Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gourmet Vegetable Soup

This warm hearty vegetable soup is really comforting during cold winter days or even for very cold condition during the summer such as here in Montreal. This recipe is very simple to make and all you need to do is to add ingredients into the pot. This is more than your regular vegetable soup (or canned soup), adding garlic tomato paste gives a kink to the soup.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 20-25 mins


3 medium tomatoes
2 medium zucchinis
1 large carrot
2 celery stalks
1 medium onion
1 small can kidney beans, drained and washed (optional)
1 L vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Garlic tomato paste 
6 oz. can tomato paste
6 cloves of garlic
2-3 tbsp of olive oil
Dash of salt


1. Remove tomato seeds with fingers and then, cube. Slice zucchinis, celery, carrot, and chop onion.

2. In a large pot, boil vegetable stock over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook onions until brown.

3. Add cooked onions, tomatoes, zucchinis, carrot, celery to the pot. Cover and bring it to a boil for 10 mins. Add kidney beans to the pot.

4. Meanwhile, prepare garlic tomato paste. In a blender or food processor, add whole cloves of garlic and tomato paste. Since paste is thick, add a little bit of water (2-3 oz.) just enough to start blending, you might need to shake it up to make it run. Gradually add olive oil and then, salt. The paste is ready once the garlic are "invisible".

5. Mix in paste to the soup and bring it to a simmer. Leave it for about 5 minutes. Taste, and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mediterranean Bread

This week Friday cooking, my Mexican friend baked Mediterranean bread with a touch of sun-dried tomatoes. Everyone loved these breads and it is my pleasure to share her recipe. To be warned, this is a long process.

Preparation Time : 2 hours
Baking Time : 45 mins
Printable Recipe


3+1 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope Rapid Rise Yeast
1 tsp salt
1 cup of mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup chopped black olives
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
3 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp cornmeal


1. In a large bowl, mix together 3 cups of flour, yeast, salt, black olives, cheese, olive and water. Add the last cup of flour little by little until it reaches a smooth consistency.
2. Turn out dough onto a floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes. If necessary, add more flour. Set aside in a bowl and cover with a warm towel. Let it rise in the oven with light on for 45 minutes, until double in size.
3. Punch down. Add coriander and knead well again, for about 5 to 10 minutes. Let it rise for about 30 minutes, until double in size.

4. Again, knead for 5 to 10 minutes and finish kneading with a coating olive oil. Let it rise until double in size.

5. While it is rising, put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven.

6. Preheat oven to 475F. Cut the dough into 2-3 pieces and shape it into your favorite geometry.

7. Bake dough for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 400F and bake for 30 more minutes, or until done.

Butterscotch-Glazed Brownies

Another Friday cooking, this week should have been the egg theme, but it didn't happen due to the lack of guests, it will be postponed for next week. This week, I'm working on main dish and desserts. For main dish, I redid my signature dish, Meatballs à la crème. For desserts, one of my friend was craving for brownies today. So, I found a brownie recipe from Southern Living. I was impressioned on the method for glazing the brownies.

Yield 18 brownies
Preparation Time : 40 mins
Baking Time : 30 mins
Printable Recipe


3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
1/4 cup water
2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups of butterscotch chips
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs


1. In a large saucepan, cook sugar, butter and water over high heat, until sugar dissolved.

2. Add semisweet chocolate chips and vanilla extract. Stir until mixture is smooth. Cool for 15 mins.

3. Meanwhile, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Pour cooled chocolate into flour mix. Stir until blended.

4. Add eggs to mixture until blended.

5. Preheat oven at 325F.

6. In a 13'' x 9'' baking pan, grease with butter and lightly floured the pan. Spread brownie batter into pan.

7. Bake for 30 mins. Sprinkle evenly 2 cups of butterscotch chips over warm brownies. Cover with aluminium foil and let it stand for 5 mins until soften.

8. Spread butterscotch to cover brownies.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


The word alambre means wire in Spanish. When you think of wires, the food has to be skewed. For Mexican, the food does not come off the skewer. The word 'al' has some Arabic origin influencing this dish. In Mexico city, a typical alambre is made of green peppers, onions, meat and sometimes bacon.

This is a wonderful dish from my Mexican friend and would like to cook it for my family.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 35 mins


600g stew beef
4 italian tomatoes, seeded
1 green pepper
6 white mushrooms
1/4 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 (15 g) Knorr beef cube (no water)
3 stripes of bacon, cut into small pieces (optional)
1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese


1. Cut stew beef into smaller pieces. Cut tomatoes, onions, green pepper into cubes. Thinly slice mushrooms.

2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions, cook until transparent.

3. Add beef and bacon, cook until browned.

4. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the cheese. Cover and cook for 30 minutes

5. Turn off heat and top with mozzarella. Let it melt for 1-2 minutes.

6. Serve on tacos or tortillas and top with guacamole.

Creole Beef Soup

In this Friday collective cooking, my Peruvian friend has finally cooked a dish for us. At the beginning, when we invited him for cooking a few months ago, he didn't know how to cook simple dishes. Watching us cooking for months, he decided now that this is his time to shine. Here is his first succesful dish. It seems that creole soups are popular in South America and there are wide variations depending in which country you live. I hope I got this recipe correct.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 40 mins


300g sirloin tip steak
5 medium carrots
4 medium yellow potatoes, peeled
2 celery stalks
250 g capellini (angel hair) (preferably those that cooks in less than 3 mins such as De Cecco)
2L water + 1 Knorr beef cube (2L beef stock)
3 large eggs
300 mL milk
1 tbsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp oregano


1. Cut beef, carrots, potatoes and celery into small cubes.

2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until browned.

3. Add beef, carrots, potatoes, celery, salt and paprika. Stir for 5 mins.

4. Add beef stock and cover. Cook until potatoes softened about 20-25 mins. Stir time to time.

5. Add capellini and cook for 2-3 minutes or as instructed.

6. Turn heat off and add beaten eggs, milk and oregano. Constantly stir for 1-2 minutes. Serve.

Banana Butterscotch Chip Cake

Each day, I check new recipes from blogs that I have been following for the past. I came across a top hit dessert recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod. It is easy and fast to prepare. This blog uses cinnamon chips, but I can't find them in large supermarket. As I understood, cinnamon chips are simply chocolate with cinnamon added. Montreal is known for some of its famous chocolate store, I'm pretty sure these chips can be find there. I substitued for butterscotch chips and it ended to be delicious.

Serves 8
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Baking Time : 35-40 mins


3 ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 cup + 4 tbsp brown or white sugar
3/4 + 1/4 cup butterscotch chips


1. Preheat oven at 375 F. Lightly oil a 8'' x 8'' baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Using a spatula, stir in flour, baking soda, cinnamon powder and 1 cup sugar. Add 3/4 cup cinnamon chips and briefly stir.

3. Pour batter into baking pan.

4. Add 4 tbsp sugar on top of the batter and gently spread it uniformly. Top it with the remaining 1/4 cup cinnamon chip.

5. Bake for 35-40 mins. Insert toothpick to check for doneness. Let it cool for 15 minutes.

Mini Prosciutto Frittatas

This week is another Friday's collective cooking. Collective cooking is popular in Montreal. Basically, you and your group of friends decide where to cook, then go to a supermarket and buy all the ingredients needed. Once done, cook your great dishes and eat as a group. It is fun, entertaining and money-saving. To make it more entertaining, decide on a theme like this day you can only cook Korean food or shrimp must be the main ingredient for all the dishes.

Each week, my friends and I were able to invite new people for this event. Since we are still students, a large number can't cook, either eating frozen food or sandwiches everyday. It is easy to find new people to join our group. This week, I was assigned for preparing appetizer and desserts. I came across this recipe by Giada de Laurentiis. I modified some major ingredients as some don't like ham and parmesan, I susbtituted for prosciutto and mozzarela.

Makes about 18 frittatas
Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 10 mins
Printable Recipe


8 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
5-6 strips of prosciutto, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup mozzarella
2-3 tbsp fresh parsley


1. Preheat oven to 375F

2. Lightly oil the muffin pan. Whisk eggs, milk, pepper and salt.

3. Mix in the prosciutto, mozzarella and parsley

4. If you use a 12-cup muffin tin, fill it half-way. Otherwise, for the 24-cup muffin pan, fill it to the top.

5. Bake until egg mix puffs, about 10 mins. Cool for 5 mins.

Sponge Cake

My uncle, also a physicist like me, he is the first one who taught me how to cook and show how little time it takes to prepare good food. I always have a passion about desserts and wondered how to bake them. Sponge cake is the first real dessert that I made by myself.

Makes 1 cake
Preparation Time : 25 mins
Baking Time : 45-50 mins
Printable Recipe


7 eggs (white separated)
2 pinch cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 oz. oil
2 oz. water
1 cup sugar


1. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until it reaches firm peak, about 15 mins. For details about the whites, check the note at the bottom of the chocolate mousse recipe.

2. Mix egg yolks, sugar, oil and water.

3. Fold beaten egg white into egg yolk mixture. Slowly add flour and baking powder.

4. Preheat oven at 350F.

5. Lightly oil the tube pan. Pour batter into the tube pan, spread it evenly.
6. Bake for 45-50 mins. Let it cool for at least 20 minutes. A neat trick is to suspend the cake on a cold bottle.


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