Wrap the ball in plastic wrap, and chill for at minimum one hour or overnight. This allows the water to fully hydrate the dough, making for a more cohesive product that’s easier to roll out.

The tomato mustard French pie

 Ingredients

100 g of mustard

I use normally a combination (50/50) of artisan whole-grain mustard (not sweet at all) and Maille Dijon Originale mustard. French mustard like Maille is the best choice because it is not sweet and it will pair perfectly with the Imperial IPA beer jelly, honey or apple cider jelly.

1 tablespoon + 4 to 5 teaspoons Imperial IPA beer jelly (or honey or apple cider jelly as an alternative)

If you are using honey or sweet apple cider jelly, put a little less because it is going to be too sweet.

3 large or 5 medium ripe heirloom tomatoes (like candy’s old yellow, green zebra, cavern…)

5 to 6 round slices of goat cheese – 250 g (8 ounces) (like The Tournevent, la fromagerie Hamel, Quebec)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of fresh herbs of Provence (a combination of parsley, marjoram, rosemary, thyme or oregano)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Fit the pie crust into a 11-inch pie dish (or smaller size like a 9-inch). With a fork, poke holes into the bottom of the crust.

Precook the crust for 7 to 10 min. Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into slices 3-5 mm thick. Lay the slices as on paper towels to remove excess water content in tomatoes if needed

Remove the crust from the oven.

Mix together the two kinds of mustard with one tablespoon of Imperial IPA beer jelly. Spread it over the bottom of the pie crust in an even layer. Cover the mustard with slices of tomato, overlapping in a spiral from the edge to the center. They will slightly shrink while cooking. Then, don’t be afraid to put two layers of tomatoes.

Arrange the slices of goat cheese on top, and add a teaspoon of Imperial IPA beer jelly on each disk of goat cheese. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes, and sprinkle the tart with the herbs of Provence.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 450 degree F, or until the dough is cooked, the tomatoes are tender, and the cheese on top is nicely browned. Depending on the heat of your oven, if the cheese doesn’t brown as much as you’d like it, you might want to pass it under the broiler until it’s just right.

Remove from the oven and let it to rest for 15 min.

Peach Tatin Pie with Lemon Verbena Whipped Cream

(Peach is one of my favorite fruits during the summer season. I think it might be strongly related to my great childhood memories: pick directly from the tree during a hot day or freshly bake – French peach pie or preserve for the winter season – jam and canning experience with my grandmother Adele. My grandparents had one kind of peach in their orchard – the “pêche de vigne” (peach of the grapevine), delicate small white peaches full of fragrances. It was (and still is) a delicacy!

On the other hand, lemon verbena is a leafy herb with a strong lemony flavor. It originated in South America and was brought back to Europe, where it served as both a decorative and functional plant. When I was living in France, verbena has been one of my favorite herbal teas, the most common use for a lot of people. Here in Canada, I didn’t have the opportunity to drink any longer a cup of verbena tea, and I was so pleased when I have had the opportunity to source this delicacy here in Toronto a few years ago.

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When you live overseas, there are simple pleasures, like finding products that bring you back home and make you feel cheerful: mustard of Dijon and perrier for me, “bonne maman” jam for my friends… and for a lot of us, the petits beurres (French butter cookies) also, French cheeses of course, and verbena.

Lemon verbena can be used when cooking, generally in sweet dishes, and this is something I wanted to explore for many years. In most of the recipes of peach tatin pies I have reviewed for this blog, people are using fresh verbena. Unfortunately, here in Toronto, it is quite difficult to find a verbena plant. In contrast, verbena as an herbal tea is quite easy to find – ask your favorite gourmet tea boutique, I am pretty sure they have some. To get all the flavor possible out of the dry leafs, the best solution is to infuse the dry leafs into a liquid. This can be done by steeping the leaves in boiling or near boiling liquid, much the same way as you might make tea, then straining them out before using the liquid in another recipe. And this is exactly the way that I have chosen to follow for the verbena infused cream.

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Like in Provence, peach and verbena is the perfect combination for a sweet summer treat. The touch of lemon verbena lends an incredibly bright and fresh streak to the sweet cooked peaches in the tatin pie. Yummy… I was ready to try!

I love making pies, any kinds. I do it mostly without looking at a recipe. However, for this specific pie, it was quite different and really challenging. First, it was a new recipe for me. Secondly, I didn’t find any recipe online (except America Test Kitchen) that talks openly about the major issue when baking with peaches: they are really juicy and your pie or cake can be really soggy.

For my first peach tatin pie, I followed the recipe I have found online. No juice before I started to cook the pie in the oven, but after 35 minutes … A flood of juice above the crust, soggy, soggy. I did it again and again – in total we ate 6 peach tatin pies, improving each time a little bit more to get at the end the perfect peach tatin pie. I still love peaches… not a problem!

My advice

Don’t be afraid to cook your peaches on high heat, to caramelize them perfectly (you can see my pictures soggy vs caramelized). The peach is a delicate fruit and I was afraid to overcook them and obtain some sort of peach marmalade, but it has not been the case. The dry-heat/high-heat method cooks off a lot of water (and you need this) and helps to cook the peaches to just the right texture.

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I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

Prep Time: 30 min                           Cook Time: 50 min                                         Yield: One 9-inch pie

Ingredients

8 to 10 peaches, ripe but firm

60 grams (4 tablespoons) butter

80 grams (1/2 cup) sugar

1 sheet puff pastry

1 pinch of salt

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

If your peaches are not yet at maturity. Place them in a paper bag for 2 to 3 days.

Wash peaches

Remove any stems and leaves still present on the peaches. Brush away any visible dirt or residue by hand. Fill a bowl or partially fill your kitchen sink with water, adding a small amount of soap as it fills. Place the peaches in the bowl or sink, rubbing the surface of the fruit to remove dirt and residue. Rinse the peaches in cool running water.

Cut them into quarters. Pan fry them quickly in butter (be sure to use a pan large enough to have one layer of fruits) on high heat for 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the granulated sugar and mix. Lower the heat to medium heat and wait for peaches render their juice (it can take 10 to 12 minutes). Increase the heat to high and dry and simmer the peaches until there is no more juice.

It is really important to have at that point no liquid at all because the peaches may release some juice when cooking in the oven, and if this is the case, the peach pie will be soggy.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the peaches from the caramel and transfer them to a 9-inch pie dish.

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Cut a 10-inch disk out of the puff pastry sheet. Drape it over the peaches in the pie dish.

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Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 to 25 minutes.

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Cut around edge of cake pan to loosen pastry. Carefully place a plate on top of the pie, slide your hand under bottom of the pie pan (be sure it’s cool enough to handle, or use a pot holder), and flip over the tart. Carefully lift off cake pan. The caramel should ooze out and pool around the tart. Rearrange any peaches that may have become dislodged. Cut warm tart into wedges; serve with verbena infused whipped cream.

I recommend to cook the pie when eating the first and second courses of your meal, and flip over the tart at the last minutes, just before to serve it. If it is not possible, it can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand in cake pan at room temperature. Rewarm tart in 350°F oven for 10 minutes before continuing.

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Verbena infused whipped cream

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream

4 teaspoons dry lemon verbena

4 tablespoons icing sugar

Preparation

Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; add lemon verbena. Cover. Let steep 15 minutes. Strain cream into a medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Beat infused cream with 4 tablespoons sugar to soft peaks.

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Ready for the peach tatin pie…

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Bonne Appetite!

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Roasted Duck Legs with Oatmeal Brown Ale Beer and Cherry Sauce

The first time I have discovered the possibility to cook duck with cherry was in France. My brother Jean Michel had offered me a cooking book for my 20th anniversary: Larousse Traditional French Cooking by Curnonsky.

Maurice Edmond Sailland was an interesting man. Better known by his pen-name Curnonsky, and dubbed the Prince of Gastronomy, he was the most celebrated writer on gastronomy in France in the 20th century. He was also a prolific fictional author (over 65 books and enormous numbers of newspaper columns) , a bon-vivant, a raconteur and a gourmand (he wrote several cookbooks). He is often considered the inventor of gastronomic motor-tourism as popularized by Michelin, though he himself could not drive.

He advocated simple food over complicated, rustic over refined, and he has often repeated the phrase:

Et surtout, faites simple!

And above all, keep it simple!

I have read his book like a captivating novel, I have prepared many of his recipes…and I have learnt so much from the 1, 5000 recipes he has collected in his cookbook. Thanks Jean Michel for this gift!

Duck and cherry, I have tried this combination many times – or something similar to this recipe – using the whole duck or the ]breasts with red Burgundy wine instead of beer. The first time, it was specifically for my grandfather Paul. Both my grandparents Adele and Paul had a farm and a luxuriant orchard and garden. I have spent so many summers with them, enjoying cooking and making jam and preserving with my grandmother Adele, harvesting the products of their farm and orchard with my grandfather Paul. It was a way to honor him … a fantastic roasted duck with his sour cherries. A little of nostalgia …. but also great memories!

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe.

4 servings      Preparation 30 minutes            Cooking 2 hours and 15 minutes

 

Ingredients

4 duck legs, skin on

Salt and pepper

3 chopped shallots

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup oatmeal brown ale beer

The recipe for this classic French dish is quite standard. You can use red wine or Porto as well as Stout, but I wanted something different, lighter and well balance. The red wine, like the stout, can be overpowering (thick and heavy sometime – more for winter cooking), and as a result, the cherries would play only a second role.

Left-Field-Brewing-First-edits-Photos-by-Mark-Horsley-4As a result, for this recipe, I have decided to use a brown Ale, more specifically the Oatmeal Brown Ale Eephus, from Left Field Brewery.

Left Field Brewery is my neighbour here in Toronto East. One among the vibrant local craft breweries in Ontario! I love to go there and order a sampling of their beers. I bring some food (like cherry), a book about pairing beer with cheese and/or food. I let my imagination wander, and I decide if one of their beers might be an interesting addition to my food and cooking research and development adventure.

Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale (5.5% alcohol) is malty and nutty, well balanced but on the sweet side, with a touch of bitterness. The perfect pairing for the dark cherry!

The sauce is smooth with a mild but intricate rich flavor and a touch of bitterness. It balances perfectly the aroma of the dark cherry and work perfectly with duck. A must to try!

250 to 300 grams (1 ½ cups) dark sweet cherries

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon butter

A few drops of Tabasco chipotle smoky sauce

Black pepper

Salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F degree.

Pat the skin of the duck leg with a kitchen towel.

Prick the skin of the leg all over (taking care not to pierce the meat).

Season duck legs with salt and pepper.

Place the duck legs skin side down in a cold skillet large enough to accommodate them comfortably. Turn heat to medium, and cook until skin is scrip and mahogany colored (between 6 to 10 minutes). Turn legs over and cook until browned on the other side, about 2 to 4 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack on a roasting tray (or a baking dish) and cook in the middle of the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours for optimal outcome, i.e. until legs are very tender. Transfer legs to a platter and keep warm (cover with foil).

One thing you need to keep in mind, it is almost impossible to overcook duck legs. Don’t be afraid to let them for more than 1 hour in the oven. The first time I did this recipe, I worried so much and I have removed the duck legs after 50 minutes, mostly because the duck legs have exceeded the optimal cooking temperature of 180 F degree. Yes, for sure it was cooked but it was not tender. I put back in the over the second leg for an extra 40 minutes, and it was perfectly tender after spending extra time in the oven.

Then, these are my two advices: keep in mind the size of the leg (small, medium or large) and start to check if the duck is cooked and tender (using a knife) after 1 hour in the oven … and stay Zen!

Two more tips:

You can reduce the oven to 200 F degree and keep the duck in a warm environment until ready to serve for up to 1 hour.

To crisp the skin back up (it can become soft in the oven), preheat the broiler and place the duck under the broiler for a few minutes, keeping a very close eye to make sure the duck doesn’t burn.

Pour out the drippings from the skillet into a storage container and reserve it for later use.

While the duck is almost cooked, make the cherry sauce.

In the skillet used to brown the duck legs over medium high heat add 2 tablespoons duck fat from the reserved dripping. Add the shallots and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add brown ale, pitted cherries cut in half, soy sauce, maple syrup, Tabasco sauce and black pepper. Deglaze the pan by scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan (this is going to give an extra yummy taste to the sauce). Allow to boil, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 8 minutes.

Swirl in the butter and rectify seasoning if needed.

Spoon the sauce over the duck just prior to serving, or serve alongside.

The perfect side dish: potatoes as well as French green beans.

Bonne Appetite!

A little of science…

Some nutritional information about Duck:

Duck is not only a richly flavored meat well-suited to strong accompaniments like fruit and potent spices, it is also nutritious.

Duck is rich in dietary protein (11 grams per 100 grams), which helps boost satiety.

Despite the fact it is a significant source of saturated fat, duck is also a good source of monounsaturated fat (almost 50% of the total duck fat contain) – the same fat found in unrefined olive oil, avocados and pastured lard that is renowned for its ability to increase HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, duck fat is situated between butter and olive oil when we compared their fat composition.

Duck meat is both mineral- and vitamin-rich. It is a rich source of niacin (vitamin B6 – 50% daily requirement per 100 grams serving):

This vitamin plays a vital role in the metabolism of fats in the body. It has also been established to have a cholesterol-lowering effect. Niacin helps to reduce low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol which when oxidized forms plaque in the blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease. Good choice of meat if you want to promote your cardiovascular health.

Niacin also supports genetic processes. Components of cellular genetic material require niacin for their production. Inadequate niacin in the diet can cause DNA damage. Niacin also helps to stabilize blood sugar and regulates the metabolism of insulin. This makes duck a good dietary item for diabetics.

It is also a good source of riboflavin (12% daily requirement per 100 grams serving), selenium (43%) and iron (13%).

Dark Cherry Clafoutis

Oh my, this is one of my favorite desserts during the summer . Easy to do, luxurious, wobbly, custardy, light but flavourful, healthy and so tasty.

Clafoutis is one among so many different French fruity desserts that we can enjoy during the summer season. It is a speciality of the Limousin region, where it is traditionally made with the local black griottes, or sour cherries, arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter.

There are numerous variations using other fruits, including plums, prunes, apples, pears, rhubarb, figues, cranberries or blackberries. When other kinds of fruit are used instead of cherries, the dish is properly called a “flaugnarde”. You can also prepare a savory version with different vegetables like cherry tomatoes, shallot, zucchini, spinach… You can also add ham and cheese. Children will love it!

Clafoutis is a versatile and casual dish, a little rustic for sure but so tasty. So feel free to personalize it, your family and friends will love it.

The name “clafoutis” comes from the Occitan dialect word claufir, to cover or fill. And it is exactly what this dessert does, very pleasurably, indeed.

Traditionally, a French clafoutis contains the whole cherries (i.e. with the pits). Over the past few weeks, I read a lot about cherry clafoutis and I have found several recipes that call for removing the pits – some important authors: Julia Child and David Lebovitz, to name some of the well known North American French cuisine gurus.

The idea of removing the pits is a difficult decision for me. I live in North America and I understand that it is important to adapt recipes to the audience we would like not only to reach but also to engage in a culinary journey. However, I really want to share with people the pleasure of French food and the essence of what makes our cooking style that is prepared using simple ingredients so tasty.

I have a lot of thoughts about this dilemma. It is true that I am under the influence of the French tradition and the fact that I don’t want to be too “Americanized” – stubborn French girl!

But to be honest, it is more complicated than this. It relates to my childhood, my grandmother Adele’s clafoutis, the way she taught me how to make this recipe, and the sweet and lip-smacking souvenirs associated with this dish. A real gourmandise! And honestly, I really think I will be so disappointed to discover after so many decades of delicious cherry clafoutis that the fact of keeping the pits doesn’t make any difference at all. The flavour is the same with or without the pits!

Then, I have decided that I will leave to you the decision to remove or not the pits. The only thing I can do is to give you the “food science” explanation of why we need to keep the pits when doing this specific dish – to be able to make the most delicious clafoutis!

According to The Larousse – one of the most prestigious series of French cooking books, the pits have a particular aroma which infuses the batter as they warm up in the oven. As a result, removing them robs the dessert of its full cherry flavour. The pits contain amygdalin, the active chemical found in almond extract. Thus, a small amount of amygdalin from the pits is released into the clafoutis during baking, adding a complementary note to its flavor.

If you decide to remove the pits, you can add some of this flavourful characteristic by adding 1/8 teaspoon almond extract. This is the secret!

I think it is time to cook. This is my recipe for a true French cherry Clafoutis.

 

8 servings          Preparation 3 hours and 30 minutes                    Cooking 45 minutes

Ingredients

600 grams (1.32 pounds) sweet cherries

45 ml (3 tablespoons) kirsch or other brandy

3 large eggs, at room temperature

70 grams (½ cup) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract (only if you pit the cherries)

80 grams (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon) plus 45g (3 tablespoons) sugar

330ml (1 1/3 cup) whole or low fat milk

Pinch of salt

Softened butter (for the baking dish)

 

Preparation

Wash the cherries and remove the stalks.

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If you are not buying organic cherry, it is really important to wash them appropriately to remove as much as pesticides you can. Cherry is one of the “Dirty Dozen” among the fruit and vegetable list. I recommend to simply wash them in a solution of distilled white vinegar and water. You can soak the cherries in a solution of 10% vinegar for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse them in clear water. Using this technique, you should be able to remove 80% of all pesticides.

Put in a bowl and lightly crush them, so the skins pop but the fruit retains its shape. Add 3 tablespoons sugar and the kirsch, toss together, cover and leave to macerate for two hours.

If you use pitted cherry, you don’t need to crush them but you will have some juice. Do not discard it, you can add some to the batter.

Why is it important to macerate the fruit in kirsch (or other brandy) and sugar for two hours before cooking?

This is a technique I use a lot when I am doing jam. The sugar will slowly permeate the cherries and intensify their flavour. The alcoholic bath will give an extra flavour.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).

Grease generously a 3-liter (3-quart) baking dish, just wide enough to hold the cherries in one layer.

Lay the macerated cherries in a single layer in the baking dish.

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt and the 80 grams of sugar. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the milk until you have a smooth batter. Stir in the vanilla extract and almond essence, if using it.

Pour the batter over the cherries and bake for about 45 minutes, until it just sets but it is still a bit wobbly (a knife poked in the center should emerge relatively clean).

If you want you can sprinkle some Demerara sugar on the top (it will add a more interesting texture, providing a crunchy counterpoint to all that wobbly custard and juicy fruits).

The clafoutis can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold. It’s traditionally not served with any accompaniment.

You can make it up to one to two days in advance, and refrigerated it.

Bonne Appetite!

 

A little of science…

Nutritional and health value of cherry – A way to boost your energy and your overall health

There are two primary varieties of cherries: sweet and tart (also known as sour cherries). Sweet cherries, such as Bing cherries, are best eaten fresh (and raw), while sour cherries develop a fuller flavor when they’re used in cooking (like baking).

Cherries are one of the very low calorie fruits (63 calories, 13 grams of sugar and 2 grams of fibre per 100 grams).

Cherries, and more specifically sour cherries (mostly because most of the research done so far has been done with sour cherry), are packed with numerous health benefiting compounds that are essential for wellness.

It is important to keep in mind, if you eat cherries for their therapeutic value, that 10 sweet cherries or 1 cup of sour cherries contain about 4 grams of fructose (recommended total daily fructose consumption ≤ 25 grams).

Below are some of the benefits eating different kinds of cherry:

Be Zen and sleep well

Cherry fruits are one of few natural sources of stable anti-oxidant melatonin, a hormone that can lower the body temperature and also can cross the blood-brain barrier easily. As a result, it can produce soothing effects on the brain neurons, calming down the nervous system irritability, which helps relieve neurosis, insomnia and headache conditions. To sleep better, you can drink half to one cup of sour cherry juice an hour before bed.

Balance your blood pressure and maintain your heart as young as possible

Sweet cherries contains potassium (6% daily value per 100 grams), a natural blood-pressure reducer. Potassium balances fluids in our bodies, essentially offsetting the blood-pressure-raising effects of sodium. One cup of these ruby gems packs roughly the same amount of potassium as a small banana and also contains some quercetin, an antioxidant that may help keep blood vessels relaxed and stretched.

Sour cherries provide cardiovascular benefits equal to some medications, and can improve the result even when taken with prescriptions.

Finally, anthocyanins (the pigments that give the sour cherries its red color) may activate a receptor called PPAR in different tissues of body. It can regulate metabolism genes expression, which in turn regulates fat and glucose levels and thereby reduce risk factors for high cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes.

Relieve muscle pain

Scientific studies have shown that anthocyanins in the cherries may act like anti-inflammatory agents by blocking the actions of cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 enzymes. Interestingly, the sour cherries’ antioxidants can also protect against attacks by exercise-induced free radicals, which can lead to painful inflammation. Thus, consumption of cherries has potential health effects against chronic painful episodes such as gout, arthritis, fibromyalgia (painful muscle condition) and sports injuries like post-workout pain.

Fight cancer

Sweet cherries are rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, anthocyanins (red, purple or blue pigments found in many fruits and vegetables, especially concentrated in their skin, known to have powerful anti-oxidant properties) and quercetin, which may work together synergistically to fight cancer. Interestingly, preliminary studies suggest the anthocyanin cyanidin may prevent genetic mutations that can lead to cancer and keep cancer cells from growing out of control. While tart cherries contain some anthocyanins, sweet cherries pack nearly three times as many (two-thirds are found in the skins). The riper the better: as cherries darken, they produce more antioxidants.

Shape your body and overall health through weight management

Anthocyanins in sour cherries may activate a molecule that helps augment fat burning and decrease fat storage. Recently, researchers have shown that rats that received whole tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet didn’t gain as much weight or build up as much body fat as rats that didn’t receive cherries. Interestingly, their blood also showed much lower levels of certain inflammation markers linked to heart disease and diabetes. In addition, they had significantly lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than their cherry-deprived counterparts.

Let’s eat some sour cherries when they are in season!

References

http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/cherry_nutrition_benefits

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/natasha-turner-nd/cherries-benefits_b_3757989.html

Bacon Sauteed Spinach

Green vegetables… Oh, my! We all know that we need to add them to our diet in a daily basis. This is so important for your health, but some days it is hard. Too busy, too tired… I am facing the same issues. Finding quick ways to cook veggies help us to keep on track.

I love spinach and I have learnt to cook them here in Canada, more exactly to cook them differently.

In France, we have had the tendency (30 to 40 years ago… I am not sure if we are still doing this nowadays) to boil mostly all the vegetables before to “sauté” them in butter or olive oil. Imagine the impact of boiling for several minutes delicate on vegetable like mushroom and spinach. Yaqui … the spinach turns dark green/kaki color and has no taste, and the mushrooms’ texture is similar to rubber without any flavor. I have grew up learning this technique of cooking… no questioning at that time about taste or texture!

Cooking in Canada was a new adventure where I have learnt to cook vegetable differently. During my first few years here, I shared my apartment with Chinese girls, students like me at University of Toronto, who are my friends now. They were exceptional cooks. I have learnt how to cook Chinese food, and more importantly I have discovered the technique of stir fry, and this technique has changed my life – more specifically my way to cook vegetable. I am not cooking anymore the same way, and cooking vegetable is now my number one talent. Thanks to the Chinese cuisine!

Stir fry takes only a few minutes. It is an easy way to cook spinach (no excuse like I am too busy) and keep the overall nutritional and health value of this fantastic veggie.

As I have explained in a previous blog, spinach is one of the best sources of magnesium… so important for your health.

Magnesium is a key nutrient that contributes to overall cellular health and plays an important role in more than 300 different bodily functions. For example, magnesium is needed to regulate calcium, potassium and sodium, which together all control neuromuscular signals and muscle contractions. This is why a magnesium deficiency can sometimes result in muscle pains and cramps. Magnesium deficiency is also associated with insomnia, mood disturbances, headaches, high blood pressure, and an increased risk for diabetes. One major concern is the fact that a lot of adults in developed nations are actually experiencing a magnesium deficiency. The good news is, magnesium in spinach stays intact after being cooked.

Another important aspect is the fact that if you are cooking spinach with some fat, you are going to improve the absorption of its mineral and vitamins content. You can use, vegetable oil or why not, grass-fed butter, pastured lard or bacon fat. I am using bacon in this recipe, for extra taste. This is the Chinese way to cook vegetable with a little of ground pork meat for taste.

Why bacon?

As explained so nicely in a blog of Nourished Kitchen, lard is still on disgrace, and this despite the fact that monounsaturated fat, the same fat that makes olive oil and avocados so healthy, is the primary fatty acid in lard (~ 40-45% of the fat content). The remaining 55-60% is a combination of saturated fat (~37-42%) and polyunsaturated fat (~ 18-23%).

Lard is also a potently rich source of vitamin D, the second richest source after cod liver oil. This is only the case if the fat comes from pasture-raised hogs. Hogs, like humans and unlike cows, are monogastric animals and they manufacture vitamin D in their skin which makes their fat extraordinarily rich in this fat-soluble vitamin.

To date, up to 60 to 70% of the Canadian population is suffering from insufficient and deficient levels of this vitamin as sunlight alone is typically not adequate in replenishing vitamin D stores and some should be consumed in the diet. The inclusion of pastured lard as well as supplementary cod liver oil and the eating of oily fish helps to ensure you get plenty vitamin D which is essential for proper immune system function, cognitive health, regulation of inflammation, calcium absorption and overall systemic wellness.

Try to add some pasture-raised lard or bacon to your diet.

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe.

2 to 4 servings                            Preparation 5 minutes                             Cooking 8 to 12 minutes

 

Ingredients

1 to 2 slices of pastured bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips

2 bunches baby spinach

Peppercorn

 

Preparation

Rinse the spinach well in cold water to make sure it’s very clean. Spin it dry in a salad spinner, leaving just a little water clinging to the leaves.

In a very large pan or skillet over medium heat, cook bacon for 5 to 7 minutes until it begins to get a nice brown color or you begin to salivate at the incredible smell. – Increase heat to medium/high, and fill skillet with as much spinach as will fit. Season with pepper. Cook, tossing spinach and adding more as it wilts (it may take up to 2 minutes to fit it all). Continue to cook until tender, 1 to 3 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, lift the spinach to a serving bowl that contain beer infused rice pilaf or rice and quinoa. Serve hot.

Bonne Appetite!

September is ….Tomato merry-go-around

It was really difficult to choose the recipes I will share with my guesses for this amazing dinner party. I love tomatoes and I cook them in so many different ways… all so yummy. These are some of my favorite recipes, new ones I have developed here in Canada as well as my family’s recipe: “les tomates farcies”. A must!

Join us in September to enjoy a dinner all focusing on tomatoes … savory and sweet … there is no limit!

tomato merry-go-around

Register at The Kingston Social

References for the pictures:

http://www.kireei.com/tomates-y-flores/

http://www.cuisineactuelle.fr/recettes/tomates-farcies-au-boeuf-hache-209505

http://www.showfoodchef.com/2010/08/tomato-canjam.html

A taste of Provence … this is our demo + dinner party for August

I don’t have to go back to France, I will simply cook some of my favorite Provencal dishes to feel “I am at home, with my friends and Family in the region of Avignon. Join us in August for a taste of Provence:

A taste of provence

We will published the recipes in August…

Register at The Kingston Social

Reference for the pictures:

http://french-riviera-blog.com/2012/03/24/a-walking-tour-around-the-old-town-of-nice-and-restaurant-guide/

http://www.pratique.fr/recette-ratatouille.html

http://www.pratique.fr/recette-ratatouille.html

Demo + Dinner at the Kingston Social – Toronto

Join us at the Kingston Social this summer, we will not only feature our products (Malty & Hoppy Delicacy) in different yummy recipes, we will also bring to light what mother nature has to offer us during the farmers’ market season…

poster demo plus cooking class

Register at The Kingston Social

Reference for the picture:

Brittany Wright – http://wrightkitchen.com/

Spinach Broccoli Creamy Soup

… don’t be afraid by the bright green colour, it is all natural!

Making a creamy soup without using any starchy vegetables like potatoes or the addition of cream is a healthy alternative. I have learnt from my mum and grandmothers that a vegetable soup needs to contain potatoes, and it took me years before I have been able to understand that potatoes doesn’t need to be one of the main ingredients in soups. Changing habits can take time!

This soup is one of the most simple soups I am making regularly. It contains olive oil, onions, two green vegetables – broccoli and spinach, some old cheddar cheese (or French Comté or Gruyere), salt and peppercorn. This is it!

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I love this soup, not only because of its bright green color that invites us to enjoy without delay the first spoon of this green nectar, but also because of its fresh and tasty flavors. The secret, the broccolis are cooked slowly for more than one hour; this helps them to develop a sweet and nutty flavor and not the cabbage flavor that is so familiar when they are overcooked. The spinach are added at the end, just before to puree all the ingredients together.  You can enjoy this soup for dinner and keep the left over for your lunch.

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Adding green leafy vegetables to your diet is really important for your health – everybody knows this. But sometime putting this adage in practice is another story. Finding different ways to accommodate these green vegetables can be challenging. Meals where green vegetables are the main ingredient can be boring if your only solution is to  cook steamed them. Stir fry, salad, smoothie, soup, pie… There are no limits. It is yummy! Every day, a new culinary adventure  for you and your family!

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I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe (adapted from America Test Kitchen).

The recipe

4  to 6 servings

Ingredients

3 to 4 small onions, diced

1 bunch broccoli

1 bunch spinach

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 to 5 cups chicken stock

80 grams old Cheddar (or Comte or Gruyere)

Salt and peppercorn

Directions

Cut the broccoli florets from the stems. Peel the tough outer skin from the stems and trim off the fibrous ends. Cut the stems into small pieces.

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Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions and cook until light brown. Add the broccoli, lower the heat to low, and cook for 1h.

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Add the stock, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and leave it to rest for 5 to 10 min.

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Puree the soup in a blender in small batches. Add some of the spinach and some of the Cheddar to each batch and then puree it.

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Return the soup to the pan and reheat over gentle heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Thin the soup if necessary. Keep warm.

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It is time to enjoy… Bon Appetite!

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Served with graded cheese, roasted peanuts and bannock …. Yummy!

If you want to learn more about the nutrition and health benefits of these two vegetables, there are more information for you below:

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Does cooking affect significantly the nutritional value of these two green vegetables? Not necessary

Boiling broccoli leads to the biggest losses of cancer-fighting nutrients. Steaming for up to 20 minutes, microwaving for up to three minutes and stir-frying for up to five minutes produced no significant loss of cancer-preventive substances. Raw broccoli maintains all of its nutrients, but it can irritate your bowels and cause gas.

Cooking spinach actually increases its health benefits. Just half a cup of cooked spinach will give you twice as much nutrition as one cup of raw spinach. One of the main explanation is the fact that the body cannot completely break down the nutrients in raw spinach for its use.

As an exception to the advice above (and this happens a lot in nutrition and health sciences), research studies have shown that taking spinach in juice form is actually the healthiest way to consume it. Blend spinach with other vegetables or fruits to create a delicious glass of juice, or try a green smoothie.

Spinach is one of the best sources of magnesium… so important for your health

Magnesium is a key nutrient that contributes to overall cellular health and plays an important role in more than 300 different bodily functions. For example, magnesium is needed to regulate calcium, potassium and sodium, which together all control neuromuscular signals and muscle contractions. This is why a magnesium deficiency can sometimes result in muscle pains and cramps. Magnesium deficiency is also associated with insomnia, mood disturbances, headaches, high blood pressure, and an increased risk for diabetes. One major concern is the fact that a lot of adults in developed nations are actually experiencing a magnesium deficiency. The good news is, magnesium in spinach stays intact after being cooked.

On the other hand, freezing spinach diminishes its health benefits. The way to get the best from the leaf is to buy it fresh and eat it the same day.

Add spinach to your ‘organic shopping’ list, mostly because the leaf tends to be sprayed heavily with pesticides that don’t come off with normal washing. In contrast, if you are budget limited, you can buy and enjoy conventional and/or local broccoli without problems.

 

 

 

 

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References:

1) http://www.livescience.com/45408-broccoli-nutrition.html

2) http://www.care2.com/greenliving/love-it-or-hate-it-broccoli-is-good-for-you.html

3) http://draxe.com/spinach-nutrition/

4) http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-surprising-health-facts-about-spinach.html#ixzz3VGarHWnm

5) http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/ss/slideshow-to-buy-or-not-to-buy-organic