Archives for June 2009

Summer Rolls and Newsy Bits

I have the uneasy feeling that blogging over the summer is going to take extra effort. For us, life tends to pick up speed in July and August and doesn’t slow down until the pumpkins are ripening. Fueled by an essential café au lait in the morning and an energy drink post-lunch, I slip into a summer rhythm of applying sunscreen, collecting bathing suits & towels, and keeping everyone hydrated as we go from one event to the next. There’s so much happening, it’s hard to focus on one particular subject/meal and subsequently, much rambling ensues–hence this morning’s post!

I’ve been too busy celebrating ten years in Quebec to sit down and share what I’ve been up to, but I plan to eventually!Everyone has such good suggestions and it’s been a memorable summer so far.
We’re enjoying beet greens, lettuce, radishes, herbs and chard from the kitchen garden, but has it merited it’s own Update? Sadly, not yet. If I have a spare chuck of time, I’m weeding like a mad-woman, not documenting the progress of the tomatoes.
On top of everything, we’re counting down the weeks (2 1/2!!) until we fly out to Western Canada and I’m trying to wrap my head around packing. Focus, girl, focus.

It doesn’t help that I’m still in a dream-like state over our blissful weekend getaway; I didn’t want to leave our private beach on a quiet corner of a lake.

It was an amazing little holiday, complete with a few wine tastings, dinner at a cozy restaurant that featured local ingredients (rabbit for me, duck for him), a picturesque farmer’s market on Saturday morning and an local junk shop where I scored some antique Fiestaware.

Somehow this is our lucky month, because tonight we’re off on another date in honour of Danny’s birthday: a concert with Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis! It also happens to be opening night of the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the great Stevie Wonder is THE late-night event. We’ll catch him after Wynton; it’s going to be a fabulous evening of music under the summer night sky, rain or no rain.

Speaking of summer. we just can’t get enough of these summer rolls. Ever since I discovered that Noah will scarf them down, peanut sauce included, they’ve become a staple. Ideal for those steamy hot days when you don’t want to cook over a hot stove and your tummy is begging for a break from barbecued meat, these delicate summer rolls offer a fresh and flavorful alternative!

Here’s the recipe from the archives with a few step-by-step photos: Shrimp Summer Rolls.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and to my local readers: Bon Festival!

Blueberry Maple French Toast

This will be short as I’m packing for a mini-weekend getaway with Danny and I’m nowhere nearly ready.
I used to be an organized packer, but apparently motherhood has turned me into a scattered, last minute throw-it-all-in-the-duffel kind of packer. It doesn’t help to have the added pressure of remembering each child’s appropriate stuffed animal and sippy cup, OR ELSE. Heaven forbid they should show up at the grandparents without them.

Anyway! We’re off to travel Quebec’s wine route in the Eastern Townships on a much deserved break. It’s been two years since New York, our last getaway as a couple with no kids.

I wouldn’t leave you high and dry for a recipe so here’s a strong recommendation for your weekend breakfast: Deep-Dish Blueberry Maple French Toast. Yesterday I hung out over at Endless Simmer and shared this recipe with their readers, not to mention a personal glimpse into a weekend morning here at UtHC.

So jump over to visit the ES gang and be sure to bookmark this French Toast for your brunch! It’s PRI-tty amazing.


Strawberry-Peach Cobbler and a Father’s Day Gift

Apparently, after a recent cross-Canada poll, it was stated that the majority of dads want a flat screen TV for Father’s Day. I hope that’s not what Danny wanted because I got him something a little different…

See that cute black fellow on the right?
In a few weeks he’s going to be delivered to our place in brown paper packages tied up with string, namely as organic, free-range Angus beef! Yep, I got my hubby a cow for Father’s Day–all the barbecue he could ever want. How’s that for manly?

It’s been in the works for a while to split this locally raised yearling with some friends of ours; their cousin raises them on a gorgeous farm that has been in the family for generations in (very) rural Quebec. We drove out on the weekend to meet the farmer, select our calf and see where it was raised.
Gee, I wish I had this view. It was quite picturesque!

The cows were practically knee-deep in buttercups and clover. I haven’t seen Food, Inc yet, but I’m pretty sure that few beef cows have it as good as these ones.

Our little ones snacked on all the carrots intended for the cows and enjoyed the outing immensely; however, Mateo didn’t like it when they ‘mooed’. Cows can be pretty intimidating up close, especially the bull that stared us down.

We attempted the whole “…this is where hamburger comes from” talk with Noah, but abandoned it pretty fast. He’s extremely sensitive (he wept over the shorn tomato plants that were eaten by unknown creatures in our garden) and is much too young to be troubling his little head over such matters.

Zipping along Quebec’s rural roads, I kept my eyes peeled for a sign announcing ‘Fraises du Quebec‘. It wasn’t long before we found a fruit stand and treated ourselves to a basket of the season’s freshest fruit. We devoured most of them on the spot, but I managed to save a few for later. I stretched them with some fresh peaches I had sitting around and made a few of my favorite simple summer desserts. Perfect for bringing to a pot-luck!

I’m anticipating picking my own strawberries soon and the endless possibilities that await! For now, I’m perfectly content with my cobbler–and have 125 lbs of beef to look forward to in a few weeks.

Happy Summer!

Strawberry-Peach Cobbler
(adapted from Everyday Baking)

For The Filling:
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 pound peaches, halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and cut again in half crosswise

1/2 lb strawberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk

1. Make the filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Wash and prepare fruit; you should have about 4 cups of strawberries and peaches. Add fruit to cornstarch mixture and add lemon juice; toss to combine. Divide filling evenly among four 8-ounce custard cups (or one 2-quart baking dish); transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Make the topping and bake: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk; stir just until a dough forms. Drop dough onto peaches, using about 1/3 cup dough for each custard cup. Sprinkle dough with remaining teaspoon sugar. Bake until fruit is bubbling and biscuit topping is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes; serve warm.

UtHC Coast to Coast

A cool thing happened the other week:

We’re a relatively low-profile blog and that is fine by us, but every once in a while we’ll pop up on someone’s radar and it’s always entertaining to see what transpires after that and where our name ends up.

This happened recently when a Top 10 list I had posted a while back happened to land a spot in another Top 10 list over at the popular food blog, Endless Simmer. Demonstrating a stroke of pure genius, Brendan Spiegel (BS) compiled a Top 10 Top 10 Food Lists, a shout out to the “funniest food stories we’ve seen in list format”.

Topping the hilarious, exhaustive and often insightful (I need to see Tampopo like now) list, was my Top 10 Things to Expect When Dining With a Food Blogger. Sweet!

That was just the beginning of the fun.

A few hours later, the New York-based food website, Serious Eats came calling. As this site has been praised by some as the “next generation of food media” and named by Time Magazine as one of the 50 Best Websites, I about hit the roof when they called my list ‘inspired’.
Equally entertaining was a commenter who stated “I refuse to eat with food bloggers or vegan/vegetarians.”! Hilarious.

I would have been content if the link love had ended there, but the next day we traveled to the opposite coast and popped up on Eater LA, followed in quick succession by a spot on UrbanDiner, for some Canadian love.

Apparently, it doesn’t matter which country you find yourself in, you might want to think twice before dining with a food blogger, as was proven by well-known Korean Food Journal ZenKimchi who stated that my list hit close to home.

We could talk about blurbs on News Now Network or SpliceToday, or all the food blogs that joined in the fun (at their own expense) but I think you get the drift…Wait, what was the drift? I’ve already forgotten.

How about this: Internet ‘fame’ lasts about 15 seconds, so grab a glass of wine and enjoy it!

.. and we’re back off the radar. Cheers!

Did that header photo make you hungry? It’s a Warm Lobster Salad with Asparagus, Fiddleheads and Poached Rhubarb.

Irresponsibly Yours with Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Most days I eat responsibly. I set a good example for the babies such as avoiding snacks before a meal, finish all my dinner before dessert, and generally conducting myself in a grown-up manner.

Then there are days where I pull an upside-down rhubarb cake out of the oven, attempt to photograph it while it is still warm, sneak a few bites here and there, and finally wind up eating it entirely– and just before dinner, too. Strangely, I’m not hungry for spaghetti and meatballs after that. At all.

Fortunately the boys are still young enough that I can get away with such shenanigans, but in a few years, I’m going to have some explaining to do if I attempt to eat only cake for supper.
Maybe we’ll skip the meatballs and everyone can have cake. I think I like that idea.

I’d like to see anyone try to resist this dessert.

I probably haven’t made this cake in ten years, but a recent discovery of the recipe in an old handwritten cookbook of my mothers brought back some good memories and I knew I had to make it again.

Fortunately I did because it was even better than I remembered. I love, love, the combination of the tart, compote-like rhubarb top with the ever-so-light butter cake base. It’s a perfect spring dessert, uncomplicated, and easy enough for everyday enjoyment.

Just you try and save it for dessert.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Makes a 9-inch round cake. Serves 6-8. I also divided the batter and made two smaller 6 inch cakes. This is nice if you want to give one away.

Be sure to read through the recipe and have all the ingredients assembled before you start.

For the Rhubarb bottom:

3 1/2 cups rhubarb, washed, dried and chopped in 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons orange rind
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a round 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper and butter pan thoroughly. Mix together first four ingredients and pour into pan. Dot with butter and place in a preheated oven. Cook only as long as it takes you to put the cake batter below together.

For the Cake:

In the bowl of a mixer combine

1 cup cake flour, sifted
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup soft unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

With the paddle attachment, beat ingredients for two minutes, scraping down sides as necessary.
Then add:
1 egg

Beat for another minute.
Pour batter over rhubarb and return everything to oven.
Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Place a plate or cake platter on top of the pan and re-invert cake onto the platter. Remove tin and peel off parchment. Allow to cool.
Serve with whipped cream.