Thursday, January 28, 2010

Simple and Elegant Sauteed Shrimp in Pernod

Shrimp in Pernod is now my favorite way to eat this crustation these days! My dad makes this once and a while; it's his specialty

What is Pernod, you ask?
Pernod is a french liqueur that has a light black licorice flavor - Lighter tasting than Sambuca.

I personally don't like black licorice flavor at all! In this recipe however, it tastes great. Maybe its the Pernod or the cooking process - don't know :) So if you're not a fan of the flavor, give this a chance anyway.

This recipe great to serve when you have guests over because:

1- its not your usual shrimp dish
2- its quick to put together in a hurry
3- can look very elegant

People that have tried it, love it..We have to beat Alex (my sister's boyfriend) off with a stick! My friend Giovanna made it at Christmas and got rave reviews! Here goes...


Recipe Serves 4

Must be cooked in batches, 6 to 8 shrimp at a time.


-Approximately 24 medium sized shrimp.
-Olive oil
-1 Bunch of green onions - roughly chopped



Drizzle approx. 1 tsp of olive oil into a medium sized, non-stick frying pan.
Heat on Medium
Sprinkle approx 1tsp of the chopped green onion into the pan
Add  6 to  8 shrimp at a time in the pan and saute until they begin to turn pink. (do not over crowd pan)
Add a splash of Pernod and toss with shrimp

Remove contents of the pan into a serving dish.

Repeat same method with remaining shrimp.

Add salt to taste.

Enjoy it! I do.

Mini Caramelized Banana Cheesecakes (Sucre brûlé on top)

Its so good , so decadent, so crispy!

The Recipe...


 Have a bag of white sugar near by - for the brulé topping.
 2-3 bananas (not too ripe)
 1 chef's torch (or any torch you have lying around lol)


1 box of Oreo crumbs to make pie crust. Follow directions indicated on the box.

You'll need:
1 1/4 c. chocolate cookie crumbs
3-4 tbsp. butter, melted

Either press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the 12 ramekins - (about 2 tbsp or so per ramekin) or press crumb mixture into a 9" spring form pan.

For Cheesecake

  • 2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  1. For cheesecake, beat cream cheese until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Add brown sugar in 2 additions, beating well after each addition. Beat in butter. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. 
  2. Pour mixture into your pan or divide equally into your ramekins
  3. Bake cheesecake in a water bath: place spring form pan into a baking dish and pour hot tap water around it, to come halfway up the pan.  
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, until filling puffs just slightly around edges but still moves a little in center when shaken.
  5. Remove pan from water and allow to cool for 2 hours before refrigerating overnight. Cheesecake will set.

See, place your ramekins in a "bain marie" as shown then pop them in the oven!

n. , bain-ma·rie 
A large pan containing hot water in which smaller pans may be set to cook food slowly or to keep food warm.
Start with 2 bananas. Slice them into thin slices, like disks and place them as shown but try to flatten them  so that they're flush or lower than the edge. Press down gently. I didn't do the best job here

Spoon a generous amount of sugar over the bananas.

Gently and carefully torch your sugar until it begins to bubble and turn a lovely amber color. 

Serve within 2 hrs. 

The cheesecake may be made ahead of time and refrigerated, however make your banana and sugar topping before serving. 

(once refrigerated for a couple of hours, the sugar topping will liquify, unfortunately)

Great Option: 

Drizzle caramel over the cookie crust, before you pour your cheesecake mixture in.
I the pic I'm not drizzling but DRIZZLE!

Here's the recipe for the caramel. Caramel made this way is the best. Do not buy store bought caramel its just not the same. 

I'll be honest, I messed up the first time. My caramel burned and solidified in my little pot...with the spoon in it! I just walked a way for a minute or two! It became like, rock-hard, solid as rock!!..I had to soak it for 2 days. It was like freakin' Sword in the Stone!

Ok , second time's a goes. 
(It bubbled over a little into my burner, but I still succeeded!


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup or lemon juice
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  1. For caramel topping, combine sugar, water and corn syrup or lemon juice in a pan. Bring to a simmer without stirring and cook, uncovered, until it turns a rich amber color. While cooking, occasionally brush down the sides of the pot with a brush dipped in cool water.

  1. Once sugar has reached desired color, remove from heat and carefully stir in whipping cream (watch out for the steam and bubbling). Return to medium heat and simmer until reduced by a third, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Chill until thickened but still fluid, about 15 minutes.

It makes a lot of caramel but I'm sure you'll find something to do with the rest. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Teaser!! Mini Caramelized Banana Cheesecakes (Sucre brûlé on top)

Hi Guys!

If you love cheesecake, bananas, an Oreo crust and creme will loooove this recipe. This actually has nothing to do with creme brulee though, except for the crispy sugar coating over my sliced banana topping.

I discovered this recipe at a great restaurant which was a favorite of ours. I say "was" because unfortunately it is now closed. It was called Savannah and they were specialized in Southern Soul food with a sophisticated side - kind of Soul food haute cuisine, if you will.  They had a fantaaastic wine list - reasonably priced. The menu was complete with lots of seafood - especicically Crab dishes, spicy shrimp,  gumbo.... they had the best ribs, collard greens, black eyed peas...the whole nine yards! On their brunch menu, they even had Grits!! (Does the mention of grits remind you of "My Cousin Vinny" too?? lol)  - I truly miss you Savannah!

You can make individual cheesecakes, like me or you can make a full sized cake with this recipe.

I used 12 medium sized ramekins (3" in diameter) / or use a 9" spring form pan.

To make the "brulee" sugar topping like the professionals, you should have a chef's propane torch. They're small and easy to use like this one, which I googled. You can find one at Ares kitchen supplies or at Tzanet

However, if you don't have a torch, you can put them in the oven on broil until you get the desired result. Keep your eye on it though! It doesn't take much for it to burn.

Well.......I didn't have a torch so my boyfriend lent me his. As it is not meant for cooking, it was a little bigger

 Say hello to my little friend..

I kinda' burned a few along the way.

What do you expect with this freakin' flame thrower!?

Luckily, I had 12 mini cheesecakes to do...lotsa' practice!

Dialog overheard..."Adjust the valve!" 
"The flame is too its too low!"  You're too're too far...move faster!!...It's burning! SHUT IT OFF, I DON'T KNOW HOW!!" ..."YOU BURNT MY EYE! " 
(just kidding - no humans were harmed during this recipe and no eyebrows missing)

They were still excellent but a little on the dark side.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Naan Bread - A l'Italiano


This easy recipe is a new versatile!

What's Naan, you ask?

Naan is a leavened, oven-baked flatbread. It is one of the most popular varieties of South Asian breads and is particularly popular in the India, Afghanistan, Iran, United Kingdom, Pakistan, and the Xinjiang Region of China, where it is considered the staple food.

....and you can't forget that Naan bread is soft, comforting, goes with anything and is usually served warm You'd wanna rub them on your cheeks on a cold day.

Its actually Emeril Lagasse's recipe (BAM!) I love him, as you must know by now. However I changed it up and made it "a l'Italiano" .I can't understand was like a compulsion! I couldn't leave them plain.
I had to top them with stuff - must be the Pizza gene.


  • 1 teaspoon dried active yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water, about 110 degrees F
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed while kneading
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup clarified butter or vegetable oil, plus 1 teaspoon
  • Fresh Rosemary and Thyme - leaves removed and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • Olive oil


In a glass-measuring cup, combine the yeast and sugar. 

Add the water and stir well. Let rest until foamy, about 5 minutes. Sift together the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the yeast mixture and oil into the center. Mix together with your fingers until a smooth dough forms, working in a small amount of additional flour as needed. Knead for 3 minutes.

Oil a small bowl with the remaining butter or oil. Place the dough into the bowl, turning to coat, and let rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Divide the dough into 6 pieces and gently roll into 6 circles on a lightly floured surface. Bake on a baking stone, or a lightly greased baking sheet, until just golden brown and puffed, about 12 minutes.

Now, after I rolled out my dough, I brushed the dough with olive oil, minced garlic,

Sprinkled Rosemary and Thyme

I made some plain ones too and when they were hot outta the oven , I brushed melted butter on them.

I have to admit something. I think I overcooked my Naans because they were crispy and they're supposed to be softer.

Next time they'll be better!


Braised Kale with White Navy Beans

Hi Everyone, Its me again!

This recipe is great because its tasty, comforting, easy but best of all its SUPER healthy! Oh! and its a vegetarian dish.

  • 1 slice of bacon or pancetta, diced (Optional)
  • 1/2 cup of canned white navy beans or similar - drained and rinsed with cold water.
  • 1 or 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and torn
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock ( you may want to use a little more)
-(Optional)Saute the bacon/pancetta in a deep pan or Dutch oven over medium heat until rendered, about 5 minutes.
-Add the olive oil and when the oil is hot, add onion and cook until translucent, 6 to 7 minutes.
-Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.
-Add the greens, and saute until wilted, about 4 minutes.
-Add the chicken stock and beans, cover and gently braise over low heat until tender, about 40-45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with anything from seafood, fish, chicken or even on its own with some fresh crusty bread.

Health Benefits:

Kale is rich and abundant in calcium, lutein, iron, and Vitamins A, C, and K.  
Kale has seven times the beta-carotene of broccoli and ten times more lutein. Kale is rich in Vitamin C not to mention the much needed fiber so lacking in the daily diet of processed food eating Canadians. The "Icing on the Kale" (haw-haw) are the natural occurring phytochemicals -  sulforaphane and indoles which research suggests may protect against cancer. Let's not forget the all important antioxidant Vitamin E. Convinced yet?

Today I went into our kitchen at work and told some friends that I had made this Braised Kale with white beans and most of them looked at me and said "Braised what?!"Its too bad that most people aren't familiar with these super healthy leafy greens. My grandmother made leafy greens a lot so I was lucky to be exposed to them from a young age..Try this recipe with Escarole or even Swiss Chard (Beta Cadre).  Give it a try and you'll be surprised how great and comforting this veggie can be :) I served mine last night with grilled chicken breast and my warm "Italianized Naan Bread" (recipe coming up)..soooo good.

Mamma Rosa's Crespelle (savory crepes for manicotti)

Hi friends,

A friend of mine, Lucy, was asking if I had a recipe for Crespelle, which are savory crepes used to make manicotti. So, its like instant fresh pasta! I told her that I definitely did have this recipe. It's from my friend's mom.
We'll call her Mamma Rosa :)

You can buy ready-made manicotti shells but they are a far cry from the wonderful soft and light texture of crespelle. When prepared the traditional way, stuffed with ricotta and baked in tomato sauce, they soak in the flavors and the texture is " like butta' " They melt in your mouth!

Best of all, they are a sinch to make and can be made in advance and frozen. - stacked with parchment paper in between each crepe.

A bit of history...

Crespelle are the Italian equivalent of crepes. Though the preparation now has a certain ring of elegance to it, in the past crespelle were considered poor people's food. The change came in 1895, when Henri Carpentier, Maitre at Montecarlo's Café de Paris, prepared them at the table for the Prince of Wales. Edward named them after his lady friend -- Crepes Suzette.

Don't you love these interesting little factoids? You can add this to your repertoire of useless information. lol


Yeilds approx 20-25 crespelle.

3 cups of flour

5 eggs

3 cups of milk ( but Mamma Rosa uses water instead because she finds the milk makes the batter to thick )

Pinch of salt

PAM cooking spray - it woks best with this recipe.


non-stck frying pan


In a medium sized bowl, combine the above mentioned ingredients and mix with a wire wisk

Set the heat to medium.

Preheat your non-stick frying pan ( I use a 9" pan). That's the size I want my crepes to be and it ensures size consitency.

Spray some PAM into your pan

With a ladle,  pour the batter into the pan.

Then, swish your pan around so that the batter coats the bottom of the pan evenly.

**The crepe is meant to be paper-thin so it won't take long for the crepe to set.

Flip it over. The flip-side will literally take seconds to cook.

**They are meant to remain pale only very slightly golden (do not brown them)

Remove from heat and the next one.

**You can make a few crepes before having to spray the pan again with PAM.

The batter is meant to be thin enough to be swirled around...if its too thick , add some liquid to your batter

Also, if the batter is setting too quickly for you to swirl it, your heat may be too high. (depending on cooktop and pan, tempreatures may vary) On my gas cooktop, I must put it on medium-low.

My first crepes of the batch are always thicker than the rest, 'cause I adjust the heat, the consistancy etc..
So don't worry, you'll get the hang of it.

Then you stuff them with your favorite filling and bake! (spoon your filling onto the crepe and fold 2 edges around the stuffing - like a cigar or rather like a cannoli :) - Place into your casserole dish - seam side down)
If you're making traditional manicotti with ricotta stuffing and topped  with tomato sauce and melted cheese,
the dish will be ready when sauce is bubbling and cheese cheese on top is melted.
(I use tomato sauce but my buddy, Chef Vito of Trattoria Mundo's uses Butter Cream sauce.)

Thank you Mamma Rosa!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chocolate Charlotte Russe VS. the original recipe

Hi guys!

Happy New Year!!

So, my father-in-law was talking about his favorite dessert again, the Charlotte Russe.

It is a very old recipe. In fact, many bakeries don't even make it anymore so they are hard to come by. Although, he's ordered a few in the past, he claims that none came close to the one he enjoyed as a child, in Trois Rivieres, Quebec. He often reminisces about it, especially around the holidays. He says he used to walk by the local bakery and admire the Charlotte Russe in the window. His family didn't buy this dessert often back then so it was a real treat when he did get to have some.

This dessert has taken many forms over the years and it changes from family to family and region to region. It’s basically a layered dessert made up of sponge cake, fruit, Jell-O or jam, and whip cream. Although many of the ingredients change, the one "constant" is that it is lined with lady fingers. My father-in-law remembered it as a layer of sponge cake, whip cream, fruit (including pineapple) and Jell-O.

So, due to the lack of acceptable Charlotte Russes, he decided that he was going to make one exactly the way he remembered it! He was determined! Problem? - he didn't have recipe and he doesn't cook. lol...So I offered my help, my kitchen and I even found him a recipe online to base himself on but he decided that he would make it on his own. He wanted all the glory! Truthfully, I was disappointed because all that talk about cake, whip cream and Jell-O got me in the mood to try it for myself.  
My fiancé André, assumed his father's cake would be an utter disaster and challenged him to a competition.  He wanted me to make a chocolate one (of course). His dad accepted the challenge and in the words of Dane Cookit was on! - complete with "trash talk" and shameless SPYING(My fiancé did the trash-talking and my father-in-law did the just made my cake)

My Charlotte had a layer of chocolate cake, a layer of chocolate pudding (mixed with a tsp of gelatin). When the pudding set, I added a generous helping of whip cream. I framed the cake with chocolate dipped lady fingers and added fresh strawberries on top. I then tied a pretty bow around the cake for the cookies to hold.
(if you want the complete recipe, let me know!)

Here's the pudding

Here are the three layers, the cake, the pudding and the whip cream.
I added more whip cream afterwards.

So, on January 2nd we were having our New Years party so, so both cakes were presented and family members were asked to vote on their favorite Charlotte. We even had a trophy that the kids made out of Lego...  :-D

Although our cake was pretty and chocolaty, my nieces and nephews voted for their Grandfather's cake and that's fine by me. (I later found out that my father in law actually voted for my cake :)

History of the Charlotte Russe

Charlotte Russe is a dessert invented by the French chef Marie Antoine Carême (1784-1833), who named it in honour of his Russian employer Czar Alexander I (russe being the French word for "Russian"). It is a cold dessert of Bavarian cream set in a mold lined with ladyfingers.

The Winner! - The traditional Charlotte Russe. Pretty hu? but a little like the tower of Pisa, eh?? I'm only slightly bitter about my

If anyone wants either recipe, post your request!