Pickeld Black Cherry

Each year during the summer season, I try new recipes for jam and pickle or I rediscover something I was making with my grandmother Adele in Burgundy. This year, because of my cooking class, I have decided to make pickled black cherry. Never made it, never eat it! This is a premiere.

Easy to prepare – less than 30 minutes. You can choose the spices and aromatics that you would like to infuse your cherries with. However, you need to be patient , at least one month (better two months) before to open the jar and enjoy this treat with pâté, cured meat and local artisan cheese, or mix into stuffing and pie fillings, or add to a rich sauce made with wine or beer, or in a salad like us (recipe will come next in my blog). It needs some time to be able to develop its full potential of flavours and be ready to tickle your taste buds.

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This is also the perfect gift for Christmas or when you go visiting friends… add a nice cheese, a bottle of wine or a pack of craft beers, a nice artisan bread or some crackers. The perfect combination for an impromptu culinary experience.

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

Adapted from Epicurious.

Yield: Makes 3 X 250 ml jars

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

200 ml (1 cup) distilled white vinegar

200 ml (1 cup) water

30 grams (1/4 cup) sugar

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 to 3 cloves

2 to 3 cardamom pods

3 curry leaves or 1 bay leaf

450 grams (1 pound) fresh rip cherries

3 small rosemary sprigs

Preparation

Wash the cherries as described previously (20 to 30 minutes in 10% white vinegar solution) and pat dry. Cut the stems to keep 1 inch, and don’t remove the stones as these add flavour to your finished product, just remember to warn guests about the pits.

Wash the seals (or lids) and jars in hot soapy water and rinse well. Set the seal aside in simmer hot water and place the jar in the oven on a moderate temperature (about 200 F degrees) for 10 minutes.

Bring the first 10 ingredients to a boil in a medium stainless-steel saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 5 minutes.

Add cherries and rosemary to saucepan. Simmer until cherries are tender, it will take 3-5 minutes.

Transfer cherries and rosemary to 250 ml jars. Pour in enough pickling liquid to cover cherries.

Seal the jar straight away and chill, and leave for 2 months before eating.

Will keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. Once opened store in the fridge and eat within 3 weeks.

Strain before serving.

Bon Appetite!

 

 

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!

Beer Infused Rice Pilaf…. Made with American Pale

I know, it is a little clumsy to start my blog with the sentence … I love rice! But this is true.

Despite the fact that I am a Frenchy (with some Canadian influences now) and bread is my motto, my brother Jean Michel and me have grew up eating and enjoying one kind of rice: Le Riz Taureau Aile or more specifically the rice from Camargue (the south region of France). This rice is similar to the Italian Arborio rice. it is flavorful, creamy and sticky. It made the most amazing rice pudding, and it is the best side dish for our creamy sauces like the famous blanquette de veau (veal stew). If truth be told, our childhood culinary experience has left a indelible mark on us. We cannot stand bad quality rice at all!

The result, I have a passion for rice… any kinds, and I love cooking dishes with it. In fact, my favorite comfort food when I am tired, a little depressed and I really need to reconnect with my childhood is a bowl of rice with butter. I love the taste of rice with butter… it reminds me my grandmother rice.

Rice with beer, why not?

The idea came to me when I was reading a series of articles about the use of wine in French and Italian cooking. Generally, wine goes into stew and sauce (as well as dessert) in France. In Italy, wine is also used to bring flavors into pasta sauce and risotto. That was it! Italian cooking practices gave me the idea to try to infuse rice with beer. I could go with risotto, but I have decided to try rice pilaf for a change. It is a more easy going preparation and everyday dish. But don’t take me wrong, it can be complex and subtle and more importantly, yummy.

What is rice pilaf?

When you start to read about rice pilaf, you are discovering that there is an interesting and opulent story behind this simple dish.

It is an integral part of formal and informal meal in Asian and Middle East cuisine. Pilaf was known to have been served to Alexander the Great at a royal banquet following his capture of the Sogdian capital of Marakanda (modern Samarkand). And it was first documented by the celebrated Persian scholar Abu Ali Ibn Sina in tenth century, who in his books on medical sciences has dedicated a whole section to preparing various meals, including several types of pilaf. After that, it has spread all over the world and is nowadays an important component of our worldwide culinary practice.

Pilaf is made of a good quality rice like Basmati or Jasmine rice, cooked in a broth seasoned with different ingredients like onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, coriander seeds, nuts, dry fruit, saffron as well as meat, fish, lentils, beans, pasta, vegetables… The grains remain separate and in some recipes, you can obtain a fluffy and soft rice, but neither soupy nor sticky.

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

4 to 6 servings                                 Preparation 15 min                            Cooking time 25 minutes

Ingredients

1 onion (or 4 shallots), finely chopped

1 tablespoon (15 grams) olive oil

1 tablespoon (30 ml) butter

2 cups (370 grams) Basmati rice

1 1/2 cups (355 ml) water

1 1/2 cups (355 ml) American Pale Ale beer

For this recipe I have chosen to use an American Pale Ale from Black oak. The taste of this beer is sweet initially with a lightly toasted cereal grain, more biscuit-like than bready as well as slight notes of tart citrus, pine, and herbal hops that can work quite well with sweet onion in this rice dish.

Fresh curry leaves (facultative)

Curry leaves are an herb native to South Asia, unrelated to the ground spice mix called curry powder. They’re an essential component of South Indian cooking, adding a subtle aroma to simple dishes or complexity to highly spicy dishes. It has a peppery flavor and it releases a deliciously nutty aroma when fried in hot oil. Curry leaves can be used in the same way as bay leaves are used in the West. You can find them in Indian grocery shops.

I love to use curry leaves because we are not using a lot of (or not at all) salt in our cooking at home. We cook rice without salt… the nice fragrances come from the rice itself the saffron and the curry leaves

Salt and Pepper

Preparation

In a saucepan, lightly brown the onion in olive oil/butter over medium heat, add the curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds

I am not doing this normally but I am going to do this next for maximum fragrances. Normally, I add the curry leaves with the water when cooking rice.

Season with salt (facultative) and pepper.

Add the rice. Cook, stirring, until the grains are well-coated and some look translucent and the whole mixture smells toasty, about 3 minutes.

Toasting the grains in oil until they start to look translucent helps them separate so they won’t clump. It adds flavor, too.

Add the beer and the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 18 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat and fluff the rice with a fork. Then cover the pot with a clean dish towel and seal with the lid for 10 minutes.

The towel absorbs steam, so the rice stays fluffy.

I have served this rice pilaf with sauté spinach for our dinner. It was really good, very flavourful.

I think it will work perfectly also with barbecue or sweet spicy tomato sauce because this rice pilaf has some tanginess flavors with some after taste bitterness. With the left over, I have made a tuna salad with parsley, tomatoes, cucumber and avocado. It was delicious!

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

The time of Cherries – our first demo + dinner party at The Kingston Social

Save your date and join us on the 30th of July for:

the time of cherries

We will published the recipes soon…

Register at The Kingston Social

Reference for the pictures:

Un gout de trop peu..  Chlo! – http://wrightkitchen.com/

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/

French Rhubarb Custard Pie with a Canadian Twist

This is my second recipe with rhubarb and one of my favorite dessert: fruit pie. I really love the combination of tart rhubarb with the creamy and sweet taste of custard.

A lot of calorie for sure … made with good quality products for a maximum of nutritional value. This is a sweet indulgence that you don’t eat everyday. This is a dessert that you share with the people you love…

Why rhubarb is so interesting!

You may know that the stalks are the only things eaten, because the triangular leaves are extremely high in oxalic acid, which can cause severe illness in people.

No surprise, rhubarb is low in calories (21 calories per 100 grams) but it holds some vital phyto-nutrients such as dietary fiber, poly-phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins.

Rhubarb contains antioxidants like lycopene and anthocyanins, helping to fight off disease

It apparently can help lower cholesterol, boosting your heart health

Rhubarb stalks are a good source of fibre, benefiting your digestive health.

It contains vitamin K (37% daily value per 100 grams), an essential property that helps with blood clotting, limiting neuronal damage in the brain, protecting the bones and help fighting off liver and prostate cancer.

Rhubarb is also a good source of vitamin C (great for a healthy immune system), vitamin A (the red rhubarb), calcium, potassium manganese and magnesium.

And do you know that like many fruits, rhubarb is best eaten with a fat to help absorption of carotenoids and vitamin K.

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

Recipe for 6 to 8 servings

Preparation: 30 min

Cooking: 50 min to 1 hour

1 – Pie crust recipe

This is my grandmother Lucie pie crust recipe, already published in my first blog.

Ingredients

250 g (2 cups) flour

125 g (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) of butter, cubed and very cold

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

100 ml (less than 1/2 cup) 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 (after adding the cold water) as fast as you can. This is one of the secrets for a flaky and soft crust.

Wrap the ball in plastic wrap, and chill for at minimum 30 minutes or overnight. This allows the water to fully hydrate the dough, making for a more cohesive product that’s easier to roll out.

2- The rhubarb custard pie

Ingredients

200 g (~ 2/3 cup) “crème fraiche” (sour cream works also)

90 g (~1/2 cup) sugar + 90 ml maple syrup

Vanilla extract (facultative)

3 eggs

500 g rhubarb (3 to 5 sticks)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. On a well-floured surface, roll dough into a 9″ circle. Press into pie pan, and prick the bottom of your crust gently with a fork. Reserve in the freezer (facultative).

Wash and dry rhubarb. Peel the skin if very tough. Cut the stalks into about 1/3 inch pieces.

In a medium bowl, toss rhubarb with 40 grams of the sugar. Let sit until fruit has released its juices, about 15 min (until 1 hour). Strain, reserve juice.

To make custard, beat eggs with cream, vanilla extract, maple syrup and remaining sugar. Stir in rhubarb juice.

Scatter rhubarb in crust and pour in custard.

Bake until custard is set but loose, about 50 to 60 minutes. Do not over bake.