Spring is Here!…I'm Back Online!

Almost one year off blogging.
What happened to me these days? Fell off the blogosphere.

Not that I forgot about it, just that time flies…especially when you are having fun!

Hectic summer and fall on the road with a stop in Philly.

…An exciting winter back home, in my beautiful Madagascar.

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Then back in Alberta and B.C. for the best ski ever in Lake Louise, Whistler, Big White and Silver Star!
Spring has arrived, and I am back with new recipes and food stories for everyone!


Shrimp Cocktail

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Simple, delicious, and most refreshing.

If everyone knew how easy shrimp cocktails are, they would indulge everyday.

I just love them, and my special twist here is the cucumber relish that I got from the sorbet recipe. Adam says it reminds him of Japan, it must be tasty then!

Ingredients for 2 servings:

1 to1 ½ dozen medium-size shrimps

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup hot pepper sauce

¼ cup horseradish

½ cup fresh cucumber relish

Salt and pepper to taste

Celery stalk and chive to garnish

1. If using raw shrimp, peel and blanch with boiling water for 1 min or until just pink.

2. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, hot pepper sauce, horseradish, salt and pepper.

3. Fill the bottom of cocktail glasses with the cucumber relish.

4. Layer the shrimp on the relish, saving a couple for garnish.

5. Pour the horseradish sauce on the shrimp.

6. Chill for at least 1 hr.

7. Garnish with celery and chive.


Cucumber Lime Sorbet

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Un peu, beaucoup.

Sceptical, maybe.

Just like my mum:' Un sorbet au quoi?!'

If you think about it, cucumbers are just of the same family as watermelon after all. A great thirst-quencher: just try a slice of cucumber in a glass of water instead of lemon! A bowl of gazpacho is another great option.

Cucumbers seem such an ordinary and bland fruit/vegetable, but if you are adventurous, this sorbet is definitely the way to go. This colorful sorbet surprisingly captures the freshness and the light-melon flavour of the fruit.

It is also extremely easy to make: I just whizzed the fruit with sugar and salt into a smoothie, that I passed through a strainer to collect the juice. To avoid wasting food, I saved the remaining pulp and used it in my shrimp cocktail recipe. I stirred the zest and the juice of one lime into the dark green juice, that I chilled in the fridge. Before churning the sorbet in the icecream maker , I stirred in some of Adam's pepper-flavoured vodka to limit ice crystal formation. Feel free to experiment with a slice of watermelon. Et voilà!

Ingredients for about 2/3 quart:

2 English cucumbers (about 2 pounds)

½ cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1 lime zest and juice

1 tablespoon pepper-flavoured vodka

1. Wash and slice the cucumbers.

2. Purée the cucumber with the sugar and salt until smooth.

3. Pass the cucumber smoothie through a strainer, pressing firmly on the cucumber to extract all the liquid (NB: I saved the pulp as relish for my shrimp cocktail recipe).

4. Zest and press the lime into the cucumber juice.

5. Chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

6. Stir in the vodka and freeze in the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Transfer into a plastic container and store in the freezer. (Don't forget to take it out of the freezer 10 mins before scooping)


Madagascar Vanilla Semifreddo with Pine Nut Pralines

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Summer is well under way and, after 2 weeks offline, it's time to catch up with my recipes! And my favourite blogs...David Lebovitz just published a tasty compilation of ice cream delights from around the blogosphere.
I have here a semifreddo - a half-frozen Italian ice cream, as creamy and rich as ice cream but soft. To balance the softness of this vanilla semifreddo, I folded in pine nut pralines for sweetness and crunch. The other advantage of this recipe is that you don't need an icecream maker to freeze the mixture. The air trapped in the whipped cream and the meringue during the whisking processes helps the ice cream freeze without hardening. Just what you need to perfect scoops.
This icecream is quite simple to make. I made the pine nut pralines first so that they cooled, starting with a caramel into which I stirred roasted pine nuts. I spread the hot caramel-nut mixture onto a greased baking sheet and let the brittle cool. I separated the eggs and beat the yolks with sugar and Madagascar vanilla. I whipped the cream and stirred it into the yolk mixture. I whisked the whites into a meringue, which I folded into the yolk mixture. I pulverised and stirred half the pralines into the vanilla cream and saved the rest to top the scoops.

Adapted from this book:
Ingredients for about 1 liter:
1 cup whipping cream
4 large eggs
¼ cup sugar
1 Madagascar vanilla bean
Pinch of salt

For the pralines:
1 cup pine nuts
¼ cup water
1 cup sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Toast the pine nuts for 8 mins or until golden.
3. Let cool.
4. In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil over medium high heat.
5. Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter.
6. Let boil for 5 mins until the caramel turns golden.
7. Stir in the cooled pine nuts and let simmer until the caramel browns.
8. Remove from heat and spread over the greased baking sheet using a spatula.
9. Let the pralines cool to room temperature.
10. Pulverise half of the pralines using a food processor and coarsely break the other half into pieces.
11. Separate the eggs.
12. In a bowl, beat together egg whites and salt until firm.
13. In another bowl, mix together the egg yolks with the vanilla and the sugar until light yellow.
14. In a third bowl, whip the cream into soft peaks.
15. Mix cream and yolks.
16. Gently fold the whites and the praline powder into the yolk mixture.
17. Transfer into a plastic container and freeze for at least 3 hours.

Red Onion Compote, Sun Dried Tomato, Black Olive and Stilton Tartlets

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Two weeks already!

Not that I forgot…to eat.

Where was I? Just on a WiFi break really. At the farm.

To make up for my time off, I made these light, sweet and savoury tartlets. In this recipe, I decided to experiment with olive oil for the pastry, instead of using butter. I was pleasantly surprised by the result. Not only was it extremely easy to make, but it also turned out light and crisp. Very much like a sablé. For the filling, I took advantage of the natural sweetness of red onions by preparing a compote, which I used as a base for the tartlets. To complement the sweet filling, I topped the onions with sun-dried tomatoes, Moroccan black olives and creamy Stilton.

A perfect summer meal, served with some garden lettuce.

Ingredients for 6 tartlets:

Olive oil pastry

200 g all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

1 large red onion

¼ cup butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup red wine

¼ cup sugar

½ cup sun dried tomatoes

6 ounces stilton cheese

½ cup Moroccan black olives

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh basil leaves

1. In a bowl, stir together flour, olive oil and salt until obtaining a coarse meal.

2. Add in the water and form a ball.

3. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least ½ hour.

4. In a saucepan, heat butter and olive oil over medium high heat.

5. Mince and stir in the onion.

6. Let cook for about 20 mins until soft.

7. Add the wine, sugar, salt and pepper.

8. Let simmer for another 30 mins, until all the wine has evaporated.

9. Remove from heat and let cool.

10. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
11. Line the tartlet pans with parchment paper.

12. Press the dough into the lined pans.

13. Bake blind for 20 mins, until golden.

14. Let cool on a rack.

15. Layer the crusts with red onion compote.

16. Coarsely chop tomatoes and olives and spread over the compote.

17. Crumble the cheese over the tartlets.

18. Bake for 15 mins, until the cheese has melted.

19. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with porchetta and garden salad.


Sour Cherry and White Chocolate Ice Cream

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Que faire avec des griottes? Fanny was just asking.

I have here a delicious and refreshing way to enjoy sour cherries. Try this sweet and delicious white chocolate ice cream. Yes! I know. For the chocolate purists, white chocolate has been stripped off all cocoa powder and, therefore is not “real chocolate”.
However, I do not think that anyone who could possibly say no to a scoop of this unctuous, sweet-and-sour treat to keep cool these days! If you prefer dark chocolate, you could always substitute the nuts and white chocolate chunks for cherries in this chocolate sorbet.
Using sweet warm milk and egg yolks, I first prepared custard which I poured hot over white chocolate chunks. Once the chocolate melted, I stirred in heavy cream and chilled the mixture in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I froze the mixture in the ice cream maker and folded the drained sour cherries into the freshly churned ice cream. I saved then reduced the syrup to drizzle on the scoops.

Adapted from the
Perfect Scoop

Ingredients for 1½ liters:

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup sugar

Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks (you can freeze the egg whites or use them for meringue cookies, another great accompaniment for ice cream)
8 ounces white chocolate chunks (I used Callebaut white chocolate)
2 cups heavy cream
1 16-ounce pitted sour cherries in light syrup (unless you can find fresh sour cherries to poach)

1. In a saucepan, warm the milk, sugar and salt over medium-high heat.

2. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks while slowly pouring the sweet warm milk.

3. Transfer the mixture into the saucepan.

4. Constantly stir using a wooden spoon over medium high heat until the mixture thickens to coat the spoon.

5. Pass the custard through a sieve onto the chocolate chunks.

6. Whisk until the chocolate has melted and stir in the cream.

7. Let cool to room temperature and chill overnight.

8. Vigorously whisk the chilled mixture and freeze in the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

9. Drain then fold the sour cherries into the white chocolate ice cream, saving the syrup in a small saucepan.

10. Transfer into a plastic container and store in the freezer.

11. To make the sour cherry drizzle, add one to two tablespoons of sugar to the syrup and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

12. Reduce by half and let cool to room temperature.

13. Transfer into a jar and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Barbecued Baby Artichokes

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How did you enjoy Canada Day?
Just like Dana, I took most of my Canada day away from the kitchen. Not by choice!
First thing I heard that morning: “Wake up! You forgot to turn the hose off yesterday and you drained all the water out! We have no water left!”
As I stumbled out of bed to check for the hose: “Noooo!?!”
That couldn’t be right, of course. “I turned the hose off yesterday!!!” BUT sure enough, 8:00 am Canada Day and three EPCOR vans were parked along our sidewalks! Truth was our street had no water.
A dent in the emergency water pack and five and half hours of back-hoe action later…the water was back!

Missed the Free Pancake Breakfast at the Legislature and the Silly Summer Parade!
Oh well! The rest of the afternoon went much more smoothly. Lucky us.
I posted some quick and easy barbecue recipes earlier this week, and I hope that you have had a chance to enjoy a few of them. For the picnic aficionados, I just found 101 great ideas here, and I thought you might also try this very simple way to eat baby artichokes. Why not with some salt-crust rainbow trout?


4-6 baby artichokes

1 lime zest and juice

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cloves

Salt and pepper

1. In a bowl, zest and squeeze the lime.

2. Whisk in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, cloves, salt and pepper.

3. To prepare the artichokes, peel off 2-3 layers of the hard, outer petals.

4. Cut the stems and 1 ½ inch off the tips.

5. Half each artichoke and toss into the dressing.

6. Marinate in the fridge for ½ hour.

7. Grill for 5 mins per side, starting with the outer layer, until softened.


Pecan Molasses Lace Cookies

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

But there is always a quest for the best accompaniment to my, your, our péché mignon ­– which, believe it or not, literally translates into cute sin! Fresh fruit, crême Chantilly, chocolate or butterscotch fudge sauces…as far as your sweet tooth and imagination can go!

I made these oversized lace cookies to go with my chocolate sorbet, and they bring the perfect buttery sweetness and crunch to balance its rich and intense flavour. They are quick and easy to make. I just melted together butter, fancy molasses and sugar, and stirred in Madagascar vanilla extract, chopped pecans, and flour. I dropped the dough onto lined baking sheets and baked the cookies for 12 mins until golden brown. I left the lace cookies on the baking sheet for 2 mins, until cooled but malleable enough to handle, and I transferred them onto a rolling pin for shaping before cooling on the rack. Feel free to try and enjoy them with any other ice cream!

Ingredients for 1 dozen oversized cookies:

¼ cup butter

¼ cup fancy molasses

¼ cup crystallised sugar

¼ teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract

½ cup pecans

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. In a small saucepan, stir together butter, molasses, and sugar over medium high heat, until melted.

3. Coarsely chop the pecans.

4. Remove from heat and stir in Madagascar vanilla extract, chopped pecans, and flour.

5. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Drop the dough using a tablespoon onto lined baking sheets, leaving 3 inches between the mounds to allow the cookies to expand.

7. Bake the cookies for 12 mins until golden brown.

8. Leave the lace cookies on the baking sheet for 2 mins, until cooled but malleable enough to handle.

9. Transfer onto a rolling pin for shaping.

10. Cool completely on the rack.

Choco-Therapy: Macadamia Nuts and White Chocolate Chunks Chocolate Sorbet

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I just made the most decadent sorbet ever!

Three days of heat!

9:30 am, as I tend to my watering duty, the morning fresh air has almost vanished, and so have the shades of the Manitoba maples and the choke cherry trees.

11 am – 27 °C inside, full sun outside, and the air in our little old house is getting still and stifling hot by the minute.

No worries! It’s ice cream time! Technically, I cannot call this treat an ice cream because there is no milk or cream in the recipe, but this sorbet captures all the depth and richness of dark chocolate. The macadamia nuts and the white chocolate chunks are scattered through the intense dark velvet as little nuggets of sweetness.

The sweet smell of chocolate lingered in the house for two days! I started with hot chocolate by boiling together cocoa powder and sugar in water. Away from the heat, I thickened the hot chocolate by adding finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and whisking until I obtained a smooth mixture. After adding some vanilla, I chilled the chocolate mixture overnight and churned it the next morning. I added the nuts and chocolate chunks just before transferring the sorbet into a plastic container and freezing.

Don’t forget to take it out of the freezer a few minutes before scooping! Enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream and a pecan molasses lace cookie!

Adapted from the Perfect Scoop.

Ingredients for 1 dozen oversized cookies:

¼ cup butter

¼ cup fancy molasses

¼ cup crystallised sugar

¼ teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract

½ cup pecans

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Finely chop the bittersweet chocolate using a serrated knife.

2. Stir together cocoa powder, sugar, water and salt in a saucepan.

3. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly to prevent the hot mixture from boiling over.

4. After boiling for 1 min, remove from the heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate until obtaining a smooth and homogenous mixture.

5. Whisk in the vanilla and chill the mixture in the fridge overnight.

6. Vigorously whisk the chilled mixture and freeze in the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Coarsely chop macadamia nuts and white chocolate chunks and add to the sorbet at the end of the freezing process.

8. Transfer into a plastic container and freeze for at least 4 hours, until set.


Barbecue Galore!

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This is the week of long weekends between Madagascar's Independance Day, Canada Day and Independance Day! The long awaited 30°C- weather has finally hit the Prairies and my charcoal barbecue has been on for very tasty meals!

These hot days, I haven’t even thought about turning the stove top on, let alone the oven! The garden has been doing great this year and we got to eat our radish the other day – I LOVE them with butter, salt, and pepper. Don’t you? We have almost been enjoying our garden lettuce for the past 2 weeks!

Just like the plants, I have been relishing the perfect, sunny and hot, weather and I have here a smorgasbord of barbecue ideas for you to try and serve with your favourite salad…and the best thing about barbecue is that Italian herbs like oregano, thyme, or curry, salt and pepper are just enough to enhance the smokiness of the charcoal.

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Barbecued steaks and kohlrabi

Ingredients for 2 servings:

2 rib eye, sirloin or T-bone steaks

2 kohlrabis

1 lemon

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel and slice the kohlrabi into a medium bowl.

2. Add lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper.

3. Marinate for ½ hour in the fridge.

4. Just before grilling, season the steaks and drizzle with olive oil.

5. For medium-rare 1 inch-thick steaks, barbecue for 3 to 5 mins per side, using tongs for turning. (To check for doneness: press the meat with a finger and compare the pressure with the resistance of the muscle at the base of your thumb when joining your middle finger with your thumb).

6. Barbecue the kohlrabi slices for 5 mins per side until softened.

7. Remove the steaks from the heat and allow to rest for 5 mins before serving with the kohlrabi.

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Barbecued smelts

Ingredients for 2 servings:

1 pound frozen smelts

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse the smelts and rub with salt, pepper and olive oil.

2. Barbecue for 3 to 5 mins per side, using tongs for turning, until the skin curls up.

3. Serve immediately.

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Barbecued bocconcini and capicollo bison burgers and corn on the cob

Ingredients for 2 servings:

2 bison burger patties (from the Farmer’s market or the Italian center)

2 slices capicollo or ham

1 medium bocconcini cheese

2 ears of corn

Italian herbs

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel back the husk for each ear of corn and remove the silk.

2. Bring back the husk over the cob.

3. Soak the ears in cold water for at least 30 mins.

4. Drain for 5 mins and place on the coals for 15-20 mins turning frequently to prevent burning.

5. Season the bison burger with Italians herbs and barbecue for 5-8 mins per side.

6. Place a slice of capicollo on each patty.

7. Slice and place the bocconcino on the capicollo.

8. Barbecue until the cheese has started melting and serve immediately. (I usually smother my corn with butter, salt and pepper.)

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