Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rhubarb Meringue Tart

I was afraid I’d miss rhubarb season (it seems incredibly short in Montreal, for some reason). So I’d told the Engineer to pick up tons of it when he saw it at the local fruit stand (we can’t count on grocery stores to have any, in this neighbourhood). So look at the bounty he picked up! I’d never seen rhubarb so big in the city. That was 2 ½ pounds, which was used for this recipe as well as the strawberry rhubarb pie. I then bought another 2 ½ pounds and froze it for future use.

This tart is from Orangette. I’m so happy she is also using Martha Stewart’s pâte brisée! It’s validating my preference. Her recipe called for 2 pounds of rhubarb, but I found that was too much (I had leftovers). I’m writing down 1 ½ pounds in my recipe. Also, I don’t have a tart pan, so I used a springform pan.

I made this tart for a friend’s birthday party, and I didn’t have my camera over there, so there are no pictures of the pieces, but be assured that the filling held together quite nicely. Everyone there seemed to like it, too.

For Martha Stewart’s pâte brisée (for one crust)
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
a dash of salt
a dash of sugar
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/8 cup to ¼ cup cold fresh orange juice (substituted for the cold water in this recipe)

For the filling
1 ½ lbs rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into roughly ½-inch chunks
juice of ½ an orange
2 eggs, separated
2/3 cup plus ½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
¼ tsp cream of tartar

For the pâte brisée
Pulse the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add cold orange juice through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream until the dough just holds together, no longer than 30 seconds. Then turn the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Flour your work surface and roll out the dough to fit into a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan. Line the pan with the dough, cutting away excess. Press a sheet of aluminum foil gently into the lined pan, and fill the well of the pan with pie weights. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet, and bake until the shell is lightly golden and set, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, discard the foil and weights, and allow the tart shell to cool.

For the filling
Put the rhubarb in a medium saucepan with the orange juice and heat gently until just softened and beginning to fall apart. (As you can see, I left it longer, because it seemed to make more sense for the texture I wanted to achieve.) Remove it from the heat.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork. In a medium bowl, mix 2/3 cup sugar with the flour and melted butter. Add the yolks, and stir briefly.

Place a sieve over the mouth of the bowl, and pour the cooked rhubarb into the sieve. Press the rhubarb lightly to drain off its juices, allowing them to trickle into the egg-sugar-butter-flour mixture. You should add enough rhubarb liquid to make the mixture into a smooth, runny paste.

Put the sieved rhubarb into the tart shell, spreading it evenly. Pour the egg-sugar-butter-flour mixture over it. Bake until golden and just set, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, and continue beating until the whites form soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining ½ cup sugar, beating until the whites are shiny and opaque. Spoon the meringue over the baked tart to completely cover the fruit.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the meringue is lightly bronzed.

Allow to cool for 30 to 60 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, sliced into wedges.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tarte aux fraises et à la rhubarbe

Quand j’ai sorti cette tarte-là du four, j’ai pensé : « My God! C’est ma plus belle tarte à vie. » J’ai pris la recette de pâte brisée de Martha Stewart, parce que je ne vois absolument aucune raison de me priver d’une recette à la fois ultrasimple et infaillible. Pour la garniture, j’ai suivi les indications trouvées dans un magazine (elles ne sont malheureusement pas en ligne). Il fallait 3 c. à soupe de tapioca à cuisson rapide, mais j’ai trouvé la garniture encore trop liquide à mon goût. Je donne donc ici les quantités de la recette, mais je vous recommande soit de mettre davantage de tapioca, soit de remplacer avec de la farine ou de la fécule de maïs, ce qui est plus traditionnel.

Pâte brisée de Martha Stewart
2 ½ tasses de farine tout usage
1 c. à thé de sel
1 c. à thé de sucre
1 tasse de beurre froid, coupé en petits morceaux
¼ tasse à ½ tasse d’eau très froide

2 ½ tasses de rhubarbe coupée en morceaux de 1 cm
4 ½ tasses de fraises coupées en quatre
1 tasse de sucre
zeste d’une orange, râpé finement (facultatif)
3 c. à soupe de tapioca à cuisson rapide (ou plus)
1 c. à thé de beurre froid, coupé en cubes

1 œuf
2 c. à soupe de lait
1 c. à thé de sucre

Pour la pâte brisée
Mélanger la farine, le sel et le sucre au robot. Ajouter le beurre et mélanger jusqu’à ce que la farine ait l’air de chapelure grossière, environ 10 secondes.
Pendant que le robot est en marche, ajouter l’eau en un mince filet jusqu’à ce que la pâte se tienne et forme une boule (pas plus que 30 secondes).

Séparer la pâte en deux et façonner chaque morceau en un disque. L’envelopper d’une pellicule de plastique et réfrigérer 30 minutes.

Sur un plan de travail enfariné, abaisser le premier disque de pâte jusqu’à ce qu’il ait une épaisseur d’environ ½ cm, pour qu’il soit un peu plus grand que votre assiette à tarte. Plier le disque en deux pour le transférer dans l’assiette. Déplier et couper l’excédent au bord.

Préchauffer le four à 425 °F.

Pour la garniture
Dans un grand bol, mélanger les fraises, la rhubarbe, le sucre, le zeste d’orange et le tapioca. Laisser reposer pendant 15 minutes à la température ambiante. Verser la garniture dans l’abaisse de pâte à tarte.

Parsemer de beurre.

Abaisser le deuxième disque de pâte et le mettre sur la garniture. Découper l’excédent de pâte et sceller les deux abaisses ensemble. Faire de petites ouvertures sur le dessus, pour permettre à la vapeur de s’échapper pendant la cuisson.

Pour la dorure
Mélanger dans un petit bol l’œuf, le lait et le sucre. Badigeonner le dessus de la tarte avec ce mélange.

Mettre la tarte dans le tiers inférieur du four préchauffé. Cuire pendant 10 minutes, puis baisser la température à 350 °F et poursuivre la cuisson pendant 40 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que la croûte soit dorée, et la garniture, bouillonnante (si la bordure de votre tarte dore trop rapidement, couvrez-la de papier d’aluminium et poursuivez la cuisson). Laisser refroidir la tarte sur une grille.

Strawberries and Dumplings

I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. To be honest, the dumplings here are not the stuffed kind I usually think of when I hear the word, but “Strawberries and Dumplings” somehow sounds much better than “Strawberries and Dough Balls”. Note that the dumplings do dry out quickly, but if you pour some of the strawberry syrup on top, you can remedy that quite easily. I loved this dessert, but the Engineer does not like desserts served hot, so he preferred this the next day, straight from the fridge.

4 cups strawberries, trimmed and thickly sliced
¼ cup sugar
juice of half a lemon
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
½ cup whole lactose-free milk
2 Tbsp unsalted butter or margarine

Stir together strawberries, sugar and lemon in a heavy saucepan and let stand, stirring occasionally, until juicy, about 15 minutes. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Heat the milk and butter together just until the butter melts.

Stir this warmed milk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated and smooth. Gather a golf-ball-sized portion of the dumpling batter onto a small spoon, then push the dumpling onto the stew using a second spoon. (I’ll admit it, I used my hands.) Cover the fruit with the dumplings, leaving about ¼ inch between each.

Tightly cover saucepan and reduce heat to low. Cook, undisturbed, until dumpling looks dry on top, about 15 minutes; the dumplings will have doubled in size.

Let stand off heat, uncovered, five minutes, then serve.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Those of you who spend any time in the kitchen know how hard it can be to find an apron. A nice apron, that is. Most of what's offered in stores isn't appealing, and since I can't sew like my grandmother, I can't make one either. Sure, there are some online stores, but I find some of them too cutesy for my taste.

Now, however, I've got a winner. It's Domistyle! This place has some stylish and fun aprons at a reasonable price. These aprons are trully beautiful, and added bonus: they have adjustable neck straps! Also, delivery is very fast - I got mine three days after I ordered it, and one of those days was a holiday. I bought the Wild Orchid, which is black with a white design.

You can also buy Domistyle aprons in certain select stores - there is a list on the website. Unfortunately, there is no men's section yet, but there are aprons for children. There are also oven mitts and pot holders. I recommend you check out Domistyle!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cheese Soufflé

I can’t help but start this with a warning. Not because it’s hard, but precisely because it’s not. I’m not sure when or why soufflé got a reputation for being so difficult. Then again, when I was taking my class at l’Académie culinaire, I was surprised at how many people not only had never made soufflé, but at how many people had actually never eaten it – and at the misconceptions they had about it. One woman thought that when you take a soufflé out of the oven, you must have absolute silence, otherwise the soufflé will collapse. I mean, can you imagine what would happen in restaurant kitchens when diners order a soufflé, if that were true? I can just picture the head chef going, “Alright everybody, SSHHHHH!!!” before opening the oven door. That would never work! Anyway, my point is that you really should not be intimidated by a soufflé, because making one is really quite easy.

Note that even though I used butter for this dish, I did not need Lactaid and did not get sick from eating the soufflé. That’s why I used the lactose-free tag here. I recently read an interesting article (two, actually) about the fact that there is very little lactose in butter, and yet some lactose-intolerant people still get quite sick from it. More funding needed. ;)

Once again, I got this version of the recipe from Orangette.

2 Tbsp finely grated parmesan or other hard cheese (which are usually lactose-free)
2 ½ Tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for buttering dish
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk, hot
½ tsp paprika
a pinch of nutmeg
½ tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
4 egg yolks (from large eggs)
5 egg whites (from large eggs)
1 cup (3 ½ oz) coarsely grated cheese, such as gruyère or sharp cheddar (again, usually lactose-free)

Generously butter a 7 ½- to 8-inch diameter soufflé dish. Roll the grated parmesan in the buttered baking dish to cover the bottom and side.

Set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 400 °F.

To make the béchamel:
Over moderate heat, melt 2 ½ Tbsp butter in a 2 ½-quart saucepan; then blend in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a smooth but somewhat loose paste. Stir until the butter and flour foam together for two minutes without coloring to more than a buttery yellow. (In the picture, you’ll notice that my mixture is darker than a buttery yellow. It looks like I ended up making a roux. It’s possible that there was a bit too much heat. But I also want to point out that I normally use Nutri flour, which is a whole-wheat flour that tastes like white flour. It is blonde in color, not brown, so in most cakes, you can’t tell the difference, but here, you can.)

Remove from heat. When the bubbling stops, pour in the hot milk all at once, whisking vigorously to blend. Place the saucepan over moderately high heat, whisking rather slowly, reaching all over the bottom and sides of the pan, until the sauce comes to the simmer. Simmer two to three minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the sauce is very thick and coats a spoon nicely.

Whisk in the seasonings, and remove from heat.

Whisk the egg yolks into the hot sauce one by one, and set it aside.

To finish:
In a clean bowl and with clean beaters, beat the egg whites to stiff shining peaks. Scoop a quarter of the egg whites into the sauce, and stir together with a wooden spoon. Turn the rest of the egg whites on top; rapidly and delicately, fold them in with a rubber spatula, alternating scoops of the spatula with sprinkles of the coarsely grated cheese.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, and use your spatula to trace a circle in the top of the batter, just inside the rim of the dish. This will help the soufflé to rise freely. (I forgot this step, so my soufflé was a little lopsided, but it still rose. This just goes to show how easy it is to make, really, you can forget a few little things and still make it relatively successfully.)

Place the soufflé in the oven, and turn the oven temperature down to 375 °F. Bake about 25 to 30 minutes (without opening the oven – this is really the golden rule), until the soufflé has puffed 1 to 3 inches over the rim of the baking dish and the top has browned nicely. Serve immediately, because yes, it will deflate within a few minutes (though it is still perfectly edible deflated).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chocolate Chip Ginger-Molasses Cookies

This is another recipe found on Orangette. I loved the bite from the ginger in these cookies! I used lactose-free margarine instead of shortening, so my cookies spread out a bit more than hers, but they were very good nonetheless. And I rolled them in granulated white sugar instead of Demerara, because I made them on a whim and did not have any in the pantry. It’s not the same, of course, but it’s still a nice touch. Of course, if you have demerara (or have time to go buy some), that’s what you should use.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
2 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
¾ cup margarine or butter (at room temperature)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup molasses
½ cup demerara sugar, for rolling

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and salt. Whisk well. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger, and whisk to blend. Set aside.

In a large bowl – preferably, a stand mixer – beat the margarine briefly to soften it. Add the sugars, and beat until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg and the molasses, and beat to blend well, scraping down the sides as needed.

Add the flour mixture in two doses, beating briefly after each until the flour is just absorbed. Do not overmix. Use a rubber spatula to give the dough a final stir if necessary; it will be quite firm and stiff. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate for 1 or 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Pour the demerara sugar into a small bowl.

Using damp hands, pinch off blobs of dough and roll them into 1 ¼- to 1 ½-inch balls. Roll each ball in sugar to coat. Place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

Bake the cookies until they are cracked on top but still soft to the touch, about 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Cool on the sheets for 1 minute; then carefully transfer the cookies – still on the parchment or silicone liner – to wire racks to cool completely. When they are cool, remove them from the parchment or silicone liner.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Upcoming movies

I decided to write a quick note about two upcoming movies I’m very much looking forward to seeing.

First, there’s Julie & Julia. For those of you who haven’t heard, this movie is based on two books: My Life in France (Julia Child’s autobiography) and Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell. The latter is the book based on Julie Powell’s blog, in which she regaled readers with tales of her year when she cooked all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Since that’s more than one recipe a day, I would say that’s an accomplishment in and of itself, but try doing it on top of your full-time job! I was going to read the book, but I’m time-deprived, and now that I’ve seen the preview, with Meryl Streep playing Julia and Amy Adams playing Julie, the movie looks so good that I’ll go straight for it on August 7th, 2009.

Those who know me might think this is unlike me. After all, the book is always better than the movie. Which brings me to my next point: one of my favourite books, EVER (which is saying a damn lot, believe me), is The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. The movie based on this book is due for release on August 14th, 2009. But you know how, when a book you love is turned into a movie, all you can do is hope and pray that it wasn’t messed up in the process? Because the book was just so good? That’s where I am with this movie right now. Watching the preview, half of me was thrilled to see the story come to life (even though the characters are different than those I pictured), but half of me became apprehensive , because it’s like I can already see which parts of the story will be cut out and which ones will be made more important than in the book. That being said, I think it’s pretty safe to say I’ll be seeing that movie the weekend it opens.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Two chickpea salads

I’ve recently made two chickpea salads, taken from Orangette. In the coming months, you’ll probably see me refer to a lot of her recipes, because she writes one of my favourite blogs EVER, and I’m now going through the archives and bookmarking many of her entries for future use.

Note that for these salads, I used 19-oz cans of chickpeas, not the 15-oz cans recommended by Orangette (the 19-oz cans are the ones I’ve always seen in the store; things might be different in Seattle). On the second picture, the chickpeas are served alongside roasted chicken and a potato salad (boiled potatoes, minced shallot, a little mayo, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste).

Chickpea salad with Lemon and Parmesan
This was truly the easiest salad ever, and it was very good. It makes for a great side dish, and leftovers are a tasty lunch.

1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tsp extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup loosely packed shredded parmesan (or vegan substitute)
salt and pepper, to taste

Just mix and serve.

Warm Chickpea Salad with Carrots and Shallots
I made this recipe, changing it a bit to fit what I had on hand (I used raspberry vinegar instead of red wine vinegar). It was so good that it had me fantasizing about it for a week. It is also delicious served cold the next day.

1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar or raspberry vinegar
¼ spoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 can chickpeas
a few medium-sized carrots, thinly grated
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, combine the shallot, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the shallots and garlic to mellow.

Add the carrots, the parsley and the olive oil to the bowl.

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring some water to a boil (you should have enough to cover the chickpeas once you add them to the hot water, but the precise quantity is not important). Add the chickpeas and blanch them a few minutes, then drain.

Add the chickpeas to the bowl and toss gently. Serve immediately, while still warm.


I found the recipe for this Norwegian dessert online. It’s like a mix between pie and cake. I substituted margarine for butter in the crust, with the result that even though I could roll out the crust, I could not transfer it to the pan (and my lattice top was a sad approximation, which I camouflaged with powdered sugar). I was able to transfer pieces of it and then press them together, though, and the dessert was still a hit in our household. You should refrigerate the crust dough before working with it, in any case.

For the crust
¾ cup butter or margarine
¾ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

For the filling
½ cup powdered sugar
1 ¼ cup ground almonds
¼ tsp almond extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
1 egg + 1 egg white, lightly beaten

For the crust
Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Preheat oven at 325 °F.

Cream sugar and butter until light in color. Mix in egg yolk and milk.

Mix the flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the batter/dough, which will have to be mixed by hand and lightly kneaded.

Retain 1/3 of the dough for the lattice to cover the filling. Roll out remaining 2/3 of the dough, then place in the pan.

For the filling
Blend the ingredients in a bowl. Spread it over the dough in the pan.

Roll out remaining 1/3 of dough. Cut into ½-inch strips and create a lattice pattern over the filling. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until filling is set and crust is golden. Once cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Peach and Poppyseed Pancakes

This is another recipe brought to us by the magazine someone left in my building’s laundry room. Clearly, someone is doing some spring cleaning, because this issue is three years old already. But the recipes are still good! I substituted lactose-free yogurt for the sour cream and everything worked out fine.

3-4 peaches
2 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla

Peel peaches, then slice them into thin wedges.

In a large bowl, using a fork or a whisk, stir flour with sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt. Make a well in centre. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with milk, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla.

Pour into flour mixture and stir just until evenly mixed.

Melt a little butter or oil in a frying pan over medium heat (I saved time by using two pans). Pour some batter into the hot pan (about ¼ cup or ½ cup, depending on how big you want your pancakes). Immediately top the pancake with peach wedges.

Cook until the surface of the pancake is covered with bubbles and edges are lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes. Turn and continue to cook until golden, another 2-3 minutes. Place on a plate and keep warm in a low-temperature oven while cooking remaining pancakes. Drizzle with pure maple syrup and serve.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cape Cod : Saki

After our little trip to Boston, the Engineer and I drove down to Cape Cod. I couldn’t stand being so close and not taking this opportunity, as I had always wanted to go. We only stayed about 24 hours, but we’ve decided that we absolutely loved it. I’m now looking for any and all excuses to go back!

I must share our experience at Saki, a sushi bar and sake lounge (258 Commercial Street in Provincetown, next to Town Hall). What a wonderful dinner we had! First, the restaurant itself is really beautiful, in a historic building, with a bar and tables made from 200-year-old reclaimed wood. The owner spent over a year getting all the details right.

The staff was extremely friendly and helpful, going so far as recommending their favourite dishes – which did not disappoint. We started with the vegetable pad thai: truly awesome. The Engineer does not like bean sprouts in his food (he sees them as a cheap filler, which I understand), so at first, he was reluctant to order it. But the waiter insisted it was very good and even said that if we didn’t like it, he wouldn’t charge us for it. So we went for it, and it was the best thing we could have done. There were very few bean sprouts, and those that were there were served on the side, so there were no fillers in this dish. As a matter of fact, every last morsel was tasty. The noodles were perfect, and the vegetables were cut small enough not to overpower each bite.

Then, we had the (mild) curry chicken skewers, served with a peanut sauce, tempura-fried slices of sweet potatoes and a delicious salad of julienned mangoes and cucumbers, with fresh mint and coriander. My mouth is watering as I think back to this dish; I wish I could have some right now.

We also had some sushi: the unagi was wonderful, and I really liked the roll that combined tuna with apples – unexpected, but it works quite well. We didn’t get to try the avocado salad our waiter swears by, because we were stuffed to the gills. It turns out that the restaurant, run by real foodies, does not serve dessert, because they count on giving you enough delicious food as a main course that you shouldn’t be hungry after that. It was really an exquisite meal.

You should also know that they have a very extensive sake list as well as interesting tasting courses of the latter (the Engineer and I don’t drink much, so we didn’t take advantage of that option, but it looked very interesting for those who either like sake or who want to learn more about it). Also, from about 10pm each night during high season, the place turns into more of a lounge, with dancing and dimmed lights, so you might want to eat before that if you want a quiet dinner.