Monday, December 26, 2011

It’s Been One Year For Figareau’s Blog… And Merry Christmas To All!!!

Arrgggg! Sometimes I hate technology! I’ve been away on vacation for the past 2 weeks to enjoy a bit of family time before the hectic days of Christmas. During that time, I was meant to post a few recipes and, this text! I brought my computer along with me specifically to write this in celebration of my blog’s first anniversary. But technology was against me; I had no Internet connection!!! Which is why I post this a few days late. Forgive me and celebrate with me this great achievement!


Today is celebration time so lets pop some champagne!!! I’ve been writing this blog for exactly one year today and OH! what a joy ride it’s been!

It isn’t easy to always keep up with writing… especially since I have to cook to be able to write. And this year has been a handful: a baby was born, some serious renovation was done, some great vacationing was enjoyed, and some sick kids were taken care of. I’m on maternity leave, it’s true, which means I should have more time on my hands to cook; but life isn’t always that easy and cooking hasn’t always come that easily. But I have stood my ground and have kept up with the pace. Writing for a full year is a great pride for me.

I realize I have some amazing readers and without you it would be meaningless. Some of you have read every single line I’ve written… and I thank you for doing so. This experience feels like the greatest diary experience ever (much better than what I used to write about when I was a kid… that no one used to read!). It’s also a dream come true. I get to write a lot, which I’ve always dreamt of doing; I get to cook a lot, which is second nature to me; and I get to share it all with amazing people which gives it all a great meaning.

Thank you for trusting my cooking and my writing. I will try to keep up the pace for another year.


Sophie aka Figareau  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Red Snapper For An Easy Weeknight

I find that I always eat the same kind of fish… and it gets me bored. I absolutely love salmon in all its forms (except when it’s overcooked) but I need a change once in a while. So the other day I was at Adonis, an amazing supermarket here in Montreal (we don’t have Whole Foods yet but we have Adonis!) and was looking at the fish they had… and they had this great looking Red Snapper that got me going! I found a nice looking recipe on the web and modified it a little. It was fantastic! If you try it with my previous quinoa recipe I promise you a great meal!

Makes 2 servings

2 red snapper fillets (or 1 entire fish if you know how to make your own fillets!)
4 tbsp butter, cut in small dices
1 garlic clove, minced
6 drops of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Creole or Cajun seasoning (with salt)

Preheat your oven at 400˚F.

In a small bowl, melt the butter. Add the garlic, Worcestershire, Creole seasoning and pepper. Mix well.

Place your fillets in an ovenproof dish. Evenly spread the butter mixture on top. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rough Night... Nice And Tasty Side: Quinoa

Rough night!! Last night I made food for 125 people. You read that right! Not 12 but 125 hungry, eager eaters. It was absolutely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G (in my own opinion!). Making food for such a great number of people is an obvious challenge, not such in terms of food itself but it terms of planning. Preparing food is not just about putting good ingredients together; it’s also about planning each and every step of the way as well as attaining a perfect timing. Food needs to be fresh and tasty; hot and striking. This kind of an experience is also an incredible rush, a true flood or adrenaline… And one could get hooked to it. I must say I loooove a good challenge and this one, which was given to me by trustful people (thank you, you know who you are!), was one I took on like a bull and ended like a swan (I know, that sounds weird but I felt it ended in such a graceful way that it made me feel like a swan!!).

Anyways, when you go through such a rush of adrenaline, you need a really good break. The glass of wine at the end of the night was absolutely well deserved and the chatting and mingling with the people who devoured the food was a breeze, a relaxing and unwinding moment. Today, I might need more than my usual single cup of coffee and a take out dinner tonight might be what we end up eating. Because spending such great time in your kitchen means hours of pleasure, you still need to get away from it once in a while. It’s like great love: you need a little bit of space here and there to remember how big your love is when you get back to it!

On this note, enjoy some easy quinoa today (or tomorrow!) and enjoy a beautiful day!

Makes about 6 servings

1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken broth
1 dried chipotle
1 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, finely diced
½ red bell pepper, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced

In a small pot, put your quinoa, chicken broth and chipotle. Bring the broth to a boil. Bring the heat down and cook for about 20 minutes.

In a small pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and the peppers and cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Take off the heat.

When the quinoa is ready, add in the cooked onions and peppers. Mix well and serve immediately.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Roasted Chicken Never Goes Out Of Style

If I had to pick one ingredient to bring on a deserted island and if I had to eat day after day, I think it would be chicken. I just never get bored of it and you can prepare it in so many different ways. The possibilities with chicken are endless. There simply are not rules as to how to prepare it. On top of it, if you like the brown part better (which is the case for me!), it’s a pretty cheap meat to buy and won’t make a whole in your pocket!

I was having a hard time this summer cooking some nice warm meals. I’m more of a fish and salad kind of person during the summer but now that the fall is almost over and that winter is knocking at our doors, I’m back in the mood of cooking some heartwarming dishes. This is a super easy one perfect for nice family dinners.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 big chicken (ideally free –range or organic)
½ cup butter, in cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon
½ onion, chopped
½ cup Vermouth
½ cup chicken broth
1 cup mushrooms (optional)
Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat your oven at 475˚F.

Put the onions and the mushrooms at the bottom of an ovenproof deep dish. Poor the Vermouth and chicken broth on top. Season with salt & pepper.

On a cutting board, take the chicken and delicately lift the skin off. Put some butter cubes under the skin all around the chicken. Once you’re done, place it breast side up on top of the onions and mushrooms. Drizzle the olive oil on top of the chicken. Season with salt and pepper.

Take the lemon and carefully prick it all over, using the tip of a sharp knife and stuff it in the “bottom” of the chicken (in its cavity!).

Put the ovenproof dish in the oven and immediately bring the heat down to 400˚F. Cook the chicken for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

When ready, place your chicken on a cutting board and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Carve out the chicken and serve immediately.

Note: Putting a lemon inside the chicken will tenderize the meat.

If you’d like to make a full dish out of this, you can add some potatoes. The best way is to add them in about half an hour after you’ve put the chicken in (about 50 minutes left). 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Little Quicky: Scallop Carpaccio

I’m in the mood to share this little recipe with all of you lovely readers. Because it is nice and sunny in Montreal and because I’m having a relaxing moment on this Saturday while my kids are napping (both at the same time is what I call a miracle!). I don’t have much time but I believe I have just enough to share this simple recipe with you. Ok, it’s seafood – AGAIN - I hope you don’t mind too much. I’ll give it a break after this and switch to some meat… and sugar (I’m due for a good desert!). If you’re a seafood lover, then I guess you are well served these days!

Makes 4 servings

6 big scallops
2 green scallions, finely sliced
2 tbsp excellent olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp poppy seeds
Maldon sea salt flakes

In a small bowl mix together the olive oil, lime juice and scallions.

In a small skillet, slightly toast the poppy seeds. Be careful not to burn them. Take off the heat and let cool.

With a good knife, delicately slice your scallops. The slices should be no more than 3mm. Place them on small serving plates.

Drizzle the scallops with the olive oil and lime juice mixture. Decorate with a few pinches of roasted poppy seeds. Finish off with a nice pinch of sea salt flakes. Serve and enjoy immediately.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Par Ici La Sortie!

C’est aujourd’hui le grand jour. Ne manquez pas l’émission Par Ici La Sortie! (chaîne 91 ou 691 sur illico de Vidéotron) ce soir, à 21h30. Tout au long de la semaine vous pourrez voir l’émission en reprise.

Bon visionnement !

To All My Toblerone Fans Out There, I'm Sorry

This is going to sound weird but I think I made a mistake and I’m sorry for it. Let me explain…

All the recipes I post on this site have been tested and tried by me. Most of them I make, remake, and remake again and again, time after time. Once the recipes are posted, I often come back to them and follow them as if I were in your shoes. The reason is, I like those recipes and I want to eat them again!

So this week I felt like doing my Toblerone chocolate mousse, which I did. And it was a disaster. It didn’t turn out the way I thought it would and its taste was not even close to what it tasted like the first time around. The texture was also pretty gross! So I went back to my recipe and did a little research… and redid it for a third time, only slightly differently.

They say the third time’s a charm. Well it is! This time I nailed it. It’s absolutely delicious and decadent. I’ve made a few changes to the recipe and you too should nail it each and every time you make it. If you’re interested in trying it out for the first time go for it blind folded; or, if you’ve tried it out and thought it wasn’t as good as expected, please try it again. This time around you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks for your understanding and again, I’m really sorry for the inconvenience… I guess these things happen, even to the best of us!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oyster Season Is Still On So Have Some More

Because it’s still oyster season I’m going to write again about the sea’s gem! Of course, some of you probably hate the damn thing and I kind of understand you. Who wants to eat a raw, slimy and salty mollusk? Not many. But trust me, once you try the slimy beast, you might realize how good and refined it actually is. And you just might get addicted to it, even if it’s against your own good will!

There are easier ways to start eating oysters than to have them naked and raw. Although they’re not my favorite once cooked, they can be easier to gulp on once they’re not raw. Plus, if you add some flavor to them, a taste to which you might not be accustomed to becomes more subtle. But take it to the next level fast; cooked oysters might be good but they’re not the real deal. And if you want to pass as an oyster lover, people won’t believe you if the only way you like yours are cooked with a bunch of unnecessary ingredients on top.

The best way to eat an oyster is still raw with a hint of lemon but hey, if you’re gonna eat a lot of them and often, why not try different variations? Here are some of my favorites!


1 small Lebanese cucumber, deseeded and finely diced
½ red onion or shallot, finely chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

In a bowl, mix of the ingredients. Spoon a little on top of freshly opened oysters. Serve immediately .

Note: Add the mint to the salsa only when ready to serve. If not, the mint will become brown.  


¼ cup 35% cream
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
¼ cup grated gruyere cheese
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 slices of bacon cut in small pieces
6 oysters

Open the oysters and put them in a bowl with the juice. Keep the bottom of the shells.

In a skillet, cooked the bacon pieces until they become nice and crispy. Place on an absorbing paper and take off the excess fat. Set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the cream and reduce it by half.

In a skillet, cook the olive oil and the shallot. Add the cream and the oyster juice. Blend well.

When ready to serve, preheat your oven to broil. Place the bottom shells on a cooking sheet and put an oyster back in each shell. Put a small spoonful of the cream mixture on top of the oyster and top off with some gruyere cheese and crispy bacon. Put in the oven and cook until the cheese has melted and is slightly golden.

Note: Be very careful, the shell will be dangerously hot when you take it out of the oven so it’s better to eat with a small fork.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Snowy Day Requires a Good Meat Fix: Braised Veal

I’m having such a great time trying out braised meats these days, the only thing stopping me from making more is the fact that I like to eat fish about 3 times a week! I like meat a lot but I usually like it when it’s almost raw, not cooked for hours. I’ve always believed that meat cooked for longer than 3 minutes ends up hard to chew and tasteless once put in the mouth. For some weird reason, it took me about 3 decades to discover that meat cooked for more than 3 minutes (more like 3 hours!) could actually be a melt in your mouth and super tasty experience.

I’m only at the beginning of my experiments but I’ve actually tried to braise spare ribs, veal roast, duck breasts and beef cubes. Not all of my experiments turn out great. Yes, there are some nights where we concentrate on eating the rice rather than the meat (that braised duck breast was a total disaster!). But hey, you’ve got to miss a few to figure out some amazing recipes!!

My veal was a case of, well, can I say it? Pure genius! It’s a melt in your mouth meal with tasty smoky veal and soft potatoes as a bonus. On a day like today, when it’s snowing outside and all you feel like is staying in with your loved ones, this is a perfect dinner treat.

Makes about 6 servings
1 Veal roast, about 1kg
½ cup flour
Salt & pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped in diced
1 cup smoked lard cubes
1 ½ cups mushrooms, chopped
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
3 potatoes, peeled and diced

Preheat your oven at 300˚F.

Put the flour on a plate and roll the roast in it. Cover the roast with salt & pepper. Keep the leftover flour on the side.

In a skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Sear the roast on each side so they become nice and brown. Take the roast out of the skillet and keep on the side.

Bring the heat to medium-high and add the onions and lard cubes. Cook for a few minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 more minutes. Poor the wine and let reduce of about ¼. Finally, slowly add the leftover flour to thicken the sauce.

In a large ovenproof pot, put the roast. Poor the onions and lard mixture on top and add the chicken broth.

Put in the middle of the oven, covered, and cook for 1-hour ½. Add the potatoes and cook for another 1 ½ hour.

When ready to serve, undo the roast in filaments and serve with nice colorful vegetables.


Note: You can make your roast up to 3 days in advance. Reduce your cooking time to 2 hours. When about to serve, heat in the oven for about 1 hour at 300˚F.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratin Dauphinois When The Cold Hits The City

I’ve never been a huge potato fan. I’m not sure why but I think it’s because of a teenager’s misconception that potatoes make you fat. The thought has always stuck in my mind and I never got around to appreciating the starchy plant. The only way I absolutely love my potatoes is when I eat fries… but then it’s a given that fries can make you fat (not because of the potato itself but because of the oil it’s cooked in!) so I tend to eat them only on really special occasions (treat time!)

Potatoes can actually quite good for you. They mainly contain vitamin C and potassium but also contain a bunch of other nutriments. They have similar physiological effects and health benefits as fiber. Still, a potato is a carbohydrate so it’s better you don’t eat some everyday!

A Gratin Dauphinois is a French way of preparing potatoes, which mainly means they are cooked in milk and then finish in the oven. You can make your gratin a bunch of different ways but I like mine with a little bit of melted cheese on top. If you don’t like cheese, skip the ingredient; your potatoes will still taste great.

Makes 4 servings
3 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup 35% cream
About 2 cups milk
Salt & pepper
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
Pinch nutmeg (optional)

Preheat your oven at 360˚F.

Clean and peel the potatoes. Slice them very thinly (no more than 3mm) and don’t put them under the water (or else you’ll lose the starch).

Put the potatoes in a small pot and cover them with milk. Add the garlic, salt & pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for about 10 minutes.

Take out of the milk a place in an ovenproof plate. Poor the cream on top of the potatoes and place small butter cubes on top. Cover with cheese.

Place in the oven and cook for about 1 hour.

Note: I put my ovenproof dish on a baking dish to avoid spillage.