Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rhubarb, apple and strawberry crumble

Autumn/fall is definitely here - the nights are much cooler now and it is no hardship to have the oven on in the evening! At last Sunday's little farmer's market in Verdun I picked up a huge bunch of rhubarb.Not my favourite vegetable but an awesome addition to fruity desserts, especially pies and crumbles! It is only since living in Quebec that I have discovered the deliciousness of adding of strawberries to pies and crumbles (why don't we do this in Australia? My guess, berries are waaay to expensive to "waste" in a crumble!) and so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to test out a rhubarb, apple, strawberry concoction.

You could follow any normal crumble recipe, using your favourite fruits, but here are my hints -

- partially cook the apple and rhubarb in a saucepan, with a bit of water and lemon

- use a shallow dish for optimal crumble to fruit ratio!

- get creative with seasonings for the crumble topping - I love a little bit of ground ginger and even some black pepper, and I always add rolled oats to the flour/sugar/butter mixture

Mmm, and of course, serve with your favourite dairy deliciousness!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Peanut butter and chocolate chip biscuits

A super easy recipe, easily tweaked to your tastes!

Base recipe -
1 cup of peanut butter (any consistency)
1 egg
1 cup of sugar (I used about 3/4 cup of brown)

I added -
a few drops of vanilla
a little bit of flour (all purpose/plain)
roughly chopped 70% chocolate (the amount is up to you - my personal philosophy is something along the lines of more = better)
a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger

Preheat your oven to 180C. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon, roll into balls, place on a lined baking tray, use the tines of your fork to squish them down a little and bake until golden (15-20 min). Cool on trays for a few minute, then cool completely on wire racks. Pour yourself a big glass of milk and try not to eat them all for dinner!

Monday, September 20, 2010

From Atwater to the Old Port, along the Lachine Canal, on a lazy Sunday afternoon

Construction in the foreground, downtown Montreal in the background 
(and what a perfect blue sky...... it was a glorious day!)

The iconic Farine Five Roses sign

It might be a bit hard to see, but there are hundreds of people amassed by the railings (two floors worth!) on the left hand side of the photo, trying to get a glimpse of the boats!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Most Appetizing Salads (photographed in a relatively unappetizing manner)

Well, my food photography skills are certainly lacking (though in my defense I needed to take this photo very quickly, given the hungry hoardes waiting out of frame). This is part of the feast we assembled a couple of weekends back, at our party at the cottage. You can see my influence - pickled beetroot ready to grace the burgers (people seemed to enjoy it!) and Australian ETA BBQ sauce (a constant in the care packages from home). There's also Smitten Kitchen's Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad (middle left) and Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad (top right) and R's amazing take on Fattouche (liberal application of sumac is essential!). My Caramelised Onions, labourious but oh so worth it, are lost in the middle somewhere! Everything is recommended!

(Notes on the Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad - my carrots took much, much longer to roast than expected  but it was ok, I had set aside a bunch of time for the onions and the carrots don't really require much attention. The salad traveled very well sans avocado, which I added a bit before serving, along with fresh lemon. I think it would be delicious served with a roast chicken, as an alternative to the usual roast vegies)


Summer in Montreal is short. However, it is hot and humid and full of sunshine so it feels like a real summer and you can get away with wearing just shorts and t-shirts for a couple of months (This balance was one of my "conditions" in moving to a city that is blanketed in snow for four-six months of the year) But, summer in the Northern Hemisphere is coming to an end (the blogs say that it is so....) and whilst there are lots of things to love about the fall - the beautiful leaves, the huge collection of scarves I've managed to amass, the pumpkin jam at Cafe Souvenir - I really despise the first day when I forced to choose a pair of jeans over a pair of shorts. Today is that day. Just yesterday we were golfing (!!) in brilliant sunshine, today, well it is pretty miserable outside and the jeans (and socks!) are welcome....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Recent purchases

Two recent purchases, both bargains!

First, pale gold flats from Old Navy (30% off, $17.15CAD)

and a vase from Winners ($12.99CAD)

(the flowers were more expensive than the vase!)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Steak for breakfast!

 This is not my breakfast! It was a highlight (I am paraphrasing here) of M's work trip to Texas! Steak is not really a staple on breakfast and brunch menus in Montreal so he jumped at the opportunity......

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


My favourite Chinese dumpling filling is pork, chive and prawn (shrimp) and my favourite place in Montreal to chow down on them is Maison du Nord (2130 St Mathieu, right near Guy-Concordia.) After a couple of nights away from home though, I was looking forward to a night in..... but what about my dumpling craving? I had extensive dumpling experience from my days back in Brisbane, when my Chinese and Taiwanese friends would get us together for a dumpling party. We would make hundreds of dumplings, gorge ourselves silly and then freeze the rest (perfect for a late night snack come thesis writing!) However, despite the best intentions, I have never recreated them at home. Tonight was the night! I decided to take the easy route and use pre-formed dumpling wrappers. They turned out amazingly well (though some were a little droopy, see the bottom photo!) and made for a quick and delicious dinner!


I made these with:

Store bought, refrigerated dumpling wrappers
Pork mince
Raw prawns
Garlic chives
Rice Wine (a splash or two)
Sesame Oil (very little, it's strong!)
Salt and Pepper
Black vinegar and chilli oil to serve (a must in my humble opinion)

Finely chop all ingredients that need it and mix everything but the wrappers in a large bowl. (Here, some people would suggest tasting the mixture raw, or frying up a little in a pan, to check for seasonings) Then, with dry hands, place a teaspoon of mixture in the centre of a wrapped and use a finger dipped in water to moisten around the edges. Fold over and press the edges together, pleating the fold in whatever manner you see fit! Either cook them in a pot of boiling water (they are ready when they rise to the top) or set them on a tray covered in greaseproof paper and pop them in the freezer (Make sure they are not touching!) When frozen, bundle together and congratulate yourself on stocking your freezer with something other than bagels and Haagen Daaz.....

Let me know if you make your own dumplings and what your favourite fillings are - I feel a dumpling bonanza coming on....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Review: Hecho en Mexico

(blurry from the iphone, but you get the idea!)

Authentic Mexican is hard to find in Montreal (and Australia for that matter!) Not having been to Mexico though, maybe I am not really qualified to say what is authentic, but I know the best Mexican I've eaten was as I was road tripping around California. A new Mexican place, Hecho en Mexico (Made in Mexico) opened up recently down the road from me, and I couldn't wait to try it!

I have been there twice now - the first visit was amazing and I couldn't believe how good it was. We had the place to ourselves, had a lovely chat with the owners and chef (though in broken French, since they didn't really speak English) and the food was outstanding and exceptional value. We had quesadillas (with black beans and feta, see the first photo), a salad (mango and what I think was jicama, dressed with lemon, so refreshing), the lamb (cooked in leaves for hours, meltingly soft, though a small portion), the steak "burritos" and then flan (the second photo, it blends into the plate!). Oh, and horchata! That was as part of a table d'hote, of which there was a 13/15/18 dollar option

The second visit the menu had changed so that there were starters and mains. The prices had increased and the restaurant was full. We waited a long time for our food, though the chips and salsa kept us going. The food was delicious still, but there seemed to be an issue with portion size and perhaps advising people on ordering. We had the quesadillas again, and the beef tartare. The tartare portion, for a starter, was *huge* (at least 200g of meat) and it would have been better if the waiter has advised us to share it. Again, our mains were delicious - steak tacos, and then an enchilada dish with mole sauce and (supposedly) chicken. It came with bacon instead, which really made the dish too rich. It was also a big portion and whilst I loved the mole sauce, the flavours became a little bit to same-y after awhile (so much so that I couldn't finish it, something I rarely do!) The quality of the food was still good, but we realised we needed to change our ordering strategy on the next visit.

I should note too, both times we have been served tortilla chips and salsa when we were seated (and we received extra salsa and chips on request)!

It is a family run small business and there are definitely some issues with the service (on our second visit we were given the wrong bill twice - both times it was a cheaper bill. If we had been less honest they would have lost money and I am sure they can't afford to do that early on) The food definitely makes up for it though!
I would definitely encourage people to visit, just go with a bit of a gentle attitude!

Hecho en Mexico
4816 Rue Wellington
Verdun QC

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Summer cinema (and a little review)

Outdoor cinemas are commonplace in Australia - the Moonlight cinema in King's Park in Perth is my favourite, although the one at the Botanical Garden's in Sydney is lovely too! You can pack a picnic, or buy one on site, and lounge around amidst the trees in the balmy summer air, ahh.... that's the life!

In Montreal there are no such "pop up" screens - I am not sure why.... The short summer shouldn't be a factor - the Australian screens are only up for three months or so. Maybe the chance of summer storms? Whatever the reason, I miss the fun of movies outdoors, so when G suggested going along to Virgin Radio's Movies in the Park event, to see Sex and the City 2, I was very excited! The atmosphere was not quite the same - the screen was the inflatable kind, and the "park" was a local college's oval (complete with football players training at one end!) but it was a perfect night, weather-wise, and we had a great time! (The free Ben and Jerry's icecream helped!)

(and as for the movie itself? The first 20 minutes was horrible and I was wondering whether I would last. It improved, though there were many lines that were just cringe-worthy. The one-on-one interactions though, between Miranda and Charlotte, between Big and Carrie, carried some of the sentiment and tone of the original series, thankfully. Should there be a third? Absolutely not!)

Friday, September 3, 2010

De-icing a plane!

Living in a city (nay, a country!) that experiences a "real" winter means lots of firsts - first time falling on a patch of ice, first time driving in snow, first time shovelling snow from your balcony, first time hearing the snow plow announce its presence on your street at 3am.... the list is nearly endless! 

When I flew home to Australia this past December, I had another one - first time sitting in a plane waiting for it to be de-iced! De rigueur for most Montrealans, but a surprise to me! Luckily M has clued me in on what it would look like! I am a nervous flier necessarily, but there is something very disconcerting about watching someone do something that is completely necessary for a successful take off! You want to call out, "hey, you missed a spot!"