dimanche 26 octobre 2008


A typical Canadian weekend breakfast consists of pancakes with maple syrup, bacon, eggs, juice and coffee. It has been a long time since I had a full breakfast and I don't miss it but from time to time I do like to make plain pancakes from scratch.
I used to make these in an electric griddle but since that pan is in Canada and I have not bought a European one, I use either my non-stick or regular frying pan.

Basic Pancakes
Serves 3-4

375 mL (1-1/2 cups) all purpose flour
45 mL (3 Tbsp) sugar
7.5 mL (1-1/2) tsp baking powder
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) salt
375 mL (1-1/2 cups) milk*
45 mL (3 Tbsp) vegetable oil (or melted butter)
2 large eggs
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract (optional)

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl; beat in milk, oil and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients; stir to blend. Batter should be lumpy.
Heat a large skillet. Brush with oil. Pour batter onto skillet in 60 mL (¼ cup) measures taking care not to crowd the pan.

* Adjust the amount of milk to achieve the consistency of batter and thickness of pancake that you prefer.

dimanche 19 octobre 2008

Chile con Carne

Chile con Carne
Serves 6-8

30 mL (2 Tbsp) vegetable oil
1 kg (2 lbs) lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and membranes discarded, finely chopped
1 red or green pepper, chopped
2 – 425 g (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
60 mL (1/4 cup) tomato paste
430 mL (1-3/4 cups) water
15-30 mL (1-2 Tbsp) ground ancho chile (or other chile powder)
10 mL (2 tsp) dried oregano, crushed
1 mL (1/4 tsp) ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 - 425 g (14.5 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Sour cream, shredded Cheddar cheese and green onion, for garnish

Heat oil in a Dutch oven, add onions, garlic and peppers; cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Add meat and cook, stirring, until browned all over. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, water, chile powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes, stirring frequently. Add extra water if needed to bring chile to desired consistency. Add beans and cook for 10 minutes longer.
Spoon into bowls and serve hot.

dimanche 12 octobre 2008

Roasted Tomato Fennel Soup

We are a couple of weeks into the grape harvest here in the Moselle region. Farm machinery is encountered on the roads but luckily here, on the German side at least, they tend to move over to allow people to pass where possible. The road along the Moselle has a lot of turns and twists making it difficult to pass.

The mornings here have been very foggy and cool. So between the fog of the mornings and the major financial crisis, I have been thinking about comfort food in the form of soup. What could be better than vegetable soup to give the vitamins and minerals to survive the day?

I made a pot of Roasted Tomato Fennel soup. Roasting the vegetables give a more robust flavour. The end product looks like carrot soup but I can assure you that it tastes nothing like that. The wonderful anise flavour of the fennel marries well with the tomatoes. For an extra anise flavour you could add a touch of Pernod just before serving.

Oven Roasted Fennel and Tomato Soup
Serves 2

1 fennel bulb, cored and roughly chopped
3 tomatoes, quartered
1 carrot, roughly chopped
500 mL (2 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).
Roughly chop vegetables, place on a baking tray; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Oven roast for approx. 10-15 minutes or until vegetables have softened. Place vegetables in a pot, add stock and simmer for 8-10 minutes; blend into a creamy soup.
Serve hot, drizzled with olive oil. Garnish with gremolata.

15 mL (1 Tbsp) fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, sliced
Lemon peel
Combine the ingredients on a chopping board and mince finely.

vendredi 3 octobre 2008

petit déjeuner français

The classic petit déjeuner français consists of café, croissant et jus d'orange.  Simple but iconic.  What could be better than sitting on a terrace watching Paris come to life than this?  Avoid the tourist places that charge a fortune unless it is a particularly good people watching location.  
Coffee has many names, styles and prices in Paris:

“espresso” can be a “café normale’, “serré” squeezed for a smaller but stronger amount, “elongé” elongated for a larger amount or “noisette” with a dash of milk.  “decaf” (silent “f”) is decaffeinated espresso.  

“café American” is the typical large North American cup of coffee

“café crème” is usually a mid-sized cup of coffee with steamed milk like a cappuccino and can be ordered as simply “un crème” or a “un grand crème” if you want a larger size.   Sometimes ordering a crème will result in a coffee with a plastic container of creamer and sometimes the English style of a separate jug of heated milk.  

“cappuccino” is not like the Italian version but one with a hint of chocolate and whipped cream.

“café au lait” is a large bowl of coffee with steamed milk.  Some places will bring you a “crème” and others a large bowl of café au lait at a price of up to €19.   My conclusion is that this is what Parisians drink at home for breakfast on the weekend when time permits and not something to order out.    

Sitting or standing at the bar is less expensive than sitting at a table.  Sitting on the terrace often incurs an extra premium but often worth it for people watching.  Unlike in Canada or the US there is not a time limit on tables and often it is more of a challenge to be able to get “l’addition” to pay and leave.