Sunday, October 5, 2008

pizza on the mind

Okay, so by now everyone has heard the news. The first 3 months were very hard...much harder then I anticipated. There was a lot of nausea, a lot of gaging, and tons of tiredness. Ironically, food has become an after thought for me. Suddenly, the thought of having a juicy steak or a grilled filet of salmon sounds very unappealing. One of the benefits of pregnancy though is my new love of pizza. Yes, I was one that never really enjoyed pizza that much...but now, it's all I want to eat.
So, with the cold weather approaching, we decided to have one last bbq...and what better to grill then pizza!

We got the grill smoking hot, and then placed the rolled dough on the hot grates.

After a generous lather of fresh tomato sauce, we topped our pizza with some of our favorite toppings. Since the pizza cooks at a fast rate, we precooked most of our toppings -- onions, mushrooms, shrimps, peppers, etc. Some toppings we left on raw, such as fresh tomatoes, basil, and olives.

Once the toppings heated through, we topped the pizza with either parmesan or fontina cheese.

This pizza was delicious. Smokey from the grill, crispy, thin, and salty from the was just wonderful. I highly recommend making pizza on the grill, but I must warn you that you can't use a heavy hand for the toppings since it is such a light pizza. Less is more!
The dough was a perfect combo of chewy and crisp. It was more like a thin crust pizza since that is what we prefer.

Pizza Dough Recipe

4 1/2 cups Flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting

Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. By hand stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed. Add the herbs. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. Add a touch of water or flour to reach the desired effect. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky.

Transfer the dough to a floured countertop. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and mold each into a ball. Rub each ball with olive oil and slip into plastic sandwich bags. Refrigerator overnight.

When you are ready to make pizza (anytime in the next few days), remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before making the pizza. Keep them covered so they don't dry out.

Uncover or unwrap the dough balls and dust them with flour. Working one at a time, gently press a dough round into a disk wide enough that you can bring it up onto your knuckles to thin out - you should be able to pull each round out to 12-inches or so. If the dough is being fussy and keeps springing back, let it rest for another 15-20 minutes.

Bake until the crust is crisp and nicely colored.

Makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

baby fever!

As you've surely noticed, we've been no-shows on Miche Mâche for a while now. Seems that Dina's tiredness and lack of vigor has been due to a new (little) development. That's right! We're expecting a new addition to the family. ☺

No news yet on the gender...but we're definitely going to find out as we're big on planning.

So, life gets hectic and updating the blog unfortunately takes a back seat for a little while. We hope to come back with renewed passion as things settle down. Thanks to all of you for your continued readership and loyalty and hoping things have been as joyous for you as it has been for us.

Cheers (with a glass of milk)!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

a farmer's market snack

That, my friends, was a perfect little shared lunch that we had at the farmer's market. It was a smoked Italian sausage in a crusty, chewy bun. The topping was a marinated eggplant pickle. It was delicious!

There is nothing better then walking around the market, snacking on tasty little things, and picking up produce for dinner that night. If you haven't been to your local market yet this summer, please go support your local farmers and enjoy a tasty snack or two.

On an unrelated note, I wanted to take this opportunity to post a follow up to last week's mango topic. I found this post that captured the mango's (and mango merchants) of India and I wanted to share it with all of you. His photo's are beautiful and I hope you'll take a moment to check them out.

the heat is on

So I’m in a rut.
Have you ever had one of those days where you really don’t feel like cooking? Well, my day actually turned into a whole month. I don’t know if it was the extremely humid weather or just lack of ambition, but June was such a blah month for us. Our dinners have been
quick burgers, simple salads, and on particularly good days maybe some homemade hummus. I’m not sure why the inspiration has gone or why food has become so unimportant but I want that to change.

Last night, on a whim, we decided to spice things up with some tandoori shrimp with a side of spicy mango salsa. All through dinner, all I heard from Mony was a muffled ‘this is so good!’.
Now normally, I am not a huge mango fan. I think this comes from growing up in an Indian household where every night with dinner we had a small plate of sliced mango as our dessert. To this day, from May-September, my parents will still buy boxes of mango. Yes, you read that right. Not one or two mangoes, but boxes of them. I guess it's a nostalgic thing for them that goes back to when they were growing up in India. I’m sure Mony's not complaining since he always gets a few to take home with us when we go see them. This salsa was actually made with one of the mango’s that they gave us last week. It was an Alfonso mango – and as they say ‘unless you’ve had an Alfonso mango you’ve never had a mango’. It was super sweet and tender, a perfect platform for the tart lime juice and earthy black beans. A tiny Thai red chili also helped harmonize the flavors. The balance of sweet, sour, and spicy was a huge hit.

Black Bean Mango Salsa
  • 1 cup drained canned black beans, rinsed
  • 1 ripe medium mango, diced
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small chili pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium green onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
In a bowl, combine the black beans, mango, red bell pepper, chili pepper and green onion. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, salt and cayenne. Fold the mixture into the beans.
Stir in the cilantro and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Were going to the farmer's market this weekend so hopefully there will be more to write about. Plus this summer CSAs are starting next week! w00t!

What are you guys making to beat the heat?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

chevre island

If there was the option to go on vacation on a pristine island made of goat cheese, surrounded by a vast sea of spicy marinara sauce, I'd be the first one there. Until that day, however, I will gladly consume this entree any day of the week. Imagine a generous slice of chevre with a slightly broiled surface and warm tangy underbelly paired with the bright flavours of homemade tomato sauce. Forget imagining. Go to your local market and buy a fresh disk of goat cheese, a can of plum tomatoes, onions, garlic and chili flakes and get to work!

chevre island (goat cheese on marinara sauce)

1/4 cup of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 can of plum tomatoes
3 basil leaves, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
salt, pepper & chili flakes to taste

one goat cheese round (140g)

Cook garlic and onions in olive oil in large oven-safe sautee pan until they are translucent and begin to lightly brown. Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add to pan, along with their juices. Add basil, salt, pepper & chili flakes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Slice goat cheese into two 1/2 inch disks and place atop marinara sauce. Place in oven under broiler for a few minutes until the cheese begins to bubble and becomes golden brown.

Remove from oven. Spoon some sauce onto individual plates and transfer goat cheese disk from pan onto middle of plate using a spatula that has been oiled with cooking spray. Serve immediately with warm baguette.

Whip this dish up to impress or to enjoy as a simple appetizer or entree on the patio. A warm piece of bread is a must to sop up the sauce. The taste and texture of the goat cheese is almost indescribable and akin to creme brulee (with a crispy top and velvety filling). This is a simple and delectable meal in minutes, with the wow factor.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

a secret weapon

Ladies, here's a secret weapon to keep in your back pocket for when you really want your significant other to do something for you.
Men, here's a little recipe to save for those days when your wife is feeling a bit blue.

What is it?
It's a Chocolate Pear Tart.
Now, I am not really a chocolate fan - weird, I know - but this tart is more then just plain old chocolate. It has the texture of a dark chocolate truffle, balanced perfectly with the light sweetness of the pears. It has a bit of a Mayan chocolate feel with the addition of cinnamon for complexity. It's not your ordinary chocolate tart...and I can bet that whoever you make this for will love you forever (and help you clean out the garage!)

Pear and Chocolate Tart
  • 3 x Anjou or Bartlett pears, peeled, halved and cored
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp brandy (optional)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 x large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 x large egg
  1. Bring pears, sugar, water and lemon juice up to a simmer. Cook pear just below a simmer (and place a plate or piece of parchment over surface of liquid to keep pears from floating) until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. After pears have cooled a bit, remove from liquid, sprinkle with brandy (optional), toss and chill until ready to serve.
  2. To prepare crust, cream butter and sugar together. Stir in egg yolks, adding one at a time. Sift together flour, cocoa and salt and add to butter mixture. Mix until dough just comes together. Shape in to a disc and chill until ready to roll. If preparing ahead of time, pull dough from fridge an hour before rolling.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to just over ¼-inch (.5 cm) thick. Line a 9-inch (23 cm) removable-bottom tart shell with dough, trim edges and chill for 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Dock pastry with a fork and bake for 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 325 F (160 C). Place chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Heat cream with spices to just below a simmer and pour over chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then stir slowly. Stir in vanilla.
  6. Whisk egg in a small cup then stir into chocolate. Pour into chocolate shell and bake for 12 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then chill for 2 hours before serving.
  7. To garnish with pears, slice, pears thinly and arrange over tart.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

mais, por favor

When people say time flies, they're not kidding.
Can you believe it's already been a year since we booked our incredible trip to Portugal? I guess it still feels like yesterday because we are constantly talking about something or another to do with the trip.
I don't know if we loved it so much because it was our 1st trip to Europe together, or if it was because of all the friendly locals, or maybe it was the terrific coffee…All I know is that there is a special place in my heart for Portugal and its wonderful culture, that I am sure it will bring us back there over and over again. And even though I've always said that there is so much to see in this world that we couldn't possibly go back to the same place twice, I think this is an exception.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was the amazingly fresh seafood. We could go into town in the early afternoon and pick up fish that was literally fished (is that even a word??) that same morning. Simply thrown on the bbq that evening, finished off with a light drizzle of olive oil…it just doesn't get any better than that.

Now if you were to ask Mony what his favorite part was, he would say Monkfish rice. That was a local dish we had one of the nights at a small restaurant by the shore. It was creamy without being heavy, with just the right amount of seafood without it being too fishy. When he mentioned to me that he wanted to recreate this dish at home, I'll be honest, I had my doubts. Not only would my kitchen end up looking like a tornado had hit it, but the final dish would taint my memories of that beautiful dish. Now this is not a jab at Mony's cooking skills, but the truth of the matter is that we just don't have the same local ingredients, nor the freshness available here as they do there. So no matter how well Mony cooked, it still wouldn't be able to compare to the legendary dish.

Okay now listen carefully because you won't hear this very often:

I was wrong.

He recreated this dish as perfectly as the little old grandma in a Portuguese kitchen. It had the right seasoning, the right texture, the right consistency.

He was right, I was wrong.

ARROZ DE TAMBORIL (Monkfish rice)

Serves 4

600g monkfish fillets, skinned
8 raw prawns, unpeeled
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 sweet red pepper, finely chopped
2 chorizo sausages, sliced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1.3 liters hot stock (vegetable or fish)
400g risotto rice
1 tsp Spanish paprika
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and pepper
2 tbsp flat parsley leaves, torn
1 lemon

Cut the fish into healthy, bite-sized pieces.
Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the fish and prawns on all sides until they change colour. Remove to a plate and season well. Add the remaining oil and cook the onion, garlic, red pepper and chorizo and fry for 10 minutes, stirring well. Add the tomatoes, stock or water and bring to the boil. Add the (unwashed) rice, paprika, bay leaves, salt and pepper, stirring well.
Reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is almost cooked but still wet and soupy (add more stock if not). Add the monkfish, prawns and parsley and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Scatter with parsley and serve in warm pasta bowls, with lemon wedges for squeezing.

To read more about our trip, click here, here, and here...oh, and here.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

bring on the sunshine

Okay, so the Habs are now on some Montreal golf course taking advantage of the beautiful weather instead of playing playoff hockey. And my Flames have been perfecting their swing for weeks now. The beautiful thing about being eliminated, though, is the hope that next year will bring more success. Dina and I have much more on our minds than hockey and golf for this quickly approaching summer. The prospect of sitting on a newly constructed deck in our own backyard, sipping wine and dining outdoors is fresh in our minds. Until the deck is ready and the temperature warms up, we decided to bring a little sunshine into our home courtesy of some veal piccata.

I started getting my biceps in shape for the summer by pounding out the veal cutlets until they were 1/4 inch thick while Dina prepared the lemon-wine based sauce.

Veal Piccata

4 veal cutlets, pounded until 1/4 in. thick
2 tbsp flour, for dredging
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp butter
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tsp capers
1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped
Lemon slices and parsley sprigs, for garnish
Salt & pepper to taste

Season the veal with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Pat off excess flour. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute veal cutlets for 2 minutes per side and remove to plate (do not overcook, as veal will become tough). Add garlic to pan and saute for 1 minute. Add wine, lemon juice, and capers and bring to boil; cook until reduced by half. Return to a simmer and stir in butter and parsley until butter has melted and is incorporated into sauce. Return veal cutlets to pan and coat with sauce. Transfer to serving plate and garnish with lemon slices and parsley sprigs.

The result: tender, juicy veal cutlets, swimming in a savory, lemony sauce with bites of capers throughout. Insanely delicious and better than dining out on a $20+ meal.

This will do just fine until BBQ weather decides to make an appearance.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

go habs go

There is a buzz in the city. You don't even have to be a hockey fan to feel it. Everywhere you turn, you see the signs of a city that has hockey fever. The Montreal Canadiens (aka the habs) haven't played this well since '93 when they last won the cup. The hockey buzz has us all on the edge of our seats wondering if this is the year that they bring the cup home.

So what do you eat during the playoffs?
Something that is simple and easy to eat, yet delicious and healthy.

That's where Channa Chatt comes in.
When my mom went to India a few weeks back, most people would have asked for a sari or the latest bollywood cd but I asked her to bring me back Chatt masala. Chatt masala is a mixture of spices that is widely available in India but slightly harder to find here. It's a special blend of spices that includes mango powder, cloves, black pepper, coriander seed, along other pungent spices. It's a mixture that makes you pucker your lips and lick them all at once.

Channa Chatt
2 cups chick peas
2 big boiled potatoes, peeled and chopped
1-3 green chillies finely chopped
2 tsp ginger finely chopped
1 - 2 medium onions chopped
3 Tbs lemon or lime juice
1 tsp fine sugar
2 Tbs coriander leaves chopped
2 med tomatoes, chopped
Sea Salt to taste
Chat masala to taste - start with about 1 spoon, and add more if you want it spicier.

Mix and refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours. Serve cold.

If you can get your hands on some of this magical powder, I would recommend trying this recipe. It's tasty yet quick, and easy enough to make that you have you have your hands free to cheer on your favourite hockey team.

Everyone's got hockey fever...
go habs go.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

a new chapter

We're back!

It's been a long 6 weeks since we last posted and so much has happened. I'm happy to report that we moved into the new house last week (yay!) and that we're finally cooking again. But all these great changes were bitter sweet since I unfortunately lost my grandmother a few weeks back (I spoke a little about her here). I mention this not for sympathy but to acknowledge that we sometimes take life for granted.

During the few weeks after her passing, Mony hit a milestone birthday. He turned the big 3-0...the big dirty 30. Unfortunately, due to the circumstances (plus a massive snow storm that day) we never really celebrated his birthday. I felt bad, and vowed to make it up to him once we moved into the new house.

And I did.
I present to you, Dorie Greenspan's White-out cake:

I think this was the birthday cake of all birthday cakes - especially for a chocolate lover like Mony. The recipe was simple and actually fun to make...and well, it doesn't hurt that I have a pretty new stove that makes baking and cooking a breeze.

Makes makes 12 servings
For the cake

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup boiling water
4 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped, or 2/3 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

For the filling and frosting

1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 large)
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

TO MAKE THE CAKE: Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugars and continue to beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate. When it is fully incorporated, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. At this point, the batter will be thick, like frosting. Still working on low speed, mix in the boiling water, which will thin the batter considerably. Switch to a rubber spatula, scrape down the bowl and stir in the chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with the rubber spatula.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Don't worry if the tops have a few small cracks. Transfer the cake pans to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)

When you are ready to fill and frost the cake, inspect the layers. If the cakes have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. With the same knife, slice each layer horizontally in half. Set 3 layers aside and crumble the fourth layer; set the crumbs aside.

TO MAKE THE FILLING AND FROSTING: Put the egg whites in a clean, dry mixer bowl or in another large bowl. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, cover the pan and boil for 3 minutes. Uncover and allow the syrup to boil until it reaches 242 degrees F on the candy thermometer. While the syrup is cooking, start beating the egg whites.

When the syrup is at about 235 degrees F, begin beating the egg whites on medium speed with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer. If the whites form firm, shiny peaks before the syrup reaches temperature, reduce the mixer speed to low and keep mixing the whites until the syrup catches up. With the mixer at medium speed, and standing back slightly, carefully pour in the hot syrup, pouring it between the beater(s) and the side of the bowl. Splatters are inevitable -- don't try to scrape them into the whites, just carry on. Add the vanilla extract and keep beating the whites at medium speed until they reach room temperature, about 5 minutes. You should have a smooth, shiny, marshmallowy frosting. Although you could keep it in the fridge in a pinch, it's really better to use it right now.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE: Put a bottom layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a long metal icing spatula, cover the layer generously with frosting. Top with a second layer, cut side up, and frost it. Finish with the third layer, cut side down, and frost the sides and top of the cake. Don't worry about smoothing the frosting -- it should be swirly. Now, cover the entire cake with the chocolate cake crumbs, gently pressing the crumbs into the filling with your fingers.

Refrigerate the cake for about 1 hour before serving.

So join us in celebrating M's birthday with a big slice of chocolate cake and raise a cold glass of milk to him. Here's to another happy and healthy 30 years.