Category Archives: Appetizers

Tapping Onto My Wild Side: “feuilleté de poireaux et champignons sauvages”

Seems a recent photo of mushrooms piled high in a skillet while making a little leek and wild mushroom appy made many salivate after I shared it on Instagram and Facebook! I have received a few requests for the recipe… Normally, and if I hope to share or blog a recipe, I plan a little better, taking proper measurements and jotting everything down as I go. I turn on the OCD part of my personality. Hence the reason why I do not post recipes as often as I wish… This was not one of those times… It was more like letting loose and allowing all the unchained creativity flow right out of me like I often do. I find I use recipes more as a source of inspiration as opposed to following them to a T unless the recipe calls for a new technique, is about baking, taps onto a food group or recipes I am unfamiliar with or originate from other cultures and countries than my own. One of my favourite things to do is scan my fridge and pantry at the end of the grocery cycle and whip up something using what I have on hand. Some work beautifully and if I am in that mood, I will jot down the recipe for later use. Some concoctions turn out «Meh» but are good enough to feed the fam without anyone gagging too much. Ok, slight exaggeration here but I can honestly say that once in a blue moon, some meals bomb right out… Yup, even in my home LOL! You know you didn’t nail it when left overs linger in the fridge until they become science experiments.

This «feuilleté de poireaux et champignons sauvages» is exactly the type of food I can whip up directly from brain to plate without measuring anything. It is such a classic French inspired preparation… I must have watched my mom make something similar many times over the course of my life. Anything in puff pastry becomes a gourmet dish right??? And unless someone doesn’t like mushrooms, this one in particular is always a crowd pleaser. French restaurants and Bistros often offer something or another “en croûte”, “napoléon” or “feuilleté” to the delight of the diners. Since I “ad lib” this once from start to finish, I am sharing with you only in approximation ingredients measurements with the general order of prep but I warn you, this recipe is not precise. Now I have the utmost confidence in everyone and I am SURE most of you have enough kitchen skills to figure it out. I have added several photos which offer a pretty good idea of overall the quantities of each ingredient.

The Shrooms are in town!!! I selected an assortment of wild mushrooms since most are in season right now. You could make this using good old white button mushrooms as well. I also splurged on crème fraîche which is easy enough to find: Liberty™ makes one but if you can find an organic one, it is well worth the extra few $$$. No crème fraîche, no worries: heavy cream or whipping cream will do as well. This is NOT a calorie reduced appy. It is meant to be rich and sinfully delicious. You can substitute for low-fat everything but it won’t be the same.

You should have heard the Ooooohs and the Aaaaaahs at my dinner party…

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What you will need:

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • About 1.5 to 2 cups of chopped leeks (white and light green part only)
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • An assortment of mushrooms. I used several large chanterelles, a stryro flat of oyster mushrooms plus 3 other mushrooms I can’t remember the name but could pick out in a crowd if I had too, except picking my own in the real wild, that I wouldn’t trust LOL. Anyhow, one was a purple something and I heard it was rare although it was cheaper in price than the chanterelles. The others had Asian names but they were not shiitakes. Just have fun with the mushrooms and pick what is available and looks cool.
  • About 1/2 cup white wine
  • About 1 to 1.5 cups crème fraîche, plus a bit extra cream like half and half to loosen up if too thick
  • Salt, pepper, chopped parsley, fresh chives
  • Butter and olive oil, a generous dollop of each

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How to do it:

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  1. Quickly rinse mushrooms in water and lay them down on a thick kitchen towel. I don’t like to simply wipe the mushrooms as most chefs suggest: there is always grit that stays behind. The trick is to rinse quickly and not let the mushrooms soak in the water as they will absorb too much. Chop the mushrooms last to let the kitchen towel absorb most of the water.
  2. Chop everything ahead of time for a nice mise en place. Mushrooms should be left in big chunks or slices otherwise, they will be too blended. Mushroom lose a lot of volume during the cooking process
  3. In large skillet, melt butter and olive oil until it start to bubble a bit. Keep heat at medium.
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  5. Add shallots until soft then leeks, also until soft.
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  7. Add mushrooms, one kind at a time starting with the hardiest ones.
  8. Add garlic. Stir often. Add thyme, salt and pepper. Taste!
  9. Add wine and let reduce until liquid is nearly all evaporated. NB: You can make up to now and refrigerate until you are ready to serve your guests.
  10. Finishing touches just before serving: add crème fraîche and heat gently until it starts to bubble. Do not boil, just a gentle little froth of bubbles should appear on the edges. The preparation will thicken: loosen up if needed with cream, either half & half or heavy cream .
  11. Taste again but don’t eat it all right there and then, your guests are waiting hahaha! Add fresh parsley and chives.
  12. Serve on puff pastry shells which you would have baked prior. In this case, I bought frozen puff pastry sheets. I cut out rectangles which I lightly scored on top in a crisscrossed pattern and brushed some egg yolks on top. I baked them at 375°F for about 20 minutes, until they became golden brown. After they had cooled down, I used a thin blade knife to separate the bottom and the top. At service time, lay the bottom of the shell on a plate, spoon on a generous amount of leek and mushrooms then crown with the top shell. Lay a few strands of chives and serve as is or with a quick salad of tender greens tossed in oil and vinegar.

 Tips:
Puff pastry shells: make ahead and keep in a metal baking dish topped with foil. Slide into the oven until ready to serve. It will keep the humidity out. Reheat at 200°F 15 minutes before serving
Slide your plates in the oven at the same time: warm plates are a nice bonus for this type of appetizer.

Tartelette aux Tomates – Because Food Always Sounds So Romantic in French

Sometimes I just feel like posting a recipe because it is so darn good! No stories attached and none required except maybe this recipe is a teeny bit better when local tomatoes are in season. Having friends over? It is a prefect and easy appetizer that pairs perfectly well with a chilled rosé.

  • 1 sheet of butter puff pastry*
  • Heaping ½ cup of soft goat cheese
  •  ¼ cup sour cream or crème fraîche
  • Fresh chopped chives
  • Small tomatoes: I used heirloom cherry tomatoes to add colour
  • Basil pesto (your own or from the store) or plain olive oil
  • Fresh basil for garnish

*Although I know how to make puff pastry, I do not go to the trouble of making my own. I purchase frozen puff pastry sheets made with butter only which yields satisfying results.

How to

  1. Oven at 400°F.
  2. Unroll puff pastry onto cookie sheet  leaving  the dough on the  parchment paper it comes with.
  3. Mix goat cheese with enough sour cream to make it spreadable without liquefying (the consistency of peanut butter).
  4. Add chives and some pepper if you like.
  5. Spread evenly across the dough, leaving just a bit of space around the edges.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the colour is similar to the one on the pictures.
  7. The edges should be golden brown. Remove from oven and set on serving platter.
  8. Add the tomatoes. Let cool and drizzle with pesto or oil. Add garnish.
  9. Serve warm or cold
Tartelette aux tomates
Tartelette aux tomates

 

Fig Boursin Crostinis





Back in my café ownership days, food talk and recipe sharing came naturally with many of my clients. I was extremely lucky to have the opportunity to engage with my clientele daily. My restaurant was neither glamorous nor a spot to enjoy a leisurely meal. It spanned over 120 square feet: a tiny working kitchen with a service counter. You came, you ordered and you left… What it lacked in attractiveness, it made up in meals full of cooking passion! Many discussions were had over that tiny counter about ingredients, recipes, other restaurants, up & coming chefs, world renowned chefs and the simple joy of eating really awesome comfy foods. Nothing brought me more satisfaction than my customers expressing their utter enjoyment with our offerings. The best compliment I could ever hope to recieve was seeing my customers come back over and over again. But the ultimate compliments came in the form of favourite recipes, including prized family heirloom recipes, these food lovers would share with me. 

As I add to this blog, I plan to credit all the foodies, family, friends or former clients, that have generously shared their own passion for cooking with me, even if some didn’t even know me on a more intimate level… Seems a certain intimacy can be reached when fulfilling many senses with delectable dishes, however simple and unassuming these may be… I think this is the power and hold cooking really good food has: how magical is that?

This is exactly where this Fig Boursin Corstini recipe comes from: sharing! Doctor W, a very faithful soup eater at my spot (which was set in a professional medical building), always bragged about his wife Maxine’s talents in the kitchen. One day, he arrived with these little crostinis she had made for a dinner party. He was so enamored with these little bites he simply had to share with us! And it is how I ended up with this simple, yet unusual recipe that packs a huge punch of flavour. Since blogs travel the world without borders, some of you may not be familiar with Boursin. It is a “brand” food afterall… Boursin is a soft and creamy yet slightly crumbly fresh cow’s milk cheese. It comes in a variety of flavours, the classic one being garlic and herbs. I suspect most of you can find a similar type of cheese wherever you live. Herb and garlic fresh goat’s milk cheese would be a lovely substitute. What I love most about this recipe is that it can be made ahead of time and it does freeze well. So you can make it long before your guests arrive and enjoy cocktail hour with them.



What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried Black Mission figs*, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup Porto, use the good stuff!
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp thinly sliced or grated ginger (I tend to be very liberal with ginger)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 pear, not too soft, peeled and chopped the about same size as the figs
  • 1 baguette, thinly sliced (day old is probably best)
  • 1 container herb and garlic Boursin cheese, brought to roomtemperature 

* Black Mission figs yield the best results, but any dry figs will do

How to:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine figs, Porto, honey, ginger and rosemary
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes
  3. Add pear and continue to simmer until the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes
  4. Let cool completely. This fig “jam” will keep several days in the fridge in an airtight container and can be frozen as well
  5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F. Thinly slice a baguette, spead slices on a cooke sheet and toast until lightly brown. Flip and toast the other side as well. Let cool completely
  6. To serve: spread cheese on the little toasts and top with a spoonful of fig jam. Or let your guests have fun assembling by serving all the components separately. 
  7. Try this variation: instead of serving cold over baguette toast, make crowd pleasing hot appetizers using these components to fill phyllo bundles or puff pastry pillows