Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Double Chocolate Zucchini Cake with lovely Orange Essence

Torta con Zucchini, Arancia e Cioccolata

Hello friends,
Yeah, yeah ... another dessert but you'll love it - promise! I know, it sounds strange because of the secret ingredient, zucchini! I call it a secret ingredient becuase although there are 3 of them in this cake, you don't see or taste them. Why add zucchini if you don't even taste them, you ask? Well, apart from the health benefits listed below, I'm pretty sure it adds moisture. Another benefit is that you can feed this to a fussy child who won't touch zucchini with a 10 food pole and they won't even know it!

First let me tell you where I got the recipe..I was shopping at Costco (which I still insist on calling Club Price lol) and I wandered over to the cookbook section, as usual. I picked up this cookbook by Maria Loggia. I had never heard of her, nor had I seen her on the Food Network. I quickly flipped through the pages, not expecting much but what I found was page after page of great recipes..I snatched up the book quickly and casually placed it in the basket but my fiancee noticed and said, "another cook book??" in an exasperated tone..to which I exclaimed "YES BUT... THERE ARE SO MANY GOOD RECIPES IN THIS BOOK!!" He rolled his eyes.

He won't complain when I make something out of this world , now will he? As I suspected, he loved this Double Chocolate Zucchini Cake! - He's my biggest fan. (He says that he'll really be my "biggest" fan if I keep this up :)

I guarantee you'll be seeing and reading about my adventures making many of Maria's creations, right here on this blog.  I can't wait to try the stuffed chicken legs, stuffed olives or the fresh ricotta topped with a mixture of olives, pistachios and olive oil!! Check this book out for yourselves, buy one for a loved one or keep it for yourself and show off the next time you have guests over :) . Maria Loggia is a local chef but that's all I know for now..

Note to self: Google Maria Loggia

Health note:
Nutritionally, zucchinis are rich in valuable antioxidants. Plus contain beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid and calcium. Zucchini are also a good source of fiber (4 grams per cup). One cup of zucchini has nearly as much potassium as a banana. Plus it contains the valuable mineral nutrient phosphorus

Zucchini is not the only star here. Dark chocolate is a powerful antioxidant!

RECIPE (finally lol)

Yeah , you guessed it. I cut a piece for myself before taking a picture for my blog lol...So I tried to be artistic with the missing piece. 


2+1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
2+1/2 tsp baking powder
1+1/2 tsp  baking soda
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
3 medium-sized zucchini, quartered lenthwise, white membrane removed, finely shredded (i used a cheese grater)
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temp.
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs at room temp
zest of one orange
2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of orange extract (optional) - I put 1/4 tsp
1/2 cup milk at room temp.
1 cup of pecans, finely ground
1 cup of quality bitter-sweet chocolate chips  - I used dark chocolate chips 50%

Grease a bundt pan with butter + flour for dusting or PAM for baking

When cake has cooled, dust cake with icing sugar and serve with fresh berries and mint leaves.

Preheat oven to 350F. 

In a large bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Put shredded zucchini in a tea-towel or paper towl and wring to remove excess moisture (don't go crazy, just a couple of squeezes :)

In another large bowl, beat the butter on high until it is light and fluffy. 
Gradually the sugar and beat until sugar is comletely incorporated. (scraping the sides of the bowl)
 Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well each time.
Add orange zest, vanilla and orange extract
Beat until light and fluffy
Add zucchini and mix well. 
On low speed, gradually add flour mixture to the batter alternating with the milk
Mix until combined, do not overmix. 
Fold in the pecans and chocolate chips
Pour batter into the greased bundt pan and bake for 55 to 60 min, or until  a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes and thn invert cakeonto a wire rack. 
Cool to room temp and dust with icing sugar. Serve with fresh fruit and garnish with mint leaves.

Enjoy this & have a great day!

David's Nana's Lemon Cookies

Hi Everyone!

This recipe was the runner up in my Lemon Cookie bake-off but let me tell you, they didn't lose by much. Almost a tie! In fact, this is the one I voted for. I absolutely loved them and as I stated in a previous post, they remind me of the cookies my grandmother used to make. What I found interesting is that Nana incorporates orange as well as lemon, producing a more subtle citrus taste.


3 Eggs (at room temperature)
1 cup of sugar
1  cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of orange juice
Zest of one big orange
5 cups all purpose flour
4 generous tsps of Magic baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 F

In a bowl, beat eggs and sugar until smooth,
slowly incorporate oil, orange juice and orane zest.

Add flour, one cup at a time and baking powder, 1tsp at a time

When properly combined, pour batter onto a floured surface and kneed gently until smooth.
Mixture must still be soft but not overly sticky

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil

Cut our a heaping tsp of dough and roll it out into a 10" long by 1" thick "rope"

Then cut in 2" pieces. Hold the end with your finger and overlap the other end to close the ring.

Then twist

Place the cookies on the cookie sheet at least 1 inch apart and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry. Remove from oven and let cool. Yields approx. 48 to 50 cookies

(Once again, if you make giant cookies like mine lol...You'll have to cook them for a little longer. The bottom of the cookie should be golden and the top, only slightly golden. You can achieve this faster by baking on convection)

1lb of Icing sugar
1 tsp of lemon juice
Gradually add water until it is the right consistancy. Should not be too liquidy.

Then dip each cookie into the icing sugar and place them on waxed paper or parchment to dry. Store in an airtight container for 1wk.

Thank you - and as always, send me your feedback.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The winning recipe! Glazed Lemon Ricotta Cookies

As promised, here's the winning recipe so that you can make them yourselves...

Its becoming more popular to give baked goods as gifts around the Holiday season. Why not do that with these fanominal cookies. You can buy cute pastry boxes from Ares Kitchen Supplies.

Preheat oven to 350
( I like to bake on convection for cookies because you can bake all the cookies at once on two racks; they also turn golden faster)

With a mixer, cream (blend) the following until smooth:
1/2 pound of salted butter (softened)
1 + 1/2 cup of sugar

Still using your mixer...

2 X-Large eggs (or 3 small ones)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Container of ricotta (475 gr)
(Beat together)

Then gradually add:
3 1/2 cups of flour (you'll need some muscle!)

When mixture is properly combined, take a teaspoonful of mixture and roll it between your hands (small meatball size)
TIP: if its too sticky, dust your hands with flour before rolling each ball
When you get the hang of this, try to make the twist or swirl shape.

Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, for 10 to 13 min. (if you make giant cookies like mine, it'll probably take around 25 to 30 min. I consider them ready when the bottom of the cookies turn golden brown and the tops start to show a little bit of color, a light tan if you will)

Prepare icing sugar while cookies bake.
Mix approximately 3 cups of icing sugar the the juice and zest of 1 to 1+1/2 lemons. Mixture should not be too liquidy.

Allow cookies to cool on a rack. Once cooled, dip the top of each cookie in the icing sugar, let excess drip off and place on some parchment or wax paper to dry.

Lemon Cookie Bake-off - Two recipes go head to head!

Hi all!

My favorite dessert of all time is definitely those Italian, lemon cookies with the sugar glaze. I've been searching for the recipe for a while. I finally got the recipe from a friend of my grandmother's and to my dismay the recipe had no quantity indicated for the flour. It just said "quando basta", meaning "when its enough"...lol...To me, this means nothing...How am I supposed to know "quando basta"?! I made them that time but they were too floury..They were good but you needed coffee or a glass of water to wash them down. *cough-cough*

So recently, my lovely sister-in-law, Johanne gave me a recipe that she got from a friend...It was for Lemon cookies, much like the traditional ones except they are made with Ricotta cheese. Then at work, my buddy David gave me his grandmother's more traditional recipe. (or rather, his Nana, which he affectionately calls her :) Both recipes had clear instructions - no guesswork! YAY!

Anyway, from having no recipe, I now had two. What to do?  Both David and Johanne said that their recipes were amazing. So, I decided to have a lemon cookie bake-off to determine which was, in fact, the best. I planned to make both types and have family and friends vote on their favorite.
So, this weekend I made both types..36 of each! (The recipes were supposed to yield between 45-50 cookies..lol but I made mine huge!! I always do that..cookies, meatballs...HUGE!)

I got some small pastry boxes to distribute and the race was on!

The Lemon-Ricotta cookies came out great. They were light and fluffy with a pronounced lemony flavor, which I loved. I looove lemon!

David's Nana's also came out great, they actually looked a little better because they held their shape really well. They had a subtle citrus flavor, thanks to the use of orange juice and zest and only a little bit of lemon in the glaze. They were also a little more dense and floury. They were like the ones I remembered from childhood...awwww.

Main recipe differences : In the Lemon-Ricotta recipe, the cookies themselves contained no lemon. The lemon juice and zest was only added to the glaze. Whereas, in David's Nana's recipe, there was orange juice and zest in the cookie and lemon juice in the glaze. Also in the Lemon-Ricotta recipe, it called for 3 cups of flour and 1/2 a pound of butter vs. David's which required 5 cups of flour and 1 cup of oil. (both recipes will be posted, starting with the winner)

First, my vote...I loved them both and couldn't decide which I liked best..but after much pondering and  ingesting many, many cookies I decided on David's Nana's cookies. It must have been those childhood memories, because both recipes were excellent. My fiance, Andre loved the Lemon-Ricotta ones. Bianca, my sister, liked the subtle flavor of Nana's cookies.

My friends, who are also followers of Vanilla Bean, were really into the whole voting thing, which I was really excited about. They were judging based on taste, texture and looks. So, they'd take a bite, look up, savor it..and then provide detailed commentary...Aftertaste, no aftertaste, tangy, sugary, floury....
Iron Chef judges over here! lol ...but it's just what I wanted.

The verdict! Johanne's Lemon-Ricotta cookies won!!!! Congratulations!!

Most commented that although both cookies were good, these had a lighter, softer texture.
It was so close..11 to 7! It was a little suspenseful :D At first I was sure the Lemon Ricotta ones were winning, then a few votes came in putting Nana's cookies ahead..lol.. and then, well, you know...

Here are some pics thanks to my poor IPhone which is always by my side, full of flour and dough ...No joke! I'm sure there's flour in there!

Cookie making in progress

Orange zest being added to Nana's batter.

For the shape, take a heaping teaspoon of dough, put a little flour on your hands and roll out, like this.

Then join the two ends together and....

Do the twist!

Here I just wanted to display the consistency the confectioner's sugar should be.

Dip your cookie, and let the excess drip 

Enjoy with a coffee!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Herbed Rabbit with White Wine Sauce

Hi guys!

I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while because, like the others that I post, is great and easy!

We make this often since we discovered this recipe, especially when we have guests over. So far, we got rave reviews.  As a matter of fact, we're making it tonight for friends and we doubled up on the recipe. Surely, it won't fail me. It will "wow" them.

There is some prep to be done. I'd say about 30 minutes prep time (to remove excess fat from the rabbit, dredge the pieces in flour and to quickly brown your meat) and 45minutes to 1hr to simmer.

Rabbit is great, because its lean, white meat and although this recipe produces a hearty sauce, the meat is light tasting. Make sure your butcher cuts your rabbit in pieces. Unless you don't mind doing this yourself...but why?

Feel free to add a few potatoes to the skillet while the meat simmers. - Actually, I recommend it. The heavens will open up, angels will sing.....ahhhhhhhhh *angelic singing*.  
(For those who know me, they can imagine me making that sound. I do it all the time when I describe something that is too good for words.lol)

1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp of salt to add to the flour
1/8 tsp of pepper
1x 2 to 3 pound rabbit cut into pieces
2 slices of bacon or pancetta
1 large onion, sliced into thin wedges
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1/2 cup of water
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of dried marjoram, crushed
1/4 tsp of dried oreganno, crushed
2 tbsp of snipped Italian, flat leaf parsley

In a paper or plastic bag, combine 1/4 cup of flour, 1/2 tsp of salt and the pepper. Add rabbit pieces; shake to coat, like shake n' bake :)
In a 10" skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove the bacon, keep drippings in the pan.
Crumble the bacon and set aside (Let it cool first!! You'll burn yourself)
Brown the rabbit in the drippings , about 5 minutes per side. Set the rabbit aside in a dish.
Add onion, wine, water, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp of salt, marjoram and oregano to the pan.
Deglaze, scraping the tasty bits. 
Return rabbit to the skillet
Cover and simmer for 45 min to 1hr (until meat is tender and to your liking)
Sprinkle rabbit with crumbled bacon and parsley.

 Serves 4

 Stephanie's Tips:

-If during the cooking process you notice that the sauce is drying up, add more liquid (wine or water)....I always say, save water - drink wine...in this case...save water - add wine :)

As usual, if you try this recipe, let me know what you thought. Post your comments.
Please let me know if you did something different or if you need more info...


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mundo Trattoria (My home away from home)

Mundo Trattoria
17003 Rte. Trans-Canada
Kirkland, QC

I've been working hard, making pie crust (lol) and all sorts of things and I haven't reviewed the restaurant which is the most special to me! It’s my home away from home. I first went to Mundo's and was seduced by the food about 8 years ago and I haven't stopped going since!

Our friend Vito, the chef and owner of Mundo's is somewhat of a celeb in the West Island these days. Apart from his exquisite Italian food, people go there to see him in action and I can definitely understand why. He's passionate, hilarious, and he makes every single customer feel special. He'll remember your name and what you ordered the last time you were there! lol...If he doesn't remember your name, he'll remember something about you - its almost a certainty.

This beautiful restaurant has a modern and elegant feel. The floor-to-ceiling dark, brown velvet curtains accentuate the lofty ceiling. The colors are earthy, much like its sister restaurant, Bufala. There is an open-concept kitchen , where you can watch the chefs do their thing...and, sometimes, hear what's going on! (a la Gordon Ramsey). It can be quite entertaining :) During the warmer months you can take your cocktails outside to Mundo's outdoor lounge and enjoy the weather. You'll find a few couches and coffee tables placed on wonderful faux grass. It's beautiful; relaxing, almost back yard feel, but chic back yard.lol However my two favorite things about the look of this restaurant are the glass wine cellar, it towers to the ceiling - a major focal point and I love the pictures hanging, framed above the kitchen's opening. These pictures feature some of the most stunning and celebrated Italian sites! I often sit there, admiring those pictures, imagining myself there - drinking my prosecco and eating my plate of Mundo's pasta. ahhh....  :)

Like many of Mundo's patrons, I often chose to host my events there. My engagment, for one, was gorgeous and the food was delicious. I could not have asked for more. They even helped me plan the event.
I knew I could trust them to take care of my guests and of course I trusted them to serve supreme food.

Now for the food...My favorite appetizers are ..The Melanzane fritti, which means fried eggplants litterally. They are actually more like patties of eggplant, breadcrumbs, cheese (I'm guessing. He won't give me his secret recipe). The consistancy is more like a meatball. They are usually served with a creamy Gorgonzola sauce..mmm I can taste it now..I've also had them with tomato sauce. That's the way Mundo's served them way back when. The grilled octopus is another favorite - tender pieces of grilled octopus served on arugula salad with a olive oil and balsamic dressing.  The muscles marinara are so tasty....If you order this, you and everyone around you will be dipping their bread in the sauce! Its that good.

For my main...He has many pasta dishes which are always available and I'm happy to say that you will seldom find your typical spagetti in tomato sauce. Many of the pasta dishes are original and always tasty. I've had the Black (squid ink) tagliatelli with seafood and fruity green peppercorns in a light, creamy sauce. You've gotta try it..Don't think of the squid ink! It was heavenly - I wouldn't lie to you!
I've enjoyed the manicotti with tomato and buttercream sauce.. mmmm I'm getting hungry..
A Mundo's regular on the menu is the braised lamb shank. Its braised meaning its melt-in-your-mouth tender.

What I like about Mundo's is that their table d'hôte changes often and they aren't afraid to try new flavors and be innovative. I'm always excited to see what's new. Lately they've had a dish of stuffed peppers and eggplant. Holy Toledo! It was good...real comfort food.

Staff is always friendly and attentive and when they get to know you, they can be quite funny.

You have to give Mundo's a try and when you do - tell me what you thought!

PS: Coffees are fantastic - always! We love you Vito!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

As Borat would say "Success!" - Pie Crust, take 3

Hey Guys!
I did it! I finally did it!!

I made my first successful pie crust! It may not look "professional" , but frankly Scarlett....
You'll see in the pictures below that when I rolled out my dough, it did not crumble and split around the edge. No patching necessary this time! When I lifted my dough, it remained in one piece...Hallilulia!
Now, I would like to share my findings with you. They say that to get the perfect pie crust, the only way you can succeed is with practice and it is definitely true! I couldn't understand over these past few weeks, how I could follow directions to the letter and still my crust would not come out right. I thought of giving up...I thought of buying Pillsbury for the rest of my life...but NO! I had to succeed!
I tried a variety of ways to make pie crust, looking up recipies from my favorite Food Network chefs. I also tried my mother-in-law's method...My favorite though, was Emeril Lagasse's recipe (BAM!), which I succeeded with today.  Maybe its my favorite because I finally learned something from past screw ups. lol - The reason I say this is because with my experiences and failures, I came up with a few tricks and maybe it was me that made this a success and not the recipe Emeril, it's not you, its me...
Ok, maybe its a combination of both of us.

I perfer the taste of a pie crust when it is made with butter and shortning - not just shortening.
Butter improves everything, doesn't it?(I've never attempted an all-butter crust. I'm sure its fantastic)

I chilled the bowl and pastry cutter that I was working with. I stuck it in the freezer for a few minutes. I do this for whip cream, I chill the bowl and beaters. I thought I'd apply this method here. It helps because otherwise, the butter can melt too quickly when you're working the dough. (especially with inexperienced hands :)

My biggest challenge- adding moisture: In most recipies it says to put 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of ice water....incorporating it gradually "and don't add too much or your crust will be tough!". However with Emeril's recipe, he states "3 tbsp of ice water or as needed". These three magical words got me thinking...I'll add ice water until I feel that the crust is just right. Unlike before, where I would put the recommended amount and stop even when the dough was too dry for fear of a tough crust.

I just tossed the flour/fats around quickly with my fingertips, while gradually adding the ice water. Then I would occasionally check if the dough would stick together properly by rapidly trying to form a ball. I read that the key to a flaky crust is when the dough is not overworked so I moved quickly trying not to heat the dough with my hands. The only time it is admissable to use your palms, is when your forming the ball of dough.. I used the method that I use with meatballs. To make a meatball that holds together in your sauce, you've gotta press it firmly into a ball, quickly rolling it around with your hands, removing any air pockets inside. For dough, it prevents cracks when forming your disc and rolling out your dough.(you must form a disc with your dough, cover it with cling wrap and refigerate before rolling it out)

Rolling it out: I learned that lots of flour on your work surface is a MUST.
I was under the impression that the dough must be rolled out the second its out of the fridge. This is not so. The dough must be chilled but not super cold. I think this was one of the reasons my dough would crack at the edges. So I waited a couple of minutes and then rolled it out. The picture below is my result and I'm darn proud of it!

Did you notice my little birds? They act as a vent for the steam to escape, rather than peircing slits into your top crust...Cute, hu?  :) Its nice to serve the pie this way.

I think that my family and boyfriend are so sick of pie that they won't even want to look at this one - Successful or not!  lol..I'll try my friends at work.

Thanks for reading!

PS: If you try this, be sure to let me know if my tips helped at all. I'll also be posting Emeril's recipe.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Lazy Times - Oven baked, Breaded Chicken Breasts with Walnut Pesto

This super-quick little recipe came to mind recently because frankly, I was feeling lazy after a long day at work. I'm sure you feel me.

I loved this recipe but I wasn't sure if it was "blog-worthy"
Here goes - you be the judge!

I had a few plain chicken breasts in the fridge. I had no time to marinate so I decided to bread the chicken. I was going to make my version of Chicken alla Parmigiana, with tomato sauce and cheese. However this evening, I felt for something different...So I whipped out my favorite cookbooks including Giada DiLaurentis' , Everyday Pasta. I was looking for a sauce for my chicken which would be easy, that I had ingredients for and that I didn't have to cook..lol...Tall order hu? Not really, Giada is great. She has a whole chapter of her cookbook dedicated to "no cook" sauces. That's where I found this Walnut Pesto...(recipe follows) I had the walnuts, the parsley, garlic and the olive oil! Yay! So I made the pesto while the chicken was baking - super fast and super tasty.

I had great olive oil so that really impacted the taste. My good friend Kathy hooked me up with some killer olive oil straight from Greece! I have a huge vat of it.lol...Important: When perparing salads, pestos and so on, it is imperative to the taste that you have excellent olive oil. Use your regular olive oil for the dishes which require cooking and use your good olive oil for the raw dishes.

In the pic shown, there's a lot of pesto on the chicken but it was so fresh and tasty - I couldn't get enough.
I served the chicken breast over steamed Basmati rice..I bought those pakages which you only have to microwave the rice for 2 minutes.. I mixed a small amount of pesto into the rice to add flavor.

Andre described dish as very tasty, light and summery. I know, for those who know him, you probably can't picture him saying that. BUT HE DID!! lol and he wants this again soon :)


-4 Plain Chicken Brests - preferably Maple Leaf , they're the best
- Seasoned Bread Crumbs - I use Pastene , whole wheat bread crumbs
- 2 eggs , beaten
- All purpose flour , I use unbleached flour
- Lemon - to sprinkle over chicken

- a large bunch of parsley, long stems removed (you'll need 2 cups, lightly packed)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of good quality olive oil (i put a little more)
- 2 cups of toasted walnuts (just pop them in your preheated oven for 5-10 minutes, until fragrant)
- (optional) 1 tbsp of grated romano cheese
- Salt and Pepper

Baking time: Approx 35 mins - check them at 30 mins..

-Preheat oven at 375 degrees
-Generously spray a casserole dish with PAM or similar
-Season the raw chicken breasts with salt and pepper on each side.
-Dredge your chicken breasts in flour, shaking off the excess
-Dip into the egg, again letting excess drip off
-Coat in bread crumbs. (This process will ensure that the chicken remains juicy during baking .)
-Place chicken into your baking dish and pop it in the oven! (uncovered)
- Flip chicken brests over once after about 25 minutes
- Sprinkle some lemon juice over them and return to the oven for the remainder of the cooking time.

For your Pesto, if you have a small food processer this will be a real sinch!
Put your parsley, garlic, olive oil, cheese (if using), toasted walnuts in the processer and pulse until its  as smooth as can be..(it'll always be a little granular because of the walnuts)

If serving with Pasta or rice, mix in a small amount of pesto for flavor continuity..

Place a generous dallop of Pesto over your chicken and serve!

Health note: This pesto is packed full of vitamines and good fats like omega3. You get Vitamin A from the parsley, good fats from the walnuts and olive oil. Olive oil also is like the founain of youth, just ask that woman in Italy who's over 100years old! She says that her good health and youthful look are due to her high intake of Olive oil! (she also used it as a moisturizer though - whateva!!! lol)
Also, modern science has shown that garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic and antioxidant!!

Enjoy and please send me your comments!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Update on Bufala Pizzoteca

Hello all, (Check out my first review of this restaurant before reading this one)

Gnocci Poutine

I went back to Bufala this past Friday. Some family members wanted to try it out so I happily tagged along. I took more pictures of the food and decided to share them with you.

My Dad had the Grilled Sardines which are not pictured here. He loved them! You can kinda' see them in back of  the Carpaccio in the first pic. The Mac n' Cheese pictured below blew me away! It was rich, creamy and the truffle flavor was subtle. Sometimes truffle oil flavor can totally take over with a dish - but not in this case :) It's not normally on the menu. It was the special that evening. It was popular so maybe he'll add it to the menu or at least feature it more often.

When the dishes arrived to our table, everyone wanted to dig right in but I yelled, "STOOOOOOOOOP!!! I must take pictures for my blog before we attack!!" So my family patiently waited, salavating, while I positionned the plates and snapped away. I didn't take a picture of my cousin's four cheese pizza for some reason. Anyway, it was amazing! One of the cheeses used is Gorgonzola. Again, the flavor of the Gorgonzola was not overpowering. Many pleople at the table aren't fans of this cheese but agreed that on this pizza
it just works!

We had the Nutella Pizza again for dessert and this fantastic warm banana bread. I definitely recommend both!

Check out my original review of this resturant for the address and phone number!

Thanks for reading!


Mac n' Cheese with Truffle oil

Potato Pizza

Crispy ham and Wild Mushroom Pizza

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Still need pie crust tips!

Hi Everyone...

Nobody posted comments...but I tried yet again to make pie crust. This time I made two crusts - two different ways! My blueberry pie crust actually came out ok. It was made with half butter-half shortening. The other was an apple pie. The crust was made with vegetable shortening and it came out tough.

Here are some pics. Please send me any tips...how do I know if I've put enough water? How do I know if  I've added too much? My crusts often crumble when I'm rolling it out which is supposed to mean there wasn't enough water. However, I put a 1/4 cup of ice water as the recipe states...HELP MOI!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chicken and Black Bean Tostadas - Easy!!!

Hi guys,
I'm always on www.foodnetwork.com trying to find new recipes from my favorite chefs. It's up there with internet banking, people ;)

My fiance loves Mexican food so I found this and decided to try it. Its also healthy. Well, its healthy except for one thing, the tostadas. They're fried but in my version of this recipe, they're whole wheat so it balances out. lol. During the week we really try to eat healthy so that we can indulge on the weekend.
When Andre and I made this the first time, we absolutely loved it! Fajitas have taken a bit of a back seat lately. My sister loves it too..as a matter of fact, if I want to make sure she comes over, I tell her that I'm making these! Like yesterday, for instance.

Its a fun and interactive recipe because you build your own tostada and I love to add...avocado, salsa, shredded cheese as topping options.
Another reason I love this recipe so much is because you can change or even omit certain ingredients and it'll still be still be fantastic. There are so many interesting flavors that if you're missing one, the others make up for it. However, I don't want you to think that these flavors are overpowering- they're not. There are many flavors that simply compliment each other.
Anyway, I've put the original recipe here but you'll see that I've changed it up a bit.

-1/4 cup canola oil , plus more for frying
-4 corn tortillas, preferably white - (I can't find these so I buy whole wheat flour tortillas)

-Kosher salt
-1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 teaspoon ground cumin - (I put 1/2 a teaspoon or it would surely overpower the dish with armpittiness - sorry, that was gross.)
-1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
-Freshly ground pepper
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 tablespoon ancho chili paste or adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo) - (I didn't have any last time and it was fine.)
-1/4 cup fresh lime juice
-2 teaspoons brown sugar - (1 tsp is fine)
-2 cups finely shredded green or red cabbage
-1 bunch radishes (about 6), julienned
-1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped - (when I can't find this , I sub with parsley , but it is muuuch better with cilantro.)
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1 rotisserie chicken, skinned and shredded into large pieces - (I cut it into smaller pieces, like medium sized cubes. its just easier to eat that way.)

(Optional) Guacamole or chopped avocado
(Optional) Shredded , low fat tex-mex Kraft cheese
(Optional) Montreal steak spice - no substitutes! I put that stuff on everything!! Its to sprinkle on the chicken to give it that "i just barbecued this chicken" flavor.

Official Directions (see my notes below)

Heat 1/2 inch oil in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Fry tortillas one at a time until golden and crisp, 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

Cool the oil slightly and discard all but 2 tablespoons. Add the beans and cumin and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the broth and cook, smashing the beans, until saucy and hot. Season with salt and pepper.

Whisk the garlic, chili paste, 2 tablespoons lime juice, the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup oil to make a dressing; add the cabbage, radishes and cilantro and toss. Mix the sour cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice in another bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Top each tortilla with beans, chicken, cabbage salad and sour cream.

Stephanie's Extras

I didn't have cabbage so I chopped a handful of radishes and less than 1/2 a red onion, - added parsley, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and it turned out great. I didn't really measure the ingredients- just did it by eye, tasted and adjusted.

I like to reheat my pieces of rotisserie chicken quickly in a pan and that's when I sprinkle about 2-3 shakes of Montreal Steak Spice. If I have some, I pour in 1/4 cup of chicken stock into the pan- obviously to add moisture. It works wonders. I let it evaporate and remove the chicken from the heat.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Need pie crust tips!!!


I've been trying to make a proper pie crust 2 weekends in a row now. Its hard!
Does anyone have any no fail recipes or some great tips , passed on from generations or something?
The one I made this weekend almost came out right but when I rolled it out and tried to put it in my pie dish it fell apart. So I did some patching and so on...It didn't work out that well. My pie didn't have an edge..it was bumpy and just plain ugly. As a matter of fact it was even uglier when first assembled. My boyfriend was laughing and laughing..I had thrown the apples into the pie dish because I was so eager to put the top crust on. Anyways, the apples were uneven in the dish so when I put the top crust on, there was his big mound on one side. It was funny, you had to be there. I flattened the pie, crust on.

Here's a picture of my ugly - but tasty pie with a forkful taken out of it. I couldn't wait!! It was really good!!
3rd times a charm??

Bufala Pizzoteca

Restaurant Bufala Pizzoteca
18425, Rue Antoine -Faucon
Pierrefonds, QC

My new obsession, Bufala in the West Island is THE place to go for Pizza! The very talented chef, my friend Vito has done it again. Although I haven't reviewed his flagship restaurant, Mundo yet, I was just too excited about this new place that I just couldn't review them in order!

Trattoria Mundo review to come! Didn't forget about you!

Bufala just opened last week and I've already been there twice..Wednesday and this past Friday!

For Vito fans, the restaurant is located in Mundo's previous location. The street Antoine-Faucon is right off St-Charles Boul. You'll have to drive down quite a bit and through a residential area to get to the restaurant. Don't worry you're not lost (everyone always thinks that they got off course somehow).

The look of the restaurant is modern with clean lines. The colors are vivid and earthy. I love the mini-tile that lines the back  wall. There's a large open kitchen which takes up almost the length of the restaurant. People love watching the chefs do their thing.  Its a casual yet sophisticated atmosphere where you can dress down, bring the kids but you can still order a great bottle of wine.

The menu lists a wide range of appetizers which everyone loves. It seems like people these days, maybe because of the Tappas scene,  love to order a bunch of appetizers and share with friends. Well, you can definitely do that at Bufala! My favorite appetizers so far include the Gnocci poutine...yes ...Gnocci poutine! Its fantastic. Like my aunt Melina would say, I wanted to roll around on the floor, it was so good!!! The gnocci are fried so they have a wonderful crispy exterior and soft interior. The gravy is light and flavorful and they use real Quebec cheese curds. It is heaven! I think about it every day since then!! Oh my, I have issues lol.I shared with  my fiance Andre both times that I went because I wanted to have some poutine and  another appetizer. Next time though...I'm ordering the poutine for myself..Andre was a little selfish with this dish..but who wouldn't be :)
I also tried the Grilled Caesar Salad. Its a whole heart of romaine lettuce, gently grilled on the exterior. The caesar dressing is drizzled overtop with shavings of parmigian cheese. The interior leaves were crunchy, the dressing was just right.  They also have grilled calamari, fried calamari served with wasabi mayo and a little soy drizzled on the plate, Sicilian rice croquettes, called Arancini and seared tuna salad, just to name a few.

You won't find your regular, run of the mill all dressed pizza at Bufala..Don't fret, the selection of pizzas are a refreshing change. The crust is pretty thin and crispy. There is one size that's big enough to share between two people if you each have an appetizer. You'll find potato and onion pizza, crispy ham mushroom and artichoke pizza, prosciutto and arugula pizza and so many more! They also have Panzerotties which are kind of closed or stuffed pizzas, with fillings such as rappini and cheese, sausage...uhhh I forgot the last one...sorry.

Dessert...Honestly I'm sure all the desserts are great BUT guess what they have at this snazzy pizza joint??? Nutella and Bannana Pizzaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!! OMG! Need I say more? Didn't think so.

My cappucino was great by the way.