Chasseurs d’Epices: A Spicy Adventure Comes to TV

Local food & travel enthusiasts will not want to miss an exciting and unique new show that makes its debut tonight on ARTV.

Chasseurs d’Epices (‘Spice Hunters’ for the Anglos) follows renown Montreal spice master, Philippe de Vienne and his charming wife, Ethné, on their world travels in search of the best spices.

Last week I attended a small launch party and private screening of the show. Philippe cooked a feast for us and alongside the gracious hosts themselves, we watched the debut episode of Chasseurs d’Epices. Such fun!

Chasseurs d’Epices is like if your favourite travel show merged with your must-watch cooking show. The true personalities of our hosts shine through, making for a colourful, emotional and interesting ride. This series is going to go far.
Just take a peek:
Don’t miss the first episode, airing tonight at 8 on ARTV. I’m only going to give one hint: Philippe and Ethné, wedding crashers extraordinaire.

You can also connect with Chasseurs d’Epices on Facebook.

Come Enjoy Cupcakes for a Cause

I probably don’t have to tell you where I’m going to be on Sunday afternoon… that’s right, scarfing cupcakes at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel for Cupcake Camp Montreal!

Foodies, gourmands, and cupcake aficionados are all aflutter over this event and who wouldn’t be? I mean, have you heard?

20,000 cupcakes.

At this point, the organizers are only concerned that enough people will show up to eat the veritable sea of sweetness.

It’s practically my duty to go. Plus, it’s for charity, raising funds for La Tablée des Chefs and Kids Help Phone. You should totally come too.

What’s this? Cupcake Camp Montreal
When: Sunday, November 21, 2010 from 1-5 p.m.
Where: Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, 900 Rene Levesque Blvd. W

A $10 ticket at the door gets you three cupcakes, a gourmet coffee and an opportunity to mingle with local bloggers and bakers. You may even spot your favourite celebrity chef or TV personality, as the panel of judges is quite colourful!

I’ll see you there. Come over and say hello! I’ll be with the tall guy, probably trying to corral two little boys with sugar highs. Oh yeah, with 20,000 cupcakes to enjoy, there was no way I was getting out on my own for this one.

Getting organized, seriously organized.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages.

I love lists, after all. I make them every day. And I love baking, especially holiday baking

So I finally swapped precious sleep for a few extra hours* on my laptop and am absolutely tickled to bring you…

The Ultimate Holiday Baking Pantry Checklist!

It’s an A-Z shopping checklist of everything you need to stock your pantry for holiday baking. The PDF can be downloaded and printed to help you organize your baking ingredients – and be sure nothing is forgotten.

From my post on Simple Bites:

I designed this list with efficiency and thoroughness in mind. Here’s how I’m going to keep track of ingredients I need for my holiday baking this fall:

• Print the free checklist.
• Sit down with cookbooks, magazines and bookmarked online recipes AND the list.
• Go through recipes that I know I will be making and check the boxes on the printable.
• Keep the checklist on the fridge or somewhere visible for a few days, and add items as they come to mind (or remove items as ideas change)
• Go through my pantry and take note of anything that is running low or has gone stale. Check those ingredients off on the list.
• Head out shopping WITH the Ultimate Holiday Baking Pantry Checklist in hand.
• Highlight any items I am unable to locate or are temporarily out of stock, so I know I need to keep looking for them.”

Trust me, you’ll want to print this up. With Canadian Thanksgiving less than three weeks away, it is not to early to start planning for holiday baking.

Head to Simple Bites and download the tidy Holiday Baking Pantry Checklist pdf today. You’re welcome!

*I have to say, Danny gave up sleep as well, as he made the pdf pretty for me. Thanks honey!

Meatless Monday: Coconut Rice & Beans (but so much more than that)

I wish I could form one or two well-written paragraphs about how our eating habits are changing here at UtHC. I keep procrastinating over writing anything because I don’t know where to start and there’s so much I want to say, but not enough time to devote to this space.

If I had a quiet afternoon to write, I would begin by filling you in on how our family table (and pantry, fridge, etc…) has slowly been evolving into more nourishing food, even though the rare (we’re talking twice in 8 years) appearance of glazed doughnut would make it look otherwise.

In those paragraphs, I would paraphrase the many conversations Danny and I have had over what we put into our bodies, feed our kids, and the small, but steady steps we are taking to improve our families diet.

I would aptly summarize my myriade of thoughts after watching programs like Food, Inc. and Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food, conveying my ragged emotions after each one finished, (cried myself to sleep after Food, Inc, no joke) and my square-shouldered determination to DO something. For myself, for my family, for my community.

(Oh, not to mention this book club with the enlightening and deeply disturbing-yet-inspiring, In Defense of Food. There would be a pretty long rant about the state of our grocery stores these days.)

Then, if anyone besides my mother was still reading*, I would formulate a moving conclusion to my post by sharing some of the steps we are taking to eat more nourishing, real, food, as well as daily making choices with our fork to help change our sadly derailed food system.

Things like Meatless Monday.

I brought you The Beef Chronicles** which honored (and rightly so) the locally raised, grass-fed Angus, and now I’m swinging the pendulum and introducing a new series called Meatless Mondays.

You can call it contradictory OR balanced, either way I’m still going to be eating one more vegetarian meal a week, so it doesn’t really matter. Why says you can’t have a meat-lovers series and a vegetables series on the same blog anyway? (OK, so it’s a little confusing.)

I’m going to try my darnedest to share the dishes with you every week, which may end up being every second week… I think we all know that the new baby gets all the attention–and there’s not a lot of leftover time for older siblings.
I’m aiming for a Sunday posting, so you can add the recipe to your weekly menu plan.

We’ll see how it goes.

OK, about this weeks recipe. We enjoyed it, but then again anything with a cumin/lime/cilantro combination, I pretty much flip over. Add toasted coconut and mango, and it gets added to our regular repertoire stat.

You know what the thing is about this recipe, besides the brilliant flavor profile, of course, it that it is CHEAP. Plus most items are pantry stapes, making it a good choice when the fridge is bare.

Give it a try. Give Meatless Monday a try. Be a part of the solution***.

Coconut Rice & Beans
adapted from this recipe, originally found in Southern Living.

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/4 cups uncooked basmati rice
1 small onion, chopped
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black eyed beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 red pepper, chopped (optional)
1 lime
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Toppings: lime wedges, diced mango, sour cream, cilantro, green onion.

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted. Cool.
2. Bring broth, coconut milk, salt & pepper, 2 Tbsp. butter, and 1 cup water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.

3. Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; add onion and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in beans, chili powder, cumin, and 3/4 cup water. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.
4. Grate zest from lime, avoiding pale bitter pith, into a bowl; squeeze juice from lime into bowl.
5. Fluff rice with a fork. Fold lime zest and juice, coconut, green onions, and cilantro into hot cooked rice. Serve bean mixture over rice with desired toppings.

*My mother doesn’t read. That’s right, you heard me correctly. It’s kind of hard to when you don’t have the Internet. I’d like to see you try.

** The Beef Chronicles are alive and well, on our table, anyway, if not on this blog. We ordered another half-cow, having plowed through all 120-plus pounds of Angus over the winter. It’s currently at the butcher, getting divided up into future ossobuco and roast beef dinners.

***Meatless Monday: a worldwide movement to reduce consumption of animal products in favour of more plant-based meals to fight global warming and improve personal health.

For Your Weekend Reading Pleasure (and ‘Thanks’)

My laptop has been getting plenty of use lately. A series of rainy days made it easier to crank out a few guest posts, as well as the usual content for my two food blogs.

Can I just say? Thanks for reading. I don’t usually talk numbers much around here but I see that well over 13,000 of you are popping by on a monthly basis and that makes me very happy. Really.

It’s still a pleasant surprise to find that my sporadic recipes and copious photos of my (ridiculously cute) kids holds your interest. Hey, it even lands me on lists like this, which brings even more readers (and a whole heck of a lot of email spam, apparently. Ick.).

Another list I was super tickled to make was the popular Bullet List from The Mother Huddle.

I didn’t have to think twice when founder Destri invited me to participate and I dedicated my list to Jamie’s Food Revolution in support of his efforts to teach children how to cook.

Kids and cooking was the topic of choice this week. I also guest posted for Kim Vallee, Montreal’s lifestyle and entertaining expert, while she jaunted around Japan with her husband.

Oh, and Ready Made decided they loved Simple Bites:

I’ve been spicing up Simple Bites with my Spices 101 series. In case you’ve missed it here where we’re at:

OK! That’s probably more than enough weekend reading for you! Now get outdoors and enjoy Mother Earth. It is Earth Week after all.