UtHC Bulletin

Under the High Chair bulletin is a scattering of various and sundry happenings, discoveries and news.Keep reading...

Garden News

“This is what’s cruel about springtime: no matter how it treats you, you can’t stop loving it.”

Barbara Kingsolver

Truly March is the most frustrating month. It brings sunny warm days that cause you to cast away the wool scarf and haul out sneakers from the back of the closet, and then slams the door in your face with its plunging temperatures and occasional snowfalls. Still, I admit that I give in to its games and occasionally allow myself to believe that it is spring. My hope was validated today by the discovery of some very brave rhubarb poking its little heads up in the garden.
Consider this a warning that I will probably begin blathering about seedlings, compost and my garden in future posts and won’t let up until about mid-October or so. It’s almost gardening time!!

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Interview with Aimée
Mother of three and food blogger, Kate of A Merrier World, has decided it’s high time to discover the stories behind some of her favourite food blogs and guess who she picked to go first? Yep, in the very first installment of her fascinating Edible Lives series, you can read all about Under the High Chair’s humble beginnings and the journey to what we are today. Curious as to how everything began? Head on over to the interview for a trip down memory lane and also discover which popular blogger she’ll be interviewing next!!
Thank you for this opportunity, Kate!

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Raw Pet Diet
Alright, so after the last fiasco with our cat, Cassis, I decided to put him on a raw diet to avoid going through anything like that again. Correction, I didn’t really ‘decide’, more like I was told to by my little sister, resident family pet expert and B.A.R.F pioneer (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) around these parts. Note that I don’t usually take commands from a sibling seven years my junior, but believe me when I tell you, if Miranda strongly suggests something pet related, I know I’d better listen up.
If you want to find out what is involved in committing to a raw diet for your pet or how to transition, my sister outlines the process at her informative, easy-to-understand blog My Mini Zoo. You can also follow her on Twitter.
Raw pet diets are not for the faint-of-heart, let me just say that! There’s nothing quite like hacking up chicken carcasses (bone shards flying everywhere and the baby trying to eat them off the floor), mincing chicken hearts & livers, tossing in a raw egg, serving it to your cat–and then sitting down to your own dinner. They don’t call it B.A.R.F for nothin’. Just saying.

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Making Baby Food 101
From cat food to baby food, the lovely Cheryl from Backseat Gourmet has two articles on making your own baby food that I wanted to recommend to all my mommy readers out there. I’ve always made all my own baby food, but never got it together to post a how-to on the subject, even though more than a few of you have asked. (Sorry!)
Cheryl lays out the steps simply and smartly, without lecturing or sounding ‘preachy’, so if you’re expecting a little one or about to transition your baby to solids, be sure to check out Step 1: Purees and Step 2: Textures.

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So, it’s only right that I share what has been both an inspiration and a kick in the pants these last few weeks (not to mention a darn good read). Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life”
Written as both a love letter to the land and a wake-up call to the consumer, I haven’t been able to put this book down. Even my Tweets are suffering. Her ode to asparagus alone had me weak at the knees.
Suffice it to say, this book is a must-read for any gardener, cook, environmentalist or the like.

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Sugar Shacks
Lastly, I guess my last two posts about sugar shacks got you all fired up about sugaring off season and now you have a hankering for all things maple. Just so you know, I’ve considered all your requests and am now giving my recommendations! Unfortunately, I am not aware of any places that collect sap in the traditional method and allow you to participate as I did (lucky me! OK, now you just want to smack me). However, here are two places that allow you to get out of the city, admire the tall maples and feast to your hearts content.

  • For families, you won’t regret a visit to Cabane à Sucre Bouvrette, which we visited last spring. If the amazing pea soup and tire d’érable don’t do it for your little Johnny or Jane, the tidy petting zoo and old fashioned train ride will.
  • For grown-ups, gourmands and anyone who has $45 to spend very wisely, get yourself to Martin Picard’s sugar shack: Cabane à sucre: Au Pied du Cochon. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time to ensure there is some maple-poached lobster left for you.

Butternut Squash Muffins and Dreaming of Spring


Seed catalogs are starting to jostle for space in my mail box and I couldn’t be happier. They offer me the opportunity to mentally check-out on winter for a while and do some virtual gardening. I do this by curling up with a glass of wine, paper and pencil and devising my springtime plan of attack for the kitchen garden and flower beds.
My garden isn’t very big, but I still manage to drag the planning process out for a few evenings: hashing over the layout, remembering what thrived last summer (and what barely survived), and haggling over decisions like purple or Thai basil.

After all the deliberation (and a few glasses of wine!) I’ve decided I’m going to do things a little differently this year. Instead of using valuable garden space for my herbs, I’m going to make a movable herb garden with pots and planters on our new deck. That is how I used to do it on the tiny back balcony when we lived downtown and my basil was never so nice. Not only will it look gorgeous and free up more space for the pea patch, but the close proximity to the kitchen will be ideal for scampering out barefoot and gathering snippets to add to meals.


One of my Christmas presents from Danny was Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook, Jamie at Home. It could have also been titled The Naked Chef Gets Dirty, as he’s up to his elbows in garden soil for most of the book. With recipes inspired by his own love affair with gardening, this is a cookbook I can really get into. It’s divided into seasons and features over a hundred recipes using simple fresh garden produce. There are also pages of gardening tips scattered throughout that I hope to put to practical use this summer.

Come on spring! We’re ready for you anytime.


These muffins were the first recipe I tried from my new cookbook. Really, they should be titled cupcakes instead of muffins, but they were lovely no matter what their name. Moist and flavorful, they reminded me of a really decent carrot cake–only better.

Jamie Oliver’s Butternut Squash Muffins with a Frosty Top
makes 12 – 16 muffins

14 ounces butternut squash, seeded and roughly chopped
2 & 1/4 cups light brown sugar
4 large free-range or organic eggs
pinch of salt
2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
2 heaping tablespoons baking powder
handful of chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the Frosted Cream Topping:
1 clementine, zested
1 lemon, zested
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup sour cream
2 heaping tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a food processor, buzz the butternut squash until finely chopped. Add the sugar and eggs. Buzz in a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and olive oil and mix until well beaten. Scrape the sides if needed, and mix only until everything is well combined.
(Aimee’s note: if you don’t have a food processor, just grate the squash on a box cheese grater, transfer to a bowl and mix everything in by hand. This works just as well.)

Fill a regular sized muffin tin lined with paper cups until each cup is just over 3/4 full. Cook 20 – 25 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool on a wire rack.

For the topping:
Place the zest and lemon juice in a bowl. Add the sour cream, the sifted confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and mix well. Taste, and adjust the sweet and sour accordingly. Keep in the fridge until ready to top the muffins. If you like, sprinkle the topped muffins with a little more orange zest and lavender flowers.

Monday Garden Update: Harvest

This month is a busy one: two more weddings and everything that goes hand in hand with weddings (NO not cakes, I mean like rehearsals and stuff), a funeral, a few birthdays, and that glorious holiday of feasting-Thanksgiving.
It’s hard to squeeze in time to get out to the garden, but frost is imminent and things need to be harvested. The days have been chilly, even with the bright sun, fortunately there’s nothing like digging to get the blood pumping and the body warmed up.

We only got two pumpkins from our experimental plant, one large one and a slightly smaller brother– very originally named ‘Noah’ and ‘Mateo’. We’ve been watching them grow and ripen in the garden for close to two months now so they feel like part of the family in a odd way. Right now they have a decorative function on the steps and I think we’ll spare them from being made into pies.

My purple carrots are a perfect size to make the trip from the earth to my crisper in the fridge. Too bad I don’t have one of those root cellars to hold all of them.

Here’s my young onions drying in the sun. I still have a lot to learn about growing these as about half of the crop rotted in the ground. Why would one bulb rot while it’s neighbor grew perfectly well? Curious.

These are a few plant that refuse to give up. They were in their prime about a month ago, however, even though everything around them is turning brown and drying up, they continue to produce and flower. I’m also getting a terrific second crop of sweet raspberries; they are making up for the pitiful beet production and woody turnips. Blech.

I’m sad to see my garden shutting down and I’ll miss dashing out there every time I want a tomato and a handful of basil for a sandwich, but such is the turning of the seasons and until I live a lot further south, like a LOT, I’ll be putting away my trowel and gardening gloves for six months or so come mid-October.
Who knows what I’ll try next year?!

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner: Summer Inspiration

Potato, Sage and Pancetta Gratin with Fresh Garlic

Consider this post my own little TasteSpotting.

I’ve got several dishes- from breakfast to dinner and dessert-that I have been wanting to post about for a while, but because of time constraints they will never boast their own individual posts. So here they are in picture form with a few recipes to boot.

Perhaps you can glean a little inspiration for your lunch today, or maybe you’ll just scroll through and say “Had it. Had it. Made it. Over it.” Whatever you choose to do is fine with me, what do I care? Hey, I’m off to do some cooking over an open fire, have tickle fights in the family tent, build some sand castles and enjoy getting back to nature without a battery operated toy for miles around.
Ta Ta!

Breakfast: Blueberry Baked French Toast

I haven’t showcased many berry recipes yet this summer, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been scarfing them down by the bucket fulls. We’ve enjoyed them many ways like Mango-Blueberry Lassies and Chocolate-Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches (recipe coming soon!) I loved this breakfast dish because it is made up the night before and all you have to do in the morning is bake it off and whip some cream. Don’t leave your mixer beating the cream and go check your email, like I did, or your whipped cream will more resemble butter than a creamy topping. Tisk-Tisk.

Baked Blueberry French Toast
Adapted from
Fabulous Fairholme: Breakfasts & Brunches Serves 2

4 slices day old Italian bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup fresh blueberries (or raspberries)

2 oz cream cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

3 eggs

1 cup milk

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

The night before: Grease two 8 oz ramekins. Line bottom half with bread cubes. Cover with blueberries and cream cheese cubes and top with remaining bread. Mix eggs, milk and syrup together and pour over bread. Cover and let soak overnight in refrigerator.

In the morning: Preheat oven to 350F. (Make your coffee and wake yourself up) Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffy and golden. Remove from ramekins and serve with your topping of choice and plenty more of that coffee.

Lunch: Smoked salmon and fixings

If you are lucky enough to get to one of Montreal’s fine bagel shops, those bagels are all you really need to enjoy your smoked salmon and cream cheese, but all the other fixings are pretty sweet to spoil yourself and your surprise lunch guests with, too.

Lunch Side Dish: Tempura Zucchini Blossoms

I know, I know, I couldn’t let these beauties from my own garden go to waste, so I overcame my fear of ingesting bugs and slugs (happened to me IN a restaurant), gave the blossoms a good clean and was so happy I did. They were amazing, as was the sherry mayo I made to go with them. Heavenly.

Dinner Appetizer: Slow Roasted Tomato Bruschetta

Everyone’s favorite snack, these ones are my Aunt Jenny’s specialty: crusty rounds of baguette, oven-roasted, über-ripe sliced tomatoes, sprinkled with fresh herbs and drizzled with olive oil and salt. Serve warm and make lots.

Appy Number Two: Pancetta-Wrapped Grilled Asparagus

For the bacon-lovers in your family. Toss asparagus in olive oil and season, then wrap with panchetta. Group into rows of about 5 spears each and run a skewer through them to bunch together for easier grilling. Grill over a low flame and serve warm.

Dinner: Grilled Lamb Chops with Salmoriglio, Young Courgettes and Purple Carrots

Thanks to copious amounts of oregano in my garden, Salmoriglio is a fresh herb sauce I whip up all the time to accompany grilled meats, especially lamb. These chops benefited from an overnight marinade of olive oil, tons of oregano, a touch of rosemary, some lemon zest and plenty of black pepper. The vegetables are picked from my little kitchen garden.


Salmoriglio Oregano Sauce

Recipe comes from the fabulous River Cafe Cookbook

4 level tablespoons fresh oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

8 tablespoons olive oil

fresh pepper

In a mortar and pestle pound the herb leaves and salt until completely crushed. Add the lemon juice. Pour the oil slowly into the mixture. Add a little pepper. Drizzle over grilled meats such as lamb or beef.
Variation: Marjoram, thyme or lemon-thyme can be substituted for oregano.


Dinner Side Dish: New Potato, Sage and Pancetta Gratin with Young Garlic

I’m enjoying immensely the crop of garlic I planted last fall. If you’ve never tried growing garlic, you are missing out on one of the easiest and rewarding gardening experiences to be had. I forget exactly which month I planted the little cloves (guessing late October) but they were the first thing to poke up out of the ground this spring and now there are hardly any left because I can’t stop pulling them up and adding them to everything! You can see the tight, juicy bulb sliced in half in the photo above. It’s hard to buy garlic this fresh.

OK, this potato dish really deserves it’s own post, but lucky you are getting it now.
Seriously, don’t you feel like this post is a virtual Christmas stocking of great recipe ideas?? And there’s still more to come!

Every once in a while I come across a potato recipe that stops me in my tracks–the last one being Tartiflette–and this dish is a favorite in my repertoire. I’ve been making it for ages and meaning to share it…but you know how it goes, it usually gets gobbled up before I can snap a photo.
Oh, and would you believe it? This recipe is also from the River Cafe Cookbook. If you don’t own it already, put it on your Christmas List. The garlic and fresh sage is from my garden, the potatoes are not as I am patiently waiting for the plants to flower before I drop on all fours and furrow into the earth to collect my bounty.

Potato and Pancetta Gratin
The recipe suggests Roseval or similar yellow waxy potatoes, but I have made it with pretty much every kind of potato. Of course, new potatoes are ideal.

Serves 6

100g pancetta, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced

20 sage leaves

850 g Roseval potatoes

225 ml double cream

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Parmesan, freshly grated

Preheat oven to 375F. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the pancetta over a medium heat. Stir in the garlic, add the sage, cook for a minute and remove from heat. Slice each potato lengthwise (or in 1/2 inch wedges if you are using large potatoes). Place in a large bowl and add the pancetta and oil mixture and the cream. Season with salt and pepper and toss together. Put in a baking dish, making sure that the potato, pancetta and sage are evenly distributed, cover with foil and cook in the oven for 40 minutes.

About 20 minutes before the end of cooking, remove the foil so that the surface of the potatoes become brown. Add a little Parmesan 5 minutes before the end. Enjoy!

Dessert:Vanilla-Bean Panacotta with Quebec Strawberries

We haven’t been eating a lot of sweets around here (shocking, I know) but I am showcasing two of my favorite summer desserts from previous posts.
Picking a favorite recipe is like asking which of your children you love more, but these two recipes sprang to mind when I was thinking about fresh summer flavors in desserts. The best part is that they are both minimal effort as well as gorgeous!

So the first dessert is this pretty panacotta with strawberry coulis and fresh strawberries. In the original post I didn’t gush overly about my love of panacotta, but it’s a love affair that hasn’t wavered in many, many years. Originally created by the pastry chefs at Restaurant Toque! many years ago, this cute cone-shaped panacotta was my dinner party dessert of choice for some time. The tops bow and jiggle when you bring them to the table in a comical and inviting way. So cute! Of course any fresh berries would be lovely with this dish and I remember a cherry compote I once made that was a hit, too.

Dessert Number 2: Rustic Peach Galette


It is nice to have options and here is the second dessert that sums up the lazy days of summer. I created this peach galette to round out a fabulous dessert table for a party my siblings and I threw for my parents last summer. (Read all about it, see the sweet table and get the galette recipe) This rustic dessert was up against some big names in dessert show-biz like Dark Chocolate and Wild Strawberry Cupcakes and Citrus and Cointreau Cheesecake, but at the end of the evening was declared the favorite by many.
Of course, the accompanying whipped cream was in perfect peaks, so that helped!

So there you have it. Now go get cooking and if your tummy isn’t rumbling yet, you need help!


Monday Garden Update 3

Is that a mini head of broccoli I see peeking through the leaves?

The garden status is as follows: shamelessly overgrown and full of weeds. The weather continues to be quite hot with plenty intense rain bouts, so the plants are managing to thrive despite my sheer neglect. Still, something must be done soon! I need to stop baking cakes and get my hands dirty out there.
OK, one last wedding cake this weekend and I am done for a while. Promise.

We’re enjoying these courgettes sliced very thinly on pizzas with wild boar sausage.

Is that corn getting taler than I am?? Not hard to do.

As Noah-the-backseat-driver always chants “Red means stop and green means go” but not in the case of these sweet cherry tomatoes. Full speed ahead to pick those red ones!

Beautiful baby zucc’s.

Young onions. SO GOOD thinly sliced on a burger. I can’t believe this is my first time to grow onions. They are such fun!

First peppers starting to form.

A few baby carrots; the rest are in desperate need of thinning. The purple color is just starting to show.