mercredi 31 décembre 2008


Happy New Year 2009!

I am looking forward to finishing 2008 and starting the New Year with the view of blue sky and green-blue ocean and listening to the sound of the waves crashing against the sandy shore.
Yesterday we went to the beach at Cheburna where seashells are gather and can be picked up by the handful.

What better way to start the new year than with one of México's most famous drinks, a Margarita, even if you are not in sunny México?
I have learned that the real Margarita is not the frozen variety prepared in most Tex-Mex type restaurants (known in Progresso as a cruise ship slushy) but is made in a cocktail shaker and served over ice. To order here, it is a Margarita con rocas y con sal (o sin sal if you prefer not to have the salted rim).

There are many varieties of tequila available here ranging from harsh tasting to smooth. The true tequila is made from 100% agave. The smooth tasting ones are "reposado".  I prefer Margaritas made with golden tequila to the ones made with white or silver tequila.

Serves 1

1 lime wedge
Sea Salt, ground
60 mL (2 oz) tequila
25 mL (¾ oz) Controy (or Cointreau)
30 mL (2 Tbsp) limejuice
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) simple syrup or sugar
Lime slice for garnish
Ice cubes

Rub rim of a glass with lime wedge, then swirl in salt to coat rim. Combine remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake vigorously and strain into prepared glass over ice. Garnish with lime slice.

vendredi 26 décembre 2008

Sablés au citron

I decided to bake Christmas cookies this year and I can tell you they were a hit. One of the most popular was a new addition to my collection, Sablés au citron. I have eaten these crumbly, buttery, shortbread like cookies in Normandy where they originate but this is the first time that I made them. In Normandy, sables come in many flavours but my favourite flavours are lemon and caramel.

Sablés au citron (Lemon Sand Cookies)
Makes about 16 cookies

250 mL (1 cup) flour
125 mL (1/2 cup) ground almonds
60 mL (1/4 cup) sugar
15 mL (1 Tbsp) grated lemon rind
125 mL (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 eggs, separated

In bowl, combine flour, almonds, sugar and lemon rind. Cut in butter (using pastry blender or 2 knives or pulse setting of a food processor) until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in egg yolks to make a moist crumbly mixture. Form into a ball and knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F).

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 5 mm (1/4”) thickness. Cut into 8 cm (3”) rounds; place on lightly greased baking sheets. Brush tops with lightly beaten egg whites. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until very lightly browned. Let cool slightly then transfer to a metal rack to cool completely.

jeudi 25 décembre 2008

Summer Salad

In México, the array of fruits and vegetables available never ceases to impress me. The best part is that they are fresh and ripen to the proper consistency and taste. We have been stocking up on mangoes, papaya, peppers, chiles, limes, watermelon and other fresh produce. There are so many ways to serve tomato, chile, onion, cilantro and lime. Salsa fresca is a basic combination of these served with tortilla chips or as a side dish. Varying the amount or type of chile pepper will change the heat of the salsa. This combination makes a wonderful marinade for fish and shrimp or beef. Avocados are plentiful here and so easy to make into guacamole or to slice or dice them to add to omelettes, salads, fajitas, shrimp cocktails to name a few. When we feel like a light meal, I make this tasty and nutritious salad using whatever vegetables are
on hand. You can add tuna or shrimp to make this a hardier meal.

Summer Salad
Serves 4

500 mL (2 cups) mixed salad greens
2 medium beets, cooked and sliced or cubed
2 avocados, flesh only, sliced or cubed
125 mL (1 cup) cherry tomatoes, halved
4 hard boiled eggs, quartered
Vinaigrette (olive oil, limejuice, freshly ground black pepper)
Cilantro sprigs, chopped

Arrange salad greens on plates; top with beets, avocado, cherry tomatoes and egg. Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with cilantro.

Suggestions for other additions:
½ cucumber, cut into chunky cubes
6 radishes, sliced
½ green pepper, julienned

dimanche 14 décembre 2008

Mexican Breakfast

This year I am spending the holidays in Mérida, México. The weather is glorious - sunny and warm during the day and cooling in the evenings to be perfect for sleeping.  The Christmas festivities are well underway.

What better way to start off the vacation but to have my favourite breakfast of fresh fruit and yogurt?  This colourful platter is combination of papaya, banana and raspberries.  Just add a squeeze of lime juice.

dimanche 7 décembre 2008

Black Fettucini with Scallops in a Lemon Cream Sauce

Scallops are one of my favourite foods. They have a delicate flavour and are tender if not over overcooked. I like them seared quickly over high heat so they are slightly carmelized. A few ways scallops can be prepared are: served plain with a sprinkling of lemon or lime, used in a seafood combination, paired with pasta or served on the shell as Coquille St. Jacques (with a cream, onion and wine sauce covered with cheese and broiled).
For a dramatic presentation, the white of the scallops pairs well with black (squid ink) pasta.
This recipe combines scallops, black pasta, lemon and cream.

Squid Ink Fettuccini with Scallops in a Lemon-Garlic Cream Sauce
Serves 2-4

500 g (1 lb) large scallops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
45 mL (3 Tbsp) butter
2 cloves garlic, minced or very finely chopped
60 mL (1/4 cup) white wine
250 mL (1 cup) heavy cream

Zest and juice of 1 lemon
15 mL (1 Tbsp) Italian parsley or cilantro (coriander leaves), finely chopped
500 g (1 lb) squid ink fettuccini (fresh or dried)

Clean the scallops by removing and discarding the roe and small muscle. Dry scallops on paper towels. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear scallops on both sides (about 3 to 4 minutes per side), and remove to a plate. Reduce heat to medium; add garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant (about 1 minute). Deglaze the pan with wine, increase heat to high and reduce the liquid by half. Add cream and simmer until thickened. Season salt and pepper, add lemon juice, stir, and reduce heat to medium-low. Meanwhile, cook fettuccini in boiling water until al dente. Return scallops to the skillet and sprinkle with parsley or cilantro. Drain pasta and add to sauce; toss until well coated. Increase heat to medium high and cook for 1 minute more to heat through. Serve immediately.