Baked apples stuffed with pecan and American Pale Ale beer (or apple cider) jelly

Baking apples in the oven, with nothing more than just good apples from the orchard of my grandfather.

Cooked slowly in the wood oven of my grandparents, to give enough time to the juice to be released during the cooking process and to form a light but flavorful caramel on the bottom of the dish. And when I was a child, this was the best part of this dish! With a teaspoon, I have enjoyed (and still enjoy) removing every pieces of this fruity caramel.

Warm or cold … baked apples … so yummy, so many great memories of my childhood in France.

Since this time, every winter, I am baking apples. I love them!

This is my new version of a French treat … with a little twist: beer or apple cider jelly with roasted pecans in the middle.

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

Servings: 6

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 90 minutes

Ingredients

6 to 12 apples

For this recipe, I have used Northern Spy apples. You can also use Cortland, Gala or Russet. There are so many options.

80 to 120 grams toasted pecans (depending of the size of the apples)

How to toast the pecans?

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly sprits baking sheet with cooking oil. Spread pecans on rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven until nuts are aromatic and darker in color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cool, and coarsely chop them.

You have to watch them carefully as they are easily scorched.

12 generous teaspoons of American Pale Ale Beer or Apple Cider jelly

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Rinse and dry the apples.

Carefully remove half of the core from the apples with a sharp knife or apple corer. Do not cut all the way through, and be careful not to split them in half. Place them on a baking dish.

Stuff each apple with 1 to 2 tablespoons of toasted pecan and 1 to 2 teaspoons of jelly.

Bake in preheated oven for 90 minutes (or more if apples really big), until apples are tender.

You can eat them warm, or cold. I keep them for several days in the fridge, I love them as a snack or a small treat.

Bonne appetite!

Sautéed Kale with Imperial IPA mustard sauce

If you ask me what I want for lunch or dinner, most of the time, I would say a lot of yummy vegetables. Vegetable is my motto!

In fact, I have learnt to cook veggies here in Toronto with two of my best friends, Wendy and Peihong, both from China. In France, we cook a lot, and we love veggies, but most of the time we boil them before to sauté them in olive oil or butter: mushroom, spinach, green beans, peas… This is the way I was trained.

Here in Toronto, I have discovered the technique of stir fry, and I cannot go back to the “boil everything” technique I have learnt in France. When I don’t make salads or vegetable soup, stir fry is my number one technique when I cook veggies. Rapid, tasty… We are enjoying our vegetarian meal… me for sure!

I have already talked about the nutritional and healthy benefits of kale in a previous blog. Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. It is extremely high in vitamins A, C and K, all antioxidants known to help protect against cancer and heart disease. Kale is also very high in lutein which promotes healthy eyes. And for sure, kale needs to be part of your weekly food intakes.

I try to eat kale two times a week and this is one of my favorite side dish. I love how a combination between three simple ingredients can bring so much flavors. Imperial IPA beer jelly/mustard balances marvellously the peppery taste of Kale.

After my first try, I have made some research and I have found that hop flavors (as found in the Imperial IPA) pair amazingly well with green leafs like kale. This is a winner combination… a real alchemy.

To say the truth, this is now how we cook kale at home. Each time, we say the same thing… again and again. This is so good, this combination works so well…. mummmm.  I hope you will try and enjoy this recipe with your family and friends.

It is time to cook, this is my recipe:

Servings: 4          Preparation time: 10 minutes      Cooking time: 7 – 10 minutes

 Ingredients

! slice bacon, finely chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 bunch kale, stems removed (optional), leaves finely chopped

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard like Originale Maille mustard

2 generous teaspoons of Imperial IPA beer jelly

If you don’t have access to an IPA beer jelly, try an apple jelly or apple cider jelly. The key point is… the jelly need to be a little savory (not too sweet!).

½ tsp Sea salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

Preparations

In a skillet over medium/high heat, add olive oil, onion, shallot and bacon. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute

Add kale, stir well and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring constantly

Mix together the mustard and the beer jelly, add to the kale , stir and cook for 3 minutes

You can cook your kale for a shorter or longer time. It really depends how you like your kale – crunchy or well cook

Add salt and pepper, stir and cook for 1 minute

Serve hot

Bonne Appetite!

French green salad with Imperial IPA beer jelly vinaigrette, pickled cherry and pecorino cheese

A green salad is the corner stone of every meal in France – It can be the first course, or a side dish with the main course for lunch, or your main dish with cheese or a hardboiled egg for dinner.

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One important aspect and characteristic of the French green salad is the vinaigrette or “sauce moutarde”. It must be very mustardy. This was, and is still like this in my family in Burgundy. A strong mustard, the Dijon mustard… is the star!

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As a French expatriate, there are some food products that I can’t live without… and mustard is number one in my list. I can eat American mustard with hot dogs or with my burger but not in a salad dressing. Dijon mustard was the one in France, Dijon mustard is still the one in Canada.

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And let you go, be a real French! Don’t be afraid to make things “au pif’ or “by the nose”. We do this all the time when it comes to salad dressing.

 

Good quality mustard, shallot and/or garlic, a mild but flavourful wine vinegar and a good vegetable oil. This is the perfect combination!

No red wine balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil with Dijon mustard… There would be too much competition between so many good and tasty ingredients. You really want to taste and enjoy the flavor of the mustard.

Don’t get me wrong! I love red wine balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil with salad or other vegetables but without mustard.

As a food artisan start-up, the beer jelly is my leading product. A breakthrough for me! it pairs so marvellously with cheeses (like pecorino cheese with peppercorns) and it is easy to use when you are cooking … a teaspoon here or there.

Imperial IPA beer jelly (because of the hops flavor) works perfectly in a salad dressing and complements very well the taste of the green leaves. It is a must to try! A simple dish like a green salad can be so tasty… a symphony of flavours. You won’t look behind you after.

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If you are not living in Toronto (e-commerce for Canada available soon on my company website), you can find a similar product in USA. If not, I suggest you replace the beer jelly with apple cider jelly or apple jelly. Try to find one that is not too sweet, and in this case use apple cider vinegar.

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

French Imperial IPA beer jelly vinaigrette

A few simple ingredients that can come together so well, when done right. A symphony of flavors!

 

Makes about 60 ml (1/4 cup), enough for one large green salad

Ingredients

A pinch (1/8 teaspoon) sea salt

1 tablespoon white balsamic wine vinegar

1/2 small shallot, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon) (facultative)

A generous teaspoon Dijon originale mustard like Maille

A generous teaspoon old style mustard like Maille

1 teaspoon of Imperial IPA beer jelly (or apple cider jelly or apple jelly)

3 to 4 tablespoons (45 ml to 60 ml) vegetable oil like sunflower

Fresh ground pepper

Fresh herbs, if desired

 

Preparation

In a large bowl, mix together the salt, vinegar, and shallot. Let stand for about ten minutes.

Shallot is the chic cousin of onion. When marinated in vinegar, it gets soften and adds an attention-grabbing flavor to the dressing because of its slight bite. A must, you need to try!

Mix in the two mustards, beer jelly (or apple cider jelly), then add 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of vegetable oil and freshly ground peppercorns. Stir well, then taste. If too sharp, add the additional vegetable oil and more salt, if necessary.

You can add fresh herbs, but it’s better to chop and mix them just before serving so they retain their flavor.

You can keep this salad dressing for about eight hours at room temperature. If you want to make it farther in advance, as I suggest previously, add the shallots and the fresh herbs closer to serving so they don’t loose their fragrance.

 

French green salad with pickled black cherry, pecorino cheese and Imperial IPA beer jelly vinaigrette 

4 servings            Preparation 15 minutes

 

Ingredients

1 Head red leaf lettuce (leaves torn) or a large bag of mixed baby green leaves

50 grams (1/4 cup) of pickled black cherry, pitted and sliced

100 grams (3 ounces) pecorino cheese with peppercorns, shaved or cut in small cubs

You can also use a local cheese like pepper potts cheese. This cheese is rubbed in freshly cracked pepper and aged for 18 months. it is a pasteurized sheep’s milk cheese made in Sudbury, Ontario. A traditional Tuscan-style pecorino recipe!

Salad dressing (recipe above)

Salt and peppercorn

 

Directions

In the large bowl that contains the French Imperial IPA beer vinaigrette, add the lettuce (or mixed green leaves), pickled cherries and half of pecorino and toss to coat. Top with rest of pecorino.

Add fresh ground peppercorns and salt if necessary.

Green Salad with Imperial IPA vinaigrette

Bon Appetite!