Cupcaked Madeleines

…or How I turned this French Classic into Buttery Cupcakes.

Just like in Proust’s à la Recherche du Temps Perdu, a bite into one of these treats remind me of growing up. Especially with a glass of warm honey milk for dunking!!!

These madeleines that I discovered in Alain Rayé’s La Régalade are just as delicious with a dollop of rosehip jelly, for a very special Goûter – except that I didn’t have any shell-shape moulds.

Ingredients for 12 cupcakes:

1½ cups unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1¾ cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 whole eggs

3 tablespoons honey

½ cup milk

Lime or lemon zest

  1. Melt and brown the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat.
  2. Remove from the heat and cool completely using a cold water bath.
  3. Mix the sugar, flour, and baking powder in a bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and honey.
  5. Form a well into the solid ingredients.
  6. Pour the egg mixture into the well and stir until smooth using a whisk.
  7. Incorporate the cooled melted butter and the zest into the smooth dough.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  9. Butter and flour the muffin tins.
  10. Drop a heaping tablespoon of dough into the muffin tins.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
  12. Cool on a rack - if you can resist!!!


Leek Turnip and Quince Short Ribs

Another stew!!! Well, fall is definitely here. We just had our first snow of the fall last Wednesday night! Just enough to remind us that we should pick the rest of our vegetable garden! This recipe features our garden leeks and another special ingredient, quince which I added to the vegetables for tang.

I stole turnips that Adam had bought for his salads! Yikes! But they soaked the wine and rosemary gravy wonderfully…and I was immediately forgiven!


2 pounds beef short ribs

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ onion

4 small leeks

1 quince

2 sticks celery

6 small turnips

3 sprigs rosemary

1 handful of cremini mushrooms

½ to 1 cup red wine

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Chop the onion, celery and quince and add to the pan.
  3. Once the vegetables are soft and lightly caramelised, transfer to the slow cooker.
  4. Mix the mushrooms in.
  5. Cut the turnips into quarters and add to the vegetables.
  6. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan.
  7. Mix the flour with salt and pepper on a plate and coat the ribs with the flour mixture. Drain the flour and brown the meat in the hot oil.
  8. Transfer the ribs,with bone underneath, onto the vegetables.
  9. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and add one sprig of rosemary.
  10. Add the leftover flour to the pan and stir-fry for 1-2 mns over low to medium-high heat.
  11. Pour the wine gravy on the meat.
  12. Slow cook on high for 5-6 hours (or overnight on low).
  13. Serve hot over new potatoes or over pasta.

Fluffy Double-Decker Caper and Asiago Egg Sandwiches

Unlike the pub classic, this club sandwich with a new twist uses omelette instead of grilled chicken breasts. The extra oozy, fluffy omelette made with zesty capers mingles perfectly with the garlicky red peppers and the sharp Asiago cheese. A hearty, delicious lunch – or maybe brunch for the gourmands!

Ingredients for 2 sandwiches:

6 slices of your favourite bread

4 slices bacon

2 tablespoon capers

¼ onion

4 eggs

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 lettuce leaves

Barbeque red peppers

Asiago cheese

Mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste

  1. Brown the bacon slices over medium high heat in a non-stick pan.
  2. Chop the onion and slice the cheese.
  3. Toast the bread.
  4. Once the bacon is crisp, drain on paper towel.
  5. Add onion and capers to the hot bacon drippings, until soft.
  6. Heat some olive oil over medium high in a small non-stick pan.
  7. Lightly beat the eggs with the cream and season to taste.
  8. Pour the egg mixture into the hot small pan.
  9. After 1 to 2 minutes, add the onion and capers to the eggs.
  10. Let the omelette cook for another 2 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and divide into quarters.
  12. Layer lettuce, cheese, bacon, omelette and red peppers on the toasted bread.
  13. Add with a slice of bread and repeat the layering.
  14. Top the sandwich with the last slice of bread.


What Serious Science Has to Say About Chocolate Cravings…

What do Scientists do when they are not experimenting in the Lab?

Read, read and read more to keep up with other scientist’s experiments…and so do I! I was browsing through the publications of the American Chemical Society (ACS) the other day, and, by mistake, clicked on the homepage link….

And there it was!

Under the Journals in the News headline: Scientists Explain Chocolate Cravings

Wow! I am a chocoholic!

Just like David, Clothilde and Fanny, I LOVE chocolate! What is a Birthday without a Chocolate cake? Even my Soap is made of Chocolate!

Should I obey the foodie or the chemist? I felt torn. Did I really want to unravel the secrets of my addiction to this marvelous, magical treat? ...Or did I want to keep the mystery alive?!

One mouse click...and the mystery was finally going to be solved. The chemist in me was stronger than I thought: I had to check the paper out.

What was the big deal after all!? The research team from the Nestle Research Center and Imperial College managed to distinguish "chocolate desiring" and "chocolate indifferent" male subjects through blood and urine analyses. Whether they ate chocolate or not, chocolate indifferent males showed more fatty acids responsible for "bad" cholesterol in their blood than the chocolate lovers. Compared with the chocolate lovers, their urine also contained different chemicals, indicating very distinct intestinal metabolisms and microbial contents.

In a nutshell, my chocolate cravings come from my gut microbial make-up!? And they are supposed to keep my bad cholesterol levels down!!!

I had better indulge with my fix of Bernard's ASAP! With a glass of sweet Black Muscat! Bien sûr!!!


Weekend Gourmet Shopping in Tuxedo

We just shopped around Tuxedo, Calgary’s little Italy, this Saturday. We first stopped at the Italian Supermarket (Edmonton trail and 20th Ave NE) for the best service ever at the deli counter. Picked our favorite mortadella, pancetta, proscuitto and goat cheese, zesty piave and asiago for brunch.

Our new find: the hottest, most garlicky eggplant pickles ever! Still salivating over them!

Just past DaGuido’s, our second stop: hustling and bustling Lina’s Italian Market (Centre Street and 22th Ave NE)! Wow! Pleasantly surprised by the fresh meat counter, could not resist the veal chops for our Sunday dinner. Never seen such a variety of hand rolled pasta!

Within minutes, I had everything for tasty homemade pizzas: barbequed red peppers, picantello olives, anchovies, and fresh buffalo mozzarella and herbs! All I needed was the recipe for the dough from the Joy of Cooking and a jar of yeast.

I would have stayed for espresso and pastries at the cappuccino bar, but impossible to find a seat this late. No fret! Just a few blocks northwards and we were at the Amandine Bakery (Centre Street and 25th Ave NE) for pastries!

Well worth the trip ...on a lazy Saturday morning! Away from the overcrowded Superstores et al...


Our Garden’s Rose Hip Jelly

After 3 years of caring, our old dying rosebush was finally brought back to life. Dozens of flowers this summer! Enough to give bright orange berries last week… Just enough for rose hip tea or jelly. I just clipped them off and voila!

The best of summer in a jar.

Ingredients (2 jars):

2 cups rose hip berries

1½ cups water

1 cup apple juice

2 cups castor (berry) sugar

1 lemon

  1. Wash the berries, cut off the tops and ends.
  2. Place the berries in a small saucepan.
  3. Add 1 cup of water.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Let simmer for 1 hr, stirring and adding water to prevent the berries from sticking to the pan.
  6. Once the berries are soft, strain the seeds out.
  7. Add the apple juice to the seeds in three portions and stir the pulp through the sieve using a spatula.
  8. For the last portion of juice, cover the seeds with plastic wrap and press the juice through with extra weight. (I used a mortar and a bottle of wine to get about 1 ½ cup of juice)
  9. Transfer the juice into a clean saucepan.
  10. Stir in the castor sugar.
  11. Heat to medium high for 15 mins. The jelly will be ready when it sets on a cold metal spoon.
  12. Add the lemon zest and juice into the jelly.
  13. Pour into jars and let the jelly set overnight.


Smokey Red Peppercorn Crusted Mahi Mahi on Sautéed Peas and New Potatoes

This is my new favourite barbeque fish recipe! The sweetness of the peas and potatoes counter-balances the smokey flavour of the anis wood infused fish steaks.


1 pound mahi mahi (2 steaks)

2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon Kosher salt

¼ to ½ cup red peppercorn

4 pieces anis wood

Olive oil

4 bacon slices (or 100 grams pancetta)

½ yellow onion

2 small leeks

3 cups peas

4 new potatoes

½ teaspoon thyme

½ to 1 cup beer

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Start the barbeque.
  2. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Chop the onion, leeks and potatoes.
  4. Brown the bacon in the hot pan until slightly crisp, drain and set aside
  5. Add the chopped onion into the same pan.
  6. Once the onion is soft and lightly caramelised, add the leek and potatoes.
  7. Sauté until the potatoes are browned on all sides.
  8. Stir in the peas and thyme.
  9. Reduce the heat to low.
  10. Cover for 15 mins to allow the vegetables to soften.
  11. While steaming the vegetables, soak the anis wood in water.
  12. Crush the red peppercorn in a mortar and transfer to a plate.
  13. Coat the fish steak with the peppercorn and Kosher salt.
  14. Drizzle with olive oil.
  15. Place the anis wood on the hot coals.
  16. Barbeque the fish for 3 mins per side.
  17. Before serving, add the beer and bacon to the vegetables and season to taste.


Hot Chilli Chocolate Cheesecakes

These individual cheesecakes are to die for! Once you have tasted the heat of the chillies against the creamy chocolate, we won’t be able to settle for vanilla or cinnamon anymore.

Ingredients (12 to 16 servings):

For the crust:

1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs

½ cup walnuts

¼ cup butter

For the filling:

1 pound cream cheese

2/3 cup sugar

3 large eggs

¾ cup yogurt

¾ cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

8 ounces dark chocolate

1/3 cup hot water

½ teaspoon crushed hot chillies

For the coulis:

½ cup frozen raspberries

½ cup simple syrup

1. Melt the butter in a small bowl. 2. Chop the walnuts and stir into the butter, along with the cookie crumbs.

3. Mix well with a spatula and evenly transfer into the muffin tins. 4. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until creamy. 5. Beat in one egg at a time to give smooth mixture.

6. Add the yogurt, whipping cream and cocoa powder.

7. In a small bowl, mix the chocolate and the hot water using a whisk until the chocolate is all melted.

8. Pour the chocolate into the cheese mixture and lightly beat until just blended.9. Stir in the hot chillies.

10. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

11. Place a bread pan full of water in the oven to keep the air moist.

12. Pour the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 40 mins.

13. Let cool on a rack and chill in the fridge at least 6 hrs.

14. Serve with the raspberry coulis.


All Strawberry Panna Cotta

Ingredients (5-6 ramequins or glasses):

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup milk

½ cup sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 package gelatine

3 tablespoon water

pint strawberry

¼ simple syrup

½ lime juice

  1. Add cream and milk to a saucepan, and stir in the sugar.
  2. Slice the vanilla bean and add to the saucepan.
  3. While stirring, warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, until almost boiling.
  4. Mix the gelatine with the cold water, and wait 1-2 mins.
  5. Remove the hot cream mixture from the heat, take the vanilla bean out, and stir in the gelatine until dissolved. Let it cool.
  6. Slice ½ pint of strawberries, lay them at the bottom of the ramequins.
  7. Pour the lukewarm cream mixture on top of the strawberries.
  8. Chill for 3-4 hours until set.
  9. Before serving, puree the rest of the strawberries with the syrup and lime juice to make the coulis.

Slow Braised Short Ribs

This stew is most welcome on a fall or winter night! If you own a slow cooker, it can be started on Saturday night and makes a perfect Sunday dinner.


2 pounds beef short ribs

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

100 grams pancetta (or 2 to 3 bacon slices)

1 onion

3 sticks celery

4 large carrots

2 pieces anis wood (or 2 cinnamon sticks)

½ can tomato (pick the best quality, sweetest tomatoes)

½ to 1 cup dry white wine

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Chop the onion, celery and carrots.
  3. Brown the pancetta in the hot oil until slightly crisp, and add the chopped onion.
  4. Once the onion is soft and lightly caramelised, add the chopped celery and sauté until soft.
  5. Transfer the pancetta and vegetables into the slow cooker and mix the chopped carrots in.
  6. Top the vegetables with the anis wood.
  7. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan.
  8. Mix the flour with salt and pepper on a plate and coat the ribs with the flour mixture. Drain the flour and brown the meat in the hot oil.
  9. Transfer the ribs, with bone underneath, onto the anis wood.
  10. Add the leftover flour to the pan and stir-fry for 1-2 mns over low to medium-high heat.
  11. Drain some of the tomato juice into the flour and stir until forming a ball. Cook the ball for 1 mns, and deglaze with splash of wine until the ball is dissolved. Stir in the rest of the wine and tomato. Pour the tomato gravy on the meat.
  1. Slow cook overnight. Moisten the stew with a splash of wine if it looks dry after 12 hr cooking and resume cooking.
  2. Serve hot over mashed potatoes, steamed rice or bread.

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