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.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Figareau se montre le bout du nez à Par ici la sortie!

This message is in French as it concerns local TV show! Sorry for those who are too far to see it!!!

Pour celles (et ceux) qui apprécient la nouvelle chaîne Mlle, sachez que je ferai partie de l’émission ‘Par ici la sortie’qui sera diffusée tout au long de la semaine du 2 décembre! En effet, j’ai eu le plaisir de concocter quelques bouchées pour les animatrices qui en ont profité pour me poser des questions sur mon concept de Chef à la maison et sur mon blogue. L’expérience du tournage a été excitante et enrichissante; j’espère que je passerai bien à la caméra! Je peux déjà vous dire que les animatrices ont semblé apprécier leurs bouchées! 

Si le coeur vous en dit, encouragez-moi en m’envoyant vos critiques constructives… Qui sait où une telle aventure pourrait mener Figareau?  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cool Brunch With a Spanish Potato Tortilla

Ok, I feel really bad and my conscience is having a hard time sleeping at night. I realize I haven’t written in the past two weeks… at least. The worst part is that I haven’t really been cooking either. That’s a horrible, horrible thought! But I have great excuses (of course!): sick kids, the end of a construction site and, no free time. But things are back on track and I have some new recipes to share, plus stuff that I’m planning to try out in the next few weeks. So to you, my awesome readers, I apologize if I’ve let you down a little and I promise I’ll try to make it up to you. Do you forgive me?

This weekend we had a great big brunch with friends and we all had to bring a little something. With little time on my hands, I really had a rough time deciding on what to bring. I almost went to the market to buy a ready-made quiche; but that’s just not me. And to be honest, I sometimes find it harder to go out and find a great ready-made meal than to take the time to make it on my own (I know, that sounds weird!). So I looked in my fridge, only to find that it was almost empty… except for a bunch of eggs and some leftover cooked potatoes. What to do with so little ingredients?

That’s when it hit me. Why not make a really nice Spanish tortilla? They’re simple to make yet super tasty and it’s the perfect thing to eat around noon! Lucky me, I have a small Spanish cooking book at home so I took a look at it to make sure my version of the tortilla was made according to pure traditional Spanish style. And it was! I believe it was a success with everyone and it sure relieved me to know I was bringing something great and up to everyone’s expectation for an amazing brunch!

Makes about 8 servings

2 onions, finely sliced
3 potatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves
7 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Over medium-high heat cook the onions until they are transparent. Take them out of the skillet and put them on a separate plate, leaving the leftover oil in the skillet.

Add the potatoes and the garlic and cook them. When they are ready, add the onions. Blend well and take off the heat. Let cool.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs and add salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and onions to the mixture and let sit for about half an hour.

Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the egg mixture and cook. When the eggs are cooked to your taste (some like them a little juicy!), take off the heat and place a plate on top of the pan. Delicately flip the tortilla on the plate.

Serve hot with a nice salad or cold, diced in small bite size.

Note: I had some leftover potatoes from a previous dinner. So I used them instead of arranging some fresh ones. They were already seasoned so I took it easy on the salt and pepper.