Sunday, February 24, 2008

Two Favorites: A spice blend and a photography duo

WFD? Cornish Game Hen Roasted with Ethiopian Berbéré Spices, Sour Cream Gnocci, Acorn Squash and Braised Baby Bak Choy.

Finding a great new restaurant is no easy feat. One must take friend’s suggestions and critic’s raves with a grain of salt. Not until you have tried a place yourself can you really be sure that it’s a place you will be often retuning to and making your own.

Finding a great photographer is kind of like choosing a restaurant—just a lot more risky. You are entrusting someone to encapsulate an event or milestone in your life that can’t be repeated. There is no rewind button for a wedding day, infants only get bigger, not smaller, and unless those moments are captured expertly on camera, they are gone for good.

Yes, I really am pregnant! Cooking lunch around my 7 month baby bump.

Recently we had the good fortune of welcoming not one, but two, photographers into our home for a personal family photo shoot and lunch. The goal: to capture my growing baby bump and this momentous time in our lives. While we weren’t really sure what to expect from Tim and Angela, we were thrilled with the stunning results from these talented photographers and their moving photographs.

We sat down to a hot lunch after the photo shoot and Angela continued snapping away as I put the finishing touches on our roasted guinea hen. I loved her work so much and was so excited when she graciously allowed me to use a few of her shots for this post. She makes my food look really good!

It is with utmost sincerity that I recommend Tim and Angela from

They specialize in weddings, so if you (or someone you know) are planning to tie the knot in the Montreal area, give them a call. You will be hard pressed to find a more dedicated team to capture your big day in a truly personal way.

And now for my current favorite dinner dish!

I almost never use the word sensational, but with this exotic spice blend, I am tempted to. ..

The guinea hen for our lunch was rubbed with an authentic Ethiopian splice blend called Berbéré that is available from Montreal spice guru, Philippe de Vienne. Called the curry of Africa, it is an absolutely transporting melange of 14 different spices that come together to create an unforgettable flavor. Black cardamom, fenugreek, cassia, paprika, and coriander are just a few of the spices that tickle your palate.

I love this aromatic traditional blend so much, I practically buy it in bulk when I drop by his store, Olives et Épices ( Marche Jean Talon, 7070 Henri-Julien étal C-11, Montreal)

If you are not in the area, you can order your berbéré blend online; however, if you want to make your own, Philippe gives the recipe in his new cookbook, La cuisine et le gout des épices, and I will pass it on to you at the bottom of the post.

Berbéré Roasted Chicken

4 garlic cloves, chopped

3 Tablespoons Berbéré, ground

1 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons butter, melted

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs, or two plump Cornish hens

4 onions

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Mix together the berbéré, garlic, butter, lemon juice, and salt.

Cut the chicken into 8 and brush with spice mixture.

Peel onions and slice into thick slices.

Place the onions on the bottom of a roasted pan and arrange chicken pieces on top.

Roast for about 1 hour. Baste occasionally with cooking juices.

Philippe de Vienne's Berbéré Spice Blend

2 Tablespoons dried ginger

2 teaspoons green cardamom

1 teaspoon cloves

1 stick cinnamon

1 stick cassia

2 teaspoons fenugreek

½ whole nutmeg

1 teaspoon all-spice

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon black cardamom

2 tablespoons coriander

1 teaspoon adjwain (lovage)

3 whole, dried Cayenne peppers

¾ cup paprika

Ed. Note: Huge thanks and props to Tim and Angela for the photos. You guys rock!


Marie Rayner said...

That looks delicious! Love the baby bump as well!. I've got one of those too! Unfortnately I don't have a baby inside to use as an excuse! (Insert shameful guilty look here!) Yes, too many goodies have taken their toll and I am stuck licking computer screens, Hopefully there's no calories and it counts as a bit of exercise!

Peter M said...

Aimee, the pics do look good and you're tummy's almost touching the stove!

Again, I'm seeing Berbere spices being used, urging me again to thry this out.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Thank you so much Aimee for including the recipe for the Berbere spice. It does sound like a unique combination. When does "Bump" join the world?

Mandy said...

I love the picture of you with the baby bump cooking. Classy, mommy and domestic tied into one - perfection.

Just don't burn your tummy!!! :)

The food looks 'to die for' - especially those lovely crispy little gnocchi! Mmm. Well done.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Oh, the photos are wonderful, Aimée! And I loved seeing your baby bump. :)

David Hall said...

Great photos and even better looking food - you are a very very good cook, your kids must LOVE it!


Aimée said...

Hi Marie- You are too funny! It's great to have an excuse to eat a lot, I must say.

Hi Peter- Thanks! You really must try this blend out-it's amazing.

Hi Valli- You're welcome. We are expecting the baby very soon as I am nine months along now!

Hi Mandy- Thanks! You're too kind, really!

Hi Patricia- Thanks, I thought the ladies would appreciate it...

Hi David- Merci, merci! They don't know how good they have it. :)

winedeb said...

I adore aromatic spices in the kitchen. Have not had this mix but surely will check out. Aimee those photos are fantastic. You look so great with the new little one snuggled away in your tummy. And your dish, your dishes always look sooooo inviting!

Emily said...

What a feast!
And those are beautiful photographs.
Fenugreek is interesting to me, because I know it's used in cooking, but my sister takes it to help with nursing. Her baby is almost 5 months.
She says it makes her smell like maple syrup.

Nina Timm said...

This is an amazing looking plate of food.

kickpleat said...

wow, those photos are amazing! so beautiful. the meal doesn't look too shabby either ;)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I love berbere -- I'd never used it before interviewing the chef at a local Ethiopian restaurant, and I was amazed at the depth of flavor. Love the chicken dish -- it looks delicious.

Kajal@aapplemint said...

those are some really nice photographs .. specially the ones with u in them :)

i'm so happy to see Ethiopian berbere here. i lived in Ethiopia for a while and adore their cuisine. i must say this wonderful spice blend( influenced by spices that were brought from Asia and India in the earlier centuries, while exporting to Europe, as Ethiopia was a transit point.) doest get the limelight it deserves. But now with your wonderful recipe , i'm sure people will get to know , and hopefully buy some and use it.

Aimée said...

Hi Deb- This is one spice blend not to be missed!

Hi Emiline- Thanks for stopping by! Interesting tip about fenugreek. I'll have to look into it.

Hi Nina- Welcome to UthC! Thanks for your visit.

Hi Kickpleat- Thanks. :)

Hi Lydia- Of course you would know and love berbere. I bet your pantry is stocked with it!

Hi Kate- It's true, one doesn't see berbere very often. I would love to see how you use it!

Cakespy said...

That squash looks absolutely KILLER! And cute pics!

Anonymous said...

Wow...considering you are about to pop this is an amzing spread. I guess thats where the nickname comes from

Warda said...

I looooooooooooove the pictures. A big bravo to the team and to the talented pregnant chef. And your baby bump looks so cute! I want another baby, right now! "sigh"

Rachael Narins said...

What a fantastic and lovely thing to have done!

Beautiful photos. Amazing sounding recipe. Just perfect.


Rachel said...

I love the baby bump photo soooo cute! You have great pics too. Love your blog!


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