Friday, December 14, 2012

Blueberry Breakfast muffins to share with friends

Childhood friends are forever

Every time I want to treat the girls I make these succulent blueberry muffins. Especially when M.J. sleeps over. Since first grade my daughter Lola has been friends with M.J.   
I highly encouraged their friendship as it was a healthy and positive relationship. M.J. is a very sweet, polite and well mannered little girl and always encourages and helps Lola is her studies. They seldom fight and always have a good time. 

When I see both of them playing together or when M.J. spends a weekend with us, I remember my own childhood friends who live far away. How we had fun playing, talking and sharing. I miss my childhood friends. We are all scattered around the world today. Some are in England, others in Dubai, Egypt or other parts of the world. I miss them all. The distance is not easy, but I try to keep in touch as much as possible. 

Lola and M.J. are proof that once you have a true friend, it is for life. Last year we traveled to the Dominican Republic where we spent 10 month. Lola was heartbroken. Both girls cried their hearts out, as they said their goodbyes. At that time we did not know how long our adventure was going to last. In the summer we decided to come back to Montreal and as soon as the two girls saw each other it was as though they had never been apart. Their friendship had survived time, space as well as new relationships. 

So to all friends in the world here is a recipe for you to share and enjoy together. A muffin recipe that is easy to make and always comes out perfect. Light with a hint of sweetness. You won’t be able to resist eating two. If you don’t have blueberries, you could use any berries you have. 

Breakfast Blueberry Muffins
(Adapted from Barefoot Contessa back to basics)

Makes 16 regular sized muffins

·        1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
·        ⅔ cups granulated sugar
·        2 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
·        ½ teaspoon baking soda
·        ½ teaspoon kosher salt
·        1 cup buttermilk, shaken
·        ¼ cup butter (½ stick) melted and slightly cooled
·        1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
·        1 extra large egg
·        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·        1 ¾ cups fresh blueberries (or frozen, UNTHAWED)
·        2 tablespoons turbinado or raw sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with muffin paper.

2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix with a fork. Add blueberries and toss all together.

3. In a separate bowl mix buttermilk, butter, lemon zest, vanilla extract and eggs. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture. (If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use milk instead, mixed with the juice of one lemon.) Mix until JUST blended (don't over mix as you will make tough muffins.)

4. Scoop into prepared cups, filling them until just full.

5. Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar (or any medium grain raw sugar will do) for extra crunch. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!

Recette en français:

Imprimer la recette ici

Muffins aux Bleuets « Bon Matin »
(Recette adapté du livre Barefoot Contessa back to basics)

Pour 16 muffins de taille régulière

· 1 ¾ tasse de farine tout usage
· ⅔ tasse de sucre granulé
· 2 ¼ cuillère à café de poudre à pâte
· ½ cuillère à café de bicarbonate de soude
· ½ cuillère à café de sel de mer
· 1 tasse de babeurre (sinon 1 tasse de lait avec le jus d’un citron)
· ¼ tasse de beurre (bâton ½) fondu et légèrement refroidi
· 1 cuillère à café de zeste de citron râpé
· 1 œuf extra large
· 1 cuillère à café d'extrait de vanille
· 1 ¾ tasses de bleuets frais (ou surgelés, décongelés)
· 2 cuillères à soupe de sucre brut ou sucre turbinado

1. Préchauffer le four à 375 degrés. Posez des caissettes en papier dans les moules à muffin.

2. Mélangez avec une fourchette la farine, le sucre, la poudre à pâte, le bicarbonate de soude et le sel dans un grand bol. Ajoutez ensuite les bleuets et mélangez le tous délicatement pour ne pas écraser les fruits.

3. Dans un autre bol, mélanger le babeurre, le beurre, le zeste de citron, l'extrait de vanille et les œufs. Incorporer le mélange de babeurre au mélange de farine. (Si vous n'avez pas de babeurre, vous pouvez utiliser du lait à la place, mélangé avec le jus d'un citron.) Avec une cuillère en bois ou en silicone mélangez juste assez pour que tous les ingrédients soient bien incorporés. Trop mélanger durcira la pâte de vos muffins!

4. Verser la pâte dans les moules préparés, en les remplissant jusqu'au trois quart.

5. Saupoudrer avec le sucre brut pour un effet craquant. Cuire au four pendant 20-25 minutes. Ils seront prêts quand leur couleur prendra un beau teint doré. A partager sans réserve. Bon appétit!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Remembering autumn with a Caramel Apple Butter Spread

After 10 days of being in bed with a bad influenza and high fever I can finally write my 2 posts. I was so eager to share with you these recipes.

I have for you today a yummy and easy recipe for all the left over apples that you did not bake with or eaten after your last apple picking trip.

The beautiful jewel color autumn leaves in Canada
In the end of October we went apple picking at the Mont-Saint-Grégoire. Mont-Saint-Grégoire is a municipality in the province of Quebec, Canada, located in the Regional County Municipality of Le Haut-Richelieu and it is about a one hour drive from Montreal.
Fallen maple leaves in all the shades and hues of autumn. Nature in all its glory!
I was a beautiful sunny day in spite of the chilly wind. Marie J., Lola’s friend, came with us to pick apples. The three kids had so much fun running in the fields, picking apples, eating the apples and then climbing everywhere. It was a joy to watch them and take pictures. It is magical watching kids at play. They are so carefree and intense. Anything makes them happy. We should learn from our kids the joy of living and appreciating the moment.

The warm autumn sun was slightly warming my face while sitting on a wooden bench and daydreaming. The nature was so beautiful with the warm multicolored leaves falling around me. I love autumn with its colors, aromas and warmth.

The days passed by and winter came. The big bag of apples had still some apples left in it. Most of the apples were starting to lose their crispiness.
I had made several recipes and put apples in the lunch bags of my girls.
So with the leftovers I decided to make apple caramel butter.

I did not want to make apples compote or apple sauce. My kids used to love them younger but now they are not interested in these recipes anymore. I wanted to make something richer that would be savored all winter long. Not too sweet nor too heavy. So I decided to make Apple Caramel Butter which is rich in flavor, creamy and so versatile. I am sure you will enjoy it as much as we do. You can use pears for the recipe if you like. It would be equally good. Hope to get your comments.

Apple Caramel Butter Spread
Makes 4-5 small jars

You will need:
10-12 apples (Cortland, Golden or McIntosh)
1 lemon
1 cup of butter (about 220 gr)
2 cups of raw sugar (or caster sugar)
1 pinch of salt (1/4 tsp)
1 tbs vanilla
Half a pod of vanilla (optional)
1 tbs brandy (optional)

Peel, core and cut the apples and put in a big bowl of water added with the lemon juice. Water and lemon will help the apples keep their creamy color and not oxidize.
In a medium pot add the butter and sugar and let simmer on medium heat till it starts caramelising (about 5-7 minutes).
Add the apples to the caramel and let cook till you don’t see whole pieces anymore. Then add the pinch of salt, the vanilla and brandy. Let cook for 1 more minute then put in a mixer and puree.
Put your caramel apple butter in jars and enjoy. You can eat them with brioche, bread slices or add to the bottom or your apples pie. Simply delicious.
The caramel apple butter will keep for a long time if you sterilize your jars. It is worth the effort and not that complicated to do. Buy new jars and their covers and follow the method shown in the video below (found on youtube): 
I don’t have the basket that goes in the pot and I have no problem canning without it. So don’t worry much about it. Hope you enjoy the recipe and start canning your food. Bon appétit, Sahten, Enjoy!


Coin Francophone:

Beurre au caramel de pommes
Donne 4-5 petits bocaux en vitre

Vous aurez besoin de:
10-12 pommes (Cortland, McIntosh ou Golden)
1 citron
1 t de beurre (environ 220 gr)
2 t de sucre brut
1 pincée de sel (1/4 cuillère à café)
1 cs de vanille
½ gousse de vanille (facultatif)
1 cs de brandy (facultatif)

Pelez, épépinez et coupez les pommes et les mettre dans un grand bol d'eau additionnée de jus de citron. L’eau citronnée aidera les pommes à conserver leurs couleurs et elles n'oxyderont pas.
Dans une casserole moyenne, mettez le beurre et le sucre et laissez mijoter à feu moyen jusqu'à ce qu'il commence à caraméliser (environ 5-7 minutes).
Ensuite ajoutez les pommes au caramel et laissez cuire jusqu'à ce que vous ne voyez plus de morceaux. Ajoutez alors une pincée de sel, la vanille et le brandy. Laissez cuire pendant 1 minute puis mettre le tout dans un mélangeur et réduire en purée (retirer la gousse avant, si vous en avez mis).
Mettez votre beurre au caramel de pommes dans des bocaux. Vous pouvez mangez ce beurre avec vos brioches ou croissants. Les rajouter à vos tartines et toasts. Ou même garnir vos tartes aux pommes et s’en servir comme appareil. C’est simplement délicieux.  Bon Appétit!

Le beurre au caramel de pommes se conserve pendant longtemps si vous stérilisez vos pots. Pour ce faire il vous faudra des pots neufs et suivre la méthode de la vidéo ici-haut.
Le panier utilisé dans cette vidéo est pratique mais pas nécessaire. Moi-même j’en ai jamais utilisé et je réussi toujours mes conserves. Donc pas de problèmes et pas de panique. C’est vraiment facile faire des conserves. Il faut seulement un peu de patience. J'espère que vous apprécierez la recette et que vous tenteriez la méthode de conservation. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Spice Hunters - Spicy stir-fried shrimp with green beans and tomatoes

It is a warm autumn day and I am making an Indian shrimp stir-fry recipe. The smells and aromas fill the house and a favorite memory comes back of the spice bazaars in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia which I have visited during my travels. I have lived 19 years in Egypt where I had a real passion for visiting bazaars and discovering the hidden treasures they enclosed. I was especially fond of Khan El Khalili as it reminded me of the old Sindbad movies or 1001 nights stories of Scheherazade.  I always felt like a time traveler while walking in the covered streets of the Khan.

Khan El Khalili bazaar is so large that it is divided in many smaller bazaars. So you have the Gold bazaar, the Copper and Stones bazaar, the Silver bazaar, the souvenir bazaar and the spice and perfume bazaar. Small serpentine streets filled with all types of crafts and finds. You might get lost if you don't know the place well. I was always amazed by the spice bazaar as the spices are displayed in big jute bags and identified by simple hand written tags. Nothing too fancy but the colors and smells grab your attention.

Egyptians use a lot of spices in their cuisine and I have learned to enjoy spices and herbs since my tender age. Egyptian cuisine is very similar to the Indian cuisine in their use of spices and heat. When you think spicy I am quite certain that you suppose I mean heat. Not at all. Spicy means use of spice. Mild or otherwise. And the best way of using spices is by adding them in your hot oil at the beginning of the recipe. The heat of the oil helps the aromas and taste to develop. 

So when I first tried the Indian spice mix called Dhaba Masala I was reminded by several dishes I tasted in Egypt. Three years ago I purchased the Épices De Cru Kit. It is a kit prepared by the Spice Hunters which includes about 6 spice blends and a small recipe and travel Notebook. The whole kit looks so exotic and I could not resist buying it. I tried several recipes from the Notebook and I was hooked. All were exotic, delicious and easy to make. The charm lay in the spice blend and aromas coming from the small box. Ethné & Philippe de Vienne are both spice hunters who travel the world in search of new spices, mixes and recipes. Philippe is also a great chef who teaches the use of spices. Ethné owns two spice shop in the Marché Jean Talon in Montreal (Food Olives et Epices & La Dépense). The couple has also a food and travel show on ARTV that would make you want to travel every day. All their imported spices are fresh and natural. No additives or artificial flavors. Visit their website to know more about the spices, courses and more.

The Spice Hunter Spice Kit with Recipe book

One of the recipes I love to make from the Spice Hunters Volume II kit is the Stir-Fry shrimp with green beans and tomatoes. A recipe that is very fragrant and exotic. There is only a touch of heat. 
So you won't need gallons of water after every bite. In the recipe you need the Dhaba Masala spice blend which is basically:
2 tbsp mustard seeds (pan fried and roasted)        
1 ½ tbsp coriander
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp dried red chillies

I have made this recipe several times and it always came out great. You can replace the green beans by firm mango pieces and you will get a whole new recipe. It creates an even more exotic taste I believe. You could also add some coconut milk for a creamier sauce. 

Stir-fried shrimp with green beans and tomatoes

for 6-8 people

1 lb shrimp, peeled and well cleaned
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 cups fresh green beans
3 tbsp trying oil of your choice (olive oil is a good choice)
1 bay leaf                 
½ tsp lemon zest (grated)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 green shallots, chopped
2 tsp Dhaba Masala, ground (use a mortar and pestle or a spice mixer)
1 cup ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
2 tsp honey or sugar
salt to taste
some parsley or basil chopped for garnish (optional)

1. Rinse and pat dry the shrimp with a paper towel. Marinate them with the lemon juice and cracked black pepper for about 10-15 min. Set aside.
2. Clean and cook the green beans in salted boiling water until they are crunchy (about 5 min) and set aside.
3. Heat a large pan or a wok on high heat. Pour in the oil and the bay leaf. Pan fry for a few seconds.
Add the lemon zest, garlic, shallots and ground Dhaba Masala and fry for a few seconds in the hot oil.
4. Add the marinated shrimp and stir-fry for 1 minute. (do not over crowd the pan)
5. Add the tomatoes, honey and salt. Mix well and then add the green beans.
6. Cover and cook for 2 more minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley or basil and serve with white rice.
Enjoy, Bon Appétit, Sahten.

Note: If you choose to add coconut milk (1/4 cup), do so after you add the tomatoes. If you want to have a more exotic dish replace the green beans by firm mango slices.

 Le coin francophone

Recette de Dhaba Masala:

2 cuillères à soupe de graines de moutarde ( et rôti à la poêle)
1 ½ cuillère à soupe de coriandre
1 ½ cuillère à café de cumin
1 cuillère à café de curcuma
1 ½ cuillère à café de piments rouges séchés

Sauté de crevettes aux haricots verts et tomates
pour 6-8 personnes

1 livre (1/2 kilo) de crevettes, pelées et bien nettoyées
2 cc jus de citron
2 cc de poivre noir concassé
2 tasses d'haricots verts frais
3 cs d'huile de votre choix (l'huile d'olive est un bon choix)
1 feuille de laurier
½  cuillère à café de zeste de citron (râpé)
2 gousses d'ails, hachées
2 échalotes vertes, hachées
2 cc du mélange Dhaba Masala moulu (utiliser un mortier et d'un pilon ou d'un mélangeur d'épices)
1 tasse de tomates mûres, hachées finement
2 cc de miel ou de sucre
sel au goût
un peu de persil ou de basilic haché pour la garniture (facultatif

1. Rincez et épongez les crevettes avec un papier. Les faire mariner avec le jus de citron et le poivre noir concassé pendant environ 10-15 min. Réservez.
2. Nettoyez et faites cuire les haricots verts dans de l'eau bouillante salée jusqu'à ce qu'ils soient cuits mais encore croquants (environ 5 min) et mettez les de côté.
3. Chauffez une grande poêle ou un wok à feu vif. Versez l'huile et ajouter la feuille de laurier. Cuire pendant quelques secondes . Ajouter le zeste de citron, l'ail, les échalotes et le mélange d'épices Dhaba Masala moulu et faites frire pendant quelques secondes dans l'huile chaude.
4. Ajouter les crevettes marinées et égoutter et faites les sauter pendant 1 minute. (ne pas trop surcharger la poêle)
5. Ajoutez les tomates, le miel et le sel. Bien mélanger, puis ajoutez les haricots verts.
6. Couvrez et faites cuire pendant 2 minutes de plus. Garnir de persil haché ou de basilic et servez avec du riz blanc. Bon Appétit, Sahten.

Remarque: Si vous ajoutez du lait de coco (1/4 tasse), faite le après le rajout des tomates. Si vous voulez avoir un plat plus exotique remplacer les haricots verts par des tranches d'une mangue ferme.