Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Timeless White Cake With Finger Licking Good Butterscotch Sauce

What is it with the weekend and deserts? Whenever the weekend approaches I get a sudden urge for making a desert of some sort. Nothing necessarily very fancy, just something different to bite on. It must go with the fact that, for the rest of the week, I’m not really interested in anything sugary… or maybe because my husband is such a fan of the white granules!!

This cake is an absolute classic. When I was a kid, my favorite activity was baking – instead of playing with dolls – and I used to make this easy white cake all the time. It’s a timeless cake that will never go out of style. You can dress it up any way you feel like; with fruits, coulis, chocolate… whatever suits your taste.

This version of the cake was made for a bunch of friends. I don’t know if it was because of the influence of alcohol or because of it was simply so good, but the cake got completely eaten, even if some people started out by eating only a small piece.

If what you want is a true sugar rush, this, my friends, is your perfect drug!!

Make 12 servings

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
¾ cups milk

½ cup sugar
½ brown sugar
2 tbsp golden corn syrup
¼ Scotch
¾ cup 35% cream, hot
¼ cup salted butter, cubed
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven at 350˚F.

In a bowl, beat the butter, sugar and 1 egg at a time. Beat thoroughly for about 5 minutes, until the mix is a pale yellow. Add the vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk.

Pour the cake mixture in a greased cake mold. Cook in the oven for about 40-45 minutes or until nothing stick to a toothpick when you stick it in the cake.

In a heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, and the Scotch to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Attach a candy thermometer in the center of the pan and simmer over medium heat without stirring until the thermometer reads 121˚C (250˚F).

Remove the saucepan from the heat and gradually stir in the cream. Stir in the butter and vanilla, whisking until the sauce is smooth. Let cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Note: It may happen that the butterscotch sauce hardens on contact with the cream. If so, return the saucepan on the stove and stir over medium heat until it dissolves.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Super Easy Weekday Fish Night

I don’t know what it is with fish these days but I’m totally digging it on weeknights. I’m terribly sorry for those who don’t like fish but I just can’t resist a good sea beast! My husband would love for me to cook meat everyday… a meal isn’t’ complete without the meat, he says… but I still manage to include loads of fish in our diet by making a variety of tasty recipes.

The other day my fridge was close to empty so I had to figure out a different way to cook my Cod. Have you ever done that? Open the fridge and see what’s inside? Really look closely. If you’re one of those who buys nothing but the strict essential, then your fridge is probably empty. But if you’re one like me who stacks up on loads of different little non-perishable products, then you probably have something in there that could be mixed with something else, and then something else! The addition of all the ingredients will end up either making a magical meal… or a disgusting one (that happens sometimes when you take a risk!). Opening the fridge and working this way is my method of choice during the week. I rarely have a planned recipe. I just love going with the flow and improvising on a weeknight.

This fish was one of my successes!! Super simple, all you need are a few ingredients. Then you pop the goody in the oven and you wait! Make a nice vegetable on the side and no one at the table should be complaining!

Oh yeah and please forgive me, I was going so fast (that happens sometimes when you have 2 babies!!) I didn’t have time to take a lot of pictures… I hope you still get a good idea of what it looks like and how to make it.

Makes about 2 servings

2 Cod fillets (or other white flesh fish)
1 cup mayonnaise
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
½ cup black olives, pitiless
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh chives
Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven at 425˚F.

In a small bowl, mix the mayo, garlic, salt and pepper.

Put you fillets in an ovenproof dish. Spread the mayo on top of the fillets. Cover them with the mushrooms, olives, thyme and chives.

Put in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the flesh is tender and flaky. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cold Roast Beef With Horseradish And Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise

A few weeks back I asked for a little bit of help from my readers. I was stuck. It felt like I had ‘cooker’s block’ (now that I think of it, it was probably just because I felt like enjoying the end of summer instead of spending my time in the kitchen). I needed inspiration for my son’s baptism, and it wouldn’t come. Thanks to the help of a few of you, I regained my inspiration and it hasn’t left me since. I owe you a sincere thank you!

One of the ideas I received was to make a cold roast beef. Seriously, roast beef? That is so 1950!!! (no offence to the ones who had the inspiration) Still, the idea was suggested to me not once, but twice. That’s when I seriously started thinking about it and tried to see it in a modern way. After all, it was going to be easy to make and I knew everyone invited was a carnivore. So I plunged and gave it a try. I love going out of my comfort zone. And it paid of, no doubt about it. The beef was such a success we hardly had any leftovers!

I have a secret to tell you… but don’t tell anyone. I bought my roast at Costco. No fancy butcher, just the good old meat counter at Costco. If you go on a Thursday, they receive all their weekend meats (which means the better parts). I got the best cut, the boneless prime roast. Much cheaper than at a regular butcher shop, no one noticed the difference. It melted in our mouths and was totally satisfying. Now I told you this was a secret. Do the same if you like, just don’t tell anyone about our little secret!

Makes about 8 servings

Roast Beef
1 prime rib roast beef (about 1 kg should do for about 8 people for dinner)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
5 fresh rosemary sprigs, chopped
3 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
8 garlic cloves
Salt & pepper

Horseradish and roasted garlic mayo
1 egg
½ tbsp Dijon mustard
the juice of ½ lemon
½ tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cups vegetable oil
Salt & pepper
1 tbsp commercial horseradish
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves

Roast Beef
Preheat your oven at 325˚F.

In a small bowl, blend well the Dijon mustard, rosemary and thyme.

Cut the garlic in long pieces. Make some small incisions in the meat and stuff a piece of garlic inside. Do so around the entire roast. Once you’re done, put some salt and pepper on the meat. Take the mustard mixture and spread it all over the meat. Place the roast in an oven plate and cook for about 45 minutes.

Take the meat out and cover with aluminum foil for about 10-15 minutes to let the meat relax. If you want to eat your roast hot, serve it at this moment. If not, let the meat cool at room temperature (uncovered) and keep in the fridge. Cut it just before serving.

To roast you garlic, preheat your oven at 400˚F. Cut the head of the garlic cloves and sprinkle with the olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil and cook in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. Let cool and mash it.

In a blender or a culinary robot, mix the egg, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar. Without stopping the machine, very slowly add the oil. The mayo will start to thicken as you add the oil.

When your mayo is done, add the horseradish and the roasted garlic. Add salt & pepper to taste. Serve with the cold roast beef.

Note: You can keep the mayo for up to 5 days in the fridge so you can prepare it in advance.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tomato Season With Tarte Tatin

Fall is a great season for fruits and veggies. They’re at the peak of their flavor and they’re so diverse, it can get hard to choose between one and the other. Tomatoes are in season and if you’re still buying your tomatoes in a supermarket, it’s that you’re missing out on the real tomatoes that are sold in local markets these days. Whether they’re red or pink, you’ve got plenty of tasty choices and you should take advantage of their cheap price… that’s what happens when the offer is bigger than the demand!

If you’re really into working hard, you should be canning your own tomatoes these days (if you’re Italian, you probably have a family day planned to do so). If you’re into cooking but don’t have that much time on your hands, than maybe you should be cooking something simple made with loads of tomatoes. That was my option last week when I was looking for something original and different to make with the ‘in season’ vegetable. So I made a tarte tatin, which is basically an upside down tart. Traditionally, it’s made with caramelized apples but you can also make it with other fruits and veggies. I chose to make it with ripe red tomatoes. Quite simple to prepare, it makes for an impressive dish. It does take a lot of cooking time but while the tomatoes are cooking, you can do a lot of other things around the house! There’s always a plus to slow cooking food!

On a sunny day (because we still have them in September), try this tart. Have it for lunch with a nice rosé wine. It’ll make you fully appreciate the end of a great summer.

Makes 6 servings
Oven Roasted Tomatoes
10 big tomatoes
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
½ tsp sugar
Salt & pepper 

Black Pepper Pastry
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
Pinch of salt
½ cup chilled, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
About 3 tbsp cold water

Preheat your oven at 300˚F.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes
Fill a large bowl with ices cubes and cold water. With a knife, cut a small X in the base of each tomato. Blanch the tomatoes for 1 minute in a large pot of boiling water. Drain and drop into the ice water to stop the cooking. Peel the tomatoes, cut them in half and seed them.

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes with the remaining ingredients. Season with salt & pepper. Place on a 10-inch pie plate. Roast for about 2 ½ hours.

Black Pepper Pastry
Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the flour, pepper and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the pieces are the size of peas. Add the water. Pulse again until the dough just begins to hold together, adding more water if necessary. Remove the dough and shape it into a disk with your hands.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough and cut a circle of 10-inch in diameter. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Lay the dough over the tomatoes, tucking the edges inside the pie plate. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Invert the tart onto a serving plate.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekend Decadence: Toblerone Chocolate Mousse

Jeez it’s freezing outside today! Tell me something: why is it that summer always seems to go away abruptly? From one day to the next it gets cold and there’s never a warning, a nice and easy transition to help us accept the fact that summer will only be back next year. Anyways, I refuse to take out my fall boots just yet. I do appreciate them a lot but I’m just not comfortable with putting my sandals away just yet.

So it’s Friday and the weekend is just a few hours away. What’s your plan for the weekend? If you’ve got nothing specific to do (or you just don’t know what to cook), maybe you should try this decadent desert I made up for last weekend’s baptism: a Toblerone chocolate mousse. Now, not to brag but this desert was a huuuuge success. I don’t know how I did it since I sort of mixed up different techniques but it worked and people loved it. If you like Toblerone, I don’t see why you wouldn’t appreciate this fluffy mousse. I made little portions since we had a buffet style serving but you could make full portions if you’re having guests over for a sit down dinner. I’m sure no one will mind having a bigger portion anyways.

Makes about 20 small servings or 6 full size servings
6oz Toblerone chocolate
2 tbsp butter
2 eggs, seperated
3/4 cups + 2 tbsp 35% cream
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup plain chocolate cookies

Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate, the butter and 2 tbsp of cream. Let cool. 

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites until they become fluffy and stiff. Set aside.

In another bowl, whip the cream and sugar until it becomes stiff. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk well the chocolate with the egg yolks. With a spatula, delicately fold in the egg whites. Incorporate the whipped cream. 

In a food processor, put the cookies with the melted butter. Slightly crush the cookies. Set aside.

Separate in serving bowls, cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. Just before serving, decorate with the chocolate crumbles.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Delectable Braised Veal Cheeks

There’s nothing better than a rainy day to spend some time cooking. But to spend some time cooking, you need to go food shopping (if your fridge is empty!). Which is what I did this morning and it was totally annoying since I had to carry my little baby around in the rain. Which made me think: why didn’t I just clean the house or watch a movie instead? I guess the power of food is stronger than everything else!

Anyways, I will cook after I write this page… but I don’t know what yet. What I do know is that the recipe I’m showing you today is totally worthy of trying and that the time you will put in it will be soooooo rewarding you’ll never look back. Because this recipe is so tasty you will lick your fingers once you’re done. And it’s probably one of the easiest you’ll ever make; the only thing you need is 3 hours ahead of you. On a chilly rainy day you can always indulge in melt in your mouth braised meat. And braised veal cheeks, well, how can I put it… it’s refined yet hearty, tender and simply melts in your mouth. Try it and you’ll be sold. I know I am!

Makes 4 servings or about 24 appetizers

800g veal cheeks
1 onion, chopped
200g lard, roughly chopped
3 tbsp canola oil
2 beers
1 cup red wine
6 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat the oven at 350˚F. Season the cheeks with salt & pepper.

In an ovenproof skillet, heat the oil. Roast the cheeks on each side until slightly golden. Put aside. In the same skillet, add the lard and cook for a few minutes until slightly golden. Add the onion and cook for another few minutes, until the onion is translucent.

Poor the beer and the wine and add the thyme. Put the cheeks back in the skillet. Cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours.

Note: I served my cheeks as an appetizer in small serving eatable cups. You could also serve them as a meal along with potatoes and vegetables. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Aftermath: Stuffed Eggs With Matane Shrimps

Well, the tornado has passed and the quiet wind of September is settling in again. No, I’m not talking about Irene, I’m talking about my son’s baptism. An event like that can really take over a household for a few days, or even a full week! I got so absorbed into the eye of the tornado that I quite frankly had to put aside my urge to write a new page in my blog. There was simply not time to write; but there was time to cook!

But the page has been turned and I can move on with my normal life. One where cooking is enjoyable and not just a matter of success. Thanks to a few of you, I got some great ideas for my fancy buffet. I made a delectable menu and had raving reviews for the food. I know this might sound a little cocky but I even impressed myself with a few things. You see, I tried quite a bit of new recipes and even took a new angle to my style. I usually make a lot of fish and raw foods. This time, I added a lot of meat and cooked foods!! Not an easy challenge for me, and it was hard to get around to creating my menu but in the end the challenge was great and I ended up making one of my best buffets yet. To top it all off, I believe I have regained my love for cooking, which had been lost along the way this summer. Too much vacationing can really get to your head. Now I really feel like trying some new stuff and taking things a notch higher. That’s what fall should be about.

If you don’t mind, I’ll present to you what I made in my next few blog entries. You can recreate the whole thing after if you like, or make 1 recipe at a time when necessary. The first recipe was a mad success. A modern twist on a classic recipe: stuffed eggs. Only when you make them chic and fancy, no one can resist a good egg. Simple to make ahead, finish them just before the guests arrive. Perfect as an appetizer, you can’t go wrong with this one.  

Makes 24 half eggs
12 eggs
1/3 pound Matane shrimps, cooked
2-3 tbsp mayonnaise (home made is ideal)
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 green shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
Salt & pepper.
Cilantro for decoration
Salmon roe for decoration

In a saucepot, put the eggs in cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, take off the heat and let the eggs cook for 15 minutes. Put the eggs in cold water to stop the cooking. When they are cold, peel and wash the eggs. Cut the in half and, with a small spoon, take out the egg yolk.

In a bowl, mix together half of the egg yolks with the shrimps, mayo, Dijon, shallot and cilantro. Add salt and pepper. Adjust taste if necessary.

Cut a tiny piece off the bottom of each egg half so that they stand upright. Fill them with the egg and shrimp mixture. Decorate with a piece of cilantro and salmon roe.