Monday, October 25, 2010

Going Dutch, on the Oven

We have the best Dutch Oven at the family cottage in Quebec, where it belongs.  Smooth from use and very well seasoned cast iron, the pot and lid must weigh about 8 kilos when empty!  I am half convinced that it must have made the journey to Nouvelle France on one of Champlain's many trips - as it is that old (looking).
My sister busied herself last summer by making multiple loaves of Jim Lahey's no-kneed 24 hour bread. In a nutshell, the dough requires a scant 1/4 teaspoon of yeast, rises for 20+ hours and is baked off in a Dutch Oven which has been super-heated to 500 F.  The result is a fantastic artisanal style bread with a fabulous crust and a moist and chewy interior.  It is the super-heating aspect that made our propane budget skyrocket, the little-kitchen-oven-that-could went into overdrive and became perilously hot itself.  The results were well worth all the effort.

I recently purchased a KitchenAid Dutch Oven, on sale at Canadian Tire; regular price was $ 150, down to $ 50. It is enamel-covered cast iron and, though will never have the same feel as the one at the cottage, I am enjoying using it now that Fall is upon us.  

Since procuring the said pot, I have made a baked penne with cheese & chorizo dish, followed by an impromtu cassoulet made with red kidney beans which I soaked and par-boiled, onion confit, thick cut bacon, merguez sausages, San Marzano tomatoes, seasoning and bread crumbs on the top.  Thrown into the Dutch Oven and baked off for two hours at 400 F, the results were enjoyed by the whole family.  (I should remember to take more photos along the way, it was actually quite photogenic for a real meal.) 

While writing this blog, I was soaking chicken in seasoned red wine in preparation for a coq-au-vin.  The recipe that I more or less followed is from Bon Appetit, Oct. '02.  Classic-Coq-au-Vin recipe  My sister had made it, told me how much she and her guests had enjoyed it and I was sold.  I have made it and the results are well worth it.  She skinned her chicken prior to soaking it in the wine, as do I.  Once the prepared dish is chilling in the fridge, the fat that rises to the surface of the delectable sauce and solidifies can easily be removed. Remember, a little less fat there means a little more dessert later on! 

Coq au Vin really is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day.  I made enough to feed an army, so I hope to enjoy it tonight and throw the rest of it in the freezer for another memorable meal.  The large, visible chunks of bacon were intended to make the meal more enticing to my son who was not sold on the idea of chicken soaked in wine... that is until he tasted it.

PS: Predictive text changed the Coq au Vin to "Cow au Vin" at one point.  Divine intervention?  Maybe I will be making a boeuf bourgignon sometime in the near future.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

PUMPKIN GNOCCHI - by request...

Canadian Thanksgiving just happened and we had a glorious weekend to celebrate it.  The weather was warm, the sky was perfectly blue and the Fall leaves were down right spectacular.  Add all of these facts together and the result is, as always, a great reason to enjoy food.
I came across a Lidia Bastianich recipe for squash gnocchi, and seeing how the directions were long enough already I tweaked it and used (canned!) pumpkin instead.  The result was great, in fact we five had them for a main course one night and for an appetizer for 8 two nights later for the big dinner.  (The potato ricer is a must for this recipe.)  

1 12 to 14 ounce russet potato, peeled, cut into 8 pieces
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, (or more)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 tablespoons fresh sage, small leaves or chopped larger ones
1/2 sliced almonds

Boil potato in a saucepan until tender, maybe 15 mins.
Drain, while warm press through potato ricer in to a medium bowl and let cool completely.  Measure out 2 cups, loosely packed, riced potato.
Mix together pumpkin, potato, 1/2 cup Parmesan, egg, nutmeg and salt.  Gradually add in the flour until dough holds together and is almost smooth.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently until smooth.  Divide dough into 8 equal parts.
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper sprinkled with flour.  Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll it out onto a floured surface until it is 1/2" thick rope.  Cut the rope crosswise into 3/4" pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll gnocchi along bak of fork tines dipped in flour, making ridges on one side.  Transfer gnocchi to baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Cover loosely and chill for at least one hour.  In a large skillet, heat almonds until toasted, set aside.
Working in two batches, cook gnocchi in boiling salted water until very tender, 15 - 17 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer them back to the same parchment paper.  Cool (up to 8 hours) and until ready to use.
Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring often, 3-4 minutes.  Add sage, cook for 1 minute. Add gnocchi, cook until heated through and coated with butter, 5 - 7 minutes.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.  Transfer to individual plates, sprinkle with toasted almonds and reserved Parmesan.  Serve and enjoy!

One last thing on the pumpkin topic, beer!  Yes, different kinds of beer brewed only in the fall and using our all-round favorite squash.  These four are available now at the LCBO:
Brooklyn Brewery Post Rd Pumpkin Ale, Great Lakes Pumpkin Ale, (the name makes me think of Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin episode.....), St. Ambroise Citrouille, and Southern Tier Pumpking Ale.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Best Baguette Awards

Two weeks ago in Paris we happened upon Dominique Saibron's boulangerie-café in the 14e arrondissement.  We had a very late lunch there, after having driven into the city from Normandy, returned the rental car, found a hotel and visited the Paris catacombs.  We were very hungry and the baguette sandwiches were great!  While lunching, I noticed that Dominique Saibron's baguette de tradition had taken third place in the 2010 Grand Prix de la meilleure baguette artisanale de Paris, or the "best artisanal baguette in Paris" competition.  
Over several years the per capita consumption of bread had been falling in France, and with it - the quality.  Thankfully, a handful of artisan bakers, millers and experts fought to preserve the integrity of French bread and insure that truly good bread remained a part of French heritage.   The State had a hand as well and in 1993 enacted a “French bread law” which stated that “baguettes de tradition” must be mixed, kneaded, leavened and baked on premises, without ever being frozen. They must also be additive-free and can contain only four precious ingredients–wheat flour, water, salt and yeast.  That same year, the Mairie de Paris began its competition to find the best baguette in the city.  Not only does the winner receive 4000 € and the prestigious title, but the boulangerie also becomes the official supplier to the Elysées Palace, the French Presidential Palace where Nicolas Sorkozy and Carla Bruni presently reside.
The 2010 competition took place in March and had a 15 person jury: a mix of food experts including last year's winner, Frank Tombarel of boulangerie du Grenier de Félix in the 15th, food journalists and for the first time ever, five very fortunate members of the general public whose names were selected from a contest run by the Mairie.     
One hundred and sixty-three baguettes were entered, and each one was scrutinized and graded on its appearance, baking, aroma, its crumb and taste.  After many hours and much bread tasting the winner was determined to be Djibril Bodian of Le Grenier à Pain Abbesses in the 18th arrondissement, who incidentally placed 5th last year.

Should you find yourself in Paris within the next six months, here is a list of the top ten baguette de tradition suppliers:  1) Djibril Bodian, Le Grenier à Pain Abbesses, 2) Daniel Pouphary, La Parisienne, 3) Dominique Saibron, 4) Yves Desgranges, 5) Philippe Gosselin, 6) Xavier Doué, 7) Boulangerie Lohézic, 8) Boulangerie d'Isa, 9) Mohamed Zerzour, Retrodore, and 10) Michel Chorin.

And if you can't get to Paris anytime soon, Dominique Saibron's website lists a recipe for a duck breast and cheddar baguette sandwich - just be sure to use really great bread.

Bon appétit

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Bonjour, et joyeux septembre!
Back to school is around the corner, the family cottage is closed until next summer and I snuck in a week-long getaway to France with our twelve year old son!  Two years ago I took our daughter to Paris for a week and we visited many museums, cultural monuments and rented a postage stamp size apartment on Ile-St-Louis.  For my son's trip, the focus was much more "masculine": Vimy, Juno Beach, Dieppe and numerous German bunkers on the Normandy coast and in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.  We did manage to visit a few non-military places including Bayeux, Honfleur and Mont-St-Michel.  Maybe it was the maturaty factor kicking in, or the ambience of being in France but my son was a more adventuresome eater: sole in brown butter, skate, soupe de poisson, magret de canard, bulots - sea snails, confit de canard and his new favorite food - fois gras!  
We managed to pack in a two-night stay in Paris and did more "masculine" visits: the Catacombs, Musée de l'Armée with Napoléon 1er's tomb, and the Concièrgerie - the prison where Marie-Antoinette was incarcerated prior to being guillotined in Place de la Concorde. 
While walking up the Champs-Elysée towards l'Arc de Triomphe, we popped into La Durée - aka Mecca for macarons.  The shop is truly beautiful. I once read that they produce and sell more than ten thousand per week, and the flavours are very diverse - including..... foie gras!  The line up was enormous and we already had dinner plans with Parisian friends, so we moved on and crossed the street. We happened upon a McDonald's restaurant - which years ago when it opened caused a huge uproar amongst the French population.  It seems as though even Rotten Ronnie's is adapting to being on the prestigious boulevard, they now have a McCafé section of their restaurant and serve veritable baked goods including McMacarons!  

Really, is nothing sacred?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bananas Kaboom!

We worked on a very fun TV commercial shoot recently, the crew was about thirty people strong and featured a three person special effects team.  They were there to make our gorgeous fruit explode, literally.  The shots involved beautiful hero fruit; including bananas, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, exploding on camera in order to portray a fruit explosion sensation.  For this part of the shoot, our carefully selected fruit was passed onto the FX team who had three large containers of liquid nitrogen.  Liquid nitrogen, LN2, is cold, really really cold: −196 °C / −321 °F.  Quantities of liquid nitrogen were carefully decanted into protected containers and the fruit was deposited into them.  Bananas, should you ever need to know, require about 3.5 minutes in order to be completely frozen and the berries significantly less.

The key FX person would then cautiously remove the frozen fruit from the nitrogen bath and quickly move to set and forcefully throw them down so that they would explode upon impact.  These actions were very fast and caught on film, however when significantly slowed down, it appears that the fruit is exploding.  Very cool indeed, and yes - pun intended!
After lunch and for the remainder of the day, we made frozen fruit drinks which we kept cold using a combination of ice, a freezer, and dry ice.  On-set talent drank the drinks for real so we kept busy replenishing, cleaning colour-correct stemware and building the drinks.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


This is my house on Saturday, May 29 at about 9:50 a.m.  A neighbour across the street had just come to the door to tell me to get out of the house because it was on fire.  I immediately got the two kids who were home and the family dog out.  How could this be I thought?  We do not smoke, my neighbours to whom I am attached do not smoke, I had not cooked anything in the kitchen, nor had a fire in the fireplace etc etc....  We saw the massive dark plumes of smoke come up from the back and the brilliant orange flames which eventually reached 30 feet into the air.  It was my back deck on the third floor.  As many neighbours and friends comforted us, we witnessed the wind move the fire onto my neighbours' deck.  

The firefighters arrived with many trucks, police and EMS.  From what others tell me, the neighbourhood was chock-a-block full with emergency response vehicles.  Truth be told when you see your house in flames, it feels as though the firetrucks are not moving as fast as they do when you are driving and have to pull over for them.  Please pull far out of the way for all EMS vehicles, it could be your house or loved one.  I was very impressed with how careful they were once in our house; they tarped furniture in order to minimize water damage, and found receptacles so catch water that was pouring through the ceilings.
My point on posting this blog is to warn readers of the combustability of potting soil.  After reading "Chez Panisse" - the book on Alice Waters' famous restaurant in Berkeley CA, I was inspired to do more gardening.  Our backyard gets a beating what with three kids, a trampoline and a basketball net so I thought that pots on the third floor would be the answer.  I bought potting soil in large plastic bags and lugged them up through the house to the third floor deck.  For two years, I had some results and aspired to do one day do better.  I dumped most of the pots into a large plastic garbage pail at the end of the season last year and put the lid on.  I had too many pots to dump, so I left the others - exposed to the elements for months.  We had very little snow this year, April saw no precipitation whatsoever and the end of May was exceptionally hot and dry.  I had intended to do something with the pots on the deck but the weather was oppressive and I delayed doing anything, meanwhile the potting soil was heating up under the blistering sun and perhaps even starting to smolder.  I have since learned that potting soil contains up to 85% peat moss, which is a great humidifier when wet, but burns very well when dry.  It is possible that the smoldering started all on its own a day or two before the fire actually broke out.  Since the fire, I have heard of other peat moss / potting soil fires - which all started spontaneously.  These products should come with warning labels on them, informing consumers the of danger of letting the soil and, or peat moss dry out.  Also, when the city issues extreme weather alerts - the same warning should also be included.

We are very very fortunate: it happened during the day when a neighbour could see the smoke and warned us.  Our smoke alarm did not sound because the door to the deck was closed and the smoke from the fire on the deck was going straight up.  Our next door neighbours got out of their house in time as well.  Our daughter closed her bedroom door to the hall, an act which according to the Fire Chief, saved both houses from becoming burnt out shells.  I never thought that we would be victim to a fire in our house; we are careful, do not smoke and thought that we were informed.  It happened so quickly and spread even faster, we are truly very fortunate.  The more we share this kind of information, the more we can inform others and avoid similar situations.  Take good care.   

Friday, May 28, 2010

Casey's Real Deal

I recently worked on a campaign for Casey's restaurants, the premise being that the food is already the deal - no other incentive required.  The desired "feel" to the images was that they should be authentic looking, appealing and somewhat retro. The executive chef from Casey's was also present at the shoot, he typically works on product development and kitchen training for new franchise owners.  On shoot day he helped ensure that the finished product well resembled the Casey's style, portions and look.   
Styling burgers come with their own challenges, especially when there is melted cheese and multiple components on them and hence this shot took a bit more time than the steak and rib shots. 

As someone who works in food, I confess to looking and even scrutinizing food photos on everything from flyers, to magazines, packaging and menus. I can't help it, and it seems that my kids have picked up on the habit as well.  We often compliment the work, discuss how it might have been made, sometimes we criticize it and even provide potential solutions for the perceived problems. Michael Kohn photography.  

I was on a TV shoot recently when one of the crew showed us this site:, it compares professionally styled fast foods with what the typical consumer would receive - and then run home and photograph.  Enjoy!  It reconfirms the importance of making food look appealing.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I have had the good fortune to travel to Paris, a lot, and be paid for it! In my career-so-far, I have worked for two French companies whose headquarters are in the City of Light. On one of these trips, about two and half years ago, I arrived a day early and upon arrival, dumped my luggage with the hotel concièrge and then ran off to my "Macarons Class" at LeNôtre, conveniently located on the Champs Elysées.   For the uninitiated, macarons are almond flour & meringue cookies sandwiched together with a delectable filling.  They are crisp, and chewy and melt in your mouth.  We were eight students under the tutorage of a high-toqued French pastry chef.  We learned techniques and put them to the test, making an abundance and a variety of macarons.  One of the tricks that we learned is once a pan of macarons is baked, pour a cup of water under the parchment paper and let it drain off. This creates a hint a humudity which keeps the underside of the macaron moist, while maintaining the crisp dome on top.  We each received two large pastry boxes of our creations - too much for me to bring home especially with all of the other French foods that make their way into my luggage.  I shared the wealth and gave a box to a Paris-based friend that night at dinner.  One of my food pet-peeves are the shocking food colours used by many makers of macarons.  I try to stay away from them, and prefer to have the natural tones of the nuts and fillings show for themselves - hence "my" colours are on the muted side.  Almonds are always used in the cookie base, but I have also incorporated hazelnuts, and pistachios and am game to do some other nut experiments.  As far as fillings go, the salted caramel is deadly, and I am convinced that I gain weight by osmosis while merely making it!!  Chocolate ganache, chocolate buttercream and chocolate-praline ganache are all close runner ups. For a "lighter" flavour, raspberry-rose buttercream is fragrant & floral and naturally pink. Mixing and matching is fun, and I am constantly on the lookout for new permutations.
The salted caramel buttercream is a three step process, but well worth the effort: making the caramel, cooking egg yolks & heavy cream to 82 C without turning them into scrambled eggs, and lastly incorporating the 375 grams of butter.  Send me an email if you would like the recipe. Thanks to Michael Kohn for making the photo.   

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Reality of TV

I happened to notice that we are now in May! Where did April go? I have been working on a steady basis on television commercial shoots, hence my tardiness in updating my postings. Working TV is very different than stills, there are more people, more variables and the days are much longer. Personally, I really enjoy them both - the diversity, the camaraderie and ultimately the satisfaction of a job well done in either situation.
The shoots that I just came off of include many firsts for me: working with rotten foods, a 20 hour work day, a cat wrangler and talent having to eat high fiber cereal & bars for many, many takes.
Without naming names and products, I can say that I have recently worked on a shoot where we worked with insanely rotten and moldy foods - latex gloves and face masks were made available! The other stylist actually cultivated them for a few weeks. The product is an all-natural substance that people will be able to place in their fridges and it will reduce food spoilage.
The twenty hour day: after two prep days, I started out Day 3 at St.Lawrence Market at 07:30, (officially they open at 8:00 on weekdays but they really are there earlier) and that glorious four letter word "w-r-a-p" was not uttered until 03:10 the following morning! We stayed a little longer and put a few things away, I think that I sat for the grand total of an hour during the entire 20-hr day. No complaints though, things were no different for the two other stylists with whom I was working. In the end, the client got what they wanted and needed. Four 0n-air celebrity chefs + 16 recipes = lots of shopping + loads of equipment and lots and lots of food & prep.
Another recent shoot had us working out of a moveable kitchen in a truck, street-parked in a very upscale neighbourhood. At one point, I was outside with a propane torch "grill marking" chicken thighs which must have appeared a little odd to the unaccustomed. On the "crew list" I noticed that there was a cat wrangler listed to be on set that day. Hats off to them if they can train a cat, I can hardly get my dog to listen to me. Later on that day and over the walkie-talkie, I heard the "cat" shot being set up. I then heard the director asking if they could PUSH the cat through the kitty door. Next I heard him say that they would take the shot from where the cat would have come through the door. So much for cat training, I wonder how much a cat wrangler gets paid?
Last week we were working with high fiber cereal and cereal bars. The cereal claims that one 52 gram serving yields 52% of one's daily fiber requirement - impressive and all the more so when the talent had to eat bowl after bowl after bowl of it in order to get the right takes! Needless to say, he was only in the shoot that one day and we had new talent for day 2.
Day 2 talent had to eat high fiber cereal bars, though not quite as high in fiber as the cereal, after one eats enough of them in take after take, they yield the same beneficial results.

Other recent projects include supplying macarons to three local caterers, including a few new flavour: pistachio and cardamom in the cookie with and a raspberry and rose buttercream filling, and a chocolate almond cookie with a dark chocolate and praline ganache. I have been meaning to get some macaron photos up - it is on the "to do" list, and will happen soon.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Hands down, my friend Noni makes the best tourtière.  It is true.  My family is always very excited at the prospect of having one of her delectable seasoned meat pies for a meal.  I probably should have photographed the one that we had for dinner tonight, but seeing how did not make it, I don't think that it would be very kosher to post her beautiful (all-butter) pastry work.  We enjoyed a few over the winter and savoured our last one tonight.  I say "last" only because with the promise of sunny, warmer weather, tourtière will not be on my menu radar for a while.   Six months from now however, we'll be chomping at the bit to get our hands on a few more.  Tonight was a perfect tourtière night, it had been raining for 24 hours straight and the temperature barely got above 10 C.  I seem to have come down with a massive head cold that even good (cold) drugs and make-up could not mask. Tah-da, I can still look like a hero and quasi domestic goddess by baking off one of Noni's best.  In fact, we have a mutual friend for whom it just wouldn't be Christmas unless she ordered a few tourtières from Noni and a Bûche de Noël from me.  

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Freedom, in all its shapes & forms

There are many milestones in all of our lives, marking the rights of passage and the passage of time.  I include degrees of freedom in those milestones, and slowly but surely freedom is creeping back into my adult life.  For instance, when child number three no longer required diapers and went to full-day school, or when our daughter was older enough to babysit her brothers, my husband's vasectomy nine Valentine's Days ago, and most recently - our panini maker.  
It is a big hit with the kids, all three of them create after school snacks, hypothesize about the feasibility of certain ingredient combinations, and the reason I bought the thing in the first place - they are making their own lunch sandwiches!  Bingo!  Another degree of freedom attained.  I was making a lot of lunches: school lunches, weekend ski lunches, March Break ski trip lunches, soccer tournament lunches etc....  My daughter even has the choice of buying hot lunches from school, but prefers the homemade versions.  I am hoping that the interest in the panini maker doesn't wane and that I will have gained a full twenty three minutes every morning because the kids are just that much more autonomous.  When it comes to freedom, every little crumb counts.      

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Girl in Town

I love cheese, and I recently attended yet another cheese event!  This particular evening at The Cheese Boutique and was in honour of the newly released "Guernsey Girl" cheese made by the Upper Canada Cheese Company of Jordan Station, Ontario.  Prior to the event itself, selected chefs had submitted recipes incorporating Guernsey Girl and the invitees were asked to vote online for their top three selections.  At the event, the said chefs were present and whipping up their recipes for us to sample.  They were all delicious, however we were asked to vote once again and Jason Bangerter's Artichoke and Guernsey Girl Terrine emerged as the overall winner.  Runner ups were Lora Kirk's Slow Braised Short Ribs and Guernsey Girl Poutine and Andrea Damon Gibson's (owner of Fred's Bread) Guernsey Girl Goes Mediterranean.  
I had the opportunity to chat with cheesemaker Lauren Arsenault, who told me that this fresh cheese takes about 24 hours to make, and that the milk used yields from one herd of local Guernsey cows.  Unique characteristics to the cheese include its ability to hold its shape when fried or grilled, the fact that the surface caramelizes evenly and quickly while the interior becomes supple.  When not heated, the cheese has a lovely ivory colour and the flavour is midly herbaceous - both of these qualities will change slightly as the herd's diet changes.  
In Lora Kirk's recipe, she made french-fry shaped Guernsey Girl cheese fries to accompany the potato fries in her poutine.  A fun twist, and both kinds of fries had gorgeous colour.  Jason's terrine slices were seared, and the Guernsey Girl cheese held its shape beautifully, while  Andrea grated the cheese as part of her recipe.  
With my package of  Guernsey Girl, I made cheese croutons for a large salad.  I cubed the cheese and heated it in a non-stick pan, it gave beautiful colour, crisp exterior and a soft & warm interior.    All to say that this cheese has diversity in terms of uses, it is fresh & fun.  Next on my "cheese wish-list" is a road trip out to Upper Canada for a tour of the facility!  Other cheeses made by Lauren at the Upper Canada Cheese Co. are Comfort Cream and Niagara Gold.

Friday, February 19, 2010

CHABICHOU: the cheese and cheese shop

A few weeks ago, we went to the café / cheese shop / French lunch spot known as Chabichou, and pronouced "Shabby-shoe" after the famous French goat cheese.  Located at 196 Borden St. at Harbord, the owners, Laurent Brion and Whitney Brown, are also very cleverly the owners of Tati Bistro - located just down the street.
Tati Bistro is a full on restaurant but is open only for dinner, whereas Chabibou has a small and functional kitchen and is more of a lunch spot and specialty store.  In the former, Laurent can make such wonderful items as Soupe de Poisson, Sauce aux Tomates, and Cassoulet which are bottled and sold in large mason jars at Chabichou.  The shelves host a wealth of other food specialties, from olive oils, to pasta, tarallini, and beautiful French candies.
Approximately 80% of the 60 or so cheeses in the shop yield from France, with the remainder coming from allover - but with a strong Quebec showing.
As it turns out, Laurent's mother owned a goat farm where he used to make goat milk cheese back in France - so he knows of what he speaks (and sells).

A few notes regarding Chabichou cheese (seen in the far left of the above photo):
  • Chabichou du Poitou is made in a very limited geographic area above the chalky soils of the threshold of Poitou, south of the Loire valley. Chabichou du Poitou is a small pyramid like mound of goat cheese.
  • Chabichou du Poitou production can be either fermier (made on farms), co-operative or industrial. Obviously, the first is considered as being the best.
  • Tasting Chabichou: Always great - but the flavours change as it matures. Good to eat young (3 weeks), ripe (6 weeks) or more dry (2 months), Chabichou has a rich goaty flavor. When mature, the cheese is dense and smooth with a distinct layer next tot he rind. Although sweet and delicate, the taste is slightly acidic and salty at the finish.
  • Tasting advice: Chabichou is great as a dessert cheese to finish meals. Chabichou is best when made with spring-summer milk, when the goats are enjoying fresh pastures.
  • Chabichou and wine: White Loire wine such as Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé (it is all about terroir afterall!)
We were there to do some on-site photos with the various cheeses and other delicacies we found in-store.  Chabichou is presently closed Mondays so we enjoyed having the run of the shop.  A cheese of particular interest was the massive wheel of the Swiss "Abondance", selling at $6.10 /100 gr. - the wheel was going for $593 and change.  I love fondue, but even I have my limites.

photos by Michael Kohn.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Heroes: Real & Reel

I am not a big watcher of television, I have nothing whatsoever against it - it is just that my day seems to fly by and I haven't even caught a glimpse of the screen.  All that is about to change however - what the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games opening in less than 48 hours.  When not working, I plan to spend some serious time in front of the screen - as do my kids, they are equally deprived and plan on making up for lost screen time.  I am very excited about the Games but wish that the media would cease their chatter regarding "our" medal count.  I cannot even imagine the pressure that the Canadian athletes must be feeling, in my books they are all heroes just for qualifying. 

I do work on television ads, yet it seems that I rarely get to view them, let alone get a demo reel.  Within the past two weeks, I worked on two ads; one for frozen fish and another for a new frozen pizza entrée.  The latter was an involved shoot, with multiple locations, a large crew,  and a few 15.5 hour days of on-set work.  It would seem that some of the components and product did not make it through the Canadian border, (protecting us from what I do not know), so one of my primary assignments was to salvage "hero" quality pepperoni from regular product which was later incorporated into newly constructed and television worthy "heroes". 

I do spend a fair amount of time in grocery stores - where I do get to see some of my work on packaging.  Just before Christmas, I worked on the packaging for two new SKUs coming out from our friends at ACE Bakery.  I look forward to seeing those in the not too distant future.  
I styled these Catelli SKUs a couple of years ago and they are still being used, a familiar face in grocery stores across the country.  Photography by Michael Mahovlich.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Political Mashing

Outraged with Harper's second proroguing of Parliament? Not impressed with Ignatieff's ambivalent leadership of the federal Liberal Party? And then there is the plethora of grievances against George W. Bush. If you are dissatisfied with our leaders past and present, and are looking for a little creative retaliation - then look no further. Potato mashers never looked so good, or generated so much fun!
These fun & funky mashers are made by Québécois artist Pascale Hebert and are available through the on-line gallery and boutique "Sell your work, not your soul" is the gallery's tag line. Pascale's studio is called Métal en Jupe, in addition to the Harper potato-masher, she also offers up George W., Michael Ignatieff, Jean Charest and even France's top man - Nicolas Sarkozy. The website has a photo of the Harper potato-mashers at the December 2009 Copenhagen Conference where I am sure they were put to very good use. Potato mashers are $39.00 each, bon appétit.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chick (Pea) Power

First and foremost, Season's Greetings to one and all! The "holiday" is always a super busy time for everyone, let alone being a self-employed foodie whose busiest work month is inevitably December, and being the mother of three kids, with one dog and a husband. A female friend described Christmas as a part time job, the kind that men just wouldn't get - on any level. Private baking kept me busy, making well into the thousands of the now famous Chai Snaps (photographed in the previous blog entry), as well as macarons, bûches, spiced almonds, lemon curd, paneforte, chocolate snowflakes and cheese crackers. Friends with restaurant kitchens are good friends indeed. On the family side, Christmas dinner was chez nous, I did everything but the 20 lb. plus turkey - which my sister-in-law raised, and my mother-in-law roasted and it all worked out very well. We have since had leftover turkey dinner, turkey pot pie, turkey soup, and finally the bones & bits have gone out in the green compost bin. We are officially turkeyed-out. Enjoyable as it was, it is now time to re-tool the menu.

Many people are making concerted efforts to eat less meat and for numerous reasons: from the ethical, to health, and for climate changing effects. I recently read that it is estimated that in the US alone, 7 billion, yes billion, animals are slaughtered every year - most of which are cattle.... I am trying to get my head around the math, the population of the US being at 305 million in 2008. Cattle in particular produce an enormous quantity of methane gas which contributes to climate change, therefore reducing one's meat consumption reduces the creation of greenhouse gases. I am an omnivore and a firm believer in a varied diet and most things in moderation. I enjoy all foods, but do not wish to eat meat everyday. I love the chick pea: it is versatile, cute, inexpensive, high in fiber and protein, and ethnically diverse. What is not to love about it? I often purchase 2 kg bags of dried peas, soak them overnight and cook them until just tender. I throw them into pasta to boost the protein content, make chana masala out of them - a good pot luck contribution when there is the odd vegetarian in the crowd and usually way too many meat dishes, and of course - hummus. Switching up the hummus is always fun, try using roasted garlic rather than fresh, roasted sesame oil, smoked paprika, smoked salts, all are great additions. The family cottage has no electricity but that does not stop us from making hummus. I purchased a hand-crank blender, the enticing photo on the box suggests that smooth margueritas and dacquiris can easily be wiped up in a canoe.! Our experience is not quite the same, a medium lump hummus is about the best that we can coax out of "The Vortex", oh well - it tastes great and goes well with a cold beer, or an occasional pop if you are a kid.

Here's to 2010, and to reducing the creation of climate changing gases - one chick pea at a time.

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