Thursday, September 28, 2006

Top Ten: Foodie Movies

If I can’t always be cooking in my kitchen, the next best thing is watching a foodie flick where culinary delights are being woven into a storyline, seeing a different culture and cuisine portrayed, and the observing the dynamics around a dinner table.
It was hard to narrow is down to just ten choices as there are so many films out there with moving and memorable food scenes. A few off the top of my head would be My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Godfather, Monsoon Wedding, Moonstruck, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…the list goes on. Food in movies is an expression of passion and can convey a subtle sensuality that rivals any average love scene. That scene in Godfather III where Vincent and Mary are making gnocchi is smokin’!

Here is my selection for my top ten favorite food movies in no particular order.

Also included is a suggestion of what to eat when you watch the film…I don’t know about you but I always get hungry during foodie movies.

Top Ten Foodie Movies:

1. Like Water For Chocolate (Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon)
2. Babette’s Feast (stuffed quail)
3. Big Night (timpani)
4. Mostly Martha (steak)
5. Dinner Rush (pasta)
6. Spanglish (World’s Best Sandwich, recipe below)
7. Eat Drink Man Woman (wonton soup)
8. Addicted to Love (strawberries)
9. Chocolat (truffles)
10. Vatel (wine and cheese)

World's Best Sandwich
(from the movie, Spanglish, invented by chef Thomas Keller)

3-4 slices of bacon
2 slices of Monterey Jack cheese
2 slices of toasted rustic country loaf (pain de campagne)
1 tbsp of mayo
4 tomato slices
2 leaves of butter lettuce (yes, it’s called butter lettuce)
1 teaspoon butter
1 egg


Cook the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels.

Place slices of cheese on one side of toasted bread. Place in toaster oven or under broiler to melt.

Spread mayo on other slice of bread top with bacon, sliced tomato, and lettuce.

On non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Fry egg, turning over briefly when the bottom is set (keep yolk runny).

Slide finished egg on top of lettuce, top with other slice of bread.

Place sandwich on plate and slice in half, letting yolk run down sandwich.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

WFD? A Fall Menu

What's For Dinner?
Well, this was my haul from the market this morning. So many gorgeous fall fruits and vegetables to choose from! Also, a new bakery opened up there, so I am trying out an assortment of their breads. It was easy to get inspired for tonight's simple menu:

Acorn Squash and Macintosh Apple Soup,
Candied Squash,
Roasted Garlic Crostini's with Rosemary Ham and Gouda,
7-Spice Deep-Dish Apple Pie

Here's the SOUP recipe. It's so fast to make:

1 small acorn squash, or other winter squash
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1tbsp butter
1tbsp olive oil
chicken or vegetable stock, or filtered water
salt and pepper
½ cup 35% cream

Seed, peel, and thinly slice squash into two inch strips(like in the picture). In a large pot, melt butter and oil together until it bubbles. Add onion and sauté until onion is soft. Add squash and apple and just enough water or stock to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer until squash is tender. Transfer just the soup pulp into a blender, reserving the broth for another use. Puree the soup until smooth and velvety. Return to pot and add cream. Season with salt and pepper and heat gently. Serve.

For the candied squash, I just slow-roasted off a chunk in the oven with butter and brown sugar. Then I diced it up and dropped it in the soup for a little texture.

I make my own fresh apple pie spice using a blend of cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves, star anice, allspice, long pepper, and nutmeg. All spices are whole and I grind them just before using.
The result is an unforgettably perfumed pie.

This is the lazy-man's apple pie. Just fold the over-hanging crust back onto the pie for an easy old-fashioned look. Glaze with beaten egg and milk and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Mmm.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Weddings:Part I

Congratulations Eric and Caroline!
Danny and I having a tender moment during the wedding reception.=)

The Bourque immediate family. L toR: Richard, Danny and I, Chris, Michael, Eric and Caroline, Brian and Dorothy, Kevin and Melanie, Michel, and last but not least, Robert.

We welcomed a new member into the Bourque family on Saturday. Danny’s older brother Eric, married the beautiful Caroline and I now have another girl in the family to help balance out all the guys! I was having such a good time at the reception, I forgot to photograph the food, but it was delicious and nicely presented.

A brief summary:

Best moment: The bridal party and guests spilling out into the steps of the church on Sherbrook Street and hearing the bells pealing and seeing all the smiles and stares from people passing by.

Worst moment: Noah twice grabbing a fistful of my carefully coiffed hairdo in the church!

Most touching moment: Eric choking back sobs as Caro comes down the aisle.

Sketchiest moment: Eric’s 9-year-old cousin catching the garter and wearing it to the brunch the next morning. Aye!=) Too cute!!

Two more weddings to go.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sassy Chef-ette

I think someday I'll frame this one for my kitchen as a reminder of how cool and fun cooking is. Just look at her seasoning that fish. Tres chaud! I've misplaced my pants like hers, though. Bummer.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Heavy Food. Happy Hearts.

"There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who love chocolate, and communists."
Leslie Moak Murray in ‘Murray's Law’ comic strip

The cool weather is coming and with it the return of heartier, heavier, comfort foods. Say goodbye to light berry desserts, grilled shrimp salad, and gazpacho. Say hello to braised ribs, roasted autumn vegetables…and Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake. It's rich, dark and delicious.

(I realize most of my posts have been rather dessert oriented and I promise this will change. There’s just been lots of events lately where a dessert is the best solution.)

Last week we had a going away party for our friends, Amber and Zaak, who are returning to their home in Guatemala. Amber's favorite food is cheesecake, so I brought one. ( We had a rather unique potluck with Guatemalan, Italian, American, and French cuisine all mixed together, which was interesting, but lots of fun. I made a mental note to blog sometime about the Art of the Potluck)

There’s no question, cheesecake is heavy, but it is deeply satisfying and I think this one was a hit! Sorry, I can’t give out the recipe for this one, it’s top secret; however, someday when my cookbook comes out, it will be available to you at a very affordable price. J/k, you will all get a free signed copy, ok?

Zaak showing me how to make Guatmalan "tayuyos":a cornflour dough filled with beans and cheese and then deep fried. Served with chirmol salsa. Very tasty. Very filling

Danny about to fry "the mother tayuyo". I didn't have to cook for him for two days after this. I could delve into how Danny is a walking example of 'biting off more than you can chew', but I think some family secrets are meant to stay that way.

The leaves are changing color here in Quebec. Happy Autumn to all!!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Happy Birthday Noah!

It's hard to believe that a year ago we brought home a tiny 7lb bundle from the hospital and he has grown into a big, blond,laughing boy. We're so blessed to have him. He had a great birthday with lots of uncles around, oodles of balloons, presents and, of course, cake! Here he is enjoying some carrot cake with cream cheese icing and fresh raspberries.

We adults enjoyed our Lemon Lollipop Garden Cake. I had lots of fun making this one! Auntie Mira, I saved you a piece...

Find of the Month: The Gryphon Tea Room

Yesterday we surprised Kevin’s fiancée, Melanie, with a bridal shower at a little tea room on Monkland avenue. What surprised me was how delightful this tea room was! It was a charming and intimate setting, the tea was always piping hot, and the food all homemade right down to the raspberry jam. I’ll definitely be going back for ‘high tea’ and bringing some ladies with me. It the perfect place to go if you want to wear that new sundress and fancy hat you bought!

Salon de the Gryphon 5968 Monkland Avenue, Montreal, Qc(514) 485-7377

Here's a picture of Princess-for-the-day-Melanie (in blue) with her two MIL's and SIL, Caroline. Some more wonderful sandwiches, too. Yum!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hotdogs: Concordia's cure-all for traumatized Dawson students

Yesterday, a gunman walked into one of Montreal’s colleges and started shooting students. One person was killed, about 20 injured, and hundreds of were terrified for their lives. It was a shocking, horrifying scene and our condolences go out to the families of those involved. We’re glad our good friend Dave made it out ok. Way to go, dude.

This morning, in an 11 page special report, I found this to be one of the more disturbing Montreal Gazette headlines:

Concordia shelters sobbing, shocked CEGEP students: Hotdogs, blankets and counseling help them deal with a harrowing experience.

Recently been shot at? Watched your friend take a bullet in the leg? Here, have a steamie, you’ll feel much better. Sorry it took three hours before we cleared the building and let you all out, but how about those dogs!

HOT DOGS? Hot dogs?
Talk about adding insult to injury. Now I am all about the necessity of food in times of crisis, staying fueled up for the journey, and comfort food when the going gets tough, but hot dogs??? Geez, Concordia, whoever had that bright idea should have remembered that heavy, nauseous, bloated feeling one gets into the pit of their stomach after eating wieners. These Dawson students were already reportedly feeling sick, nauseous, and uneasy from their traumatic afternoon; what a way to ensure they will be feeling ill well into the evening.

I mean, the Faubourg is right there. Couldn’t they have sent for a few hundred fresh hot bagels? Now that’s comfort food! But, no, Montreal’s cure-all is a soggy hotdog or two….or three.

Seriously, do people even eat hotdogs anymore? Hello, We’ve read Fast Food Nation. We know what goes into them. Dawson is about 80% girls and I don’t know many twenty-something girls who are very eager to rip into a hotdog anymore.

Maybe I am wrong, but I just don’t think steamies were the way to go. (Yes, that is what they are called here in Quebec. No they are not cow pies, but buns and dogs that are steamed and then assembled.)

Concordia, I give you an F.

What’s your take?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What's for Dinner? Summer Risotto and Fruit Crumble

Risotto is a staple in this house. Now that good risotto rice is much easier to find and very affordable, we enjoy it often whether it is full of seasonal vegetables, chunks of seafood or just a simple Milanese. Tonight’s version was with basil, roasted chicken and fresh veg from my garden. Anyone can make a great risotto with the help of a good pot, good rice, good stock and good cheese! I never make the same risotto twice as I am always making variations with what I have on hand. If you don’t have a basic recipe, let me know, I’ll post one.Oh, and for the record, no risotto in Noah's diaper. He hates it. Something about the creamy texture but then those darn al dente rice kernels that you have to chew.

It’s apple season!! The markets are laden with baskets of them and they are crisp, cheap and sweet. If you are wondering what to throw together for that potluck you have coming up or your mother-in-law’s weekly Sunday lunch, make a crumble. Do it.

Everyone has their own recipe and version of what a crisp should taste like. Most of them are so full of sugar, you can’t taste the fruit. I made this one with honey, raspberries and wheat germ for something a little different and healthier.

Here’s a recipe from Jamie Oliver that as little out of the ordinary, but delightful nevertheless.

Summer Crumble

3 apples, quartered, cored and finely chopped
2 pints blackberries or other berries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Small handful basil, chopped
5 heaping tablespoons sugar
4 heaping tablespoons flour
1/4 pound butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Put the fruit into the bowl with the balsamic vinegar, basil, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Add a little more sugar if your blackberries are a bit sour. Mix and put aside to marinate.

Using your fingers, rub together the flour, butter, and the rest of the sugar. I prefer to do this by hand as I like to end up with a nice rustic-looking crumble with some bits bigger than others.

Put the fruit into an ovenproof serving dish or into individual dishes. Sprinkle the crumble mix over the fruit, making sure to pile more into the middle of the dish. Bake it in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the middle of the crumble is evenly golden.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Foodie Facebook: Melanie

Name: Melanie
Location: Montreal
Occupation: Designer, Event Planner

1. What is your earliest childhood food memory? I was three years old, my brother was just born and my parents took me out for a ‘big girl’ meal. My mother ordered me escargot, which I loved, and it became a tradition: I ordered them every time I ate out, up to about age ten.

2. What did you eat today? An omelet and a strawberry smoothie for breakfast; grilled ham and cheese for lunch; and for dinner, roast chicken with rosemary, mashed potatoes, asparagus and a green salad.

3. What will your kids never be allowed to eat? KD! Hamburger Helper.

4. What do you always have on hand in your fridge? Dijon, Clamato, wasabi, extra-old cheddar, olives, chicken broth

5. What is your beverage of choice? Pineapple juice or if we’re talking alcoholic, a Black Russian

6. If you could have dinner with anyone in the history of man, who would it be? Hmmm, I’d have to say Georgia O’Keeffe. Or Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s tough.

7. Ok, it’s your last meal ever. What do you have? Lobster, definitely. Rice, asparagus with aioli, raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake, San Pellegrino and a bottle of Bordeaux,
Entre deux Mer.

Ed note: Thanks Mel! Foodie Facebook will be a regular feature of Under the High Chair. Stay tuned, it could be you!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Mushroom mafia or '37'

"Nature alone is antique and the oldest art a mushroom."
Thomas Carlyle

My parents just returned from the Haida Guaii, otherwise known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, where they were picking wild mushrooms for mad cash. The Charlottes are located 300 km of the northwest coast of British Columbia and are a day’s trip from my parents place in New Hazelton. Sometimes called the Galapagos of the North, I have fond memories of that wild, lush place: BC’s own little tropics, it seemed to me.

My parent’s had originally planned a four-day bike trip around the islands to relax and see the sights, but ended up hooking up with some mushroom-picking cronies, signing their souls over to the mushroom mafia, and staying three weeks for the remainder the chanterelle season. (more on the mafia later, it’s not a joke. I have to get the full story from my dad). They loved their time roaming the deep rainforest and picking chanterelles. My mum’s only complaint was:

“Some guys from Quebec pitched their tent right in front of the outhouse that doesn’t have a door!”

I know these little chanterelle beauties (called giroles in French) from my three years at Toque! where I probably cooked enough of them to crust the entire Island of Montreal in a nice duxelles. We received more than just the one mushroom variety from the QC’s, there were morels, black trumpets and the infamous pine, too.

The Montreal mushroom scene is pretty weird. It is mostly controlled by one family of Eastern European decent (don’t know where for sure) who are all in competition with each other.

The guy I dealt with at Toque was called Serge, an elderly, short, stocky fellow who shuffled in with a basket over his arm, usually while we were in the middle of service. He would lean on the counter and wait for a lull, meanwhile checking out the girls with a gleam in his eyes. He was self-reputed to have, ahem, ‘done it’ with his wife 37 times in one night, and this seemed to be an undisputable fact that simply everyone knew about on the cooking scene. While he waited, usually one of the guys on the line would holler out,

“Trente-sept, eh Serge?”

to which he would straighten up, shake a finger at the cook and say,

“OUI, trente-sept”.

With my parents having picked them, and I having served them, it seems like we have had a mushroom ‘full circle’ moment, as Oprah would say. Ok, maybe we should reserve that term for something a little more monumental, but I though it was pretty cool.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

When life hands you lemons...

….make lemon curd. Lemons are 5 for $.99 at my local fruiterie and I’ve been using them to test some curd for Noah’s birthday gateau. This recipe is so fast to make and can keep for a few days. I played around and made the tartlet’s you see here, but you can use the curd between layers of cake, for a pie filling, or just eaten straight from the fridge with a spoon at 3am. Not that I know anything about that!!

I have to credit the marvelous Martha for this recipe.

Lemon Curd

Makes 1 1/2 cups

6 large egg yolks

Zest of 2 lemons

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

12 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

1. Prepare an ice bath fitted with a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk together yolks, zest, juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Remove pan from heat. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring until incorporated. Pass through a fine mesh sieve into prepared medium bowl. Stirring frequently, let stand until cool.

3. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of curd to prevent skin from forming; wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

PS. My apologies for the photo. They will improve with time!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What's in a name?

I always wondered why babies spend so much time sucking their thumbs. Then I tasted baby food.” Robert Orben (1927--) American humorist.

I suppose I should explain my blog name a little further and introduce you to the Little One under who's high chair many of my lovingly prepared meals end up. This is Noah, my first child, and as you can see, no, he's not starving to death, so I am successful in filling his tummy sometimes...yet, he's been my harshest critic.

I always knew I would make my own baby food, that it would be easy, that I would save money and at the same time be giving my baby the best possible start on life. I just wasn't prepared for him to hate it. I made braised beef with fennel and carrots, whole-wheat pasta with ricotta and broth, roasted chicken with sweet potato...mouth-watering, right? Well, if I could get him to eat a few mouthfuls, the slightest pea-sized lump would make him gag and occasionally he would regurgitate everything up from the bowels of his gut. Not a pretty sight.

So, I am taking it slow, working with his favorites, and occasionally slipping in something new. Last night he ate mashed up lasagna, so I guess there’s hope.

Still there is an awful lot of food that ends up under the high chair, but there are some perks- I didn’t name my blog "What’s in Noah’s Diaper"? Right?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Specialization is for Insects

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Robert A. Heinlein

Of the list, I'd say I could do a good handful with my eyes closed (diaper, comfort, orders, manure, cooperate, act alone, and cook), a few under the gun (hog, sonnet, accounts, wall, equations, analyze, fight, die) and the rest not at all!!

The dish above is one I like to make on Saturday mornings, before my eyes are really open and I am still half asleep. It's dead easy and there are never leftovers. (Wait a minute, there are never leftovers in my house. I live with Danny remember?) Here's the recipe:


8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
fresh lemon juice to taste
confectioners' sugar for dusting

1. Put butter in a heavy frying pan or a shallow casserole. Place in a oven preheated to 475F.
2. Meanwhile, mix milk, flour, and eggs lightly to make a batter.
3. When the butter has melted, add batter to pan and bake for 12 minutes.
4. Pour a little of the melted butter onto the pancake and squeeze a little lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar and serve immediately.

Variations: Spread with a fruit preserve or fresh berries; sprinkle with Grand Marnier; maple syrup mmmmmm.

Enjoy! And welcome to my new blog, by the way. Stay tuned for a great time.


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